Housing and Development are major issues in Newton. Developers and residents alike want predictability in zoning – each want to know the parameters of what can and cannot be built. Without comprehensive planning and community buy-in, development will continue to be divisive.
The lack of affordable housing is a nationwide issue. When my husband and I were looking for a community in which to raise our family, we were drawn to Newton because of its reputation for providing an excellent education, its close proximity to Boston with fairly easy access to highway and transportation, and its beautiful neighborhoods. We wanted the ability to walk our children to school and we wanted our children to grow up in a community that is rich in cultural diversity. But, like most young couples, housing options that we could afford were limited. We were lucky. We were able to find a two-family fixer upper so we could use rental income to help us afford our mortgage. That option is very limited now, as the supply of two-family homes have diminished – bought up by developers and converted to expensive condos. The smaller sized starter homes are now targets for tear downs to make room for high-end luxury mansions. Newton is becoming less and less affordable.
Pressure to increase affordable housing supply in an already built out environment leaves the City and the community with limited options. 40B developments, while providing deed restricted affordable housing units, also increase the number of high-end market units so the divide continues to grow and circumvents local control. Zoning reform, planned growth and community input are essential elements to moving this city forward in its next cycle of evolution. How do we get there?
- Move expeditiously with zoning reform and create housing opportunities and commercial growth in our village centers that respect each village’s own unique character;
- Create and implement a Housing Production Plan;
- Require the City’s Comprehensive Plan to be consistently updated and revised to reflect the most current environment.