Part 2. Before we get into the weeds... a couple of housekeeping items.
The link in my Part 1 newsletter to "opt out" of Hoboken's energy aggregation program was not working. An issue on my end that I have fixed and here it is: https://njaggregation.us/residential-opt-out-v2.asp
I am planning to up my communication and social media game this year with the main purpose of engaging with, informing and advocating for you. My plan is to have in person and on line town hall type meetings where people can ask me anything they want and I will try to answer. I just set up a "link in bio" structure on Instagram and will post my newsletters there for you to easily find. You can try it here: https://linktr.ee/tiffaniefisher. I am looking for a local website designer to help me create a new website - if you are or no anyone who is interested, please let me know. Happy to pay market price.
Back to the weeds... In this newsletter, I am covering the following:
- 2 New State Laws Re: Domestic Workers & Condo Buildings
- Upcoming Zoning Meetings
- Rebuild By Design – January Meeting
- Gun Violence Survivor Week – Care Card Event
- Free COVID Tests
- Pickleball - 1 Question Survey
- Hoboken Museum – New Exhibit
- 2nd Ward EV Stations - Update
- Small Step / Big Impact – All Saints Day School Leadership Summit
- And One More Thing...
2 NEW STATE LAWS RE: DOMESTIC WORKERS & CONDO BLDGS
The lame duck legislature passed several last minute pieces of legislation before their session ended with Governor Murphy signing several. Two that I noticed may impact some Hoboken neighbors so I thought I would share.
DOMESTIC WORKERS BILL OF RIGHTS ACT
In January, Governor Murphy signed this legislation into law affording various rights and employment protections for domestic workers. I am sure that many of you already provide over and above compensation and a safe working environment to those you may employee, but you may want to further understand what is now legally required for domestic employment. The new law is complicated.
- This is the legislative summary.
- This is the full text of the law. Note that it is an amended version so anything in brackets [ ] is deleted, anything underlined is inserted.
I have asked our State Senator Mukherji if he can get a summary of the law as it relates to typical types of domestic work we see in Hoboken. From what I have read, the new law includes some of the following:
- Employment means anyone who is paid > $1,000 in a year.
- Employer / hiring entity means anyone who pays > $1,000 in a year for domestic work
- All employment of domestic workers must be with a written contract that includes a long list of terms such as: a specific list of job duties; hourly wage; weekly schedule; paid holidays; benefits; transportation; etc.
- Minimum 2 weeks notice for termination of services, 4 weeks for live-in domestic workers.
- Fines applied for violations of the act.
Domestic workers are generally anyone who works inside the home, whether as an employee or a contractor, whether Full Time, Part Time or temporary basis, providing any of the following services (per the law): caring for a child; serving as a companion or caretaker for a sick, convalescing, elderly, or disabled person; housekeeping or house cleaning; cooking; providing food or butler service; parking cars; cleaning laundry; gardening; personal organizing; or for any other domestic service purpose. It does not cover family members who perform this role, someone who is paid by a federal agency like Medicaid, nor house and pet sitters or dog walkers.
When I get a summary, I will share. Feel free to send any questions you may have and I will do my best to get them answered.
CONDO & CO-OP SAFETY LEGISLATION
For most condo associations and co-ops in Hoboken, there is a new law that requires more active review and management of structural integrity, capital reserves and funding of capital repairs. The law firm that my condo uses just emailed this summary so if anyone is on the board of your condo, it is worth a read. Important Changes in New Jersey Law Requiring Structural Inspections, Conducting Capital Reserve Studies, and Funding Reserves for Condominium Associations and Cooperatives - Buckalew Frizzell & Crevina LLP (lawnj.com)
UPCOMING ZONING BOARD MEETING
There are a couple of applications coming up that I know are of particular interest to 2nd Ward residents. All meetings are at 7pm at City Hall.
- 1/23 – ZBA – 54 14th Street – this is for a new, 6 story building on the Uptown Pizza sight. This is a continuation of a previous meeting. The applicant is allowed 60% lot coverage and 5 stories but is asking for 100% lot coverage and 6 stories. With this larger scale, it will fully block windows of residents living at 1400 Hudson and also partially block light and air for the kids play room. I know the neighbors support a new building, but just one that is closer to what is allowed there currently.
- 1/23 – ZBA – 1450 Bloomfield – This is not the public hearing but the initial meeting to assess the viability of Hertz's application. No public comments will be taken. Hertz seeks a use variance to use part of the garage for rental cars, including a booth, similar to Avis. Despite their claim of no existing restrictions on the property, the original documents and planning board approvals mandate sufficient parking for all 1,200 units across the six 15th Street Hudson Tea Properties. This is crucial for HTB residents who use the garage, as every space leased to a third party by LAZ makes finding parking increasingly challenging. This is an issue I believe the ZBA should address.
REBUILD BY DESIGN – REVIEW AESTHETICS
Rebuild By Design construction is imminent and we are seeing evidence of the project recently in the 2nd Ward with the clearing of trees in the empty lot north of Harborside Park, just west of Weehawken Cove. I am working with the administration to schedule a community meeting in the next few weeks to review and discuss the final look of the project. This is a rendering of what is currently planned, as an example, for the portion that will be on Washington between 12th and 13th. As you can see, this was clearly before we had parklets.
Initially the proposed color scheme was a construction cone orange color that would make the project standout, the intent of the engineers. But it was not at all what the neighbors who live here wanted - they wanted it to better blend into the landscape and not stand out as much. So the project team revised their color choice to be more of a gold finch yellow – the color of the state flag and what you see above. There was little discussion at the time (Sept 2020, middle of COVID), and I personally always knew we could have a more robust discussion about the color when we got closer to the project being built, which is now.
So more to come… until we meet, please email me with your thoughts on the color.
GUN VIOLENCE SURVIVOR WEEK – CARE CARD EVENT
Next week is Gun Violence Survivor Week, and the City Council passed a resolution recognizing its significance. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among children. The Hudson County chapter of Moms Demand Action are hosting an event this Sunday (tomorrow) from 1-3 at 221 Jackson St. to create cards for survivors of gun violence to let them know they are supported. One of many activities Everytown USA are hosting across the country this week. This is a great event for anyone, but especially for those with children. Supplies will be provided but feel free to bring some as well.
According to Washington Post research, 394 school shootings since Columbine in 1999 have claimed 203 children's lives and injured 441 at school. Approximately 360,000 children in these schools survived and witnessed these shootings, reflecting the broader impact of gun violence on millions. Long-term implications for these children and the ripple effect on society are considerable. A podcast earlier this year highlighted a girl who survived the Uvalde Texas shooting, facing anxiety and grief. Limited support services, exacerbated by her low-income background, underscore the urgent need for improved solutions. We need to do better.
FREE COVID AT HOME TESTS
Yes, it’s still around. I know several people who have it right now and many over the holidays, and I am sure you do as well. Mostly the symptoms seem to be like a bad flu. But there are increasing number of hospital visits and an additional danger is still the unknown and the growing number of people who are experiencing long COVID symptoms. So plenty of reasons to still do what you can to avoid getting it. Vaccines aren’t for everyone, but if they are your thing, go to COVID-19 Vaccine (hobokennj.gov) to find a convenient location to get one.
Additionally, you can get free COVID Test kits two ways:
- The US Government is offering 8 free at home test kits for every home. It takes <1 minute to order and they will send to you for free. I got mine in the mail today. Click here: Get Four Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests This Fall | COVID.gov.
- The City of Hoboken’s Department of Health is giving out 2 free test kits to Hoboken residents every Thursday and Friday at the Multi Service center until they run out.
So… for those who play pickleball, I have a one question survey for you. Please look at this link: Fairport Pickleball Club | Pickleball Rochester NY. This was built in the town where I grew up and I drove by when I was visiting over the holidays. Take a look and specifically at membership and hours. If we could find a place (or two) and have this type of privately run program (maybe even run by you!) would you join? Right now you have only limited access at very little cost. This would be much greater access, but at a cost. Assuming the same costs as Fairport, just for argument sake (maybe it could be less or more), click here to respond to the one question survey – Would you be willing to pay fees like those being charged in Fairport, for access to pickleball courts similar to what Fairport is offering - Yes, No.
This is a conceptual ask to understand the interest and order of magnitude. Thank you for participating!
HOBOKEN MUSEUM – NEW EXHIBIT
Please join the Hoboken Historical Museum for the opening reception to launch its two new exhibits:
- “Benedict J. Fernandez, Photojournalist: From the Hoboken Shipyard to the Campaign for Civil Rights” and
- “Hoboken Sweeps 3D.0” by Jean-Paul Picard.
This event will take place on Sunday, January 28, 2024 from 2pm-5pm at HHM.
2ND WARD EV STATIONS - UPDATE
The City has been working on rolling out 25 Electric Vehicle Charging stations in partner with Volta across the city. Six have already been installed, including two fast chargers on Monroe between 7th & 8th. You can go to the City’s website to see the progress of all of the EV Charging Station installations. Electric Vehicle(EV) Charging in Hoboken (hobokennj.gov)
I shared previously, repeatedly, that there would be two new EV charging stations on Bloomfield between 14th and 15th. Unfortunately, it was determined just before the holidays by PSEG that there were too many utility conflicts in that area for it to be feasible. I am meeting with my colleagues in HPU and with representatives of Volta and PSEG next week to identify another location in the 2nd Ward – probably on Washington, between 14th and 15th. I know it is a shared priority of mine and the administration’s to get these up and running as quickly as possible. I will keep you posted.
A big shout out to All Saints Episcopal Day School. On Friday they held their annual leadership summit with the focus being on Climate Change. Environmental advocacy is in the school’s DNA. It was both sobering and inspiring to hear what our youth had to say. And then we had table discussions on what we all felt we could do immediately – Small Steps / Big Impact. Here are just a few, many I am sure you probably already do:
- Compost more. Hoboken makes composting pretty easy. If you are interested, you can go to the city’s website to learn more - Compost (Organics Recycling) (hobokennj.gov).
- Use reusable water bottles – never plastic bottled water.
- Buy less things.
- When you do buy things, buy in bulk – not a box of 30 mini bags of Doritos. Buy one giant bag of Doritos – less packaging.
- Recycle everything you can.
One of the kids cited a book called “What if everyone did that?” Used to teach kids to do good things, not bad ones.
The example used was what if everyone threw trash on the ground. But instead, what if everyone picked up just one piece of trash. So imagine, what if everyone stopped drinking bottled water… I came away with not only ideas about what I can do personally, in my own home. But what more I can do as a City Council person. Be the change you want to see in the world. Thank you All Saints!
And One More Thing... I have been asked by many my views on the various federal level races, including our mayor's run for Congress. Races that will be decided in the June Democratic Primary in five months. At some point I will share my views, I am just not there yet.
But until then, I will call out commentary that is, well, ridiculous, hypocritical or misleading. These elections are too important to us. For example, Mayor Bhalla's latest fundraising email (that get forwarded to me), he says: “Machine politics and a system that puts personal profits over the common good aren’t cutting it.”. This coming from the person who used machine politics to place his friend, John Allen, as our assemblyman, ousting a four-term, highly respected Latina Assemblywoman from Hoboken. He goes on to say: “That’s why my campaign is centered around honesty, transparency and community...” If only how he runs our city were centered around those same principles. Mayor Bhalla has plenty of policy achievements to run on. He should focus his energy there, not trying to convince people that he is somehow different than machine politics when he is not.
As always, please share this with everyone you know who may be interested and reach out any time on any issue important to you: 201-208-1764 or [email protected]. #GoBills!
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
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