Jersey City Council Adopts Ordinance to Safeguard Bike Lanes and Addresses Rent Control Enforcement

At the Jersey City Council meeting on January 10, 2024, council members unanimously adopted City Ordinance 23-18 to conduct lead-based hazard inspections and adopted City Ordinance 23-1126, which sparked extensive discussion on the enforcement and protection of bike lanes. The ordinance’s adoption follows several residents voicing their concerns, including Jermaine Woodard, who shared a tragic personal story about the loss of his son in a bike lane. The council also tackled the issue of rent control, with the Law Department advising members not to comment publicly on the active litigation involving the Rent Leveling Board’s decision on the Portside Equity matter.

The council moved swiftly to discuss ordinances, with a spotlight on the public hearing for City Ordinance 23-1126. During the hearing, residents passionately advocated for the protection of bike lanes, emphasizing the need for stricter enforcement against vehicles parking in bike lanes.

Carol Harris, a lifelong resident, called for better traffic regulation enforcement for the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists. Emanuel Morgan, a cyclist, recounted harrowing experiences due to vehicles in bike lanes, urging the council to act. Jimmy Lee, president of Safe Streets JC, and Cameron Orr, among others, spoke about the necessity of creating safe travel options and reducing traffic congestion.

The council members responded to these concerns with varying perspectives. Council President Watterman shared her personal connection to traffic safety, having lost family members to accidents, and called for stronger enforcement. Councilperson Boggiano highlighted issues with delivery bikes and the need for control over both motor vehicles and bicycles, while Councilperson James Solomon advocated for protected bike lanes and alternative enforcement methods, such as ticketing cameras. The Law Department agreed to consider these alternatives.

Councilperson Frank E. Gilmore emphasized community involvement in planning and enforcing bike infrastructure. Councilperson Denise Ridley and Councilperson Amy M. DeGise both voiced their concerns about car blockages in bike lanes and the safety of cyclists, with DeGise suggesting the return of motorcycles and horses for enforcement purposes.

Another topic that dominated the meeting was the enforcement of rent control. Residents expressed frustration with the city’s handling of this issue, particularly in the Portside area. Speakers accused the office of landlord tenant relations of not following the ordinance and demanded accountability. Judith Fury Rogers, a senior citizen, foresaw lawsuits and investigations, while Aaron, on behalf of Kevin, pointed out discrepancies in rent control enforcement.

The council members took these concerns seriously, discussing the authority of the council amidst the pending litigation and exploring enforcement mechanisms for landlords in violation of rent control ordinances.

During the meeting, several other ordinances were addressed. City Ordinance 23-126 was unanimously adopted, providing parking space reservations for disabled individuals, and City Ordinance 23-127 was passed, revising street names in the Bayfront Redevelopment site. The latter sparked discussions about honoring local activists and minority-owned businesses through creative street naming and concerns about gentrification and housing affordability.

Director Patel provided updates on the use of grant funding for the paving of MLK Drive, leading to a debate over financial discrepancies. Councilman Gilmore demanded transparency and detailed information about the project’s finances.

The council also heard from residents on a variety of concerns, ranging from road safety to anti-Semitism and animal welfare. A community member urged immediate action to improve the safety at the intersection of Grove and Grand streets, while another speaker denounced the presence of anti-Semitic stickers and called for educational initiatives to combat hate. Concerns about the Jersey City animal shelter’s capacity and policies were voiced, with suggestions to focus on life-saving measures and clear communication about the shelter’s vision and enforcement of animal control laws.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Steven Fulop
City Council Officials:
Joyce E. Watterman, Daniel Rivera, Amy M. DeGise, Denise Ridley, Mira Prinz-Arey, Richard Boggiano, Yousef J. Saleh, James Solomon, Frank E. Gilmore, Tammy Richardson (Council Office Administrator)

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