WalkUP-sponsored city councilor forum a success

WalkUP was thrilled to host an engaging forum on Tuesday night with the incumbent councilors and candidates for Boston City Council At-Large. All eight candidates were in attendance: Councilors Annissa Essaibi-George, Michael Flaherty, Ayanna Pressley, and Michelle Wu, and challengers Domingos DaRosa, Althea Garrison, William King, and Pat Payaso. We appreciate their unanimous participation as well as the packed room and viewers on our Facebook livestream! It’s clear our neighborhood is very engaged in local politics and passionate about the issues discussed.

The forum focused on transportation and housing issues pertinent to Roslindale. One consensus point was the need for a robust and safer bike system in Roslindale and Boston. Candidates expressed particular support for the Arboretum Gateway Path and planned expansion of Hubway bike sharing to Roslindale. No candidate, however, explicitly said he or she would support the removal of parking spots to create such protected bike lanes where necessary. Another consensus point was the need to significantly improve the American Legion corridor pedestrian and bike experience. Several candidates gave credit to the community advocates along American Legion for their work and recent Slow Street neighborhood designation.

Although all eight candidates agreed on the urgency of our ongoing housing crisis, they disagreed on how to treat parking at new developments. Several candidates expressed a view that more parking is needed at each new development. They also want each individual parking spot ‘bundled’ with a corresponding housing unit, which significantly raises the overall cost of the unit–a decent ballpark estimate is about $50,000 in development costs for each additional space. WalkUP is of the belief, based on data and experience, that a better strategy is to price parking separately so that only unit owners who need a space are required to purchase one. This helps keep the overall cost of the units down for those who do not need a vehicle and reduce the overall number of cars at a site. To the concern that individuals will just park on nearby public ways, some candidates want the city put a price on its resident parking permits. Currently, the city provides as many resident parking stickers as a resident wants for no charge. Councilor Wu, for example, wants the city to charge for the permits and cap the amount of permits per resident to better manage these public parking resources.

We also learned some interesting tidbits about the councilors and candidates. Councilor Pressley does not own a car and that informs her view of the need for better public transit across the city as a social equity issue. Candidate King lives on American Legion Highway and sees firsthand the need to improve it. Councilor Essaibi-George owns a small business in Dorchester which informs her concern for the negative effects an Amazon headquarters could have in Boston. In fact, all the candidates interestingly expressed reservations about efforts to attract Amazon to the city.

Our neighbor Adam Gaffin attended the forum and provides his review on Universal Hub. We appreciate his attendance and that of other media members! Stay tuned for a forum later this month with the district councilors who represent Roslindale.

FURTHER UPDATE: October 3rd Roslindale-focused At-Large City Council Candidates Forum – Additional Participant & Questions

There is one further update to make since the last time we posted about the forum: we received word late yesterday that Pat Payaso, the 8th and final candidate for at-large city council, will be participating in the forum as well. Accordingly, all of the current councilors and candidates will be taking part.

In addition, we have circulated the following questions to each of the candidates. We intend to ask of them these questions in turn:

  1. How can Boston address the high cost of housing in our city? Should there be more development (to increase supply), a higher affordable-unit requirement, as part of the inclusionary development policy rent control, or other measures? How do you view the situation specifically in Roslindale—is there anything different about the problem here versus elsewhere in the city, and any different solutions we should be looking at for Roslindale specifically?
  2. Our neighborhood is heavily dependent on bus service for mass transit given the infrequency of the commuter rail and lack of Sunday service. What ideas do you have about making buses work better in Roslindale? How can you make those things happen given state control of the overall MBTA system? Do you support the City’s proposed pilot, which ranked high on the GoBoston 2030 project list, to improve bus service on Washington Street between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills by having exclusive bus-only lanes replace the parking lane northbound in the morning and southbound in the evening? Why or why not?
  3. The American Legion corridor has been identified as one of the least pedestrian- and bike-friendly areas in our neighborhood. What specifically do you think can be done to improve the situation there and how would you propose to make it happen? Do you support a vision for the American Legion corridor that would seek to reduce vehicle speeds and provide more infrastructure for walking and cycling along the concept of a parkway as opposed to a highway in that area?  Why or why not?
  4. What are your thoughts about the impact of Amazon considering the Boston area for its headquarters? How do you think Amazon’s arrival would affect housing and transportation in Boston generally, and more specifically how do you think it would affect Roslindale? Should we be trying to convince Amazon to pick Boston? If so, how would you go about doing that?
  5. Parking has long been a controversial issue in Boston, including Roslindale. What do you see as the impacts of off-street parking requirements for new development on housing affordability and vehicular traffic congestion? Do you have any ideas about creative parking policy that could help make our neighborhood more accessible for everyone regardless of  what mode of transportation they use? Do you support a fee for residential parking permits that could fund neighborhood improvements? Why or why not? Would you support metered parking in the prime spots in the square to make those businesses more easily accessible for people who chose to drive and to fund neighborhood improvements?

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!