• Hoboken Mayoral Race 2017: Candidates on Development and Parking

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    Now that we’ve told you how to register to vote, introduced you to the candidates for Mayor, and asked the candidates about infrastructure and state/national politics, it’s time to give you some more information from the candidates themselves. Our political series will continue to cover issues that Hoboken residents are concerned about, and this week we asked the six candidates running for Mayor of Hoboken to talk about two of Hoboken’s most widely discussed topics — development and parking issues. Talking about street repairs and water mains may not be the hottest topics, but whether you’re a visitor or long-time resident, a walk {or drive} down Washington will reveal how these things impact our daily lives, and Hoboken’s new Mayor will be helping to ensure our city is running in tip-top shape.

    Many Hobokenites moved to the Mile Square during the major development boom in the early 2000s. In just 10 years, the Hoboken population increased 29.6% to a little over 50,000 people. Hoboken’s proximity to NYC, cultural artifacts, and delicious food have turned our tiny town into a major hub for residential and commercial developers. So, here are our questions of the week:

    1. What is your vision of Hoboken’s development and what do you hope to do as Mayor in terms of residential and commercial development? Please provide explicit details.

    2. We can all agree the parking situation is not ideal in Hoboken. What concrete solution do you propose to help fix the situation? Please provide details.

    A few things to note before we hear from the candidates:

    • The answers from the candidates have not been altered in any way — which includes grammatical errors {hey – the Oxford comma is a very divisive topic}. We just asked that they keep their answers under 200 words per question.
    • Each week, we’ll share another set of questions as well as provide ALL of the candidates’ answers to the same question so you can compare and learn about their views.
    • Hoboken mayoral elections are non-partisan, meaning parties are not affiliated to national platforms. We still included this item in our questions to candidates for informational purposes.
    • If you have further questions to ask candidates, get in touch! Email hello@hobokengirl.com and we may send out a supplemental questionnaire.
    • To register to vote locally and learn about other important election deadlines, click here.

    Now, without further ado, here are the six Hoboken mayoral candidates running for office in the 2017 Hoboken mayoral election and their answers to this week’s two questions:


    Ronald Bautista

    Name:

    Ron Bautista

    Hoboken is a hot-spot for development. What is your vision of Hoboken’s development and what do you hope to do as Mayor in terms of residential and commercial development? Please provide explicit details.

    As a campaign, when it comes to development we prioritize on placemaking and affordability. As a campaign we’re focused on promoting mixed income communities that also become destinations, where commercial space generates local jobs as well as new resources for the city to finance its infrastructure projects. A clear example is the area near the new Southwest Park, where we have the potential of increasing the supply of housing for middle and low income households, maximize opportunities for local artists and increase the commercial activity in the area.

    We can all agree the parking situation is not ideal in Hoboken. What concrete solution do you propose to help fix the situation? Please provide details.

    Let’s be honest, the only proven solution to the lack of parking is to provide people with a better, more affordable transportation alternative than the individual car. Every person that chooses to use a traffic-free transit method (express bus lane network) means there’s one more chance for drivers have to find parking.

    Ravinder Bhalla

    Name:

    Ravi Bhalla

    Hoboken is a hot-spot for development. What is your vision of Hoboken’s development and what do you hope to do as Mayor in terms of residential and commercial development? Please provide explicit details.

    I will stand-up against over-development, opposing out-of-scale projects that threatens the small city feel that makes Hoboken special. I will also insist that developers pay their fair share and that projects provide parks, playgrounds, school infrastructure and other amenities for the community. I will ensure that any new development limits stormwater runoff through the use of local green infrastructure to reduce flooding. Generally speaking, it is critical that we limit new residential development that places demands for new services and our infrastructure, and place more emphasis on commercial development, such as shops, restaurants and office space.

    In the North End, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to properly plan and make it a destination of which residents are proud and one that visitors can enjoy.  In this area, we must place a focus on commercial and retail development instead of large residential towers.

    I am proud of my track record of opposing overdevelopment, being the only Mayoral candidate to oppose the irresponsible 26 story hotel on our waterfront favored by developers which provided no reasonable community givebacks, was out of scale with the neighborhood, and blocking sunlight on Pier A.

    We can all agree the parking situation is not ideal in Hoboken. What concrete solution do you propose to help fix the situation? Please provide details.

    As someone who drives to work and parks on the street with a resident permit, I experience the parking challenge in Hoboken on a regular basis.  First, I believe we should continue expanding alternative transportation options, including our car share and bike share services, which give residents options if they want to live in Hoboken without a car (and consequently finding parking on the street).  Second, we need to invest in smart technology through a mobile application to allow residents to renew parking permits, purchase visitor parking passes, among other City functions.  Third, we need to revisit existing rules that provide a challenge to residents and visitors, including revamping the “no parking” sign rules to reduce the strain on our already limited street parking, and reexamining booting policies in a way that prioritizes street parking for residents.

    Michael DeFusco

    Name:

    Michael DeFusco

    Hoboken is a hot-spot for development. What is your vision of Hoboken’s development and what do you hope to do as Mayor in terms of residential and commercial development? Please provide explicit details.

    I believe that we need to update our city’s outdated zoning laws to encourage more commercial business development in Hoboken, while keeping it in scale with the surrounding neighborhoods. This would have several positive community benefits, from making our city a more vibrant, exciting place with an ever better local restaurant scene, to diversifying and expanding our commercial tax base to shift the burden away from our homeowners and renters. We could bring innovative new businesses to our community like urban wineries and breweries, coffee roasters, hydroponic gardens and tech co-working spaces. Additionally, we should be mandating that new developments contribute community benefits like infrastructure improvements, parks and open space and more. As a former member of the Zoning Board, I have a strong understanding of local land-use issues and how we can use new development to benefit our city, not burden it.

    We can all agree the parking situation is not ideal in Hoboken. What concrete solution do you propose to help fix the situation? Please provide details.

    Parking is a problem in any urban area, but in Hoboken it can seem like it’s particularly oppressive. Our city needs to do much more to create an additional parking supply, take steps to control parking demand, and do a better job communicating with residents about parking regulations, all with a goal of ensuring that residents can find parking in their neighborhoods and local businesses are able to thrive. We should be looking at building additional parking structures away from the waterfront and Washington Street and working to incentivize residents to utilize these spaces. We can also use new demand-based parking technology to implement dynamic pricing in the most in-demand areas, moving drivers more efficiently. Finally, we should create an improved parking app to inform residents about parking regulations and help them avoid parking tickets.

    Jennifer Giattino

    Name:

    Jennifer Giattino

    Hoboken is a hot-spot for development. What is your vision of Hoboken’s development and what do you hope to do as Mayor in terms of residential and commercial development? Please provide explicit details.

    Development is not something that we can stop.  Land owners have rights to develop their properties.  But we have the right to make sure what they develop works for us.  As Mayor, I will direct development decisions for potentially 1/3 of Hoboken.  We have one time to get development right.  This means:

    •  More commercial development and less large-scale residential development to provide balance to our population, less infrastructure demands, net positive tax revenues, and necessary commerce for a thriving community.
    • Better financial rigor on our side so that we do not end up subsidizing developer profits by handing out long-term tax abatements like the 30-year PILOT given for the 7th and Jackson project in 2016.  I was the only mayoral candidate who voted against this. Instead, we should share in the development profits through requiring developers to pay for the majority of our much needed infrastructure repairs and new community facilities.
    • We need to enact zoning laws that reflect our community priorities.  With proper planning, we minimize the risk of development decisions being made by our zoning board of adjustment that could be inconsistent with our community priorities and have a negative impact on all of us.

    We can all agree the parking situation is not ideal in Hoboken. What concrete solution do you propose to help fix the situation? Please provide details.

    I am a driver and generally use my car to drive my three sons to their various activities.  I have been lucky that street parking has been less of an issue near me in the 6th ward because there is less residential and commercial density than other areas of Hoboken.  But one of the top issues I have heard from residents and businesses is parking.  Where do we start… Not enough spaces.  Confusing and inconsistent parking rules.  No parking signs blocking parking for days.  HPU predatory practices.  Meter rates that encourage people to leave.  No places to load / unload.  It needs an entire redo starting at the top.

    A few solutions:  More spaces: In all of our large development plans – e.g. Railyards, Southwest, and North – require that developers fund / provide municipal parking garages.   Rules: Annual flyer with all parking rules sent to residents.  No Parking Signs: Restrict availability to only days the spots are used.  Tickets:  Eliminate all predatory practices.  Meter rates:  Change to progressive rates – allow people to stay longer but increase pricing each hour (eg – 1st hour is $1, 7th hour is $10). Loading zones – have one loading zone on each block, eliminate unnecessary bollards.

    Karen Nason

    Name:

    Karen Nason

    Hoboken is a hot-spot for development. What is your vision of Hoboken’s development and what do you hope to do as Mayor in terms of residential and commercial development? Please provide explicit details.

    As for residential construction, I support resilient building guidelines, storm water flood mitigation projects, and construction meeting LEED certification program requirements. In addition, over the several years that I have lived here, I have had the opportunity to get to know developers with tremendous vision. One is Ron Hine of the Fund for a Better Waterfront. My conversation with Ron Hine has been to have the last parcel on the waterfront – the Union Dry Dock – include an amphitheatre to host symphony orchestras, operas and great concerts to be seen on the water from Hoboken to New York City. My dream is to have a theatre with more than 100 seats to host major productions from New York City. In the northwest, Mark Villamar and Hany Ahmed, with whom I have had the pleasure of speaking about several projects such as their proposed bowling alley, have over one million square feet of undeveloped property. They are developers who have suffered from the pick-and-choose attitude of the Zimmer administration. As Mayor, I would work with them to see that the northwest is developed in a manner that benefits the public. There are many more developers and projects to discuss, but being limited to only 200 words, I will have to supplement this response at the debate.

    We can all agree the parking situation is not ideal in Hoboken. What concrete solution do you propose to help fix the situation? Please provide details.

    I would push for the construction of large parking structures at the north and south ends of town connected by HOP Shuttle Buses. I would take out the newly installed parking meters in the residential area of town. I would make special permits available for deliveries to be made during an allotted time, such as 15 minutes.

    Anthony Romano

    Name:

    Anthony L. Romano

    Hoboken is a hot-spot for development. What is your vision of Hoboken’s development and what do you hope to do as Mayor in terms of residential and commercial development? Please provide explicit details.

    If I am elected as Mayor, my plan is to strike a balance between residential and commercial development. As our population continues to grow, we need to be smarter about how we handle development. We need residential buildings, more stores and shops, ample parking, and we need to preserve open space. In terms of residential development, we need to provide our residents with the opportunity to stay in Hoboken and not feel that they are being squeezed out. This is not an easy job for anyone to do single handedly. I will hold stakeholder meetings that involve business owners, residents, and developers.

    We can all agree the parking situation is not ideal in Hoboken. What concrete solution do you propose to help fix the situation? Please provide details.

    One of my platform issues concerns traffic and congestion, parking and mass transportation—all things that matter to the people. Hoboken needs a redesign of its traffic and parking plan.  Since the latest overhaul of the city’s streets and parking, residents have had to endure ever increasing traffic jams and bottlenecks at the City’s entrance and exit points; bike lanes built with little regard for their effect on vehicular and pedestrian traffic; and lane markings that make traffic worse rather than better.

    Working with the city council and traffic and parking engineers, we will work to:

    • Develop a traffic master plan that is balanced and sensitive to all types of commuters- automobile, mass transit, bicycle, and pedestrian.
    • Target and prioritize major traffic intersections with the most congestion for improvement first.
    • Explore connecting Paterson Plank Rd. with Jersey Ave. thereby reducing traffic in Hoboken and rerouting traffic between Jersey City Heights and downtown Jersey City.
    • Find and apply for state and federal grants that can subsidize infrastructure improvement costs.
    • Pinpoint new locations for public parking garages that are not immediately adjacent to parks and that serve areas currently underserved by public parking.
    • Eliminate predatory parking enforcement, particularly against Hoboken residents.
    • Work to bring Citi Bikes to Hoboken, so residents can have the option of a bike share program that exists both where they live and where they work.

     


    And that, friends, is round THREE of our guide to the Hoboken mayoral election. Stay tuned for next week, when all of the candidates share their thoughts on two other important questions that affect our city as well as full interviews with all of the candidates running for council.

    CLICK HERE for Comprehensive Intros to the Candidates

    CLICK HERE for Candidates on Infrastructure and State/National Politics

    CLICK HERE for the Schedule of Live In-Person Debates of Council Candidates and Mayoral Candidates

    Have questions about our election series or want to submit your own Q for the candidates? Please email hello@hobokengirl.com or comment on this blog post.

    As Jane Gooddall said, “The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”

    Register to vote for the local Hoboken and NJ elections here {deadline is Oct. 17th}.

     


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hoboken Girl. She started the site to discover and share the wealth of things happening in Hudson County. Her roots in the area extend to her maternal grandparents, who owned two textile factories in Weehawken and North Bergen. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event/volunteer project or editing her life away, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog + rescue pup, or watching the latest murder doc on Netflix with her husband.


    One comment

    • I have to take issue with Councilwoman Giattino’s opinion on the development project on 7th & Jackson Streets. This is a unique project with a unique set of factors that may or may not be transferable to other development in Hoboken. The developer who had by right the option to build some 400+ units on his property negotiated placing all of these units in one building behind the Monroe Arts Center. In exchange they are donating a very large plot of adjacent land to the City and are building a large public gymnasium, next to a block long lawn with underground rain water flooding protection, a play ground, developing and will maintain a large public plaza with retail and food space connecting their building to the park and the Monroe Arts Center, a large under building parking garage that will not only service the needs of their new building but that of the Monroe center, repaving the Seventh Street with cobblestone to tie the two areas together and also include affordable rental housing units. I think when you look at the entire picture and not to just focus on the fact that a PILOT is involved you get a very positive outcome for the residents of Hoboken.

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