Neighborhoods are the Backbone of the City

Dear Editor:

At one time, Downtown consisted of many diverse neighborhoods. Each neighborhood had its own unique chemistry, its own traditions, and its own special, unparalleled charm and beauty. Unfortunately, in the Downtown section, long established neighborhoods have succumbed to selfish monetary ventures and municipal mismanagement.

Traditionally, dedicated, community-minded people had been the solid foundation upon which a neighborhood was built. Regrettably, over the years, that solid foundation has suffered from a bizarre form of “social erosion.” Self-serving, greedy politicians have managed to destabilize the enduring and endearing chemistry that had cemented people together to form viable, vibrant neighborhoods.

Pompous politicians panegyrically praised pecuniary-focused projects. In reality, those “progressive” projects by avaricious developers have benefited the wealthy few while, simultaneously, have been the bane – the bête noire – for many. The developments within Downtown have yielded little to no value for the masses; instead, they have generated larger tax burdens. It has gotten to the point where uncaring, opportunistic transient lodgers and absentee landlords, taking full advantage of adverse economic conditions, have supplanted permanent, civic-minded residents.

As one can imagine, Airbnb has become popular in Jersey City, especially Downtown. Lucrative tax abatements to developers, the inability of resident landlords to pay excessive property taxes, and financial, “bottom-line” focused “carpet-baggers,” who purchased property for the sole purpose of material gain, have influenced the expansion of Airbnb within Downtown.

Yet, when one thinks about it; with Airbnb, temporary, transitory tenants sleep in other people’s homes and in other people’s beds. That being said, back in the day, at a time when neighborhoods had thrived, we actually had “Airbnbs.” Of course, back then we just called them for what they really were — “flop houses.” The only difference is that, back then, short-term renters didn’t pay Waldorf Astoria prices to “flop” in someone’s house.

As was seen with the controversial proposal to move the Katyn Massacre Memorial, there is no greater unifying power than a community discovering what it cares about the most. Consequently, the people should harmoniously work together to re-establish flourishing, worthwhile communities. The local government should focus on investing in neighborhoods and infrastructure, instead of doling out tax abatements like candy to every greedy developer.

Neighborhoods and communities are the backbone of a municipality. Once they are gone, the city will cease to be prosperous.

John Di Genio and Albert J. Cupo