Founder of Coastal Playground
Jackie Mark discussing our Beach Cleanup “Permit” with local law enforcement. Photo: Kevin Oliphant

Jackie Mark discussing our Beach Cleanup “Permit” with local law enforcement. Photo: Kevin Oliphant

The Inertia

“Um, excuse us… but, do you have a permit to pick that up?” This past week, I was contacted by Jones Beach-New York State Park in regard to our new monthly beach cleanup in New York. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The reason for the call: permits.

Before proceeding, I really should say that this isn’t the first time we’ve encountered this kind of resistance. In fact, the last time we had this problem was during one or our beach cleanups in Huntington Beach, though we ended up being able to ultimately navigate the red tape successfully. But this most recent incident definitely had me thinking — why are they making it so difficult for us to help?

For those who don’t know, when a private company or resident wants to do an event on public property they are required to obtain a permit. There are several reasons for this, but the first and foremost reason is obvious: for the state to make a profit and pay for their employees and materials. Makes sense, right?

Photo: Courtesy of Coastal Playground

Photo: Courtesy of Coastal Playground

Then here’s where it gets interesting. If a non-profit wants to run the same event, they are NOT required to pay. Why? The State assumes that since the non-profit is serving the community and not trying to make money at the event, they shouldn’t have to pay. Understandable enough, but this difference between beach cleanups as run by for-profit and non-profit companies is not so black and white. Just because a for-profit is running an event, that doesn’t mean that they are automatically looking to make money of that specific event. Sometimes it simpler than that — sometimes it is about merely cleaning up.

Take Coastal Playground for example. We don’t sell anything at our cleanups and we only use a banner for volunteers to identify our location. Not only that, but half of what we make on the product we do sell (but not at the cleanups) is what, in turn, pays for these cleanup on their dang beaches!

What’s the deal? Why are we putting hurdles in front of people that are trying to help? Doesn’t this seem this, well, counterproductive? I mean, if a company wants to use their resources to give back, why stop them? Why place obstacles in their way? Why not, instead, work with them to make it work for both parties?

Photo: Courtesy of Coastal Playground

Photo: Courtesy of Coastal Playground

Now, before we get all riled up and start banging on the door of New York State Parks, we already have this figured out, and have a way to circumvent these issues: through continued work with our 50/50® Partners. We have been working to find one in New York, but you would be surprised how difficult it can be to talk people into accepting your donations! As soon as we land a partner in the Big Apple, all these issues will disappear and we’ll be able to go about our business of cleaning up this Earth one beach at a time.

All that being said, we would really like to see is a change in the way in which the state regulates the actions of private businesses trying to help out. I can’t help but think of the poor 90 year old man in Florida who was arrested for feeding the homeless. Or, more recently, the women who in Texas who was fined for feeding the homeless out of her food truck. Crazy, right!?!

This is not okay, and this kind of crap needs to change. Anyway, wish us luck on finding a partner and we’ll keep you posted on what happens. We still plan on showing up this Saturday — hopefully the Sheriff is not there waiting for our boy, Russ. Wish him luck as well!

Photo: Courtesy of Coastal Playground

Photo: Courtesy of Coastal Playground

A version of this article originally appeared on

  • Albee Doh

    Often times there is a precedent that precedes the implementation of this process. The main goal is to keep honest people honest. The problem is that nefarious characters tend to exploit loopholes that leave city, county, and state agencies open to litigation if someone is harmed during an organized event. Cities rarely, if ever, have the resources to man public spaces to check to make sure a group of people that have organized in a public space are there for beneficial or even innocuous reasons. I would blame frivolous litigation for this before attacking government agencies. The only cost effective way that agencies can mitigate for potential problems is to require everyone to secure a permit. It makes sense, even though it can seem a pain.

    BTW, thanks for your efforts!

    • Albee, As always your input is much appreciated. Our concern is not so much the permit, but the fee associated with it. Just doesn’t really make much sense for them to broadly categorize companies based on their tax status. There is a huge cost savings associated with out services yet they still want to charge us? If you ask me, this policy is lame, and needs to be challenged. It doesn’t make sense for agencies who are scraping for revenue to turn down any sort of cost savings because of a law that is very black and white. Collaboration is where it’s at!

      • Albee Doh

        Yeah, fees are excessively high. On that we definitely agree. As for your tax status it may be that they are hanging that on precedent. Have you inquired about that?

        To your point, wasn’t the Quik Pro NYC II cancelled by Quik because the city got greedy and asked for too much money for a second event the following year?

        I think businesses need to organize and start playing hard ball with govt. entities. After all, local businesses are the lifeblood of city and state coffers.


        • I have, if you are not a 501c3, the fee is absurd. And, I think you’re right, I should hit up some other businesses and see if they would help us with this, maybe Hurley and Quik would be willing to get their feet wet on this one? Thanks again for your input my friend, always a pleasure!

  • seldom seen smith

    That’s a bunch of bullsheeit.

Join The Inertia Family 

Only the best. We promise.