This past Monday, we delivered a referendum petition to the City Clerk protesting against the passage by the Hoboken City Council (on October 19) and approval by the Mayor (on October 21) of an ordinance amending Hoboken's Rent Control Law that is harmful to tenants.
The petition calls for the City Council to repeal the ordinance and, if they fail to do so, calls for the Hoboken City Clerk to submit the ordinance to the voters of Hoboken so that they might approve or reject it at the polls in a referendum vote as provided for by law (N.J.S.A. 40:69A-184 et seq.).
According to state law, no ordinance goes into effect until at least 20 days after its passage by the Council and approval by the Mayor. If a referendum petition is handed in to the City Clerk within this 20-day interim which is signed by a sufficient number of voters, then the ordinance does not go into effect. The Council may then repeal the ordinance or, if they refuse to do so, the City Clerk must put the ordinance on the ballot for a city-wide referendum vote.
Our referendum petition was handed in within 17 days of passage and approval and was signed by 1550 Hoboken voters, more than twice the number required to suspend the ordinance and force it to be repealed or put on the ballot.
We would like to thank everyone who circulated and signed the petition and who expressed support for Rent Control and for the democratic referendum process. It is difficult to comprehend why our elected representatives would want to amend Rent Control to cheat tenants and to reward landlords by allowing them to keep illegal overcharges of rent in violation of law. But it is encouraging that so many citizens were willing to stand against this injustice by circulating and signing our protest petition. This is one of those rare instances when the failure of our representative democracy can possibly be overcome by direct democratic citizen participation.
Annette Illing and Daniel Tumpson,
for the Committee of the Petitioners