April 16, 2018
City Council of Jersey City
280 Grove Street
Room 202
Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Dear Council Members: RE: Building Demolition Proposal
This office has reviewed the proposed amendment to the Jersey City Law Chapter 105 Building
Demolition and has grave concerns. This proposal will only halt the rejuvenation of Jersey City for all
residential properties and create an undue burden on residential property owners.
Before the Council votes on the ordinance, they should have a cost analysis performed that will
illustrate in detail the onerous and costly process property owners will need to undertake in order to
obtain a permit to demolish or rehabilitate their properties. This analysis will confirm our concern that
this proposal will be so prohibitive that most if not all rejuvenation of four or less residential properties
will halt as will many apartment buildings. This analysis needs to also address the amount of
authority the city will provide the building inspector. When addressing the building inspector’s
authority, the Council should understand thoroughly how one person’s opinion in Jersey City will
supersede every resident’s opinion, and an entire neighborhood. This analysis must explain the
authority this inspector will have over a property owner who files for a demolition of their property and
is denied. The proposal allows an inspector to order the owner to rehabilitate the property. The
Council should review the financial burden the inspector could attach to the property owner if the
owner decides not to undertake upgrading the property.
The Board of REALTORS wants to remind the Council Members of the decline of cities which began
in the 1950's and continued for three decades can always return. As bad as gentrification is, DECAY
is much worse. It is obvious that this proposal is another attempt to derail gentrification, but does
nothing to solve any problems caused by gentrification. There is no doubt that gentrification can be
difficult for longtime residents, and over the last 10 years Jersey City has enacted no policies of
substance that is successful to properly address the concerns of their longtime residents. At the same
time, the city enjoyed an enormous amount of new real estate taxes because of gentrification and
very little of these new revenues was used to solve the problem that gentrification caused for longtime
residents, most of which are tenants.
We want to remind the Council that they also have a responsibility to the long time property owners of
one thru four family buildings. Many are in their golden years, or almost there. The home where they
raised their children, supported their community is their largest investment that will be needed to
serve them in their retirement. This proposal will greatly reduce the value of their property as time
goes on and therefore, their savings.
110A Meadowlands Parkway, Suite 103 Secaucus, NJ 07094 201-867-4415
It should not be news to anyone on the Council that when one neighbor improves their property,
others on that block will have an incentive to follow with more improvements. It’s called “Pride of Our
Neighborhood.” When voting on this proposal, think about what your neighborhood would become if
no one takes action to improve the appearance of their property. This proposal will ensure that run
down properties will stay run down longer and will cause a lack of incentive for others to improve their
If some on the Council, after reading our remarks, still believe this proposal is needed and it is the
right thing to do, they should reconsider at this time. News reports of New York City’s poor 1
real estate sales is a trend that began last year. History tells us what we on the other side of the
Hudson can expect in the coming months if those sales numbers do not improve. To add to those
poor numbers, there was and continues to be terrible nationwide publicity about Jersey City’ clumsy
REVAL announcements of new assessments. Added to this issue is the foolish and expensive
cancellation of the REVAL four years ago. We have reviewed the average sales for Jersey City and
now realize the negative impact it had by canceling the first reval for downtown residents or residents
in some of the more popular neighborhoods. Directly following the canceled reval, average sales
increased for two years in a row by more than 20% in downtown while in the rest of the city by less
than 7%. This unusual average sale price increase can be directly attributed to the outrageously
large tax increases received by many Jersey City property owners because of the cancelled Reval.
Since the unusual increase in the average price occurred when the Jersey City administration began
running their promotion of the advantages to work and live in Jersey City one can only conclude this
help caused some of the large tax increases, along with increase of the gentrification Jersey City has
experienced recently.
It is our understanding that the Council is considering changing many parts of the ordinance before
they have a final vote. One of those changes will have the new law only address properties built
before 1919. Is the Council aware this will include more than 9,000 properties or many more
thousands of residents? Because of the ENORMITY of this proposal we believe the city should
directly advise every property owner this proposal will effect. The city should explain before this
proposal is approved what their responsibilities will be and most importantly what they will be required
to tell a prospective buyer before they sign an agreement to sell their property.
The Liberty Board of REALTORS would ask the Council not to rush this proposal through until their
constituents fully understand the pro and cons.
Joseph W. Hottendorf, Executive Vice President
Cc: Robert Byrne, City Clerk