Planet Princeton

A Cri de Coeur

princeton letter_2An open letter to the Princeton governing body from residents who live near the old hospital site:

The Jefferson/Moore/Harris/Carnahan neighborhood has been under pressure for years, contesting:

● the initial, intrusive design of the hospital’s parking garage

● the move to convert homes on Harris Rd to medical offices

● the change from a hospital that served the community to a commercial development

● the current groundwork for selling the affordable homes bordering the old hospital site. Will they be replaced by a row of McMansions?

To date this neighborhood of small and medium-sized homes remains a space where people know their neighbors, vote in elections, raise their children, and retire. It’s the kind of place newcomers want to move into and where they will invest in the community.

Our neighbors in Witherspoon/Jackson have historically struggled to survive, confronting:

● urban renewal

● Palmer Square Residences

● gentrification

● disproportionate property tax increases

Princeton’s property taxes are already among the highest in the nation. Not only are the town’s low-income families being forced out; now the pressure is on middle-income residents.

Current construction will bring some hundreds of units to this area, inserted between Rte. 206 and Jefferson Road. Since the hospital left, traffic has not decreased, but increased. Million-dollar houses replace middle-class homes where people have lived and retired. Young couples may barely afford to buy half a house, and rarely a whole one, and rental units do not stabilize a community.

Residents here have spent more than $100,000 in legal fees and exhausted ourselves trying to preserve the peaceful setting that brought us here. We need some sense that you find our concerns relevant and meaningful.

Merwick/Stanworth is growing The Franklin and Maple housing is expected to triple in size,and AvalonBay will arrive soon, with minimal open space.

The ratio of green space to dense construction needs to be part of your planning. We urge you to wait to develop the Franklin parking lot until you have seen how current construction affects traffic, schools, taxes, and quality of life in Princeton. We support affordable housing. The Fair Housing Act instructs us to find spaces throughout the community, specifically not concentrated where it already exists.

Our neighborhood is about to be overwhelmed by development. There is even talk of eliminating the widely used Guyot Walk and making Harris Road a through street.

We recall the urban renewal that replaced Jackson Street with Palmer Square Residences. “Becoming a small city,” “smart growth,” and “walkability” have become buzzwords for top-down planning that ignores bottom-up realities.

Don’t repeat old mistakes. Work with us to find solutions.

Sincerely,

Mary Clurman
Bill Hare
Chris Baldwin
Amy Baldwin
Susanna Monseau
Jean Meyer
Berit Marshall
Peter Marks​
Ken Griebell​
Shelley Frisch​
Nicole Barberis​
Cecil Marshall​
Anna Lyles
Diane Griebell ​
Marc Monseau
Marco Gottardis
Sue Tillet
Grace Sinden​
Delores Benabou
Alexi Assmus ​
Roland Benabou​
Marcus Wiener​
Stefan Otto​
Anita Garoniak​
Dortha Hopkins
Sally Stout
Janet Arrington​
Peter Lindenfeld ​
Marco Barberis
Chris Hedges
Eunice Wong
Mathew Morgan
Mathew Chung
Anita Chung

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  • SFB

    OK, so just to be clear, you’re fine with government intervention in the market in terms of zoning controls, but not fine with government intervention in the form of affordable housing quotas?
    You don’t even see zoning as government regulation, do you? You think that the myriad limitations on floor space, lot use, setbacks, density, etc etc somehow don’t count as government regulations.

  • Community Conscience

    All of these attempts at “control” are simply doomed to failure. House values rise with demand – that’s a good thing. Due to market forces, some folks may not be able to afford to live in certain areas. That may be “too bad” but it’s not governments job to “fix it.” They’re not good at it. Green space? Look at the success of D & R Greenway. Make contributions, let private non-government entities do what THEY do best.

  • SFB

    Yes, but the zoning is not flexible enough to deal with increasing demand. As a result, homes filter up to more affluent buyers and lower-income residents get replaced. That’s why the state places limitations on the zoning rights of towns through the COAH/affordable housing process. Part of the town’s response is to plan designated affordable housing on the Franklin lot. We could downzone the lot and make it a park, but we’d just have to provide more affordable housing at another site, and we wouldn’t be making a serious attempt to deal with rising housing costs related to restrictive zoning.

  • PrincetonVoter

    Don’t people who want green space have thr right to preserve such space in the town? That’s what the zoning is about.

  • SFB

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear. It’s not the job of the town to build the housing, it’s the job of the town to allow a functional housing market to provide housing. The town has instead limited the amount of housing that can be built at every single site. It’s the opposite of a free market. The price runs that we see are typical of the failure of a planned economy. A functioning market would allow increased demand to be counteracted with increased supply, but that is not permitted in Princeton because of land use engineering. This has gone on for decades and the social exclusionary effect is very clear.

  • Community Conscience

    “Princeton is expensive because the town hasn’t built enough housing.”

    Wrong. Princeton is expensive because the demand to live here is high. That’s the free market at work, not the Town failing in what some consider its obligation to socially-engineer housing.

  • Community Conscience

    ^^^ Well said. ^^^

  • SFB

    “The taxes from the new units in Avalon are not expected to cover the units’ costs”

    …not expected by who? And (more importantly) on what basis?

  • PrincetonVoter

    “taxes from the market rate units will not necessarily cover services to the new market-rate residents”

    The taxes from the new units in Avalon are not expected to cover the units’ costs as there is expected to be a disproportionate amount of school-age children there. As a result, taxes for the general population will probably go up more than they would have otherwise.

    I would hate for this conversation to be distasteful to you, but it does seem strange to argue that the town should build more affordable housing if it results in the town becoming less affordable to existing residents.

    I’m not saying it will, but past history suggests that that will be the case.

  • Phantom Pooch

    And take up a collection to buy you a dog.

  • FreshAir

    SFB, I think the only way you’re going to use the Franklin lot in the future is if you have a car that needs valet parking. The town desperately needs more parking, and is doing an RFB for valet services. They need a parking lot…and there it is on Franklin.

  • SFB

    The designated affordable units are very important for making housing opportunities to low-to-middle class families. At the Franklin lot, there are 25 units planned, of which 5 would be affordable (under the 20% ‘setaside’ rule). I say, ‘why not build 40 units’? If we did that, there are 3 benefits. First, we get 3 extra designated-affordable units, for 3 more families. Second, there would be more market housing, meaning more competition for local landlords, and downward pressure on rents. Third, the units would likely be smaller, which would make them less desirable to people shopping at the high-end of the market. All three support income diversity in Princeton.
    The alternative, building a park, does absolutely nothing to address the problem of housing costs, and leaves a minimum of 5 families unhoused.

  • PrincetonVoter

    I appreciate your response, but it seems that you don’t have any evidence that building new housing will make a meaningful difference in promoting affordable housing for lower-to-middle class families in general (except for those lucky enough to get a designated unit).

    I see what you are saying about the Palmer Square residences, but that works as there are fewer truly affluent people out there than there are middle-class. If we are talking about how to make Princeton affordable to the affluent, but not truly affluent, that might be possible. But I don’t know that anyone is interested in that.

  • FreshAir

    forget the next generation if we lose the current generation of residents SFB.

  • FreshAir

    We need to assess fees consistent with the amounts developers will earn in profits, to keep this under control. They are justified, because developers place a huge burden on neighborhoods and town services. Princeton has been very remiss in this, and also gives concessions to the wealthy, so every little neighbor is a sitting duck..posed for more abuse from developers.

  • FreshAir

    Thank you. The 2015 Housing Spending Plan is on the town website. Any report the taxpayers have paid for should be too.

  • FreshAir

    Non profit funding is a source yes, but we cannot house all of our 500 Princeton neighbors already in here in federally funded housing. There are laws about that.

  • FreshAir

    Alexi, The units in Washington Oaks and Copperwood are examples of nice, modern developments housing the wealthy and the middle class that also house those needing subsidies. When you look at societies that are successful, this is how it is done. It is totally inclusionary when a person of low income lives next to someone with a trust fund. Bad landlord practices and greedy business practices are mediated by the Affordable Housing program staff…but they have teeth here and are very compassionate, very respectful, and very sensitive on matters of inclusion here. Don’t for one minute buy into the banter that our neighbors who are subsidized are not respected. That would only make you appear uninformed. Please be aware of the value and therefore the real need to preserve stepping stones for struggling households to move UP in societies…that is the middle class housing. That is why I believe taxes must be controlled in Princeton, as a greater or equal imperative to an adequate number of affordable units. The land is available to do both…affordable townhouses & small houses on one parcel. I suppose one manor house could be squeezed in if it would make you happier. Be aware that subsidized families already have standalone homes here on Hamilton Avenue, amongst middle class homes. I just don’t see how more of that is viable with anything other than the modern prefab approach to community building. I am sorry, but the middle class homes here are way too expensive now. The middle class home recently purchased will house 4 separate disabled individuals and is therefore counted as 4 “households” by COAH and the Feds. Several partners joined in to make our town’s cost per unit $100,000 per “household”. If you find a home right in your neighborhood that can become a group home for the disabled, you might want to share that information with town planners. We have yet to house disabled women…so far, all the houses have been for disabled men. But truly, knowing housing construction costs, I can assure you that people can have lovely structures for $100,000 to $150,000 built. Perhaps a mix of 1000 square foot townhouses & 1500 square foot houses, and we really must consider that option to keep EVERYONE in Princeton. Another option is for some wealthy philanthropists to go deep & help us, but, sadly they want to profit from our “debt service”. Real heroes are few and far between…leaving it up to you and me to pay for this. Do you understand?

  • SFB

    “taxes from the market rate units will not necessarily cover services to the new market-rate residents”
    Why wouldn’t they? Taxes from existing homes pay for existing services, so why would new taxes from new homes not pay for new demand for services? The argument is predicated on the idea that people in new housing will use municipal services at a disproportionate rate relative to existing homeowners. In reality, the opposite is likely to be the case. Townhomes, and in particular apartments and condos, are more frequently occupied by young individuals/couples or ’empty-nesters’. They use schools less than existing single-family homeowners. A financial impact analysis would likely show that these kind of units strengthen the town’s rateable base and fiscal bottom-line.
    But I find this kind of conversation distasteful. Are we really making development decisions based on whether somebody is bringing net $ to the municipality? Talk about money-grubbing. What happened to the idea of the community that welcomes everybody?

  • Alexi Assmus

    Click on the blank spaces in the Attached Affordable Housing Inventory above — you should be able to get the three pages of the affordable housing inventory. It is viewable from my computer. I will also ask the municipality to post it. Page two has the total of low and moderate income units in Princeton as of 2013 at 914 units. Page 3 shows the additional new affordables built or under construction in the Witherspoon Corridor.

  • Alexi Assmus

    If we build small numbers of 100% affordable around the community — homes similar to the homes already in the neighborhoods, as Princeton has done in the past, the controlled-price housing will be inclusionary.

    It is not clear to me that it is inclusionary in a town to have controlled-price units in huge developments with hundreds of market rate units, developments completely unlike the housing that surrounds them, and developments that are designed for transient tenants (short leases, business model is to increase rents as quickly as possible).

  • Alexi Assmus

    Short-term construction costs for affordable housing can also be funded by non-profits, individual donations and by federal loan guarantees. Habitat for Humanity is a good example.

    There may be a high long-term, and never ending, cost to the town of building 80/20 market/controlled price housing if the incremental taxes from the new development do not cover the services to the new residents — taxes from the market rate units will not necessarily cover services to the new market-rate residents.

  • SFB

    1. I don’t even have a dog. This conversation has entered the realms of the surreal and I think it’s time for me to check out.

    2. 280 + 100 + 172 does not add up to 582.
    3. If you are determined to make an accurate number for new housing units, you have to subtract the 304 units that are being knocked down at Butler.
    4. There are at least 500 households on the affordable housing waiting list. Let’s work together to accommodate them.

  • SFB

    PrincetonVoter, I would argue that even Princeton has caused house prices to go down by building, but only in one sector of the market, i.e. at the very high end. Developments like The Residences At Palmer Square and Copperwood are half-empty, because there are not enough buyers/renters at that market segment. The developers have had to cut prices and offer incentives. The high-end housing has become more affordable. People say that there is inexhaustible demand for housing in Princeton, but clearly not at any price. At some point, supply outstrips demand, and prices must then inevitably fall or (more usually) stabilize.
    I would like to see more building, which would enable more supply and competition to reach the middle sector of the market, just as it has at the high end. 1-beds in decent locations in Princeton are typically renting for close to $2,000. That level presents a burden to many people, and sucks cash out of the local economy. More building would mean more competition, which would limit the ability of landlords to gouge renters. That’s why I supported the Avalon Bay development, but Avalon Bay by itself is nowhere near enough. The anti-Avalon Bay residents are Avalon Bay’s best friends because the residents’ opposition to new housing will ensure Avalon Bay are able to continue to inflate their rents for a long time.

  • FreshAir

    …plus Griggs Farm, The Village, Copperwood, Washington Oaks, Harriet Bryan House, Palmer Square, Hamilton Avenue, Harrison Street, Hilltop Avenue, Faculty Road and more… 1100 units with affordables even for sale. There’s NO NIMBYism in Princeton…units are everywhere and so are the parcels for the 500 new ones that can be justified to house neighbors in need. Those who accuse their Princeton neighbors of NIMBYism haven’t opened their eyes and looked around them.

  • Mary Clurman

    FYI, the 582 = AVB 280 + Palmer Sq 100 + Merwick/Stanworth 172 NEW, not counting the old replaced units.

    I love your dog. The issue is how much TOTAL housing to build, and whether it should be promised before we see how we handle the current batch. Consolidation has already left at least two departments understaffed, as noted on several occasions now by staff members who are working overtime to accommodate — another hidden cost.

    And thank you, FreshAir, for your thoughtful input.

  • PrincetonVoter

    SFB,

    What evidence do you have that if the town builds more housing, then housing will become affordable? Princeton is a desirable town/city to live in. As good housing is built, more people will want to live here. Rents may go down, but probably not by much. I’m unaware of any place with land/geographical constraints (as Princeton does), that has been able to decrease housing prices through building. Do they exist?

    Best,
    A Princeton Neighbor

  • SFB

    I can’t believe that we are now talking about whether or not I have a dog, and where I might walk that dog. The question of where the next generation of Princeton residents will live will continue to exist, regardless of my doggie.
    Princeton is expensive because the town hasn’t built enough housing. There’s an affordable housing waiting list of, conservatively, 500 households. The figure of 582 new units is not serious, because it includes replacements of previously-existing University accommodation. The only big development in the town is Avalon Bay. It is pretty big, but it doesn’t by itself address our housing issue. Let’s work together to constructively address housing need.

  • Mary Clurman

    SFB, Sam Bunting, you are so full of baloney. Your arguments are those of an ideologue, full of opinion and buzzwords. If the Jeff/Moore neighborhood is not worth preserving, why do I see you coming down here to bike, walk with your family and, as I recall, your dog, just like a neighbor? And why is it that you, who have lived in Princeton only, what, 3-4 years, have become a spokesman for the faction who prefer to see the town as a small city? We have only just consolidated. We have already accepted 582 new housing units (at an average of 2.5 persons/unit making 1182 new residents likely NOW, not in the slowly arriving future). And FEWER than 20% of those will even be called “affordable,” much less BE so, while the rest will be called “luxury,” even if they are cheaply constructed with less than terrific appliances (the Energy Star rating touted by AvalonBay is not “luxury.”). Let’s find out what the effect is before we build more. THAT is also a moral obligation.

  • PrincetonVoter

    Well, the charts comes from crimeresearch dot org (gun-rights). Your only claim from the Wash. Post is from an contributed opinion piece, from a gun-rights supporter. If you google Washington Post about mass shootings, the first article from the Washington Post itself, is by Max Ehrenfreund and supports the claims here that the US is a uniquely dangerous place, and guns place a major role.

    The FBI isn’t mentioned above, so I don’t’ know what you think is coming from them.

  • Stick to the Facts

    “All of your data here has been copied from gun-rights web sites.”

    Yeah, the Washington Post and FBI Crime Statistics are well known ‘gun web sites.’

  • FreshAir

    The report cannot be viewed here, Alexi. It should be displayed on the town website, since the public paid for it.

  • FreshAir

    We agree SFB, that the inclusionary set aside of 20% in multi-unit projects is good. Communities are healthier where opportunity & inclusion exist. How do we get town employees & advisors to stay that course, instead of granting exceptions? How do we ensure those in subsidized units receive a dwelling of equal quality with light, air, & space? How do we get town employees to collect ample fees from commercial developers, to offset all the costs of town management, stress on neighborhoods, damage to roads, policing, etc.? Most of these costs are borne by the taxpayers now. How do we count the grad student population, to ensure that those low income earners are not overlooked or victimized? They are paid pittance, work like dogs, and qualify for town support & services.

  • Alexi Assmus

    It is not clear that building 100% controlled-price housing (“affordable”) will be more expensive for the taxpayer in the long run than having controlled-price housing included in large-scale luxury developments at an 80% market rate/20% controlled-price housing split. There is no free lunch.

    There will be short-term construction and land costs for 100% affordable (perhaps financed by non-profits and individual giving by those who can most afford it), but a smaller development may have lower long-term costs for the municipality.

    Large-scale developments may cost the town each year, and every year, because the incremental taxes they bring in may not pay the costs of the services to residents in the development (and this applies to the market-rate units as well as the controlled-price units). This is why a Fiscal Impact Analysis is so important for large-scale developments. Other NJ towns perform FIAs — to avoid having taxpayers pay each year to support a large-scale development, while profits are taken by the owners of the complex.

    Wouldn’t it be better to provide affordable housing on the Habitat for Humanity model — or the way Princeton has often done it in the past — where a smaller number of 100% affordable housing units are distributed around the community?

  • PrincetonVoter

    I’ve been to gun shows and shot a gun. It’s fun. Just like driving a Porsche at 110 mph. But that’s not legal for safety reasons. I’m not sure why any of this matters.

    It sounds like you support banning gun shows throughout the United States. Is that correct? Since you support the NJ ban, wouldn’t a national ban also be good?

    And what is wrong with having a national gun registry?

    That’s a specific proposal. I’m not sure why you label everything you disagree with a “talking point.” All of your data here has been copied from gun-rights web sites. Aren’t you doing exactly what you say you are against.

  • Stick to the Facts

    Gun shows are illegal in NJ – did you know that? Have you BEEN to a gun show? Didn’t think so. Plus nearly all transfers at gun shows outside of NJ go through FFLs – did you know that? Interviews with felons in prison indicate that almost NO criminals buy weapons at gun shows. Private transfers in NJ require FPID – any sale to someone else is criminalized. Did you know that? It’s already against the law! Instead of wasting time on this sort of thing, how about enforcing existing laws before we go and enact new ones? So-called ‘Universal Background Checks’ require a national gun registry (like the wasteful one that Canada attempted then abandoned). That’s out of the question. You really need to learn more about the subject so that you stop parroting Dem ‘talking points’ and can converse with more expertise.

  • PrincetonVoter

    “But seriously, it obviously happens here more frequently than it does in some other places, though there is no reason to believe that any of the legislation being proposed will have any impact whatsoever on mass shootings. ”

    But there is evidence for the impact of gun legislation (see the data you posted above). And there are loopholes in the purchase of guns (such as the lack of checks at gun shows) that can be closed. So easy progress can be made. Why not do it?

  • More facts

    But seriously, it obviously happens here more frequently than it does in some other places, though there is no reason to believe that any of the legislation being proposed will have any impact whatsoever on mass shootings. Gun control laws simply don’t work–they end up making (largely unintentional) criminals out of law-abiding people, while actual criminals ignore the laws altogether. Folks who want stricter gun laws are generally unfamiliar with what existing gun laws are. As an experiment, try to go out and buy a handgun this weekend. See how far you get.

  • More facts

    Please define “civilized world” first. Does it include Africa? South America? Which parts of the world, in your view, are “uncivilized” and why? Have fun trying to answer that without committing one or more microaggressions. Haha.

  • Bill

    Dear SFB, Please stop repeating that the purpose of this letter is to stop “affordable housing.”

    The purpose of the letter does not ask that affordable housing be stopped and is not directed against affordable housing. Period.

    The purpose of the letter does not ask that affordable housing be stopped. Period.

    The purpose of the letter is to request that we slow down development in our neighborhood in general (e.g., stop , tearing down single homes to put up two or four houses on that lot).

    We are not asking that affordable housing be stopped. Period.

    When a thousand or so new people get added to our neighborhood and our schools, we want the town to absorb those people before we add a few hundred more apartments/people. Let’s first see how much our taxes are raised to accommodate the needs of our new neighbors. Let’s see how much we need to add to the high school (facilities and teachers) before we invite more people to start attending the high school. Let’s see how much we need to raise in taxes to pay for the new wing of the high school, the teachers to teach in the new wing and the administrators and staff to run the new wing. Princeton cannot afford to make more mistakes in our growth. We need to slow down, take a breath and see what we have before the bulldozers start up again.. Is that really too much to ask?

  • SFB

    In real estate, ‘luxury’ is just advertiser talk. Don’t buy into it. The ‘luxury’ units are more honestly described as ‘market-rate’ units. Unfortunately, the market rate in Princeton is very high, because there is a shortage of apartments and therefore little competition. That means people who don’t qualify for affordable housing get gouged. On the other hand, the advantage of an inclusionary scheme is that the market-rate units pay for the affordable units. If you are against the market-rate units, you are against the funding mechanism for the affordable units. The only other way to pay for them is by some tax dollar transfer, either at local, state, or federal level. If you want lower taxes, the inclusionary scheme is the best. Finally, we have until the start of December to present a housing plan to the court. Not 10 years. The best way to protect the town is to make a solid plan.

  • Mary Clurman

    Again you are wrong. It is about slowing luxury development to allow for the diversity we all say is our “moral obligation.” (To do 100% affordable the town will have to pay the cost or building it without help from developers, and so far it has not proposed a funding source other than taxpayers. Alexi’s figures show a lot of slow development over many years, and throughout the town. We have ten years to comply, we have only to set a target figure. It never pays to rush into an expensive deal. Lets lay out the facts. This is not to stop anything, only to be sure that it is examined responsibly now, publicly, before it’s too late.

  • PrincetonVoter

    Fine, I made a mistake and overstated the conclusion. It should really be, “in the majority of the civilized world, this does not happen. ”

    Will you accept that? And if so, can we move on to passing some stronger legislation?

  • Mary Clurman

    SFB you are so wrong. We already HAVE affordable housing here, not only at AvalonBay but at Franklin and Maple Terraces, in Witherspoon/Jackson, at Merwick/Stanworth, not to mention modest, 1-story homes that are being pushed out by builders and replaced with 2-2-1/2 story houses working families cannot afford to buy — in the high 6-7 figures, Dense housing needs green space to offset it. The original plan for the hospital site included a 35-50,000 sq ft park, and community through-access. Neither happened. We want a balance, Also a fiscal impact analysis of the effect of the 582 units (1164+ population increase) already in the works. We have always said what we want, straight out. Those who accuse of of NIMBYism are so often in other neighborhoods that there is nothing left to say

  • FreshAir

    It’s not a mess. We’ll be housing almost 1100 households in Princeton when AB is done. The only messes I’m hearing/reading is that the town is having problems maintaining what they manage and that Hillier was given exceptions and is unwelcoming at CW.

  • Community Conscience

    The whole mess is just so much attempted social engineering, full of unintended consequences. It almost always fails when attempted by government. Government should stick to what it does best, and it isn’t housing.

  • FreshAir

    Again, We do not need 2000 MORE affordable units in this college town.

  • More facts

    No, actually, the point I was making was that when you said “nowhere else in the civilized world” does this happen, you were dead flat wrong, period. That’s all.

  • PrincetonVoter

    This is interesting. Your data points out something contrary to what you want. And you say “Never mind.”!

    Of course it is a tragedy that some countries are worse, but the point you were making (that the US isn’t any worse than Europe) just isn’t true as most people in Europe live in a safer environment, as your OWN data shows.

    I’d like to see the data about England’s gun violence. So far, every “data point” posted here to back up the “gun rights” doesn’t really support the claim.

    No one is playing here. This is life and death for our children. If you think this is just a game, then that supports my claim that the Republicans aren’t really interested in protecting children.

  • More facts

    I’m sure that’s of great comfort to the Belgians, Finns, Norwegians, Serbians, Slovaks, etc. You claimed “nowhere else” in the “civilized world” (kind of a loaded term for a liberal to throw around, don’t you think?) do such crimes occur. The data clearly demonstrate otherwise.

    Oh, and guess what happened in England after they banned handguns. The murder rate went up.

    Thanks for playing, though.

  • PrincetonVoter

    You made a claim that the facts “demonstrate that there is no correlation”

    That is a statistical claim. To make it, certain assumptions have to be met.

    I’ll go look at the article you reference, but they need to do the same thing. You seem to making invalid statistical claims. If you don’t want to make these claims, don’t use the word correlation (or causation).

  • Stick to the Facts

    No, it isn’t an example of misuse of statistics. The whole issue has been debunked by Volokh at the Washington Post (look it up) because the expression used over and over has been “states with the strictest gun laws have the lowest gun deaths.” However, you’re asking to change laws, so the issue is the strictness of the laws vs. homicides and accidents, not suicides. When you consider homicides by firearm, there is NO direct correlation. Brady and other folks have built their entire argument for ‘stricter laws’ on this and it just isn’t true.

    It’s Brady and others that have been misusing statistics. Look at their ‘school shooting’ statistics ALONE. If a shooting occurred in a ‘gun free school zone’ (like blocks away) they call it a ‘school shooting.’

  • PrincetonVoter

    Where is this Washington Post pinnochio claim? The only things I’m finding in the Washington post agree with what I’ve been posting — that the US is a significant outlier for gun violence.

  • PrincetonVoter

    Your data appears to show that Americans are 850% more likely to die from mass gun violence than Italians, 250% more likely to die than the English, twice as likely as the French, three times as likely as the Germans, and 16 times as likely as Russians, As these countries make up 60% of Europe’s population, it appears that overall, Europeans suffer a much lower rate from mass public shootings than Americans.

  • PrincetonVoter

    And the justification that there is “no correlation” is justified when the samples used are similar. I don’t see that this is satisfied here, which means that you can’t use these statistics to buttress any conclusion. This is an example of the misuse of statistics. I’m not claiming that it is intentional on your part. Nevertheless the conclusion you are drawing does not follow.

  • PrincetonVoter

    what’s the source of the data?

  • FreshAir

    The current local administration will be remembered in history as one run by ambitious people, here from other places, who did not keep promises. Princeton is a stepping stone in the bigger mainstream for them, but a good one to write their name on. They do not know us or care about promises.

  • SFB

    Alexi, come on, the AvalonBay thing was all litigated, and you lost. You can argue that the town didn’t play fair, but Judge Jacobson didn’t agree. The only thing that isn’t clear is whether AvalonBay sorted out your legal bills in return for you calling it a day. Did they???
    Now, just to be clear, do you support building on the Franklin lot if it is 100% affordable units?
    We can’t fit hundreds of units into the Chestnut Street firehouse. Not without building the Tower of Babel.

  • Stick to the Facts

    Correct. And in Princeton, a town that in theory should pride itself on “thinking” and using “an intelligent approach” Democrats and Liberals simply cling to talking points. They cannot have a rational discussion, and insist on positions agreed-upon by others whether they are true or not. Their perception is not altered in the face of facts.

  • More facts

    This is interesting too:

  • More facts

    Sorry, let’s try this again:

  • More Facts

    “Nowhere else in the civilized world do we allow such massacres of our children,” Um, try this on for size:

  • Alexi Assmus

    I was shocked to see Council proposing housing on the Franklin Lot after the municipality failed to obtain compliance with its own site plan ordinances for a large-scale residential complex nearby and to fulfill promises to the neighborhood for public open space. Extensive research, informed public comment, and professional work was done at the highest levels, and performed and paid for by the town’s residents over several years, to obtain compliance with statutory requirements — ultimately the municipality was unable to make good on its promises to the neighborhood.

    I understand plans have been in the works for developing the Franklin lot for a long time, but municipal staff, elected officials, and advocates should not ignore the last five years of redevelopment history in Princeton where statutory promises to neighborhoods have gone unfulfilled …

    There are plenty of places to build affordable housing in Princeton. I’d like to work on the Chestnut St Firehouse myself. What a beautiful building to make into several apartments

  • Learn to read

    The data appears to conclusively demonstrate that there is no convincing correlation between the stringency of gun control laws in a given jurisdiction (as determined by some formula promulgated by the Brady people) and actual gun homicides committed in those jurisdictions. Calls for new “common-sense” gun laws are generally political posturing by those who know better or emotional outbursts by those who have no idea what the existing laws even are. I suspect you fall into the latter camp.

    Moreover, on another note, to say “Republicans care more about their guns than their children” is a statement as idiotic as it is offensive.

  • PrincetonVoter

    You have posted data. That is great. But why do you believe that data supports your conclusions? There doesn’t seem to be a reason to believe that it does.

  • SFB

    So just to be clear, you support building on the Franklin lot if it is 100% affordable units?

  • Alexi Assmus

    You misread my comment. The issue is a significant increase in the amount of luxury housing in Princeton.
    How to continue to provide truly affordable housing in Princeton is another question. I attached Princeton’s Affordable Housing Inventory to my comment to show how it has been done in the past. I believe this is a good guide. I do not support building large-scale luxury housing (which will lower the quality of services for all town residents because of the 2% caps on municipal services and school budgets) to obtain a very few number of affordable units.

  • SFB

    Alexi, I was concerned to see you listed as one of the signers, as I know you don’t live in this neighborhood and it seemed like a misrepresentation. However, it’s helpful of you to clarify that this petition is entirely about stopping construction of new affordable housing. Recent Planning Board meetings have made it abundantly clear that we are legally obligated to build hundreds of new affordable units. It might be a few hundred, or it might be a thousand, but either way, we need to start planning for lots more homes. Where do you think those homes should go, if not at the Franklin lot site? We can fit one or two here and there, but we’re going to need some substantial development/redevelopment if we’re going to avoid a builder’s remedy.

  • Alexi Assmus

    Attached Affordable Housing Inventory, 2014 prepared by David Kinsey.

  • Alexi Assmus

    Princeton is facing a lot
    of pressure from developers who want to build luxury housing. This is not an
    affordable housing issue. Princeton has rezoned for hundreds of units of LUXURY
    housing in the Witherspoon Corridor — and for a doubling of the number of
    housing units the university has at Merwick-Stanworth. The luxury units in a large-scale luxury
    complex go for $1800/month for a studio to over $3500/month plus for a
    3-bedroom unit.

    Only a small number of units in a large-scale luxury development will be
    affordable housing. Build a 300-unit high-density luxury complex. At most you
    will get 20% controlled-price “affordable” units, half of which are
    not truly affordable. At most 30 of the controlled-price units in this
    luxury housing development will be truly affordable (only 50% of the
    controlled-price units are low or very low income). The other, moderate
    controlled-price income, units rent for what units do in my neighborhood, the
    Tree Streets, where many rentals exist — for instance, about $1000/month for
    a studio.

    Princeton has continued to build affordable housing over the years — much of
    it 100% affordable. 100% affordable units have been integrated into
    neighborhoods, for example at the bottom of my street, Maple Street. I see no
    reason why we cannot continue on this path. I am attaching the municipality’s
    affordable housing inventory — showing affordable housing built since 1938. Year by year units have been added. Slowly and carefully.

    Both the municipal and school tax levies are capped by the state of
    New Jersey at 2% — which means that the town and schools cannot
    access new monies for needed services from new tax ratables. This is not the
    time for the town to grow — it is hard to see how the outcome will be
    anything but a decline in municipal services and a decline in the quality of
    education.

    Another issue is that, without any caps, residential growth can lead to an increase
    in taxes — because incremental taxes from the new residences do not cover the
    needed services for the new residents

  • Stick to the Facts

    “Better gun control laws help accomplish this. There’s no data otherwise.”

    Chicago, Camden, Trenton, Paterson all disagree with you.

    Your statement is plainly false. Recently given two pinocchios by the Washington Post. Exclude the suicide data (again, the hotline folks would appreciate your help) and the numbers are completely inconclusive. See tabulation below. You are parroting talking points instead of learning more about the subject.

  • PrincetonVoter

    Yes, I’m concerned. That’s why I’m fighting for a rational response for better gun control laws.

    There will always be people being killed by guns. The goal is to reduce the numbers. Better gun control laws help accomplish this. There’s no data otherwise.

    A first step would be to eliminate the loophole allowing guns to be bought without background checks.

    And about 90% of the American people back such approaches. So it is what the people want.

    When people die due to tainted food, we stop selling the food. People are dying now because of lethal weapons that can be too easily obtained and used. We should have the same response.

  • FreshAir

    Jim, This week I’ve had the amazing opportunity to take a little time off to help an elderly relative in a small town. If a home is modest and a family has led a modest life, let them have their church, walk by bedrooms they brought their babies home too, know all their neighbors, and relive their memories within the framework of those lives before they die. Municipal leaders, the Tax Assessor, & Wannabe Princetonians loom like vultures over our homes here. Municipal employees add money to their paychecks by catering to any idea that will raise taxes. The ability to age in place is lovely and should never be “phased out”. Your belief in the finality of the end stage of life, in a new, unknown place, for the elderly is very sad. If outlooks like yours drive public policy, we all lose the spiritual (not necessarily religious) and emotional grounding so necessary for a full, healthy life.

  • Stick with the Facts

    PrincetonVoter said “Children are dying in schools due to gun violence and the response is stuff happens.” Your choice of media outlet (where you got that information) did not print the full quote. Why? Because they wanted to politicize it.

    Here’s what was said: “We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this, I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else … It’s very sad to see, and I resist this notion because we had this challenge as governor, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.” Jeb Bush

    But you keep believing whatever you want, because it fits with your narrative. Lock step.

  • Stick to the Facts

    Perfect demonstration of the concept of “legislate by emotion” rather than legislating by taking on the hard issues. Americans reject that, and a majority right now are more concerned about gun rights than gun laws. “Feel good” legislation that only affects the law abiding, or creates traps for out-of-state citizens (Google Mia Higginbotham) while NJ prosecutors plea bargain serious gun charges away has made NJ the laughingstock of the nation.

    People are afraid to take on the REAL issues – mental illness, decline of society, acceptance of violence, out-of-control cities and so on. Look at Chicago, with the strictest and “most pragmatic” gun control laws in the nation. Over 60 murders in September alone. Yet, you almost never hear anyone comment. Why do you suppose? Oh, right, it doesn’t fit the narrative. Censored by the liberal media. You probably believe that “there is an epidemic of gun violence” when in fact the numbers are declining since the 1980s (see Pew
    Poll).

    Nearly two thirds of firearms deaths in the US are suicides. I can see that you are concerned, so I’m sure that you will volunteer to work the telephone hotlines, you can find the appropriate office for your location at suicide dot org

  • PrincetonVoter

    I stand by the statement that Republicans care more about their guns than the lives of their children. There are many pragmatic gun control laws that could be passed to make our country safer and protect our kids. There’s not a Republican in this country who will support such proposals.

    Instead, the Republican candidates want teachers to pretend to be police by carrying guns in the classroom. Or want to blame the victims (see Ben Carson).

    Nowhere else in the civilized world do we allow such massacres of our children. Our founding fathers wouldn’t have permitted it either. But current Republicans are in love with a mistaken view of the 2nd amendment. By choosing to accept this view, rather than a reasonable alternative, with the consequence that children have died, and will continue dying, suggests heartlessness.

    Who cares if taxes go up or down 20% when our children are in danger?

  • FreshAir

    The idea that every multi-unit project within the boundaries of Princeton must dedicate 20% of the units to affordable is a great idea…they call it a “set aside”, All the town would have to do is enforce it.

  • FreshAir

    The number 10% has definitely been mentioned by expert advisors in public meetings. So, why would they say that 10% affordable housing in every community is a goal, if that’s not true. Why did they say that the town of Princeton already reached their obligation and now the township just needed to be factored in. My hearing is good. Please explain further.

  • SFB

    FreshAir, Our obligation is not 10% of all housing units. The calculation is much more complicated than that. As for financial liability, the Mt Laurel statute does not require municipalities to spend any money to provide affordable housing. The town may choose to buy properties for affordable housing, but it is not legally required. An alternative is something like AvalonBay, in which the 56 affordable units will come at a cost of $0 to the town.

  • FreshAir

    CC, Bill & SFB – COAH’s requirement was that about 10% of all housing units in a municipality be affordable. WIth close to 1100 affordable units managed by Princeton in 2015, consolidated Princeton is/was very close to reaching that goal. If we counted existing student housing within the borders of Princeton we have surely exceeded that goal. COAH’s authority was recently called into question and was legal invalidated. There was resulting chaos regarding actual requirements. Without COAH, those in Princeton looking to to be “do-gooders” with the public purse now have more latitude. They don’t care about real numbers or the limits of the public purse. Their recent proposal to spend close to 2 mill for a few units proves that. Like Bill, I brought my family here because of the cultural & economic diversity of the population. I never want that to change, because it would change the real beauty of this town, which is multi-faceted. My children have benefited enormously, from exposure and camaraderie with other working families here… we are all hard working people with very high standards, in search of our dreams. And, of course, we want our elderly & working class to contribute to town life & to age in place here if they wish. But, how can this be accomplished without inappropriately taxing those who are already struggling? And what is the real limit of our financial obligation to house those in need? I believe this should all be defined, and then we’ll have something we’re happy to support, for the healthy future of this town. Consultants & employees who profit from growth may not manage this challenge wisely for the taxpayers here.

  • SFB

    Government intervention is bad, but zoning is OK? But zoning *is* goverment intervention. It limits and distorts the market and prevents people from accessing housing and services they need in the right places. I tend to agree that COAH is a mess but it is a necessary limitation on the widespread abuse of zoning to exclude new housing. If this parking lot was put for sale on the open market, we could guarantee that it would be bought for housing construction. That is what is most needed. Any other use ought to be firmly justified, especially considering there are 6 other recreation and playparks within a 10-minute walk, and a new park being constructed *on the same block*.

  • Community Conscience

    No. Zoning is the appropriate tool to do both. For instance, taking an existing residential area and zoning it residential/commercial ‘promotes’ commercial development. If that decision were to be made, it should be made within the context of the community Master Plan. Getting involved in the actual promotion/creation of housing is not the role of government. They do not do it well.

  • SFB

    Community Conscience, why is it OK for government to meddle and limit development, but it’s not OK for government to meddle and promote development? Do you see a certain inconsistency here?

  • Community Conscience

    Government has a role here in zoning land appropriately to limit large-scale development. A PRO-active, rather than re-active master plan approach is called for. Beyond that, let the marketplace be, and keep government out of housing, that’s NOT it’s job. It doesn’t do it well, and the whole COAH approach to socially-engineering our towns is just a mess.

    Sometimes the whole “We’ve got to DO something” approach results in misguided development.

  • Bill

    Actually, the tax payers own a lot more than the 13 parcels. Many other parcels were not considered for various reasons. For example, the town owns the parking lot in front of Community Park pool as well as the parking lot next to the fields at Community Park. Should these be considered for development? I think not but others might disagree.

  • Bill

    Good points raised by SFB. But first, the letter that started this entire discussion is not about affordable housing, it is about protecting our neighborhood from the “Build Baby Build” development mentality that has ruined many places I’ve lived.

    Second, if we must speak about affordable housing (not the subject of this letter) I note that the Franklin Avenue Park was not one of the prime candidates for new housing according to the task force. There purposefully was no ranking of the properties. In fact, the report notes that there are questions about developing housing on the Franklin Avenue Park because it does not meet the objectives of dispersing affordable housing throughout the community nor does a large development fit within the character of the surrounding neighborhood – single family houses and duplexes, and a historic cemetery.

    Third, (and again I don’t like going into the topic of affordable housing as it misses the point of the letter) as for the people on the list seeking affordable housing in Princeton, it would be informative to know where they are living currently? Are these Princeton residents seeking more affordable housing than they have now? Of the 1000 or so people on the waiting list, how many currently live in Princeton? I don’t intend to be sarcastic in this post, but … I’m willing to sacrifice a lot more for an elderly neighbor here in town that I know and care about and who is in need, than for someone living 1000 miles away who wants to live in Princeton but can’t afford it. The facts on the demographics of this wait list would be helpful.

  • SFB

    Delay is fine if you already have a home. For the hundreds of people who are waiting for affordable housing, it is not fine. The signers say they are not against affordable housing. They are ‘against development’. But how can you have affordable housing without development? If a site is earmarked for affordable housing, and you say ‘we want no development’, then you are against affordable housing. And it’s hardly ‘overdevelopment’ The Franklin parking lot was used by hundreds and hundreds of cars when the hospital was open. Unless we build a skyscraper there, the amount of traffic will be lower than before.
    Princeton has a legal and moral obligation to find space for hundreds more affordable homes by 2025. We already had a task force, with several citizen members, who looked into the best way to do this, and the Franklin lot site was one of the prime candidates for new housing.

  • FreshAir

    Glad you wrote and clarified the point of view of the authors. I agree with you that reflection is important. Facts are too, and always help. The people making these big decisions on Council are NOT qualified to do so without lots of input. Also, I was referring to Franklin Ave near the shopping center, when I say that Franklin is a good place for development….NOT a parcel near the cemetery or downtown…and apologize that my comment wasn’t clear.

  • Wha?

    Finally, some clarity. And sounds reasonable, too. Maybe next time you should draft the letter rather than merely sign it. I agree in that I certainly don’t see a great need to overpopulate or overdevelop Princeton–in any neighborhood.

  • Bill

    Not sure why anyone would dismiss development of the acres at Herrontown Road – it is a perfect option for development. I expect someone could build 2000 units there. Washington Oaks and Griggs Farm are not in the downtown area, so not near anything, yet they are highly desirable.

    Consider also the parking lot behind the CVS and Naked Pizza on Nassau Street. That property is near everything. We could place another Avalon Bay development there – but maybe only 100 to 150 units.

    If we are serious about promoting development in Princeton, both of these properties should be seriously considered and placed high on the list.

  • Bill

    I was one of the signers of the letter. My issue is not with affordable housing in our neighborhood, and to the best of my understanding, that is not the issue the other signers have with housing development on what should become the Franklin Avenue Park.

    We would all like our kids to be part of a diverse neighborhood. That said, we would like to slow down the development in our neighborhood – whether it be affordable housing, converting one lot with one small house into one lot with two houses (happening all around us), or even taking the Franklin Avenue Park and converting it into a lot with one non-affordable house, ten non-affordable houses or 100 non-affordable houses. Again, remember, the issue we have is with the over development in our neighborhood. We’ve been through a half-marathon race of development, we’re tired, and we want to rest before we must start the development race again.

    What do we want for Princeton? We want our kids to be able to cross the roads safely (I want that for myself and my elderly neighbors as well), we want our kids to have top notch schools that aren’t overcrowded, and we want green space to break up the concrete parking lot and massive apartment complexes that are encroaching on our homes. We want this to be an enjoyable and pleasant town that we are so pleased to live in. But this race to develop is going to destroy all that. I’ve seen it in other towns and we are poised to make the same mistakes they have made. We need to take a break and assess what we’ve done to our town before starting up again.

    At some point soon, maybe as long as ten years from now, the then-governing town council and mayor will be struggling with how to provide recreational space for all the new families and kids in the complexes built, being built, and planned to be built. They will look back and ask, “Why didn’t anyone convert that Franklin Avenue property into a park?” They will see its proximity to the historic cemetery, its location next to hundreds of apartment unit in Avalon Bay and Maple-Franklin, and regret the lack of foresight in 2015.

    The letter from the people in this neighborhood that started this discussion have the foresight and are merely asking to SLOW DOWN THE DEVELOPMENT!!!! Take a deep breath and decide what is best for the long term benefit of the current Princeton residents. Maybe converting the Franklin Avenue Park into the planned 100 apartments is the best decision, but give the neighborhood, schools and town a little bit of time to absorb the hundreds of units that are already coming into our small neighborhood.

    And again, if anyone is asserting that the signers are trying to keep affordable housing out of our neighborhood, they are missing the point – over development of any type is still over development. We just want to give our neighborhood time to recuperate from all the development before the marathon of building starts up again. Is taking time to assess and reflect something we should avoid?

  • FreshAir

    Let’s be clear that 1) I’m “sticking up” for the public’s right to dialogue & be heard. I hope the legitimate concerns of the taxpayers most affected by development will be always be addressed in some way. The taxpayers near AB improved that development for all of Princeton. 2) I’m sticking up for middle class families who “invest” a much larger percentage of their incomes on property taxes in Princeton than other income groups. “Community Conscience” talks about local elections. Let’s go there for just a moment. I believe (but correct me if I’m wrong) that very few local voters (maybe 500 to 600) voted in the last local election. Local officials often run unopposed. WIth such a low number of residents actually voting Council members in, it’s pure hubris/ego/delusion for anyone on Council to think that 1) their personal beliefs or agendas are universally supported by the majority here, or 2) that they don’t have to listen to the public they serve. To have Council & a new Administrator make big spending or development decisions without open dialogue with taxpayers is just plain wrong. Their recent decision to pay 1.6 million or more for an old building downtown, that I’m hearing has only 4 household units (again correct me if I’m wrong) is an example of serious abuse of the public trust (IF this project is funded by the municipality.) Council could easily house ten families for that amount in well designed, energy efficient, sustainably built housing on land the town already owns. Or, if they want the units to be downtown, they can purchase more units around palmer square for less.

  • Wha?

    So why, then, are you so intent on sticking up for those who beef about its potential development, especially, as you’ve just said, it has been “long earmarked” for such development. This suggests that area residents should have seen this coming when they purchased their homes, which tends to undermine their case.

  • Community Conscience

    When critics say things, unchallenged by anyone else, like “It’s sad that Republicans care more about their precious guns than the lives of children” then they get what they get. Perhaps you missed the insult because you agree with it?

    The letter above cites four issues:

    ● urban renewal

    Urban renewal is a much-discredited and now unused approach to the development of our cities. No one, Republican OR Democrat, seriously talks about ‘urban renewal’ these days. Zoning on the other hand, DOES impact the development and re-development of these areas.

    ● Palmer Square Residences

    Approval for the original Palmer Square development was back in the 1980s. Anyone surprised to see that housing hasn’t been paying attention. Is there irony in the fact that the some of the most expensive real estate in Princeton now faces some of the more modest housing in town? Sure there is. In all likelihood it has increased their property values. Market forces play a role here, and government can play a role, but it should take a back seat to the private market.

    ● gentrification

    Gentrification is a politically loaded term that implies that wealthier folks are moving into an area and displacing less well-off residents by improving adjacent properties, increasing their value and therefore taxes and property values. Some studies, however, have shown just the opposite, that often existing residents stay MORE committed to their neighborhoods after the influx of people who improve properties. What is really happening? Is it a social phenomenon that is likely beyond the reasonable purview of a municipal government to try and regulate? Likely.

    ● disproportionate property tax increases

    For the reasons above I chose to address THIS issue primarily. Property taxes are a huge problem in New Jersey and have more impact on residents than any of the other issues. That’s why my point was that Democrats raise property taxes (as they did this year), liberal judges in the State Supreme Court created the Abbott district problem (school taxes are a large portion of your property tax – and they mostly leave Princeton not to return) so New Jersey residents simply have nothing to blame but their voting patterns. They voted for our current Council, which RAISED TAXES as they will continue to do until people simply leave.

    New Jersey voters have the opportunity to vote for folks who represent the goals of smaller government, less control, more freedom and lower taxes. They continue to vote exactly the opposite way.

    Don’t be too surprised at the result.

  • FreshAir

    The Franklin lot is an excellent central location, long earmarked for housing families in need.

  • FreshAir

    My numbers & statements come from documents posted on the municipal website. They are what is reported by WORKING staff. I agree SFB that about 500 neighbors legitimately qualify & truly need help. I hope you are housed & can live here forever. We don’t agree on everything, but I appreciate your contribution to our community!

  • SFB

    I would dispute a lot of what FreshAir writes about housing numbers, but I think we can at least agree that upwards of 500 units of affordable housing are needed. That is ample basis to be getting on with planning and building something for the Franklin Lot asap. Other sites are definitely going to be required too. I have my own house, and I pay full taxes, but I am concerned that many others are being kept out of our community by high costs.

  • FreshAir

    Yes, I think we own 13 parcels. Place $100,000 to $150000 cool, super low maintenance prefab units on them and be done with it.

  • FreshAir

    There’s NOT a need for 1900 affordable housing units in Princeton. That is a HUGE overstatement perpetuated by the media and here by Nat B. 900 “households” in need is a far more accurate ROUGH estimate…and at least 30% of those 900 applicants are not from this area. Some of the current applicants may no longer be in need or might not qualify when actually vetted. It would be wonderful if EVERYONE who applied was immediately vetted, and if found to not qualify, not be counted. My guess is that about 500 to 600 of our neighbors actually need help…and more want it than need it. SFB, you are admittedly one of those in need. Sadly, the municipality, PCH & the other agencies working to house you won’t use the same application…so, you will have to fill our multiple applications. This will cause your NEED to be counted multiple times…in duplicate, triplicate or more, and will increase the numbers erroneously. That will happen until , the people doing the PAID work (and sometimes volunteers) decide to be very HONEST about presenting a clear & real picture of housing needs for struggling households in Princeton. We will continue to be fed nonsense about the numbers, until they start counting on Witherspoon Street. Also, the large, young student & academic population Princeton houses must be considered, when we look at Princeton’s obligation. It is only fair to do so. Students housed off campus and on use town services, like police, fire, rescue, voting, passport offices, health dept services, roads, etc etc. We are a young town, a diverse town, a challenged town. We welcome everyone. Let’s AT LEAST insist on real numbers when we count need.

  • PrincetonVoter

    what that graph shows is that people act rationally and they will pay capital gains tax now if the rate will be going up and will hold off if the rate will be going down.

    It isn’t relevant to the larger issue of what the rates should be.

    May I suggest that this is an example why people are skeptical of your points? Rather than be insulting to critics, perhaps you could present some data relevant to the question at hand. I do remember a time when Republicans really did care about having a rational discussion about issues. Remember George Bush was one who was skeptical about these policies.

  • SFB

    The town commissioned a task force to identify suitable sites for affordable housing. The task force reported in June, and the Franklin Avenue parking lot was one of the 13 sites they considered suitable. The other sites are mostly very small (e.g. Chestnut Street firehouse, which could probably be redeveloped as 2 or 3 apartments) or pretty terrible (e.g. off of Herrontown Road, which would require knocking down acres of forest to build housing that is not near anything). I agree with your point though that if folks don’t want to build here, it would be helpful of them to say where they would like to build, and bear in mind that we need hundreds of units to comply with state affordable housing requirements.

  • Wha?

    A serious question: Are there even any viable alternative sites for such housing? Where are they? I am genuinely curious. The town can’t exactly seize property in other neighborhoods. I am sympathetic to some degree, but people who moved to the “cri de couer” zone risk coming across like folks who buy property next an airport then complain about the noise. Why did you think your house in one of New Jersey’s most expensive communities was affordable in the first place? Would that one could have it both ways.

  • Community Conscience

    It is no assumption that our local government, all Democrats, was voted into office largely by Democrats. Princeton, and New Jersey, has been ‘blue’ for quite some time. Don’t even wonder then, who is responsible for high property taxes. It isn’t funny.

  • SFB

    I agree with ‘Wha’. The signers’ motivation is to keep affordable housing out of this neighborhood. They are entitled to their opinion, but I think it’s wrong. We have a big need for affordable housing, and we ought to use available sites. It is reasonable to use the Franklin lot for housing. A big hospital complex was here, and even with AvalonBay and hypothetical housing on the Franklin lot, the neighborhood would still be quieter than it was in the days when ambulances whirred by and incinerators belched smoke. I love my neighbors and I also love the 1,900 people who are waiting for affordable housing. Let’s get on with planning and building high-quality housing, instead of saying that there’s no room at the inn.

  • FreshAir

    The assumptions here are almost comical…the one above from the person who assumes how people vote is funny enough, & now your comment. Just like most people don’t vote, most people don’t know WHERE all of the affordable housing in Princeton is located. “Units” are right under the nose of many full income folks. Our neighbors who wrote “cri de coeur” are having affordable housing built next to their homes right now! Those neighbors did a HUGE PUBLIC SERVICE for all of us, by demanding that the Avalon Bay apartments LOOK & BE much nicer than the exchange traded conglomerate AB designed. Once a structure is built, there is stands for it lifetime…EVERYONE has to live with it’s ugliness, lack of utility, & oversights. Those of “de coeur” did a BETTER job than town officials to minimize everyone’s suffering with an eyesore & more, and they did so at their own cost. “De Coeur” has shown their love for the idea of “neighborhood” AND “Princeton”. If find the lack of warm dialogue in Princeton to be very sad. The lack of democracy in Princeton I’m seeing is also sad. Criticizing people who have done such a nice thing for our town is sad. What is the last thing you did here to really improve how we all experience our HOME? Love thy neighbor… try it.

  • Wha?

    Fair enough, they want to be heard. Why not tell us directly what they’d say? The letter is rather oblique, but I gather they want affordable housing built in some neighborhood other than their own, correct? Guess it’s not politically correct to just come out and say that.

  • Community Conscience

    Facts are really stubborn things (no matter how much you choose to ignore them). Are there topics where you actually have some knowledge?

  • PrincetonVoter

    Awlfully sensitive, aren’t we?

    The republicam party is more in love with their guns than their kids. Thr blood of these slaughters is on their hands.

    As far as what is well known, you can’t find a citation that backs up your capital gains claim. Those are the easter bunny fables that republicans use as talking points.

    Isn’t ii interesting that even Jeb Bush’s economic team won’t endorse his tax cut plan as workable? that’s how basd it is.

  • Community Conscience

    It’s well know (historically) that raising the capital gains tax produces LESS income, not more. Why? Because people change their investment habits. Human nature is something that Democrats usually fail to take into consideration. They RAISE taxes and then ‘wonder’ why people are leaving the state in droves.

    So, you’ll keep picking on the wealthy. What will happen? They’ll LEAVE New Jersey (it’s already happening) and then tell me who will be left with New Jersey’s ever-burgeoning tax bill? You’ve got it – the Middle Class.

    And you clearly do not know ANY Republicans, much less those ‘across the country.’ Perhaps you are demonstrating that you “lack any understanding of or concern for why others think differently than you do.”

  • Community Conscience

    Exactly. Great example.

  • PrincetonVoter

    Oh, I do know Republicans, which is why it’s sad that they don’t care about the lives of children. Republicans across the country seemed perfectly complacent with letting our children being slaughtered by gunmen.

    As far as fiscal issues go, the top 1% pay a large amount of taxes in absolute numbers, but as much of the taxes are from long term capital gains, they pay taxes at a much lower rate than the average working person. That’s why one can say that Republicans believe in lower taxes for the rich, but not for the middle class. And such income is not subject to either Social Security or Medicare taxes, both of which allow wealthier individuals to avoid paying taxes that the working class must pay.

    And these aren’t talking points — they are part of the IRS tax code.

  • Jim Jenson

    Per the Newark Star Ledger:

    “Consider the property-tax and pension-reform plan put forth by Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican from Somerset County (who also represents Princeton!). Here’s a key tenet of the plan:

    ‘No community is allowed to fund less than 25 percent of their school budget through the local tax levy (some communities fund less than 15 percent of their school budget, while others fund more than 90 percent).’

    Sounds sensible, right? Ciattarelli points out that despite its renaissance and building boom, Jersey City pays a mere 16 percent of the cost of running its schools.

    That gives the locals little incentive to cut costs. He pointed out his plan would free up aid that could go to reducing property taxes in the suburbs from which people are fleeing.

  • Community Conscience

    You can keep believing your ‘talking points’ all you want, but the truth will catch up to your false beliefs. The top 1% of all Americans are paying nearly HALF of all federal income taxes (Tax Policy Center), a share that is growing. Your comment that “only the rich ever pay lower taxes” cannot be substantiated by facts. Facts are really stubborn, aren’t they?

    Your final comment indicates that you do not know any Republicans, not surprising in Princeton.

  • PrincetonVoter

    I guess if you believe in the Easter bunny, you can also believe that Republicans believe in lower taxes and smaller government and Democrats are soft on crime. Republicans campaign on those issues, but only the rich every pay lower taxes — the rest of us end up paying more taxes (or taxes disguised as fees). The current state of the roads in NJ is an example of a hidden tax that Christie has imposed on people due to his inability to take care of the roads.

    It’s sad that Republicans care more about their precious guns than the lives of children.

  • Community Conscience

    The problem is, then, you can’t tell. Republicans are interested in smaller government, lower property taxes (often cited as one of Princeton’s (and New Jersey’s) greatest problems), greater individual freedom, balanced budgets (New Jersey’s is out of control, and Princeton is in serious debt – did you know that???).

    Children died in schools due to heinous criminal acts, in several prominent cases involving disturbed young men with mental problems. When asked at a press conference the other day (by Peter Alexander, NBC News) whether he would consider using his ‘bully pulpit’ to address young troubled men – a truly enlightened question/idea, President Obama immediately said “No.” Instead, he went on to politicize the deaths of young people before the facts were even in. However, the media is actually beginning to catch on …

    Democrats are generally soft on crime (witness Trenton, Camden, Paterson, etc.) and tend to pass laws that never get enforced. Or, they pass laws directed at law-abiding citizens while prosecutors charging actual criminals always drop the gun charges first when offering plea bargains. Not to mention the fact that more laws (we already have 21,000 gun laws on the books) will not do anything. That’s why misguided Democratic legislation gets vetoed.

    Democrats are generally extremely intolerant of views different than their own, and use political correctness as a weapon to suppress different views. I understand that you think differently, like most Dems you probably aren’t very aware of the issues surrounding firearms (or want them banned completely). Democrats are much more interested in the ‘talking points’ around these issues (“magazine limits, “assault weapons,” etc) and generally have no real interest in the subject matter, which is essential to drafting and enacting legislation.

    Finally, you must realize that these are NOT emails but rather posts in an open forum (hopefully). Nice try on silencing me … but it won’t happen. You might be interested in reading (Democrat) Kirsten Power’s book “The Silencing – How the Left is Killing Free Speech.” Definitely to the point.

  • PrincetonVoter

    As far as I can tell, the Republicans are not interested in solving the problems that affect local citizens.

    Children are dying in schools due to gun violence, and the response is stuff happens.

    That’s why Republicans aren’t being elected. I wish this weren’t true. Unfortunately, your constant emails, which don’t suggest any understanding of or concern for why others think differently than you do, are why I can’t imagine every voting Republican ever again — and I used to.

  • Community Conscience

    Your property taxes are too high? Why on earth did you vote for Democrats? Because of Democratic policies and the NJ Supreme Court ruling (Abbott vs. Burke, 1985) creating the Abbott School Districts (now “SDA Districts”) Princeton sends over $100,000,000 each year to Trenton and gets back $3,000,000 for local schools. All of this money is going to failing school systems in Newark, Paterson, Trenton, Camden, etc. and how are those districts doing? Failing. You vote “D” and you get more spending, higher taxes, failed social programs and greater debt.

    What did you expect?

  • FreshAir

    1) The ability to age in place is part of civilized societies. People who build communities with their sweat & service deserve that opportunity. 2) People don’t mind paying for good government, needed services, & smart planning…they appreciate it. But, we should be very concerned that our municipal employees couldn’t budget trash costs, even though the number of households can be counted & the 2-30 gallon cans per household allowance exists. The school system also purchases frills before budgeting properly for the essentials & teachers. The result is that taxes increase inappropriately and stress households inappropriately…and we all end up with an unnecessary burden. Every $200 tax increase will cost me $8,000 to $10,000 if I hope to age in place. It takes me a full year or more of work to save that much for the future.

  • FreshAir

    Dear “What?”, I think they want peaceful lives & fairness. I don’t live in the neighborhood that wrote this plea, but can understand their concerns. Town officials approve change that doesn’t respect the people immediately affected sometimes… some very recent examples…Poe Road’s sidewalks & Hamilton Road’s notice they could no longer park on their street (fortunately overturned). I think these neighbors of ours want to be heard before the next wrecking ball arrives.

  • Wha?

    The letter above borders on incomprehensible. What’s the complaint? They want more affordable housing, but not in their backyard? That’s about all I get out of it.

  • Mary Clurman

    Public participation. Unfortunately, the regulations do not directly tie public participation in CDBG, the ConPlan, or the PHA Plan with the AI. However, the Fair Housing Planning Guide offers a few words…: “Since the FHP [Fair Housing Plan] is a component of the Consolidated Plan, the citizen participation requirements for the Consolidated Plan apply.” The introduction to the Fair Housing Planning Guide stresses that “all affected people in the community must be at the table and participate in making those decisions. The community participation requirement will never be more important to the integrity, and ultimately, the success of the process.” (emphasis mine)

    We are not telling others what they have do. We are asking to be recognized in the discussion in more than 3-minute, often stunted comments. Who should be “at the table” if not the affected neighborhood? Developers are there, the State is there, the municipality is there, elected officials are there to represent residents, no? And to ensure that representation, those “affected” clearly have to be there too.

  • Jim Jenson

    Got it. I am all for those things too.
    .
    But to be “middle class” in Princeton, it takes a lot more money than to be “middle class” in Solesbury, PA or Jackson, NJ.

    That’s the result of people voting with their feet and mortgage payments. Do you want to exclude people from buying a home (or even a building lot!) next to yours for more money than what the previous owners paid for it? Are people “bad” if they want to outbid someone and buy a home in Princeton. XX years ago, were you a bad person?

    Many of us who struggle with older homes, or tiny lots think that our amazing community and our school system make the compromises worthwhile. Ultimately, all of us eventually move on and cash out.

  • FreshAir

    Oh, yes, the “micro units” proposed for the “service workers” for wealthy Princetonians …. and Princeton with two socioeconomic classes, rich & poor, as it is now destined to be. Like Native Americans we have no desire to be moved to a reservation. But that’s the teenie future those with big dreams and big wampum are creating for us. We have grown fond of our gardens, our trees, our privacy, and our view of the sky. Shame on us for ever wanting those things, when there’s something called a “municipality” making “better” plans for eliminating the middle class in our town.

  • FreshAir

    The hardships, the worry, and the change that development is bringing to your precious lives are understood by the homeowners living in the neighborhoods that are “next”. We fear what the future will bring too. We feel there is no strong leadership working to keep Princeton an affordable family place. It was/is my hope and dream to raise my family here & live here my entire life. My children love their home & want it to call it “home’ for my lifetime too. Getting here was a BIG deal for us. We have contributed to town life and made many memories here. We did so envisioning a long time line of Princeton memories. But, we listen carefully to the leaders in Princeton as they speak. They never say OUR future. It is THE future that they speak of, and they always refer to the NEW people that all be here then. Fueled by our Mayor & Council, the employees of Princeton are an ambitious crew. They have a vision of greatness all their own. Their eyes gleam as they talk about what Princeton WILL be “10” or “25” years from now. They do not acknowledge all that we do here too, as they plan THE future without us. They cannot balance the budget, even with generous gifts & grants. Our time is limited.

  • Jim Jenson

    It’s hard to understand what this admittedly large and impressive group of concerned citizens/neighbors wants.

    To have Princeton be like it was xx years ago “when it was good”? Wow, really? Ask the older folks you bought your houses from what they think, and if the “Balt” was better than Small World.
    And btw, “Jackson St” was long gone before they lived too.

    To have lower property taxes? Oh darn, your house has gone up in value relative to other homes in Princeton. That house on Pretty Brook is only worth the same as five houses on Birch (and it used to be worth six houses?). Maybe, that’s ’cause you all have been buying those cute, used-to-be-inexpensive-close-town-homes and making them into wonderful places to live. That’s a good thing, yes?
    .
    And, oh yes, the School District, County and Municipality keep spending more and more money on lots of (mostly) good/useful stuff, and they want you/us to pay them to do it.

    To have a greater / fewer amount of other ratables in Princeton with fewer school children? … Well, those ~225 market-rate and ~55 taxpayer-subsidized homes across the street on Witherspoon will be paying $4~5m in property taxes more than the hospital did . . . eventually. And some of them will want to send their children to our excellent school system. Darn them.

    To have more, cheaper homes in Princeton? I guess you can try to keep taxing Peter to make Paul’s home cheaper. Nice deal if your name is Paul.

    Or, NJ and Princeton can allow residences to be built smaller and more economically (kind of like a lot of homes in the Witherspoon-John St neighborhood were originally built!). Clustered around downtown like they used to be in the street-car days.

    600 sq.ft. homes in developments with FAR’s of 2.0 or greater (6-story buildings with less “open space” and only 1 parking spot) could be built a lot less expensively if the Planning Board allowed them to be. Maybe at the site of the old Valley Road School within walking distance of almost everything!?
    Guessing you might not be excited about that either.

    TINSTAAFL

  • SFB

    “Million-dollar houses replace middle-class homes where people have lived and retired.”
    This is true. When I moved to Princeton, I couldn’t afford this neighborhood. This is why we urgently need affordable units at sites like the Franklin lot. We should all work together to make sure that as many units as possible are built at this site.

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