WalkUP Roslindale’s Mission and Seven Statements of Principle

WalkUP Rozzie members have been working for some time (in person and online) to distill our mission and principles. The outcome of that effort is below, and we’d love to get your thoughts! Leave a comment here or email us directly at info@nullwalkuproslindale.org. If you support our mission, please sign up as a supporter (your information will be kept confidential and you will receive only very infrequent email); follow us on Twitter; join us on Facebook; and/or sign up for our higher-volume discussion list.

This list was updated on October 6, 2015; find the original draft here.


OUR MISSION

We will make Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston, in collaboration with our neighbors. We strongly believe that walkability is a fundamental of great neighborhoods. Improving the walkability of our neighborhood will have positive impacts on public health, safety, social capital, economic development, and environmental sustainability. Although we speak only for ourselves, we seek improved walkability for everyone because we believe it will benefit everyone. In order to get there, we need to think both big and small. Immediate action is needed to improve crosswalks and sidewalks, organize events to bring people together around a shared vision for our neighborhood, encourage the calming of vehicular traffic, and demonstrate how the future might look by making temporary changes today. Long term, we must be proactive in addressing how our neighborhood evolves in the face of the regional development boom, and how walking interacts with all the other forms of getting around. A central conviction of WalkUP Roslindale is that common goals are better achieved together than separately and will provide evident and tangible benefits to all. To do this, we will seek partnerships and collaborate with our fellow residents and engage a broad array of community groups, businesses, non-profits, educational institutions, and city and state agencies to advance our mission.

SEVEN STATEMENTS OF PRINCIPLE

  1. Walking is an essential mode of travel, and we seek to promote it on its own and as part of an active transportation network along with bicycling and transit. We support public and private projects, policies, and efforts that advance the essential travel mode of walking on its own and in concert with bicycling and transit throughout Roslindale because these modes collectively increase the accessibility of our neighborhood, support local economic development, enhance the safety, livability, and functioning of the streetscape, and help mitigate the detrimental environmental effects of automobile use. We must also make our streets safe and friendly for children, the elderly, and people with mobility or sensory disabilities. We fully support the city’s adoption of Vision Zero, the policy goal to completely eliminate deaths and serious injuries from vehicular traffic on streets. And we look with eager anticipation toward working with the city on arriving at a shared vision and implementing GoBoston 2030, the city’s new comprehensive mobility plan.
  2. More residents, businesses, and people working in and visiting Roslindale will increase vitality. We support thoughtful, smart growth in residential and commercial intensity centered on key nodes in our neighborhood, particularly, Roslindale Square, Weld/Centre, Belgrade/Bellevue/WR Parkway, Washington/WR Parkway, Washington/Metropolitan, Cummins/HP Avenue, the American Legion Highway corridor, and the Forest Hills/Washington Street corridor. Compact, intense use of land is an essential component of lively and safe neighborhoods, supporting local businesses, and a regional approach to environmental sustainability.  We also support measured, careful growth in our established residential areas to sustain and improve their vitality as well.
  3. Parks and natural areas help make our neighborhood vibrant. We support balancing growth with a vision of health and beauty offered by integrating this growth into a network of green spaces, as recognized by landscape pioneers such as Frederick Law Olmsted. Roslindale has a great wealth of parks and natural areas. But we recognize that they are not evenly distributed in our neighborhood or equally well maintained, and there are many natural areas that require protection and enhancement. We support balancing the needs for housing, development, and growth with the need for places which offer opportunities for active recreation as well as refuge. These include parks, playgrounds, urban wilds, dog parks, community gardens, green corridors/greenways/parkways, and other green spaces. Support for high quality green space and a cleaner environment goes hand in hand with support for smart growth – we are convinced that these goals must be pursued together.
  4. We support development that promotes walkability. We support giving each proposed development a review on its own merits. If zoning relief (conditional use permit/variance) is needed for a development we believe advances the principles described here, then we will support granting that relief. As the city moves forward with a new comprehensive plan/rezoning process under the ImagineBoston 2030 banner, we advocate that the new plan and zoning be responsive to our neighborhood’s growing, diverse population and the ongoing housing shortage/affordability crisis throughout the city.
  5. We support mixed uses that promote walkability. We support a mutually-supportive mixing of uses within Roslindale’s key nodes: commercial (office, retail), residential, institutional, and modern industrial, among other uses, should be closely connected. We support local commercial enterprises and shops as a general matter, though each situation requires consideration on its own merits, and we should be mindful of the need for our commercial districts to have customers throughout the day, not just evenings and weekends.
  6. We support mixed housing that promotes walkability. We support mutually-supportive mixed housing types throughout all parts of our neighborhood – multifamily, 3-family, 2-family, single-family (townhouse/detached), at a range of price points, including affordable, middle income, and market rate. In major residential projects, we support going beyond the baseline 15% affordability standard the city currently uses. Many of us chose Roslindale because it is among the most diverse neighborhoods in the city by many measures, and new development should strengthen and enhance our unique cultural, ethnic, racial, linguistic, and economic mix.
  7. Contextual yet forward looking design makes for a more walkable environment. We support great design, regardless of style. Roslindale has a relatively consistent early 20th century “colonial” architectural character and set of building types (gabled rooflines, strong street walls, parking in the rear or underneath, massing that is modulated by architectural features, beloved public parks and squares), and new construction should be designed to fit within that context at its best while also being creative and forward looking in a way that embraces the 21st century. We view thoughtful and walkable urban design that connects and enhances the private and public realms as an absolute necessity.

Housing as Economic Imperative

WBUR reports today on a Metropolitan Area Planning Council presentation to state lawmakers on the dire need for housing supply to sustain the economy:

By 2040, Massachusetts will need about half a million additional residential units, analysts told lawmakers Tuesday as they advocated for increased housing production to go along with the state’s growing economy.

Metropolitan Area Planning Council assistant data services director Tim Reardon said most of this housing demand will be in urban areas, and two-thirds of it will be for multifamily housing, a type of development limited or discouraged in much of the state.

(emphasis added).

We recognize that development to accommodate new residents is often a controversial topic — in Roslindale and just about everywhere else in Greater Boston. Even where people recognize the crisis in general, they would much prefer that the solution happen somewhere else. But the need is there and the development will happen whether we like or not.

We do, however, have a critical choice to make: are we going to add another million cars to our already fully maxed out transportation infrastructure (2 cars per new housing unit) — another three or four million free parking spaces[1]? An extra hour (or two) added to the car commute downtown from inner ring suburbs?

Or we can go in another direction, and build with a dedicated focus on pedestrian/bike/transit access, and enhance all those other modes of moving around so that people who prefer not to be stuck in a motor vehicle for hours a day aren’t forced to.

Development, walkability, and vibrant streets and communities all can go hand-and-hand. Rather than fight to stop every new project, we believe we should speak up to make every new project better for the community. We’re working on some development principles that we think will advance this goal, and hope our neighbors will join us in refining and then advancing those principles.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Land-use planner Victor Gruen estimates that every car has at least one parking space at home and three or four waiting elsewhere to serve the same car; Centers for the Urban Environment: Survival of the Cities, 1973, page 89; Further info: Podcast on the Gruen Effect

West Roxbury/Roslindale Bulletin Coverage of WalkUP Roslindale Efforts

Roslindale Bulletin BannerIn case you missed it on the (free) newstand, the West Roxbury/Roslindale Bulletin has run a couple of features on WalkUP Rozzie so far. The first appeared in late August as a general overview of this new organization; the second ran last week, covering the recent City Council hearing on the Rozzie Urban Wild vision. Check out both articles below:

Update on the Rozzie Urban Wild Effort

Roslindale Greenbelt Protection Overlay District

Roslindale Greenbelt Protection Overlay District

Last week, we posted about a Boston City Council hearing scheduled for this Monday on protecting and enhancing the American Legion Parkway area in Roslindale. Reports are that the hearing was wildly successful. Each neighbor’s testimony, whether by letter or personal appearance, was powerful, informative, and from the heart. Together, residents from around the area made this corridor neighborhood visible to the City. City Councilors Murphy, Wu, and O’Malley showed great enthusiasm for the project, and expressed willingness to facilitate multi-departmental collaboration on behalf of the project.

Below are additional maps to supplement the ones posted here earlier. Although the city Open Space Senior Planner indicated at the hearing that American Legion area was not “Greenbelt Protected,” these maps show that it is.

Other useful sources of information:

Maps

Maps Posted for Rozzie Urban Wild Protection Hearing

A few days back, we posted about a City Council Hearing on the “urban wild” land around American Legion highway. The entry has just been updated with detailed maps (reproduced below as well). Go check it out!

Sad Crosswalks

We envision a sea change for pedestrian safety in and around Roslindale: traffic calming, narrower automobile travel laneswoonerfs, pedestrianized-street parties, reliable enforcement of speed limits, curb extensions, chokers, road diets, pedestrian zones, chicanes–they should all be in the mix and implemented where appropriate. We should be leading, not trailing, in rolling out these best practices, because we are ideally situated to be the most walkable neighborhood in Boston. We share the dream of Vision Zero and need to hold the City’s feet to the fire to make it real.

None of these changes are likely to come quickly, though. In our neighborhood, the streets surrounding Adams Park are especially bad but also have fantastic potential. While we’re putting in the long-term work to achieve Vision Zero, we should, in the meantime, at least get some crosswalks that are not an embarrassment to the community. Check out these two recent photos from the already problematically-wide intersection at Poplar, Washington, and Corinth. Roslindale deserves better.

Poplar Crosswalk at Washington Street

Poplar Crosswalk at Washington Street

Washington Street Crosswalk to Public Library

Washington Street Crosswalk to Public Library

 

Rozzie Urban Wild Protection Hearing – Sept. 21, 2015 10am City Hall

[Post Updated 9/20/15 – Maps Now Included]

City-Councilors-at-Large Michelle Wu and Steven Murphy are co-sponsoring a hearing before the Council’s Committee on the Environment and Parks, to discuss protecting and designating as an “urban wild” land around American Legion Highway. The hearing will be on Monday, September 21, 2015, at 10am, in the Iannella Chamber, 5th Floor of City Hall. Public hiking trails, walking/multiuse paths, and the like, are a key ingredient to a more walkable Roslindale, and are particularly needed in the sections of the neighborhood further from the Arboretum. More details below. Please support this effort!

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First Official WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter – 100 Weld Street

Sketch Plan showing WalkUP Roslindale Proposal for Weld/Centre Intersection

Sketch Plan showing WalkUP Roslindale Proposal for Weld/Centre Intersection

We’re pleased to announce WalkUP Roslindale has submitted its first comment letter, providing some feedback on the proposed 100 Weld Street development. 100 Weld has been at least a bit controversial because of its scale (17 units replacing a defunct former gas station). While the proposed development is imperfect (concerns articulated in our letter, text reproduced below), we believe on balance the increased density and revitalization of vacant space benefits Roslindale–residents and business-owners alike–and housing is sorely needed in and around Boston. See below for our complete analysis.

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City’s middle-income base eroding – including in Roslindale

Per Boston Globe: Maria Sanchez-Lopez (right), with husband Lyle Lopez and daughter Felicia Torres, sought an affordable home for years.

Per Boston Globe: Maria Sanchez-Lopez (right), with husband Lyle Lopez and daughter Felicia Torres, sought an affordable home for years.

Today’s Globe features another in a series of articles on the housing crisis and related displacement, which includes Rozzie:

Among those affected is Orlando Espinal, who is facing eviction after his Roslindale apartment building was sold this year and the new owner ordered the renters out.

Espinal, 54, makes nearly $70,000 a year helping people with disabilities find work, but the only suitable places he can afford are far outside the city, which would mean yanking his teenage son out of Fenway High School.

The article doesn’t address the main cause of gentrification/displacement until the last paragraph: the interaction of supply and demand. We can’t stop the growth of demand (nor would we want to), so the only lever that works to ease displacement is to increase supply:

If workers can’t afford to live in Boston, it will make the city less attractive to employers, said Sheila Dillon, director of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development. The city is trying to alleviate what it has called the “unprecedented difficulties” middle-income families are facing in finding housing, including pushing for the building of more than 26,000 units of housing for lower- to middle-income families and new dormitories to get more students out of working-class neighborhoods.

Only a small fraction of these units will be built in Roslindale, but because we are a small, compact neighborhood, even a few dozen units will have a noticeable impact. Let’s make sure every new project is designed to contribute to a more walkable, vibrant neighborhood. We’re coming up with principles and guidelines to advance that vision. Stay tuned.

Boston City Council Public Hearing on Bicycle Infrastructure 9/14/15 at 4pm

City Councilor-at-Large Michelle Wu reported in her August 12, 2015 council meeting notes that fellow Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley called for a hearing on cycling infrastructure in the wake of the Anita Kurmann tragedy:

Cycling Infrastructure: Councilor Pressley called for a hearing on planned and ongoing improvements to the city’s cycling infrastructure. She noted the need to follow up on the 2013 report identifying dangerous intersections in the city, especially after the recent fatal crash at Beacon St and Mass Ave, and wanting to understand how the new Chief of Streets and Transportation Director roles fit into cycling infrastructure planning. The matter was assigned to the Committee on City & Neighborhood Services and Veterans Affairs for a hearing.

That matter has now been set down for a public hearing on Monday, September 14, 2015, at 4pm in the Christopher Iannella chamber at City Hall. Councilor Pressley is particularly interested in the personal experiences of cyclists in the city. Although there has been a lot of focus on downtown issues of late, we need to speak up and make sure Rozzie is represented!

If you’d like to speak at the hearing, please drop a note to James Sutherland. They will also accept written testimony if you can’t make the hearing live.

Complete details reproduced below; copy of official notice linked here. There’s also a Facebook page for the event. Spread the word. Continue reading