The fate of Jersey City’s short-term rentals?

Voters will decide

Residents will have to wait until Election Day.
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Residents will have to wait until Election Day.

On Nov. 5, Jersey City residents will decide the future of the short-term rental business when they vote whether or not to uphold changes to the city’s short-term rental laws on a referendum ballot question.

TV commercials, flyers, emails, and mailers are blanketing the town, appealing for votes for or against the regulations.

The “Keep Our Homes” group and the “Share Better Education Fund” group have launched their ad campaigns. “Keep Our Homes” favors short-term rentals. The “Share Better Education Fund” does not.

“Trying to make ends meet by renting out your place?” states an ad funded by Keep Our Homes, the organization behind the petition which brought about the referendum. “Beware of Municipal Question One: a short-term rental ban. Once again, special interests got the politicians, turned around and wrote a ballot measure designed to fool you.”

“Airbnb turned thousands of units into pricey tourist rentals. Now they are taking over our neighborhoods,” states a 30-second TV ad funded by the Share Better Education Fund associated with the New York Hotel Trade Council and Hudson County Central Labor Council, among others. “That means higher rents; less parking; and more trash, strangers, and wild parties in our neighborhood.”

New rules

To support the new restrictions, vote “Yes.” To remove the new restrictions, vote “No.”

The ordinance, adopted in June, prohibits short-term rentals for more than 60 days in properties where the owner does not live onsite. It prohibits short-term rentals entirely in buildings with more than four units.

Renters are not allowed to serve as short-term rental hosts.

To operate a short-term rental under the ordinance, property owners are required to obtain a permit through the city’s Division of Housing Preservation. Each permit is valid for one year and must be renewed annually.

The ordinance phases out existing short-term rental contracts on Jan. 1, 2021.

Citing low vacancy rates for long-term rentals, the ordinance says, “It is in the public interest that short-term rental uses be regulated in order to help preserve housing for long-term tenants and to minimize any potential deleterious effects of short-term rental properties on other properties in the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Casting your vote

On Aug. 7, City Clerk Robert Byrne certified petitions, organized by “Keep Our Homes,” forcing a referendum on the ordinance.

According to the certification, the petitioners submitted 2,406 petitions with approximately 19,656 signatures.

The council was officially notified of the clerk’s certification during the Aug. 14 council meeting. The council refused to repeal the ordinance, forcing it onto the ballot because the deadline to repeal the ordinance was Sept. 3.

Now it is in the public’s hands. At the polls residents will be asked to cast a “yes” or “no” vote on Municipal Question 1.

Those who want to uphold the city’s amended ordinance with the new restrictions on short-term rentals will vote “yes.” Those who wish for the amended ordinance on short-term rental regulations to be repealed will vote “no.”

For updates on this and other stories keep checking www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.