On Tuesday, our community will go to the polls to vote on changes to our rent control ordinance, an amendment known as Z-88. There have been mailings and slick brochures generated by a wealthy group of mainly out-of-town developers and real estate lobbyists urging homeowners to approve this amendment while propagating an alarming amount of misinformation. The question every Hoboken voter should keep in mind is “why would out-of-towners care so much about Hoboken’s rent control ordinance?”
This well funded group includes out-of-town developers, large-scale landlords and a hired lobbyist, Ron Simoncini, and would like Hobokenites to believe that a small group of long-time residents that came together to counter the efforts to dismantle rent control have initiated lawsuits costing the city $500,000, when, in fact, it is this anti-rent control group that is holding a multi-million dollar gun to the city’s head with a specious “class action” lawsuit. This lawsuit appears to be the primary reason our mayor and council voted to approve Z-88. Our elected officials have disagreements but I believe they are sincerely concerned about Hoboken’s financial future – as we all are. Having a group spearheaded by out-of-towners threatening to break the city financially unless it weakens tenant protections was a pretty persuasive tactic and resulted in Z-88. Sadly, among other things, Z-88 includes a provision that legalizes illegal rent overcharges by a small number of landlords. This amounts to a slap in the face to the many hometown landlords who do follow the law.
Speaking of disrespect, there was a tremendous amount on display at the recent rent control debate. Ron Simoncini, debating on behalf of his group, was supported by a contingent of aggressively disrespectful out-of-towners who made loud, obnoxious comments after every response by resident tenant advocates Cheryl Fallick and Dan Tumpson intended to intimidate them. This planned campaign of aggressive bullying continued after the debates with not one, not two, but three women approaching Ms. Fallick suggesting that she should not be on the Rent Leveling Board. Does anyone think it was a coincidence that three individuals came up separately and said the same thing? I believe it was all part of a planned, hostile campaign to intimidate and harass the tenant supporters who were in attendance and the tenant activists who were debating. Fortunately, most of these rude individuals, including Ron Simoncini, do not live in Hoboken. Let’s count our blessings.
Whatever problems might exist in our RC ordinance, they can be solved in-house, by tenants and property owners coming together. While a City Council sub-committee was a good idea, it appears to have made things worse. Perhaps we should consider an ad hoc committee of local tenants and owners to update our RC ordinance as a whole rather than the piecemeal attempt that is Z-88.
Whatever we decide, let’s come together as a community to protect our own law abiding citizens and not be influenced by a group of crass carpetbaggers who simply sow seeds of division for the sake of their own hyper-profits.
I urge all residents to vote in our own best interest. Reject the divisive tactics of non-resident developers, real estate lobbyists and their sycophants by voting YES to Public Question 2 on Tuesday Nov. 8.