REBUILD BY DESIGN: PROTECTING OUR NEIGHBORHOODS FROM RISING FLOOD WATERS
Rebuild By Design, our winning $230 million federal infrastructure plan, has given Hoboken a unique opportunity to expand our existing waterfront parks, adding two additional acres of open space to our community, while incorporating above-ground infrastructure to protect us from flooding. As a member of the Citizens Advisory Group, I have been listening to community members’ concerns, and helping ensure that not only will our community be protected from the impact of climate change, but the design of this project will enhance our neighborhoods and our local businesses. Alongside community volunteers, Mayor Bhalla’s administration, members of the public, and business owners, I am engaged and working on how best to protect our community from rising sea waters and stronger storms like the devastation that we endured from Superstorm Sandy. As your Councilman, I will bring the same expertise, energy and community-focused values to bear on completing the Rebuild by Design project.
EXTENDING HISTORIC PRESERVATION DISTRICTS: PROTECTING THE CHARACTER AND CHARM OF THE 5TH WARD
The Fifth Ward is blessed with many hundred year old row houses and streetscapes that showcase our architectural heritage and character. While the State of New Jersey has recognized that Hoboken’s century-old residences are historic in nature and worthy of historic preservation, the City Council has not codified the protections necessary to preserve the character of our neighborhoods. As your Councilman I will fight to ensure that we extend the scope of the historic preservation district to the blocks of rowhouses that make up so much of our neighborhood, enhancing the Historic Preservation Commission’s ability to regulate and moderate the future development of our historic neighborhoods.
CONTINUE HOLDING THE LINE ON MUNICIPAL TAXES
Over the last 10 years, the City of Hoboken has held the line on taxes, while our Hudson County tax rates have doubled. While the City has produced honest, responsible budgets (and generating surpluses), our County taxes are now the single largest piece of Hoboken’s tax bill. Because of our City’s strong balance sheet and fiscal care, our municipal bond rating has gone from near junk bond status to a strong AA+ bond rating. One of my highest priorities as Councilman will be to continue holding the line on municipal taxes and seeking more and better shared County services (like waste collection, road maintenance, park maintenance and infrastructure improvements) to offset the County tax burden placed on our residents.
OPEN AN UPTOWN BRANCH OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Unfortunately (and fortunately!), our gem of a public library cannot keep up with the demand for its services in its present location on Church Square Park. As a member of the library’s Space Planning Committee, I am actively engaged in an initiative to bring a new branch of the library into the 5th Ward. The new branch will include more programs for children and families and quiet, wired work spaces that will allow professionals to be productive without leaving town. A proposed plan for an uptown branch at the Y at 13th and Washington Streets is likely 5 years away. I am determined to have an uptown branch of the library up and running in 3 years or less.
TWO TERMS IS ENOUGH – A TIME FOR TERM LIMITS
The Fifth Ward needs fresh ideas, new perspectives, and new approaches to unresolved problems. City Council representatives need to listen and respond to the concerns of residents, old and new, not just at election time, but all the time. As Councilman, I will support term limits for both Hoboken’s Mayor and City Council members to ensure that we have fresh perspectives. Eight years is enough time to make an impact on City government.
SUPPORT OUR THREATENED SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNITY THAT IS THE BACKBONE OF OUR CITY
Locally owned businesses are getting priced out of Hoboken, and with them, we lose a large part of what makes our city unique. We need to do everything we can to support these businesses and to make our business environment friendlier. As your Councilman, I will support thoughtful approaches to make a more friendly business environment, such as funding a Special Improvement District, and other initiatives to promote the unique goods, services, and cultural offerings that make Hoboken an extraordinary business, foodie and cultural community.
SUPPORT AND PROMOTE HOBOKEN’S OUTSTANDING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR CHILDREN
As your Councilman, I will work to expand educational opportunities for our City’s entire school-aged population. I will promote the amazing resources and recognition lauded on Hoboken’s Public Schools system, including the Early Childhood Education Program, led by Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson, as well as the outstanding contributions and opportunities provided to Hoboken’s students at our three charter schools. I will also do my part to make sure our private and parochial schools continue to provide outstanding options for our children. And I will be visible and vocal in celebrating the accomplishments of our students, recognizing the faculty, administrators and staff in all our educational institutions for their daily efforts to foster a nurturing and challenging environment for our children to learn and grow, and for their role in making Hoboken a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
SUPPORT THE DIVERSITY OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING STOCK IN OUR CITY
Under Hoboken’s affordable housing ordinance, when a project is larger than 10 units and receives a density variance, the developer is required to build at least 10% of the residences as affordable units. Nevertheless, with increased property taxes dramatically increasing the annual carrying costs for local properties and a robust Hoboken real estate market steadily increasing the value of our residential properties, Hoboken has become unaffordable for many low and middle-class income families, as well as for members of our artist and creative community. The rate of new affordable housing coming on line isn’t close to meeting the demands of our community.
To maintain and expand economic diversity in our community, I support the establishment of a municipal not-for-profit community land trust (CLT) that could be funded by an assessment on developers seeking variances, or through grants and awards from foundations, to create a pool of funds dedicated to the development and stewardship of new affordable housing stock in our city. A CLT could acquire properties for sale and make them available to those who fulfill the eligibility criteria laid out by the CLT, in collaboration with the City Council.
COMMITMENT TO OPEN SPACE
As a Zoning Board Commissioner for 8 years, I observed up close the forces pushing for large-scale development. As your Councilman, I commit to fight to maximize the open space that enhances our residents’ quality of life – and for a balance between recreational facilities for our kids, and shaded park space for rest, relaxation, and reflection. Further, I support giving Mayor Bhalla’s administration all the tools it needs to negotiate from a position of strength with developers and corporate landowners to secure the best parks and public amenities for our community.
COMPLETE OUR WATERFRONT PARK: NEW YORK WATERWAY DOES NOT BELONG AT THE UNION DRY DOCK SITE
Along with everyone who cherishes pubic access to our waterfront for our families, children, visitors, and pets, I will fight to complete Hoboken’s waterfront park championed by the Bhalla Administration and the Fund for a Better Waterfront. I will work with New York Waterway and all community stakeholders to relocate New York Waterway’s planned Ferry Diesel Depot and Repair Facility to an appropriate location, such as the Hoboken Terminal at the Lackawanna Station.
ADDRESS DANGEROUS INTERSECTIONS IN THE 5TH WARD
The addition of timed walk/don’t walk signs, new bright stop lights, and sidewalk extensions on Washington Street have made it much safer for pedestrians in Hoboken’s Central Business District. Unfortunately, there are too many intersections in the 5th Ward that remain dangerous for pedestrians because cars simply go too quickly, threatening our families, our vulnerable seniors and our kids. As I knock on doors and introduce myself to you, I look forward to hearing your thoughts about how we can be safer on streets and intersections in the 5th Ward. I also will ask you to join me in supporting the installation of 4-way stop signs for all intersections one block from a school.
HELP RESTORE CIVILITY TO OUR CITY COUNCIL
I promise to serve the 5th Ward, championing progressive policies and working in harmony with Mayor Bhalla, his administration, and my colleagues on the City Council. I am proud to be endorsed by Mayor Bhalla. We need a City Council committed to working together for all of us. In my 33 years living in Hoboken, I have seen City Councils working collaboratively together with Mayoral Administrations and accomplishing great things, like winning the Rebuild by Design competition, building flood pumps, and being honored as the first New Jersey city to achieve LEED Gold certification for our accomplishments in flood mitigation, energy efficiency, and alternative transportation options. I am committed to working together with my colleagues on the Council to make our wonderful City even better.
EXPAND OUR GREEN TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS
I fully support practical ways to make it safe and convenient to travel locally without a car. I believe we should increase the number of protected bike lanes to discourage bicycle and scooter riders from using our sidewalks, and to encourage bicycle and scooter riders to operate safely on our city streets with a buffer between themselves and cars, trucks and busses. I am closely watching the implementation of New Jersey’s first municipal electronic scooter program, a program which holds the potential to be an important and innovative way to safely navigate our City and reduce our carbon emissions. I support the continued expansion of our municipal bike share, municipal car share, and free Hop shuttle programs. Working with Mayor Bhalla’s Administration and our public safety officers, we can make our sidewalks safer for pedestrians, while making green transportation alternatives more available and affordable.
I COMMIT TO WORK HARD FOR YOU
Finally, and most importantly, I pledge to work very hard for you, as your Councilman. I pledge to be available to you, and to be a world-class listener. If you would like to reach out to me, I would like to hear from you. Please e-mail me at HobokenPhil@gmail.com