Flooding? Blame the poor.

We’re all familiar with religious right whack-job Pat Robertson’s tendency to blame natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake on things like US abortion policy and 1791-1804 Haitian Revolution (which he characterized as “a pact with the devil”).

Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Wayne Township) channeled Pat Robertson in an asinine and offensive April Fool’s Day press release that, sadly, did not appear to be a joke. In his press release, Rumana blamed affordable housing advocates for at least some of the damage caused be recent flooding in his district.

Claims by so-called affordable housing advocates that wealthy municipalities want to build walls that exclude working New Jerseyans, seniors, and people with special needs are completely unfounded.

The only walls the communities in the district I represent want built are flood walls thanks to the flooding that has been made worse due to mandated ‘affordable housing’ overdevelopment and flawed policies like bonus density. I urge these self-proclaimed advocates to come see how devastating their misguided policies have been in communities in the Passaic River Basin.

Rumana’s remarks are not only disgraceful, they’re also misleading. Anyone who blames COAH for overdevelopment in New Jersey is either lying or misinformed.

According to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (running from 2005 to 2009), only 4% of the owner-occupied units in Wayne Township were valued at less than $200,000. More than half were worth more than $500,000. More than 3/4 of renters in the Township paid more $1,000 per month. Granted, housing prices are lower now than they were then, but that isn’t “affordable housing” in any economy.

Wayne Township is overdeveloped not because of anything affordable housing advocates have done, but because local government officials allowed developers to blanket their town with large single family homes and McMansions.

Comments (5)

  1. GayTeen4Obama

    it comes to flooding this area will always receive some short of flooding, it’s just how the natural environment is in this area.

    But over development in this town (where I live) is sickening. I’ve seen properties being sold in order to have two houses build of them, more acres of trees cut down to “bring back business”, and who is to blame for all this? The poor of course.

    The Republicans control Wayne and Little Falls and when they speak of “developing empty parts of Routes 46 and 23 to bring back business” they’re actually talking about MORE flooding.

    It’s not the lower income braket’s fault for flooding but unfortunately they’re the ones who will be hit hardest.        

  2. Adam Gordon at Fair Share Housing Center

    This is a common trope in NJ politics – blame the bad decisions of municipalities on lower-income and middle-class families.

    Wayne has for years been vigorously fighting the redevelopment of an outmoded office park into homes affordable to people at a range of incomes – stopping housing and economic growth at the same time. That’s what we are talking about when we say “wealthy municipalities want to build walls that exclude working New Jerseyans, seniors, and people with special needs” (a quote from our press release last week).

    Maybe if Wayne allowed more redevelopment of existing developed properties, there would be less flooding in the Passaic River Basin from new $800,000 homes, which, as Scott correctly points out, have nothing to do with the poor (let alone middle class families). Too often, development is pushed to the few remaining open spaces because towns resist reuse and redevelopment of existing and outmoded buildings.

  3. carolh

    for a very good reason.  The town only permits development on an industrial scale.  The sheer amount of impervious surface REQUIRED by the town – 50′ right of ways and sidewalks on both sides of the street – that MUST be impervious concrete and the new laws that do not permit the newer low impact ways of designing, all increase runoff – from single family homes to everything in between.

    Trying to design for floods in Wayne is a nightmare.  Because the town requires us to only use the old ways – which we now now have failed us.  It doesn’t matter WHAT kind of building it is and politicians who know nothing about drainage should not be telling the rest of us what causes it or using it to fight against affordable housing when clustering is the only thing that DOES help relieve flooding.  

    In Tenafly the flooding wasn’t in areas with multifamily housing – it was in the mansions on the hill, who cut down trees to get a good view and didn’t give a damn about their downhill neighbors.

  4. carolh

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *