UPDATE: BTD Transit Team and Open Meeting of WalkUP Roslindale – @ 6:00 pm (Open Meeting)/6:30 pm (BTD Transit Team), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 @ The Square Root

We’re pleased to announce that our friends from the Boston Transportation Department’s new Transit Team, led by their director, Matt Moran, will be on hand this coming Wednesday evening, August 14, 2019, following an open meeting of WalkUP Roslindale to be held at The Square Root in Roslindale Square (6:00 pm for open meeting/6:30 pm for BTD Transit Team). The BTD Transit Team is charged with maintaining and expanding high quality transit on our streets (e.g., Washington Street bus/bike lane) and will provide an overview of their current projects and what they see coming up next.

You’re also welcome to RSVP on our Facebook event page and spread the word by inviting others.

OPEN MEETING AGENDA: 6:00 to 6:05 pm – Welcome & brief introduction to WalkUP Roslindale; 6:05 to 6:10 pm – Roslindale Gateway Path Update; 6:10 to 6:15 pm – American Legion Area Slow Streets/Side Streets report; 6:15 to 6:20 pm – Brainstorming for 2019 Walk Audit location; 6:20 to 6:25 pm – New Business; 6:25 to 6:30 pm – Welcome and introduction of BTD Transit Team; 6:30 to 7:25 pm – BTD Transit Presentation and Q&A.

NOTE: We will strictly adhere to the foregoing agenda since Square Root’s comedy night will need to start set up at 7:30 pm sharp.

Comment Letter on 11 Taft Hill Terrace

11 Taft Hill Terrace Design

Yesterday, we sent an official comment letter to the Boston Planning & Development Agency, concerning a proposed 16-unit housing development at 11 Taft Hill Terrace, just steps from the Roslindale Square main street business district, commuter rail, and bus lines. We support this much-needed addition to our housing supply–especially so close to transit–but suggest the project could achieve better green building standards, be more inclusive and affordable, and better accommodate the future of transportation by dedicating less space to parking. Our specific concerns are proposed solutions are outlined below.


July 30, 2019

BY ELECTRONIC MAIL ONLY (Ebony.DaRosa@nullboston.gov)
Boston Planning & Development Agency
One City Hall Square, 9th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02201
Attention: Ebony DaRosa, Project Manager

RE:           11 Taft Hill Terrace, ROSLINDALE – SMALL PROJECT REVIEW

Dear Ms. DaRosa:

Please accept the following comments on behalf of WalkUP Roslindale with respect to the proposed residential development at 11 Taft Hill Terrace in Roslindale (the “Proposed Project”). As set forth in the Small Project Review application, this will be a consequential development project, located 200 yards from the Roslindale Village Commuter Rail Station and even closer to multiple bus routes on Washington Street that connect directly to the Orange Line, and containing, as proposed, 16 housing units,14 off-street parking spaces and 16 bicycle parking spaces in a four-story building with a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units.

We generally support the Proposed Project. We favor new housing in our neighborhood, city, and region as an integral part of the required response to our surging population and housing affordability crisis resulting from decades of underbuilding and inequitable patterns of development and housing availability. However, we offer the following concerns and comments intended to emphasize the imperative to adopt a greener approach to building in order to prepare for the climate change emergency,  and also to address the future of transportation and the need for more affordable housing in every development project that our city considers.

Before addressing each of these issues in turn, we observe that historically, when developers proposed large condominium projects in Boston neighborhoods, they were often “bargained down” by the neighbors, who would push for fewer units, less height, and more off-street parking spaces, thus (1) reducing the developer’s ability to make a profit; (2) constraining the growth of much-needed housing; and (3) inducing more demand for cars by virtue of the extra parking spots. Indeed, our experience is that developers often proposed extra large structures, knowing they would have to give up some units to appease neighbors. By contrast, today we see more and more Bostonians have become acutely aware of the housing and transportation crises, and we have found many supporters in Roslindale specifically who are sensitive to these issues. Thus, while a project like this might have sacrificed profitability in the past by reducing scale and increasing parking, in view of the decreased pressure to do so today, there should be more room in the budget to address more pressing concerns, particularly in the areas of energy efficiency and affordability for lower-income families.

1.               Green Building

Although the Proposed Project is below the Large Project Review threshold and is technically required to meet only building code-based energy efficiency and green building requirements (albeit at the city’s “Stretch Code” level, which produces a 10% improvement over the otherwise applicable standards), the BPDA should require the Proposed Project to exceed those standards and approach Net Zero/Zero Plus/LEED Gold-Platinum standards. If our city is truly serious about preparing for and attempting to mitigate the climate crisis, all new buildings will need to be much more efficient in their use of energy. There is no more time to wait to start this effort on a citywide basis, and we would like to see this happen in this neighborhood now. To help offset electrical use, we suggest that the proponent investigate the possibility of adding additional photovoltaic panels to this project as well as on the adjacent Greater Roslindale Medical and Dental Center. Rent from the roof panels could provide needed income for the center and the generated electricity.

We also recommend considering using air-sourced heat pumps for heating/cooling. While the operating cost in heating mode is likely still higher than gas in this climate, the total capital cost might be less than the total for gas heat (especially high efficiency) + electric air conditioning, so the levelized cost difference won’t be as great. There are some utility incentives and tax credits (such as SMART, the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) that can help reduce the cost. The Commonwealth is decarbonizing the grid rapidly, so investing in electric infrastructure now rather than locking in higher CO2 emissions for two decades with gas infrastructure is better to help meet longer term climate change goals.

We note that once this project is built, it will be too late to implement many energy efficiency measures that could easily be incorporated at the design and build phase. We have seen other condominium developments in the area (indeed, on this street) consider retrofitting their buildings to add photovoltaic panels only to give up due to the logistical hurdles of dividing up costs and benefits amongst multiple units, as well as the significantly higher cost of modifying an existing structure versus including solar from the start. In short, we only have one shot to get this right, and the BPDA should push developers to seize every opportunity to do so.

2.              Off-Street Parking

At 14 spaces, the Proposed Project has a parking ratio of 1:0.88 which we feel is reasonable but could be lower and still meet residents’ needs. Zero off-street parking projects have recently been allowed in Roslindale Square (most recently, the Wallpaper City project at the corner of Poplar and South a few hundred feet from the proposed site), and, as noted above, this location 200 yards from the Roslindale Village Station commuter rail stop, from bus stops serviced by a dozen bus routes and within 250 yards of a neighborhood supermarket. The Proposed Project is likewise minutes away from the start of the Southwest Corridor Bicycle Path, which is a major thoroughfare for cycling commuters. 1 All of these sustainable transportation options are complemented by several nearby ZipCar locations and easy access to rideshare services along with two Bluebikes bikeshare stations in Roslindale Square. Note that the MAPC Perfect Fit Parking Study, released 7/24/19, suggests that a ratio of less than 1:0.7 would be appropriate. 2

In light of these ample amenities, excessive parking will undeniably waste resources and induce car ownership and car use, moving our neighborhood and our city away from the mode shift and greenhouse gas and other air pollution reduction goals to which we have committed in GoBoston 2030 and Climate Ready Boston. By devoting more real estate to parking, we practically guarantee more cars in the neighborhood. By contrast, reducing off-street parking will have direct positive implications on affordability.

If some off-street parking spaces within the Proposed Project can be dedicated carshare (such as Zipcar) spaces the need for parking spaces can be reduced. If carshare spaces cannot be added within the garage, then perhaps the Proposed Project in cooperation with BPDA could sponsor additional carshare spaces within the adjacent municipal parking lot on Taft Hill while using the vacated space for either additional bike parking or space for an affordable unit.

By unbundling parking spaces from units and charging market rates for parking spaces, vehicle use can be discouraged. By contrast, if the parking spaces remained bundled with the units, car-free families will be less likely to live in this development since they would be paying a premium for an amenity they do not need. Likewise, providing free MBTA passes to tenants will encourage transit ridership as was done at the nearly adjacent 20 Taft Hill Park.

With available parking thus reduced to below a 1 to 1 ratio, the Proposed Project is an especially appropriate project on which to un-bundle the parking from the units, so that households that do not need off-street parking can avoid that cost instead of having it included in their unit regardless, while families that need an individually-owned vehicle for career, family, or other reasons will have the option to pay for a place to put it.

We also think it is important that the units in this development not be granted the right to obtain residential parking permits, and we urge BPDA to work with BTD to make sure this happens. While our neighborhood and the Boston area are in dire need of more housing, there is absolutely no need for more cars. Ultimately, the City needs to update its parking policies for the 21st century—including by limiting the supply and charging for residential parking permits. But until that happens, we need to take steps to insure that every large-density development like this doesn’t bring along with unlimited free car storage on public land in the form of residential permits. These free permits provably induce demand for cars, and the Roslindale neighborhood should not be forced to absorb that traffic and pollution impact. Moreover, Taft Hill Terrace is a short, dead-end street with no adjacent blocks of “overflow” parking—if units in the Proposed Project were eligible for free residential permits, parking from these units alone could overwhelm the entire street.

3.               Bicycle Parking

The Proposed Project is close to bicycle lanes on Washington Street, bike paths in the Arnold Arboretum, the Southwest Corridor Park/Pierre Lallement bike path and the future Roslindale Gateway path making biking to work/school, errands, and leisure a safer and more attractive option. We recommend a minimum bike parking ratio of 1 space per each bedroom. Additionally, the spaces must be usable by people of all abilities, so that a portion of the spaces must be usable without needing to lift the bike. Space needs to both accommodate traditional bicycles as well as cargo bikes such as longtails, bakfiets, and box bikes. With e-bikes becoming more available and commonplace, we recommend that bike charging stations be built to allow tenants to charge their e-bikes. An e-cargo bike can replace an automobile for a large number of trips and since two large cargo bikes can fit within one car parking space, they are space efficient. In order for people to ride bikes, the bikes must be usable. We therefore recommend that a bike repair station with bicycle pump be included in the garage. Since visitors who arrive by bike may not need secure, overnight bike storage, we recommend that at least two bike racks be included near the building entrance per BTD guidelines.

4.              Housing Affordability

As a rough cut, assuming a standard parking space takes up about 162 square feet (9’ x 18’), a reduction of even just five (5) spaces would allow for an additional 810 square feet of living area. We would expect that area to be split into 1 additional unit, which we would recommend be added to the affordable unit count or be used to reduce the AMI to be truly affordable to residents of Roslindale. We also note that community members from the Housing Justice task force of Roslindale is for Everyone (“RISE”) spoke at the community meeting and were particularly focused on increasing both the percentage of affordable units in the Proposed Project and the level of affordability offered beyond what the IDP would otherwise require (13% of total units and 70% of area median income). We support RISE Housing Justice on both of these requests. The Proposed Project is located in a part of our neighborhood where household incomes are lower than average and competition for scarce and increasingly expensive housing (there has been almost no new housing constructed in this area for the last several decades) is displacing our most vulnerable neighbors. We can and should do more as a city to make sure that everyone who wants to make their home here is able to do so.

5.              Roslindale Gateway Path/Blackwell Path Extension and Arboretum Road

In order to help reduce parking burden, the developer should be required to assist financially with ongoing efforts around the Roslindale Gateway Path (http://walkuproslindale.org/gateway) as this will be a significant amenity for residents of the development and the broader surrounding neighborhood. A significant contribution for this effort would be an excellent way for this Proposed Project to bring value and increased accessibility to its own backyard immediately. We propose a contribution of $25,000 for the Proposed Project.

In closing, we wish to reiterate our overall support for the Proposed Project, while especially emphasizing our call to reduce the off-street parking count and repurpose the space saved to increase the number and level of affordability for the affordable units. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Tedrow

Resident @ 21 Conway Road, Roslindale, on behalf of the WalkUP Roslindale Steering Group
Ricardo Austrich, Resident @ 843 South Street, Roslindale
Lisa Beatman, Resident @ 180 Mount Hope Street, Roslindale
Rachel Blumberg, Resident @ 15 Newburg Street, Apt. 2, Roslindale
Benjamin Bruno, Resident @ 27 Colgate Road, Roslindale
Lucy Bullock-Sieger, Resident @ 33 Brookdale Street, Roslindale
Steve Gag, Resident @ 631 South Street, Roslindale
Liz Graham-Meredith, Resident @ 6 Crandall Street, Roslindale
Matthew Lawlor, Resident @ 15 Basto Terrace, Roslindale
Margaux Leonard, Resident @ 35 Harding Road, Roslindale
Mandana Moshtaghi, Resident @ 12 Arborough Road, Roslindale
Robert Orthman, Resident @ 31 Mendelssohn Street, #2, Roslindale
Rebecca Phillips, Resident @ 10 Tappan Street, Roslindale
Adam Rogoff, Resident @ 28 Ashfield Street, Roslindale
Adam Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Rachele Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Laura Smeaton, Resident @ 61 Cornell Street, Roslindale
Mark Tedrow, Resident @ 169 Sycamore Street, Apt. 1, Roslindale
Marc Theiss, Resident @ 55 Prospect Avenue, Roslindale
Greg Tobin, Resident @ 1 Sheldon Street, Roslindale
Nick Ward, Resident @ 35 Harding Road, Roslindale
Alan Wright, Resident @ 98 Birch Street, Roslindale

About WalkUP Roslindale

WalkUP Roslindale, which takes its name from the international movement to foster “Walkable Urban Places,” is a collaborative group of residents dedicated to making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston. We advocate for a dynamic, livable streetscape and we support positive changes to our public and private built environment that strengthen walkability and other forms of active mobility as means toward better personal and public health, safety, social capital, economic development, and environmental sustainability. We are led by a steering group of about thirty residents and have nearly 1,000 additional supporters. More information about WalkUP Roslindale and our initiatives can be found at www.walkuproslindale.org. We recognize that no single group of people can be said to speak for our entire neighborhood – instead, please take these comments as representing the collective support of our steering group members (indicated above) resulting from our mission and principles.

Copy to:

Mr. Joseph Coppinger, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services (joseph.coppinger@nullboston.gov)
District 5 City Councilor Tim McCarthy (timothy.mccarthy@nullboston.gov)
At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu (michelle.wu@nullboston.gov)
At-Large City Councilor Althea Garrison (althea.garrison@nullboston.gov)
At-Large City Councilor Michael F. Flaherty (michael.flaherty@nullboston.gov)
At-Large City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George (a.e.george@nullboston.gov)

  1. A City of Boston survey counted an average of well over 2,000 cyclists per day on this path in 2017; the number has surely grown since then with the completion of the cycling improvements at Forest Hills as part of the Casey/Arborway project. See https://www.boston.gov/departments/boston-bikes/bike-data/2017-boston-bicycle-counts.
  2. See https://perfectfitparking.mapc.org/

NOTICE & SAVE THE DATE: WalkUP Roslindale Open Steering Group Meeting with Special Guests: BTD Transit Team – August 14, 2019 @ 6 pm @ The Square Root

We here are WalkUP Roslindale are proud to announce an open steering group meeting to be held on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, at 6:00 pm at The Square Root, 2 Corinth Street, at which we will be delighted to host Matt Moran and the BTD Transit Team as our special guests. An official agenda will be posted here in advance of the meeting, but we wanted to get this out to folks now. We anticipate about 30 minutes of WUR Steering Group business, 30 minutes of BTD Transit Team, and then 30 minutes of open discussion and Q&A before we break at 7:30 pm to allow The Square Root to set up for their comedy night starting at 8:00 pm. Stay tuned for more details!

11 Taft Hill Terrace – Public Meeting on Proposed Redevelopment – 6 pm on Wednesday, 24 July 2019, Roslindale Community Center

Everyone interested in supporting the desperate need for more housing to support our city’s growing population while doing so in a way that reduces the demand for driving and provides for more affordable homeownership opportunities is encouraged to attend tomorrow evening’s meeting on the redevelopment proposal for 16 condominium units and 14 off-street vehicle storage spaces at 11 Taft Hill Terrace. WalkUP Roslindale members will be on hand to learn more about the proposal, provide feedback, and ultimately formulate our response. We hope to see you there!

A call to support the federal Complete Streets Bill sponsored by Sen. Markey

As Streetsblog NYC is reporting, our own Senator Ed Markey is co-sponsoring a bill at the federal level with Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) that would require at least 5% of all federal highway funds be devoted to complete streets projects nationwide. While many places are already using more than that level of their federal funding for projects that benefit all road users, not just drivers of motor vehicles, the need for shifting funding continues to be overwhelming, especially in light of the rapid increase in pedestrian fatalities on the nation’s streets and roads since 2009.

For those not already familiar with the concept of “complete streets,” here’s a handy definition and a bit of explanation from our friends at Smart Growth America:

Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.

Creating Complete Streets means transportation agencies must change their approach to community roads. By adopting a Complete Streets policy, communities direct their transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. This means that every transportation project will make the street network better and safer for drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists—making your town a better place to live.

To this end, we here at WalkUP Roslindale call on our federal elected officials – Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) and Stephen Lynch (MA-8) – to co-sponsor the bill along with Senator Markey because our streets and roads can and must be made much safer for all users.

StreetsblogMASS officially launched today!

And so the growing movement for safer, cleaner, healthier, and more equitable transportation in our neighborhood, city, region, and commonwealth has a new media outlet that will highlight and stick with the stories and issues we care the most about. Mark this date – July 11, 2019 – as the formal start of something that we can all hope will make us better. Take it away, StreetsblogMASS Editor in Chief Christian MilNeil:

The Streetsblog movement has arrived in Massachusetts!

When Streetsblog launched in New York City in 2006, policymakers took it for granted that streets were primarily for motor vehicles: the city had no on-street protected bike lanes and over 300 New Yorkers were dying every year in traffic collisions.

Today, New York is ranked among the nation’s best cities for cycling. Cars and trucks are no longer allowed on Broadway through Times Square, there’s a network of protected bikeways that extends over 100 miles throughout the five boroughs, and the number of people killed by cars has hit its lowest point in a century.

The cities and towns of Massachusetts are ready for a similar transformation.

Massachusetts is already home to dozens of great organizations working on these issues, and there’s been impressive progress in the past decade. The state’s biggest city recently adopted the visionary Go Boston 2030 plan, which sets a target for cutting motor vehicle commutes in half, expanding the regional greenway network, and boosting transit service over the next decade.

And yet, for all the great ideas out there, our region’s leaders are falling short in actually implementing the policies and infrastructure we need. Crashes cause over 4,000 injuries a year in Boston alone, and that number has been increasing in spite of the city’s “Vision Zero” commitment.

There’s compelling evidence that the region’s failure to invest in its transit system and build safer streets is hurting the regional economy and making traffic worse.

StreetsblogMASS will be a place to amplify the efforts of seasoned advocates who have been working on these issues for years, but it will also be a place that invites more people into the safer streets movement and give them the knowledge they need to make a difference, whether they’re a new-to-town college student or a retiree who’s contemplating giving up their car. Safer streets matter to everyone – even motorists – and StreetsblogMASS will strive to be as inclusive as it is engaging.

As your editor, I’ve spent the past six years working as a data reporter for the Portland Press Herald in Maine; I’ve also moonlighted as a transportation and affordable housing advocate for more than a decade. I’m a strong believer in the power local journalism has in holding leaders accountable to the public interest, but I also find that traditional journalism often falls short in addressing the public’s interests in making our cities more equitable and fighting climate change.

Our streets are public spaces: they belong to all of us, not just the few who operate the most life-threatening and polluting vehicles. Making the Commonwealth’s streets safer is a necessary condition for New England to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and it’s also a way to make our cities healthier, safer, more affordable, and more egalitarian.

So – please subscribe to our email newsletterfollow us on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS feed, add us to your bookmarks, or lend us your financial support.

It’s time to build a safer, more connected, healthier Commonwealth – let’s get started.

Join WalkUP Roslindale at Undesign the Red line – Boston City Hall – 8:30 am on July 18, 2019

Undesign the Red line is a collaboration between designing the WE and Enterprise Community Partners that uses an exhaustively annotated and illustrated timeline to take attendees through several decades of housing segregation by race and class across the United States. July 18th will be the last day that the exhibit will be available for public view at Boston City Hall and WalkUP Roslindale wants to make sure we don’t miss this opportunity to learn much more about the origins, practice, and continued effects of redlining in our city. Details for the morning of Thursday, July 18, are as follows:

  • Meet in Adams Park at 7:15 am
  • Walk as a group to Forest Hills Station on the Orange Line
  • Board the Orange Line approx. 7:50 am
  • Arrive at Boston City Hall approx. 8:20 am
  • All interested attendees to meet at the Bill Russell statue on City Hall Plaza at 8:30 am
  • We will then view the exhibit inside City Hall. Plan for an hour to do so.
  • Thanks!

Important West Roxbury Public Meeting – Centre Street Safety – Thursday, June 20 6:30pm at Holy Name Parish School

We’ve been eagerly following the progress of our friends at West Rox Walks in their efforts to make West Roxbury a safer, more walkable neighborhood, with a focus on Centre Street. There is a critical public meeting this Thursday night (6/20) on a proposed Centre Street re-design. We urge all WalkUP supporters who live, shop, work, or visit West Roxbury to turn out and make their voices heard. We are urging BTD to implement a “road diet” and protected bike lanes — this will result in a safer West Roxbury for all road users, including cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. Without a robust turnout at this community meeting, there is no guarantee that BTD’s plans will include either design element.

Centre St (West Roxbury) Redesign Public Meeting #2
Thursday, June 20, 2019
6:30 — 9.00 p.m.
Holy Name Parish School
535 West Roxbury Parkway, West Roxbury, MA 02132

For those interested in joining the West Roxbury Bicycle Committee in attending the meeting, meet at 6pm at the corner of Hastings St and Centre St to walk with Matt Wentworth to the meeting.

By way of background, at a packed meeting about this project in February, Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley said he would work tirelessly until Centre St. is safe for everyone, and Matt Wentworth spoke passionately about the dire need for a road diet and traffic calming after a crash killed his mother, Marilyn, as she crossed the street. Since then, the West Roxbury Bicycle Committee and West Rox Walks built considerable grassroots support for protected bike lanes and a road diet; 45 businesses along Centre St. signed on in support of both design elements; and many residents contacted elected officials and City staff to express their support.

With the City set to finally present its plans on Thursday, you can help ensure protected bike lanes and a road diet are part of the solution to this dangerous street. We’ve heard that if there is enough consensus at this first design meeting, the BTD can possibly fast-track this project to implement changes on the ground this summer/fall. Please make sure to bring your friends, neighbors and family so we can all have a comfortable, enjoyable and safe biking and walking experience on Centre St. in 2019!

West Rox Walks Letter to BTD re Centre and Spring Streets

Our friends and fellow travelers at West Rox Walks recently completed a Walk Audit documenting pedestrian safety concerns in the neighborhood, particularly along the Centre Street Corridor. To further their efforts to make West Roxbury a more walkable neighborhood, they recently sent a letter to Chris Osgood, the Chief of the Streets, Transportation, and Sanitation for the City of Boston, seeking a major street redesign that would consider safety for all street users. WalkUP Roslindale proudly joined this letter, as did many other Boston-area organizations that promote walkability as well as pedestrian and bicycle safety. The full letter is reproduced below.


image

June 7, 2019

By Electronic Mail Only (chris.osgood@nullboston.gov)
Boston Transportation Department
1 City Hall Square, Room 721
Boston, MA 02201-2043

Attention: Chris Osgood, Chief of the Streets, Transportation, and Sanitation

Dear Mr. Osgood:

In 2018, the United States saw the largest number of pedestrians killed (6,227) in motor vehicle crashes in nearly 30 years. West Roxbury residents have experienced this trend firsthand with, in aggregate, one car crash every six weeks involving a person walking or riding a bicycle on Centre and Spring Streets over the past four years. Notably, these incidents include two serious crashes involving pedestrians walking across Centre Street at the intersection with Hastings Street. The crashes resulted in one severe traumatic brain injury in November 2015 and one fatality inFebruary 2019. Additionally, there have been 11 car crashes with cyclists.

These safety concerns were also reported by West Roxbury Main Streets in their 2016 Imagine West Roxbury Report. A survey of 702 residents found that nearly 3 in 4 respondents identified the street design as a major barrier to walkability and access to local businesses, and nearly 200 residents requested improvements to cyclist and pedestrian safety, traffic calming, and better parking. We are writing to request your support for the Go Boston 2030 top priority project to create walk- and bike-friendly main streets via the following changes to Centre and Spring Streets in West Roxbury: 1) traffic lane reduction, 2) improved crosswalks, and 3) addition of protected bicycle lanes.

A “road diet” on Centre and Spring Streets would help decrease motor vehicle travel speeds to posted speed limits, which significantly reduces the risk of severe injury to pedestrians struck by vehicles and would likely decrease crosswalk fatalities. Crosswalk improvements recommended include: high-visibility crosswalk markings, parking restrictions on crosswalk approach, adequate nighttime lighting, advance yield here to and stop signs, curb extensions, and pedestrian hybrid beacons. Finally, Better Bike Lanes would increase access to the Main Streets district, improve safety for all, and are widely supported by over 80% of local businesses.

We eagerly await the proposal of a major street redesign, which includes safety for all street users, at the upcoming meeting on June 20, 2019.

Sincerely,

William Vincent, West Rox Walks
Jacob Robinson, West Roxbury Main Streets
Ben Wetherill, West Roxbury Bicycle Chapter
Brendan Kearney, WalkBoston
Matthew Lawlor, WalkUP Roslindale
Becca Wolfson, Boston Cyclists Union
Rachel Poliner, Progressive WRox/Roz
Ambar Johnson, Liveable Streets
Alan Wright, RozzieBikes

Copy to:

Gregory Rooney, Commissioner, Property Management
Jack Duggan, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services
Matt O’Malley, District 6 City Councilor
Michelle Wu, At-Large City Councilor
Althea Garrison, At-Large City Councilor
Michael F. Flaherty, At-Large City Councilor
Annissa Essaibi-George, At-Large City Councilor

Comment letter on 43 Lochdale Road

43 Lochdale Road Design

Last week, we sent an official comment letter to the Boston Planning & Development Agency, concerning a proposed 36-unit housing development at 43 Lochdale Road, just a few blocks from the Forest Hills MBTA station. We support this much-needed addition to our housing supply but raise serious concerns about the missed opportunity to advance the highly complementary goals of more affordable housing and less auto-centric development. Our specific concerns are proposed solutions are outlined below.


June 3, 2019

BY ELECTRONIC MAIL ONLY (aisling.kerr@nullboston.gov)
Boston Planning & Development Agency
One City Hall Square, 9th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02201

Attention: Aisling Kerr, Project Manager

RE:         43 LOCHDALE ROAD, ROSLINDALE – SMALL PROJECT REVIEW

Dear Ms. Kerr:

Please accept the following comments on behalf of WalkUP Roslindale with respect to the proposed rental residential development at 43 Lochdale Road in Roslindale (the “Proposed Project”). As set forth in the Small Project Review application, this will be a consequential development project, located under half a mile from the end of the Orange Line at Forest Hills, and containing, as proposed, 36 housing units and 46 off-street parking spaces in a four-story building with a mix of 1, 2 and 2+ bedroom units and providing 5 affordable units under the BPDA’s Inclusionary Development Policy (“IDP”).

Although we generally support the Proposed Project, being in favor of production of new housing in our neighborhood, city, and region as an integral part of the required response to our surging population and housing affordability crisis resulting from decades of underbuilding and inequitable patterns of development and housing availability, we have the following concerns, which our members also voiced in person at the community meeting this past Tuesday, May 28. Our comments intend to emphasize the importance of addressing both the future of transportation and the need for more affordable housing in every development project that our city considers.

1.             Excessive Off-Street Parking

Put simply, at 46 spaces, the Proposed Project is egregiously overparked. As a start, the parking ratio should be reduced from 1:1.28 to 1:1 (or lower). Zero off-street parking projects have recently been allowed in Roslindale Square (most recently, the Wallpaper City project at the corner of Poplar and South), and, as noted above, this location is under a half mile (<10 minute walk) from Forest Hills Station (where both the Orange Line and commuter rail have stops) and steps from bus stops serviced by a dozen bus routes. The Proposed Project is likewise minutes away from the start of the Southwest Corridor Bicycle Path, which is a major thoroughfare for cycling commuters.1 All of these sustainable transportation options are complemented by several nearby ZipCar locations and easy access to rideshare services.

In light of these ample amenities, excessive parking will undeniably waste resources and induce car ownership and car use, moving our neighborhood and our city away from the mode shift and greenhouse gas and other air pollution reduction goals to which we have committed in GoBoston 2030 and Climate Ready Boston. By devoting more real estate to parking, we practically guarantee more cars in the neighborhood.  By contrast, reducing off-street parking will have direct positive implications on affordability, which is the next issue that we raised at the community meeting.

2.            Housing Affordability

As a rough cut, assuming a standard parking space takes up about 162 square feet (9’ x 18’), a reduction of even just ten (10) spaces would allow for an additional 1620 square feet of living area. We would expect that area to be split into 2 additional units, which we would recommend be added to the affordable unit count. We also note that community members from the Housing Justice task force of Roslindale is for Everyone (“RISE”) spoke at the community meeting and were particularly focused on increasing both the percentage of affordable units in the Proposed Project and the level of affordability offered beyond what the IDP would otherwise require (13% of total units and 70% of area median income). We support RISE Housing Justice on both of these requests. The Proposed Project is located in a part of our neighborhood where household incomes are lower than average and competition for scarce and increasingly expensive housing (there has been almost no new housing constructed in this area for the last several decades) is displacing our most vulnerable neighbors. We can and should do more as a city to make sure that everyone who wants to make their home here is able to do so.

With available parking thus reduced to below a 1 to 1 ratio, the Proposed Project would also be an especially appropriate project on which to un-bundle the parking from the units, so that households that do not need off-street parking can avoid that cost instead of having it included in their unit regardless. By contrast, if the parking spaces remained bundled with the units, car-free families will be less likely to live in this development, since they would be paying a premium for an amenity they do not need.

3.            Green Building

Although the Proposed Project has dropped below the Large Project Review threshold and is technically required to meet only building code-based energy efficiency and green building requirements (albeit at the city’s “Stretch Code” level, which produces a 10% improvement over the otherwise applicable standards), we would request that the BPDA require the Proposed Project to exceed those standards and approach Net Zero/Zero Plus/LEED Gold-Platinum standards. If our city is truly serious about the climate crisis, all new buildings will need to be much more efficient in their use of energy. There is no more time to wait to start this effort on a citywide basis, and we would like to see this happen in this neighborhood now.

4.            Roslindale Gateway Path/Blackwell Path Extension at Arboretum Road

We understand and appreciate that the developer is being required to install a new crosswalk and curb extension at Washington Street and Lochdale Road. In much the same vein, the developer should also be required to assist financially with ongoing efforts around the Roslindale Gateway Path/Arboretum Road archway and entrance as this will be a significant amenity for residents of the development and the broader surrounding neighborhood. Funds are still being assembled for the first phase of the path’s extension, running from the current end of the Blackwell Path to Arboretum Road, and a significant contribution for this effort would be an excellent way for this Proposed Project to bring value and increased accessibility to its own backyard immediately.

In closing, we wish to reiterate our overall support for the Proposed Project, while especially emphasizing our call to reduce the off-street parking count and repurpose the space saved to increase the number and level of affordability for the affordable units. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Benjamin Bruno

Resident @ 27 Colgate Road, Roslindale, on behalf of the WalkUP Roslindale Steering Group
Ricardo Austrich, Resident @ 843 South Street, Roslindale
Lisa Beatman, Resident @ 180 Mount Hope Street, Roslindale
Rachel Blumberg, Resident @ 15 Newburg Street, Apt. 2, Roslindale
Lucy Bullock-Sieger, Resident @ 33 Brookdale Street, Roslindale
Steve Gag, Resident @ 631 South Street, Roslindale
Liz Graham-Meredith, Resident @ 6 Crandall Street, Roslindale
Matthew Lawlor, Resident @ 15 Basto Terrace, Roslindale
Margaux Leonard, Resident @ 35 Harding Road, Roslindale
Mandana Moshtaghi, Resident @ 12 Arborough Road, Roslindale
Robert Orthman, Resident @ 31 Mendelssohn Street, #2, Roslindale
Rebecca Phillips, Resident @ 10 Tappan Street, Roslindale
Adam Rogoff, Resident @ 28 Ashfield Street, Roslindale
Adam Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Rachele Rosi-Kessel, Resident @ 36 Taft Hill Terrace, Roslindale
Laura Smeaton, Resident @ 61 Cornell Street, Roslindale
Mark Tedrow, Resident @ 169 Sycamore Street, Apt. 1, Roslindale
Marc Theiss, Resident @ 55 Prospect Avenue, Roslindale
Greg Tobin, Resident @ 1 Sheldon Street, Roslindale
Nick Ward, Resident @ 35 Harding Road, Roslindale
Alan Wright, Resident @ 98 Birch Street, Roslindale

About WalkUP Roslindale
WalkUP Roslindale, which takes its name from the international movement to foster “Walkable Urban Places,” is a collaborative group of residents dedicated to making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston. We advocate for a dynamic, livable streetscape and we support positive changes to our public and private built environment that strengthen walkability and other forms of active mobility as means toward better personal and public health, safety, social capital, economic development, and environmental sustainability. We are led by a steering group of about thirty residents and have nearly 1,000 additional supporters. More information about WalkUP Roslindale and our initiatives can be found at www.walkuproslindale.org. We recognize that no single group of people can be said to speak for our entire neighborhood – instead, please take these comments as representing the collective support of our steering group members (indicated below) resulting from our mission and principles.

  1. A City of Boston survey counted an average of well over 2,000 cyclists per day on this path in 2017; the number has surely grown since then with the completion of the cycling improvements at Forest Hills as part of the Casey/Arborway project. See https://www.boston.gov/departments/boston-bikes/bike-data/2017-boston-bicycle-counts.