Wednesday, July 02, 2008

People, People Everywhere - Already!

Why is it that the 3000 people who live in Wellfleet year-round hunker down for July and August? Because daily life becomes a challenge! I was working this morning with David Wright, editing his manuscript on the shellfishing industry, and commented on the Fourth of July crowds. Locals, like Jeff Zinn in this photo, slip in and out of town, without lingering. There actually was a traffic jam on our narrow road today. Wellfleet is full, and the invasion is a bit overwhelming. David pointed out, “We have loved it too dearly, promoting it too well.” Indeed, tourism is our other main industry. I would be hard-pressed to come up with the name of a neighbor who does not vacate his or her house for a couple weeks each summer now. Thirty-eight years ago, when my parents moved to Old King’s Highway, Seagull Cottage was a rarity as rental property. Don’t misunderstand. I am not complaining because of the competition. We are booked for all of July and most of August. What bothers me is the pace changes to frenetic. It is interesting to note the availability of rental properties has never been so high as second-home owners opt to open their space to strangers, often to offset steep mortgage payments. With the advent of Internet advertising, local real estate rental offices have seen requests decline dramatically. Where is the action? On the Internet, duh! One site that aggressively promotes Cape Cod is CyberRentals, which lists 268 properties in Wellfleet. Last year, at this time, there were only 202. It is not clear to me whether the higher number is due to the gas crisis keeping folks home or the fact that more locals are willing to rent their homes. The cheapest option goes for $950, as opposed to $725 last year. The most expensive listing offers a four-bedroom home with sunset harbor views for an amazing $8950/week ($7850, in 2007). That’s more than $1278/day. What is even more mind-boggling is the fact that the house is already booked for all of July and August! The increased population is a boon for local businesses, like Pickle and Puppy, in this building on Main Street, Wellfleet's chief destination for tourists intent on shopping their vacation away.