Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mayor Roberts vs. Girl Scouts



Can't we all just get along on the proposed new-and-improved Washington Street?

Apparently NOT (yet!)

GA watched last night's City Council Special meeting; specifically the T&M presentation, complete public portion and the DeFusco, Fisher and Russo comments.

In summary, the vast majority of speakers: business owners, residents, local activists, and politicos opposed the "Complete Street " bike lanes, while supporting its proposed infrastructure improvements.  Mayor Dave Roberts and Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano, were among them.

Fewer resident-speakers supported the bike lanes, including 4 adorable, smart Girl Scouts- who spoke directly after Mayor Roberts.

The evening's most emphatic speaker was Melissa Blanco, who called the proposal "asinine" and waved a bandaged wrist, inferring that she had been injured due to... the City (?) and described being afraid to leave her house.

 Melissa Blanco emphatically opposed the Washington Street Plan
Some concerns resonated with GA, particularly the safety issue for bicyclists, well articulated by 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, were unintended risks for programming so much in a 50 foot wide street.

In fact, there is no room for error; an open door, a car backing in could injure a Girl Scout bicyclist or an adult rider.   T&M replied that 4' bike lines are allowed by code as long as there is no curb on both sides., but admitted the proposed lanes were designed to minimum allowable dimensions by code.

I am also concerned about the options for the Baptist churchgoers.

Alternatively, several speakers claimed that the bike lane concept appeared out of  "out of the blue" with complaints the administration had suddenly foisted this concept upon the public, the business community.  

In fact, that's false.

Whatever one's thoughts are on the bike lanes, or the redesign proposal in its entirety, the Complete Streets concept for Washington Street (with bike lanes) has been a part of public discourse for nearly 2 1/2 years.   The administration has held public meetings since 2013, with an apparent Hoboken Chamber of Commerce buy-in.









The timing of a public outcry is natural, because the project approval looms and folks are starting to pay attention.  Their concerns are valid and can shape the project into something better.

But to say the public was not invited nor informed of the Complete Streets plan is WRONG.

Thus, political spin that 'the  administration sandbagging the business community and public with bike lanes'  should be taken off the table, and the community should focus on the issues, not the politics.

GA's issues: is our 50 foot wide street main street 'over-programmed'? Is temporary double-parking  'evil' that needs elimination?  Won't bike lanes improve Washington Street  business?

There may never be consensus.  GA believes the matter can be decided by public referendum.

In the meantime, did you know there was an App for buying Girl Scout cookies?


44 comments:

  1. True, and I'm guilty. I'll admit I didn't pay attention until somewhat recently, and certainly not back in 2013. Point taken.

    Maybe bikes weren't presented front-and-center in the plan, so I overlooked them as a factor. I initially took the plan to be mostly about replacing water mains, upgrading revising traffic signals and repaving.

    I still think it's a mistake for the city to simply say "sorry, too late, you missed your chance." The administration runs the risk of making more enemies than friends with that approach, I sincerely hope they take this most recent feedback seriously.

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    1. I'm seeing it from a design perspective and designing to minimum allowables to satisfy a full program in a limited space. I like a lot of the elements in the plan. I am not convinced taking the width away from the road works.

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  2. I completely agree that the bike lanes should be put to a referendum. It seems everyone agrees with the other stuff, including the business community which supported the other items in the letter but pointedly there was no mention of the bike lanes.

    I watched last night's meeting earlier today and didn't feel like people were saying the plan came out of the blue. I thought most of them said that the plan was always about bike lanes and/or double parking regardless of whether they wanted bike lanes added or double parking eliminated. (hard to really defend double parking, but easy to see how some people don't want the crowding of the bike lanes but feel that the option of not having them at all was not on the table.)

    If there is a referendum and, I really hope there is, it would be playing dirty tricks to put the whole plan up for a vote.

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  3. Melissa Blanco as usual made a loud fuss several times during the meeting before she was given her five minutes. She was rude to those around her and insulted the police officers in the room and had to be escorted out of the room where she continued to shout and disrupt what was going on.

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    1. She's quite rude it seems to any one! She also makes assumptions that if you are young and live in Hoboken you aren't invested in the good of the city over the long term and must also be a renter. Some how what seems to be forgotten / overlooked is that not everyone rents. Some people pay hefty sums with recent evaluations and that population likely accounts for the bulk of the taxes paid...

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  4. Why should anyone listen to David Roberts and Anthony "I'll Stick It to Them" Romano. Roberts left us a deficit and Carmelo Garcia (what a legacy) and "Sticks" hasn't done anything as Freeloader to save Hoboken from getting hosed by the county every year. Yea, he makes practically every event (because he is the fungus among us).

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    1. When Roberts was Mayor, and Romano on the HPD payroll he was assigned to be his driver. Both also own bars and several million dollars in real-estate on Washington Street.

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    2. Stick the "Fungus among us" Lol.

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  5. GA - I think you are missing an important point. The narrowing of the roadway is not an unintended consequence of adding bike lanes. It is a major objective of the plan since the wider roadway is actually, according to the traffic engineers, more dangerous. And the source of much of that danger is the traffic conflicts caused by double parking.

    The bottom line here is that this debate is really about the emphatic desire of the Washington Street businesses and many residents to preserve the "right" to double park (even though its actually illegal so there is no such right.

    In a town where finding a parking spot can be the most time consuming part of running an errand, double parking is, in the eyes of many, not just a convenience but a necessity.

    The proponents of double parking are turning the public safety issue on its head. Of course it makes no sense to put in bike lanes if they make the street less safe. But does it make sense to preserve the "right" to double park when that in fact is the real public safety hazzard?

    The safest solution is probably no bike lanes AND no double parking. I seriously doubt that there would be much support from anyone for that choice.

    I'm not sure what the right choice is here, but there is one thing I'm 100% sure of. Issues that impact public safety should never be decided by referendum.

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    1. That's a good point. I'm not convinced we haven't 'overstuffed' our plan, so probably need to make sure it works from a public safety standpoint.

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  6. I did take every survey and each time I said the bike lanes and a narrower road were not a good idea. Not that it's "right" to double park, but I have a huge concern about how exactly I can drop off my kid at school or pick her up from her aftercare (she is at HCS and in a lower grade). HCS and AllSaints front a large chunk of Washington between 7th and 8th - every morning most of the block has a constant in and out of people pulling over to drop off their kids and then same thing in the afternoons to pick them up. It already causes problems when the bus tries to squeeze by with the road as wide as it is. And no, walking isn't an option for those of us who don't have nannies and need to get young kids (unable to walk themselves safely) to school and continue on our way to drive to work (as we don't all work near public transportation). That block alone will choke Washington if it is narrowed.

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    1. This is the type of real-life example that needs to be presented to the city and consultants. T&M representatives often just talk in generalities, but they need to address specific unique examples of Washington St.

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  7. Where would we be without the comic, inchoate, loony ramblings of Melissa Blanco, Patricia Waiters, Cheryl Fallick and Mary Ondrejka? They should form a comedy troupe.

    But I digress...double parking, as practiced by most car owners in Hoboken, is usually a quick thing to drop off a kid, pick up a prescription, buy a bottle of wine and the like. Not legal, yes, but an urban reality and not the same thing as half a block double parked for hours (Benny Tudinos, Biggies and Piccolos), or chronic double parking by delivery guys (outside any Chinese restaurant). They pose the real danger to emergency vehicles and fire trucks because their owners double park with impunity, knowing they won't get ticketed, and tune out. Whereas most people who are nervously trying to make a quick stop are paying attention to the street while they complete their task.

    Hoboken should start with enforcement of its ordinances before carving up streets to correct bad behavior.

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    1. I'd hardly put Cheryl Fallick in the same category as Melissa Blanco or Patty Waiters. You undercut the credibility of your own comments when you try to cast articulate and involved citizens (even if you disagree with them) as one of our local, shall we say, crazies. Cheryl seems pretty bright to me and has been reformed minded in town for decades.

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    2. Agreed with Anon 2:42. I don't always agree with Cheryl's positions, but she's not a kook.

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    3. Yes, I'd have to defend Fallick there- she does not belong in that dish of mixed nuts.

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    4. Mary, Mary quite contrary tell us how your psychosis grows.

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    5. Cheryl Fallick may not be a nutty as the others but has at times worked with the old guard against the reform and should not be trusted.

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  8. Blanco's performance is one for the ages. If you watch the video go to the 1:50 mark of part one

    Prescription drugs are needed immediately

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  9. Who was the woman who reprimanded Michael Russo for not paying attention while she was talking?!! There were some serious "over the top" moments that night. Wow.

    On a serious note, the overall vibe was very hostile toward bike lanes. The business community came out hard against them. And the biggest thing I heard was "where will people double park"? Double parking is NOT LEGAL. And it shouldn't be allowed - it is a safety hazard and a nuisance. If double parking went away I think there'd be plenty of space for bike lanes. No one is going to speeding down those bike lanes - these are commuter bicyclists and people running errands we're talking about, not competitive bicyclists.

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  10. Double parking is both dangerous and illegal and the attitude that its OK for me because I'm one of the "good" people" who do it for the "right" reasons (like buying wine) but its bad when "those" people do (to pick up slice at bennie Tudino's) is awfully narcisistic and not exactly a basis for a sound enforcement policy.

    Here's a link to an article that proposes a different solution to the problem:

    http://www.transalt.org/sites/default/files/news/magazine/032Spring/09parking.html

    Basically the article proposes raising the cost of short term street parking to levels that will make parking for more than a few minutes economically irrational. This would create real turnover and end the practice of feeding the meter so employees of local businesses and others can park all day. As a result people won't have to double park.

    Somehow, I have a feeling the business community would rise up against this just as angrily but perhaps its a good idea either together with or instead of bike lanes.

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    1. I am sure it is a far better solution (not that I necessarily support it) because it actually is a solution targeted at parking behavior. Bike lanes are not and nobody should pretend bike lanes will do anything about double parking.

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    2. IMO A business owner on Washington Street can't bitch about the lack of parking for customers if you allow your employee's to hog the spots.

      A few business owners understand they need to be good neighbors and partners with Hoboken but most are not and do nothing but whine about not being subsidized by the taxpayers.
      I know they won't but it would be a nice change if they once reached into their own pockets to improve Washington Street.

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    3. Anon at 12:27,

      I just walked down Washington. There was a large delivery truck unloading a refrigerator to go into a residence on Washington. Now I am no expert but I imagine the delivery people need all the muscle they have getting that Fridge up at least a few flights. 1 of them can't spend an hour ding circles around the block while his coworker performs the miracle of 1 man fridge delivery. Under the new plan that truck would have to fight with all of the other delivery vehicles (Fed Ex, UPS, Fresh Direct, store deliveries, etc..) to get into the loading zone spot at the end of the block.

      Now double parking may be unpleasant but it is a necessary evil in some cases

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    4. Anon 1:04 Bike lanes are not being proposed a solution - narrowing the street is. Bike lanes are being proposed of as a productive use of the street space made available by narrowing the road.

      If you oppose narrowing the road and you "don't necessarily support" (which is code for oppose) disincentivizing longer term parking through pricing then what do you support?

      What's your solution? Or do you think there is no parking/double parking problem on Washington street that needs to be addressed?

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    5. I absolutely oppose bike lanes. I suggest the city work on identifying ways to deal with the parking situation that don't involve making Washington Street the 9th circle of hell when it comes to traffic gridlock and pretend that is a solution for anything. The bike lane idea is just idiotic all around.

      And I agree, when it comes to delivery vehicles, double parking is often unavoidable and the city should show tolerance. FedEx, UPS, the USPS, Sysco and trucks from dozens of other organizations need places to park when making deliveries on a daily basis. That parking does not exist so they double park. That is not going to change so please stop pretending otherwise because that is just delusional.

      So get on it city hall, find a way to deal with parking that doesn't involve making our life a living hell when travelling through town.

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    6. What other laws should we ignore because they are inconvenient ?

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    7. Is this entire bike lane debate really a way for you to so screw up a road and traffic just so you can make it hard to drive or park? Or is this about the need for bike lanes?

      Because if this is about anything other than bike riders then you really are being dishonest in the discussion. In fact, I'd argue you are lying through your teeth when you are pretending this is about bike lanes because nobody seems to be able to articulate a single reason why a bike lane must go where you propose it and the majority of residents in town can articulate a dozen reasons why bike lanes have no business on Washington Street.

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    8. Double parking outside Benny's for four hours is hardly "picking up a slice".

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  11. Anon 12:27 - how do apartments on bloomfield or 1st street or garden or 2nd street or .... get their refrigerators delivered? But somehow it would now be impossible on Washington Street? Really?

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    1. I bet its a miserable painful experience for those streets. Why would we want to make it just as bad for others? All so a pet project of bike lanes can be achieved for a dozen people???

      Say not to bike lanes and keep Washington's current width

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    2. Those are one lane streets - Washington is and will always be a two lane so no - it wouldn't be as hard as elsewhere in Hoboken.

      Advocate all you want for what you believe but please stick to arguments that don't insult our intelligence.

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  12. war on double parking begins

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  13. Sorry, you're making up nonsense. I've lived on First St. for over 25 years. I've had no trouble having a frig or any else delivered.

    Double parking: No one who has to rely on street parking would EVER give up their spot to run an errand and double park on Washington St. Only people with private parking tool around town running errands. Us common folk walk.

    I'll entertain business owners concerns when the City codes for outdoor cafes and awning are followed voluntarily (the city doesn't enforce them). Our sidewalks have been taken over by the local business who pay a ridiculously low fee for an outdoor cafe permit. And any body can throw a table on the sidewalk to hawk their wares without a permit.

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    1. The City got the Hudson County Executive DeGuise to repave First Street as part of the overall they got grant money to do this spring.


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    2. I think most people consider the outdoor cafes a valuable amenity that benefits our city. The idea that the outdoor cafe's somehow represent the taking over of our sidewalks seems to me to be more of a personal pet peeve than an actual public policy issue.

      Perhaps a better example would be the fact that Hoboken is the only city in NJ that pays to pick up the enormous volume of trash generated by bars and restaurants. Everywhere else businesses pay to pick up their own trash. Trash collection represents a huge and highly unusual subsidy to Hoboken businesses by Hoboken residents/taxpayers.

      Whatever decision gets made on narrowing the street, the City should make these guys pay to pick up their trash and put the money toward paying for the Washington Street redesign.

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    3. excellent suggestion with the commercial trash pickup, anon@11:08, i've never understood why they don't pay for private hauling like in most other towns.

      re: sidewalk seating, restaurants are essentially expanding their floorspace by a significant percentage and paying peanuts for the privilege. they should be charged the equivalent per square foot of sidewalk as they pay in indoor rent.

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    4. The restaurants get a benefit from the outdoor cafes but so do we and the "encroachment" is more theoretical than real since the cafe's do not in any practical sense impede the use of the sidewalks by pedestrians even assuming that they actually are on public rather than privately owned land (do you know if that's the case?).

      Should the city charge more for it than they do? I guess the answer depends on whether you like outdoor cafes and want to encourage them or don't like them and therefore want to make them costly. Obviously from my comments I'm in the first camp though admittedly I have no idea what if anything restaurants are currently charged.

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  14. For starters, force all business owners and employees to register their vehicles and get a sticker which prohibits them from parking on Washington St. Failure to get the sticker or parking on Washington gets them a ticket and fine. This will free up loads of parking spaces on a daily basis. No charge for the sticker.

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  15. No charge for the sticker and for singling them out we give them a discount on parking in the garages.

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  16. The business owners on Washington Street need to stop whining and trying to blame everybody else for their failure to run successful businesses and do and pay for something themselves.





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    1. Does this "pay for something themselves" mentality only apply to business owners or everyone? Because if it is everyone - then bike riders need to look in the mirror when it comes to paying for a bike lane. Anything else is rather hypocritical.

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  17. Blanco is literally insane. There are lots of people in Hoboken I disagree with: many of them simply with differing opinions, some who are pretty evil -- but mostly sane. Blanco has got to be clinically insane. There's just no other way to explain her behavior during the council meeting. Isn't there something that can be done to help her?

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