Overriding Reality - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1918140

Overriding Reality

In a sour editorial [“Reality Check,” March 31], this newspaper throws the baby out with the bathwater. Or, worse, holds its head underwater as it dictates some reality checks.

There is no need to ponder “updating” or “shredding” the old “Comprehensive [Master] Plan of 1999, as the editorial suggests — or even creating a new one. Anyone who has lived out here since then, and paid any attention, knows that all of these master plans are evoked as the Bible when they serve a political or economic purpose, or ignored completely when they don’t. They are a residue of the myth of citizen participation whose real reality is to corral and dissipate dissent.

In its reality, the editorial finds irksome the “outdated” distinction between “residents” and “tourists” — so “blurry” as to be ridiculous. “Are part-time owners still residents?” And what about those who rent out “their houses for a few lucrative months in the summer …? What does that make them?” it asks ask rhetorically.

And, really, why should this shape-changing group of “residents” be prioritized over “tourists,” as in days of old? Tourists, who in this telling are “priced off beaches” and demonized, and treated with “inhospitality.”


It goes further, deconstructing “what’s around us” into residents, year-round renters, part-time homeowners, full-time property owners, owners who rent out their houses for the summer, snowbirds, locals (and their deprived-of-jobs-and-home-purchasing-power progeny) those that “bought the houses belonging to other groups”(?), and those who “have cashed out whatever property value they could and fled.”

Differences without distinction to determine fixed status and priorities for future planning. The reality is simpler: Those who pay taxes and those who don’t.

This complicates the fundamental principle: Property owners who have invested their time and money here, and pay taxes here (no matter how they choose to spend their time), are to be given priority.

The reality is simpler: Those who pay taxes and those who don’t. Visitors and tourists are just that.

However, visitors and tourists, short-term renters (omitting from inclusion the parasitic AirBnB, et al.), are present and in the omnipresent future and, as such, should be granted priority in planning. Grumbling about “memories” and “ghosts” of fishing and farm communities past, and the lax planning and preservation that demolished the tourism product; the reality is that nothing stopped speculative land grabs and municipal enabling, which created suburban overdevelopment.

It is not “just lately that one realizes that this is not a healthy functioning place for people to live and work.” It always was a watering hole for the rich and privileged, with all the shifting “realities” and mythologies attendant upon that overriding reality.

Frances Genovese