A provision that could have eliminated rent control for some residents in the city has been pulled from the March 16 City Council agenda.
The City Council, officials said, will vote to renew the current regulations, which will be unchanged from the past.
The proposed amendment to the city’s rent control ordinance would have allowed some landlords to opt out of rent control in exchange for making certain improvements to the property.
In this instance, a landlord would have had to notify all residents of a property within 15 days of applying for the option, and residents would have had 90 days after an opt out is approved to appeal.
“The ordinance does not do away with rent control.” -- Terrence Ruane
The only exemption would have been seniors and the disabled. A senior citizen is anyone 62 or older, and anyone considered disabled under the federal Social Security Disability Act would have qualified.
Landlords would have had to been required to meet certain criteria before being allowed to participate in the “opt out” program.
But the change sparked significant outrage, with well-over a dozen people claiming they intended to speak out against the change at the public hearing on March 16.
Ordinance on rent control tabled – then yanked
Saying he was fed up with the misinformation being spread about a proposed revision of the local rent control ordinance, Council President Terrence Ruane said he intended to table the matter at the March 16 meeting. But the city clerk issued a letter a few days later, saying that the proposed changes would be pulled entirely and that the City Council would be asked to simply vote on an annual renewal instead.
“I have been advised by the city attorney that the amendments to the rent control ordinance will be removed from the ordinance being considered by the council at the council meeting on March 16,” said City Clerk Robert Sloan. “The council will, however, be asked to pass only that part of the ordinance that renews the Rent Control Ordinance for an additional year. The Rent Control Ordinance will, therefore, remain in effect as it currently stands. The public hearing on the ordinance will be limited to whether or not the Rent Control Ordinance will be renewed for an additional year.”
Speaking at the March 9 council caucus meeting, Ruane said he had received numerous phone calls about the ordinance that could have dramatically changed the city’s rent control provisions, saying many of the suggestions were good. But he also said that some people with political agendas have been spreading misinformation about what the ordinance does.
Ruane said he moved to table the measure after discussing the matter with his council colleagues and Mayor Mark Smith.
“Many people have contacted us with ideas, suggestions, and concerns regarding rent control since the ordinance was introduced last month,” said Ruane. “We want to have an opportunity to review and consider these ideas as we move forward.”
Ruane also said that a campaign of misinformation was being waged by opponents of the administration who were seeking to use the issue as political fodder.
“The ordinance does not do away with rent control,” said Ruane. “We are looking for a way to improve our neighborhoods by encouraging investment in rental properties.”
The council president went on to explain that the ordinance revisions include specific protections for senior citizens, the disabled, and low income citizens.
Ruane also pointed out that the measure has no affect upon rents in public housing or other income or age based buildings, such as Senior Horizons, Plattykill Manor, or the Zito Building.
But several groups in the city were gearing up for the March 16 public hearing and held a meeting of their own on March 10, where they met with Attorney Cathy Cardillo, a rent control activist from Hoboken who encouraged them to work with the administration.
Former 3rd Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa, however, said he did not believe the strategies used in opposition to changes in Hoboken would work in Bayonne.
La Pelusa encouraged those concerned to attend the March 16 meeting to voice their concerns, even if the matter is no longer on the agenda.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.