In an editorial, Hoboken resident Joshua Sotomayor-Einstein says the Mayor Ravi Bhalla administration needs to address quality of life issues like rats, the homeless, and safe streets.
While the Bhalla administration continues its war on parking (with curb bump outs it pretends decreases danger, but which really kill parking spots), quality of life issues that carry true risk continue to pile up in the Mile Square City.
From the increased risk of vermin based illness that is the unchecked explosion of mice and rats, belligerent bums (some homeless, others not) the police are handcuffed in dealing with, and the largely unenforced traffic laws for cars, bicyclists, and all nature of electric non-car vehicles – Hoboken is slowly but surely becoming more dangerous by the moment.
Where once rats were mostly seen, if at all, on late night strolls on the waterfront, they are now in every neighborhood with sightings a daily daytime occurrence.
Vermin, which once made temporary homes at construction sites, have now been seen running in and out of bushes next to buildings all over town.
Rats not only can be carriers of diseases themselves, but also carry fleas and ticks, posing a threat to people and pets alike.
Free range bums roam across Hoboken at all hours of the day, turning parks into the open air homeless shelters they were never meant to be. Most do not bother people save to ask for money or a smoke.
Yet some have been seen defecating on the stairs to garden level apartments and between buildings, tweaking from hard drugs, shooting up, making a mess rifling through trash, urinating in the street, laying across sidewalks, sleeping in doorways, and sometimes harassing and even assaulting people.
Hoboken streets and sidewalks are not only dangerous because of the occasional dead or live rat to be avoided, nor the bum sleeping with ripped pants and exposed genitals on the sidewalk, but also because of the utterly unchecked vehicles.
Whether cars rolling through stop signs at medium to fast speeds, bicycle riders ignoring red lights at busy intersections, or bicycles and e-mopeds weaving back and forth between the street and sidewalk, it’s never been more dangerous to be a pedestrian in Hoboken.
Yet the Bhalla administration thinks a meager $44,000 vermin trap contract, park posted signs saying no smoking, lowering the speed limit without enforcement, social workers, and curb bump outs will make town safer.
The reality is that the rat population will continue to grow (until, and then after, winter) unless the street-eatery structures they feed under are dismantled, the “bioswale” dirt pits infested with weeds (and which must regularly be replanted) are filled with concrete so as to not serve as prime real-estate for rats, and large metal garbage bins are placed on every commercially oriented block so that trash is not strewn across the street every night by the slightest wind and to deny vermin a smorgasbord of food.
The bum problem will not be addressed until the police are told the public have their back and to close the parks overnight, making Hoboken less appealing for the 600-700 nightly hobos the police estimate sleep in the parks and street each night.
The streets and sidewalks will remain unsafe until traffic laws are enforced and Hoboken police, with the support of city hall, are out on foot and car patrol, pulling over drivers, bicyclists, and other riders giving them tickets at all the hours of the day and night pedal-assist and e-motorized vehicles are blasting music and riding on the sidewalk.
Only when we take these issues seriously will the dangers facing Hoboken begin to be addressed.