CampaignDIEHL TESTIMONY AGAINST PROPOSED MBTA COMMUNITY MULTI-FAMILY ZONING REGULATIONS

BOSTON, MA – Geoff Diehl, Republican candidate for Governor, recently submitted testimony to the state in opposition to proposed guidelines that would dramatically increase multi-family zoning and development requirements in Boston’s suburbs.

 

Diehl says he strongly supports the development of more affordable housing alternatives across Massachusetts, but is concerned by the one-size-fits-all approach being taken to squeeze additional density into communities.

 

“I think we need to take a step back and reconsider our state’s approach,” Diehl said in written testimony he submitted to state regulators last week. “I am concerned that there is too much high-density housing being required in certain areas without adequate consideration for the character and infrastructure of communities. Many communities impacted by these guidelines do not have sufficient education, utility, and roadway infrastructure necessary to accommodate such dramatic increases in housing stock. What’s more, high-density multi-family housing would significantly change the traditional look and feel of these communities against their will.”

 

“These regulations amount to an unfunded mandate on communities by our state, which they cannot afford to comply with and that will end up taking money away from other needed local programs and taxpayers,” Diehl added.

 

According to Diehl, the proposed zoning guidelines would require 175 communities in the Greater Boston area to significantly expand their stock of high-density, multi-family housing. In some communities, the stock of compulsory multi-family housing would account for more than one-third of all housing units in town. In Ashby, for example, up to 60 percent of housing units in town would be required to be multi-family units.

 

 

 

Diehl says creating affordable housing is a necessary goal he supports, but that greater consideration should be made of current trends of relocating jobs outside of cities and workfrom-home employment. According to Diehl, these trends call into question housing strategies that rely on placing high-density housing in areas close to major cities like Boston. Instead, Diehl says greater emphasis should be placed on creating affordable alternatives with less density across more areas, with infrastructure improvements to support housing stock.

 

Diehl has made housing issues, infrastructure investment, and reducing the cost of living in Massachusetts major points in his campaign for Governor. For more information about Diehl and his campaign, please visit www.GeoffDiehl.com.

 

 

[Media Advisory: A copy of Geoff Diehl’s written testimony submitted to the state on March 31, 2022 is set forth below.]

 

 

To Whom it May Concern:

 

My name is Geoff Diehl and I am a resident of Whitman.

 

I am writing to submit public testimony opposing implementation of zoning guidelines for MBTA communities that would require increased housing density by way of multi-family zoning districts.

 

I believe strongly in the need to increase the stock of affordable housing in Massachusetts. The lack of affordability in our state, and in particular the lack of affordable housing alternatives, is causing far too many people to move away in search of better opportunities. However, I also believe that mandating density in the manner being proposed is unfair and misguided. These regulations amount to an unfunded mandate on communities by our state, which they cannot afford to comply with and that will end up taking money away from other needed local programs and taxpayers.

 

Basically, about 175 communities in the Greater Boston area would be forced to dramatically expand their stock of multi-family housing units in order to comply with the proposed guidelines. The cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach of the guidelines makes no sense. For example, some communities would be forced to make multi-family housing account for more than onethird of their stock of housing units. For instance, in Ashby – which is only adjacent to MBTA service – multi-family units appear to be required to account for 60% of all housing in town.

 

I am concerned that there is too much high-density housing being required in certain areas without adequate consideration for the character and infrastructure of communities. Many communities impacted by these guidelines do not have sufficient education, utility, and roadway infrastructure necessary to accommodate such dramatic increases in housing stock. What’s more, high-density multi-family housing would significantly change the traditional look and feel of these communities against their will.

 

While building multi-family housing in suburbs close to Boston sounds like a reasonable way to solve our housing problems, we need to stop and think whether that’s that’s the best approach overall. These days, more and more jobs are being moved out of our major cities, not into them. What’s more, work-from-home options are becoming increasingly abundant. We need to assess whether forcing multi-family housing into communities for the purpose of commuting to work in Boston is the right approach, or whether we should be spreading out housing further into the suburbs (ie. not just proximate to transit), with less density and less pressure on communities. At the same time, there should be some accommodation made for communities to increase their infrastructure to support housing created.

 

While I fully support the creation of additional housing in our state and the development of more affordable housing alternatives, I think we need to take a step back and reconsider our state’s approach. Therefore, I encourage you to place a pause on the implementation of the MBTA zoning regulations so that new alternatives can be developed.

 

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

 

Sincerely,

Geoff Diehl

 

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