Hoboken Councilman Cohen’s Latest Newsletter Features Uptown Farmer’s Market, Bike Hoboken

Here’s the latest newsletter from Hoboken Councilman Phil Cohen…

Dear Neighbor,

Happy Passover, Happy Easter, and Ramadan Mubarak to all celebrating the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holidays of the season.

The Uptown Farmers Market is Coming Back!

It’s almost farmer’s market season! It’s been a long, cold winter (and early Spring), so I can’t wait to visit our friends at the Uptown Farmers Market under the viaduct. The 5th Ward is psyched

Starting Saturday, May 7ththeUptown Farmers Market returns each Saturday through December, after an extended, four-month “winter break”. 

Thanks to Mayor Bhalla, the Department of Environmental Services Director Jennifer Gonzalez, and Dave CalamoneriSgt. Will Montanez and Hoboken’s OEM, Commissioner Anthony Romano, and Bijou Properties for this terrific ongoing public/private collaboration to bring back another season of the much appreciated Farmers Market to the 5th Ward and Uptown Hoboken. See you there! 

 Hoboken’s Vision Zero recognized by NBC: “What Hoboken Can Teach Cities About Street Safety”

This week, Hoboken’s Vision Zero pedestrian safety campaign was featured by NBC’s Washington D.C. affiliate. The Vision Zero program, initiated by Mayor Bhalla in his first term, was lauded by NBC for achieving a goal few urban American cities have achieved: 0 traffic-related fatalities in the past four years. NBC cited Hoboken as a national model and one that should be replicated by Washington, D.C. In the 5th Ward, we have seen the results of the Bhalla administration’s efforts to create safer streets through design engineering including curb extensions to reduce crossing distances, daylighting intersections with bollards to increase visibility when crossing streets, adding several miles of bike lanes, new pedestrian countdown timers at key intersections, and lead pedestrian interval time, giving pedestrians a head start when crossing the street before the light changes. Take a few minutes to check out NBC’s coverage by clicking here.

Community Bike Rides Return Sunday

Mark your calendars for the 4th Sunday of the month to join friends, neighbors, families, and Bike Hoboken for a fun family-friendly bike ride. This Sunday the 24th at 11:00 am at Pier A near the entrance to Sinatra Drive, you can join the first Community Bike Ride of 2022. Join your neighbors with cyclists of all ages and abilities for a safe, easy ride around Hoboken led by Bike Hoboken, Councilwoman Jabbour and a Hoboken Police Department escort. It’s a fun way to see your city, get some fresh air and meet members of our community.

Rent Moratorium Increase Ends May 7th

Hoboken’s moratorium on rent increases for rent-controlled units ends May 7th, 60 days after the end of the COVID State of Emergency which created the conditions for the moratorium starting in April 2020. 

Landlords now will be permitted to assess annual rent increases in rent-controlled units under certain conditions when renewing a lease. A landlord must provide 30 days advance notice to tenants of any potential rent increase which cannot exceed an annual Consumer Price Index increase of 7.5 % or a one-time increase based on CPI percentages derived cumulatively during the period of the moratorium.  The City Council’s ordinance lifting the moratorium makes clear that landlords are not permitted to claw back any rents not assessed during the moratorium in future leases.  As the ordinance provides, “All deferred rent increases allowed will be prospective, and no retroactive rent or surcharge increase can entitle a landlord to request or demand any retroactive payment, as a lump sum or otherwise, for increases that could otherwise have been imposed during the moratorium.”

For more information, see the City’s Rent Moratorium FAQ page here

The city asks that rent-controlled tenants who believe their rent was increased during the moratorium time period provide rental documentation (e.g., a renewed lease that reflects a rent increase over a prior, pre-moratorium rent amount), complete the “Illegal Rent Increase Form“, and send a copy of the form along with this documentation to the office at rentcontrol@hobokennj.gov. The office can help assess the situation and provide suggestions on appropriate next steps.

If you do not know whether you live in a rent-controlled unit, contact the Rent Control and Stabilization Office via email at rentcontrol@hobokennj.gov or by phone at (201) 420- 2000×5201. The office, located at 124 Grand St. is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.  Tenants who need legal advice for housing-related issues can contact the City provided free tenant advocate. To schedule an appointment with Tenant Advocate Andrew Sobel Esq. contact Christina Vasiliou at cvasiliou@sobelhan.com. 

Introduction of Hoboken’s 2022 Fiscal Year Budget

At the City Council meeting on Wednesday, Business Administrator Jason Freeman presented the Administration’s proposed municipal budget. A copy of this presentation is available for your review here. Despite significant inflationary increases and union contract settlements, the City presented a balanced budget with a responsible surplus with an eye toward minimizing impacts on Hoboken taxpayers.

Union contracts adopted by Hoboken City Council have led to a proposed budget with approximately $8 million in salary and wage increases compared to FY 2021. Municipal unions represent all facets of city government involved in preparing for, responding to, and helping the city to recover from COVID19. 

With the City transitioning from a pandemic to an endemic, the budget also includes vital investments in quality-of-life initiatives: The creation of a new Division of Housing helping residents maintain affordable housing in Hoboken, reestablishing the Office of Constituent Services to assist residents with any issues they may have across the City, and re-establishing the Department of Public Safety to increase efficiencies and collaboration between Police, Fire, and Office of Emergency Management.  The City budget uses several million dollars of American Rescue Plan funding that has been earmarked for Hoboken and invests in critical infrastructure upgrades: water main replacements, EV charging stations, micro-mobility, and more. 

The proposed budget would raise the municipal tax by about 5.6 percent, which equates to approximately $12 per month for a property owner with a property assessment of $525,000. If adopted by the Council, this annual increase remains lower than the current rate of inflation and the Consumer Price Index, and Hoboken’s municipal assessment remains the second-lowest tax levy in Hudson County. Offsetting inflation and union wage increases, the City worked with the State Self-Insurance Fund Commission to reduce the cost of health insurance by over $3 million. 

The City Council’s Finance Committee, on which I serve, is hosting three virtual workshops where you can learn more about the specific components of the Administration’s proposed budget before the Council votes on the budget later in May and consider potential areas for cost savings in the proposed budget. You are welcome to participate — a Zoom link for the meetings is here. The schedule and agenda for the three Finance Committee Budget hearings are:

MONDAY, MAY 2, 2022 – at 6:00 PM

  • Office of City Clerk | 6:00 PM
  • Water Utility | 6:30 PM
  • Department of Administration & Department of Finance | 7 PM
  • Department of Environmental Services | 7:40 PM

TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2022 – at 6:00 PM  

  • Department of Community Development | 6:00 PM
  • Department of Health and Human Services | 6:45 PM
  • Office of Corporation Counsel 7:30 PM

MONDAY, MAY 9, 2022 – at 6:00 PM 

  • Department of Public Safety | 6:00 PM
  • Department of Transportation and Parking | 7:15 PM

Mayor Bhalla’s Administration’s efforts on responsible municipal finance practices resulted in Standard & Poor’s recently maintaining the City’s stellar AA+ credit rating. I look forward to folks joining the budget hearings and learning more details about your municipal budget.

Join the 🌳Hoboken 🌳 Tree 🌳 Tour 🌳 on Arbor Day 

In celebration of Arbor Day, Hoboken and the Hoboken Shade Tree Commission invite residents to the Hoboken Tree Tour.  Residents can take a 3-hour Hop bus tour on Friday, April 29, at 9 am a the Multi-Service Center at 124 Grand St. to learn about tree species, the importance of diversity in trees, tree life cycles, and more with Urban Forester and Ecologist Mary Charlotte Gitlin.

Hoboken’s Spring Arts & Music Festival 

Hoboken hosts the annual Spring Arts & Music Festival on Sunday, May 1, from 11 am to 6 pm on Washington Street from Observer Highway to Seventh Street.

The free festival features over 300 artists, crafters, photographers, food vendors, live music, and more. Mark your calendars for a fun day when Washington Street becomes a pedestrian plaza for all from Observer Highway all the way to 7th Street.

COVID-19 Updates 

Over 6.8 million New Jerseyans have been fully vaccinated with over 14.4 million doses administered in New Jersey, as of April 21st. As of April 14th, Hoboken’s positive test results total 10,590 cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic. Two weeks ago, there were 10,340 positive cases

New Jersey’s transmission rate is presently at 1.24. Please stay vigilant, practice social distancing when necessary, wash your hands, and stay safe. 

HUMC is now hospitalizing 1 person with COVID. If you have any reason to believe you have been exposed to COVID, please quarantine and then schedule an appointment for a COVID test 5-7 days for those fully vaccinated and immediately for those unvaccinated after potential exposure. To find out when you should get tested, click here.   

COVID Testing Updates

To get the current Hoboken COVID testing and hours click here

Testing for Hoboken Residents and Business Employees:

605 Jackson Street (Administered by Medicine Man)

Date: Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Time: 8am – 12pm 

Location: 605 Jackson Street 

Type of testing: PCR

Who: Hoboken residents, Hoboken business employees

Link for appointments: http://www.hobokennj.gov/testing

At-home testing 

The NJ Department of Health and Vault Medical Services is offering free, at-home COVID-19 saliva test kits. To order your kit go to learn.vaulthealth.com/nj. I ordered four free test kits from the federal government for my family, and you can order yours at https://www.covidtests.gov/.

COVID Vaccination News 

As of April 21st, nearly 100% of our seniors (65 and older) have received their first dose, and nearly 100% of our seniors are fully vaccinated. Thanks to our seniors for stepping up and protecting themselves and our community!

99% of Hoboken residents 12 and older have been provided with at least one dose, and 84% are fully vaccinated

96% of Hoboken residents 18 and older have been provided with at least one dose, and 81% are fully vaccinated

Nearly 100% of Hoboken residents 30 and older have been provided with at least one dose, and 98% are fully vaccinated.

95% of all Hoboken residents have been provided with at least one dose, and 81% are fully vaccinated.

Mayor Bhalla and the Hoboken Health Department continue collaborating with local providers to offer a free COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinic for Hoboken residents and employees of Hoboken businesses at the following location and times:

Walk-in Vaccination Clinics

Where: 601 Jackson Street 

Who: Hoboken residents, Hoboken business employees, Hoboken students

Day: Tuesday

Time: 10 am – 1 pm 

Vaccine Offered: Pediatric Pfizer, and Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J boosters

Ages: 5-11 (Pfizer Pediatric), 18+ (booster) 

Administered By: Medicine Man Pharmacy and Compounding

Link for Appointment: https://www.hobokennj.gov/vaccine

 

To get current Hoboken information on the City’s vaccination and clinic schedules click here as new information is posted daily. 

Better Life Pharmacy (1000 Washington Street), Hoboken Family Pharmacy (307 1st Street), and Medicine Man Pharmacy and Compounding (511 Washington Street) are also providing the vaccine at their locations during regular business hours. 

If you are a Hoboken resident and would like a copy of your vaccination record, please contact LMedeiros@hobokennj.gov. Vaccination records are also accessible for all New Jersey residents through the Docket app

CVS pharmacies in Hoboken also supply the COVID-19 vaccine. Walgreens pharmacies in Hoboken are also supplying the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Thank You for Supporting Councilman Cohen’s Event

Thanks to my many friends and neighbors who came out in support of our special event last week — my first since my 2019 election. In particular, thanks to Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Rob Menendez (Democratic Congressional Candidate for the 8th Congressional District), and Commissioner Anthony Romano for joining me for a terrific event. 

Last week, with my biggest supporter — mom!

If you couldn’t attend but still want to show your support, any contribution you would consider is appreciated.  You can donate here. Thanks so much!

Coffee with Cohen  . . .  the home edition

Last year, to practice social distancing, rather than eliminate my monthly Coffee with Cohen events, I turned to the internet. For my 54th Coffee with Cohen event on TuesdayI hosted special guest Tracy Gavant, co-founder of Main Street Pops. 

We discussed Main Street Pops’ founders’ vision, why Tracy thinks community is so important these days, and what Main Street Pops has in the works for 2022. I also addressed many other issues affecting our community and answered your questions on regulating strEATERIES and more. Over 190 people have watched this event and you can check it out here.

My next Coffee with Cohen event will be in two weeks. I hope to see you there. Do you have a question? Send it to HobokenPhil@gmail.com as I try to address each one. These events are hosted on my Facebook page Philcohenforcouncil and you can watch them here. 

You can always follow me on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram. If you have any questions or concerns, or I can be of assistance to you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me at HobokenPhil@gmail.com.  

Phil Cohen

Hoboken City Councilman

Hoboken, New Jersey

HobokenPhil@gmail.com

(862) 234-9053

P.S. You can learn more about me and my ideas for Hoboken (as well as read this newsletter and prior newsletters) on my website philcohen.org

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