“It stipulates that we return to the rent control that we had for 40 years in Bayonne,” said BTO chairman Ed Gilligan.
The BTO held its recent meeting, attended by 20 people, on Jan. 28 at St. Andrew’s School.
The group was formed in October 2012, when rent control was abolished by the City Council. About 2,500 units of the city’s apartments would fall under rent control guidelines.
The BTO’s movement is more than just about affordable living, according to Gilligan.
“It’s about senior citizens in the community in their buildings,” he said. “But this is also about the community spirit in Bayonne, the local culture of Bayonne.”
This is the organization’s second attempt to bring back rent control to Bayonne. The group was able to have a measure placed on the ballot in November 2012, and while it lost, it received nearly 50 percent of the vote.
Gilligan attributed that loss to Hurricane Sandy and the relocation of many of the city’s downtown residents, who he said did not get to vote on the issue if they voted out of town.
So far the group has collected about 300 signatures in this effort, with 1,680 needed by Feb. 28 to achieve their goal of the initiative being placed on the ballot.
“We’re confident that—based on our (past) performance—we can do it again,” Gilligan said. “People are very open and willing to sign this, because they’re in favor of rent control.”
The committee members listed on the petition drive for the “Keep Rent Control” ordinance are Gary Lapelusa, Patrick Desmond, Thomas Solari, John Butchko, and Annie Smith, BTO treasurer.
Though many involved with the petition drive are backers of mayoral candidate James Davis, Gilligan said the groups are not working in concert.
“He’s listening. He’s not made a formal statement, to my knowledge, regarding rent control issues,” Gilligan said. “I believe he will be supporting us, but I can’t speak for him.”
The group’s next meeting is Feb. 18, again at St. Andrew’s, 126 Broadway, in the media room.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.