In a deadlocked 3-3 vote this morning, the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) Board rejected the Christie Administration’s proposed fair housing rules. The rules, which drew over 3,000 public comments, the vast majority in opposition, relied on flawed data, some of which had apparently been lost by the Administration, and would have resulted in thousands of fewer homes for working families, low-income seniors, and people with special needs, according to the Fair Share Housing Center.
The votes against the proposal by former Manasquan Mayor John Winterstella, Project Freedom Executive Director Tim Doherty, and Fair Lawn resident Ted King came after the same three Board members had attempted to get the Christie Administration to agree to a 60-day period for further review of the voluminous comments. However, DCA Commissioner Richard Constable, NJ HMFA Executive Director Anthony Marchetta, and New Jersey League of Municipalities President and Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters voted against further review of public comments and sought to adopt the flawed rules as is, thus setting the stage for the defeat of the rules.
“We applaud the leadership of the members of the COAH Board who today rejected the Christie Administration’s deeply flawed fair housing rules,” Fair Share Housing Center Staff Attorney Adam Gordon said. “They rightly recognized that these proposed rules would have hindered, rather than furthered, homes being built, and wanted to listen to the public’s call for change.”
Public opposition on the rules centered on several areas including:
* The Christie Administration’s claim that they had lost the data used to recalculate municipalities’ prior housing obligations dating back to 1993 – which threatened to upend housing plans going back decades for no discernable reason;
* Grossly inaccurate mapping, including maps that placed thousands of parcels located in Monmouth County in Ocean County, thus erroneously reducing fair housing obligations of Monmouth County communities and inflating those of Ocean County communities;
* Arbitrarily taking away rules designed to produce housing for working families and people with special needs, including rules to ensure that some homes would be available for those needing rental housing and to allow a broad range of people with special needs to be served;
* Focusing only on development of undeveloped farms and forests and not focusing on redevelopment despite data showing that most development in New Jersey over the last several years has been redevelopment;
* Reducing standard percentages of homes affordable to low- and moderate-income households in mixed-income development from 15-20 percent to 10 percent;
* Artificially reducing statewide housing production figures by assuming that New Jersey’s economy will remain in the same economic condition as the 2008 recession through at least 2024.
The decision today apparently leaves the State unable to meet the Supreme Court’s November 17, 2014, deadline for publishing new rules, which itself was a nearly nine month extension from the original February 26, 2014, deadline.