Too late? East Boston residents want to avoid Southiefication

The Globe reports East Boston residents want to slow development in the neighborhood to avoid what happened across the harbor in South Boston.

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Slow down development?

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Slow down development?
There are people who have lived in Eastie for generations and have waited for Eastie to gentrify and grow and you want to stop development..
Let’s slow down development along western ave in Allston as well.
How about the South end let’s slow down development there too.

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Voting closed 39

EaBo the Letter?

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Voting closed 13

Stopping Construction Doesn't Stop Change

The Globe really muddled this one, starting with calling it the "Seaport District." The two neighborhoods are hardly the same, with East Boston largely already built out versus the Seaport which was mostly vacant lots prior to the now mushrooming construction.

But the whole idea that stopping development will somehow preserve the make-up of the neighborhood is ludicrous. All you'll get is the same buildings (well at least their facades), with new, wealthier people living inside them as property values continue to climb.

A recent article about two adjacent neighborhoods in DC found that the one full of rowhouses and encased in amber had rents increase by 20% in the past five years. That compares to the neighborhood with all the new "luxury" (but really just new multi-family buildings), where rents fell by 8%.

Here's the article: https://ggwash.org/view/68373/a-tale-of-two-20003s-high-rises-or-high-rents

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Voting closed 41

...

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Was that a poor attempt at sarcasm? Capping the evaporation of height restrictions is our only hope at this point. Anyone who actually cares about this city should not want Boston to morph into NYC Jr.

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That was deadly serious

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You either develop to keep it affordable, or you turn into SF. Capping restrictions is what means there are pretty much 0 2BR housing listings in Cambridge that aren't $1M+

Its simple economics. You develop, or prices go up. Boston going a little taller isn't going to make it NYC. It also doesn't mean its going mean everything is taller overnight, it takes years. Thats why its important to start now, otherwise look forward to getting priced out "preserving the neighborhood" like every other nincompoop thinks won't happen.

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Voting closed 32

Maybe all caps will help

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NEW DEVELOPMENTS ARE NOT AFFORDABLE. THE BRA’S (LETS FACE IT, THEY TRIED TO REBRAND BECAUSE THEIR ORGANIZATION WAS HORRIBLY CORRUPT) AFFORDABLE HOUSING REQUIREMENTS ARE A JOKE. DEVELOPERS HATE BUILDING AFFORDABLE UNITS AND DO WHATEVER THEY CAN TO CHEAT THE SYSTEM. LIFTING HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS WOULD BE LIKE TOSSING ROTTING MEAT TO VULTURES.

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i'll give you all lower case

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if you increase supply, demand will be met. by putting a bunch of "luxury" units online, the people who have the means to but them will not be looking at buying a unit in a triple decker. the thing residents of east boston should be wary about is developers tearing down older affordable units to build more expensive units.

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Voting closed 20

They don't need to be

If you build one bedroom units for single professionals, three bedroom family units become more affordable.

If you build special corral areas for wealthier residents, they don't gut renovate all of the formerly working class housing they can get their hands on.

And that was a big part of Portland's strategy - they opened the Pearl District, a former warehouse and port area made famous in its abandonment by chase scenes in Gus Van Zant movies of the 1980s. It was redeveloped specifically as an attractive upscale neighborhood near downtown - but, unlike the BosVegas Inundation District, it was developed with streetcars and cycling accommodations and walkable storefront laden areas ... and supermarkets! As a complete neighborhood of retail, business, and housing.

This held the gentrification pressures in my parents' neighborhood off for a couple of decades.

Now those pressures are channeled into infill and building up to hold down rents in the neighborhoods.. I still own a place in one of those neighborhoods, but I have cousins caught in the rental mess so I'm rooting for a continued drop in rents that vacancies bring.

Besides - if you overbuild the "luxury" places, the market will correct that.

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Voting closed 21

Yep

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Yes to both of those (jeff's and the ops)

Sorry you can't stop gentrification. You just can't. You think you can zone your way out, but you can't prevent people from moving in.

Zone it all you want.. be prepared to fight it out in court if you try.

I also agree, stopping construction will HINDER rental prices since there will be no new housing stock.

A better idea would be INCREASE affordability requirements or just build all affordable units. AFFORDABILITY is the reason why people fight gentrification. Why not fix that instead of saying "sorry no more construction"

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There are other ways.

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There are other ways, tenant organizing, rent strikes. People can be agents in their own lives and fight back against displacement and gentrification collectively.

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Inaccurate Reporting

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The article states "displacing many of the Italian and newer Central American immigrants who called the neighborhood home." This is lazy reporting which just defaults to the "East Boston is an Italian neighborhood with newer Latino arrivals" meme that has not been true in over 35 years. As a resident of East Boston for over 50 years I can tell you almost all of the Italian-Americans are long, long gone (mostly relocated to the North Shore and specifically Peabody, Saugus and Lynnfield) and 54% or more of the population is Latino and has been for two generations now. I would hardly call them "newer arrivals".

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Voting closed 64

The Italian Americans are long gone?

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That's funny, because according to the latest Census Bureau data, slightly over 10% of the residents of East Boston list Italian as their first ancestry.

Please get out and meet more of your neighbors.

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That isn't the same as ...

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"Owning" the neighborhood.

Seriously - 10%? You need a math class.

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No, it's not "owning" a neighborhood.

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Perhaps you might want to bone up on your reading comprehension, since "East Boston Resident" posited that there were no more Italians in the neighborhood he currently lives in.

And 10% of people are gay. Using your math and the previous assumption, there are no gay people.

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Voting closed 22

Aw c'mon

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If you want to play semantics, they wrote "almost all are gone".

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Fair enough

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Tell that to the 10% of residents who claim Italian ancestry who live in the neighborhood.

Much like the Globe article he was critiquing, he could have phrased it better. I don't know, maybe "a Latino neighborhood with a longstanding Italian presence." That's probably more accurate than anything else, and it took me a minute to come up with it.

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I'll bite

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I wouldn't be surprised if some of those remaining 10% Italian American residents are also mourning the loss of so many of their compatriots. They might even agree that almost all of their friends are gone. It's like acknowledging, when one is getting old, that almost all of your friends are gone - by the fact that they're also old, and dying.

You seem to be taking this very personally. I hope everything is ok.

Saying something is 'nearly all gone' when there is only 10% remaining is simply a factual statement. You might have 10% of your gallon of milk left at home. That's nearly all gone, yes? Except in the case of milk, you can just go shopping for more. But for Italian Americans, not so much.

Maybe the turn of phrase, in your opinion, comes across as cold or callous. Perhaps that's why it's bothering you?

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I’m neither from Eastie

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Nor Italian, but sure, living in a place that has changed a bit, the idea that everyone who was once here is gone does annoy me. While I can acknowledge the change, saying that it has completely changed is wrong.

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Change

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I lived in East Boston in 1965 and I still live here today. Trust me, it has COMPLETELY CHANGED. Specifically demographically. I do not say that it has changed for the better or for the worse. Notice I am still here. I guess I am part of the "10%". But it has changed in what some might consider a drastic manner. I don't know what you don't get about this.

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The relocation of East Boston's Italian-Americans

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The thing to remember also, is that the Italian-Americans were not pushed or squeezed out of East Boston or anything like that. They specifically and systematically relocated (mostly) to the North Shore during the "white flight" era of the 70s and even into the 80s and no other Italian-Americans came into East Boston to replace them. Their children and grandchildren are now inheriting those North Shore houses they purchased. Nobody paid any attention to any of this at the time because, up until relatively recently, East Boston was kind of an "invisible place". Due to the fact that it is an island basically accessible only by tunnel or bridge conveyed the mistaken impression that it was "remote", despite the fact it is literally only minutes to downtown. So in the seeming "blink of an eye", even though it was 30 years in the making, by the time people started paying attention to East Boston it was a different place.

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10% does not make a

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10% does not make a neighborhood identity.

"East Boston is an Italian neighborhood with newer Latino arrivals" should have been more like "East Boston is a Latino neighborhood with remnants of the Italian population that used to form the majority of residents"

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Voting closed 58

I can't disagree with you

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However, "East Boston Resident" somehow thinks that there are no more Italians in the neighborhood. 10% is a decent number. The report doesn't overlook the obvious change in demographics, but it did go from an Italian neighborhood to a Latino neighborhood relatively recently, with some paisans sticking around.

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Let's ground this with statistics, shall we?

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And this is my source.

In 1990, which was 28 years ago, East Boston was 17.6% Hispanic. Or as the "East Boston Resident" would put it with his math, there were no Hispanics in East Boston. By 2000, the neighborhood was 39% Hispanic, which is a decent amount (but then again, I think that 10% is a decent amount) while 49.7% of the population was non-Hispanic white, or the people "East Boston Resident" doesn't think live in East Boston now. By 2015 (the latest data in the publication) it's 57.9% Hispanic, which is what some people who have moved here recently (such as, I would assume "East Boston Resident") would assume East Boston is.

So yeah, relatively recently.

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so wrong

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There is so much wrong with this article it's mind-boggling.

Not once is the BPDA mentioned. Supposedly, that is the branch of local government that should be involved in actual planning and rezoning, but that's not really what they do in practice. They much, much prefer spot zoning because it gives more leverage over developers. If every project has to go to the city for a zoning variance, then they can use that as leverage to extract mitigation and community benefits.

And if you look into gentrification, rezoning is one of the biggest factors because it almost always results in greater as-of-right density. There are communities across the country that have actually fought rezoning because they knew it would be the death knell of their neighborhood.

Yet they'll continue to talk about spot zoning like it solely benefits developers, but if the zoning heights and FAR were increased, the city and community lose that leverage. Plus, it doesn’t stop developers from continuing to propose projects above and beyond zoning.

“What a lot of us are feeling, including myself, is that we lack control, we lack a vision, and we lack cohesion in this development boom we’re seeing,” Edwards said recently, “and many of us feel it’s to our total and complete exclusion.”
This gets down to the fundamental question of who should greater influence city planning, the residents who will undoubtedly advocate for what is in their best interest (i.e. the status quo) or actual planners. Lydia Edwards doesn't have a background in urban planning. In fact, she's sided with the opposition on every single development, even ones that are completely reasonable: https://www.universalhub.com/2018/expansion-run-down-east-boston-triple-...

"Cave and her husband made their way to the waterfront by Jeffries Point, just blocks from where she grew up on Webster Street — to a spot where she knew she could steal a view. But as she passed Marginal Street, she found herself on a new stretch of road she hadn’t traversed before, in the shadows of luxury towers that were new to her. It was a weird moment, to be in your own neighborhood and not know where you are,” she recalled. “There’s so much development; it’s just happening so fast. "

This is the perfect example of the melodramatic plight of the NIMBY. There is exactly ONE tower in East Boston, and it isn't in Jeffries Point, it's the New Street building. Portside and the other similar waterfront developments are not towers. Say it with me: 5-6 story buildings are not towers. I lived in East Boston, and I am moving back again. I've been there plenty of times in the period in between and the only area that has really "transformed" is the waterfront, and even that used to be vacant Massport parcels and dilapidated piers.

To sit there and ask for a moratorium on development until the city can provide a plan would result in 2-3 years of non-development in a part of the city that is ripe for it is beyond backwards. It would put undue pressure on other parts of the city that also have not been re-planned or rezoned (because none of the city has been). The housing stock is of extremely poor quality, and the area is directly adjacent to downtown. The trains are updated and large. And to say the Blue line is busy during rush hour ignores that every other line in the city is too.

Finally, if they think the city agrees with any of this whatsoever, think again:
"(Walsh also has hopes the area will house Amazon’s so-called second headquarters — a bid that, if the city wins, could bring more than 50,000 jobs — and more residents)"
If Amazon comes, and I really hope they don't, then the fight is over. Gentrification is driven by capital and demand. There is already lots of demand and even plenty of capital, but if Amazon comes both will skyrocket out of control.

For anyone interested in gentrification in general, I would highly advise reading "How to Kill a City" by Peter Moskowitz

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Voting closed 47

Gentrification and East Boston

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hux concluded with a recommendation for a reference to the bad things that come from "Gentrification" -- "For anyone interested in gentrification in general, I would highly advise reading "How to Kill a City" by Peter Moskowitz"

I'm not familiar with the work in question.

However, what I am familiar with is that circa 1970 a lot of inner Boston and Cambridge had "De-Gentrified" to the point where people were stripping the formally nice townhouses for copper. The "De-Gentrified" shells of these buildings were being used as squattings by squatters and popular scenes for Crimes of all manners including arson.

Subsequently due to the economic renaissance of inner Boston / Cambridge many places such as the South End and parts of Cambridge near MIT have "ReGentiified" and they are once again places where middle class families are living

I'd consider that a winning outcome

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Voting closed 16

gentrification

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That's all well and good, but it has absolutely no relation to the current situation in East Boston. East Boston is not de-populating. No one is stripping townhomes for copper.

Gentrification is not the process of populating a de-populated area. That is completely different from what is being talked about here.

Gentrification is the process by which a neighborhood that is perceived to be of lower standard is brought up to the standards of the middle or upper class. It has to do with neighborhoods and communities that are populated, but by people that may be perceived by those in upper classes to be lower. It is not about re-populating, it is about the displacement of one group so that it can be replaced by a wealthier group.

Oh and maybe read the book. I promise it's very informative.

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Gentrification is the process

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Gentrification is the process by which a neighborhood that is perceived to be of lower standard is brought up to the standards of the middle or upper class.

the rest of what you say re:displacement, fine. but that nugget is really disingenuous.

gentrification is class-based neocolonialism

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I read part of the book and had to stop...

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When the author claimed "Gentrification... is really about reorienting the purpose of cities away from being spaces that provide for the poor and middle classes and toward being spaces that generate capital for the rich." No. For the vast majority of human history, cities have been all about creating wealth. Rich people, apart from landed gentry, lived in cities because they were the centers of commerce and industry -- you made money living in a city if you didn't have peasants/serfs paying rent. Before about a century ago, it was necessary to live in or very near a city if one worked there simply because traveling fifty miles could take the better part of a day.

After World War II, the wealthy and middle classes (and yes, they were largely white) began moving to the suburbs; the private automobile and development of expressway networks made commuting feasible. There absolutely was racism involved -- but also just general quality of life attracted people out to the suburbs. The schools and roads were better, the kids could have a yard and quiet street to play in/on, there was less crime, and the taxes were lower.

The folks who stayed in the cities were basically stuck there because they couldn't afford to leave. After a couple of decades of pleas to fix the cities, efforts at improvement bore fruit -- and lo and behold, the wealthy and middle classes started moving back. If you make a neighborhood nicer, people will want to live there -- how very shocking!

Moskowitz decries how Louisiana/New Orleans directed anti-blight efforts in the O.C. Haley neighborhood and how that ended up in gentrification. What do you expect when money is invested to beautify and create business opportunities in a neighborhood? He complains that the city & state spent millions to attract businesses to the neighborhood -- apparently successfully -- but not on affordable housing. But in the end, the businesses generate tax revenue the city and state need to function, and affordable housing does not.

In the 1970s, the depopulation of the cities due to urban/white flight was considered an existential crisis; that's precisely the reason why Boston adopted a residency ordinance for city employees along with others like NYC, Chicago, and Detroit -- this kept some of the middle class population from leaving. Now we have a different crisis -- one of affordability -- and simply saying "No, you can't build" is not going to solve it.

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Voting closed 22

yes, but no

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There is a lot to critique about this article. The lack of any sort of BRA (dba BPDA) reference really is odd. If there's a purported lack of a plan why not talk to the ....planning agency?

But the idea that the ZBA is somehow shaking down developers for "community benefits" is pretty far fetched. First off, the ZBA has never met a variance that didn't shoot through them like shit through a goose. And perhaps the larger (50,000 sqft and up) developments end up having to do something for the community, but all the small developments just get their variances and move on with construction of their poor quality, hardy-board boxes ("but LOOK! we slanted the shit on the fourth floor, so it looks like a mansard roof!!").

And while there are the residents who want to see the n'hood frozen in amber and others that want to see sensible development, and those that want to see 30 parking spaces per unit and those that contend that in a year or two we'll all teleport to our destinations so cars are a moot point, the reality is that all of these folks agree that they don't think the City has any clue as to what the outcome of all these variances are going to be. They haven't thought about what the default zoning is going to do to traffic flows (or floes), what is going to happen with stormwater runoff when every permeable surface is now a roof, what are the demands of physical and social infrastructure (a lot of calls for a new middle school), & just generally what is the quality of life going to be if the only criteria for development is the profit margin of each individual developer.

As someone said here, we're not going to stop gentrification. It means stopping capitalism and obviously this country is NOT in the mood for that kind of shit. But does that mean we can't actually have plans that are guided by some common values held by the people who are living and/or will live in this city - or is it only the short term self-interests of the developers (and the assorted remoras clinging to them like realtors, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, etc.) that matter?

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Voting closed 9

They're right that the zoning

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They're right that the zoning likely needs to be updated, but probably not in ways which they would necessarily like. Historic preservation: yes, I'm a huge fan, and there is value in that for sure. Selectively applied I think it could make sense in East Boston. Planning for development: yes. This should mean much higher density around transit nodes, allowing for incremental density in other areas, and mixed use allowed throughout. Most importantly, I think we need a form-based design code along with eliminating minimum parking requirements. This will ensure that what is built LOOKS a certain way and fits in with what is already a walkable, livable, human-scaled neighborhood.

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Voting closed 19

Rents have skyrocketed. So

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Rents have skyrocketed. So have housing prices. While that means prosperity for some, it means displacement for others. Family homelessness is on the rise in MA. Displacement is real. If we are going to continue to develop and build, we need to do it with multiple tiers of income in mind. We need strong neighborhoods and communities and we can't have those if luxury condos force everyone out. The people who make our food and care for our elderly and who work in vital but low-paying positions need to be able to live in our city. Kids deserve to stay in their neighborhood, continue at their school, and become a part of the community, rather than being forced to move increasingly far away because rents are ballooning. Stable and affordable housing means stable and manageable lives which means healthier people, less trauma, and lower crime.

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Voting closed 26

The Elephant In The Room =

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White yuppies are boring.

Lower income and working class people are just a lot more fun and interesting. Working class neighborhoods are full of life and color and unexpected wonders. Gentrified neighborhoods are almost uniformly less interesting and duller by comparison.

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Voting closed 16

What?

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That working class neighborhoods are full of life and color?

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Eastie Gentrify or ??

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Perhaps the fundamental problem is use of loaded terns such as [but by no means limited to]:
Gentrification
Workingclass
Yuppies
...

The real discussion should be based on a fundamental premise the basic law of the Universe is that the only constant is "Change":
The corollary is that just like an organism stasis in a city is actually impossible -- you are either growing or you are decaying

So over the past one hundred years Boston / Cambridge / Somerville and the inner suburbs first grew rapidly and then growth slowed [depending on the place anywhere from the 1920's to the 1950's]

This growth phase was followed by an extended period of decay and a related decrease in population -- you will see that the peak in Boston and Cambridge Somerville, etc. occurred decades ago [circa 1960]

There are many statistical measures which always invoke arguments -- but there are also objective measures such as: what happens to existing middle / upper market housing -- for example the single family town houses which circa 1920 dominated the Back Bay

The good times were followed by the crude [aka low cost] transformation of large single family houses in the Back Bay into institutional and multifamily usage [e.g.organizational HQ's, fraternity houses and multi-tenant apartments]

Eventually [1980's - 1990's] money influx and development of surrounding high value new construction began to transform many of these into multi-family condo complexes and living in the city began to be viewed favorably

Now things are coming full circle as the Back Bay is seeing some condos being re-converted into the top of the market single family houses

If you were a home owner in the Back Bay 100 years ago you were doing quite well. If you lived in the same house in 1970 -- you were probably either a student or someone looking for a city place to hang your hat until you could buy a house in the suburbs

Now once again to buy a condo let alone a house in the Back Bay you need to be doing quite well.

A number of the shop spaces and even restaurant locations in the Back Bay made the same transition -- in the 1970's there were a few places on the end of Newbury St near the former Ritz where typical students went for a nice but cheap meal -- not any more!

So the question for the Eastie folks is: do you want to "fight development" and thus to continue to slip downward [remember that the starting point of Eastie was not that high on the economic scale] and move into the lower levels of the now once again Growing Boston, or do you want to participate and grow along with places such as the South End, South Boston and even parts of Roxbury and Dorchester, etc. which have accepted if not embraced rapid development [aka "Gentrification"]

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Voting closed 9

erp?

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IMAGE(http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/sites/default/files/five-great-ways-to-challenge-your-dogs-mind-467923438.jpg)

Not entirely sure if this is sarcasm, irony or where exactly you fall...buuuut your point is relevant, although I'd word it differently. The thing that I find so boring about gentrified n'hoods is the feeling that you're in a mall. I went to Assembly Blow last night to get ice cream (being a car guy I appreciate/hate that place's car culture-friendly set-up). It was late and all the corporate-chain mall stores were closing. As I walked on the main drag I was thinking of how different it felt compared to walking down, say, Newbury Street at night. And yet, the stores on Newbury close up around the same time. There are restaurants open in either of the locales. There's residential above the stores, in either location. And yet watching the mall cops go past me I couldn't help but feel like ....this is the North Shore Mall without a roof (say the "Market Place" in Lynnfield or something like that). I dunno, maybe people who are into Disney or wish they could go to Westworld are used to that kind of environment - it makes me hyperventilate.

So "white yuppies" ARE indeed boring. The ones that moved into the building next to me don't talk to anyone in the n'hood and just scurry out to their Ubers (leaving their fucking cars taking up limited, dwindling parking spaces) to where ever the hell it is they go. They're fairly predictable - that's why marketers love them so much - they buy what they're told to. Low income and working class people tend to be much more shouty and have domestic spats in the street. They talk to you when you're out in front of your house and when you see them in Shaw's or the Y. They also open up small businesses, work in the n'hoods where they live, have kids in the local schools and get into screaming matches at their kids' baseball games. Maybe the "white yuppies" will do that in time too. At this point not too many of them in my n'hood seem to be breeding.

My point being that gentrification these days seems much more efficiently corporate. The stores, restaurants, businesses and architecture that moves in all seems to be cut from a cloth that is being used EVERYWHERE. The sameness is mind-numbingly boring. But the ice-cream and craft beer are pretty good.

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I Wasn't Being Sarcastic

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And you've articulated my sentiments perfectly. (And yes, when it comes to craft beer - white yuppies are the undisputed masters.)

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Every single person correctly

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Every single person correctly commenting here that stopping development in East Boston or anywhere in the city will make gentrification and displacement worse - please please please attend your local community meetings, write your councilors, support new projects in your area. Most people understand this and welcome progress but the voices of NIMBY are strong and hold sway because they show up and yell. If you live in East Boston especially, let Lydia Edwards hear from you about this process that already is being used as one big yell of "NO!"

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Voting closed 14