Montclair residents have flooded social media with images and complaints about receiving multiple text messages from Montclair Property Owners Association (MPOA), after a judge ruled that the Township had to hand over its contact list to the MPOA. Now the MPOA has released an “open letter to Montclair voters,” stating their position regarding the rent control ordinance and the “division this has caused in Montclair.”
The letter is published in full below:
The Montclair Property Owners Association [MPOA] filed its petition with the Town Clerk to put the Council’s Rent Control Ordinance up for a referendum vote.
There has been much misinformation and misrepresentation of the facts spread by the Council surrounding this effort regarding the circumstances and motivation behind it.
MPOA would like to address your concerns and firmly state our position on the issue:
- The MPOA was formed because elected officials in Montclair did not engage the public or property owners in passage of this ordinance. Pointing to private meetings among tenants and expressions at Council meetings of a need for rent control by a small group of tenants is not a replacement for substantive dialogue and belies the lack of process or policy development that has defined this situation;
- The ordinance was developed in a “back-room” discussion and was never announced in compliance with regulations, which is before the Superior Court;
- The Council ignored Governor Murphy’s order to not pursue substantial policy directives during the COVID-19 State of Emergency;
- We asked each member of the Council, including the Mayor, to engage in a dialogue with us about rent control. They refused, saying it was too late, when in actuality it was before the second reading when amendments are heard under Montclair’s form of government;
- At every step in the process we have attempted to obtain amendments to the Ordinance that might have been sufficient to avoid litigation and Referendum;
- It was not our goal to obtain your contact information. The Superior Court ordered the Town to do so after the Council stonewalled our efforts to communicate the issue to you in a more reasonable way;
- We were forced to litigate as a last resort because it was either that or accept the devastating fiscal impact that this ordinance would have on Montclair;
- Montclair has voted on rent control before and every time it has failed to pass.
- That the Council has failed to address inadequacies in the law itself that will render it unenforceable is inexcusable and leaves the tenants in the precarious position of losing rent control even if the Ballot Question fails;
- We acknowledge that there were unconscionable rent increases for some tenants and expressed our commitment to work to prevent that in the future. We don’t think rent control is the best solution, but most property owners live with rent control in other towns and it could work in Montclair, as well. But this Ordinance is an inexcusably poorly conceived and crafted document that the tenants themselves should object to.
- We also regret the division this has caused in Montclair. But the community would be 100% behind this referendum if they realized the ramifications of this ordinance – and the dangerous precedent it sets where your elected officials can pass any law they wish without the input of the public.