Fair Share Housing Center Inc., a group that has recently had some success fighting for affordable housing in Hoboken, has come out against Jersey City’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, exclaiming that it’s “riddled with developer-friendly loopholes.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Although we welcome the stated desire of Jersey City’s elected officials to tackle the growing crisis of displacement and rapid gentrification in New Jersey’s second-largest city, the proposed ordinance set to be considered by the City Council this evening is riddled with developer-friendly loopholes,” FSHC Executive Director Adam Gordon said in a statement.
“If adopted without significant amendments, it will produce few, if any, new affordable homes. The ordinance, as currently drafted, would allow wealthy and politically connected developers to build large numbers of luxury homes while negotiating their way out of affordable housing requirements.”
He continued that not only does the current local legislation give developers the ability to “create a political game,” it may also violate state laws.
City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione called Gordon’s characterization of the administration in this issue “disingenuous,” claiming that they would simply prefer cities develop by utilizing tax abatements.
“To say that the Fulop Administration, who ended tax abatements for developers, is now creating loopholes for developers is disingenuous by Fair Share Housing. The reality is that Fair Share Housing’s ordinance in Newark, which is their model ordinance, is hugely flawed, and the proof is that under their ordinance, there has not been one successful project built in two years without using tax abatements or state subsidies,” she said.
“The real difference is that Fair Share Housing doesn’t mind if the city uses tax abatements that take money from schools as long as they achieve their goal of using their ordinance, while the Fulop Administration is not willing to commit to going back to tax abatements at this point.”
Since July, the FSHC was successful in playing a pivotal role in getting affordable housing units guaranteed in Hoboken’s Western Edge project, as well as four other developments that had been tied up in litigation for several years.
At Monday’s Jersey City Council caucus meeting, Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro proposed amendments that would triple the required affordable housing built in Downtown Jersey City to a mandatory 15 percent onsite and at least double the amount required in other “hot” real estate markets across the city to a required 10 percent onsite.
His amendments would also eliminate any buyout provisions for developers, among other things.
In the ordinance’s current form, a buyout provision that would allow developers to pay the city between $25,000 and $100,000 per unit – with a two percent annual increase – in lieu of building affordable housing units.
Those funds would then be allocated to the city’s affordable trust fund.
The city council meets at 6 p.m. this evening via Microsoft Teams.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.