City doing its part to address Boston-area affordability crisis
Kudos to the Globe for supporting the Newton City Council’s bold vote in favor of denser development along the Washington Street corridor (“Newton takes a step to solve housing crisis,” Editorial, Dec. 21). As a longtime resident of the Washington Street area, and as an urban economist at Tufts University, I know that a housing affordability crisis plagues not only Newton but the entire Boston area, and that a central cause of this crisis is the onerous land-use restrictions implemented by more than 140 cities and towns in Greater Boston that limit housing supply.
As the Globe points out, Washington Street is the “perfect spot to add housing,” given its location near two commuter rail stations and extensive MBTA bus service. While there are reasonable concerns that development will increase traffic congestion, it is feasible to use some of the tax revenue that new development generates to finance a free electric trolley running along the Washington Street corridor.
Newton cannot solve the affordability problem on its own. That’s why the pledge of the 15 communities that make up the Metro Mayors Coalition to add 185,000 new units by 2030 is so important. The Newton City Council’s vote to move in that direction is a welcome first step.
The writer is a professor of economics and co-director of the master’s program in data analytics at Tufts University.
Large projects still meeting some resistance
That was a lovely editorial, and as a resident of Newton, it made me proud of what we are accomplishing. However, this is not the whole story. There are two other large housing projects that passed our City Council: the Riverside and Northland projects. The sad thing is that Northland is facing some nimbyism. Although the councilors voted in favor of the project, there is a group trying to turn this into a ballot question. I live in the neighborhood of this project, and I support it.
There is a huge number of seniors who have no place in Newton to downsize. This leaves young families with fewer houses to buy, since the seniors who might prefer to stay in Newton have no place to go.
At least we are beginning to step up on these issues.
Boston’s building boom has done some civic damage
The Newton City Council should be commended for voting to help relieve the housing crush Boston and the suburbs are facing. However, please let me vent: This housing crisis was created by an incredibly shortsighted Boston development plan. The mayor and his planning and development director welcomed new business with little thought of the impact that success would have on the people who actually live here.
From lack of housing (where the steep rise in costs is changing and destroying neighborhoods), to the crushing traffic on our roads, to our numbing public transit issues, this administration’s drive for the money has been keenly felt. The Seaport is a perfect example: It’s a civic disaster, unpleasant and inaccessible.
So bravo, Newton. I know it stinks having to do it, but we’ve been given no other choice if we want to keep people from around here able to stay here.