Corner Stores Can Fill Potholes.
It All Works Together.

Mike DeFusco for Mayor

Throughout this campaign, we’ve presented a lot of big ideas — modernized parking garages with real-time availability of spots, a seasonal dome over the field at 1600 Park and a European-style market at the train terminal, just to name a few. These are certainly exciting ideas but the question I hear a lot is “how are you going to pay for it — raise taxes?” Absolutely not. We’re going to stabilize taxes by creating new revenue sources for the city that aren’t on the backs of residential taxpayers, and without negative streams like the $6.5 million we generate from parking tickets.

I’ve served in municipal government for seven years, both on the city council and zoning board, but I also work for a Fortune 500 company in the private sector, managing multimillion dollar budgets and a large team. I know how to make Hoboken work better, to deliver the 21st century model of a city that Hoboken can become.

We’ve seen unbridled and poorly planned residential development over the last ten years, resulting in more strain on our infrastructure without essential investments being made to our streets. When we do make repairs we resort to bonding, or borrowing money — to the tune of $130,000,000 over the past nine years, an 88% jump in debt.  This needs to stop. We need to cultivate an economic ecosystem that prioritizes the things neighborhoods need.  We need to inspire a new local economy by attracting tech co-working spaces and startups, invite innovative land uses like urban wineries and distilleries and incentivize more mom and pop shops that neighborhoods need, which in turn all generate revenue for the city to use for infrastructure repairs. It all starts with updating our massively dated zoning code, which hasn’t been altered since the mid-1980s.

When done right, smart, holistic land use decisions can create this positive economic ecosystem, with each piece of it reinforcing the others and the entire city progressing together. That’s our vision for not only how we pay for our new ideas, but how we make Hoboken work better for residents. Just look at Chelsea Market in NYC -- the government didn’t pay for it, they planned it and now benefit from a unique destination and capitalize on all the tax dollars, too. The same thing is happening in Downtown Jersey City, where zoning was changed to encourage more restaurants.

I know zoning isn't exciting, so I’ve put together an infographic showing how we can create revenues for the city to invest in infrastructure and quality of life, all without burdening residential taxpayers. The steps we will take below correspond to a number on the graphic.


How coffee shops, tech incubators and mom and pop shops can fix potholes, reduce residential taxes and create the future Hoboken needs:


1. Incentivize New Small Businesses

We need to update Hoboken’s outdated zoning laws and remove the oppressive bureaucracy that is stopping businesses from opening in our city, and making it harder to succeed once they are here. For example, right now you can’t open a restaurant on Washington Street north of Fourth Street without appearing before an unelected board, something that needs to change. These changes will incentivize more corner stores and mom and pops, creating new tax revenue and more vibrant neighborhoods. We will also work to attract innovative new businesses by creating a regional tech-hub, a place where innovators, thinkers and entrepreneurs can thrive, as well as a European-style market at the train terminal and spaces for new business models like coffee roasters, urban wineries, hydroponic gardens and tech co-working spaces.


2. Reduce the Burden on Residents with More Commercial Tax Revenue

These changes in our city’s zoning law and our approach will help thriving new businesses emerge throughout Hoboken, creating an increase in commercial tax revenue. This outcome will allow the city to reduce the massive financial burdens faced by our homeowners and renters. A lower tax burden makes the city more affordable, allowing longtime residents to stay in their homes with less fear of being pushed out by rising prices.


3. Allocate Resources to Fix Road and Water Infrastructure

Additional tax revenue will allow the city to re-prioritize solving everyday quality of life problems like filling potholes, fixing broken sidewalks, cleaning dirty streets and enforcing noise violations. This will improve quality of life for all residents. At the same time, new public-private partnerships and a dedicated infrastructure fund for all new developments will create major investments in our water and sewer systems, reducing neighborhood flooding, and in our roads to reduce traffic.


4. Make Our City a Better, More Vibrant Place to Live   

Solving pressing quality of life problems will allow the city to widen its scope to address issues like modernizing the recreation department, creating additional parking, improving public transit and reducing traffic. Fixing these long-term problems that haven’t been solved in decades will create a sense of confidence and forward momentum for our city.


5. Help Families Stay in Hoboken for the Long Term

Making investments in the most important area of all, public education, will help families stay in Hoboken. We can build improved school facilities through innovative public-private partnerships to upgrade our existing K-8 school facilities to allow for high-tech programs like STEM education, computer coding and much more, and we can start planning on a new state-of-the-art public high school complex that our community deserves.

6. A Better Environment for Small Businesses

With more families staying in Hoboken, there is more demand and support for local businesses, which encourages even more of them to open here and creates additional tax revenue.