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Planning and Development

Shaping development across the city for equity and resiliency is one of the most powerful roles of city government. But without comprehensive planning and responsive zoning, Boston’s development decisions are based on special approvals and exceptions after a complex and opaque public process. Not only do we fall short in transparency and accountability, but we are missing out on the potential to harness development to address our growing crises of unaffordability, climate vulnerability, inequality, and traffic. Michelle is committed to overhauling our development processes to empower planning that prioritizes the stability and resiliency of our communities.

Policy PrioritiesHow We Will Lead

Creating a true city planning department

The current development process in Boston is only making existing challenges worse. We need to create a city planning department that articulates a long-term vision for community resiliency and empowers all voices, rather than a select few. We must return assets to City oversight, end urban renewal areas, and empower a planning department to create a master plan for updated zoning with clear, consistent rules.

Reforming the Boston zoning process to meet community needs

Our City’s zoning code hasn’t been comprehensively updated since 1965, and the complicated process disproportionately benefits the wealthy and well-connected with the resources to pursue zoning exceptions and waivers. The zoning process must be made more transparent, accountable, and equitable in order to bring private development into alignment with community needs for stable housing, safe streets, open space, reliable transportation, food access, and a healthy environment.

Designating green affordable overlay districts

The status quo of development in Boston continues to exacerbate racial and economic disparities across our neighborhoods. Designating green overlay districts for affordability and resiliency with anti-displacement protections can support the sustainable development of healthy and accessible housing for all, meeting our climate goals while prioritizing the stability of neighborhood residents.

Ending urban renewal

Urban renewal powers enable the Boston Planning and Development Agency to bypass community oversight, based on outdated maps drawn more than fifty years ago that do not reflect our communities’ needs. The City should wind down the BPDA’s urban renewal powers by its current expiration date in 2022 as part of a broader effort to move past the department’s legacy of displacement and neighborhood destruction and build transparency and accountability to community members.

Requiring corporate tax break accountability

Boston’s approach to economic development should benefit all residents, but our current Tax Increment Financing program received a score of zero in transparency from Good Jobs First. Instead of giving tax breaks to bad actors, we should support companies that hire locally and provide full-time jobs with livable wages and good benefits. Companies should publicly report the number and type of jobs created so that Boston residents and city government can hold accountable these private corporations and larger institutions that receive public benefits and services.

Auditing development commitments to ensure public benefit

Private developers must be held to their commitments under community benefits agreements to ensure a transparent and predictable process. These commitments should be negotiated in close consultation with community members and strictly upheld through regular audits to ensure that our City is not leaving money on the table for affordable housing, climate mitigation measures, and other public benefits.

Implementing Boston’s Green New Deal (GND)

Michelle has proposed a groundbreaking plan to implement the GND at the municipal level, which includes a focus on just and resilient development by creating affordable green overlay districts and standard community benefits agreements.

Michelle’s RecordWhat We’ve Done Together So Far