A look back at 100 years of land-use history in Greater Boston raises questions about how much progress the state can make if Beacon Hill continues its extreme deference to local control over certain housing issues.
A prominent researcher who spent a year combing through archived municipal planning documents, state reports and local media accounts of land-use debates in Greater Boston says it’s clear many suburban areas have used zoning as a tool to exclude for over 100 years.
With the racial inequality now front and center, advocates in Newton are pushing for more diverse, denser housing to replace much of the region’s single-family stock as one way to help close the Black-white homeownership gap. But hurdles exist for the private sector to meet the need for lower-priced homes.
Last week, Google announced to some acclaim it would spend $1 billion to build 15,000 market-rate and 5,000 affordable homes in the housing-starved San Francisco Bay area. Before any like-minded Massachusetts actors get a similar idea, we suggest a better use of that money would be helping efforts to modernize our mass transit and suburban zoning laws.
A central, troubling theme emerges from the Dain report on Greater Boston multifamily land use policies: Land use decisions and plans in many towns and cities have a tenuous relationship with reality.
A landmark report that, for the first time surveyed the 100 cities and towns surrounding Boston, details the many ways municipalities attempt to block or restrict multifamily housing.