Last week Mayor Zimmer wrote that it was too complicated to explain her position on rent control in Hoboken. As a lifelong resident of Hoboken – yes, born and raised – and a member of a family that has been paying property taxes on its home for more than 60 years, my position is not complicated at all: It is completely fair for new residents coming to Hoboken to pay a fair rent. It is completely fair to expect the chief executive of our city to be able to formulate a fair policy and fairly articulate her position. It is Mayor Zimmer’s politics that are complicated, not the issue of rent control. What she is really saying is it will hurt her politically to make an honest assessment of the rent control issue.
It’s a shortcut we’ve seen in Hoboken for 40 years because siding with tenants who are more numerous than property owners is a temptation politicians cannot resist. Mayor Zimmer has never once addressed the unconscionable treatment property owners have endured under the Hoboken rent leveling office and rent leveling board. Through her apathy or consent, Mayor Zimmer has permitted them to compromise their offices to provide windfalls for tenants and their attorneys despite that property owners like myself followed all the rules. I nearly lost a property that has been in my family for 60 years as a result of years of regulatory abuses and corrupt practices in the rent leveling office and on the rent leveling board. Despite the City Council passing amendments to reform rent control, the office and the board continue to manipulate rules to the detriment of property owners.
The problem here is that the city has accepted a horrible lie that is borne of politics: tenants are vulnerable and property owners are found guilty before they are even accused. Every evidence flies in the face of that position. The truth is tenants have all the protections and property owners have none. When property taxes go up by 47 percent do rents go up by 47 percent? No – they go up by less than 2 percent. Even if the yes votes prevails all existing tenants and most new tenants will have their rents regulated by the council – but at least when units are vacant the property owner will be able to charge enough so that they can make needed improvements to aging buildings.
Mayor Zimmer, isn’t it time that you considered what might be fair to those of us whose families built this city and continue to be its backbone? Let me simplify it for you: Your policy encourages devaluing or even taking a family’s property so someone else will get a windfall and support your political ambitions, and that is deeply offensive to any right-thinking person.
Park Avenue Hoboken