Rolando Lavarro Jersey City
Rolando Lavarro

Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro will offer amendments to the administration’s inclusionary zoning ordinance (IZO) on for a second reading at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. In a press release today, Lavarro excoriated the mayor’s proposed ordinance as “comically weak.”  He asserted that it “would accelerate gentrification rather than seriously address Jersey City’s affordable housing crisis.”

The proposed amendments are:

  • Triple the required affordable housing to be built in downtown Jersey City to a mandatory onsite 15%. At least double the amount required in other “hot” real estate markets across the City to 10% mandatory onsite.
  • Close the “waiver” loophole, requiring Jersey City to follow the ordinance for all future developments. No more waivers.
  • Close the “parking deck” loophole, preventing developers from getting out of their affordable housing requirement by building a parking garage and other so-called “community benefits.”
  • Extend to 45 years the required length of affordability for an affordable unit up from 30 years.
  • Require developers to pay down to the last cent, by requiring a payment in lieu for “rounding” calculations. For example, when the inclusionary zoning formula requires a developer to build 25.4 affordable homes, the developer must pay for the “.4” in addition to building the 25 homes.

Lavarro found himself stymied at the last council meeting when Council-President Joyce Watterman forced members to vote on the amendments as a group rather than individually. The amendments went down to defeat. However, several members abstained and seemed to leave the door open to supporting at least some of Lavarro’s ideas.

Local social justice advocates have come out in force to support Lavarro.  Watterman and others have argued that the ordinance will be a work in progress, amenable to change in the future.

The next meeting of the Municipal Council will take place on October 21 at 6 p.m.

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