Home Business Employees continue to receive awards from the Hamptons

Employees continue to receive awards from the Hamptons

by SuperiorInvest

For decades, residents and seasonal visitors to the Hamptons and other East End Long Island towns have prepared to spend summer mornings and evenings at the “trade show.” a jam-packed procession of contractors, hospital staff and other workers who commute to work in the East End every day.

Because of the cost outside the area, many workers have long lived on the island in cheaper locations such as Manorville and Mastic-Shirley, forcing them to commute hours each day.

But the procession is thinning, company owners warned. Fewer and fewer workers are willing to put up with wall-to-wall traffic for low-wage jobs, underscoring the longstanding dilemma that the workers who keep the North and South Forks running can’t afford to live there.

“I don’t say the word crisis very easily, but it’s true,” said Fred Thiele Jr., a state assemblyman whose district includes Southampton. He said the employee was forced out of the home she rented in Sag Harbor when the landlord sold it to capitalize on soaring home prices, part of a wave of sales that turned year-round rentals into seasonal vacation homes. The employee moved in with his friend, he said, “but for a lot of people in that situation, they didn’t have options.”

Complaints about lack of affordability are not new, but the pandemic has brought panic and changes to the rhythm of the summer season. Many restaurants now close one or two days a week, even in the summer, without enough staff to staff them, business owners say. “Who’s going to drive from Shirley and sit in that traffic and clean hotel rooms?” said Jay Schneiderman, Southampton city supervisor and Montauk hotel owner.

Once again, residents are debating proposed solutions, including where to build high-density housing and how best to use funds earmarked for affordable housing measures.

The Hamptons used to have affordable places like the Springs, a heavily wooded neighborhood along Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton, but the mad rush to suburbia during the pandemic has pushed prices out of reach for lower-income people.

Even real estate agents who make an average of $100,000 a year can’t afford the market, said Ben Dixon, dealer with Douglas Elliman both in New York and the Hamptons.

The average sales price on the South Fork, which includes the towns of East Hampton and Southampton, was $3.222 million in the first quarter of 2023, a 73 percent increase from $1.86 million in 2019, according to Corcoran data.

On the North Fork, which includes the towns of Southold and Shelter Island, the median price in the first quarter of 2023 was $1.188 million, up 64 percent from $723,000 in 2019.

The cities offer some subsidized rental and sales units, including 344 in Southampton and 818 in East Hampton. Applicant waiting lists far exceed demand: 1,334 applicants in Southampton and 3,107 applicants in East Hampton as of last month.

In November, four towns on the North and South Forks — Southampton, East Hampton, Southold and Shelter Island — approved a 0.5 percent property transfer tax to create the Community Housing Fund. The tax applies to the sale of all properties, with the first $400,000 exempt from those sold for less than $2 million. Mr. Thiele’s office expects the new tax to raise $25 million in 2024, the first full year of its implementation, and $600 million before it is renewed in 2050.

Local governments can use the fund for initiatives such as down payment assistance for home buyers, public-private building projects and creation of additional housing units on existing houses. If the community housing fund gets $10 million a year, that would equate to 66 new units each year, Mr. Schneiderman said.

Residents are skeptical affordable housing; believes preserving the Hamptons’ lush environment is also a priority, said Bob DeLuca, president of the land conservancy. Group for the East End.

“You should care about what’s going on in your backyard. Why wouldn’t you be?” he said.

The land in the Hamptons is protected by the Peconic Bay Tax, a real estate transfer tax enacted in 1998 that has generated more than $1 billion for the community’s conservation fund since 2000.

It has been so successful that there is little land left for development. About 68 percent of Montauk is preserved, said Scott Wilson, director of acquisitions and land management for the city of East Hampton.

While officials sift through policies and politics, local business owners determine where their employees will live in the meantime.

Jesse Matsuoka, 37, who co-owns four restaurants, including Sen and K Pasa in Sag Harbor, now has six “employee houses”: a family and multifamily house in Sag Harbor, three apartments on the Seine, rooms for his parents’ guests and a spare room in his own house.

His wife, Jessica Matsuoka, moonlights as their property manager.

Still, Mr. Matsuoka needs housing for more than 100 seasonal employees and isn’t sure his restaurants will be operating at full capacity this summer.

“They’re trying to sell this lifestyle to others to live here, but they’re pushing out the working class, so how are businesses supposed to operate?” he asked.

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