Dan Rattiner's Stories

East Hampton Beach Sticker Party Is Over in 2021

The fun forever ends on January 1 at the Town Clerk’s Office.

East Hampton Town has just passed a new ordinance that requires residents to get an annual beach parking sticker on their car. You are thinking, didn’t they always require that? Every town requires an annual beach sticker.

Well, yes they do—except, since the beginning of time, one. That has been East Hampton Town. Parking at Indian Wells Beach or Atlantic Beach in Amagansett has never required an annual trip to town hall for a beach sticker.

There was a time, years and years ago, when nobody had to get a sticker on their car to park at the beach. But in the 1970s, the towns went berserk. Now you had to get an orange sticker to park at a beach in Quogue, a yellow one for Westhampton Beach, a red one for Southampton Village and so forth and so on. Not only were there different colors for each of the resident stickers in each of the nine villages and locations, there were still other stickers, more expensive ones, for parking on the beach for those who were not residents of these nine communities. It was a multicolored confetti of beach stickers if you wanted to get all of them. And buying all of them would set you back $1,000 and more.

But East Hampton was an exception, though just for the residents.

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They had a rule. Drive over to town hall, write down your license plate and your resident information, go to the town clerk’s office, and you would get issued a white-and-blue beach-parking sticker absolutely free, to put on your car and good FOREVER. It meant you’d never have to get a yearly beach sticker.

As a resident of East Hampton, I thought this was great. The sticker was small, and easy to stick on the inside of the backseat side window on the driver’s side. And there it would stay, year after year, visible to any ordinance officer. He would pass by.

Of course, at a certain point, I’d trade in my car and get a newer car. When that happened, I would get in the backseat with a blade and very carefully remove the sticker, and then put it on the new car. This was not so easy, but with the mindset of a surgeon removing a liver to complete a transplant, I would ease it off, hold it carefully flat in the palm of my hand, and walk it over.

This sticker got raggedy after a while, and soon I’d have trouble getting it off, but I’d be able, barely, to re-attach it with Scotch tape. Finally—this is over 20 years all this—I had to go into the Clerk’s office and show the sad remnant, to which I was told, quite happily, that I could get a new fresh FOREVER sticker for my new car. What was it again? A Jag? A Hummer? No matter!

What a wonderful thing! But what’s happened now, in the last month, is a new ordinance that speaks to the fact that humans are not all they’re cracked up to be. They can be greedy and un-law-abiding and they’ve messed this up.

There is a market now for old cars with these beach stickers on them. No, actually, it is not quite that. It is a little jack-up in the price.“ Here, this Lexus is nine years old and I just want $11,100 for it and it’s $11,000 according to Hemmings Motor News and $100 higher for that invaluable sticker on the side window.”

This bit of fraud, possibly forgivable, is similar to the unforgivable forged beach parking sticker scam that has been going on for years. Believe it or not, forgers are doing this. Looks like new. Is new. Almost exact. There are people sitting in jail for having done that. Don’t you do it.

But the Town has figured out that there are likely hundreds, maybe even thousands, of FOREVER beach stickers on old cars that people bought as used cars from people who don’t even live here anymore. They don’t even know they’ve got a fraud going on.

The Town probably considered sending out a news release asking all those nonresidents to please get those stickers off and destroy them. But then they’d have thought that won’t work.

The ordinance just passed says that FOREVER is going to end on January 1, 2021. After that date—which is delayed to allow you two years of mourning—you’ll have to be over the shock and ready to stop by Town Hall, because although your new beach sticker will still be free, it will only be good for one year.

We regret all this. It’s not your fault. But we had to do it.

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