IMPORTANT UPDATES: Roslindale-focused City Council Candidates Forum – Tues., Oct. 3 @ 6:30 pm @ RCC

 

UPDATE 1: District 5 Councilor Tim McCarthy has just informed us that he will be unavailable for the October 3rd forum because he will be testifying on that day before congressional hearings about the airplane noise issue in Washington, DC. We wish Tim luck in DC fighting for us on this important neighborhood concern. We are accordingly going to reschedule that panel for a date TBD later in October.

UPDATE 2: At-Large City Council candidate William King has let us know that he will be able to participate in the forum. This is great news and we look forward to an informative evening on October 3rd.

UPDATE 3: We will use the time from 6:30 to 7:15 pm to have an open forum discussion coordinated by WalkUP Roslindale, so please feel free to come early and help us identify and move forward on the issues that matter to you.

As we’ve previously announced, the forum will address the issues we focus on — active mobility and new housing and commercial development in our neighborhood. We see these issues as inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing.

Hope to see you at the forum! If you’re interested in attending, please let us know on our facebook page event entry. Thanks!!!

WalkUP Roslindale City Council Candidates Forum – October 3, 6:30 pm, Roslindale Community Center

WalkUP Roslindale is pleased to announce our Roslindale-focused City Council Candidates Forum, to be held on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at 6:30 pm at the Roslindale Community Center (corner of Washington Street and Cummins Highway).

The forum will address the issues we focus on — active mobility and new housing and commercial development in our neighborhood. The 3 district councilors who represent our neighborhood – Councilors Andrea Campbell (District 4), Tim McCarthy (District 5), and Matt O’Malley (District 6) – have all been invited. Councilor McCarthy has committed to participate, Councilor Campbell is TBD (she returns from maternity leave at the end of September and her schedule is unsettled), and we are waiting to hear from Councilor O’Malley. We have also invited all of the incumbent At-Large Councilors – Councilors Annissa Essaibi-George, Michael Flaherty, Ayanna Pressley, and Michelle Wu – and the 4 challengers – Domingos DaRosa, Althea Garrison, William King, and Pat Payaso. Thus far, we have commitments from Councilors Essaibi-George, Pressley, and Wu, and candidates DaRosa and Garrison.

We will provide updates as we get closer to the event. We encourage everyone who is interested to attend! Thanks!

WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter on 874-878 South Street Residential Project

Architectural rendering of proposed 874-878 South Street development (right side)

Architectural rendering of proposed 874-878 South Street development (right side)

This week we sent a comment letter on a proposed residential project at 874-878 South Street, located at the “corner of South Street and South Street”–across from Green T Coffee Shop and adjacent the Hong Kong 888 Cafe, where South Street becomes Walter Street and turns into South Street. We’ve covered this development before in this space, going back at least as far as our first round of feedback back in July 2015, and the latest plans were circulated at an abutter meeting in March. We are typically aligned with “YIMBY” groups and inclined to support residential development, because density both promotes walkability and creates more desperately needing housing opportunities.

Our eagerness to support development is neither unlimited nor uncritical, however. In the case of this project, WalkUP is withholding support for the zoning relief requested by the developer based on a design that is sorely lacking. We are likely to get only one crack at each of these new buildings in our lifetimes, so it behooves us to get it right. We are hopeful that the developer will take our constructive criticism to heart and improve the proposed designed before its zoning appeal hearing, which is likely to be scheduled in October. We’ll post updates here as we get them, either on the design or the hearing date. In the meantime, our full comments are below and also available as the PDF letter as submitted to the Board of Appeal.

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WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter on 4281 Washington Street Residential Project

Brayton's Upholstery

Brayton’s Upholstery – Existing Structure – Image Courtesy Universal Hub

We recently sent an official comment letter on a proposed project that would replace Brayton’s Custom Upholstery at 4281 Washington St. with a four-story, 12-unit apartment building with 12 parking spaces on the first floor. The project was discussed in July on Universal Hub. Our comments relate mainly to the design of the project, which we found lacking. We’re hoping the developer will take these comments into account as he goes through the BPDA design review process, as the project has already received the necessary zoning relief. Continue reading for our thoughts, and feel free to add yours in the comments.

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The YIMBY Movement and Walkability

YIMBY Logo (Courtesy Corporation for Supportive Housing)

YIMBY Logo (Courtesy Corporation for Supportive Housing)

The so-called “YIMBY” movement has been in the news a lot these days. Many YIMBY community groups, like JP YIMBY, start from a principle of supporting housing development in the interests of fairness, equity, sustainability, and economic vitality, and adopt walkability as an important component of that mission. We at WalkUP Roslindale start from the perspective of improving walkability–our core mission is to make Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston–and find that this goal more often than not coincides with YIMBY priorities and ideas. Greater density, when done right, is a critical prerequisite for a walkable neighborhood for a host of reasons. Moreover, YIMBY groups typically do not support car-centric and anti-pedestrian development because (among other reasons) they don’t achieve the goal of making housing available to all in need. We’re typically all on the same page.

Commonwealth Magazine‘s Podcast, aptly named The Codcast, recently ran an episode all about the YIMBY phenomenon, featuring two guests from JP Yimby, Eric Herot and Meg Wood. It’s definitely worth a listen to get perspective on the movement and how it connects to walkability–there’s even a shout-out to WalkUP Roslindale about halfway through the episode.

When we started WalkUP back in 2015, we were unaware so many other neighborhood groups with similar ideas were simultaneously forming or about to form, including the aforementioned JP YIMBY, as well as A Better Cambridge, Engine 6 (in Newton), Livable Newton, Newton Villages, and Somerville YIMBY (please chime in if we’ve forgotten any!). We now find we are in good company and happy to see this movement developing organically around the region.

Finally, this article from today’s Bay State Banner, Can Boston build a way out of the housing crisis? is worth reading as an in-depth survey of the current state of affairs with housing in Boston, and provides perspective from both supporters and critics of the current mayoral administration. Perhaps a preview of debates to come for the city elections this fall.

Official WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter – 32 Cummins Highway

Rendering of Proposed 32 Cummins Highway Project

Rendering of Proposed 32 Cummins Highway Project

Yesterday, we sent a comment letter to the Zoning Board of Appeal (technically the “Boston Board of Appeal” under the statute) on a proposed development less than a block from Roslindale Square on Cummins HighwayThe project is a 9-unit residential building with 12 off-street parking spaces. While we generally supported the requested zoning relief and appreciate the architectural design and walkability features like secure bicycle storage, we would also to see this and other projects do more to provide affordable units (none are promised here) as well as better support for walkability and enabling a car-free lifestyle. More details on this below.

We hope many of you will agree with some if not all of the points made below. Either way, however, we’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

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Community Meeting on 43 Lochdale Road, 42 units, rescheduled to Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 6:30pm at Roslindale Community Center

A couple of weeks back, a community meeting on a proposed 42-unit residential project at 43 Lochdale Road (off Washington Street, near Forest Hills) was postponed at the last minute. The meeting has just been rescheduled for Thursday, May 25, 2017, at 6:30pm at the Roslindale Community Center (6 Cummins Highway). You can take a look at the thoughts we shared back in April; in brief, while housing is desperately needed around Boston, especially near transit hubs like this location, we would very much like to see the developers of this project better consider walkability and transit access given the density and location of the project. More free parking necessarily means more cars and traffic; instead, we’d like to see investment in walking and bicycling infrastructure (as well as complementary amenities like Hubway and ZipCar), to make sure it is as easy as possible for residents to live car-free so close to the orange line. Please sure your thoughts in the comments here, and attend the community meeting on May 25!

A brief recap of the abutters’ meeting on 874-878 South Street (South/Walter)

We brought everyone’s attention to this meeting about a week ago and gave our thoughts about ways the revised 9-unit, 18-space proposal could be improved, based largely on the reaction from the group at the LANA meeting earlier in the month. Seems like the development team was listening.

And now to our report, very briefly: This was, all in all, a downright cordial meeting, well run by Dan Murphy from the Mayor’s ONS. I would say that the overall sense in the room was:

  • that 9 residential units was more or less going to work for this location,
  • that at 13 the number of parking spaces seemed tight to some and more than ample to others (your correspondent felt it was more than necessary, didn’t take full advantage of the location’s close proximity to the Commuter Rail/Roslindale Square/Washington Street Bus Corridor, and would both drive up the cost of the units and encourage more vehicular traffic), and
  • that the reduction in vehicle spaces was allowing for bicycle parking for 13 bicycles and some buffering green space between the surface parking and the property to the rear.

Certainly some attention still needs to be paid to the overall design, which feels too by-the-book (and from not that great a book), and the vehicular access could use some thinking about how to better manage the exiting and entering of vehicles. The discussion at the end focused on further process – it sounds like the developer will file revised plans with ISD soon and start the Board of Appeal’s zoning relief process, which will likely take on the order of 3 to 6 months to get through, to be followed by BPDA Design Review. WalkUP Roslindale will look to submit a comment letter in connection with the Board of Appeal hearing. We will share it when we have it ready. In the meantime, thoughts are more than welcome in the comments.

Reminder – 874-878 South Street Community Meeting This Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 6:30pm at the Roslindale Community Center

Just a reminder that the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services is holding a community meeting this Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 6:30pm at the Roslindale Community Center (6 Cummins Highway) regarding a proposed development at 874-878 South Street (near the intersection with Walter). Details:

874 South Street (Currently)

874 South Street (Currently)