Platform of Hoboken Citizens Organization

1. Stop the overdevelopment in Hoboken. -- We advocate a moratorium on development in Hoboken through the repeal of redevelopment ordinances, a moratorium on Zoning Board variances, and a repeal of the Zoning Law's Planned Unit Development provisions.  The overdevelopment in Hoboken that went into full swing under Mayor Russo's administration continues unabated, despite promises to the contrary made by Roberts during his last campaign. The extent of the continued development is so extreme that two of Mayor Roberts former allies, Carol Marsh and Tony Soares, have formed a Ward Council slate of their own to oppose him. Unfortunately, their voting records do not reflect their seeming rejection of their old mentor: As City Council members, both voted to approve the hotel/office building on block B of the Port Authority waterfront site and to approve the resolution initiating the designation of Maxwell House as redevelopment zone, and as a Planning Board member, Marsh voted to approve 720 Monroe and Maxwell House projects, claiming that there was nothing else she could do, even though members of the public (including us) gave her a solid basis from within the Zoning Law for rejecting the projects.

2. End harmful government/private partnerships -- We oppose partnerships between the City of Hoboken and developers that the City should be regulating.  Mayor Roberts has created a partnership with Stevens Institute of Technology on the pretext of gaining help in improving technology-related education from Stevens. Instead, he has given Stevens carte blanche to ignore the zoning law and build a 725 car garage beneath the Babbio Center (without necessary planning and zoning board approvals). In the process, Steven's blasted away the ancient serpentine rock that forms the beginning of the Palisades, releasing naturally occurring asbestos, and possibly creating a health hazard.

3. No more PILOTs and Redevelopment designations -- Redevelopment designation and PILOTs encourage massive development by exempting it from normal zoning and taxes, and passing developers' taxes onto the rest of us. We will oppose any future redevelopment/PILOT agreements and will act to repeal  existing redevelopment ordinances.  Redevelopment was introduced into NJ State law to provide incentives to develop "blighted" properties. In 1992 amendments to this law, redefined "blighted" to include valuable and desirable property (such as Hoboken waterfront property) which could be declared "in need of redevelopment." As a result of the redevelopment ordinance,  "payment in lieu of taxes" ("PILOT") agreements can be made between the city and prospective developers. For example, under PILOT agreements granted to the Port Authority, they (and their tenants) pay only 20% of their fair share of taxes. The rest of their tax obligation is passed onto other Hoboken and Hudson County taxpayers.  (For more information see "Port Authority Redevelopment PILOT Deal Adds 14.1% to Hoboken Taxes".)

4. Create and preserve public open space -- We believe that government should only invoke eminent domain to benefit the public.  Hoboken's population density rivals New York, Tokyo, and Bombay. We have very little public open space, and what we have is being compromised or eliminated by a wall of tall buildings being built on Hoboken's periphery. To protect and preserve Hoboken's limited public space we will oppose the transfer of public lands to private developers.  Additionally, we will consider securing waterfront and other environmentally desirable properties by eminent domain to preserve as a public parkland.

5. Protect rent control/preserve tenants rights -- To protect Hoboken's less wealthy long-term residents, we must maintain the existing rent control protections.  We have worked ceaselessly to protect rent control since 1981, and have successfully prevented its being repealed in four referendum petition drives (1981, 1989, 1994, and 2000). The reason is simple: if rent control is eliminated, hundreds of tenants will lose their homes and be forced out of town. Rent control already has (and state law requires it to have) provisions ensuring that a landlord must get a "fair return" on his investment. However, some real estate speculators want more -- and Hoboken's current popularity allows huge rents to be extracted from tenants.

6. Save Demarest and Hoboken High School. -- The Demarest and Hoboken High schools are viable and should be retained and necessary renovations should be completed.  School board members, elected on the Roberts slate, have joined Russo appointees to approve the decommission (and possible demolition) of both the historic Demarest Middle School and Hoboken High School. Both are still viable schools which recently had major renovations paid for with taxpayer dollars. The school board is planning to build new and potentially inferior schools in the Northwest Redevelopment Zone, the most polluted section of Hoboken and farthest from a central location. Taxpayers will shoulder the costs of demolition and of building the new schools even though they already paid for partial renovations to the existing schools. Who will benefit? The Board of Education can sell decommissioned school property to favored developers for bargain prices at the expense of the Hoboken's children and taxpayers.

7. Parking and traffic -- Overdevelopment contributes substantially to Hoboken's parking crises.  Existing parking regulations should be fully enforced and zip cars and permit restrictions should be considered.  Parking problems and local traffic increases can be traced to the same cause as many other reductions in quality of life: development. Very simply, the more commercial and residential units are crammed into Hoboken, the more traffic will be generated, and the more parking will be required.

8. No surveillance cameras in Hoboken parks -- The Hoboken City Council should act to prevent use of surveillance cameras in Hoboken.   Recently, the city council passed a resolution to spend $75,000 to install surveillance cameras in four Hoboken locations: two on observer highway and one each in Sinatra Park and in Pier A Park. There was no evidence of an increase in crime. This is the first step in Hoboken toward the widespread use of surveillance cameras to spy on law-abiding citizens. Our constitution requires that a court must rule that there is "probable cause" to put a citizen under surveillance -- our Council should not act to undermine our Constitutional protections.

9. The City Council should put all major ordinances on the ballot -- The City Council should put major changes to Hoboken's laws on the ballot for a binding referendum vote, and should legislate to reduce the number of signatures needed for a citizen-initiated referendum.  Major actions have been taken by the Mayor and Council that have forever changed our quality of life and our tax obligations with little regard for what the Citizens want.  Instead of finding ways to take away our right to have a voice in our government, the City Council should be working to give us that voice, and facilitating the use of Direct Democracy through Referendum is the way to do it.