Dan’s Shorts: Lyft, County Road 39, Erosion, Tesla Motors

Mixed stories cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas
Cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas

The ride-hailing company Lyft has announced they are coming to the Hamptons. Here they will compete with Uber and, of course, the regular taxi companies. Lyft is one-seventh the size of Uber in New York and wants to grow to one-sixth and so forth and so on. They’re in the midst of a nationwide attack on Uber, recently slashing rates in New York between Monday and Friday by 50%.

If Lyft is serious about the Hamptons, they may take a different view of the laws in East Hampton. The Town is pretty strict, and last spring Uber sent a couple of executives out to negotiate with the Town and in the end just walked out and said they were gone and wouldn’t be back. They then told the media they were “thrown out.” So now you can take a ride TO East Hampton by Uber, but you can’t be picked up by Uber IN East Hampton. It will be interesting to see how Lyft deals with East Hampton Town. In the battle of Uber and Lyft, the coast is clear, in East Hampton anyway. Maybe Lyft will just lie down and let themselves be run over. And that’s a pun.

Proof that real estate is all about location, location and location. Wealthy hedge-funder Thomas Gilbert Sr. lowered Thomas Jr.’s allowance from $600 to $400 a month, as a result of which, alledgedly Jr. killed Sr. by shooting him. This happened in Manhattan on January 5, 2015. Here in the Hamptons, the Gilberts had a vacation home in the Georgica Association with a mansion on it. It had been on the market since 2012, before the tragedy, but nobody was buying it for $12.5 million. Then came the shooting. Son is now awaiting trial. And last month, the mansion got torn down as one of the requirements requested in a sale to a new owner. It sold for $9.75 million. The tear-down could have been because of its history, or maybe it was just to avoid a $100,000 state tax. But there it is now, an empty lot. Community tennis court. Association ocean beach club. Access to Georgica Pond. Location, location, location.

Traffic is once again very bad on County Road 39 in Southampton. The Town ordered that the traffic light at Tuckahoe Road and County Road 39 be made into a blinking light during
the morning commute one day as an experiment. Would that help? Town officials put themselves into the traffic jam on the morning of the experiment and they came away saying it made no difference whatsoever. So the plan was abandoned.

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman is now considering raising the speed limit from 35 miles an hour to 45 miles an hour on County Road 39 as a possible solution. That, in my opinion, would be a very dangerous business. Years ago, the plan was to do a major State road through here at great expense, with wide lanes and much taking of much commercial land on each side. When it was also realized that commerce would be crippled for half a year while it was under construction, the community persuaded the County to do it at less expense, narrower and in a shorter time. So that is what was done.

The County Road is quite dangerous if you go fast. People have been killed on this road. The police department felt it would be so unsafe, they ordered billboards put up with police officers holding radar guns and saying, basically 35 MILES AN HOUR, THIS MEANS YOU. They got bad press because they were so unfriendly. Finally, they were removed. But 45 miles an hour? This is not a good idea.

Tesla Motors has opened a shop at 50 Newtown Lane in East Hampton. Strollers can stop in, get sales material, sit behind the wheel of the new Model S and be shown all the features, even take it out for a spin. I took one out not long ago. It goes to 60 miles an hour before you can even think about it. I drove along slowly looking for a parking space at one point, passed one I thought too small, but the car dinged at me, said it was fine and, when I pressed a button, went back and forth and snuggled itself into it. The car is amazing. They’re waiting lists and you can get on one. The shop is to be in business year around. Yay

If you drive out to the end of Meadow Lane in Southampton, you arrive at the Shinnecock Inlet. There, at the bay and ocean beach, there has been for many years a county-owned trailer campground called Shinnecock East County Park. It has an office, a car-tire inflation station and more than 100 sites rented out to four-wheel drive enthusiasts for fishing, bathing and camping by the night on the bay or oceanfront.

You have to reserve these sites long in advance. But this year, 37 of them, on the ocean side, have been shut down. There has been too much erosion, the beach is too narrow and it seems unlikely to improve. Those with reservations will contact the parks department for a refund. It’s the end of an era.

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