Gentrification Isn’t Just About Housing Affordability Anymore

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Dear Editor:

I am writing to point out that many politicians advocate in favor of greater rent control and for additional affordable housing while casting votes that add to the gentrification of our city. Not the old-fashioned gentrification that you easily comes to mind but a more subtle form of gentrification being practiced where residents are driven to self-relocate due to the increasing cost of living here. Not their housing costs, but their parking costs.

If you blinked, you probably missed it. At the last meeting the City Council voted to continue its sad record of selling off municipal lots while increasing the financial burden on taxpayers. The Council voted to transfer the last municipal parking lot serving Downtown Jersey City to the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency. The JCRA will in turn sell the land to its developer of choice. The City is moving forward with the idea of shuttering the municipal parking lot just two years after eliminating dozens of street parking spaces on Newark Avenue to create a Pedestrian Plaza.

Where do you park your car while visiting Restaurant Row or if you’re a senior filling a prescription at the local pharmacy? Where do residents park overnight? “Who cares,” says the City.

We were told that any developer acquiring the land will be obligated to increase the number of parking spaces on the property as part of the deal. Lost in the fine print is that those spaces will be priced at market rate not the municipal rate. We are told that shoppers should use bus service and the nearby Path station. Has anyone given any consideration to just how long it takes to get from the Heights to Downtown Jersey City by bus? (Walking might be easier!)

Parking is the single most serious economic issue facing residents of Jersey City, and our government is oblivious to this. It isn’t the first time they’ve done this. First came for-fee parking at Newport Centre where we were promised a sizable discount for Jersey City residents, and that rate continues to inch up, over loud objections. During the last Council Session, the City sold off the municipal parking lot adjacent to the Municipal Judiciary Complex. Because of the proximity to Journal Square we were told no one will drive to the Courthouse. Today if you need to drive to pay off a ticket or file a complaint, good luck with that. The City also sold the municipal lot on Newark Avenue near Five Corners. At the time the JCRA Director promised that municipal parking would be a part of any development. After the City transferred the property that promise was erased from memory.

We build homes that reach the clouds ignoring what’s going on — on the ground — literally. We pretend that automobiles are going away when all evidence says otherwise. Contact your Representatives on the City Council and let them know that you are watching what they do. Urge them to stop the transferring of municipal lots to to the JCRA without deed restrictions that protect your interests now and into the future.

Michael Yun