Zoning changes don’t guarantee more affordable housing

 This apartment building, Nova at 1500 Hancock St., is under construction in Quincy Center.
This apartment building, Nova at 1500 Hancock St., is under construction in Quincy Center.THE BOSTON GLOBE

As a member of a community weighing the value of density zoning, I read “State faces challenges in its push for housing,” Page A1, March 16) with great interest.

It implies that if the state law were changed, and city councils and town meetings could approve density zoning with only a simple majority, more housing would be produced. I see three major issues in this argument.

First, the greater need is for affordable housing for low- and moderate-income tenants. The density plan under review by our town government does not guarantee any affordable housing. Moreover, the tenants in older, more modest apartment buildings will be displaced by the construction of high-end luxury apartments that they cannot afford.


Second, we should take note that a recent study by M.I.T. researcher Yonah Freemark found that after five years of density zoning near transportation centers in Chicago, there was no increase in housing production, only land speculation. The land speculation led to even higher housing costs and rents.

Third, it is important to remember that zoning changes, unlike school budgets, parking requirements, and sign regulations, cannot be easily undone.

Therefore, a two-thirds vote at town meeting is necessary for a thoughtful approach to radical zoning changes.

Jo Anne Preston


The writer is a member of Arlington Residents for
Responsible Redevelopment.