BPDA, City Staff Asking Board Members to Approve Plan: JP/Rox

The city released an updated version of the Plan: JP/Rox, including a summary of recent changes, and the Boston Planning & Redevelopment Authority staff will be asking its board to approve the Plan to make it a guiding document for the area.

BPDA and city staff are expected to brief BPDA board members at their meeting on Feb. 9th and seek their approval for the plan. This is not a public hearing, but it is open to the public and is being held at City Hall (9th Floor, Room 900). The BPDA board meeting starts at 3:30 pm and the agenda will be posted Tuesday. The meeting will start at 3:30 pm, but all public hearings start at 5:30 pm. BPDA board meetings can be viewed live on Comcast Channel 24 and RCN Channel 13. You can also view it live and online at Boston City TV.

“The results are new and innovative approaches to building affordable housing, stemming displacement of people and businesses, assisting the businesses that provide jobs and services for our community, and keeping a close watch on future infrastructure needs. The PLAN’s framework encourages smart and predictable growth that respects the social and built character that makes JP/ROX such a wonderful community,” said Marie Mercurio, senior planner for the BPDA, via email.

PLAN: JP/ROX is a study to actively engage the community to create a new vision and plan for the area between Forest Hills, Egleston Square and Jackson Square, generally bounded by Washington Street, Columbus Avenue, and Amory Street, according to the BPDA’s website. The plan encompasses approximately 250 acres and more than 6,000 residents.

The goal of the PLAN is to create recommendations that will be adopted in a subsequent zoning phase that will involve the community. The PLAN will provide recommendations and strategies regarding affordable housing, jobs, businesses, guidelines for urban design, suggestions for transportation improvements, open space, sustainability and the public realm.

Click here to read the updated Plan: JP/Rox released on Feb. 1st, 2017.

“The PLAN tasks the city to bring additional tools and resources to our affordable housing challenges and to deploy those resources more strategically. The PLAN asks more of our community development partners and more of the private developers building in JP/ROX. And the PLAN asks our residents and business to accept solutions that balance the varied and sometimes competing interests of our neighbors,” wrote Mercurio.

Click here to review a summary of the changes to the latest version of the plan.

Most recent changes to the plan include:

  • Text was added to clarify ​and reflect a commitment to a community based development planning initiative for Arborway Yard land transferred to the city.
  • A task force of community stakeholders will be formed to meet regularly on housing stability issues, conduct outreach with at-risk displacement individuals, and continue to create innovative anti-displacement strategies around the JP/Rox study area.
  • To meet the affordability goals of the plan, it is recommended that 200 additional affordable units created either through market-rate acquisitions (Acquisition Opportunity Program), or through non-profit development on future parcels, will be needed.
  • During upcoming work required to write zoning language that aligns with the plan, the BPDA will explore potential design flexibility in dimensional guidelines (e.g., heights, setbacks, step backs) for projects with greater than 50% affordability.
  • Lisa Marie Garver

    Just an FYI for anyone paying attention:

    In addition to the BDPA and “city staff” request, there are other requests from neighborhood organizations.

    Specifically a request from Keept it 100% for Egleston, to make further changes before finalizing the JP/ROX plan. http://www.eglestonkeepsit100.org/

    COnsidering how many neighbors came out to the last community event with messages of displacement, questions about just how much profit developers need to make Here is a message FRom KI100:

    On Tuesday, February 7, help us call the Mayor and City officials to get the Plan JP/Rox vote rescheduled and win changes in the plan!

    Important: After you call, fill out the online form to tell us.

    WHO TO CALL – SIX MOST IMPORTANT CALLS:

    Mayor Marty Walsh – 617-635-4500
    Brian Golden, Director of the BRA – 617-918-4326
    Sheila Dillon, Deputy of the Department of Neighborhood Development – 617-635-4353
    Matt O’Malley, City Councilor (if you live in JP/West Roxbury where he is the Councilor) – 617-635-4220
    Liz Malia, State Representative (if you live in JP or where she is the representative) –
    617-722-2060 – multiple reps have his number, ask to speak with an aide to Liz Malia
    Sonia Chang-Diaz, State Senator for much of Boston (all or part of Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Mission Hill, Roslindale, Roxbury, and the South End) – 617-722-1673 – ask to speak with an aide to Sonia Chang-Diaz
    AT LARGE COUNCILORS IF YOU CAN MAKE ADDITIONAL CALLS:

    Michelle Wu, Council President – 617-635-3115
    Ayanna Pressley – 617-635-4217
    Annissa Essaibi-George – 617-635-4376
    Michael Flaherty – 617-635-4205
    WHAT TO SAY – THEN REMEMBER TO FILL OUT THE FORM ONLINE TO TELL US YOU CALLED:

    Ask for the person, and then leave this message: “I’m asking you to make sure the BPDA board does not vote on Plan JP/Rox this Thursday. The plan still does not protect JP or Roxbury and does not promote real affordable housing or racial justice. Community members have negotiated in good faith to create a plan that works, but the BPDA and DND have decided to continue the vote and not make more changes. Please support getting 55% affordable housing in the plan, 25% in private developments, lower income levels for ‘bonus’ units, more non-profit units, and converting 250 market-rate units into affordable units.”

    You can add why affordable housing and ending displacement is important, your experiences, and what you love about JP, Roxbury, and Egleston!

    RESPONSES TO WATCH OUT FOR:

    “The plan includes 36% (or 40% when considering only developments further in the future) affordable housing, an extraordinary amount.”

    Response: 70% of the neighborhood now makes less than $75,000, and 50% make less than $35,000. 36% is still not enough to get close to the current diversity. 55% is a reasonable goal and the community has been willing to compromise.
    “Private developers can’t afford to build 25% affordable housing or lower income levels and won’t build. Then we will have fewer affordable units.”

    Community groups have analyzed the City’s own model and data and have shown how it is possible for developers to achieve this amount.
    “There is not enough funding to add more non-profit units. With Trump as president, the funding is even less certain. You are taking funds from other neighborhoods.”

    Response: The City’s goal is to have $51 million a year for housing, and this area is getting less than 10% of this amount in the plan. Also, community members have offered ways to get new revenue such as using Community Preservation Act funds, passing a speculation tax, using taxes on high-end condos. This means that more neighborhoods can get funding, not just JP and Roxbury.
    Response: This is a 15-20 year plan, not a 4-year plan. The City must step up to protect the neighborhood and not use the federal government as a reason not to.
    “We must build market-rate units because there is not enough supply. More market-rate units reduces the pressure on existing housing.”

    Trickle-down housing policy doesn’t work. In local neighborhoods, more high-end housing — far beyond many existing market-rate units — drives up local prices. We support building more housing, but there needs to be a just distribution with more affordable units and more units at lower incomes.
    “Many community members support the plan and we are striking a compromise.”

    The community members most affected — people at risk of displacement, people of color, and low-income people — have spoken clearly that the plan is not enough. Hundreds of people have come out to meetings and signed petitions supporting our asks. Prioritize these voices, not a smaller group of voices of people less affected by displacement.

    • Eric Herot

      “Community groups have analyzed the City’s own model and data and have
      shown how it is possible for developers to achieve this amount.”

      Yes, by assuming lower land prices and higher occupancy rates than investors actually use when choosing whether or not to back a project. 100% for Egleston has shown that in an ideal world with ideal constraints, projects could be built to these specifications. The trouble is that such projects would be considered extremely risky investments with very low payouts, so it’s not clear why anyone would back them.

      “Trickle-down housing policy doesn’t work. In local neighborhoods, more
      high-end housing — far beyond many existing market-rate units — drives
      up local prices.”

      This is essentially arguing that supply and demand does not apply to housing. Can you show us the actual data to back up this frequently made but rarely supported claim?

      As far as I can tell, the argument against trickle-down housing goes something like this: Expensive housing brings demand for expensive services. Those services bring service sector jobs. Creating those jobs brings more service sector workers to the neighborhood, which creates a local shortage of housing for service sector workers. So, just to be clear, new market rate housing is supposed to be BAD because it CREATES JOBS (and therefore housing demand) for low-to-middle-income workers.

      • Vlad Richey

        The argument that supply and demand doesn’t apply to housing also fundamentally misunderstands causality.

        People see new housing being built and prices going up and somehow assume that the new housing is causing the prices to go up. When actually it’s the reverse; the prices going up is what’s causing people to want to build new housing.

        Prices rise because there are more people that want something than there are things. Prices don’t care why people want to live in that neighborhood, what color their skin is or what their income is. Economics doesn’t care about feelings or politics.

        Economics is like climate change; it’s a well proven scientific fact regardless of if you believe in it or not. Just wanting it not to be doesn’t make is so.

  • Hugo_JP

    Bravo. No plan will ever completely satisfy every constituency and this Plan in its latest form is a good, well-discussed and reviewed document. Everyone’s voice has been heard.