Ghost Town - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2072647

Ghost Town

There are two great fallacies in popular thought on the South Fork.

First is that there’s never any parking in Sag Harbor. There is. I park there every day and never am I farther than 500 feet from my destination.

The second fallacy is that there is a lack of affordable housing.

Let’s be clear: Is there a lack of shoddy clapboard apartments strewn along thoroughfares, marked up and rented to unsuspecting young families trying to start a life? Yeah. Sure.

The housing inventory on the East End is absurd. More new homes are being built every day. The problem is that they aren’t built for a normal family — they’re built as investments. They’re built to serve a speculative real estate market that allows the nameless to park a few million dollars in an LLC.

We all know this.

But nowhere is it more obvious than Quogue Village. During a stroll one Friday down Jessup Avenue, there wasn’t a soul in sight. Not a single business was open. I might as well have been walking through some hollowed-out Midwest town far off the interstate. The stores and business fronts might not have been dilapidated shells, but what’s the difference? They provide little value.

Each home that I passed was emptier than the next. Some had their driveways pleasantly chained off. What a lovely community.

What illustrates this reality even more clearly was a ubiquitous sign: “Volunteer Firefighters Wanted.”

Is there a lack of housing preventing working families from contributing to this ghost town? Absolutely not. I passed by a hundred homes. The only problem is that they’re second or third homes — parking lots for money.

What can we do? A limitation on new home sizes and renovations is an obvious step. Who cares whether someone can build a massive dream home? Is that enough to prevent that person from investing in the community? If so, so be it. Does that damage our livelihoods if they’re not going to contribute beyond whatever meager tax they pay?

Second: Ban second-home ownership. Require real estate purchasers to use residential mailing addresses. No more LLCs. Why don’t we require mailing addresses to match the address on tax returns?

Will the town get sued if it tries to enforce such measures? Absolutely. Those who capitalize on the speculative real estate market are eager for a lawsuit. These are the people in your backyard. They are not your neighbors.

At least we put up a fight, a good fight. Make the county, the state, or the federal government issue their own ruling. The onus is on them for destroying an entire generation of would-be homeowners, would-be families.

At least we can say we tried.

Michael Pintauro

Sag Harbor