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Re: window replacement - historic district
#1
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light12v, I've left a lengthy PM for you. I'd have posted it, since I think everyone should know how the HPO and HPC operate and what might done, but the post was just too long. The situation is difficult, but I think there are several possible approaches to improving things. No guarantees though....

Posted on: 8/6 23:22
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
#2
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Quote:

papadage wrote:
Quote:

Bamb00zle wrote:
Quote:

Pebble wrote:

5. The city's website EXPLICITLY states that vinyl siding is NOT permitted. It is possible that another material that isn't wood could be but vinyl is definitely a no-no.



This 100% wrong. See the Zoning Code at 345-71. l. 9. There is no explicit prohibition on vinyl siding in the Historic design standards.

Here's the link, scroll down to L. 9. for the applicable section.

https://library.municode.com/nj/jersey ... _ARTVZODEST_S345-71HIDEST



He would still need a certificate of appropriateness to install vinyl siding.


Correct, there is no absolute, blanket, explicit prohibition of vinyl siding. It is highly noteworthy that the Code does NOT explicitly prohibit vinyl in all situations, and leaves open its use in some applications. You can apply for a Certificate of No Effect or for a Certificate of Appropriateness, depending on the particular circumstances. The only limited prohibition on vinyl is for covering a masonry surface of a building in a historic district.

Here's why it is so noteworthy the code doesn't contain wording that explicitly prohibits vinyl. When a law, regulation or code, DOES NOT state some simple prohibition explicitly and clearly, you know that it was left out deliberately. If vinyl was not permitted under any circumstance, the code would clearly and simply state: “Vinyl siding will not be approved for any use.” This code does not contain an absolute, blanket prohibition on vinyl siding, and it is NOT there because it CANNOT be there. A blanket prohibition of vinyl siding in the code would be inconsistent with the enabling provisions of the MLUL, which only permit regulation of “preservation.”

For Fernandez it is not clear if he even needs a Certificate of Appropriateness, or indeed any permission at all from the HPO or HPC, since he maintains his application was made before the HD came into effect. In that case, all he needs is a permit from the Building Department, which he says he received.

There is a very pertinent example of a permit obtained before the the HD was effective that allowed something that would be almost impossible with the HD in effect – the demolition of an entire historic structure, right in that district. It was a remarkable stroke of good luck. The owners couldn't have timed their application for demolition better if they had known in advance what was about the happen. If you're interested in the details, it was reported in the Jersey Journal. If memory serves me it was a Jewish Community Center...? Today, with the historic designation in effect, if the owners applied to demolish that building the City could stop the demolition and the owners would be obliged to “preserve” it. However, back at the time, the City said the application was made before the historic district designation went into effect, and consequently they had no lawful authority to stop the demolition. Lucky for them, hey?

If Fernandez' applied AFTER the HD was in effect, then yes, he needs some Certificate from the HPO or HPC to use vinyl. It depends on several factors including what siding was already present on his house. If a house already had vinyl siding when the HD came into effect, then it is outside the authority of the City to compel the owner use something else. No doubt the City would try to insist on the use of expensive new, fake historic looking wood siding by denying the application for a Certificate of No Effect or Appropriateness. However, it is outside their limited authority to regulate anything but “historic preservation.” If there is nothing historic to preserve, attempts to force owners to undertake preservation activities such as “restoration” or “reconstruction” are beyond their lawful authority.

Posted on: 8/4 9:32
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Re: More details on tax bills
#3
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Quote:

dtjcview wrote:
Quote:

Yvonne wrote:
Recently, State Senator Brian Stack sent a letter to his constituents asking for input on legislation that might become law. So, I have two suggestions I hope the senator will consider.

First, I want legislation on the property tax bill I receive. There is a box on the tax bill that says, "State aid used to offset local property taxes." That box includes a figure showing my taxes would be higher if the state did not give money to the various agencies that receive my tax dollars. (more)

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2 ... e.html#incart_river_index


WTF. Can ANYONE make sense of their property tax bill?

How about something simple like:
1.WE THINK YOUR PROPERTY IS WORTH: $Xm
2.WE CHARGE YOU IN TAX: 7.x% $Xm = $n/year


And
3. WE WILL CHARGE YOU THIS MUCH EXTRA WHEN NJ CUTS SCHOOL AID TO THE JCBOE: = $Y/year

Posted on: 8/3 22:23
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Re: window replacement - historic district
#4
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I want to clarify a point in my post about the JC Historic Code requirements for historic windows. In the event anyone uses it for some reason subsequently, I want to be 100% accurate. In my previous post I used the word “reconstruction” instead of “restoration”*. The Jersey City Code at §345-71. L. 1. b. i. uses “restoration.” That section of the historic preservation code is regularly abused by the City.

The key points of my post don't change at all: 1.) The HPC and HPO's lawful authority is limited to regulating “preservation.” 2.) “Historic preservation” is only possible if something still exists from the past. 3.) HPO / HPC demands that owners use new, fake, “historic-looking” windows to replace NON-historic windows isn't historic “preservation”, so is outside their limited authority to compel.

The HPO and HPC abuse that section of the historic preservation code by ignoring a critical clause. In so doing they make it seem the code applies to replacing historic and NON-historic windows in historic district houses. It doesn't, and the clause they ignore shows it doesn't. Ignoring a critical clause isn't just a mistake, it's willful abuse, and it ought to stop. I've bolded the critical clause they ignore:

If historic windows have deteriorated to a point precluding repair, rehabilitation or restoration, based on documentation submitted by the applicant, or a field inspection by the Historic Preservation Officer, replacement windows may be approved under a Certificate of No Effect if they match the historic windows....

This clause specifically refers ONLY to historic windows that have deteriorated. Everything following in that sub-section of the code is exclusively about deteriorated historic windows. The code is totally silent about replacing existing NON-historic windows in historic buildings. Replacing NON-historic windows with fake, “historic looking” windows isn't “preservation”. You can't preserve something, here a historic window, that doesn't exist.

So what is that section of JC code about? It describes what you must do when you have a deteriorated, existing historic window. You retain (preserve) as much of the original, historic window as possible. Everything of the existing historic window that can be saved must be “preserved”. Parts that are beyond repair must be “restored.” It means that if part of an original, historic window can't be repaired, you can't tear out the entire window. You must “restore” the beyond repair part and keep all the rest of the window.

For example, consider an existing historic window with a sash so badly deteriorated it can't be repaired. The sash holds the windowpane and moves when you open the window. The code allows you to make a new sash (or part of it), essentially identical to the historic sash, and use that “restored” sash to repair the existing, historic window. Only the “beyond repair” part, the sash, is “restored.” The rest of the window must stay and be preserved. That's “historic preservation.” As it is custom work, it can be (is) very costly, and you should carefully consider that before you buy a house in a historic district.

This reading of the code is fully consistent with the “preservation” purpose and language of the MLUL. “Restoring” only the beyond repair part and keeping all other parts of an existing historic window, to make the window fully operational, is “preservation.” Mandating such work is within the HPO and HPC's limited authority under the MLUL enabling “preservation” provisions.

In contrast, activities that are not “preservation”, for example, requiring that owners replace NON-historic windows with new, fake, historic-looking windows are beyond the HPO and HPC's limited authority allowed by the MLUL. Reflecting this limitation the JC Historic Code is completely silent about the replacement of existing, NON-historic windows in historic buildings. There's not a word about that situation anywhere in the code. There can't be because municipal zoning codes can't demand things that aren't permitted by the MLUL. And clearly, when a law or code is silent about something it can't be read to compel the thing about which it is silent.

When HPO and HPC demands go further than “preservation” activities they are misapplying the code and acting outside their lawful authority. And when they leave critical clauses off sections of code they are supposed to know and correctly administer, thereby changing the meaning of the code, that is plain, willful abuse. It is damaging to property owners, it ignores the State MLUL, and it raises serious legal risks for the City with Federal Housing Law. The City should put a stop to it.


*A note about definitions of “restoration” and “reconstruction”:
Although similar, the words “restoration” and “reconstruction” have particular meanings when used in Historic Preservation Codes and Guidelines. The best definitions (clearest, most precise, easiest to understand) are found in the Secretary of the Interior's Guidelines for Historic Preservation. Updated guidelines were released earlier this year. The JC Historic Code specifies the Secretary's Guidelines as the standard the JC HPC shall follow.
See: https://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/treatment-guidelines-2017.pdf

In the JC Historic Zoning Code, the definition for “reconstruction” (§345-6. - Definitions) is so badly expressed it doesn't make sense. It seems a typographical error was made repeating part of the wording from the definition for “restoration.” That's a problem because when wording in a law, regulations or code is poorly expressed and not “understandable by a person of common intelligence”, the law or regulation (or part of it) is invalid.

Posted on: 8/3 22:16
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
#5
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Quote:

Pebble wrote:

5. The city's website EXPLICITLY states that vinyl siding is NOT permitted. It is possible that another material that isn't wood could be but vinyl is definitely a no-no.



This 100% wrong. See the Zoning Code at 345-71. l. 9. There is no explicit prohibition on vinyl siding in the Historic design standards.

Here's the link, scroll down to L. 9. for the applicable section.

https://library.municode.com/nj/jersey ... _ARTVZODEST_S345-71HIDEST


Posted on: 8/3 17:33
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
#6
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All this talk of lawsuits made me think of the harassment suit Dan Wrieden, the City Historic Preservation Officer (HPO), bought against the City. He claimed somethings about his boss harassing him. I wonder what the City's defense was/is? Maybe it's all settled by this point?

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... ey_city_cruz_lawsuit.html
http://hudsoncountyview.com/wp-conten ... /anthony-cruz-lawsuit.pdf

In my experience, observing things over the years, Dan has abused the historic preservation code for a long, long time. If I were his boss, I would have said some choice words to him out of frustration at what he, and the HPC, have done....

Anyone know anything about the status of that suit? I haven't seen anything reported since that initial filing.

Posted on: 8/3 8:43
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
#7
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Quote:

light12v wrote:
....perhaps you can enlighten us about Farrell's affirmative defenses contained in the document link below, particularly the one that states " City Defendants are entitled to ABSOLUTE STATUTORY IMMUNITY" & advise if you perceive Fulop's Individual Interests as in Concord or in Conflict with Jersey City's interests.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3903312-Show-Multidocs.html


This might give you a sense: http://www.federalpracticemanual.org/chapter8/section2

“Absolute immunity bars any action against officials in the conduct of their office even for actions taken maliciously or in bad faith. Absolute immunity focuses on the governmental function being performed and the nature of the responsibilities of the official, not on the specific action taken.3 In deciding whether officials performing a particular function are entitled to absolute immunity, courts generally look for a historical or common-law basis for the immunity in question.4 With one exception, absolute immunity is restricted to those persons performing judicial or legislative functions.”

Without getting into the weeds, and oversimplifying to the point of some inaccuracy, the City asserts its officials and employees are protected, “immune”, from claims arising out of the discharge of their responsibilities as government employees and representatives. Here, the idea of “Qualified” and “Statutory” immunity is to protect government employees from certain lawsuits that might arise from their official duties. Of course, there are some limits to the protection afforded by “immunity.” Government officials can't just do or say whatever they want no matter how damaging or destructive and expect to be protected. However, broad latitude is generally given in matters related to their jobs.


I don't have an opinion on your other question about the Mayor, as I simply don't know enough about the matter.


What I do have an opinion about is the abusive use of the Historic Preservation rules. The HPO and HPC routinely exceed their lawful authority in the application of these restrictive Zoning rules. The ultra vires actions of the HPO and HPC have prevented many people from repairing and maintaining their houses because of the cost of the work demanded. It has caused a huge amount of damage to many people and particularly to individuals and families of limited means, and of color, for many years. The current City Administration has done nothing to stop this abuse.

The powers granted to the City under the MLUL to enable regulation of historic preservation are limited to just that: “historic preservation.” An example of the application of these limits is seen in the provisions in the MLUL regarding “demolition by neglect.” The lawful power of a municipality is limited only to requiring an owner undertake “stabilization” of the deteriorating historic structure, to preserve it from slow destruction. That is all the law permits. It does not authorize a municipality to compel or order any other kind of work on the historic structure.

Those same limits apply to all Historic structures, whether they are in danger of “demolition by neglect” or not. The City does not have the lawful authority to require anything more of an owner than “preservation.” And you can't preserve something that doesn't exist. Attempts by the City to make owners re-create “fake historic” features such as wood windows, cedar siding, iron fences, anything that does not still exist in some form, are not “historic preservation” and are therefore outside the City's lawful authority.

Posted on: 8/2 11:18
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Re: NO QUALIFIED IMMUNITY 4 Fulop... So Who PAYS 4 his Legal Defense ?
#8
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Quote:

light12v wrote:
Quote:

jerseymom wrote:
(Webbie - Should be combined with current thread on topic)

This Might Help those of us Playing at Home - Begin at Page 30


Thank You for properly locating my post & providing a link to the Federal Judge's document that I was referencing.


Thanks light12v and jerseymom. This is all getting rather interesting, don't you think? Stay tuned, the next episode could be even more exciting.

Posted on: 8/1 9:56
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
#9
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Quote:

light12v wrote:
I live down he block & have watched this property steadily deteriorate over the last 2 years.
It is SAD that what started out as an private propertyowner's attempt to lend new purpose to an aging structure in the area, ... have resulted in this property falling into additional disrepair.


Well put, light12v, I agree completely. HPC and HPO over-reach with the historic preservation rules makes it very difficult (or impossible) for owners to repair and rehabilitate these wonderful old houses where many have lived for decades. A reasonable, balanced and lawful application of the historic preservation rules would mostly be beneficial, helping people maintain their homes and preserve the character, diversity and soul of these special neighborhoods. The current heavy handed, over-zealous approach by the HPO and HPC, with it's ensuing disparate impact effects, runs counter to overall public good.

Regarding the West Side, many residents, including families who have owned their homes for several generations, expressed well-founded concern when the Historic District designation was rammed through by the City. During the Ordinance second reading City Council members promised to update and clarify the historic preservation rules. Well, no surprise, that never happened. At that same time, it was appalling to see Joyce Watterman vote in favor of the new district. Doesn't she know how these types of restrictive zoning rules have been abused over and again, for decades, to the detriment of minority families, and families with limited resources? She should be ashamed of that vote.

Since you live in that district, and with November's election coming up you might reach out to Councilman Chris Gadsen about all this – I don't live in that Ward. You'll recall he won handily last time, against Fulop's hand-picked, historic preservationist, City attorney candidate. In a community debate before that vote, Fulop's guy showed he was totally clueless, telling homeowners we need more Historic Preservation Officers to “help”! No one was fooled, and of course he lost. I've also heard the City is trying to introduce another historic district around Astor Place. Folks over there should be very concerned and get involved in the lead up to the elections. Ward E homeowners are also affected and should ask their candidates what they will do to stop the abuse of the historic rules.

Unless the City clarifies that the Historic Ordinance is limited to “Preservation” and can't be used to compel owners to undertake “restoration” or “reconstruction”, it will take a law suit to stop the abusive, aggressive, over-reach by the HPO and HPC. A thoughtful judge reading a well researched and argued brief, including all the applicable sections of State law (MLUL), City Zoning code, legislative and regulatory history, and the context in which it was all developed and is applied, will inevitably conclude there are limits, and HPO and HPC actions often overstep those limits. A suit bringing a disparate impact claim would rely on a relevant 2015 Supreme Court ruling and federal laws.

It will need a dedicated attorney, someone (or group) who has been aggrieved or suffered disparate impact, with the time, money and interest to bring a case. In my opinion, the outcome is clear. I've looked at several historic preservation matters and it is not a forgone conclusion that municipalities and HPC's prevail. I believe the court will find many actions of the JC HPO and HPC outside their limited authority to regulate “preservation” and would clarify the limits of their authority. In a disparate impact case in Federal Court, you'd have to wonder if the City isn't liable for damages given they've been so derelict in their oversight of the HPC's misuse of the Ordinance, and the resulting harms so serious.

Posted on: 7/29 13:15
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Re: Can JC kick it's parking addiction?
#10
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Quote:

dtjcview wrote:

But I'd bet every developer in JC would prefer to build more units and less parking - since most of it goes to waste.


Seems the key to me.... Every developer wants to make more money. And they don't live with the consequences of their poor planning and design.

Instead of just deleting the parking so they make more money, have developers contribute to a capital fund that is dedicated to improving mass transit.

Posted on: 7/23 9:03
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Re: Can JC kick it's parking addiction?
#11
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Quote:

dtjcview wrote:

By setting parking minimums for new development, the city is effectively subsidizing that parking out of my tax dollars. Without the parking requirement, the developers could build more units and supply greater tax revenue. How is that any different to your constant complaint about tax abatements?


Hmm, I'd have thought the opposite more likely true. An apartment with a parking space is worth more, it's assessment is more, and consequently it has higher property taxes. A car space uses no city services so on that basis I'd say the owner of the apartment with the car space is subsidizing those without car spaces.

Posted on: 7/22 20:02
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Re: Can JC kick it's parking addiction?
#12
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I'd certainly love to see us move to a less car-centric world. However, with NJ / JC's inadequate mass transit system (Jitneys, NJT, PATH, HBLR) and crumbling commuter infrastructure (PA bus terminal, Amtrak's Hudson tunnels, Penn station tracks, etc.) I don't support this kind of extreme approach.

It would have the effect that only those wealthy enough to own cars and parking spaces will be able to get around easily at will, which strikes me as an “equity" issue worthy of careful consideration.

And I don't think problems with ride share are fully appreciated yet. What happens if large numbers start using ride share to commute? Ten of thousands of (driverless?) cars carrying a passenger or two, instead of mass transit trains and buses carrying thousands. And where do all those ride-share cars park at non-rush hour times when they're not needed? And who pays for that?

Without adequate transit infrastructure in place to handle the additional load this doesn't seem like a good idea to me. I'd need to see PATH, NJT (and AMTRAK and MTA....) improve their games first. I'd be much more amenable to initiatives that restrict freedom of mobility when well functioning alternatives are in place.

Posted on: 7/22 12:14
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Re: Developers break ground on Jersey City micro-units apartment building
#13
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Quote:

bodhipooh wrote:
Not that I want to defend the Building Department, but I should also clarify that the situation with my building was somewhat unique/special: it used to be a condo building that, after the economy tanked in 2007, couldn't move the remaining units, so they decided to rent unsold units, and all those units had to be retrofitted according to new standards for legal renting. It was a mess, from what I heard from management. Every inspection would turn up new "deficiencies" and the process would drag out for each unit that needed to get a CO. Of course, the shenanigans were rampant. I am sure Azul has it right.


Even that sounds bizarre to me. The building code for “multi-family buildings” applies by building characteristics (number of dwelling unit, height and so on), not by condo or rental as far as I am aware....

Since 1977 and the UCC, if a building met requirements of the Code edition in effect at the time it was built – which it must have otherwise you couldn't have lived there since it wouldn't have had a CO – then that's it. New Code editions can't be applied retroactively in these situations. Even older buildings bought into compliance with the retrofit Code in the late 1980's were “grandfathered” in once the retrofit requirements were met and the CO or inspection "pass" issued.

The only possible wrinkle I can think of would be IF it was a conversion from condo to rental that involved significant new rehab work on the building. That would have triggered the requirements in the Rehab code.... and in most cases a need to meet current Fire Code requirements.

Every time I hear about these things I find myself thinking something nefarious is going down. What a great way to pick up a very cheap building. Issue some Fire Code violations, amp up the fines, and wait till the owner runs out of money. You have to wonder....

Maybe some City employees / Fire Code folks monitoring this site will shed some light on the mystery for us.

Posted on: 7/21 16:03
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Re: Developers break ground on Jersey City micro-units apartment building
#14
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Quote:

bodhipooh wrote:
I am often surprised and/or puzzled by the building codes and the many changes that seem capriciously enforced. At my previous building, some inspector decided that having windows facing onto a hallway through which people could evacuate was unacceptable, and so the building had to plaster over the windows of an apartment, which led to the unit losing almost all of its sun exposure. The apartment essentially became a windows-less box, with the only windows being located towards the back of one bedroom. The inspector claimed that if there was a fire inside that unit, and people in the building needed to evacuate, that the windows could potentially explode onto the hallway and injure those trying to evacuate. It seemed so far fetched, but the building had no choice but to comply, or they wouldn't issue them a CO.


What is it about the JC Building Department Fire Inspectors that these issues aren't picked up at the time of plan review? They review and sign-off that plans meet code BEFORE a building permit is issued. I hear about this nonsense time and again and now think it might be deliberate malfeasance.

It reminds me of the craziness with Mike Razzoli and Atomic Wings. The City eventually settled the suit bought by the owner. But not before he was nearly driven to bankruptcy. Great way for someone to pick up a cheap building – very tough (illegal even?) to sell something with a Fire Code violation and no CO. I have to wonder how often this nonsense goes down around here....?

Posted on: 7/21 14:17
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Re: 2017 Reval ~ Property Inspections
#15
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Quote:

Pebble wrote:
Not for nothing, but the reval has been discussed over the course of *years* not days. The reval began in Fulop's inaugural year (2013). That means people have had 4 years to prepare and "phase in" the potential cost of their tax bill. They have been able to determine whether they can afford or not the increased cost.


Indeed not for nothing. Fulop stopped the reval, and if the City has made any announcements indicating the potential tax rate post-reval, they've been well hidden from me. Perhaps had they gone on the public record indicating the anticipated range of the expected rate, people might have had a better opportunity to prepare. But that didn't happen. And the City didn't conduct revals for over 25 years either.

The City bears a large measure of culpability for this mess, and should undertake reasonable steps to mitigate the inevitable negative impact as the tax changes are implemented.

As I think I've said here before – I'm not paying any more tax than I already do to the City and State. I've taken several steps to insulate myself from any future increases. Unless the City and State start showing some degree of responsibility and reasonableness, well they'll just have to do without my contributions altogether.

Posted on: 7/17 13:59
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Re: 2017 Reval ~ Property Inspections
#16
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Quote:

brewster wrote:

Cutting the overpaying but not raising the underpaying would leave a tax deficit, and therefore a budget deficit. That won't fly.


Issue some bonds – the City's credit ratings keep getting upgraded.

The disruptive effects of huge tax increases have to be worse than some medium-term City borrowing. Leaving it to the individual homeowner to borrow is problematic as many won't have the income stream to support the loan, be old enough for a reverse mortgage, or have the necessary documents for the very onerous loan application process....

It can't be impossible for the City to help, they just need to be willing.

Posted on: 7/17 13:24
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Re: 2017 Reval ~ Property Inspections
#17
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Brewster, surely it's possible to allow tax reductions immediately – so there's no delay, and no need to explain anything – for those in that category. And, at the same time, for those with large increases, say over $5,000 per year, allow a “phase-in” period of several years, for example, 5 years. One requirement being that over the course of the phase-in period the entire amount of taxes owed would be fully paid. At the end of the “phase-in” the yearly taxes would revert to the “correct” amount. If the property is sold or otherwise transferred in the meantime, the entire balance owed as of the sale/transfer date would become due and payable immediately.

It has taken successive City Administrations 25 years of irresponsibility to arrive at the mess the City is in today regarding this reval. It's not any way reasonable to try to “fix” it all over the course of just 6 months. Yes, for those who are due to receive a tax cut, give it immediately. But the economic harm of a huge tax increase delivered over 6 months will severely and adversely impact many people.

The negligence and intransigence of City Government, resulting in this looming mess, is one of the reasons I sold my property and moved to a rental. When it becomes apparent to people what is going to happen with their taxes I anticipate a distinct cooling in the property market. I might buy back in at that point, although the fiscal mess at the State level is also a major negative for me.

Posted on: 7/17 12:46
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Re: window replacement - historic district
#18
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You do need to follow the “rules”, which you can find in the JC code at 345-30 and 345-71. Since it's a part of “Zoning” other general provisions apply as well, found throughout the Code and State Laws. Although you must follow the rules, rest assured Dan and the HPC won't do the same. They'll ignore the bounds of their authority, which are limited to “historic preservation”. Instead they'll demand the sun, moon and stars and won't give you a permit till they get what they want. The devil in understanding all this is in the details, which are widely mis-understood and applied. Read on if you choose, and you might learn something about the way the HPC and HPO operate in Jersey City.

First, you need to understand a little about the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL). The MLUL is the enabling legislation from which the City draws its limited authority to regulate “historic preservation.” “Preservation” is the key word used in the applicable sections of the MLUL . Why is the word “preservation” so important? Well, in matters of historic preservation the enabling MLUL limits the regulatory powers it grants municipalities to preservation and ONLY preservation. “Reconstruction”, “restoration” and other such activities are NOT mentioned in the MLUL, and are, therefore, EXCLUDED as activities the City has any authority to compel.

So what about the word “preservation” in particular? Here we turn to the ordinary, obvious meaning of the word. It is plainly apparent it is only possible to “preserve” something that currently exists. The term “historic preservation” itself makes reference to something that is from history – that is, something that exists from the past. Conversely, if something does not exist, there is nothing to “preserve”. Put another way, if a historic feature no longer exists, then it can't be preserved. A fake, historic-appearing, replication of some non-existant feature or aspect of a building might be made by “reconstruction” or “recreation”, but those activities are not “preservation.”

With all that as background now to the matter of window replacement. First, take a careful look at the wording of the City code. It's found at 345-71 L. 1. b. I'll reproduce here for ease of reference, and have added the bold for emphasis of a key clause:

L. Additional Regulations for Alterations and Additions to Buildings and New Construction.
1. Windows.
b. Replacement.
i. If historic windows have deteriorated to a point precluding repair, rehabilitation or restoration, based on documentation submitted by the applicant, or a field inspection by the Historic Preservation Officer, replacement windows may be approved under a Certificate of No Effect if they match the historic windows in terms of configuration, operation, details, material and finish. Variations in details will be permitted if such variations do not significantly affect the visual characteristics of the historic window, including the shadow effect of muntins and sash on the glazing. In evaluating "significant" effect, other factors to be considered shall be the age of the building and its architectural quality, as well as the extent of reduction in the total glazed area of the proposed sash compared to the existing sash. For narrow wood windows (less than fifteen (15) inches wide), the reduction shall be limited to ten percent (10%); for wood windows, fifteen (15) inches or wider, the reduction shall be limited to six percent; for metal double-hung windows (of any size), the reduction shall be limited to ten percent (10%).
ii. In buildings less than thirty (30) years old, the replacement windows need not match the historic window in terms of materials. The finish, however, must match the finish of the original windows. On secondary facades, windows which are visible from a public thoroughfare need only match the historic windows in terms of configuration and finish.
iii. Proposals for replacement windows which do not meet these conditions will require a Certificate of Appropriateness

You'll notice the words used are about historic windows that STILL EXIST, although perhaps in such a state of disrepair that it is no longer possible to make them serviceable through means of repair, rehabilitation or reconstruction. Please note that the word reconstruction is used here to in reference to something that still exists, and needs to be preserved. It is not referring to the construction of something completely new where nothing presently exists. This latter use of “reconstruction” has a technical definition found in the definitions section of the Code, and more clearly in the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Historic Preservation.

So, if your historic windows still exist, they must be preserved (by means of repair, rehabilitation or reconstruction). If your historic windows can't be preserved you're going to have to replace them with essentially identical, fake “historic” copies. And those copies don't come cheap. $3,500 a piece for long, parlor-level windows last time I checked, and that was a couple of years ago.

Now to “non-historic” windows in an old building. This situation is very frequent because many of the houses in the historic districts had the original wood windows removed and replaced, often by aluminum windows, at some past time. Obviously, the historic windows are no longer present, so they can't be preserved. It is notable that the Code is completely silent on the situation of replacement of a non-historic window in an old building. There isn't a word about it. But there is no mystery in that, it is exactly as you'd expect. City Codes can't include wording that is inconsistent with the City's limited power to regulate. The City does not have the legal authority to order or require the replacement of non-historic windows by historic windows in an old building, so words to that effect aren't in the Code. Recall the City can only regulate “preservation.” Ordering someone to replace a non-historic window with a fake-historic looking window would not be “preservation”, it would be “restoration” or “reconstruction” – and is therefore outside the City's authority to require.

Nevertheless, if your existing windows are not historic, then this is where the “demand the sun, moon and stars” hits you – Dan and the HPC will try to have you believe they have the authority to demand that you replace those non-historic windows with “fake historic” ones. And worse, if you are unlucky enough to have had your long parlor-level windows bricked up sometime in the past, well then they'll try to make you restore those long window openings as well. More expense.

These activities are not “preservation” of an existing historic feature. They are “restoration” of the building to its appearance from time time in the past. These kinds of demands by the HPC and HPO are beyond their legal authority to regulate “preservation.” All the definitions are in the Code. Again, better definitions are found in the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Historic preservation. The latter definitions are much clearer than the City's, particularly the one for '”restoration” which is so badly written in the JC Code as to fail the “understandable by a person of common intelligence” standard.

As I've noted previously, the HPC and HPO get away with this abuse of their authority because many homeowners simply give in to the demands. It's expensive, time consuming and a hassle to take the HPC and HPO on. And you can't count on ANY support from our esteemed council persons. They're too busy doing the bidding of the Mayor. You can fight, but you'd need to hire an attorney intimately familiar with all the detailed requirements of zoning law. That's expensive, often more that the cost of the work and so the City gets its way. For owners who can't afford the expensive, extensive work demanded, well they often just sell, driven out of their neighborhoods by the heavy handed and abusive use of these zoning codes. That's how it goes down in JC – always has, probably always will.....

Posted on: 7/12 12:37
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Re: Window Repair - Replace Spiral Balances on Tilt Window
#19
Home away from home
Home away from home


jimmysglass.com
+1 201-941-4401
137 Palisade Ave, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010
I don't know if these guys still do that kind of work, but they did an excellent job for me some years ago, replacing broken glass and spiral balances in a long parlor-level window. They aren't exactly local, and I know a lot of businesses who previously came to JC won't now, because of traffic congestion and impossible parking, complete with fines and tow-aways.

If you want to go the DIY route – it's not difficult to replace window balances, I've done dozens over the years after learning how – SWISCO ( www.swisco.com ) in Camden, NJ has all the replacement pieces, excellent service, and helpful “how-to” videos and information on their website. You'll also need to buy a “charging tool” – around $15 – so you can wind the balance springs to the correct tension as you install.

Posted on: 7/11 10:20
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Re: Front fence Hamilton Park
#20
Home away from home
Home away from home


Quote:

jc_dweller wrote:
Legal interpretations go on to say that Commissions must deal with the question of "whether a particular proposed alteration or construction blends aesthetically with existing buildings in the vicinity in order to retain the character of the particular streetscape." That is why it matters, and why the Commission is allowed to regulate, what kind of fence goes up.


Just wanted to give everyone a little more information about the Historic Preservation requirements.

So, jc_dweller, who previously claimed the historic ordinance wasn't part of the Zoning Code and the MLUL didn't apply, now wants us to believe a snippet of some “legal interpretation” tells us how the historic preservation requirements are to be read and interpreted. Don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not persuaded by an out of context, incomplete quote, with no attribution or citation.

jc_dweller, I invite you to provide the citation for your quote, so we can read it fully, and determine what it actually says.

Selective quotation without a citation is a red flag for me – it is impossible to confirm any assertions made. Reminds me of the HPO and HPC's selective, out of context use of ordinance text, and in the process butchering the meaning. Their use of §345-71 G. 3., the “Standards for Reconstruction”, is a prime example. A single clause such as G.3., can't be read in isolation. The correct interpretation of that requirement is made by looking at ALL of the “reconstruction” requirements at §345-71 G. You have to take the section in it's entirety, just as you do any law, regulation or code.

Even without a citation, jc_dweller's quote does not support the contention that the HPO and HPC have authority to compel anything beyond “preservation”. Certainly not “re-creation”, “restoration” or “reconstruction”, which are never even mentioned. The quote addresses something different and limited – the need for “proposed alteration or new construction” to "blend aesthetically", in order to retain the character. The quote is silent about the means by which that is achieved.

As JoeGee pointed out in the first post in this string, it is patently evident from even a cursory look at the neighborhood that the ordinance permits new, modern construction – it is all over the place. All this new construction surrounded as it is by historic buildings must have met the criteria for “blending aesthetically”, otherwise it would not, could not, have been approved by the HPO and HPC.

Back now to original question about a new fence. If a historic front fence does not exist on a property, then a new front fence, aesthetically sympathetic, blending in with the neighborhood character, can meet the criteria – exactly as those new buildings do. Moreover, since section §345-71 G.1-5. of the JC Code severely limits the reconstruction of “fake originals”, a new, “non-fake” fence is preferable.

Listers, one thing you can be sure of is that Dan and the HPC try to bully home owners into installing expensive, fake, “historic-looking” fences and features. Unfortunately, they have the power to just deny your application – even if the grounds used are bogus, and the demands beyond their authority. That's how it goes down in JC, and always has.... There are ways to fight City Hall on this, but that's for another, much longer post.

Posted on: 7/5 7:47
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
#21
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Home away from home


The discussion in another string about fences and historic preservation requirements made me think of that guy from the recently created historic district on the West Side and the City's effort to dismiss his law suit. Turns out there's an initial ruling, although the case still has a long way to go: http://cases.justia.com/federal/distr ... 97/10/0.pdf?ts=1498739790

In short, the City was NOT successful in getting the case dismissed, so the Judge hearing the matter must think it possible that Fernandez's complaints have some merit. Certain complaints were dismissed but it seems the Judge invited Fernandez to re-file with more information. If Fernandez plans to re-file, his attorney might take a good look at the Supreme Court's recent ruling that disparate impact can apply in certain housing cases.

Fernandez might go to the State Courts, although that's difficult for procedural reasons. First, he'd apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness permit, and likely be denied by the HPC. Next, he appeals to the Zoning Board, and likely be denied again. Then, if he has followed all the required rules and met all the deadlines, he can appeal to the Superior Court. There he'd argue the denial by the City is ultra vires – provided that house did NOT have original historic wood siding torn off by the contractor. If the siding was original, it's a different story.

The HPO and HPC often use section 345-71 G. 3. of the JC Code to deny requested work, saying the proposed materials are inappropriate. They'd probably cite that sub-section in their denial of his application. However, that would be a misreading of the section, taking it out of context completely. I'm shocked they get away with it, since they are supposed to be competent to undertake their duties as HPC commissioners. And that means correctly applying the code.

Like any code (or law, or regulation...), 345-71 G. must be read fully and in context, to be properly applied. Looking at 345-71 G. 1-5. as a whole, it is clear that G. 3., about materials, only applies when “reconstruction” is proposed. Moreover, 345-71 G. 1-5., is explicit that reconstruction is only permitted under limited, strictly defined conditions. But you have to read all of 345-71 G., and the associated definitions to know. The HPO and HPC either don't know their own code, or they deliberately ignore it, and all to frequently apply that clause (G. 3.) incorrectly. Taking a sub-section of code and incorrectly applying it to a different set of circumstances than those defined in the code makes the HPC's denial an error and is beyond their authority. The HPC doesn't write the rules – they must follow the code – just like everybody else.

As he's in a historic district, Fernandez needs to use siding that is aesthetically sympathetic with the neighboring houses. However, although he can't just use any type of cheap siding he might want, he also can't be compelled to “reconstruct” replica wood siding, if the original historic wood siding was removed before the HD designation came into effect. If original historic siding was removed only after the HD designation went into effect, then he's out of luck and the situation is more complicated.

I haven't seen that house in a while, and don't know what it looks like at the present. I might go by sometime this weekend. Has anyone else here been by there recently...?.

Posted on: 6/30 14:31
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Re: Front fence Hamilton Park
#22
Home away from home
Home away from home


Quote:

jc_dweller wrote:

Legal interpretations go on to say that Commissions must deal with the question of "whether a particular proposed alteration or construction blends aesthetically with existing buildings in the vicinity in order to retain the character of the particular streetscape." That is why it matters, and why the Commission is allowed to regulate, what kind of fence goes up.


Since your attempt at obfuscation was 100% wrong last time, I have every reason to doubt your opinion now. Thanks for the opportunity to provide additional clarity.

The MLUL permits the City to compel preservation, but only in designated historic districts, and only to clearly articulated standards. It is plainly apparent only those things that exist presently can be preserved. Conversely, something that does not presently exist cannot be preserved. It might be “recreated”, or “reproduced” or "replicated", but those activities are NOT preservation. You'll find clear definitions in the Secretary of the Interior Standards and Guidelines you were prepared to rely on previously.

So, it is the present character and appearance of a historic district that must be preserved. If something was legally destroyed or removed before historic district designation then the HPO and HPC DO NOT have the legal authority to compel replacement. Therein is the reason that modern infill buildings which not replicas of old buildings are permitted. By the same reasoning, a front fence does not need to be an exact “recreation” of a late 19th century original, if the original fence doesn't still exist. In fact, the Ordinance explicitly discourages “recreating” fake replicas. Such work should be undertaken only under certain narrowly defined conditions. The language in the JC Code at 345-71, G. 1. is abundantly clear in stating:

“G.
Standards for Reconstruction.
1.
Reconstruction of a part or all of a property shall be undertaken only when such work is essential to reproduce a significant missing feature in a historic district or site, and when a contemporary design solution is not acceptable.”


Yes, things need to be sympathetic with the scale and appearance of the neighborhood, but the MLUL does not allow the HPO or HPC to compel anything other than historic preservation. If a neighborhood already has non-historic items, that is the present state and character, not some non-existent 19th Century dream-world. People don't have to rebuild outhouses in historic districts, so deviations from the original historic appearance are clearly permissible.

In respect of Historic Preservation activities the City must regulate in a manner that is compliant with the powers allowed it under the MLUL. Demands by the HPO and HPC for the “recreation” or "reconstruction” or “replication” of features that were legally removed or destroyed in the past prior to historic designation go way beyond their limited legal authority to regulate "preservation".

Perhaps the candidates for Mayor, and the other candidate up for election this November would undertake to ensure that the HPO and HPC adhere to state law. I'm sure it will enhance their chances for success as Mr. Gadsen's election victory last year against Steve Fulop's hand-picked, city attorney candidate showed.

The good folk of Jersey City are over the heavy-handed abuse of these regulations. And they need to be on the look out - last I heard the City was trying to turn Astor Place into another Historic District.

Posted on: 6/28 18:12
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Re: Front fence Hamilton Park
#23
Home away from home
Home away from home


Quote:

jc_dweller wrote:

HPC is not under the purview of MLUL. That guides planning and zoning. Not preservation. Thus, it makes perfect sense that they don't follow it.


This is 100% incorrect.

For those who may not be aware the City's Historic Preservation Ordinance is part of the Zoning Code.

The City's Historic preservation ordinance (345-71) is a section of the City's zoning and development code – aka the JCLDO – “Jersey City Land Development Ordinance”. It is found at Chapter 345 “Zoning” in the Jersey City Code of Ordinances.

The NJ MLUL is the enabling legislation that permits the HPC to regulate “preservation.” The HPC draws ALL of it's authority to regulate from the relevant provisions of the MLUL. In respect of preservation, the intent and purposes of MLUL provisions, as stated in the legislation are:

“j. To promote the conservation of historic sites and districts,...” NJSA 40:55D-2.

Other sections of the MLUL provide details of how this must be accomplished in order to be compliant with state law. Both make for interesting reads given the abuse of power by the HPO and HPC.

Posted on: 6/28 10:24
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Re: Front fence Hamilton Park
#24
Home away from home
Home away from home


Of course Dan doesn't follow the City Ordinance – he and the HPC never have, issuing demands that go way beyond the authority granted them by the enabling NJ MLUL.

Their regulatory powers are limited by law to “preservation” - that's the language in the legislation. However, Dan and the HPC operate by withholding permits until owners give into their demands for extensive, expensive, “restoration” and “reconstruction” work. The enabling law does NOT give the HPO or HPC authority to demand restoration or reconstruction of things that were removed or destroyed years ago. If a historic feature was removed – it's gone, and there is nothing to preserve. You can't preserve something that doesn't exist.

Go and carefully read the statue and the City Ordinance. You'll find that neither contains any language that compels owners to undertake “restoration” or “reconstruction.” The complete absence of such language is significant, as it indicates the law or ordinance was not written to compel these particular activities. If an owner wants voluntarily to do that type of work they can do so after permits are issued, and in doing that work they must follow the Ordinance. But it is beyond the City's authority to force any owner to undertake any activity other than “preservation”, if the owner doesn't want.

Bottom line: if you have a historic fence, you'll need to proceed with preservation. However, if your fence is NOT historic, then Dan is beyond his authority in demanding you “recreate” a historic fence. Some other requirements come into play – chain link fences aren't allowed, but those requirements aren't for historic purposes.

Unfortunately, as I've noted before, it will take a law suit run by a smart, knowledgeable attorney to stop the arbitrary, and “ultra vires” abuse by Dan and the HPC.

Posted on: 6/27 18:06
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Re: Jersey City school officials fret over plan to cut $8.5M in state aid
#25
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Quote:

brewster wrote:
Quote:

ProdigalSon wrote:
I'm pretty sure the reval is the first step in a series of school funding issues for the city.


Most of your post is reasonable, but this is not relevant. The reval is revenue neutral, the tax levy (the total take) is by law the same after as before. The reval is only about who already in the JC ratable tax base in pays what.

What I hate about this issue is the whole thing is a black box. JC sure isn't undertaxed, so how can we be so far short of being able to pay for our own schools? Is the JCBOE wasteful compared to similarly challenged districts? All we hear is partisan noise, I've never heard of a forensic accountant's analysis of the JCBOE budget.


The state shovels about $450 million every year to the JC BOE. You'd need some forensic accountant to find that shortfall if it all disappears.... So you're absolutely correct ProdigalSon. And it's the reason the state ordered JC to do the reval. They couldn't reduce aid to the JC BOE knowing the local tax system was so inequitable.

It's sad to see the level of denial here about this issue. After the State reduces aid to the JC BOE, property taxes will increase as an inevitable consequence. Some people are going to be badly caught out because they've drunk the “but the reval is revenue neutral” Kool-Aid..... The real story is what comes AFTER the reval.

Posted on: 6/23 4:27
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Re: Police Pursuit ends in fiery crash in Jersey City Heights
#26
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Home away from home


Quote:

jerseymom wrote:

I'm curious to what other people are seeing in this video. Did they kick the burn victim (my prayers to him - how awful!) or were they stamping out flames? As for the dragging, I'm not sure if they were afraid the car was going to further explode or what their motivations were. Not defending anyone, I just don't know if the cops were acting over the top or just following SOP when they thought the injured guy was their suspect?


Stamping out a fire on a person?! Seems a bit odd to me jerseymom... No need to be curious, the answer is right there in that video. Think about it for a moment.... It's one of those situations where you ask: but why didn't the dog bark?

Surely police cruisers (especially the brand new SUV variety, with all the bells and whistles) carry fire extinguishers and those fire blankets used to smother flames? How many police vehicles and officers were there? Didn't somebody, anybody, think of using the standard issue safety equipment supplied for exactly these kinds of hazardous situations? Don't JC police have training and SOP's so they're ready and know how to deploy and use relatively simple safety measures that save lives....? Or were they really just kicking, oops, stamping, out of the fire, believing that was the thing to do...?

Posted on: 6/7 23:16
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Re: 2017 Reval ~ Property Inspections
#27
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Returning to few previous issues, more likely to effect my situation than a diversionary argument with Yvonne about abated properties....

Quote:

tictaktoe wrote:
Quite circular. By the way, because of reduction of taxes from $24K to $20K gives you $4K to renovate the place!

Tictaktoe, let's complete the circle. That $4,000 from the appeal (along with hundreds of other successful appeals) becomes a tax shortfall for the City. So to close the budget gap the City increases the tax rate. Around and around in circles it goes. Presto! Soon enough your $4,000 is gone again, into the insatiable, gaping maw of The City of Jersey City. And for what, the level of services delivered here...?

Quote:

Dolomiti wrote:
Oh, I forgot to mention. If you rent in JC, and your landlord's property taxes go up, do you think that will have any effect on your rent...?

Dolomiti, I made sure to rent in an abated building - LOL. There wont be any tax increase for my landlord, at least not in my lifetime. And no, it won't be possible for the owner of the building I sold to pass along the tax increase post reval by way of increased rents. The increase would be more than 25%. The market won't bear it, particularly with all the tax abated apartments becoming available over the next few years. Put more succinctly, it's going to be the proverbial s**t show, and I've made sure it's not going to have any effect on me.

Quote:

Brewster wrote:
According to Bamb00zle he was paying 0.7% before he sold. Well played sir. Maybe. I know if Yvonne had held on instead of bailing she and Mr Yvonne could have made another 1/2 million at least. That surely would have been more than the hit it would take for the taxes doubling.

Brewster, yes, if I sit tight eventually I might make up the loss. I just don't see that happening anytime soon. IMO, it will be a long, long time before 1-4 family buildings DT like the one I sold make up the significant capital loss caused by the reval. If I'm wrong and things aren't as bad as I expect I could buy again. Nevertheless, the heightened risk of significant capital loss was enough to make me to cash out. And I know several people who have done exactly the same as me.

There are other issues I've factored in as well: school costs being shifted back to JC (bye bye Vinnie Prieto); dysfunctional and unaccountable City government; poor / absent planning and over development DT; overwhelmed, failing mass transit (PATH and NJT); the State's perilous fiscal situation; increasing interest rates; and the risk of climate change effects on DT JC; among others.

For the present, I'm more than content to watch from the sidelines, paying rent in an abated development.

Posted on: 5/26 13:08
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Re: 2017 Reval ~ Property Inspections
#28
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Home away from home


All this makes me even happier that I recently sold and moved to a rental. A tax rate of 2.1% on my former property would triple my taxes, and the impact on the property value would be severe, much more than the capital gains tax I'll pay.

Property taxes need to be adjusted to be fair. However, because of irresponsible actions by successive JC Administrations in avoiding a reval for 28 years it will be very painful. And when the State shifts more school costs to JC it will be worse. Even if that takes a couple of years, people will see it coming so it will hit property values.

The idea of a reverse mortgage to pay more tax to this dysfunctional City, particularly in view of a likely substantial hit to property values in the near future, has no appeal to me. The way I see it I've taken my gains and will wait.

Other factors are important to me as well. Transportation woes on NJT and PATH are only going to get a lot worse when all the over-development is completed. And with all those apartments becoming available and a softening NYC rental market the DT JC property market is going to look a whole lot different when those new assessment notices go out in about 12 months IMHO.

Posted on: 5/21 13:58
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Re: 2017 Reval ~ Property Inspections
#29
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Home away from home


Quote:

Erica wrote:
My deeper concern is that dismissing the reval opponents misses the opportunity to engage them on more important issues - like, for example, planning for the day when the Abbot designation goes away or the funding formula changes or NJ simply runs out of money to do anything but pay pensions (I hope I'm joking about that last one) and we need to come up with a way to replace lost state revenue. Making enemies on the reval seems short-sighted when we have a much broader and deeper discussion about property taxes and other sources of city revenue coming down the pipeline.


Completely agree, and therein is the reason the State forced JC to move forward with this long overdue reval. The State wants to shift as much spending as it can back to JC (and a few other municipalities). Obviously they can't proceed until the reval is completed. Doing otherwise would inflict undue economic harm and probably be illegal (disparate impact), if the present wide variations in tax rates across neighborhoods isn't fixed first.

Yes, the reval will be overall revenue neutral for JC, but the actions of the State shortly thereafter wont be. Think for a minute what happens if the State shifts even 10% of the roughly $500 million they provide, about $50 million, for schools back to the JC taxpayer.... And all those arguments about fairness and equity across JC neighborhoods, those arguments sound just as compelling when applied across other school districts and towns as well. Of course it should be fair and that means JC is going to pay more of it's own bills.

No doubt you'll remember the tax hike Fulop implemented when he was elected mayor, well get ready for another one following the next mayoral election. This time it won't be Healy getting the blame, it will be the State.

Posted on: 5/19 10:55
Top


Re: PATH (pathetic attempt at transporting humans)
#30
Home away from home
Home away from home


Quote:

WhoElseCouldIBe wrote:
Also, this will not be popular but I would be in favor of removing seats from the subway cars. Not an ideal situation but I'd rather stand on the PATH than wait on the platform. (You could still keep a few priority seats available for the truly disabled).

Strap hangers across the entire car would help too.


PATH should look at this, but be careful what you wish for... increasing the number of people in a car can have the opposite to intended effect. With more passengers “loading and dwell” times increase, causing trains to stop longer at stations. This can ripple through the entire system limiting overall train movement, resulting in a net decrease in passenger capacity.

It would be reassuring to know that PATH officials have already carefully considered all this. I don't any see any harm from making such information available if they have. One downside might be developers can't push the canard that JC will remain easily “accessible” to NYC during rush hour. But since money talks, I'm not expecting we will learn anything from the PA about this any time soon.

Posted on: 4/7 10:51
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