Our historic brownstone and walkup neighborhoods are some of the most charming and unique parts of Hoboken. Unfortunately, in recent years we’ve seen significant alterations forced on far too many of these homes, forever changing the landscape of  our city’s most iconic streets. Primarily at fault are revisions made to the city’s flood ordinance passed in 2013, which expanded the flood zone into neighborhoods that have never flooded before, based on what’s known as the “100-year floodplain”—areas where there is at least a 1% chance of flooding in any given year. This placed more homeowners in the flood zone and required the purchasing of flood insurance where none was required before.

One of the most harmful parts of this ordinance forced those who want to substantially renovate a building to convert garden-level dwellings to uninhabited basements, displacing many longtime residents. The scale of these renovations has escalated the destruction of original brownstone facades, and alters the 3-4 story heights of our most historic neighborhoods. With flood maps now dictating building codes, many home values have been negatively impacted while the income required to qualify for a federally-backed mortgage has risen. Altogether, these costs are too much for many Hoboken families to bear, forcing longtime residents to sell their homes, in some cases to developers who have little or no regard for maintaining the character of our neighborhoods.

This legislation was sponsored by Jen Giattino, who is calling her own ordinance into question as a campaign tactic as the negative results become increasingly more evident. Though we can't look behind, what we should have done was followed what the City of New York did, and successfully challenged FEMA’s flood map. In doing so we could have protected these neighborhoods while also easing the burden on homeowners. Unfortunately, this path was not taken and now we have to deal with the consequences, but I’m running for mayor because I believe we can and should update the flood ordinance to ensure that we historically preserve our neighborhoods and help homeowners out.