Remember to vote on the public questions this November
Sep 09, 2012 | 1090 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

This Nov. 6th will be a presidential election. Besides candidates, the ballot will contain several public questions requiring a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote. The public questions are often complex and confusing, so the entire public question must be read carefully to be understood. When you get your ballot in the mail, please read it carefully before you go to vote.

On July 11, the City Council certified an initiative petition which was circulated by landlord/real estate interests which will impact rental housing in Hoboken. This initiative petition proposes amendments to Hoboken’s rent control ordinance which will be put to the voters in one of the public questions on the November ballot. The petition contains the following wording of the public question which the petitioners want to be used on the ballot:

“Shall the City of Hoboken continue annual rental increase protections for current residents of rent controlled properties but allow property owners to negotiate rents for vacant apartments and exempt buildings with one-to-four units and condominium units from the rent leveling ordinance by adopting the proposed amendment to Chapter 155 of the Code of the City of Hoboken?”

The wording: “Shall the City of Hoboken continue annual rental increase protections for current residents of rent controlled properties…” implies that if a voter wants the City of Hoboken to “continue annual rental increase protections for current residents of rent controlled properties”, then the voter must vote ‘yes’ on the public question. This implication is not true, and this misleading public question wording should not be used on the ballot.

The current rent control ordinance already provides for “annual rental increase protections for current residents” and including language that suggests that the proposed rent control amendments provide the stated protections (when they do not) is deceptive. The proposed rent control amendments severely weaken tenants’ existing rent control protections by eliminating them entirely for 1-4 unit buildings and condos and by allowing an unlimited rent increase in all units for each subsequent new tenant at the beginning of his tenancy.

The proposed rent control amendments eliminate rent control protections once the current tenant vacates either voluntarily or by court-ordered eviction. Court-ordered evictions are fairly easy to obtain in 1-3 unit buildings and condos at the end of the current lease, and for all other rental units, current tenants can be given a 3-year condo conversion eviction notice. If the voters approve these proposed rent control amendments, landlords will have a huge incentive and the legal means to evict their current tenants.

The tenants that live in these units are our friends and neighbors that have created a wonderful community with a diverse, eclectic, and interesting mix of residents in the different inviting neighborhoods throughout Hoboken. These environments could be destroyed if people do not understand what they are being asked to vote on this November. Please take care to understand what it being asked of you when you do vote, and consider the consequences of putting people at the risk of losing their homes.

Mary Ondrejka

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