Hoboken council approves override of Bhalla veto for measure to park bicycles in city garages

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The Hoboken City Council approved an override of Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s veto of a measure to park bicycles in municipal garages for $52 a year at a special meeting this afternoon.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve scheduled a special meeting to force a veto vote on an override related to bicycle parking when the main bicycle advocacy organization in Hoboken is not in favor of this ordinance,” said 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, who along with Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour were the only council members to vote against the 2nd reading on July 8th.

He referenced that Bike Hoboken has also cited concerns with the ordinance, since it says little other than residents can park their bicycles in covered parking spaces in municipal garages for $1 a week annually.

” … I suspect that people’s minds are made up because we wouldn’t be dragged out at 4 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon if people didn’t think they had the votes to override this,” Cohen continued, emphasizing thee difference between owning and maintaining a car vs. a bicycle, as well as that more time should’ve been spent on drafting the ordinance than PR.

Additionally, Councilman-at-Large James Doyle indicated that he voted yes on second reading because he though Bike Hoboken supported the legislation, and since that’s not the case, he would be reversing course.

Nevertheless, the override went through 6-3, with Cohen, Jabbour, and Doyle voting no.

After the meeting concluded, the ordinance sponsors, 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, doubled down on the significance of the measure.

“The mayor’s initial veto was nothing more than a ploy to discredit those of us on the City Council who do not always agree with him politically. Politics and good local government should never mesh and unfortunately we have an administration that continues to put politics over policy in effort to divide us,” said DeFusco.

“I am proud to co-sponsor this piece of legislation to provide a valuable amenity to Hoboken’s bike enthusiasts who are tired of locking their bike outside, carrying it up a flight (or more) of stairs or storing it in their living room,” added Fisher, also the chair of the Parking and Transportation Subcommittee.

The mayor’s office declined to comment beyond what they said after Monday’s veto announcement, though re-emphasized that there is no plan to implement the legislation if it is not amended to be more comprehensive.

“In the absence of a more robust plan, the administration does not have the resources nor does it intend to implement and administer this proposed fee for bicycle parking.”

This was the third time in four tries that the council successfully executed a veto override under the Bhalla administration.

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.

Interestingly, Bhalla applauded an unrelated measure introduced by the Fisher and DeFusco that was approved in order to provide open streets on Sinatra Drive between Newark Street and 4th Street.

“I’m thrilled the city council is supporting the city’s efforts to provide additional outdoor space for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the mayor said.

“I’m proud that in just a few months, we’ve been able to successfully implement a number of initiatives including open and slow streets, over 50 parklets and streateries, Summer Streets to close streets for dining and shopping, and now our Sinatra Drive ordinance, all of which facilitate safe, socially distant outdoor activities that enhance the quality of life within Hoboken.”

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