Bayonne rent control petition is one step closer to being on November ballot
Published: Thursday, August 09, 2012, 4:48 PM
By Rafal Rogoza / The Jersey Journal
The petition, which proposes an ordinance entitled “Keep Rent Control Ordinance,” has met the statutory requirement of a minimum of 563 valid registered voter signatures and was cleared yesterday for introduction to the city council, said Bayonne City Clerk Robert F. Sloan.
The petition is an effort to overturn an ordinance passed by the city in November 2011 allowing landlords to remove an apartment from rent control restrictions if the tenant willingly moves or is legally evicted. Prior to the change, the apartment would remain under rent control guidelines forever.
Douglas Wasama, chairman of Keep Bayonne Rent Control, a local rent control advocacy group, said if the petition initiative is successful it would remove any changes that the city council made in November.
“The purpose of this act is to establish a method to protect tenants in rent controlled apartments,” reads the proposed ordinance’s declaration of purpose, “which is deemed necessary and proper for the good government of the municipality.”
Officials at the Office of the City Clerk have verified 713 valid petition signatures out of the 911 that were submitted on July 25 by Keep Bayonne Rent Control.
The petition was certified by the city clerk and was cleared during yesterday’s city council caucus meeting for introduction during the next city council meeting scheduled for Wednesday August 15 at 7:00 p.m. in city hall.
The introduction of the ordinance is the first step toward making the “Keep Rent Control Ordinance” law, said Sloan, the second step requires the city council to schedule a public hearing on the proposed ordinance within twenty days of the council meeting.
If no action is taken or the ordinance is not passed, the Office of the Hudson County Clerk will be notified to place the proposed ordinance on the November ballot for a vote, said Sloan.
Bayonne Mayor Mark A. Smith and Council President Terry Ruane didn’t return phone call messages to comment.
Rent control advocates were optimistic when they heard the news this morning.
“We’re delighted with the outcome and we’re confident the people of Bayonne are behind us on this issue,” said Wasama.
It would be “wonderful”, said Wasama, if the city council acted to pass the proposed ordinance but he isn’t betting on it and refused to comment any further until after next week’s council meeting.
This is the third attempt by rent control advocates to reinstate rent control in the city. In Dec. 2011, petitions to repeal the ordinance were declared invalid because the they did not have all five names of the petition committee members listed on every page of the petition.
In March, a second petition came up 73 signatures of registered voters shy of the 845 needed to force the City Council to either withdraw the ordinance or schedule a special election to resolve the issue.