Entries by Amy Dain

Addressing Greater Boston’s Housing Crunch

Greater Boston’s housing crisis has emerged as one of the most pressing policy challenges for the region.  Building enough homes for the growing workforce and retiring baby-boomers has proven challenging.  In 2004, I conducted a study for Pioneer Institute of residential land use regulations in all of the communities within 50 miles of Boston to […]

Zoning out or zoning in-clusionary

Hot trends in local zoning include age-restricted villages, in-law abodes, and inclusionary zoning – a requirement or incentives to include affordable houses in market rate developments. Our 2004 survey revealed that 99 of the 187 communities within 50 miles of Boston have inclusionary bylaws on the books. Developers argue that some inclusionary laws drive up […]

Seeking better bylaws: Zoning for new housing and historic preservation.

Chris Skelly at the Massachusetts Historical Commission asked me for examples of projects permitted under an accessory apartment bylaw, adaptive re-use bylaw, downtown revitalization zoning, flexible dimensions bylaw or up-zoning where “new housing was produced while at the same time a historic property was rehabilitated”. He wants to include case studies of bylaws that work […]

Forecast on foreclosures dismal. What to do?

More than 7,500 properties were foreclosed in MA in 2007. The numbers are projected to be much higher this year. The vacant, lender-owned properties tend to be concentrated in certain neighborhoods, often in our older industrial cities. There are no easy solutions, but CHAPA has taken a first step at addressing the crisis with the […]

CitiStat: Don’t make a sham of it

Pioneer is on the cheering squad, promoting CitiStat programs. We are featuring CitiStat in our April 25 conference on revitalizing Middle Cities (rsvp to jfenton@pioneerinst.wpengine.com.) Pioneered by cities such as Baltimore and Somerville, CitiStat is a way for city leadership to use data to improve delivery of traditional city services. Dedicating its spring lineup of […]

Are local zoning, wetlands regulations “market oriented”?

At Thursday’s Pioneer forum on wetlands policy, one participant commented that tough local regulation of housing development IS market-oriented policy. The regulations raise the price of construction in the hinterlands and near wetlands, she argued, thus steering development to places it makes more sense – where there is infrastructure to support it. On one level, […]

Back to work on zoning reform

Breaking news: The fight to repeal 40B via the 2008 ballot is already over. The Secretary of State’s Office reported this morning that it certified 33,849 signatures for the initiative, short of the required 66,593 to get it on the ballot. According to CHAPA’s 2006 count, 40B is responsible for the creation of approximately 43,000 […]

Too much house

I’ve heard people comment that there must not be a market for modestly sized single-family homes, or they would be built. Easton Developer Nick Mirrione does not see it that way. He is trying to build cottage homes in Easton, and he’s been knocking on doors to recruit supporters. In a presentation he did for […]

Carrots for homes

The Greater Boston Housing Report Card released last week concludes that 40R and 40S “have established an impressive track record in a very short period of time.” Given the numerous reasons that communities cite for opposing development, it is great that the state has provided a reason in the form of the 40R/40S financial incentive […]

They might also consider pricing

Globe West recently highlighted the issue that day-of-the-week restrictions on watering lawns may actually lead to increased watering.  The restriction can serve as a reminder to water on a regular basis.  The article notes that the state may consider stricter restrictions.  Perhaps the state and municipalities should also consider using pricing as a policy tool […]

Water water everywhere

Managing Water Demand: Price vs. Non-Price Conservation Programs While the Commonwealth is blessed with an abundance of lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands such as bogs and marshes, our residents use enough water to strain the water supply just about every summer.  The United States Geological Survey reports that Massachusetts’ rainfall and groundwater levels are average […]

Not so obvious: who is driving the market for 55+ housing?

Sunday Globe’s real estate section didn’t get it right about age-restricted housing: “Right now, there’s no question 55-plus housing is driven by demographics.” No question — baby-boomers are driving demand for modest housing in traditionally scaled neighborhoods. The question is — Are baby-boomers really demanding houses that they can only re-sell to people 55 years […]

Deed restrictions, indeed

According to Commonwealth Magazine’s 2007 spring edition, the Patrick administration is a receptive audience for Pioneer’s policy paper, Housing Programs in Weak Market Neighborhoods: Developing the Right Tools for Urban Revitalization, written by Peter Gagliardi. The report details how well-meaning state policies may actually hurt the revitalization of poorer communities. The study finds that most […]

Who’s to pay for affordable housing?

Martha’s Vinyard and Nantucket residents are advocating for a new levy on home sales to pay for affordable housing. State lawmakers are now debating this proposal for the islands. Lawmakers, developers, and housing advocates have been debating variations on this kind of policy for some time. Pioneer’s research shows that over half of communities in […]