Opinion Piece from the Editor-in-Chief of Growing in Jersey City
I understand Jersey City (and trickling to other towns in Hudson County) is a hotbed for new development. I also understand the city is changing and more people are moving here as it becomes a more desirable location. With that being said, the current citizens of Jersey City still live here and we have made this city what it is today, so I would like to share a few things with the people who are directly involved in development.
When you build in Jersey City and have a target demographic that you are looking for, you are blatantly ignoring the current tenants and trying to change the face of Jersey City.
Jersey City would not be what it is today without every single person who lives here now.
There are multiple proposals in front of city counsel to ensure that affordable housing is built into your building plans. Take a step in the right direction and start providing this before you are forced to or can have the option to pay out of it. I am talking 20% of the units being truly affordable and not mid-upper affordable.
I understand that the 1970s wasn’t that kind to housing and architecture (some people love it, I know); however, putting a nine-story building in the place of a few small homes doesn’t work in the landscape of the neighborhood.
Furthermore, asking for ridiculous planning and zoning variances will just make the neighborhood, association, and its constituents unhappy.
And before you build, you must do studies on the impact of your development to the transportation, foot traffic, schools, sewage system, etc.
Find architects who actually want to work within the framework of the neighborhood and don’t produce the same faceless red brick and black “steel” work.
Finally, what are you bringing to this community that would want any of us to allow those ordinances or let a once negligent owner do something because now it is advantageous? Plant extra trees at least! Put solar panels that flow back into the grid (makes your development self-sufficient). Let community members join your gym. Create a little park plaza because we are so desperate for green space. Actually ask the questions.
I understand you work for the developer, but your job is to understand the area and architecture landscape of where you are building. Do your homework!
Continuing… don’t present the same buildings to different groups in different areas, hoping to get a better reaction; you won’t.
Get creative! If the area is one of smaller houses, don’t conceive something that does not match and if you do, make it look like the houses. I am serious about getting creative. Stop using the same design for all of your works — we notice it.
Don’t compare a large building that has been in the neighborhood for years to your plans. It is not the same.
Dear Council Members:
I need you to step up and show up to all meetings scheduled with the community.
I need you to actually represent us. When the majority of people give a resounding no to the way development (as a whole) is going towards, your job is to represent us. We voted for you, now start showing that.
Jersey City is one city and while you were elected by your area, you are representing all of Jersey City. So go outside your district and show up for your neighbors, friends, and colleagues.
Please do not side with the developers (this happened at a recent community meeting and a number of people are being displaced because of an old contract that they are allowing to be upheld).
Planning and Zoning Boards:
I know the city has plans to turn all of Jersey City into skyscrapers, but is it the right thing? The city cannot sustain that nor do the residents want it, so what is being done to help mitigate the increase in population, but also stop buildings that don’t make sense in the community?
Is allowing developers to use the wrong materials, build extra floors, balconies, and create fire hazards the right thing?
Is charging them a nominal fee in comparison to the millions of dollars they will make on the development really worth the problems they have created?
The community is not fighting against development, we are fighting against people taking advantage of a system that is letting them get off fairly easily.
Please see the above.
I know that there are plans in motion and things happening that we do not know about.
However, the people continually speak up against the way development is happening in Jersey City and the system must change. Many people cannot afford Jersey City. I am talking about both those who can qualify for affordable housing, but also those who can't. Those of us who can still afford Jersey City won’t want to live here. The people that are left will be commuters spending all their time in NYC and being shuttled to their luxury loft apartments from the path trains, eating only at the newest or more expensive restaurants, or people visiting from other places to come for the big festivals.
The small community, neighborhood feel that brings all of Jersey City together will be lost because without us, there is no community. Jersey City is a city, but we all call it a town because we know our neighbors, work together, and work across so many divisions created by society. Help us continue to make Jersey City special by preserving what makes the city amazing — the people.
Concerned Jersey City Resident
Photo provided by @prolifik_images