Dante Ramos hit the nail on the head here

It’s been a crazy week, but I am glad to have a few minutes to commend to WalkUP Rozzie Nation a rather perceptive opinion piece by Dante Ramos in last Sunday’s Globe. In “Give Boston better zoning – just not yet,” Dante works in a St. Augustine reference while describing the interesting extended transition period that we are now seeing as far as regulation of development goes around here. My top two money quotes:

First, as to the widespread nature of the disconnect between the city we’ve been zoned for and the one we actually have:

From West Roxbury to the harbor, in reasonable cases and in potentially problematic ones, developers are seeking relief from land-use rules and other limits. Existing zoning in Boston was designed to be restrictive — partly out of fears of new development and partly to give the city leverage over builders — but the current rules haven’t always kept up with the times.

And second, how we find a way forward while new, better regulations are formulated in the midst of a massive building boom generated, for the first time in decades, not just by a kind of real estate musical chairs but by real population growth:

Until the city has more workable land-use rules, it needs a clearer, more explicit theory to justify the exceptions that it grants. Personally, I’d argue that, in deciding how much leeway to grant developers, the city should be dovish on height and density, assiduous about promoting attractive design and climate-change readiness, and hawkish about lively street life, retail diversity, and the public realm. (That’s especially true in the Seaport — where there are lots of sit-down restaurants but almost nowhere to buy a pack of gum or a pair of jeans.)

I think I like Dante’s formulation (and he’s right about the Seaport), but with the major caveat that I think the de facto development policy is to be found in Housing a Changing City, the housing forecast that the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development released in the fall of 2014. In that report, it was made abundantly clear that housing production had to speed up – a lot – if the city was to build the 53,000 new units by 2030 needed to keep some kind of pace with the rather new phenomenon of significant population growth in Boston. I think it’s accurate to say that the Walsh Administration has taken that imperative very seriously and has acted on it and will be acting on it for some time to come.

Shape the Go Boston 2030 Action Plan

Go Boston 2030

GoBoston 2030, a citywide effort to develop and implement a vision for the next 5, 10, and 15 years on a variety of transportation issues, has collected 3,700 ideas and grouped them into four possible “futures,” and is now soliciting public feedback to create a final Action Plan. We want walkability in and around Roslindale to figure prominently in the plan, and urge all supporters to spread the word and participate in the survey.

The last 10 days – Eventful

They’ve been a bit crazy, truth be told, as follows:

  1. “Le Green T est arrivé!!!” For those of us in Peters Hill, the arrival of Green T to the intersection of Walter and South a week ago Thursday means that we now have a community front porch. By all accounts, including their own, the Green T folks were genuinely surprised at the immediate response of our neighborhood to having somewhere to enjoy good coffee, smoothies, and sandwiches in a well-crafted space open to the street. But there you have it. Yours truly (Matt) was patient zero of this particular viral event – I was there promptly at 5:30 am on opening day and I was not disappointed – a tasty latte and a flaky croissant and off we went. The first 4 days were supposed to be a soft opening, but soft it most certainly was not. We have been desperate for something like this, and we were not to be denied the pleasure IMMEDIATELY. It has become an instant focal point over here, the place that fills in the blank for “Meet me at ________ for coffee.” I personally live 2 blocks down and will attest that foot traffic has picked up significantly since the shop opened. Sarah Kurpiel Lee: We most certainly need bike parking asap. Please identify the appropriate location.
  2. Open Streets? In my own capacity as president of the WalkBoston board of directors, I was caught up in the debate over the possibility of open streets in Boston after the Mayor’s twitter chat last Wednesday raised the issue. Due to various conflicts (the ED was traveling and the communications director had a command performance), I ended up on the local news urging that Newbury Street (and various other streets in town) be considered for temporary, one-day closure this summer along the lines of what recently happened in Paris with the Champs-Élysées and has been happening on Memorial Drive in Cambridge since the 1970s. You can see the piece here. For the record, I think the folks they found on the street said it most directly and effectively. It’s just a good idea. Plain and simple.
  3. And then there is Vision Zero Boston. I attended the City Council hearing last Monday, but couldn’t stay, so our written comments had to stand as our testimony, as has been reported separately on this webpage. A WalkUP group followed up at the Mayor’s Roslindale coffee our by stressing to his honor how concerned we were about the slow pace of Vision Zero implementation, especially as it applied to Washington at Blue Ledge. It appears that the rapid response at this location may turn into something of a test case for what needs to be done going forward at that location and many, many others around town. As we said in the comment letter, everyone in this city deserves to feel safe on the street on which they live. Everyone. No exceptions. Old, young, rich, poor, all ethnicities. It is one very meaningful way to measure a city’s fairness in dealing with its citizens. And as the post from earlier in the week said, we will need to stay on the city’s various actors (mainly BTD, but also PWD and the BRA) on these issues. The right thing won’t happen by sitting back and waiting for it.

RVMS Bike Corral Ribbon Cutting June 6, 2016 6pm by Fornax

After many months of effort and advocacy, Roslindale is finally getting its first bicycle corral, to be installed near Fornax Bakery at 27 Corinth Street. The corral is fashioned out of recycled shipping pallets and steel pipe and will be stationed alongside the Fornax parklet. It will be dedicated to Roslindale resident and prolific bicycle advocate George Ulrich, who passed away earlier this year. George was a stalwart of Rozzie Bikes and frequently staffed the free bike repair and bike information tent at the RVMS Farmers Market.

Aside from bringing much-needed bike parking to the village, the corral will also send a message to everyone that bikes are welcome, and that we are willing to put our money where our mouth is and start investing in real infrastructure for active transportation. This is one step of many that are needed to achieve our vision of making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston.

Please join RVMS, Street Ops, Rozzie Bikes, and others for a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 6, 2016, at 6pm. After celebrating the installation with music and refreshments, there will be an informal gathering and drinks afterwards at Sophia’s Grotto.

WalkUP Testimony at City Vision Zero Hearing

The Boston City Council held a hearing today on Vision Zero and traffic calming in the city. WalkUP Roslindale attended and submitted testimony, reproduced below and available as an official PDF. The preliminary take-home is it’s going to take a lot of work and pushing our officials zealously to really turn the ship in the right direction.

Update 1: Video of the hearing now available.
Update 2: Check out this comment letter from our friends at the Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association.
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Community Vision Report for Gateway Path Complete

Gateway Path Report

Gateway Path Report

We are delighted to make public today a nearly-100 page report created by Tufts UEP students Jaissa Feliz, Liz Pongratz, Alexandra Purdy, and Mason Wells. The report culminates several months of collaboration between Tufts UEP, Livable Streets, WalkUP Roslindale, and many individuals and organizations in and around Roslindale. The executive summary is reproduced below; be sure to check out the whole report for data, images, and other key details. We believe this document will be invaluable in moving the project to implementation, and are grateful to the Tufts students for their hard work, insight, and commitment to this effort. Please spread the word.
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Two Immediate Opportunities to Speak Up for a More Walkable Roslindale


To achieve our goal of making Rozzie the most walkable neighborhood in Boston, we need to seize every opportunity to speak up. We are leading some efforts ourselves (such as the Gateway Path initiative) but others require attention, leadership, and vision from our Mayor and City Councilors. Two upcoming events present opportunities to be heard on important walkability issues:

  • Mayor Walsh recently announced the dates for his 2016 “coffee hour” series, where the Mayor will visit each neighborhood to hear from residents. All participants will enjoy coffee[1] and breakfast provided by Dunkin’ Donuts and fresh fruit from Whole Foods. In addition, each family in attendance will receive a flowering plant grown in the city’s greenhouses and a raffle prize from Dunkin. The Roslindale event is this coming Wednesday, May 18 at Adams Park, from 9:30am-10:30am. Show up and tell the Mayor we need safer streets for walkers, better transit and bicycle infrastructure, improved parks, and the like!
  • The City Council hearing on the city’s Vision Zero efforts is scheduled for this coming Monday, May 16th, at 3pm in the Iannella Chamber, 5th Floor, City Hall. The order for hearing was sponsored by Councilor Matt O’Malley. The docket to be discussed is item 0509, “order for a hearing regarding traffic calming measures and the Vision Zero Boston program.” Show up to testify if you can; written comments may also be made part of the record and available to all councilors by sending them to ccc.prt@nullboston.gov and daniel.shea@nullboston.gov.
Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Speaking of coffee: Roslindale just took a big step up, going from zero to two full-blown coffee shops. Both P.S. Gourmet Coffee and the Green T Coffee Shop opened in the past week or so. Be sure to visit both by foot or bicycle and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Roslindale Village Walkable Film Series – This Changes Everything – Saturday, May 7, 2016 @ 2:00pm

This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything

Wrapping up our six film run, the final presentation will be This Changes Everything, this time sponsored by GreeningRozzie. The movie was inspired by Naomi Klein’s book of the same name. Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change.

The film will be shown at the Roslindale Community Center at 6 Cummins Highway, starting at 2pm this Saturday, May 7, 2016. Discussion to follow. Hope to see you there!