Ocean City councilman proposes dress code for boardwalk

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So far this season, Ocean City has seen brawls on the boardwalk, robberies and even a few stabbings.

Town councilman Brent Ashley has had enough. The vocal advocate for Maryland's resort city says what's urgently needed is a return to decency. For a start, he said, people can pull up their pants or perhaps put on a shirt and shoes in the evening.


Ashley is proposing a decency law for Ocean City that could be modeled on a recent law passed in Wildwood, N.J. That law calls for a $25 fine for wearing saggy pants - those that fall 3 inches or more from the waistline - on the boardwalk. It also mandates shoes and shirts that cover the "breast or pectoral area." The ordinance applies to those over the age of 12.

"We're a family oriented destination and we want to keep it that way," said Ashley, adding that when he first proposed a decency law back in 2011, he received little support from his colleagues. However, when he brought up the law again this year, the idea was well received. He said the council will take it up for discussion soon and that he thinks there is support for it in the local community as well.


Ashley said he is deeply concerned about recent reports of violence on the boardwalk and how they might affect the town's family tourism trade.

"We've had some problems here on the boardwalk in June, with some thugs, some hoodlums, that kind of thing," he said. "I'm not going to let anybody take over our town."

He noted the success of last weekend's Dew Tour event, which seemed to go off without a hitch, however Ashley said there were more than 100 arrests.

The decency ordinance would be a first step in the right direction, he said, in terms of what the council can do to make laws aside from the police department's enforcement efforts. Some experts commenting on the new Wildwood, N.J., law have said that it could be unconstitutional, but Ashley said something has to be done.

"A line has been crossed and we have to change some things," he said.