Archived Posts from "'Reader Mail'"

Watch your boxes! (Holiday Edition)

Update: Boxes being nicked in broad daylight

Wanted to bump this ongoing “public service announcement” to remind you slackers that boxes are still getting cleaned out of multi-unit buildings at a breakneck pace again this season.

Just a few days ago, one lobby in a midtown building had a couple dozen shipments stolen.

The thief rolled a shopping cart from A&P Supermarket into the building. Apparently people are too busy updating facebook on their phones and can’t be bothered to look around anymore.

stolen boxes hoboken NJ

Boxes will always be stolen in Hoboken

6/18/2014 Update:

Living in a multi-unit apartment building has it’s pros and cons. The “mailroom” is one of the cons. So many deliveries ripe for the taking. “Common sense” could solve the problem, but that’s a story for another day. Here’s some info about the current crop of box-nickers in Hoboken.

One thief arrested: Fernando Serrano

Good news, one Fernando Serrano was arrested yesterday. He hails from Union City, NJ. (Thanks 9th St. Light Rail Station for the contribution!)

Don’t worry, he’ll be free again soon – or someone just like him will take the baton.

Fernando Serrano Hoboken package thief arrested NJ

Another package thief prowling around Hoboken

There’s another box-thief on the loose – as we received this security-footage montage earlier today.

Recognize him? Call Hoboken Police at (201)420-2100 with anything to help put an end to this horrific loss of material goods.

Hoboken Box Robber

Top 5 Recommendations to avoid lobby theft in Hoboken:

  1. Never have deliveries sent to your apartment if you’re typically not home. As a reminder, you can:
    • Befriend a local business (dry cleaner, bodega, etc.) and have your shipments sent there,
    • Use a place like Go Postal that will receive your boxes for a modest fee (and even deliver them when convenient)
  2. Tell your condo to either move or block the mailbox area – or install frosted glass doors outside.
  3. Have your stuff shipped to your work (if you’re not too weak and lazy to use a little effort to carry it home…)
  4. Live in a better building (i.e., with a concierge – but the drawback is that they’ll see you stumble home drunk missing a heel…)
  5. Stop buying so much shit online

Have any suggestions? Click to see Hoboken411′s previous tips for safe shipping!

Parking Disruptions

Parking Disruptions in Hoboken – No backup plan!

Anyone who drives a car in and around Hoboken knows, that the last couple months have been hell. From PSE&G ripping up roads and leaving them worse than before, to CONSTANT street closings – these parking disruptions have clearly had an impact on “quality of life.”

No concessions in Hoboken for lost parking spaces

But the worst part is with all the problems presented – that there was no assessment from the city on how to care for those affected. One Hoboken resident and Hoboken411 reader tells their tale:

“I wanted to let you know that while the city has deemed it proper to close tons of side streets at the lower end of town (seriously it’s like every block between Newark and 4th from Willow to Adams at least. Possibly more…) they won’t make any concessions for the hundreds of lost parking spaces. I drove around for 30 minutes, causing me to be late for work, and only found ONE spot – a Tuesday side of the street. When I called HPU to ask if there’s any way they can cut me a break, she goes “absolutely not.” With no further comment. I called the mayor’s office to complain and whoever answered the phone said she’d send an email to staff (which she explained was mayor’s chief of staff and director of transportation services) but I’m not holding out hope. Good to know the city is looking out for its residents. Well done.”

Very odd the city failed to even grasp the impact of this long-term traffic and parking disruption. Heck, when 0.10″ of rain is expected, they always seem to offer some kind of parking alternative. In this case they ought to just open up the parking garages FREE until the project is done – or at least have waiting until the “holiday shopping season” was over. Oh well, can’t expect common sense from this bunch of ninnies.

Hoboken Harasses Small Businesses

Hoboken Harasses Small Businesses – Which is why some leave!

The owner of The Office (who shut down in 2014 and moved to Jersey City), shared a story on PolitickerNJ last month.

It details the headaches that local businesses suffer through (such as Hoboken Unleashed who we mentioned earlier) and often have to leave the city they really WANT to love in order to find a more business-friendly climate. Maybe one day we’ll have a “mayor” and administration that in in possession of a few working brain cells. Read on!

Hoboken Harasses Small Businesses

Why is NJ such a crappy place to do business?

By Kevin B. Sanders

If you own a small business in New Jersey, you’re probably worried. Well, you’re right to be worried.

For the second year in a row and the third time in four years New Jersey has been ranked dead last in the annual State business tax climate Index released by Washington DC’s tax foundation. Our state’s high taxes and brutal regulatory structure are not just numbers on a chart. They’re affecting our daily lives. According to one expert, last year’s growth rate in Wyoming, which was No. 1 in the survey, was 7.6 percent. In NJ, it was 1.1 percent.

What’s even more troubling is that no hope seems to be on the horizon. After eight years of Democrat control in the governor’s mansion and in the legislature, small business owners were excited to welcome Gov. Chris Christie and his pro-business message. It hasn’t helped. If anything, things have gotten worse since 2010.

Election time is the time of year when candidates are on television discussing a mythical character they call the “small business owner.” That’s me. I own two small businesses in New Jersey—a print shop and a laundromat. Both of them were hit hard by the recession, but both continue to struggle along, employing a handful of New Jerseyans and providing for my family. In turn we use the money we earn to go grocery shopping, buy clothes and even visit the occasional restaurant, thereby employing other New Jersey families just like ours. That’s how an economy is supposed to work.

But let’s take a look at how an economy actually works, shall we?

My print shop, The Office (hey, if you need business cards, a poster, or design work, give us a call!) was in Hoboken, in the very heart of the business district on Washington Street. It was exciting to see the town come alive as one of the hottest shopping districts in the state. What was less exciting: seeing beloved business after business fail, always in the same way.

As chronicled in the local blog Hoboken411, someone builds a business, then his rent doubles, and the business would simply vanish. That’s what happened to the UPS store before we came, the hardware store of more than 23 years, to the Barnes and Noble (leaving one of the best-educated towns in the state without a bookstore). The chain Maoz opened and closed so quickly there was barely time to grab one of their great veggie falafels; same with Ibby’s falafel (Hoboken411 blamed “exorbitant rent” and exorbitant carbs). Even Maxwell’s, the Hoboken institution that was treasured by a generation of rock bands as a critical cultural institution and where I had the first date with my wife closed. Replaced with the same name, but the wrong vibe.

Kevin Sanders The OfficeI accept that as neighborhoods prosper there are winners and losers. It’s generally a good thing that Hoboken is so desirable, though I question just how much the city really needs three dozen real estate storefronts, since every time some awesome business closes, that’s what seems to take its place — yet another real estate storefront that has the same pictures of overpriced hipster lofts dotting its front window.

But back to business. I’m a businessman and I get that if someone comes in and will pay more the landlord should take it. If the people of Hoboken—and the landlords of Hoboken—think there ought to be 30 real estate stores where wonderful restaurants shops and cultural institutions once stood, so be it.

But what I don’t understand is why the city of Hoboken adds to the misery of its small-business owners by viewing them not as respected contributors to the local economy, but purely as a source of additional revenue on top of the massive property taxes they’re already paying.

Time and again, The Office was fined for putting our garbage out 15 minutes too early, complaints from customers that they just got a parking ticket for being two minutes expired or face surprise inspections by the fire department, or a whole bunch of other crap that sounds like nothing on its own that adds up when you’re in a business that’s barely making its rent in the first place. That’s hard enough to swallow if you’re operating in a well-run town.

But Hoboken has possibly the worst streets, the worst parking, and some of the worst schools in the whole state.

Still riding “Sandy,” but not the root cause

And don’t let them blame it on Hurricane Sandy. Yes, it was hit hard—you could have swam from our shop to the Holland Tunnel, for about a week. But take my word for it, the business climate was just as bad before Sandy.

As a local print shop, The Office printed fliers, banners and pamphlets for many elected officials in town. Hoboken has a strong tradition of grassroots campaigning, and it was charming every November to see high school kids hired to walk up and down Washington Street wearing T-shirts and carrying signs for their favored candidates. I once confided to one of the candidates picking up his own leaflets off how frustrated I have become by Hoboken’s hostility toward its business owners. He surprised me with his candor, telling me most of the people who own businesses here don’t vote here. It’s easy to tax and fine you guys.

He’s right. I live in Essex County so I don’t vote in Hoboken. But I voted for with my feet. Earlier this year, I moved The Office and our six jobs to Jersey City. From the looks of things around Journal Square, plenty of others are joining me or considering the same move.

Last month, I was making a delivery to a loyal customer in Hoboken and I ran into my former next-door neighbor, who owns Makeovers, a beauty products business. He told me he was leaving his spot because of an incredible increase in rent, but had luckily found a more affordable place right across the street. He even started to move a couple boxes into the new storefront so he’d be ready to open sooner. Hoboken’s vigilant inspectors spotted a couple harmless cardboard boxes filled with shampoo sitting in the vacant storefront, and wrote him a ticket. For $1000.

And Hoboken wonders why it’s lost its mojo…

Hoboken reval rhetoric

Council seeks to terminate “rolling reassessment” in Hoboken

Zimmer misled council members, no transparency…

Hoboken City Council members Beth Mason, Theresa Castellano, Michael Russo and Tim Occhipinti called on “mayor” Zimmer today to cancel the City of Hoboken’s rolling reassessment program. The proposed rolling reassessment program would require the City of Hoboken to reevaluate properties on an annual basis. In addition, the program would require Hoboken properties be reevaluated according to market trends and values.

Hoboken Property Taxes

“Zimmer’s rolling reassessment program will not reduce our city’s tax burden,” said Councilwoman Mason. “This will lead to yet another tax increase for Hoboken residents. We should immediately terminate the contract of the firm the Mayor supported to conduct the rolling revaluation program.”

Earlier this year, Zimmer sought and received state approval to establish the rolling reassessment program before consulting the City Council. Her administration submitted a resolution to hire the same company that conducted the 2013 property tax revaluation, but the resolution failed to specify that it was for a new rolling reassessment program.

As a result of the rolling reassessment program, if properties are sold over market value or when building permits are taken out by a homeowner to make an improvement the Zimmer Administration will be able to increase property taxes on a continual basis.

As usual, Zimmer kept the independent thinkers on the City Council in the dark. Zimmer’s record on taxes is one that she should find very embarrassing. She promised to cut property taxes by 25% within 90 days of taking office and failed to do so, she blew a $25 million surplus on patronage and wasteful spending, and then her allies on the Hoboken Board of Education voted to take away the public’s right to vote on the school budget. I guess this is the latest chapter in her terrible track record,” said Councilwoman Theresa Castellano.

“We were elected to put the best interest of our constituents first, and I cannot support a program that runs the risk of increasing taxes on our residents,” said Councilman Russo. “I am committed to working with my colleagues to cut wasteful spending and provide much-needed tax relief for our families. She continues to point out that the County overtaxes residents, and it appears that her solution is to join the party and overtax residents at the municipal level as well. It is absolutely absurd.”

“Zimmer was the poster child for Governor Christie’s two-percent property taxes cap. However, patronage hires, skyrocketing legal costs, and fiscal mismanagement have rendered her unable to live within that two-percent cap. Instead, the Mayor is using this rolling revaluation as a way to circumvent the very property tax cap that she traveled the state to support. Evidently when her opinion of Governor Christie changed, so did her support for the two-percent cap,” Councilman Occhipinti said.

At the December 2nd City Council meeting Council members Mason, Castellano, Russo, and Occhipinti will introduce a resolution to terminate the professional services contract of the firm hired to conduct the rolling revaluation program. To date, the revaluation program has cost Hoboken taxpayers $680,000 and will top over $1 million in the next four years.

Property Taxes and Values – a sticky situation in Hoboken

A bunch of people asked me about this last week, as a lot of residents are scrambling to get a handle on their property taxes, the whole “assessment” process the city is fiddling with and more.

Is there anything “fair” about property tax assessment in Hoboken?

But I’d like to remind people – that rather than arguing over how much YOU pay – I think there are more disturbing issues to tackle, like determining a truly FAIR way to subsidize such an ineffective “corporation” called the City of Hoboken.

  • For one, as we cited an example earlier this year, a family of four living in a $350k condo pays a lot less than a single individual living in a $950k condo – yet uses significantly more of the city resources. That single fact alone makes their method of calculating the “contributions” a property-owning resident should make completely INVALID. Perpetually punishing someone because of what they can afford is just not sustainable. This is a lot different than a “sales tax.” When people start putting their heads together to crack this nut, then it makes sense to further the discussion.
  • Additionally, now the city wants to blow through hundreds of thousands of dollars to ANNUALLY INSPECT the properties! What kind of INVASION OF PRIVACY is that? Do you want that much government intrusion? It’s off-the-charts ridiculous, and I can sense another “revolt” amongst the residents brewing.

What sucks beyond belief – is the fact that all of you think you “own” your property. You don’t. You’re “renting” from the city.

When election time rolls around again, maybe there will be an intelligent candidate who will deliver a significantly smaller government and way to generate revenue that doesn’t OVER TAX the residents into poverty.

[Click to continue reading the rest....]

Mad World Hoboken

It sure is a Mad World in Hoboken!

I heard this song the other day, and it reminded me of this post from many years ago, advising residents that the video was shot here in Hoboken back in 2004.

As 411 reader Cory said: “I was doing my daily duty of procrastinating and looking up videos on Youtube when I came across something that pretty much blew my mind. After listening to the song ‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules on my iPod, I decided to look for the music video. Lo and behold, I realized halfway into the video that it was shot in Hoboken!

Yes, what you see in the music video is Church Square Park from Garden St. between 4th and 5th!”

I forgot to add the exterior shot of AJ Demarest School to put the whole thing into perspective, so this is the view from the “bottom up.”

But one thing that has definitely changed in the 10 years since that video was made is that Church Square Park is now essentially Church Square Playground.

Demarest School Hoboken NJ

City drags feet on public health issues

Letter: Hoboken drags feet on public health concerns despite injuries

All the “hot air” and good news that comes out of this administration, but it seems as if quality of life is on decline nonetheless. Hoboken resident Melissa Blanco has been holding the administration to the fire, with barely a tepid response. See what’s going on now (hint: it’s a stinky situation…)

public health garbage issues Hoboken NJ

Warning: Injuries and damages due to poor public health!

You might be interested to know, that while our local public health officials and the non-Zimmer Council minority do recognize the risks and liabilities of our lack of public health compliance, they describe to me that “their hands are tied” without a majority of Council member and Zimmer support.

I have not only put the Council on notice about the increasing risks and the populations of various disease causing animals, but I have also recommended the solution. My first letter was written nine months ago. I have steadily followed up with council appearances and additional letters. As you know, in April, the County stepped in to clear our streets of months of filth – but this was only an interim solution.

Last night, my dog was injured and sprayed by one of the many skunks feasting on the garbage in the streets of Hoboken. I am still dealing with the de-skunking and am concerned for the injuries my dog sustained even though she is up to date on all vaccines.

skunk public health problems hoboken NJ This week, I called each council member. Mr. Bhalla said he would “do his best.” When pressed, he said he would talk to his other Council members. I replied that he needed to do much better, that this was gross negligence since the Council had been put on Notice and there were now injuries. I think we all know, that had this been one of his constituents that voted for Zimmer, that the City would be out with bull horns in the street, quickly cautioning residents and letting property owners know that their garbage must be in cans with tightly closed lids.

When I discussed the matter with our public health official, Fran Sasso, he said his hands were tied if the Council would do nothing. The City’s only response to date has been to cut the garbage collection, appoint additional Zimmer-aligned individuals to boards and suggest that we vote for more of their cohorts.

The City is required by law to provide for adequate public health. Towns with vermin problems, generally, have ordinances requiring garbage cans with sealed lids and furthermore fine those who do not comply. Hoboken, I am told by, tells owners to remove lids and also allows plastic bags openly on curbs. Sanitation is a fairly simple matter to correct, yet our Council instead choses to spend its time on electrical trash cans and bonding for meters to raise revenue in the same residential areas that they do not provide essential services for.

Now with a formal report of actual damages and injuries, we have both the health risk and the additional legal liability for the City ignoring its duties regarding public health.

Melissa Blanco