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Boston bursting at the seams?

The Globe reports on the decade-long influx of 20somethings willing to live in shoeboxes and empty nesters with money to spend on fancy condos into Boston; says no relief in sight for the middle class, especially if you define Boston as consisting entirely of downtown, the South End, Beacon Hill, Charlestown and South Boston.

"I think the farthest I would go is the South End," one Beacon Hill resident struggling with the cost of rent said.

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Comments

Some parts of the city that are cheap just aren't too convenient to downtown.

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Those parts of the city are cheaper because they are farther from downtown.

For example, I love Roslindale, but it would take too long for my wife to get downtown to justify the move.

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You can take commuter rail and be in South Station in 15-20 minutes. That's too long?

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If you work in South Station, no. But if you have to get off at South Station and then connect to two different trolleys, the time adds up. Switching trains in the morning can quickly turn a seemingly easy commute into an hour+.

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That was kind of my point - I think the placement of subway lines makes it less attractive to live in certain areas. Roslindale and West Roxbury come to mind - the Needham line is fine but it just doesn't run often enough.

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It takes 12 minutes on the commuter rail. Now granted, the MBTA cut weekend service. But Roslindale is a very quick trip to downtown.

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If you're 20-30 something and want to go out for dinner or drinks after work, good luck getting home on the Commuter Rail. I don't know the schedules but each line probably runs one train around 9 and then another much later than that. Compare that to living in Somerville or Quincy. The Red Line runs right through it and the worst thing is that it slows down to every 20 minutes until 1am (yeah, I know the last train is really at 12:30).

If you want to screw around and go home at midnight on Wednesday after work, the commuter rail ain't gonna do it for you.

Hell, if you want to screw around until midnight on a weekend, the commuter rail definitely is not an option.

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Of course, when the T eventually does find somebody to buy that parking lot, the developer will put up apartments that start at $3,000 a month.

But it's going to be interesting watching Washington Street just south of the T stop over the next decade or so. Now that the Harvest building is up, I can see the tombstone places, the lumberyard, even the fabled Emporium replaced by apartments/condos.

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it will be depressing. More of the same blah BS that has overrun neighborhood after neighborhood in this city. Boston is doing a great job of watering down every interesting nook of the city, and making it boring as shit.

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Then I started actually riding it, and low and behold! It actually works pretty well, so long as you can manage your clock accurately. But setting that aside, it's very easy and quick to get to Rozzie on the Orange Line, too. There are nine bus lines running between Forest Hills and the square. Even at off hours, the shear number of lines guarantees that you won't wait long for a bus. And except for when traffic is heavy on Washington (only a couple of hours), it's a 5 minute bus ride to the heart of Roslindale.

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It means my family isn't likely to get priced out of our apartment in Roslindale any time soon.

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Roslindale isn't the burbs...I live there and you have only about a billion different bus lines that get you to Forest hIlls in 7 minutes and then you hop on the Orange line. OR you can take the CR and be there in 19 minutes.

I grew up in JP - same thing - easy. I lived in SOmerville for years - also very easy to get to downtown.

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Why are there vacant lots next to T stations? http://goo.gl/maps/XH5cg

The city needs to make it easier to build housing.

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It is kind of amazing how many of those lots are left. One of these days, maybe they'll be filled in, like at Jackson Square (my favorite, though, is the community garden at Cummins Highway and Rowe Street in Roslindale, which originally was going to be part of the exit/entrance for Cummins off I-95, although it's a bit sad to think of all the houses that were torn down there).

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"says no relief in sight for the middle class"

It isn't people with $1million+ in income that are buying and renting in these neighborhoods (the "Upper Class"). It's well educated, upper-middle class individuals fueling this gentrification.

I'm guessing the Globe is referring to blue collar, lower middle class families as "the middle class". That group definitely have been left behind as prices increase near the city center, but what are you going do? Suggest the city institute price controls?

Capitalism can be a cruel mistress.

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Like the one that shows Roslindale dropped 5+ percent in population. Why?

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Funny how the pop-pop of guns makes people pull up stakes and move on.

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Roslindale? You know something I don't?

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Yes, the demographic change is due to pop pop - and pop mom, and mom mom. Middle class families moved out of the southern neighborhoods into the suburbs (or to other parts of the Commonwealth or to other states) either because they had the money to do so or because they didn't have the money to stay.

The number of African-Americans (I think, in both raw #'s and in percentage) went down in Boston as it did in other northeastern cities. The reasons for that were probably complex.

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Be following the same general trend as JP and South Boston and other gentrifying neighborhoods filled with triple deckers that used to house three actual families--mom, dad, a few kids--and now house a couple or a few room-mates or even singles? My impression is that a LOT of people used to fit into these apartments--big families with kids in bunk beds, etc.--and now that they're going condo, the household sizes are just smaller than what they were.

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The drop is from 2000-2010. We're not talking about the baby boom here. Those three deckers emptied out of big families decades ago.

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The African-American population may have declined in Boston, but the Haitian-American population is booming. Not all black folks are the same, and it is amazing how many demographers cite statistics but fail to see that. We need to recognize more diversity in our diversity!

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Not all white people are the same...
White kid who's a 3gen American is far different that a western European who moved here a year ago. But they bunch us all in the same group.

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You forget your own reporting now? I don't. In a neighborhood that has seen little violent crime, all it takes is one murder to make people think hard about moving. You don't need a war zone to get the signal.

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Given that it happened at my daughter's bus stop.

But JP had a much longer stretch of equally horrific crimes as part of a decade-long gang war and yet its population went up.

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JP has the Orange Line, the 39 bus to Longwood, and big Victorians and the Pond to anchor money. Rosi has bus stops and 20th century developer specials.

And there's been more than one shooting in Roslindale. I seem to recall both sides of Washington st near Beech, plus Durnell. And that's not counting the Archdale mess.

You're welcome to suggest a better alternative explanation.

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But rather than getting into the details of the six-month Washington-Beech issue (which stemmed from a single guy moved there from Franklin Field) vs. the ten-year Mozart/Boylston feud (which you may recall led to a triple murder at the Same Old Place on the "safe" side of JP, albeit the year after the census), though, I'll just point to Andrew's explanation below (I'll concede Archdale's problems to you - and challenge you to explain how they're somehow worse than Bromley-Heath's).

Roslindale and West Roxbury are about the same size, and both have about the same amount of new construction going on (virtually none), so it makes sense that if Roslindale's population dropped by 5% after the city reassigned part of it to West Roxbury, then West Roxbury's would increase by roughly the same amount - which it did.

If 5% of Roslindale really did just up and leave, you'd expect to see quite a few vacant homes. But you won't.

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Because many kid who grew up here moved out of mom & dads and closer to the square, which I never would have visited as a local 12-15 years ago. Rozie has changed for the better, even with all the crunchy folks from JP. I'll take you crazy subaru driving liberals any day over the crime that was present when I was in my teens......

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in a city. Crime happens in cities. They also happen in the burbs. I can always tell the people who did not truly grow up in the places they think are so safe and fashionable to live now.

Thank the families that stayed there through thick and thin. Thank the people that didn't up and move when their kids got to be of school age because Boston schools weren't good enough for them.

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Adam, I think you will probably agree that there is little/no street-level evidence that Rosi is becoming less populated - quite the contrary!

I think it's possible that one reason for the reported decrease in most of the southern neighborhoods is that these areas are seeing a real increase in non-European immigrant households since the turn of the century. And, for good reasons or not, many of these new residents have an aversion/fear of government attention.

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Roslindale's borders changed between 2000 and 2010. The section of Roslindale west of Centre Street is now West Roxbury. When the change happened, I correctly predicted there would be some naive reporter at the Globe who would report on Rosi's population change and fail to notice that.

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It's weird to see Yucatan Taco being in West Roxbury now, but, yes, this makes sense. It's not like the 1970s, when I gather you could stand in Adams Park and just feel the place emptying out.

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What the city can do to provide relief to the "middle class" - the real middle class, not the fiction of recent college grads who graduate right into six-digit salaries towards which "affordable" housing in hovels unfit for human habitation are marketed, nor the "middle class" of well-educated individuals who were priced out of the city when they graduated but are somehow willing to come back in five years - is relax or discontinue institutions and policies designed only to fuel demand control.

Arbitrary limits on "density," the high cost of both land and developing on land, and allowing and providing for those who directly benefit from the housing shortage to have a controlling say in which properties are approved are all major contributing factors to the limited supply of housing. You'll note that off all the new residential projects approved in Boston, not a single one is "moderately priced." They are all luxury, or else "affordable" housing that turns out to be unaffordable.

It's true that the cruel mistress of Capitalism helps ensure that no true affordable housing is being built in the city - but that's because the government has made it impossible for an affordable development to survive in this market. Relax the restrictions, and watch what happens when it's suddenly possible to turn a profit on truly affordable developments. Do you really believe that the scam of shoebox residences could survive in the face of an influx of apartments offering twice the space at half the price? No, of course not.

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Price controls in the Boston Real Estate market would be perfectly justified. Considering in the past 10-15 years real estate prices across the board for all types of housing in all neighborhoods has more than doubled without people's wages doubling.
That is a runaway train that needs to be derailed.

Here's what the city should do. Pass a law, fiat, decree, ordinance, whatever it takes legally - and have said law automatically slash all real estate prices and value in half to pre-2000 levels. Mortgage and interest payments made above the new market value would be refunded by the banks.

It will still be too costly but at least it will be in proportion to where it should be based on inflation and wage gains over the past 15 years.

Property owners couldn't really complain because their taxes would be rent asunder, and they could still sell for an equal value towards an upgrade.
For example someone selling a studio for $150k now to get a $180k 1bedroom would instead be selling it for $70k to get a 100k 1 bedroom. See $30,000 same money either way.

As for people who buy RE as investors - yeah they would loose big time. But you know what. Fuck them. If it isn't owner occupied it's owned by scum who deserve to die in a fire. They deserve to suffer. They should have bought copper instead of deciding to be slum lords or the people who rent out to college kids in what should be an all owner occupied building full of responsible, quiet people.

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And send their spouses and children to reeducation camps.

Who needs private property at all?

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The majority of the problem with property values in Boston is not the result of people who buy property to live in it, it's those who buy property as part of a well removed investment.
Private Property is great, if you're not renting it out to 3 dude-bros in Allston/Brighton.

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You're clearly as nuts as anybody in her family. To quote Boston's own Bobby Brown: "I made this money, you didn't." Want to live by yourself in a nice city with good jobs, smart people, an embarrassment of rich culture, and plentiful waterways and recreation? Be prepared to outbid all the other weirdos who enjoy quality of living.

Also, the housing crunch goes both ways. We could build more housing, but we could also STOP (EXPLETIVE) BREEDING SO MUCH. I see what's happening to our economy and our population, and it makes me realize how awful a life a child of mine might have.

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There is nothing nuts about it. Look at what property cost in Boston in 1998. Look what it costs 15 years later in 2013.
Look what people made on average for different types of jobs in 1998. Look what they make now in 2013. There is a problem.

The private market does not regulate itself. Nor can you rely on the other end of the political spectrum to fix things. The only solution that will work is one completely outside the norm of politics and legalism.

Hail Cobra.

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This is a hall of fame lunatic comment.

Someone should die in a fire for renting out an apartment? I have a friend who rents half of a duplex. The landlord lives in the other half with their kids. This is a problem for you?

How about my neighbors who bought a single family the 1980s for probably $40K. Now that their daughter has moved out, they should cap the amount they can sell their house for to meet some weird cap?

If you want to see how government managed economies work, go check out Cuba or Venezuela. Not that great. I think if people can sell a house for $400k here, then I suspect the people buying it can probably afford or guess what? No sale. It's really so easy almost anyone with a basic grasp of how the world works (so maybe ask a friend to explain it to you?) should be able to understand it. Don't ask Ben Day (sounds like you might know him?) though as he thinks blocking condo development will keep housing prices low.

Final note- I bought my house in 2001 and it is currently worth @ $20k more than when I purchased it. So your bold plan would accomplish what exactly? Save my present day equivalent $20k?

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The newly married and the nearly buried.

What else is new?

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Many people like the convenience and perks that come with living in the City until their children get to be school age and then they have to decide if they want to play the school lottery or buck up for private school. For those that value education, the choice is generally to pick up and move out to the suburbs. Those that can move will, those that can't will stay resulting in the current state of the schools.

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I'd believe this if you had posted it 15 years ago but as someone whose kids attend public school in Boston I can tell you we are in the midst of a big baby boom. the old model of people bolting for the suburbs is just that, old. For an urban public school district Boston actually does quite well and there are many good elementary schools to choose from.

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This is directly proportional to the increase in the amount of homeless people in Boston last year.

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