Region needs to look to Boston’s pace in housing growth
Thank you for your excellent editorial on tackling Massachusetts’ middle-class housing crisis (“Aim higher on housing for middle class,” Feb. 25). Not only are most cities and towns in Greater Boston not building enough multifamily housing, they’re not building enough housing, period.
A recent Northeastern University report for the Boston Foundation found that between 2012 and 2016, the City of Boston has issued more than double, sometimes almost quadruple, the number of building permits it would if permitting were proportional to population. Despite making up less than 10 percent of Greater Boston’s population and less than 1 percent of its landmass, the city is estimated to develop almost 60 percent of the region’s multifamily housing.
All municipalities have a stake in the state’s economic future. High housing costs make Massachusetts less attractive. Excluding immigration, more people already tend to move out of the state than in. High housing costs also crowd out other personal spending. All of this is bad for business and state tax revenue. The latter funds local aid and services for the growing senior population, who will find it hard to downsize in their community, assuming they can even afford to stay.
In housing matters, planning is not ‘expensive’ — it’s valuable
The editorial “Aim higher on housing for middle class” was on target in calling for Governor Baker to be bold and include more in his bill to address the housing crisis. A key point of the editorial is that the go-slow, incremental, “one bite of the apple at a time” approach would not give Massachusetts the suite of initiatives needed to generate housing units.
The need for planning is integral to the Globe’s proposals. Master planning, open-space planning, transportation planning, and other planning are all keys to creating a road map that earns the support of educated and engaged stakeholders and planning board members. It seems we need to educate the Globe editorial board that planning is not “expensive,” as claimed. Planning does the hard work of analyzing, creating alternative solutions, evaluating, and reaching agreement on action. The value of planning is high, and the payback is visible and quantifiable.
Someone can give you a cheap steak dinner that you don’t enjoy, or you can pay for a good steak dinner and really enjoy it. The better value is the one that gives you a good result.
The writers are professional planners and members of the Massachusetts Association of Consulting Planners.