Herald columnist: Boston's already hip enough, so just shut up already

Peter Gelzinis has one common-sense observation in his column today - that hipsters who don't know where Roche Bros. is, let alone want to collect signatures there, pose little real threat to Tom Menino.

But not content to leave well enough alone, Gelzinis wraps that single thought in a giant blanket of old-coot "hey you kids, get offa my lawn!" grumbling about how whippersnappers who want to party until 5 a.m. are to blame for that poor Army vet's death in the Theater District and that if Boston weren't already so hip, people wouldn't be paying top dollar for "impish condos." Sounds like somebody needs a nap.

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Right for wrong reasons

Unfortunately, Gelzzzzzzzzinis is right. The Future Boston Alliance and other "hipsters" pose little threat to Menino's reign currently. Because Menino's so strong? Hardly. It's because whatever reaction energy would be necessary to gather to overcome the hurdle of tossing Menino and other reticent bodies out is impossible to gather when it's just easier to move nearly anywhere else in the country after college and enjoy what that place has to offer that Boston refuses to budge on. Imagine if over the past 10-15 years all of the graduating college students became late-20's and early-30's somethings here in Boston instead of leaving for more amenable places to live.

Huh?

How high are rents and mortgages now? Pretty damn high if you ask me, as there's a severe shortage of housing in the city. Problem is, Boston is trending OLDER. Older people are using their wealth to move in, and their power to make sure no one else can (by many means).

That's all great and good for now, but what happens when they start needing assisted living, move on, or die?

Young people who have started families in other cities and towns aren't going to be so quick to return.

Unless Boston does something to foster a new generation to stay and build a community, there's not going to be much of a future for the city. It's not just the city, but a state problem too if you look at the college flight numbers.

Well then more jobs are created

People will need home health aids, some one to do their grocery shopping, drive them to doctor's visits. When someone sells their home to move on, or die then someone else will buy the house.

We are completely ignoring the existence of another generation in Boston, the generation raised by the guys who drive the MBTA, the children of the plumbers and electricians. The blue collar workers who do the building and rebuilding in Boston. It's our city too, not that many of the students care.

Ridiculous, Kaz!

So your vision is a Boston with 300,000 more residents, all under 40? I'm sorry, but that would rip the fabric of the city apart. We can't expect, nor should we desire that all students stay. A lot of us did, and settled in for the duration - probably half of my peer group did not grow up in Boston. But be serious. Most of the students come here with no intention of staying. What is the measurement for students who arrive as bright eyed 18 year olds planning to stay, but then change their mind?

Scary, right?

I mean...all those young, socially-motivated people who might want to raise kids and vote with more civic engagement than they had as merely students! Goodness, the city would just have to adapt to the realities of its population!

Woosh, totally over hour head.

Two points regarding the scenario:

1) we lack the infrastructure to handle such speedy growth. Do you really want Boston to resemble Houston?

2) weighting things so heavily toward younger folks would be just as big if different a problem as the lamented agification supposedly happening now.

Reading this thread is a

Reading this thread is a reminder of why I gave up on Boston for California at age 27 and never looked back. The best part is that so many of my friends made the same transition that I don't feel I left anything behind.

Trolling?

I mean I was happy to move here from Worcester after graduating, but I'm not going to go gloat and troll a Wormtown message board. I get it, you love California. It's a pretty awesome place but different strokes for different folks.

Menino = Dictactor

Gelzinis proves nothing but that his head is up Menino's butt.

In Menino's 20 years as Mayor, I can't even name anything he has accomplished.

In fact, Menino = Dictator.

For instance, what about the huge hole in the center of downtown where Filenes was? It's sat vacant for 5 YEARS.

What about McDonalds across from City Hall in Fanieul Hall. It sits shuttered and vacant.

What about the fact the crime continues to get worse and the increase in murders in Boston?

What about the fact that many qualified applicants are frequently rejected when they apply for liquor licenses yet Menino's favorites attain them? Remember when Menino's right hand man Micheal Kinneavy "accidently" erased thousands of emails that may have linked Menino's administration to Wilkerson and Turner.

What about all the qualified applicants for building permits that are rejected yet Menino's main fundraisers like John Fish has no problem getting these building permits?

What about the fact that our Boston Public School system annually runs $80-100 million deficits b/c of our backward and antiqated bussing and school assignment program which is forcing many young Boston natives who have young families to have to move out of the city b/c Menino does not have the courage to allow our children to go to schools a half a block from their homes.

Menino is rigid, vindictive, and needs to be booted out of office. I can not think of anything that Menino has done for the people of Boston other then cut ribbons and make campaign appearences.

If Menino doesn't realize he's stale and leaves on his own good, then he should be removed like all Dictators are removed. Menino needs to be dumped from power.

Nothing, really?

New or expanded libraries in Mattapan, Allston, Brighton and Hyde Park. Renovated, livable housing projects across the city.

Murder rate that's been cut in half. Declining crime rates for last several years.

A school system that, while not as good as it could be, now has schools with waiting lists.

No, the guy's not perfect. For every Vertex moving into South Boston we have a Filene's Hole. Yes, he has faults - he wanted to close a bunch of libraries. But please, nothing? A dictator? You insult not only him, but the majority of Bostonians who keep re-electing him.

If the shoe fits...

"a ruler who is not effectively restricted by a constitution, laws, recognized opposition, etc...an absolute, esp tyrannical, ruler" (from the Collins definition of Dictator).

Sorry Adam, but I think this comes near enough to describing the Menino administration in at least the past dozen years. Yes, newly appointed, then elected he was a different kind of guy, with a vision and practice that indeed surprised many of us. But that was a long time ago.

Unfortunately the FBA video is being linked with hipsters and moshing, rather than some of the more salient points raised. Backroom deals, lack of dialogue or collaboration, and personal, vindictive isolation of those who dare to challenge--all hallmarks of the administration in its past three terms.

Yes, some libraries were expanded, but often initiated and funded by other community partnerships which the city joined.

Twenty years ago there were plenty of schools with waiting lists: the Trotter, Hernandez, Mather, Murphy, O'Hearn (now Henderson)to name a few on our list at the time, but there were more in other neighborhoods.

And crime--well, in two+ decades of living in Dorchester I can assure you that there has been no true, equitable distribution of resources to actually come close to addressing issues in our community.

The narrow view may be purely negative, and omit credit where it is due, but I highly doubt many cities could withstand the micro-management we endure and still insist on claiming it an attribute.

Oh, and I am not sure a majority of registered Bostonians have elected anyone recently--but you are right, the small number of voters in municipal elections favor the Mayor.

Menino's accomplishments

Menino has hardly had any impact on the BHA's redeveloped public housing (Old Colony, Wash/Beech, Maverick...) yet he shows up at every ribbon cutting and postures as if it was all his doing. In fact, the ONLY thing he has authority over is appointing the BHA's Administrator, since the BHA's funding is from HUD and DHCD, not the City.

He's VERY good at owning the accomplishments of agencies he has no real authority over.

Menino's not bad, actually

I've lived in San Francisco, Washington D.C., San Jose, and Tacoma in addition to Boston under Ray Flynn, and a few places few here in Boston would recognize. In addition to the points Adam made, look at Boston Bikes and the cycling transformation over just the past 5 years. Menino is far from perfect and he is not solely responsible for all changes but he is effective at recognizing change and facilitating it. Menino has done a better job and accomplished more than any other Mayor in any other city I've experienced in the last 25 years. Replacing him will take lot more of an agenda and a lot more credible experience than a desire for a cooler-looking guy.

I like to think of Boston as an incubator

Students come here from all over the world, spend 4 to 6 years learning as much as they can. Then then spread out going back to where they came from, or going some place else. Where they can use the knowledge they gained here, to improve other places.

Thing is, we already have smart students ready to change the world. Our 4th and 8th graders are some of the smartest in the country. Our local students attend Massachusetts colleges and also look for jobs and ways to change the area. With the benefit of long roots and a knowledge of how Massachusetts works. We are Slate best state and I don't think any of the late 20 early 30 somethings grumbling about how un-hip Boston is have anything to do with

Still and all, if you don't like living in the Boston area, or in Massachusetts in general. Well don't let the toll booth hit you on your way out. Menino does not pay any attention to the students living in Boston because they do not vote. Students don't vote in Boston and they don't vote in the districts they come from. If you want politicians to pay attention to you, get involved.

Or sit and complain your choice.

QED

Still and all, if you don't like living in the Boston area, or in Massachusetts in general. Well don't let the toll booth hit you on your way out.

My point is proven. Not only do people who want a more modern and educated approach to the city find other cities to go to but they're even actively encouraged (discouraged?) to do so by people like you. Enjoy the "Slate's best state" as you age into oblivion and there's nobody left except the people too poor to leave and the people too rich to care.

As it is, there are those who actually appreciate the *potential* this city has and want to see it achieve with that potential. You can take that "best state" award and watch it yellow in the window as the sun fades the lettering until it's illegible and irrelevant or you can try to stay on top by continually leading the way on issues important to the very people who would make up the voting body next. They're not always going to be students, ya know?

I see Selkoe's group as wanting to take the great thing we have and keep it the greatest example by staying ahead of the curve compared to other great cities. That's not going to happen with Menino as currently demonstrated in multiple fronts.

Yup

They're not complaining.

They're voicing their opinion with their feet, and starting families in other states. This isn't just a Boston issue, but a state issue. But changing Boston on a local level would go a great deal to helping the state change.

If you don't think it's a problem look at the demographics changes since the 90's. MA is aging faster then most states due to youth flight. Wages have dropped and cost of living has increased so much in this state that many people are choosing to make a middle class life elsewhere than deal with a meat grinder here. Close to 60% of my college friends are no longer in this state, moving to places where they get paid the same but are able to bank 3X as much. Places where they can buy housing and not have to rely on their parents for the sizable down payments.

Many now have graduate or doctor degrees, so it's not just a problem with BA's moving away.

What about the other 40%?

Can you provide details of your sample? I might be concerned if your college friends all grew up locally. Did they? Or does the 60% represent people who may never have planned to live here long term? By corollary, does the 40% represent new long term residents? If so, that's a great statistic for this area.

90% grew up in MA

and only 5% or so live in Boston. The other 35% outside, and 60% left the state within 6-8 years.

I don't think retaining 40% of college educated young people (many state system educated) is a great statistic by any means. Boston/Massachusetts is easily trending to be the next Michigan if it doesn't figure out a way to keep a middle class here.

It not just about late night bars and restaurants and gyms too. It the entire culture that let companies like Facebook and Microsoft head west because they don't see the value in innovation. Even Menino is trying to scrap together a "innovation district" after realizing how much money the city lost when Zuckerberg couldn't find someone willing to invest into facebook in the area.

Problem is a district isn't just what people are looking for. And it means squat if you can't adequately build enough living space for people that want to live here. High property values are nice, but the economic output being traded for them in the form of people that want to, but are not living here, is massive.

Massive?

Is there really a comfortable middle class in Silicon Valley and the Bay area? Or New York?

Who is "they"? Boston? Massachusetts? The people who chose not to finance Curt Schilling?

I think people tend to exegerate how "bad" Boston is in 2012.

So VC is now the mayor's job?

I'm pointing my finger and laughing at you with your Detroit comparisons. Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, but you know where else they have a massive presence? Kendal Square.

PS, the jury is out on whether Boston area VC blew it on Facebook

VC

Ain't he mayors or states job, but having the infrastructure and culture to attract them is. MA was big on circuitry, networked systems, and processors and still somewhat is, but that's slowly been going away. It's moved west, and it's moved to china. Problem is we're still stuck on that, and it seems we haven't been able to compete in the dot com era, or bring in the tech millennials. MS does have a larger presence here now, but it's not headquartered here.

My comment about Michigan might not be apt now, but young educated people are fleeing this state. You can't deny that.

I travel quite a bit and I've met tons of young people who are expats from Michigan because there's little work there. MA might have more work, but there's increasingly no where to live a comfortable middle class life, be it city life or suburb.

It's going to be a problem for the state if it isn't addressed. There's a great need for affordable, middle of the road housing and it isn't being built. In the city we need more density, and we need to attract people of all types that want to build a better community here.

Sorry, proves nothing

But give what you wrote a second read. For the record, I have sympathy for Future Boston, but you are saying that some people (perhaps from elsewhere) want to make the city different, and frustrated by failing to do so, they leave. Do you not respect the thought that many people who already live here might like the city the way it is? Why shouldn't such a person react by saying "feel free to leave?"

I'm with you HenryAlan

And I laugh with some of the things I hear on here, especially when the subject of Allston comes up. People tend to think that all young people want things to be open late all the time. I think the trend is actually going the other way. Many young people live in Allston now and don't want to hear the loud people on their streets at 2 am. And it isn't even that loud compared to 25 years ago! People are actually choosing to stay in allston long term, where 25 years ago allston seemed to be the temporary younger slummy/cheap place to live until you made some money and found somewhere nicer in brookline, newton, or the backbay.

I often bring friends of mine from out of state to Allston and they are always remarking on how cool it is. In the back of my mind I often laugh, as most Bostonians have Allston on the bottom of their list of "cool" places to visit in the area. I think we tend to forget how lucky we have it in Boston sometimes. These same friends would love to live up here, some of them choosing not to for the same reasons everyone is talking about (cheaper cost of living elsewhere). Others simply can't live here because they can't afford to. I have a friend who lives in Charlestown, SC and he is always bragging about the weather, beaches, cheap living, things to do, etc. In the end though he misses Boston, and admits that basically the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Uh oh

Does this mean Allston is going to become as stuffy as Newton, Brookline and the Back Bay soon?

Generally I find that most people would rather have more places open late to go eat. It would also be nice to have more places to drink, so there isn't this intense concentration of folks descending on just the few bars that can stay open late.

It is amazing to me how our society still is tainted with these bigoted, puritan policies, 80 years after Prohibition ended.

Funny how it all works ...

It would cost me a lot less to live in Portland, Oregon, where there are civic experiments and progressive thinking in both government and infrastructure.

And that isn't because I already own a house there (for the time being) ... it is because housing is much cheaper in general and people don't have to own cars - even if they live 15 miles out of the central city.

This is true despite the large influx of people that have driven Portland's population in to the same league as Boston's ... and despite (or because of) the fact that the city and suburban areas are prohibited by law from expanding outside of the urban growth boundary.

There is a connection between the issues this group raises (and raises rather intelligently) and your attitudinal response here AND your expensive housing. That you can't see these connections simply underscores the very danger of settling into "my way or the highway" Boston think ... and highlights the root causes of the problems that people are trying to address.

Wasn't that just so constructive?

If you lack a counter argument - and these were all counter arguments to the comment that they were addressed to - you should understand that "whahhhhhh! just go awwwayyyy" doesn't qualify, little cowardly darling.

Actually, you further underscored my core arguments quite nicely. Thank you.

The market is the market and politics is politics ( and local)

You can't argue against the numbers. People want to live in Boston and are willing to pay for it. Ever hear Stevil on here inquire about his high taxes? He pays high taxes because his property is worth a lot of money. Why? Because people want to live where he lives and are willing to pay for it.

How many people vote in Boston? Not that many because not that many people care about things like bars staying open until 5 am. In fact, more people still care about those bars not stayin open that late.

It is always good for people to get more involved in politics, but in the end not enough people care.

People Don't want to Move to Boston, However

Unfortunately, if you are trying to hire people, you would find out that people turn down really decent offers because they can't afford to live in Boston - or afford to have the quality of life they would have in other areas at lesser rates of pay.

Prices are not high here because "too many people want to live in Boston", but because housing construction, infill, and rehab costs are high because of the lack of meaningful regional comprehensive planning, and durable zoning, and neighborhood groups having too much power to delay projects that conform to zoning. All of these defeat and drive out construction of middle-class housing. Couple that with the ridiculous amount of time it takes to improve transit around here compared to other cities and that means that makes Boston unattractive to move to or to stay in unless you have family around.

They don't?

Again, the numbers don't lie. You can point out little stats here and there about people who take their business elsewhere, or move somewhere else because they can't afford it, but the facts show that Boston is growing in population, real estate is still solid, and there are more housing units being built. There are only so many single family units you can fit in the area, and condo/apts still go by the supply and demand principle.

Why can you buy a solid 4000 square foot house in Detroit in a decent neighborhood for 150k? Because no one wants to live there. Supply and demand still trumps all arguments in this discussion.

Is Boston perfect? No, of course not. Are other cities that different? Do san fransisco residents complain about the lack of affordable housing downtown?

The "if you don't like it here, leave" argument is lame, but in the end, people aren't leaving, which means people can afford to live here, and choose to live here.

I mean, for every "if you don't like it, leave" argument you see on here, someone always comes back with the old: "if Menino stays in power, Boston is going to be a Detroit" or "when I graduate, I'm outta here so I can go somewhere cool".

Talk is cheap.

Supply and demand

That's exactly what she's pointing out. There isn't enough supply to meet demand. And it's because of endless red tape and NIMBYs that get to shoot down any attempt to increase supply.

SF is even worse when it comes to red tape and NIMBYs. They only added ~400 units last year to the city, total.

Supply?

Like Detroits supply? The market dictates housing prices. The real estate market isnt there to make sure everyone gets a nice house for what they want to pay for it. Developers can't just build new solid townhouses for 250k in west Roxbury if he can get 550k for the same housing. It simply doesn't work like that. We can all sit here and work on improving the situation to make this city a better place, but let's not make up reasons as to why Boston is going To be a Detroit someday.

The supply is there, there are thousands of properties in the metro area for sale. From 5 million dollar townhouses in the south end, to 250k single families in decent Hyde Park neighborhoods. Hell, there are even some beautiful 350k houses with pools in Millis and Holliston? Is 45 minutes too far/ long to drive? Is the 5 minute bike ride to the Norfolk/Framingham commuter rail too much?

Again, this area isn't perfect, but it isn't as horrible as people make it out to be, and I'm not buying the " I'm going elsewhere to work/ live" argument. The numbers dictate otherwise.

I drive around every part of Boston, and there are dozens of residential housing being built in basically every neighborhood.

Supply in the city

The high prices indicate that there is a shortage of supply in the city. And no, Hyde Park, Millis and Holliston don't count. They are suburbs (even if Hyde Park is technically in the city).

Younger people don't want to live in the middle of suburban hell, where it's "only" 45 minutes to drive anywhere. And commuter rail sucks here, so being with biking range of it is only useful for one kind of trip.

The whole reason there's sprawl like Millis is that it's easier to build in the "exurbs" than it is in the core. And that's due to excessive regulation and NIMBYs.

More highrise development a bit further out.

I think what Matthew wants is zoning that allows or encourages more highrise development in places near 'T stops, and denser mixed used development in the spaces between. Boston could accommodate a lot more people under such zoning. It's the NIMBYs who prevent these changes. I'm with him on that, but like you, I'm extremely skeptical of the idea that people don't want to live here. I believe some people think they can't live here (or won't make the necessary compromises to make it work), but as you point out, if people didn't want to live here, there would be no need to discuss housing supply problems.

It is possible in the suburbs too

But let's not pretend that suburban housing is "equivalent" to urban housing. It's not. The reason that people want to live in the city is that they can WALK to everything. Most suburbs don't allow that, and they regulate against it! Now it is possible for there to be walkable suburbs, but they are rare in this country.

Yup

Imagine the sort of density you see around Kendal Square, Cleavland Circle, Kenmore, ect. but far out along the transit lines. Most towns would never allow it, even though it be the best option to add more housing, grow the local economy, and give people dense housing options wit a connection to Boston.

Get off Stony Brook and it looks more like a park then what should be a subway stop.

People are trying to build vertical in the South End and Back Bay, and already there's people complaining about how it might alter the skyline (ie block their view) or cast shadows (ie block their morning sun).

A lot more could be done to improve the housing situation in this city and draw people here that want to live here, but can't because of the exorbitant cost of housing. You need fresh blood to set up roots, otherwise we will be having issues down the road as the "investors" decided to liquidate their assets. A market crash when the city has become sectioned into very wealth and very poor is a very bad thing.

Blocking views is not a Boston issue though.

And this is part of my point about Boston being no different than anywhere else. View ordinances are common in cities like Boston, and zoning isn't unique to Boston either. A neighborhood with 4 story brownstones in any US city is not going to allow 10 story units on the same street.

There is no question that zoning can hinder economic efficiency, but all in all i believe zoning is good for cities like Boston or new York, where the economy depends on high end real estate.

Yes, basically

Though it isn't necessary for it all to be highrise. You can do quite a bit of good even under 5 floors. Lots of people want to live near T stations and it would behoove the city to allow that -- the infrastructure is extremely expensive and the more people who use it the better.

The trouble with mandating or banning "highrise" is that it's a loose definition. What does it mean exactly? 5 floors? 10 floors? 20? Over time, construction technology changes, and that changes the economics of "highrise" building. At some number of floors you need an elevator -- at some number of floors you need different building methods and materials -- at some number of floors you encounter problems with plumbing or fire codes. I'd much rather let the developer decide what they want to pay for and trust that the value of the land will inspire them to build more units near T stations.

The city should be largely getting out of the way except for public safety concerns. That means: no parking minimums -- they waste valuable land near a TRANSIT station. It also means smaller streets, which means less land covered in pavement; and they are friendlier to walk along, which is something we're trying to encourage. No Euclidean-style zoning (segregation of uses). If you can't get rid of zoning, then at least make it mixed-use zoning. Expect people to do the unexpected with their property. As long as it's safe, why discriminate? Why dictate to people that they cannot start a business, or they cannot run a store, or live on the property that they own?

I want more housing to be built

It's not about "affordable housing", It's about building housing, period. Affordability should largely come from increased supply. Subsidies create too many problems, and should be reserved only for the cases where the market fails.

There is nothing inherently expensive about downtown -- there is simply a large amount of demand for it. Luckily, there's plenty more to the city than downtown. Of the top of my head, here's a list of neighborhoods that could use more market-supplied housing: Allston, Brighton, Brookline, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, South Boston, East Boston, Charlestown, Somerville, Cambridge, Back Bay, and Downtown Crossing.

There's a lot of empty lots and potential there if people were allowed to build on it. Instead it sits empty because it is not worth the time or money of anyone to fight the excessive regulations and the NIMBYs. And in the few cases where someone does get enough gumption up to build something, they push for big revenue luxury apartments because that is the only thing that will cover their enormous fixed costs of both construction and fighting City Hall.

This wasn't always the case. Much of Boston's existing stock was built up in the 19th century when it was possible to purchase land and build a variety of housing options on it without too much trouble.

Ok I see what your saying, but still...

Can it really work that way? Do we really want Boston to keep piling up and up with housing in certain areas? Or do we want other areas like Milford or Worcester to expand and become one of the "cool areas". Nimbys can be wrong, but how much do we want Boston to change? What would happen if you put up a residential skyscraper in the backbay? Does it change the neighborhood for the better? Would people rather live there or in a neighborhood like the one which exists now?

The thing is

We're not even at the point where we need a residential skyscraper. The trouble with skyscrapers is that they tend to have vastly increased costs due to the needs of constructing such a tall structure. But if you study other cities you'll find that most people don't live in tall buildings. The vast majority of dwelling units, even in places like NYC, are in shorter buildings. The other problem with skyscrapers is that they have an annoying tendency to be built with a lot of wasted land around them. Doesn't have to be this way, but NIMBYs often demand huge setbacks which turn into empty greenspace or parking lots. So, the funny thing is that low rise housing can often be more effective than high rise, because it is so much more efficient at ground coverage.

Trying to tell people to "go away to Worcester" because it "needs to expand" is Central Planning that makes nobody happy. That kind of migration has to happen naturally, it can't be dictated.

It just isn't that easy.

Take the Nimbys/zoning aside, Boston is still ahead of the supply curve when it comes to real estate (5.9 billion in 2011). Rental construction is at its highest point since before the real estate bubble burst in 2005.Developers will not make money if the supply of available homes is above 98%, If you increase that supply, prices drop and forclosures Increase.

There have been some positive indicators in Boston real estate so far this year, and I think this good news is the supply you are looking for Matthew.

It's coming back

The recession caused a nationwide drop in housing starts, which really hurt, and that's coming around finally.

I've seen some new development going up in my neighborhood, which is nice. Maybe things are getting better.

I still see lots of empty lots around. I like this picture:
IMAGE(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5328/7078115133_ec40de42ca.jpg)

Would you believe it, that's across the street from Roxbury Crossing. Transit accessible weeds!

Worcester

Went through some violent contractions when it didn't grow and adapt to changes in the economy fast enough. It's only recently started to pull out, and it's been on the back of finance and medical institutions.

Also doesn't hurt that's it's better connected itself to Boston, and is somewhat of a commuter city for Natick/Marlboro/Boston.

Still, try getting a 1 bedroom studio in or around Worcester for under $1000/month. Worcester more than Boston, it currently makes more sense to buy then rent as there's plenty of housing but a severe lack of new apartments.

Still, it's growing (along with the towns around it) as the new suburbs of Boston. I have family from the area and many of the towns around there the new families that do stay in MA are moving to them and biting the 2-2.5 hour daily car commute to Boston (3-4 if by train). For a while it was still a cheaper option, but with higher demand, housing out in Holden/Sterling/Princeton/WB has skyrocketed.

Many of those communities have been scrambling trying to find ways to build denser, lower cost housing for their children that can no longer afford to live in town once they get out of school.

Housing really is a Massachusetts problem, and not just a Boston problem. Rents in South Hadley are up to $750 for a crappy 1 bedroom, coming from a friend that commutes down to CT.

We're pricing out the next generation, and driving away the middle class that got us to where we are today. It's very bad news.

Worcester CR

I would love to see better commuter train service to/from Worcester because as the city improves it can really form a good anchor, along with Framingham, for bidirectional travel along the line.

The MBTA Worcester line is unexcuseably bad for what it is. It's approximately 44 rail miles to traverse 38 straight-line miles, it's a bit curvy but not so horrible that it should take the 90 minutes that it does to get from Worcester to South Station, via the express train which only makes 11 stops.

That's even worse than the slightly longer Caltrain corridor, which uses similar equipment and has more stations. The all-stops local from SJ to SF 4th and King takes 91 minutes to traverse 48 rail miles making 22 station stops along the way.

You know you're doing really badly when Caltrain beats you.

Dream Killing

Is it wrong to wish for cheap housing in nice areas?
There is no good reason why everyone shouldn't be able to live in utopian surroundings. There are reasons, but not good ones.

Sometimes it's ok to dream of a better world, even if it will never happen. The problem is pay, and property costs, are a curve when they should be a straight line.

As somebody said it's a MA problem, not just Boston

I was really bummed that Arlington just rejected a bylaw that would have allowed an extra 2-3 floors be built with housing above the existing storefronts on Broadway. Seemed like a slam-dunk given the urban nature of the area and the fact these storefronts don't get enough traffic as it is. It's a combination of neighbors, traffic concerns, and school crowding that kills these things.

Lets move to Alberta, then...

On the whole, I would rather live here in Alberta (Calgary) than either Boston or Portland. Its so much cleaner and nicer here than in Soxville. Besides, the economic climate here is wayyyyy better that in the Staes anywhere...

I await your response, dear sister of mine *smile*

I am really enjoying this tread

Has any one besides me ever read "Lost Boston" by Jane Holtz Kay? It is 300 pages of all the beautiful things Boston lost during the smash and rebuild era of Boston. We lost a lot of beautiful things, smashed the West End into memory. We had places like the slightly misnamed Crystal Palace on Lincoln street, which was an affordable apartment house right in the middle of the manufacturing district it went in 1880's

Boston lost a massive amount of buildings during the Great Boston Fire of 1872. That is what lead to the building boom of the 1900's lots of empty space where there use to be a living city. Right about the time we almost lost the Old State House to Chicago, Boston realized the city needed saving, not flat out destruction. A lesson we completely forgot about when it came to the Filene's. Considering the kind of man Edward Filene was, he must be haunting the Mayor's office on an hourly basis.

I will admit that I am not up to date on the doings of Future Boston, their web page has been a place mark for a while now. My limited knowledge and interaction with the late 20 and early 30's former college student demographic is limited. What little I have heard are things like 24 hour gyms - check with Planet Fitness I think some of their gyms are 24/7. More places to drink after 1pm, (not happening) More places to hear live music, more places to have fun. I don't think Boston or for that matter any city or town in Massachusetts needs that. Okay maybe Dover, does anyone know if they are still dry?

I agree that it would be nice if housing was more affordable, but I understand how the more desirable neighborhoods have higher rents. We all can't live on Joy Street, we can't all fit in the North End, and the people who have lived there for generations can no longer afford to live there now.

So yes, there are some things about Boston that could be changed, a lack of entertainment is not one of them.

Dover is not dry.

There is a liquor store there, but no bars. In fact, there are no bars, restaurants, or anything else in Dover except for a small supermarket, and breakfast/ pizza place. The most boring town in Massachusetts.

I don't think

the new idea isn't so much smash and gate what we have, as it is to build up and out on what has gone before. We tried the segregation of work, living, and play back in the 50's - 70's and we saw how it killed most cities. The second people decided to retire, or things headed south, they fled leaving sectioned off wastelands.

You can build on what we have, without destroying it. That necessarily doesn't mean saving all old architecture, but it does mean learning why it worked and growing it.

An example to me of how regressive this city is sometimes is look at the new Liberty Mutual building going in with some pretty nice taxpayer incentives given away for free. Boston/Menino gave them a variance so they no longer need to provide ground floor retail / store / small office space!

So, we get another nice office tower that destroys the public space around it with some glass and concrete walls that serve no benefit to the community. Even after the city decided to not allow that sort of thing going forward.

It's going to take a long time, and a lot of new development, but forcing the financial district to do the same would be a good idea to revitalize a area (that was built on those old notions of this is where you work) that is dead from 5pm-7am

Another would be the seaport district, which to me is not dense enough. They have a lot of land to work with, so why not build it up as it should? Unfortunately not cutting into the lack of supply is most likely a big reason why it won't be as dense as demand would suggest. Not driving down large margins on condos and apartments that are only considered "luxury" in this city is part of the unspoken plan.

This is really a 3-4 developer town, and they don't want to crash the lucrative market they have here. That's collusion, but the way we do things here and the amount of red tape we have, promote it. So, we have a lack of housing and higher rents / prices.

Well said

The horrors of urban renewal in the 50s-70s caused people to understandably react against the possibility of catastrophic change.

The problem is that we've swung to the other extreme, being afraid of everything, and halting the slow, gradual change that is necessary for city vitality and growth.

NO MORE FUN OF ANY KIND

More places to drink after 1pm, (not happening) More places to hear live music, more places to have fun. I don't think Boston or for that matter any city or town in Massachusetts needs that.

Those darned afternoon drinkers!! Get your drinking done by noon!

More egg

Even the current licensing board isn't as stodgy as you suggest, seeing that they just approved a bar to shift its closing time from 1am to 2am.

In general, I don't think that Central Planning should be dictating how many bars, restaurants or live music venues the city is allowed to have. We don't live in Soviet Russia, right? Well, sometimes I wonder...

Ok, I can't resist...

In Soviet Russia, bar close YOU!