Rehoboth Officials, Visitors Still Struggle with Tent/Canopy Rules

Now in its second year of enforcement, Rehoboth Beach visitors and often police and lifeguards struggle to explain the city’s tent and canopy rules to visitors. In their first two hours on the beach this past Saturday, Rehoboth Beach Patrol lifeguards directed about 20 visitors to take down their tents/canopies.

Omar Jones, the man wearing the blue shorts, says he came to Rehoboth for the day with his pregnant wife. He said they had purchased the tent at a Target in Philadelphia where he was assured that the tent was adjustable to fit the dimensions now specified by several local jurisdictions. But he was confronted by a lifeguard who eventually called for police around noon. He nearly received a $25 citation but was cooperative and calmly explained the situation to police.

Jones said he felt targeted because he was just a few feet from a beach visitor who had the slightly smaller Super-Brella, which has a center pole and can convert into a traditional umbrella “if there are any complaints.” But his adjustable tent, which he said can be made even smaller, was unacceptable.

He also mentioned to police that elsewhere on the beach there were a handful of tents and canopies that were standing. The police said they would go after those people next, which they did, but he wondered why he was singled out first.

After about 20 minutes of discussion with police, Jones gave up and rented two Catts umbrellas for $20.

In response to Jones’ comments, City Manager Sharon Lynn said Sunday that “In order to continue the city’s overall response to visitors in our welcoming, friendly and inviting nature I am re-visiting the training piece of the tent ordinance. I believe the beach patrol and seasonal officers need additional training specifically related to the new ordinance as their actions have been too discretionary and not necessarily uniform regarding the intent of the ordinance. Due to the lateness of the season, training will commence this week however I will institute a more rigorous and defined training program prior to the start of the season in 2019.”

“Considering that this season is only the second one since the enactment of the ordinance last year,” she points out, “it is important that all
staff are on the same page regarding the intent and especially enforcement to the same degree. It is very important to me that all families are treated with respect and equanimity.”

Beach visitors who have questions or complaints regarding umbrellas, tents or canopies can call the city manager’s office at (302) 227-6181 for assistance.