MSTA director blasts ‘travesty’ of Hoboken rent control changes ahead of 1st public meeting


Mile Square Taxpayers Association Executive Director Ron Simoncini blasted the “travesty” of the Hoboken rent control changes ahead of the first public meeting on the subject set for next week.

Mile Square Taxpayers Association Executive Director Ron Simoncini. Screenshot via Facebook Live.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“These revisions were matters of the essence, as you can clearly see below, and not clarifications,” Simoncini said in an email obtained by HCV.

“As such, they should have been withdrawn and offered on proper notice at a later meeting to begin with, and I personally took it for granted that if the first reading was on the agenda it meant that the essence of the law was consistent with its original drafting, which it was not.”

While Simoncini appeared to be against the amendments, as did the Hoboken Fair Housing Association, a week ago, property owners appeared to be warming up to the idea at Wednesday’s hearing – where the city council approved the measure on first reading.

In the email, he explained that he was unaware that amendments had been made between Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, claiming that backtracking on allowable rent increases will lead to rent increases and go against what former Judge Barry Sarkisian recommended.

“MSTA believes that a public hearings are in order prior to any second reading of these amendments because not only does the public not have access to Judge Sarkisian’s report, most Councilpeople have not seen it. It’s a travesty that, I am sorry to say, has no place in honest government,” he wrote.

The local legislation, which will be considered for final passage on February 1st, includes using 1985 as the year for which a unit’s legal rent be calculated, dropping the cap on annual rent increases from seven percent to five, and increasing various landlord fees.

Ahead of that council hearing, a public meeting will be conducted via Zoom on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Attendees must pre-register here.

“The Department of Community Development and Division of Housing will present information on proposed amendments to the rent control ordinance that were adopted on first reading by Hoboken City Council at the January 18 council meeting,” the city said in a Nixle alert.

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  1. What’s better than rent control? A tax on vacant lots and unoccupied buildings. While rent control makes it less attractive to supply accommodation, a vacant-property tax makes it less attractive NOT to! Such a tax, although sometimes called a “vacancy tax”, is not limited to what real-estate agents call “vacancies” — that is, properties available for rent. It also applies to vacant lots and empty properties that are not on the rental market, and prompts the owners to get them habitable and occupied in order to avoid the tax.

    Yes, a vacant-property tax is meant to be AVOIDED. It’s not meant to be paid. Better still, its avoidance would involve economic activity, expanding the bases of other taxes and allowing their rates to be reduced, so that everyone else—including tenants, home owners, and landlords with tenants—would pay LESS tax!