Bhalla vetoes Hoboken bike parking measure, though city council override appears likely

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Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has vetoed a measure that would have allowed residents to park their bicycles in municipal garages for $52 a year, though it appears that an override by the city council is likely.

Photo via Hobokennj.org.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The first reading of the measure was approved by the council at their June 17th session and the second reading was then passed at their July 8th meeting by a vote of 7-2, with Council members Phil Cohen and Emily Jabbour voting no.

Bhalla decided to veto on Friday, citing that the ordinance is too vague.

“While I am completely supportive of legislation that would potentially add safe bicycle parking for residents, the ordinance is severely lacking in the detail and the substance that would be necessary to implement such a program,” the mayor’s veto statement says.

“The ordinance contains no information on how bicycles would be parked/maintained in ‘designated areas’ within the municipal garage, what the application process would consist of, how many spots would be available, what enforcement mechanisms would be implemented to ensure that a permit had been obtained and was maintained on an annual basis …”

He added that the administration has no intentions to implement the ordinance “in the absence of a more robust plan.”

The ordinance was sponsored by 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, the latter of which hit Bhalla on Twitter, accusing him of putting “politics before policy” and since he wouldn’t be able to receive any credit in this instance.

She also said in the thread that while the ordinance was only one line long, it is the administration’s job to iron out the details and establish protocols.

Furthermore, Bike Hoboken President Chris Adair said that despite being included in discussions about the local legislation, she was not supportive of it.

In a statement, DeFusco also expressed disappointment in what he says is another example of the mayor going after his political opponents.

“The mayor’s refusal to advance legislation, despite earning overwhelming support of the Council, is nothing short of his inability to put politics aside to create new opportunities for Hoboken residents,” he said.

“Instead of continuing his record of vetoing legislation sponsored by those who do not agree with him politically, might I suggest the mayor better utilize his time by addressing the nearly 10% municipal tax hike he’s proposed in the middle of a recession.”

For the time being, it looks like Bhalla’s adversaries will have the last laugh, as a special council meeting on Wednesday has a veto override on the agenda.

An override requires six affirmative votes, which the council had on both first and second reading for this particular ordinance.

This will be the fourth time that the council has tried to execute an override since Bhalla took office in 2018.

Just last month, the governing body overrode a veto that abolished the city’s Office of Constituent Affairs.

The council also successfully did an override in 2018, allowing a runoff referendum to appear on the November ballot (which passed easily) and were a vote shy last year when they tried to limit the number of non-civil service employees in the mayor’s office.

This afternoon, Adair expressed that she believes the council should sustain the mayor’s veto.

“Sustaining the veto will allow the city council to work with the Department of Transportation and Bike Hoboken to create a comprehensive plan to identify locations and build out secure bicycle parking,” she said in a statement.

“The city has come a long way since initial implementation of bike lanes in 2009, but there is still much improvement to be had and we look forward to collaborating with the Department of Transportation, the administration and the city council to improve and increase safe bicycling infrastructure for all. Let’s fully embrace this together and sink our teeth into in!”

Wednesday’s special meeting is set to convene at 4 p.m. via Zoom.

 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.