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June 18, 2010

RE: League Testifies on Housing Reform (S-1/A-2930)                                      

Dear Mayor:

Yesterday, League Third Vice President Janice Mironov, Mayor of East Windsor and Bridgewater Mayor Patricia Flannery, co-chair of the League’s Mayors’ Housing Committee testified, along with Clinton Mayor Christine Schaumburg, on S-1 and A-2930, which abolish the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and enact other necessary reforms to the Fair Housing Act.   

The Committee took four hours worth of testimony, but held the bill for further consideration.   During the hearing, Assemblyman Jerry Green, who chairs the Committee, indicated that he believed that the legislation was “90 percent” done and he indicated that he and the Assembly Speaker were supportive of S-1, but additional amendments will be forthcoming.    The Chair also described that COAH and RCAs (regional contribution agreements) as “dead.”

The Mayors’ testimony offered support for the legislation, but also provided concrete means to improve the legislation.   The League’s objectives are relatively simple: on behalf of our local governments and our taxpayers, we seek to avoid burdensome bureaucracy, a simple solution to affordable housing issues and to lessen the cost of compliance. 

DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa was the first to present testimony.     Her testimony is online at:
www.njslom.org/testimony/Commissioner-Grifa-Assembly-Testimony-061710.pdf.

The League’s testimony focused on particular areas to improve the legislation.   A summary of these points is online at: http://www.njslom.org/letters/NJLM-S-1-Major-Issues-061710.pdf

The League also provided the Legislature and the Administration with more technical comments and suggestions, some of which, while technical in nature, are no less significant to the concerns highlighted above.  These comments are online at: http://www.njslom.org/letters/S-1-Other-issues-AHO-061710.pdf

While the sponsors continue to push for this legislation to pass by June 30, it is not clear whether action in the Assembly will allow for that to happen.    One of the prime drivers to get this bill done before July 1 is that the moratorium on the collection of the 2.5% commercial development fee expires on that date.     There is discussion of passing another short-term moratorium on the 2.5% fee while the final details of this legislation are worked out.    While we agreed to support the moratorium a year ago (provided municipalities were relieved of the ensuing housing obligation), we are now concerned that the passage of another short-term fix will just further delay and frustrate the needed reform to the Fair Housing Act.    While it is highly likely that legislation abolishing COAH and making other reforms will eventually pass, the timeframe for passage remains uncertain.

Additional information is available from:

The Asbury Park Press at: http://www.app.com/article/20100617/NEWS03/100617113/Don-t-delay-abolishing-affordable-housing-council-NJ-officials-warn;

The Star-Ledger:  http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/06/nj_assembly_chairman_says_he_w.html;

The Philadelphia Inquirer: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/nj/20100618_N_J__Assembly_slows_rush_to_alter_affordable-housing_policy.html

New Jersey Newsroom: http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/state/christie-wants-nj-affordable-housing-bill-approved-by-end-of-june

Questions on this issue and this letter can be directed to Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com or 609-695-3481 x120.

 

Very truly yours,

                                                                       
William G. Dressel, Jr
Executive Director

 

 

 

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