It’s Not Over Till It’s Over: Rent Control Supporters Vow to Continue the Fight


by Al Sullivan

Although voters rejected an effort to maintain rent control by 121 votes, supporters of rent control said they are reviewing their options and will seek to put the question back on the ballot if legal options do not prevail.

With nearly all of the votes counted from Nov. 6, the effort to retain rent control was narrowly defeated with 51 percent to 49 percent of the vote.

County elections officials certified the vote on Nov. 17, and this allows the city to gradually phase out rent control in Bayonne.

The council approved changes to rent control in November 2011 that would allow landlords to opt out of rent control once current tenants move out.

Rent control supporters tried twice earlier this year to have the matter put up as a referendum, and then when those attempts failed, they used another approached the imitative which successfully allowed the matter to be put on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Ed Gilligan, spokesperson for the Bayonne Tenants’ Association, said he was disappointed by the result, but that the group has not given up.

“We’re reviewing our legal options,” he said. “If we have to, we will go out and get more signatures and put it on the ballot again. In Hoboken, they did it twice. The first time they were swamped, but they got organized and won. We weren’t organized and we only got 49 percent of the vote.”

“I think maintaining rent control is where the sympathies of Bayonne people lie.” – Ed Gilligan
Course of action

The Bayonne Tenants’ Association was seeking to preserve rent control in the city after the council voted to do away with it in November 2011, as part of an effort to spur redevelopment in the city.

“I think we were fair in what we did,” said Councilman Ray Greaves. “I didn’t like the first ordinance that we saw [in July 2011], which didn’t protect the people living there. But the changes we voted for do, I think are fair to both landlords and tenants and will help landlords reinvest in their properties, knowing that they will get a fair return on their property.”

The vote results from Nov. 6, which were delayed because of Hurricane Sandy, lets the city council changes remain. These would allow properties to drop rent control once the residents living in them currently leave.

“I don’t think this lost because of the hurricane,” Gilligan said. “Outside groups and the city spent a lot of money to defeat our ordinance that would have kept the old rent control in place. We spent very little and we still got 49 percent of the vote. I think maintaining rent control is where the sympathies of Bayonne people lie. They do not sympathize with out-of-town political operatives who came in here to get rid of it.”

Unlike traditional referendums which would have not allowed the Bayonne Tenants’ Organization to seek another election on the measure for three years, the method they used has no limitation.

“We can put it back on the ballot as soon as we get enough signatures again,” he said.

Gillian said he and his group will likely start a public education campaign ahead of the next round in this battle to preserve rent control.

“I think the next time we can win this,” he said.

Source: Hudson Reporter

Bayonne voters uphold vacancy decontrol ordinance by slim majority






By Ken Thorbourne/The Jersey Journal

In the final count, Bayonne rent-control activists came up more than 100 votes shy of overturning the city’s vacancy decontrol ordinance in the Nov. 6 election.

After adding provisional and mail-in-ballots to the machine count, county officials certified the voting results yesterday: 6,824 residents (49.49 percent) voted in favor of overturning the ordinance; 6,965 (50.51 percent) residents voted no.

The result means that a law adopted by the council in November 2011 that allows landlords to remove certain units from rent control guidelines will stand. Landlords can apply to remove the units from rent control if the tenant willingly moves or is legally evicted.

The activists failed several times to place an initiative on the ballot to overturn the ordinance and finally collected enough valid petition signatures to put the question on the November ballot.

Betsy Parks, president of the Bayonne Tenants Organization, conceded defeat yesterday.

“The BTO will continue to thrive and we will be back,” Parks said.

Parks said that since the vacancy decontrol ordinance passed “landlords are becoming very aggressive in their attempts to push tenants out who are under the protection of rent control.”

More than 2,000 apartments in Bayonne currently fall under rent control guidelines, city officials said.



Bayonne’s rent control referendum results can’t be certified yet

Bayonne’s rent control referendum results can’t be certified yet

By Anthony J. Machcinski


Despite 98 percent of the machine votes being tallied, the battle over rent control in Bayonne technically isn’t over, with 415 votes separating the two sides.

The ballot question asked residents if they wanted to overturn the law that allows units to be removed from rent control under certain conditions.

By a 6,568-to-6,153 margin, Bayonne voted Tuesday night to keep the current rent control law.

But with more than 5,000 Hudson County votes not yet counted those sent in by email or regular mail, as well as provisional ballots the referendum will not be certified until tomorrow at the earliest, according to Hudson County Deputy Clerk Janet Larwa.

Larwa said election officials won’t know how many of those are Bayonne ballots until officials go through them all.

Rent control applies to more than 2,000 units in Bayonne, according to city spokesman Joe Ryan.


Source: The Jersey Journal

Bayonne City Council Refuses to Overturn Vacancy Decontrol Law: Issue Now Goes to Referendum

Bayonne council doesn’t pass rent control ordinance, officials say voters should decide

By Rafal Rogoza 


The Bayonne City Council decided not to vote on an ordinance that would reinstate rent control provisions in the city during a special hearing held this afternoon at City Hall, officials say they want the ordinance to be put up to a vote during the November general election.

Roughly 25 people attended the 4:30 p.m. hearing at the council chamber and heard eight speakers who made the case for and against the Keep Rent Control Ordinance that was introduced to the Council by rent control advocates during the August 15 council meeting.
If enacted into law the measure would overturn a vacancy decontrol ordinance passed by the Council in November.
The November law allows landlords to remove units from rent control guidelines if a tenant willingly moves or is legally evicted. Since its implementation 149 units have been permanently decontrolled out of the more than 2,600 total rent control units in the city, officials said.
Toward the end of the hour long hearing, none of the five council members who were in attendance made the motion to vote on the ordinance. The matter will now be decided by voters.
“The Bayonne Municipal Council agrees that the people should decide this important issue,” said Council President Terry Ruane during the closing of the hearing.
Ruane added that the Council took an extensive look at rent control during the November proceedings and concluded that it “leads to substandard living conditions” because landlords can’t afford to invest in their property and it unfairly distributes the tax burden among property owners.
“The rental income causes lower assessed values, unfairly shifting property tax burdens on one, two, three, and four family homes,” he said.
Douglas Wasama, president of Keep Bayonne Rent Control, the advocacy group responsible for organizing the petition drive that let to the hearing, spoke and asked the Council to pass the ordinance but to no result.
“I think they made up their minds back in November,” said Wasama after the hearing. “I’m not surprised.”
Siblings Robert Willard and Lorma Wepner, who own a 10-family brick building on West 23rd Street with two other relatives, spoke against the ordinance. They said all ten units at the property are under rent control provisions with tenants paying an average of $250 in monthly rent.
“It’s unfair for people to be paying $250 in this day and age,”said Wepner, who was pushing for a minimum rent requirement of $450 to be added to the ordinance.
“In this day and age $450 is reasonable rent,” she said, citing rising property taxes and the recently announced rate hike on water. “It would help many, many home owners.”
However, the debate among speakers was split down the middle.
Ed Gilligan, a rent control advocate who helped collect signatures of registered voters during the petition drive, said “Abolishment of rent control was never on the public agenda during the mayoral and council campaign.”
“For some it would seem that the decision to abolish rent control was a result of Tammany Hall-style meetings of our present city government,” he added.
A resident of 51st Street said “There is no way a property owner can make it”, adding “vacancy decontrol is the way to go.”
A case for the Keep Rent Control Ordinance followed from a West 34th Street supporter.
“The reason the buildings are deteriorating is because the owners are pocketing the profits,” she said. “Tenants pay for all improvements.”

Third Attempt by Tenant Advocates to Reinstate Rent Controls In Bayonne, NJ


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.


Bayonne rent control advocates try for third time to overturn city’s vacancy decontrol law

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 12:26 PM | By Rafal Rogoza / The Jersey Journal 


BAYONNE — Bayonne rent control advocates are hoping third time’s a charm as they mount another effort to overturn a city ordinance that allows landlords to move some units out from under rent-control protections.

“We are currently circulating petitions asking registered voters in town to agree to allow all of the people of Bayonne to make the final decision on this matter,” Douglas Wasama, chairman of Keep Bayonne Rent Control, said in a press release. “That’s the democratic way.”

The dispute began in November 2011, when the city passed a vacancy decontrol ordinance that allows landlords to remove an apartment from rent control restrictions if the tenant willingly moves or is legally evicted. Prior to the change, the units would remain under rent-control guidelines forever.

The first petition to repeal the ordinance was submitted on Dec. 5 but was declared invalid by City Clerk Robert Sloan because the petitions did not have each name of the five-member committee listed on every page of the petition. Continue reading