Councilor Lydia Edwards (Charlestown, East Boston, North End) today proposed taxes on property speculation as a way to keep Boston from becoming another Manhattan.
Councilors agreed to schedule a hearing on Edwards's proposal, which she made in her first formal speech to the council as a newly elected member - in November, she replaced Sal LaMattina, who retired.
Edwards said she doesn't buy the idea that all the new housing development going on in Boston now is going to do anything for the people who cannot afford even the "affordable" units developers are required to include, because it's based on the "area median income," which keeps increasing as more well off people move into the city.
"I do not believe we can build our way out this problem," especially in an era when growing numbers of units are being rented out by concerns such as Airbnb rather than being rented or sold to actual residents, she said.
Her proposed ordinance would levy fees on property flipping and units bought by foreign speculators and would limit home-share units to just one unit in owner-occupied buildings.
The funds from the fees would go to buy or build units actually affordable to Boston residents not in the market for luxury space.
"We need to play defense," as well have some "frank discussions" with developers about how Boston needs to remain affordable for all Bostonians. She said they need to adjust to the fact that they have to adjust to Boston, rather than Boston adjusting to them.
She cited her own district, where at one end a developer has proposed turning Suffolk Downs into a massive mixed-use development and where at another end the BHA is looking to let a private developer rebuild and expand the Bunker Hill project into a large mixed-income development.
"Boston is not for sale," she said. "Our future is at stake, and we have work to do. But Boston knows how to work and we will rise to this situation."