How to Understand the Case for Keeping 40B

There are often new laws brought into place that are designed to help those that need helping and stop those that are taking advantage of the unfortunate. In some cases however, the system fails and the roles of the new law seems to reverse that process.

On November 2nd Bay State voters will head to the polls. They may not realize it, but they will quite possibly be deciding the fate of the housing market in Boston, and statewide, for the foreseeable future.

Question 2 on the ballot, if passed, has the potential of crippling the Bay State’s imperfect but effective affordable housing law which, for the past 40 years, has been in effect. Developers wishing to build new apartments, homes and condos under Chapter 40B are able to override and ignore any obstacles with local zoning.

While critics of 40B have much to say, the arguments seem quite contradictory. While some say that 40B has not produced affordable housing in enough quantities, many of the driving activists are angry over perceived abuse of the law.

One of the areas of discontent is aimed at certain builders who supposedly managed to push through large-scale housing developments by using a law that was created to promote affordable housing. Of course there is always a need for good luxury apartments in Boston as well, both for sale as well as rental. It is important, however, to keep affordable residential units close by in order to make neighborhoods diverse and for the affordable residential units to be buffeted by the Boston luxury rentals to the benefit of all.

There are clearly some problems with Chapter 40B, and people are worried how these affect the cost of apartments for rent in Boston.

The sad fact is that housing construction throughout Greater Boston has undoubtedly been declining steadily since the 80’s. Because of complaints for things like higher school costs, a lot of towns have shut out middle-class housing by using zoning rules to reward developers when they build expensive mansions.

As the amount of building new subdivisions has declined, the apartment complexes and condo developments that are more densely occupied are being pushed forward by builders with the assistance of Chapter 40B. Because of this it seems that these kinds of developments are looking to become the only game worth playing in town.

By gutting the law plans for 12,000 new homes such as condos, single family homes and apartments would be wiped out almost overnight.

The biggest fallacy that critics of Chapter 40B have put out there for the public is that repealing the laws will force the powers that be to replace it with something better, which is simply untrue. All that does is show unfounded faith in state lawmakers that can’t even decide to agree on the casino bill, even though they all seem to say that they are in favor of gambling being expanded!


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 at 2:38 pm and is filed under General, Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.