To delay worsening a parking shortage in the area around newly-opened Public School No. 26 on Laidlaw Avenue in the Heights, the City Council decided at its May 10 meeting to wait until September to introduce an ordinance imposing new parking restrictions.
Combined with parking already reserved for school employees along Laidlaw and Jefferson avenues, the new restrictions would eliminate 600 more feet of existing parking along Laidlaw and Jefferson to create a path for school buses to pick up and drop off students.
Councilman Richard Boggiano represents the area, and said the restrictions would impose a hardship on residents who already have lost parking options to a middle school in the area which also causes significant traffic backups.
“The new school at Laidlaw and Summit is a perfect example of foolishness. How do you build a school with not enough parking,” he said, noting that the location of the school creates a nightmare for an area that already suffers from significant traffic woes.
Representatives from traffic planning said the city had no input as to the location of the school. The Board of Education oversaw the construction, but that planning for these sites falls under the purview of the State Department of Education, not the local planning authority.
The new school is located on Laidlaw Avenue and along Summit, across from one of the principle fire houses in Jersey City Heights, a charter school, a middle school, and a private education facility run by St. Joseph’s Home for the Blind.
Councilman Michael Yun asked to modify the ordinance to limit the impact on parking, suggesting the city restrict parking for a hour or so in the morning and then in the afternoon. Traffic officials said the school accommodates special needs students, which requires pickups and drop-offs throughout the school day.
They also said that having parking at that location during the day could result in problems for the fire department that uses Jefferson Avenue to respond to emergencies on the eastern side of Jersey City Heights.
Because Reservoir No. 3 and Pershing Field occupy a large portion of that side of Summit on the north side, fire engines would have to go many blocks out of their way to get across town.
“With other schools in that area, there is already a shortage of parking.” – Richard Boggiano said.
This was one of the issues raised by neighborhood associations in the Heights earlier this year when they said teachers coming and going to work in the area often taken up many residential parking spaces.
“With other schools in that area, there is already a shortage of parking,” Boggiano said.
The council decided to delay passing the ordinance until September when the school is fully occupied. Currently, the school is only being used by teachers and students from PS. 30 who were transferred there just after Easter.
In September, however, the issue will become critical when the student population swells to more than 750.
Puppy mill ban
Jersey City has no pet stores that sell dogs and cats, but the council reluctantly introduced an ordinance that would prohibit stores from doing so in the future. Those that promote rescued animals through a reputable rescue agency would be exempt.
Often called “Puppy Mills,” commercial pet stores often purchase animals from suppliers that do not provide minimum standards for animal health.
The ordinance would allow stores to work with rescue facilities and shelters – such as companies like Pet Smart does – to get rescued animals adopted, but would outlaw a store from selling dogs and cats that are not obtained from approved breeders.
Since state law outlaws these breeders from operating a commercial facility such as a storefront pet store, the ordinance would largely restrict commercial pet stores from selling cats or dogs. The ordinance would not affect the sale of birds, fish and smaller animals or reptiles, which are commonly sold in such venues.
Under the ordinance, a store owner could be fined up to $2,000 or serve up to 90 days in jail for a violation.
The ordinance is being promoted by animal rights groups as a way around Gov. Christopher Christie’s veto of state wide legislation that would have implemented stricter restrictions on pet stores who buy from breeders who violate federal regulations governing the raising and keeping of cats and dogs for sale.
Some council members such as Councilman Daniel Rivera are concerned that the ordinance might put the city at risk of lawsuits, because it appears to be crafted to focus on a single business suspected of selling dogs.
At this point, the city inspectors, he noted, have not proven anything, but there have been unsubstantiated allegations made.
“This is a good ordinance, but it should not look as if we’re going after one particular business, especially when our own health department tells us they have no record of this going on,” Rivera said.
Federal law requires pet stores to get their dogs from breeders that are licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department Agriculture. But breeders and hobby breeders are restricted from selling from a commercial establishment and must sell to individuals by visiting homes or some other one to one interaction.
Bed bug concerns
The council approved a resolution that would require residents disposing of mattresses to obtain a plastic mattress cover to protect trash collectors, other residents, and those who are hired to dispose of them from possible bed bug infestation.
“Beg bugs are a concern,” said Stacy Flanagan of the city’s Department of Health.
The city will provide the covers at a nominal cost, but will not pick up mattresses without them, she said.
“This is an issue for our vendors,” she said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.