Which way to a greater Boston region?

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The indispensable Amy Dain reports from the provinces:

Today the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) released its recommendations for the future growth of the region. Its goals for increased housing choice are right on.

Implementation will be no easy task, though. A recent report from Pioneer and Rappaport Institutes has shown that the current system of housing regulation does not allow for many needed types of housing to be built. To learn more about your community’s regulations, look here.

The MAPC plan calls for new apartments, townhouses, and condos near town centers, as well as more modest single-family houses for people who either cannot afford or do not need McMansions. The plan estimates that over half of the new moderately priced housing would be in suburban towns, providing more opportunities for lower income families to live anywhere in the region.

Great idea, but the cities and towns of eastern Mass have created zoning rules that make it very hard to build anything but single family homes on large lots. The incentives and mechanisms are not in place for localities to adopt rules in concert with the regional plan.

MAPC has promised an implementation plan to be released this fall. Localities on their own will not act to allow the market to meet the range of housing needs in the Commonwealth. State action is needed to let the market do its job.

Pioneer recommends the state adopt incentives to localities, exemptions from local zoning for certain compact projects, and new regulatory tools for municipalities.