Submitted by Barbara H. Marzetti, President of the Corolla Civic Association:
The Corolla Civic Association (CCA) facilitated a meeting attended by 100+ community members on November 1, 2022, to review issues, actions and results from “Beach Week 2022.” Beach Week is the period in early-to-mid June when beach destinations are inundated with partying high school graduates.
CCA’s meeting was attended by numerous property owners and residents, 13 Rental Property Management companies and 7 Homeowners’ Associations. Also participating were senior state and county law enforcement officials and the local magistrate. The goal was to develop strategies and tactics to inhibit the over the top ’22 Beach Week shenanigans and confrontations during the upcoming 2023 season to protect Corolla’s well-earned reputation as the ‘best family town’ in the OBX.
While Corolla & Carova had another banner season, with rentals fully occupied for virtually the entire season, the community strongly felt that the escalating number of Beach Week mobs of kids engaging in atrocious, intolerable behavior is jeopardizing its hard-earned reputation as a family-oriented vacation destination.
In an effort to contain the hooliganism, a heavy law enforcement presence was brought to bear and many Beach Week revelers, both kids and chaperones, found themselves arrested or cited for alcohol-related and alcohol-fueled crimes. NC Alcohol Law Enforcement brought a dozen officers for a two-day period that yielded 116 arrests that included 66 charges for underage drinking, 32 fake ID charges, 23 drug- related offenses and 2 businesses receiving ABC violations. Currituck County Sheriff’s Office significantly boosted the number of deputies stationed in Corolla during the “Beach Week” period and responded to a record number of calls. Both agencies have been meeting in advance for the last two years to coordinate plans to maximize the impact of law enforcement resources and are looking to see how law enforcement impact can be enhanced for the 2023 season.
A disturbing trend is the increasing disregard that many parents/chaperones have for the law and obligations under rental leases, apparently wanting to be the “cool” parents. Among those arrested were a high school principal and a federal law enforcement agent. NC law enforcement will continue their focus on wayward chaperones. Not only can this result in criminal charges against them for such crimes as aiding & abetting underage drinking but also early eviction from the rental property for not being present at the property, over-occupancy, property damage and the like.
The Corolla Magistrate provided recommendations for accelerating Vacation Rental Summary Ejectments (i.e., evictions), a Small Claims matter that can be heard in Corolla. The Sheriff will evict immediately upon receiving a court order. He also advised review of “Vacation Rental” lease agreements to ensure that the lease definition of “material breach” is sufficiently comprehensive to support evictions.
Given the size and makeup of the Beach Week influx, law enforcement alone is not enough to contain the problems, Rental Property Managers and HOAs shared their perspectives and techniques for mitigating the disorderly behavior. These included monitoring rentals to look for “missing adults” to mounting “community patrols.” None thought that “looking the other way” in favor of the “rental dollar” was a good idea. The Corolla community has a clear bias to being pro-active in preserving a family-friendly environment in Corolla.
Corolla Civic Association is currently drafting a letter to be sent to high school principals, superintendents and school boards and private schools in locations that have been the largest source of Beach Week high school graduates. The key message is that Corolla is a great place for families to visit and a terrible place for wild, out of control partying, that leads to confrontations with other residents, visitors, who then become fearful for their safety. This beyond the pale miscreant behavior could result in (1) an early end to their Beach Week, (2) significant financial penalties and (3) a criminal record that could adversely impact their future. The hope is that this information will be shared with students and parents so that there is a clear understanding that “gone wild” behavior will not be tolerated here.
We want all visitors to enjoy Corolla, including young folks who have just passed an important milestone in their life, but all visiting families need to be able to enjoy their time here without the fear or burden of out of control “Animal House” type behavior.