Residents who want to rent out their condos or rooms with websites like Airbnb will face restrictions now that the North Bergen Board of Commissioners has adopted an ordinance banning short-term rentals in town. The officials voted to approve the ordinance at the Wednesday, Aug. 24 meeting.
At the meeting, the commissioners also discussed ways that friends and families can honor fallen veterans in town.
Penalizing short term rental hosts
The commissioners adopted a schedule of fees to penalize property owners who rent out their apartment or condo for fewer than 30 days.
The ordinance recognized that the short-term rental market rose due to the use of professional brokers and sites like Airbnb and HomeAway. Residents rent out their units for $40 to $100 per night for travelers who want to save money when visiting the New York City area for a short time.
The ordinance states that people may not rent out their residence for fewer than 30 days, or face a penalty.
At the previous meeting on July 13, Mayor Nicholas Sacco said most short-term rentals are handled by brokers who don’t reside in or monitor renters in the unit, rather than on-site landlords.
Sacco said even those who live in North Bergen and rent out their unit for less than 30 days can be found in violation. “These laws have been adopted in other towns and states for safety reasons,” he said.
Similar laws restricting short-term rentals were passed in Union City and New York City in the last year. The purpose is to crack down on visitors throwing parties and causing a nuisance.
Violators will be fined $750 for the first offense and/or 10 days in jail. For the second violation the fine will be between $750 and $1,200 and/or 20 days in jail, or both. For the third violation and any after that, the fine is between $1,200 and $2,500 and/or 30 days in jail, or both.
Officials said at the meeting that there are safety, health, and property concerns.
“These short term renters cause overcrowding because of too many people, noise violations, and vandalism,” Sacco said at the meeting. “We’ve had lots of complaints from parties.”
Sacco added, “For the last two weekends people have been attending parties [in short-term rentals], and the police came out for them.”
The adopted ordinance takes 20 days to become law.
But a landlord got up at the meeting and told the commissioners that she believes the problems arise when non-tenant residents rent their homes out – and that residents are responsible when they host. She said she lives next to a tenant who hosts short-term rentals, and people are always respectable and spend money on local businesses.
“You’re lucky you live next to someone with no problems,” Mayor Sacco responded.
Plaques to honor veterans
Veterans and residents James De Los Santos and Grovert Fuentes recommended honoring fallen veteran and resident Marcos Gorra by naming 76th Street and JFK Boulevard after him. Gorra’s family came from Cuba when he was 7 years old. He graduated from North Bergen High School in 2006, and died of wounds from combat in 2010 at age 22.
Gorra’s grave is in Fairview in Bergen County. His name is on the fallen veteran alumni plaque at the North Bergen High School entrance, along with other veterans.
Sacco said at the meeting that although other towns name streets after veterans, North Bergen doesn’t. “We find other ways to honor veterans with 9/11 ceremonies, the monument in front of the high school, plaques in various public buildings like the Recreation Center, and we have our Flag Day and Veteran Day ceremonies,” he said.
Sacco said the Gorra family has been invited to this year’s 9/11 ceremony to be honored.
The town decided to change the location of the 9/11 ceremony from the usual spot at the high school because it falls on a weekend.
The 9/11 ceremony will take place at the new veteran’s memorial at James Braddock Park on 88th Street and Bergenline Avenue. Students and residents are invited to the 15th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 11 a.m.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 11 a.m.