Hey, there! Log in / Register

Zoning board fed up with developers trying to cram bedrooms into basements in East Boston, Charlestown

With the supply of easily torn-down garages shrinking, developers are turning to expanding buildings in East Boston and Charlestown by adding floors and basement living space.

The Zoning Board, though, signaled today it's had enough of bedrooms being shoehorned into basements, rejecting two proposals in the neighborhoods to convert basement storage space into bedrooms.

"We're seeing so many of these basements in Eastie that just don't make sense," board Chairwoman Christine Araujo said during a discussion of a proposal to add a bedroom to the basement of 22 Paris St. in East Boston, as part of a plan to turn what is now a two-unit building into a three-unit building. Araujo said she does not want to return to the "overcrowded days of years gone by" of darkened basement units that are anything but "calm and welcoming."

It's one thing to turn a dark storage area into a playroom, but "to have a bedroom just doesn't make any sense," board member Mark Erlich agreed.

The board approved the overall Paris Street proposal, but with the provisio that no bedrooms be created in the basement.

It issued a similar basement-bedroom-free approval for a proposed renovation of an existing three-unit building at 41 Mt. Vernon St.

A neighbor opposed the other parts of the renovation, which would include expanding the third floor, saying it would put her home in shadows for significant parts of the day, but the board said it could not reject that because that expansion complied with the lot's zoning.

Last week, the board did approve two basement units, but only reluctantly.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 
Free tagging: 

Ad:

Comments

Classic zoning board logic: "I wouldn't like to live in that apartment, therefore NOBODY should be allowed to live in it. I'd rather have people be homeless than live in apartments with less-than-ideal levels of natural light."

up
Voting closed 133

Living in a dark basement does not sound pleasant. I assume this crackdown on basement conversions will by accompanied by a relaxing of height restrictions. I'd much rather live on the 3rd floor than the basement.

up
Voting closed 102

If you work nights at a hospital.

up
Voting closed 100

Why don't we buy storage containers for our back yards and rent them out? Or Porta Potties? Enough of the greed and overcrowding in these neighborhoods and others in this city. A 3000/month basement in Charlestown IS NOT helping the homeless! Clown!

up
Voting closed 106

If someone is willing to pay $3k a month to live in a basement, imagine what the alternatives must be...

up
Voting closed 106

A basement apartment should have functional window’s big enough for a person to exit in case of Fire, also 2 exits one in rear and one in front of building. In actuality basement apartments are fire traps..They should solely be used for storage and laundry, that’s been the usage for decades in these old Boston neighborhood dwellings. As Bostonians would call it “ the cellar” (Mother where are my winter boots?
I’ll give you a back Handah , Down the fuckin cellah...

up
Voting closed 108

Newly permitted basement apartments are required to meet all egress requirements. It's the illegal ones that are the problem, and they will continue to be a problem as long as we make it hard or impossible for people to do the right thing here.

up
Voting closed 104

the city has a policy to encourage Additional Dwelling Units s as a way to add to the housing stock.

https://www.boston.gov/departments/neighborhood-development/addition-dwe...

up
Voting closed 105

From sections of 105 CMR 410., the state's Sanitary Code regarding what determines what is a habitable room (IE bedroom).

105 CMR 400.410, (B): In a dwelling unit, every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall contain at least 70 square feet of floor space; every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than one occupant shall contain at least 50 square feet of floor space for each occupant.

And 105 CMR 410.250: Habitable Rooms Other than Kitchen -- Natural Light and Electrical Outlets. The owner shall provide for each habitable room other than a kitchen:
(A) transparent or translucent glass which admits light from the outdoors and which is equal
in area to no less than 8% of the entire floor area of that room.
(B) two separate wall-type convenience outlets, or one such outlet and one electric light fixture.
The outlets shall be placed in practical locations and shall insofar as practicable, be on different walls and at least ten feet apart.
.

As long as the proposed bedrooms meet that criteria in a dwelling unit that meets further criteria pertaining to dwelling units as whole set forth in the same code, I'm not sure-outside of offering its opinion-what say the ZBA has in instances like this.

up
Voting closed 112

Egress concerns in there as well.

up
Voting closed 103

The board's comments are subjective and superficial. If the room has a big enough window, 2 outlets and a closet, then why shouldn't it be a bedroom? The confusing part is that they don't talk about the other things an apt needs, like a full bath and a cooking area. Once boston has sufficient housing, no one will rent these caves, but check out the tents in our parks. this is a housing crisis.

up
Voting closed 104

The real reason to not convert basements into units: flooding risks

Eastie is already experiencing the beginning of frequent tidal flooding. Creating below grade units adds to the mayhem after disasters - more basement units means more people homeless.

"OMFG DENSITY" is a dumbass reason. What they should be doing is creating programs to get people and utilities (heat, electrical panels,etc.) out of basements in general.

up
Voting closed 109

On Camp Hill (Jeffries Point), Eagle Hill, or Orient Heights, tidal flooding is unlikely to be a concern for the lifetime of any existing building. For the most part, a basement above the 500-year flood plain, plus maybe 10 or 11 feet (worst-case sea level rise of 8.2 feet by 2100 and a couple of feet for safety margin) should be safe to build out.

up
Voting closed 105

Even though those basements may not be in the flood plain, they are below the water table so when those tides come in, the water starts coming through the walls even if they are not "flooding". It is not a place for someone to live even if it only happens 10 days a year.

up
Voting closed 98

There are countless basement condos along Commonwealth Avenue and several other parts of the Back bay and South End , why can’t this building owner be granted the right to have an extra unit in the basement.

up
Voting closed 99

This is something that should ultimately be between the buyer and their insurer, not something the zoning board has any reason to be getting involved in at all.

up
Voting closed 110

But the city has a program specifically ALLOWING THIS! https://www.boston.gov/departments/neighborhood-development/addition-dwe...

up
Voting closed 97

Basement apartments are not the most luxurious to live in, but as a result they tend to be much more affordable, and they are totally habitable with the right amount of egress and ventilation. The zoning board choosing not to allow them simply amounts to snob zoning that definitely raises the average price of new apartments for everyone, but especially the people who cannot afford anything nicer.

Banning cheap apartments doesn't make nice apartments cheaper, it just eliminates an important option for people who can only afford cheap apartments.

up
Voting closed 109

Oh no! 3 units in a 3-story plus basement brick row house, with no increased height or footprint? What horrible thing will developers propose next?

How many cities around the world make terrible zoning decisions like this? Heck, what about other older American cities?

up
Voting closed 101