This is a letter I wrote to Ravi, our entire city council and to Director Sharp.

1. Mayor Zimmer had a smart meter project in the works

Hoboken bonded $5m in 2014. Where are we exactly on that project 4 years later? I thought the plan was to remove all of the permit-parking only signs and replace them with smart-meters, but it seems to me this project has stalled. 

We were also supposed to look at structuring the meters for higher costs along Washington Street, and other popular roads, to encourage people to park for short amounts of time on roads like Washington, rather than park for 3-4 hours. Most people, like myself, just want to park on Washington, pop into a store for about 10-30 minutes, and leave, rather than having to park in a parking garage. We should scale parking meters along Washington Street to be $2.50 for 15 minutes, $5 for 30 minutes. If someone wants to parked for 3-4 hours - they should be encouraged to park in a municipal parking garage rather than on the street, or pick a street that is away from Washington Street and cheaper to park. The idea of scaling was something that Zimmer mentioned 4 years ago and no one has moved forward here.

2. The public is howling for better streets. Washington is one example, but a simple fix is raising the residential parking from $15 per year to $300 per year (senior citizens and students should get a waiver). While no one wants to pay MORE, if you prove that this money would go DIRECTLY towards Hoboken DPW projects, rather than into the city coffers, I think the pill would be easier to swallow. If you have 10,000 residents who pay $15 a year that is only $150,000 a year we use for our streets. Whereas raising to $300 would generate $3 million a year which can be used to repave many streets - an especially bad street is Clinton street between Newark all the way to 5th street. 13th and Monroe literally has a hump in the middle of the road. Your car will tilt sideways - how has it that NO ONE has done anything about this in 10 years?

 3. Shouldn't we consider signs at our parking garages (and ideally at our borders, like at Newark/Jersey Avenue train bridge for the south and Willow/Park Avenue for the north that show which municipal parking garages have open parking spaces? Picture included. Easily paid for if we raised residential street parking to $300.

4. The timers at 14th street & Willow traffic lights are not correct. I drive here every day at 5pm. By the time the light turns yellow at 14th street, the light at 13th and Willow is already red. The traffic backs up from 13th and Willow to 14th and Willow and often blocks the crosswalk & some cars get stuck in the middle of the road. It causes major headaches.

5. Please don't remove 12th street between Jefferson and Madison for the new park. I drive here daily. It is already extremely difficult to get North-South in Hoboken, and removing this road would cut off south bound traffic 14th street to use Jefferson to go to south. If anything reconnect Jefferson and then remove 12th between Jefferson & Madison. It will allow for one continuous park to be utilized and also allow for traffic to move smoothly. If you are worried about speeding traffic, install speed bumps & parking signs. 

 6. I wrote about the idea of creating the Hoboken Roadway Patrol four years ago. It is a bit of a pie-in-the-sky idea, but I still think the idea considers merit. The HRP would be a law enforcement agency which has patrol jurisdiction over all Hoboken roadways (including any county roads within Hoboken's borders). The HRP could be a branch of the Division of Motor Vehicles in the Department of Public Works - or part of the current police force, but the goal is to free up police from roadway duties. Local police are primarily responsible for investigating and enforcing traffic laws - but having a HRP frees local police to focus on other tasks not related to the roadways. I wrote about in more in depth here:

Last Thursday, multiple bars in Hoboken were served punishments for Tavern Sheet violations in 2017. A Tavern Sheet is when a bar is written up by police for an infraction, like a demerit, for violating a rule by the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control). Some examples would be like patrons fighting in a bar, exceeding maximum capacity, or serving someone underage. In years past the punishments were mostly fines. 

This year with Ravi taking office one of his goals was to be tougher on bars. According to a press release in 2017, there were 277 ABC violations by liquor license holders in Hoboken. Of the 133 liquor license holders, more than half received zero tavern sheets in 2017 and more than three-fourths received two or fewer tavern sheets. Half of all violations in 2017 were issued to just 11 establishments - they had 138 tavern sheets, or an average of 12.5 tavern sheets for the 11 "problematic" bars.

I'm not against fixing the problem. I'm all for Ravi's trying to get a problem under control. The issue I have is that the city announced they are getting tough on bars, and not giving the bars the chance to react. Let's say that NJ decided they wanted to get tougher on drunk drivers. They announce that going forward that they would increase penalities for first time DUI offenders to 90 days in jail. 

But then - NJ retroactively applies these stricter penalties to anyone caught with a DUI in the last 6 months.

1Republik, will be forced to close its doors for good. A 30-day suspension of their liquor license is to begin May 21 but the bar will then be forced to close permanently, pending the sale or transfer of its liquor license. The city cited a September 4th bar fight when a woman was struck in the head with a plate and a December 4th incident in which a bouncer pushed a patron who fell and hit his head, which left him with life-threatening injuries.

No one is crying for 1Republik. Right? It is one of the most popular bars in Hoboken, especially for people who do not live in Hoboken. So most people living here don't go to 1Republik, and to see them close isn't going to generate much sympathy.

Another example would be Hoboken Bar and Grill. They were issued an immediate 30-day suspension beginning Friday. Two police officers were injured and four people were arrested during an early morning brawl outside the Washington Street bar in November. As many as 40 people were involved in the 4 a.m. incident near the bar. Again, another bar in which not a lot of locals go there. It mostly attracts people from out of town. The attitude of Hoboken residents would mostly be unsympathetic. 

But look at the list of other bars:

  • Green Rock, was issued an immediate 30-day suspension beginning Friday.
  • Mills Tavern, was issued a 24-day suspension.
  • The Shannon, suspension for March 3 and March 4.
  • Turtle Club, 10-day suspension.
  • Hoboken Ultra Bar, 5-day suspension and a 5 day suspension held in abeyance.
  • Cadillac Cantina, 5-day suspension and a 5 day suspension held in abeyance.
  • Marty O'Brien's, 5-day suspension which includes at least two days being served.
  • Grand Vin, 5-day suspension.
  • The Ainsworth, 5-day suspension.

The only issue I have is that all the bars are getting swept up here. Problem bars I can understand. But there are some on this list that aren't perennial offenders - they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Lashing out at good bars while trying to get tough on the other bars isn't the right move here. I know that Ravi wanted to make a statement, but in my opinion he went a bit too bar. You have people who have lives that are dependent upon these establishments. Even closing a bar for 10 days certainly hurts the bar owner, but likely hurts the employees even more. I don't think this was properly considered by the administration on the residual effects the closures would have. 

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