Unattended Beach Equipment FAQs

Unattended Beach Equipment Ordinance
Effective Summer 2010

General Notes and Information:

Requirements  -  All unattended beach equipment, including tents, canopies, volleyball nets, and other items, must be removed from the beach strand each night.

If the equipment is unattended between 8 pm and 8 am, Town staff may confiscate the equipment and dispose of it.

Can People Still Use Tents?  -  Absolutely! It is perfectly acceptable for people to set up tents on the beach strand during the day. The Town is simply requiring that people take them down each night. They are welcome to set them up again the next day!

Oceanfront property owners are eligible for up to 2 special exception stickers to enable them to leave equipment out overnight if desired. The stickers are for oceanfront owners only and will not be issued to guests. Oceanfront owners may secure the stickers and place on a tent or other equipment offered as part of the total vacation rental package for multiple guests to use throughout the summer. Oceanfront owners should contact Town Admin staff at 252-354-3424 for details.

History  - This is not a new issue for the Town. The number of unattended beach tents, canopies, etc left on the beach overnight has grown significantly in recent years. Town staff counted as many as 300 tents left out overnight during the summer of 2009. There have been many requests from residents and visitors for the Town to adopt regulations over the past few years, and the Board finally decided to adopt regulations earlier this year to take effect in Summer 2010. The new regulations were unanimously supported by the vacation rental companies.

Why Did We Do This?  - Several reasons, including:

  •   general aesthetic concerns; so the beach doesn't look so cluttered
  •  general fairness; so that no one group "takes over" a particular stretch of beach and everyone has a chance to enjoy the beach
  • sea turtle nesting concerns; the tents on the beach overnight can impede nesting sea turtles and impact hatchlings
  • public safety; the tents can be a hazard for people walking on the beach at night and also for Town vehicles on the beach at night
  • litter; summer nighttime storms often leave the beach a mess with blown-over tents on the beach and in the surf zone, plus many people simply abandon their tents when they leave Emerald Isle

Penalty -  Violators may receive a warning for the first violation, but Town staff have the authority to confiscate unattended beach equipment left out between 8 pm and 8 am.

What do other beach towns do?  - Several NC beach towns have adopted similar regulations in recent years. Some are even more stringent than Emerald Isle. One town does not allow tents on the beach at any time!

Public Education Efforts 

  1. Information included in multiple issues of Town newsletter (Emerald Tidings).
  2. Town website.
  3. New "Residents & Visitors Guide" publication to be placed in all rental units.
  4. "Important Beach Regulations" handout.
  5. Information distributed by vacation rental companies.
  6. New signs installed at all public beach access locations.
  7. Beach Patrol to actively educate tent owners on the beach strand during the day.

Questions or concerns?

Call the Town Manager's Office at 252-354-3424