Landlords' 2010 class action lawsuit over Hoboken rent control is dismissed by judge
A group of Hoboken landlords seeking to overturn rent control in Hoboken have lost their bid.
Their class action lawsuit brought against the city was dismissed last week by Judge Mary Costello, signaling a major victory for tenants in the very heated ongoing debate over rent control in the mile-square city.
As it stands, the city's 1973 Rent Control Ordinance puts many limits on much of the housing in Hoboken built before 1987. The laws limit how much landlords can raise the rent each year, and provide some ways in which landlords can apply for an increase.
The lawsuit was brought after several landlords, led by Gina DeNardo, alleged that the rule was unconstitutionally advantageous to tenants. The lawsuit was intended to force the city to change the ordinance’s language regarding rent calculations and the amount of rent that may be charged in condominiums.
But the landlords did not prevail.
Costello dismissed the suit “based upon qualified immunity grounds stemming from the city’s good faith reliance on court decisions that guided the scope of the ordinance,” according to a press release.
"I am very pleased with this decision that confirms that the city has acted properly with regard to the administration of our rent control laws,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “This latest court victory demonstrates once again the importance of making the necessary investment to vigorously defend the city’s interests.”
Charles Gormally, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the suit, said that they would appeal Costello’s decision.
Cathy Cardillo, an attorney for the Citizens for the Retention of Affordable Housing, a Hoboken-based tenant-advocacy group that worked to overturn this decision, called the decision a major victory.
“This is not only a victory for tenants, but for the city as a whole,” she said. “This is a big issue because lots of what’s happened with rent control since 2010, when this lawsuit was filed, has been based on that ordinance, which had not been, until now, declared constitutional.”
Cardillo's group did much research and provided testimony during the proceedings.
The other rent control matter the city is currently experiencing is the backlash from a controversial referendum included on last year’s November election ballot which would have eliminated rent control entirely. The referendum failed, but what subsequently overturned by a judge, leading some tenant advocates to allege that the election had been “stolen.”
Currently, the referendum is scheduled to appear on this November’s ballot per the judge’s orders, said Ron Simoncini, who represents the Mile Square Taxpayer’s Association, a landlord group. But last week, a motion to appeal that order by the Hoboken Fair Housing Association was granted, so the original election results could still be upheld.
Simoncini said that he thought Costello’s decision on the 2010 lawsuit, despite being in favor of tenants, will serve the landlords in the long run because it will help motivate them regarding the other issue.
“I think, if anything, this ruling will fortify support for our cause in the election,” he said.
Mile Square Theatre to premier Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’
Mile Square Theatre will premier its free summer production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” this Friday, June 28, at the amphitheater at Frank Sinatra Park. The show will run through July 14. Performance nights are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8 p.m. Sinatra Park is located at the corner of 4th Street and Sinatra Park Drive in Hoboken.
Set in 19th century Hoboken, the production imagines a resort destination where Orsino and Olivia leisurely while away summer hours in the name of love.
Local restaurateur Anthony Pino (Anthony David’s, Bin 14) will serve fresh-made American-style summer fare at the Frank Sinatra Café. The menu will include lobster rolls, barbecue chicken, hot dogs, seared tuna nicoise salad, pulled pork, and beer and wine.
Twelfth Night is supported by Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the City of Hoboken, Bijou Properties, Ironstate, Hoboken Family Alliance, Mason Family Civic League, Party With Purpose, Pearson Foundation, The Rockefeller Group, and the Monroe Center for the Arts.
Hoboken Children’s theater to premier ‘Legally Blonde’
The Hoboken Children’s Theater’s SummerStage production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” will premier on Friday, June 28.
Performances are June 28 and 29, July 1, 2, 3 and 5 at 7 p.m., June 30 and July 7 at 3 p.m., and July 6 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. All performances take place at Monroe Theatrespace, Monroe Center for the Arts, located at 720 Monroe Street, Second Floor. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.legallyblondehoboken.brownpapertickets.com or at the door until sold out.
Based on the hit movie, “Legally Blonde” is an effervescent musical, stylishly wrapped up in a smart pink bow! This high-energy romp features music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, and book by Heather Hach.
The show is directed by Broadway stars Don Brewer and Lisa Capps. Choreography by Michelle Kittrell, based on Jerry Mitchell’s original choreography. Musical Direction by Caleb Damschroder.
SummerStage Pro is a free program, and the Company is made up of talented young adults ages 14 to 26, many from prestigious performing arts schools and BFA programs.
Senior farmer’s market vouchers available July 1
Senior Farmer’s Market Vouchers will be available at the ground floor conference room in City Hall on Monday, July 1st from 9am to noon. Applicants must have proof of identity and residency with one of the following: driver’s license, utility or phone bill or birth certificate. Applicants also must have proof of income with one of the following: current income tax return, Social Security statement, food stamp/SNAP verification, or Medicaid card.
Deadlines for Sandy-relief grant applications approaching
The city issued a press release last week reminding residents and business owners that the deadline to apply for several Hurricane Sandy relief grants is June 30. To be eligible for these grants, residents must have previously registered for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Grant opportunities are available for homeowners and businesses who sustained damage from Hurricane Sandy. Businesses have until October 31, 2013 to apply. Several types of grants are available.
The NJ Economic Development Authority held an information meeting at Hoboken City Hall on June 11, to provide information and answer questions regarding the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program. Video of the meeting is available online: http://vimeo.com/hobokennj/businessgrants
The NJEDA Office of Recovery Superstorm Sandy hotline is also open at 1-855-SANDY-BZ to answer any questions you may have regarding the program and application process.