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Middle Township introduced an ordinance May 15 to define and regulate temporary structures. In the township’s press release, the ordinance is called a “vital tool” to address homeless encampments, which the township says present public safety and sanitary risks. This is the latest manifestation of the struggle with homelessness in Cape May County.
The Point-in-Time Survey of the homeless conducted every Jan. 25 shows that homelessness is again increasing after a period of decline. In 2019, the count was 90 and in 2022, it rose to 119. The 2023 count has not yet been released.
The township says it is reacting to complaints from businesses and property owners who see a negative impact from tent encampments in Rio Grande.
State numbers are also showing an upward trend, with an 8% increase from 2021 to 2022. Reports show 21% of the state’s homeless are below 18 years of age, 7% are military veterans, and 12% are homeless due to domestic violence. The paths to homelessness are many, making the solutions complex. Part of the increase was the ending of the moratorium on evictions that was in place during the pandemic.
Over a longer period, homelessness peaked at 412 in 2011 following the Great Recession. Those numbers remained high and only showed significant downward motion in 2015. A low point in the Point-in-Time count came in 2019, with a reported 90 homeless individuals.
One thing many homeless advocates agree on is that the problem highlights the affordable housing shortage in Cape May County.
Summer Reliability of Electric Power
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) issued a warning May 17 that two-thirds of North America faces reliability challenges for electric power in the event of widespread heatwaves. The warning was a key finding in NERC’s 2023 Summer Reliability Estimate. NERC’s mission is to “ensure the reliability of the North American bulk power system.”
All areas of the country are expected to be able to meet demand during normal peak loads. The problem comes with “more extreme summer conditions.” Peak demand is rising and expected to be 1.7% higher this year than last.
Prolonged periods of peak demand will test electric power supplies. Problems with reliability of solar power in the face of “normal grid disturbances” are also presenting a challenge, according to the estimate. NERC is working on reliability standards to improve solar resource performance.
What much of this points to is the problem we are hearing more about of late – the need to pay more attention to the electric grid.
While the U.S. Department of Energy pushes ahead on electrification of transportation, California is faced with the results of a new study predicting the state may have a need for a $50 billion investment in its electric grid.
Meanwhile, 23 state Republican attorneys general have sent a letter to the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA) seeking documents of the insurance group’s commitments “to collaborate with other insurers in order to advance an activist climate agenda.”
This shows the lack of agreement on the problem of climate change. That leaves little room for consensus on the strategies to combat it.
State of Beaches
The Surfrider Foundation’s 2022 State of the Beach Report gives New Jersey a D grade in preparedness for climate change impacts. The grade is a composite of scores across four areas of investigation: Sediment management, coastal armoring, development, and sea level rise. The state is faulted for not moving quickly enough due to its extended rule-making process. The report argues that the state needs to speed up its efforts, especially in areas that would impact shore development.
A 2019 report by Zillow concludes that new home development in the state is almost three times higher in coastal risk zones. The state’s 2021 Climate Change Resilience Strategy offers guidance to municipalities on vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies but the Surfrider report complains that it remains only guidance.
The millions of visitors to county beaches would never agree with the Surfrider grade, but enjoying the beaches and protecting them are different issues.
The Deloitte Economics Institute issued a report arguing that unchecked climate change will be deadly to the U.S. economy.
We know the risks are high in Cape May County. Strategies across county municipalities vary. The Surfrider report, accept it or quarrel with it, suggests the need for cross-municipality planning.
Cape May has several new faces in city administration. The city just approved the hire of a new tax assessor. In addition, Paul Dietrich left his position in Upper Township after 20 years to become the new city engineer in Cape May. Just weeks before, the city hired a new chief financial officer.
The tensions between the mayor and several members of council continue as the mayor failed to gain a closed session on a$1.2 million tort claim filed by the fired administrator.
Lower Township honors veterans with parking privileges and a street naming. Station Road will become Veterans Way if the ordinance is adopted.
The Pennsylvania woman who is being accused of killing her young son before fleeing to Cape May had her hearing continued for the second time after the court ordered a psychiatric evaluation.
Assembly Democrats held a hearing on sea mammal deaths. Witnesses saw no link to the offshore wind initiative.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is allowing North Wildwood to regrade dunes and rebuild beach paths. The two are still locked in litigation over other beach construction issues.
Stone Harbor is to increase use of cameras for investigative reasons, as well as to provide early information on flooding.
The Coast Guard is celebrating 75 years of recruit training at TRACEN Cape May. A message from the captain of the training center and a profile of a lieutenant commander busting drug running or overseeing an operational budget highlight Herald stories on the base.
Cape May authorized a lease for the use of the historic Allen African Methodist Episcopal(AME) Church by the East Lynne Theater Company.
A postal service supervisor was arrested for misappropriating almost $65,000 in postal funds to make personal purchases.
A state Department of Transportation (DOT) dredging project that will extend from North Wildwood to Wildwood Crest is expected to begin after Labor Day.
The state indictment of three Wildwood officials, including Mayor Pete Bryon and former Mayor Ernie Troiano, may be flawed, according to the judge in the case.
Spout Off of the Week
Wildwood - Middle is planning laws to get rid of the Homeless tents in Rio Grande .please don't throw their belongings away. it is all they own. would I want them in my neighborhood? probably not. but I would try to understand their situation and have compassion. would they be making a choice to live in the woods if they were mentally stable? are some on drugs? maybe .do they not want to work ? maybe. but what happened in their life to get them to this point? should they be respectful of neighbors and keep a tidy area? yes. make laws for that. we can pray for some kind of solution.
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