Sunday, August 4, 2013

The upcoming municipal election: housing

Based on the sources from the previous post, I've collected some notes about each of the candidates based on their public statements. Apologies for the rawness. I've tried to put quotation marks around text which is directly quoted and the rest is paraphrased. Candidates appear in alphabetical order, by last name, and I've included everyone who has raised at least $100,000 according to the OCPF.

Felix Arroyo

  • “One, we must increase the supply of housing. We should make sure that people who want to build housing have the opportunity to do that. It’s simple economics: supply and demand. But I don’t believe that that is the final answer.” 
  • “There are some things that government has to invest in: public schools, public streets, public safety, and affordable housing.” 
  • His parents lived in subsidized housing in the South End when he was born. 
  • “We must invest in affordable housing.” 
  • “We need to look at our zoning code to make sure that we are not by zoning code restricting the creation of different types of housing that could lead to affordability.” 
  • Transparent and predictable processes for development. 
  • “We need all types of housing & to encourage mixed use development of market, moderate rate & affordable housing “ 
  • Split the BRA into separate planning and development agencies.


John Barros

  • Worked in Boston for 13 years as executive director of Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.
  • Sponsored 800 units of both market-rate and affordable housing during my time.
  • “We can create different incentives for developers to build next to transit nodes.”
  • “It’s still not easy enough to develop in Boston, the process is obscure, it’s unclear, we need to streamline it when developers are trying to do the right thing.”
  • “Transit nodes: we can drop the parking ratio, we can increase density, we shouldn’t be afraid of going high. These are kinds of things we can do to increase affordability in Boston.”
  • More realistic planning and zoning to incentivize development
  • Tax abatements, TIPS and density bonuses for parts of Boston that are not developed. “We’ve got land, too much of it, let’s take it off the city rolls and put it in production.”
  • Need to invest in transit that allows for developers to build and increase density.


Dan Conley

  • “Housing development is critical to the economic success of our city.”
  • Many entrepreneurs starting businesses here in Boston can’t afford to live here even though they want to. Need to expand workforce housing.
  • Embrace Menino’s “2020 vision” of 30,000 new units by 2020, and do even more.
  • “We need to rethink density. Density does not need to be a bad word when talking about housing policy. Look at Paris: it’s about the size of Boston geographically and has three times as many residents and is thought to be one of the great cities of the world.”
  • “Micro-units need also to be looked at, it’s not for everyone, but it’s a good opportunity for young professionals to get a foothold in the housing market.”
  • Increase the number of three-bedroom "Family Friendly" homes by making city-owned lots available for that purpose.
  • Consider density and transit oriented development.
  • Housing is also a regional problem and needs to be coordinated regionally.
  • Some kind of financial incentive for renovation of housing.
  • "Scrutiny" of off-site affordable housing.
  • Provide a "proper mix of services, entertainment and recreation options to support and sustain a community."
  • “I don't want to solve overcrowding by pricing all but the wealthiest Bostonians out of our city.”


John Connolly

  • More transparency at the BRA.
  • Term limits for BRA board members.
  • “We do too much zoning-by-variance.”
  • “Building more 3 bedroom units for young families”
  • “Increasing the supply of microlofts to create affordable options for recent graduates, young artists, and young professionals”
  • “Expanding programs that increase home ownership among our city workers.”
  • “Getting already-foreclosed properties into the hands of Community Development Corporations who can remarket units to eligible families.”


Rob Consalvo

  • We need to make funding a priority for programs like “Leading the Way
  • We need to invest in workforce housing relating to TOD, we see that now with the Fairmount line.
  • Think about linking workforce housing in places other than Innovation District, out on a different ring, in places such as Allston/Brighton, Roslindale, Readville and Hyde Park that has quick and easy access via new transportation systems to downtown.
  • Meet and exceed Menino’s “2020 Vision”.
  • Not just jamming it all downtown, or in hot spots, but moving it out to the neighborhoods of the city, where there’s real opportunity to grow more housing.
  • The zoning code should be regularly updated.
  • “We can solve overcrowding by providing more market rate and affordable housing and expanding public transportation into Boston.”
  • “With better public transportation we can connect ALL our neighborhoods to downtown and the universities – opening up new housing options citywide.”
  • “As mayor, I'll work with schools to develop more on-campus housing”
  • Increase transparency at the BRA.


Charlotte Golar Richie

  • Led DND for 8 years and served with Menino as Chief of Housing.
  • “You can’t just go to a landlord and say I want your units to be affordable, please do it out of the goodness of your heart.”
  • “As mayor I absolutely will advocate and lead the charge to get the funds that we need to buy the affordability so we have affordable units for our workforce.”
  • Build more on-campus housing for students.
  • “Will work to increase the supply of rental housing for neighborhood residents.”
  • “The BRA has important powers like eminent domain which I do not want the city to lose.”
  • Must increase transparency and predictability at the BRA.
  • “I will define more clearly the agency's planning functions and ensure that planning precedes development in a clear, predictable, and transparent manner.”


Mike Ross

  • “To create more affordable housing, we need to build more housing.”
  • “We’re not building fast enough for the graduating college kids, for the empty nesters, for the life-long residents, and for the citizens of the world who want to move here.”
  • “We need to build more, not just in the downtown core, but in all of our neighborhoods.”
  • “When I first started the Fenway was a gas station, parking lot, fast food strip along Boylston Street.”
  • Got together, planned, and over the past ten years we built the Fenway community.
  • We can do that while we build affordable housing on-site.
  • “If inclusionary zoning and affordable housing is a principle of our city then it should not be the first thing we negotiate away.”
  • “If micro-units work in some places then they should be allowed to be built in those places.”
  • “We need great education opportunities in our neighborhoods, but we also need amenities that and places to gather and go that draw people throughout the year and throughout the day.”
  • For example, worked to bring a supermarket, banks, restaurants to Mission Hill through planning.
  • Transit-oriented development, similar to what we did with restaurants and other development around the Ashmont T stop in Dorchester
  • Resilient, sustainable design principles to ensure that our buildings, infrastructure and people are prepared for climate change
  • Fast-track permitting for neighborhood-friendly housing
  • Resources for elders to remain in their homes
  • “We also need to work with our colleges and universities to build more dorms, so students can stay on campus and aren't putting more pressure on the strained housing market.”


Bill Walczak

  • “I think the first problem is that affordable housing is just not affordable -- it costs way too much to develop.”
  • “We need to construct more affordable housing throughout every neighborhood in Boston.”
  • “I favor transit oriented development -- I favor building large, dense projects closer to our subway stations, bus stations, commuter rail stations, because that’s what we need to do. The density will allow for lower cost.”
  • Convene business community, developers, construction companies, architects, to figure out why it costs so much to develop our housing in Boston.
  • Figure out ways to develop good, sound quality housing at lower cost.
  • Need to expedite processes through master planning.
  • Audit the BRA and then redesign the agency.
  • The new BRA needs transparency as its goal
  • “Planning needs to be equal in function to development”


Marty Walsh

  • Reform the BRA:
  • Need quantitative metrics for evaluating the BRA
  • Bifurcated system of permitting to separate small projects from larger projects for better efficiency.
  • A permits tracking system.
  • A system of receiving feedback and providing information to residents.
  • As a State Rep: Helped pass transit-oriented mixed-use “smart growth district” legislation
  • Has been a strong supporter of infrastructure and zoning improvements

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