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Hoboken City Clerk Rejects Rent Control Petition: Landlord Group Fights Back

Hoboken Rejects Rent Control

The Hoboken City Clerk rejected a petition for a rent control referendum. The landlord group, MSTA, vows to continue collecting signatures despite opposition.

Key Takeaways
  • The petition for a rent control referendum was rejected due to insufficient valid signatures.
  • The Mile Square Taxpayers Association (MSTA) vows to continue collecting signatures.
  • The petition faced significant opposition from city officials and community members.

Petition for Rent Control Referendum Rejected

Hoboken’s City Clerk has rejected a petition that called for a referendum to amend the city’s Rent Control Ordinance.

The proposed changes would have allowed rent-controlled properties to be listed at market rates once a tenant leaves, with landlords contributing $2,500 to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for each vacancy.

Why Hoboken’s Rent Control Petition Failed

The petition, submitted by the Mile Square Taxpayers Association (MSTA) on May 21, 2024, included 2,162 signatures.

However, according to City Clerk James Farina, who cited N.J.S.A. 40:69A-187, only 802 were found to be valid. This fell short of the required 1,365.6 valid signatures.

“The Clerk’s Office’s review of the signatures to the petition submitted on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, determined that the petition was insufficient,” Farina wrote.

The Committee of Petitioners has 10 days to amend or cure their petitions. This review will be certified to the Council at the next meeting on June 5, 2024.

MSTA Challenges Signature Rejection, Alleges Errors

The MSTA, represented by Executive Director Ron Simoncini, expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Clerk’s Office’s decision.

Simoncini alleged that entire pages of signatures were improperly rejected and that the Clerk’s Office used an incorrect total ballot count for verification.

According to Simoncini, the actual number of ballots cast in November 2023 was 8,935, not the 13,000+ used by the Clerk’s Office.

Simoncini vowed to continue the fight, stating that the rejection only strengthened their resolve to gather more signatures and challenge the Clerk’s assessment.

He suggested that the MSTA might pursue legal action if necessary.

City Officials Argue Against Rent Control Referendum

City Council members and the Mayor have expressed significant opposition to the proposed referendum.

They argue that allowing rent-controlled properties to be listed at market rates would lead to the loss of affordable housing units in Hoboken.

Critics also contend that the $2,500 contributions to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund would only result in a few new affordable units when pooled together.

Petitioners’ Plan to Meet Signature Requirement

The Committee of Petitioners now has ten days to amend their petition. This process involves collecting additional valid signatures to meet the required threshold.

Rent control advocate Cheryl Fallick noted that it is common to collect twice the needed signatures to ensure enough valid ones for certification.

Simoncini mentioned that if the necessary number of signatures is achieved, the petitioners could opt for a special election or include the referendum in the general election ballot.