Realtors: Half of Long Beach Homes Still Vacant

This story was updated at 6:40 a.m. 1.9.13.

Like other Long Beach real estate agents, Joe Sinnona drives around the Hurricane Sandy-battered city at night in search of lights to get a pulse on the number of residents living in their homes since the October storm displaced many.  

More than half of the beach town’s residents are residing elsewhere, he concludes. 

“About 60 percent of the people who live in Long Beach are still displaced,” said Sinnona, an associate broker at Verdeschi Realty in the West End. “You know that they are not there because the houses are dark. And that’s what’s scary.”

Other realtors put the percentage not much higher or lower, depending on the neighborhood. Karen Adamo, a broker with Petrey Realty on East Park Avenue, believes that no more than 40 percent of residents have returned to their homes in the West End and West Holme.

“In the West End there are a number bungalows but there are enough two-story homes that I kind of feel like there are people living in the second floor, but in the first-floor apartments, probably not,” Adamo said.

Adamo’s speculation is based partly on her conversations with friends who live in the West End, some of whom estimate that 50 percent of their neighbors are back home. But she believes the Walks and the Canals probably have more vacancies.

“In the Walks and a lot of one-story homes, ranches and bungalows, maybe a third of the people are back,” she said.

Adamo lives in the Canals, where on two adjacent streets there are 28 homes but families are only living in about seven of them. “All the ranches on these two streets are empty,” she observed.

Most of the tenants in the beachside highrises are probably back, Adamo said, except for a few buildings that are still out of operation, including one on Shore Road and two on West Broadway.

Joe Ponte, a broker with Douglas Elliman on West Park Avenue, takes note of the number of cars parked on the streets during his travels throughout the city. “I only saw five, six or seven cars parked on one block when normally parking would be to capacity in the evening,” he said of a street in the Canals on Saturday.

Ponte agrees that no more than 50 percent of city residents are home. He noted that most of the ranches in the East End, especially those that neighbor the still vacant Long Beach Medical Center, are vacant themselves.

“It seems like most of the ranches are still unoccupied,” Ponte said.

While the U.S. Census Bureau lists the population in Long Beach at more than 33,000 in 2011, Sinnona believes that 50,000 is a more accurate number, one that swells to at least 15,000 more during the summer months.

Sinnona was among the displaced after Sandy. His barrier island home was flooded and he and his family moved to Astoria for 33 days before their return. He believes it will be months before the picture on displacement will come into sharper focus. 

“I think we need the spring and summer to determine how many people actually will come back,” Sinnona said. “I think it will take at least a year until they come back stronger.”

The Long Beach Police Department said that patrols have returned to normal in the half-empty city after the department received outside assistance from various sources, including State Police, in the wake of the hurricane. 
jimmy walsh January 08, 2013 at 04:53 PM
watch out
Patrick Smith January 08, 2013 at 06:05 PM
What would you expect when our flood insurance money has not been giving to the customers, Long beach is becoming a ghost town by the sea.Remember this time of your life on next election vote all out
Patrick Smith January 08, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Did they say anything about the property value going down ,more than likely its down 20 % hope i,m wrong
Tonto Hertzberg January 08, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Mark my words. If you repair your home correctly you home will be worth MORE than it was the day before the storm. Why? Because there will be less homes available. The illegal rental issue has abated along with parking and overcrowding. Rememeber, this is PRIME oceanfront property 20 miles from Manhattan. Also, any home that is vacated will be snapped up by the folks that remain next door to make double and triple lots. It is sad that this has happened but when that new boardwalk strats to materialize just watch the home values pop higher.
Beachguy January 08, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Hope you're right Wildman
Tonto Hertzberg January 08, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Also, it is the DEAD of winter on the beach. MANY people are in Florida and other warmer areas. Also, those with flood insurance are ENTITLED to an ADDITIONAL $30,000 to raise their house to the FEMA required height . Its called flood mitigation. Just picture your bungalow fixed up and EIGHT FEET higher, with parking for two cars underneath and a beautiful raised deck.....maybe now with an ocean view you did not have before. You better believe your house will be worth QUITE a bit more that it was before the storm if you make those changes. THINK POSITIVE! Finally, your home will be more secure from intruders if it is raised 8 feet than it was before the storm.
Beachguy January 08, 2013 at 08:05 PM
You're making sense Wildman. but remember--- TILB! This where Murphys Law thrives. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Hope I'm wrong though.
Carly January 08, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Wildman, do you have any idea about the costs to elevate a home? At least $100,000K for a bungalow, plus the cost of a structural architect, general contractor and elevation engineer. The $30,000K from FEMA will cover the elevation of a doghouse. Why don't you ask Jack Schnirman why the city hasn't applied for a Hazard Mitigation Grant from FEMA, which will pay for 75% of homeowner elevation costs. He has done nothing to help the residents who regretably elected him.
Just a Resident January 08, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Waving hello from Baldwin where we are living now. My house will be torn down but how? And how on earth will I rebuild. A mystery. And why on earth with all this hardship do we still have to pay the City of Long Beach $100 a month for water/sewer?
nurseshelly January 08, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Glad some of you out there realize that rebuilding to increase property values takes Money which most people say they don't have enough of. From what I've seen of every street will be a long time before property is worth anything why are people not protesting and demanding that money be released quickly to expedite rebuilding. If not long beach will continue to deteriorate faster than it already is dead of winter or not
Tonto Hertzberg January 08, 2013 at 11:50 PM
FOR CONTRACTORS: A smart contractor will come up with a cookie cutter plan to raise these West End bungalows for $30,000, all inclusive. Come up with a way to do it and plan to do it on 150 homes. That is $4.5 MILLION dollars in construction revenue. Use the same concrete forms, etc, over and over again. It CAN be done! This is the United States of America..........we INVENTED the assembly line!
Tonto Hertzberg January 08, 2013 at 11:54 PM
In addition, Get the City on board to clear a regulatory path for the paperwork and hire local people with skills...............there are many...........that are in need of work. There are lots of smart folks out there. An enterprising contractor can do well by himself and well by the community too.
Tonto Hertzberg January 09, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Found dog. By Rachela Levinson 2 hours ago Comments ⋅ Reposts 2 Hello all! I found a dog on Monday, January 7 at 1:30 pm on the corner of east market and Lincoln boulevard. He is white in color and was found with a red collar. He had no tags and when taken to the vet he did not have a chip. Please help me find this sweet boy his family or a new loving home.
Tonto Hertzberg January 09, 2013 at 12:12 AM
May I add........... That 50% number is bs. Total bs.
Beachguy January 09, 2013 at 02:57 AM
Schnirmam was not elected by the citizens. He was appointed City Manager by the council. People who live here don't even understand the structure of our government
Patrick Smith January 09, 2013 at 04:37 AM
our government has contingency plans to invade every country on earth and every senario possible from cyber attack to nuke attacks , they never imagined this happening to our own country ,with no preparedness . while we spend trillions on security and defense ,that is a recipe for disaster.wake up
Jcpd January 09, 2013 at 08:25 AM
What ever happened to West End Neighbor Assoc? Now is their time to help the West End get help and organize.
Patrick Smith January 09, 2013 at 08:39 AM
What happened every man for himselfish
Patrick Smith January 09, 2013 at 08:39 AM
What happened every man for himselfish
delete me January 09, 2013 at 10:08 AM
Patrick Smith 15 hours ago "What would you expect when our flood insurance money has not been giving to the customers, Long beach is becoming a ghost town by the sea.Remember this time of your life on next election vote all out" What does your flood insurance money have to do with the next election?
Eddie January 09, 2013 at 10:13 AM
You are only entitled to flood mitigation money if you have flood insurance and your damages exceed 50% of the resale value of your home or if you suffered two or more substantial losses in the past 10 years. The the City must apply for a mitigation plan, which it hasn't done, and offer 25% of the costs. Otherwise, I doubt anyone here will be alive to see the next 300 year storm. Possible, certainly, but 1 in 300 odds. Why gamble $75,000 in mitigation on odds like that?
Jcpd January 09, 2013 at 10:45 AM
What is there available from gov for homeowner to raise house without having flood insurance?
Eddie January 09, 2013 at 10:47 AM
Nothing. Why would there be? The only incentive would be avoiding very high flood insurance rates in the future.
Jerry January 09, 2013 at 11:45 AM
I find it kind of creepy...this Realtor guy driving around looking in everyone's windows. I'm going to keep an eye on him.
Hamburger January 09, 2013 at 12:01 PM
every household should be entitled to one rowboat and free swimming lessons
Rachel January 09, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Jerry the realitors are driving around trying to buy your property cheap have a shadey developer rebuild and sell high I have already been approached twice.
delete me January 09, 2013 at 01:25 PM
I'm not arguing against a changeover in residents if it means less cranky pants.
Disgusted Homeowner January 10, 2013 at 10:36 PM
The only vacant property on my block was vacant since 2011 when the owner died with an overblown mortgage leaving the bank holding the bag. Bungalows almost by definition are vacant all winter maybe less now than 20 years ago. What is it less than 90 days after a major catastrophe? We all rolled the dice by living here on a barrier beach. Now seems like everyone wants someone to help them out. FEMA sent me a package every year spelling out what was covered and what was not. Maybe I should have got a lawyer then to explain the inevitable.
Hamburger January 11, 2013 at 01:47 PM
don't care what anybody says - I'm gonna get my FEMA loot!
Rachel January 11, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Good luck candyman


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