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Hearing set for anti-shadow bill, H.826

A hearing is scheduled for the "Anti-Shadow Bill," Bill H.826, as submitted by Marty Walz and Byron Rushing. Set for Thursday, May 9, the public hearing for comments and input will be at 10:00am in State House Room A-1.

The bill has been criticized for its potential harm to development in the city through the addition of restrictions on new developments. Bill H.286 proposes that new buildings which are seeking a variance from local zoning codes will not be allowed to be constructed in a manner which casts a shadow on several public spaces. These spaces include Copley Square, Commonwealth Ave Mall, and Magazine Beach, among others.

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Comments

Wow, the arrogance of elected officials around here knows no bounds.

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Similar law has protected the public garden for decades and most people credit that law with making the garden the welcome and well maintained space that it is. Well that and henry lee!

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if, as a condition of the new rules, it were incumbent upon the people (i,e, the NIMBYs) claiming that "shadow effect" is truly bad for us, and will result in chaos, injury, death, cats and dogs living together, etc. etc., to be required to actually prove their claims beyond a reasonable doubt.

Unfortunately, present environmental regulations are based on the principle of "guilty until proven innocent". Imagine if our justice system operated on the same premise.

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Wait, we need to prove that being in the sunlight is more pleasant than being in the shade now?

The whole point of parks is to be a nice place to go to relax, enjoy the open air, get some sunlight, enjoy the greenery, and the like. Building large buildings that cast a shadow remove one of those benefits directly (getting some sunlight), one indirectly (fewer plants will grow in the shade), and make it less inviting. How is that something that needs to be proven?

Now, there can be some debate over the relative merits the parks provide vs. the value that further development would provide. But trying to claim that there's no reason to believe that shadows are bad for parks is just silly.

Now, you see, one of the points of politics is that there are some things that really can't be "proven beyond a reasonable doubt", because they are based on differing value systems. Some people put higher value on open spaces and sunlight, while other's put higher value on cold hard cash. The whole principle of democracy is that you can try to do what is best for the greatest number of people (or at least approximate it; and of course I'm familiar with all of the flaws in our democratic system). There is no way to "prove beyond a reasonable doubt" whether one person's values are greater than another's, so you just put it to a vote; and that's what's happening here.

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Some people put higher value on open spaces and sunlight

Sounds like a suburb to me. Time to pack bags for these NIMBYs, methinks.

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There should be no sunlight in the city. Let's build 60+ story buildings everywhere - starting with West Roxbury, JP, Rozzie, Dot and Hyde Park. Now that would be some affordable housing - with no need for government regs/subsidies to keep it cheap.

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So you assume that without regulations on shadows and height, massive towers would spontaneously crop up in suburban areas of Boston? Give me a break. I can't say I'd really care, even if it were to miraculously occur.

And you're equating a lack of shadow regulations with no sunlight in the city? Give me a break. Use your head.

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Change the zoning across Boston to 300 feet w appropriate massing density etc and I GUARANTEE you people will start building thousands of housing units across the city.

As for the rest I'll spell it out for you - SARCASM. seriously?

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Found the fix to this problem a while ago.

IMAGE(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e5/Chrysler_Building_Midtown_Manhattan_New_York_City_1932.jpg/800px-Chrysler_Building_Midtown_Manhattan_New_York_City_1932.jpg)

Taper the towers and you let light in, while being able to make use of the air. IE, smart zoning.

Let's also not confuse letting light in as the same as anti-shadow NIMBYism. A lot of it is people screaming up a storm that that new tower next to their tower is going to block their view of towers further away. Screw them. We need much more development in this city as it is, than to cater to rich people worried about their changing views.

They can always move out and up, thus freeing up lower cost property!

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Shade is absolutely preferable: it's cooler, more refreshing, and it doesn't glare in your eyes or give you a sunburn. I love parks and I love finding a nice shaded space under the trees when I'm in a park. I'm willing to believe that there are people who disagree with me, but the idea that sun is just obviously superior is just wrong.

This isn't really about democracy. In the grand scheme of things, the minor preference of whether people prefer shade or sunlight doesn't move many votes. What we have is that the people who prefer sun are being used by people who just hate change. And the status quo is always a very powerful force in politics.

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Or a very high light bill, you'd be screaming about how they stole your sun.

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Maybe they could set up a cap and trade system whereby developers could purchase shadow offsets to mitigate the impact that they have on public spaces, with prices scaling upwards according to their shadow footprints. Either that, or they could install a series of moving mirrors that would actually relay the sunlight around their buildings and onto the affected public property.

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This is so wrong. They claim they are for making housing more affordable, but really they are protecting the elites who live in Back Bay. By making limits on building, there will be no more new housing and the supply will never catch the demand. Marty Waltz (one of sponsors) gets 80% of her campaign donations from 6 comm. ave donors... who don't want shadows or anyone else selling their condo when they want to. Limit supply and their value goes up. #occupy

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Term limiting Marty Walz and all other state reps.

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Plenty more where Walz came from.

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I remember when they tried this a couple years ago. The trade union lobbies are all over this.

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I hope they succeed in doing so again. There's nothing inherently wrong with a building that casts a shadow on a park at a certain time of day. In fact, there's many times I'm walking the Greenway in the afternoon wishing they were a few shadows to duck into to cool down!

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The state legislators just love to stick their fingers in Bostons business The BRA already requires shadow studies... and the NIMBYs do their job to make sure that shadow impacts are minimized. I'm still waiting for the fight over shadows that will come if and when the owners of Midtown Hotel ever get around to redeveloping as a tower...

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As I said above - this law has worked fine for the Public Garden and caused minimal to no disruption to nearby development (I think the proposal for the building on the corner of Arlington and Boylston to replace the Shreve's building got cut by a floor or two and the LibMu tower was unaffected even though it casts new shadows on the Garden due to a funky zoning interpretation and of course, deep pockets).

You can't have your parks shadowed all the time - which won't happen with any one building, but over the years development will begin to affect the park. Trees won't fully leaf, the tulips (which are spectacular right now) will bloom late and smaller, the reading room in the library won't get that spectacular morning sunshine - the list goes on.

First, keep in mind most 30-40 story buildings will not be a problem under the proposed law. The problems generally begin somewhere north of that. Second - one thing I disagree with the proponents on is that they insist that the "no shadows" apply year round. Personally I'd make some exceptions for about November 15-April 15 when all I really care about is getting from point A to point B and sunshine - when it does shine is pretty irrelevant when it's 5 degrees and blowing 25 mph - 50 mph near the Hancock.

The core of this is well intentioned and with a little compromise we can both protect the beauty of the parks throughout the core use season and flowering seasons while still maintaining the ability to develop tall buildings (which actually we have very little need or demand for over at least the next decade anyway).

The problem is that emotions like yours run hot on both sides.

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from November 15-April 15?

Man, I need a new job!

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= just another b&^^$#!^ NIMBY argument for blocking development projects.

Tall buildings amd open spaces have co-existed for decades. And I don't recall anybody being injured or dying because of a shadow.

It's time we seriously re-evaluate enviromental laws like this one and acknowledge them for what they truly are - just more bureaucratic nonsense that does NOTHING to actually addreess legitimate environemtal impacts.

And if you can't live with the fact that shadows are cast on a park for certian times of the day, then perhaps you need to get yourself and your over-inflated sence of vanity out of the city.

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environmental law. It's a zoning law.

But thanks for the effort...

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It is a zoning law. But it's based on a preceived negative environmental impact.

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What about businesses that shine their logos onto the sidewalk?

I vaguely remember one of these in the Public Garden. Is that possible from across the street?

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I'd like to point out that what is arguably the most beautiful and well used park in the City is surrounded by tall buildings: Norman B Leventhal Park at Post Office Square.

I will also point out that the biggest complaint when the Greenway was first opened was that it was too hot in the summer because there were no trees. So shadows from trees (aka shade) are good but shadows from buildings are bad?

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