We all have to be part of the solution
The editorial “Housing on the ballot in local elections” (Nov. 2) rightly points out that preventing the market from responding to demand results in every home becoming a luxury property with artificially high sale prices.
I often hear opponents of new housing development grumble that all we’re seeing is luxury construction. But let’s examine why. Non-luxury multifamily housing should be selling like hotcakes right now, but it’s simply not being produced. Why?
Construction costs are increasing, but that’s only one factor. The unintended consequence of single-family zoning is that we’ve created a market where it’s prohibitively expensive to build anything else. When neighbors essentially have veto power over what gets built next door, and you have to factor in the time and money of onerous permitting, the result is that developers have to build high-end properties to turn a profit.
We need to accept responsibility as a society for the housing shortage and stop foisting the blame, and the responsibility to fix, it on others.
Residents should not have to accept whatever development is proposed
It’s easy for the Globe editorial writers to say that we should let developers build multistory buildings next to our homes, but the fact is that a home is probably a person’s largest investment, and we all deserve a say in what gets built next door to us or down the street.
Those who demand that we accept whatever density some developer wants to build in our neighborhood also demonstrate a lack of concern and appreciation for those who might have lived in a neighborhood for decades and who happen to enjoy the peace and tranquility that come from not living in an urban core.
We have rights too. And some of our most desirable and famous neighborhoods in Boston, such as the Back Bay or Beacon Hill, or parts of Brookline, Cambridge, and Newton, are desirable because there were appropriate zoning rules in place. There are plenty of benefits to society that go along with having historic and well-maintained neighborhoods.
No one is saying you can’t build in our neighborhood, but we are saying please respect our investments and our interests and build something that fits in.
There is, of course, a connection between transit and housing
With the Slussen project, Stockholm has figured out how to make room for floodwaters, pedestrians, cars, bikes, buses, subways, and commuter trains (“Stockholm’s Slussen is a better Big Dig,” Opinion, Oct. 28). In Amsterdam they even make room for boats. In the Boston area, we can’t even figure out how to install a new bike lane on Beacon Street in Somerville in less than three years.
Meanwhile, we have activists promoting affordable housing (“Housing: a wild card in elections,” Page A1, Oct. 29), but where are the public transportation activists?
Efficient public transit is essential to increasing urban density and should be part of any new building proposal. Currently any new housing built anywhere near a MBTA stop is out of reach to the average salary earner. But if all Greater Boston housing were within a 10-minute walk of an efficient light-rail system, think of the gridlock everyone would miss. This would also help ameliorate opposition to increasing housing density.