• Hoboken + Jersey City Elections 2019: Municipal Qs Broken Down

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    Election Day is Tuesday, November 5th and while much of the attention has been cast on the City Council election, there are two Municipal Questions on the ballot that requires voters to have some background knowledge. Not sure what it means to vote “yes” or “no” on each of these questions? Hoboken Girl is breaking it down so voters can understand the difference of voting “yes” and “no,” and can make their own educated decisions on how to vote. Keep reading to find out what it means to vote “Yes” or “No” on municipal questions in Hoboken + Jersey City. 

    Disclaimer: Hoboken Girl does not take a political stance; we are just giving information requested by our readers.

    municipal questions hoboken jersey city

     

    Hoboken: 2 Municipal Questions 

    Come Election Day on November 5th, Hoboken voters will see two Municipal Questions on their ballot. Both of these questions concern the Municipal Open Space Trust Fund {OSTF}.

    According to The Hudson Reporter, the Hoboken City Council voted on the inclusion of these two questions on the ballot back in June. Both of the questions included on the ballot are meant to land on a financial resolution as the City prepares for the acquisition and subsequent development of Union Dry Dock.

    You may recall that the City of Hoboken has been focused on acquiring the Union Dry Dock property since New York Waterway purchased it in 2017 and announced intentions of turning the space into a ferry refueling and maintenance station. Hoboken then issued a stop-work order and NYWW has since sued the City in Supreme Court for the right to continue constructing and preparing the site.

    In March 2019, Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla initiated Eminent Domain, in which the government has the power to take private property and convert it into public use. The government, however, must provide just compensation for the property, so at the time, Mayor Bhalla offered $11.63 million to NYWW in exchange for UDD.

    Mayor Bhalla then came to an agreement with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, which required Hoboken to suspend its Eminent Domain proceedings. Eminent Domain was suspended on Monday, April 2nd and NJ Transit canceled their impending meetings about the $11.63 million offer.

    Now, the latest in the UDD development is the addition of these two questions to the ballot. They will help determine where Hoboken stands.

    See More: Where to Vote in Hoboken: Your Guide to Polling Locations

    Municipal Question 1: Hoboken

    Municipal Question 1 on the Hoboken ballot asks residents if they want to allow more flexibility on how much of the fund could be spent on both land acquisition and development of public parks.

    Voting “yes” on this question means voting in favor of expanding the budget for acquiring the land and building the public park.

    The Open Space Trust Fund was approved back in 2007 provides the City with a “dedicated pool of funding” that Hoboken has used since the fund’s inception to acquire land, build parks, and more.

    In the past, the Open Space Trust Fund has been used to buy and build the Southwest Resiliency Park and Northwest Resiliency Park, but as it stands, Open Space Trust Fund regulations only allow 75 percent of funds to be used for land acquisition.

    Voting “yes” on this Municipal Question would be a vote in favor of expanding the 75 percent of Open Space Trust Fund funds so that the City could use more than 75 percent to buy UDD.

    What does it mean to vote “no?”

    If a voter chooses no, they are essentially voting to keep the current 75 percent mandate of the Open Space Trust Fund. This would mean that the City of Hoboken could use a maximum of 75 percent of the funds to acquire UDD.

    Municipal Question 2: Hoboken

    Municipal Question 2 seeks to ask residents if they want to increase funds in the municipal Open Space Trust Fund. This increase in funds would then include funds for historic preservation.

    The question is phrased to the effect of, “Should funding for historical preservation projects be included in the Open Space Trust Fund?”

    What does it mean to vote yes?

    If approved — meaning voters vote “yes” — the Open Space Trust Fund would increase, going from $0.01 per $100 of assessed property value to $0.03 per $100 of assessed value in Hoboken.

    What does it mean to vote no?

    Voting no means that it will not be approved.

    According to Director of Environmental Services Jennifer Gonzalez, Hoboken has more than 20 historic sites that are eligible for national and state historic recognition. Gonazlez also says the fund is currently funded through $0.02 per $100 of assessed property, which made the increase from $0.02 to $0.03.

    Jersey City: 1 Municipal Question

    If you live in Jersey City, you will have a separate Municipal Question on your ballot. While Hoboken will have to vote on Municipal Questions 1 and 2, Jersey City only has a Municipal Question 1 and it is in reference to the City’s management of rental services, such as Airbnb.

    Despite Jersey City becoming one of the first cities in the world to legalize Airbnb rentals back in 2015, the City’s history with Airbnb {and other like-minded short- and long-term rental services} has been fraught.

    Short-term rental services have generated $4 million in revenue for Jersey City since it first signed on in 2015 thanks to a hotel tax that also applies to short-term rentals. Critics of Airbnb argue that short-term rentals make it harder for residents to find long-term housing.

    According to Airbnb’s records, Jersey City property owners made $32 million in 2018.

    Earlier this summer, more than 20,000 Jersey Citians signed a petition to repeal the short-term rental ordinance. The petition made its way to City Hall. Now, Jersey City residents get to vote on approving or repealing the ordinance in the form of voting on Municipal Question 1.

    Municipal Question 1

    Earlier this year, City Council passed an ordinance that would implement new restrictions on short-term rental services. The ordinance implemented a 60-day cap for short-term rental properties if the owner is not on-site, prohibits short-term rentals in buildings with more than four units, seeks to phase out existing short-term rental contracts by January 1st, 2021, and prohibits renters from acting as short-term rental hosts.

    What does it mean to vote yes?

    To vote “yes” on Municipal Question 1 in Jersey City is to keep the ordinance’s regulations of a 60-day cap in place and it would also keep the ban on renters and ban on short-term rentals in buildings with four or more units in place.

    What does it mean to vote no?

    Voting “no” on Municipal Question 1 in Jersey City would repeal the 60-day cap as well as the ban on renters and ban on buildings with four or more units.

    Read More: Moving to Jersey City? Here Is Everything You Need To Know

    The Takeaway

    The takeaway is what you make it, voters! You have to vote for whichever stance you believe in and Hoboken Girl does not take a political stance. Instead, we mean to provide a palatable breakdown of what voting for each Municipal Question means and to encourage all voters to get to the polls on November 5th. Happy voting!


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    Written by:

    Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer who specializes in sustainability and health and wellness content. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton.