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No Little Houses on the Prairie with too-small units in Allston, board decides

The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected a proposal to turn a one-family house at 13 Greylock Rd. in Allston into a five-unit building after one member noticed that plans showed two proposed units were smaller than allowed by city building guidelines - and residents complained the house is already a neighborhood trash generator with just one family in it.

The board rejected City Realty's proposal "without prejudice," which means the company can come back with a new proposal.

Board member Mark Erlich, said he couldn't vote for the proposal, which included an extension on the rear and one side and which he said looked like a "Little House on the Prairie," because the architect's plans submitted to the board showed two one-bedroom units of 580 and 630 square feet - when city code requires at least 650 square feet.

The city has a "compact living" program that allows for smaller units, but the proposal was not filed under it.

City Realty attorney Jeff Drago, who had, moments earlier, said the units averaged 655 square feet, then asked for a deferral, because he said the figures on the plans were news to him and he needed to look into the discrepancy.

But board Chairwoman Christine Araujo denied his request, because the hearing had already started, so Drago and his client had to listen to neighbors complain about problems with the existing house.

One direct neighbor said she grew so tired of renters using her dumpsters and walking on her property that she installed $7,000 worth of cameras and locks on her dumpsters - although she added she now supports the project after City Realty, which bought the house in August, assured her it would modify the design to include trash receptacles and would build a fence along her property.

"So they couldn't maintain their property with one unit and you have faith they'll do it as a five?" Araujo asked. The neighbor said, yes, she believed City Realty.

Other neighbors, however, said they continued to oppose the proposed expansion because of the trash. One neighbor, an exterminator, said he has captured 200 rats in his own backyard.

Drago said the proposal actually maintained the character of the neighborhood by keeping the existing building - which would be extensively renovated inside - and adding an extension, rather than razing it completely.

The mayor's office supported the proposal, which brought a question from Erlich. "Why is the mayor's office in support of a project that violates city guidelines?" A liaison from the mayor's office said support came because most neighbors seemed to support the project at neighborhood meetings.

After the board rejected the proposal without prejudice, Araujo told Drago that City Realty could come back with new plans that address the previous "lack of neighborliness" as well as the discrepancy of the size of two of the units. Also, "please read five units as too dense," she said.

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Comments

residents complained the house is already a neighborhood trash generator with just one family in it.

NIMBY logic at its finest. The existing use allegedly breeds trash and rodent issues. So instead of having the property renovated, cleaned up, and modernized, the NIMBYs want it to stay the same and continue to deal with those issues. Geniuses.

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Sorry if I was too vague. The issue, apparently, is that the current tenants have no place to store trash and so just dump bags outside or use the neighbor's dumpster (at least until she put a lock on it), and the animals get into it, etc.

That was one of the things that persuaded that one neighbor to switch from opposition to support - City Realty agreed to put in a place where the residents could store their trash.

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One direct neighbor said she grew so tired of renters using her dumpsters and walking on her property that she installed $7,000 worth of cameras and locks on her dumpsters

Those must be iPhone 11 Pro Max security cameras.

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Right? I set up a motion detecting "security camera" with a discarded laptop and an ancient USB webcam, for essentially free. Does the job.

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Seriously. Some chain and a padlock is a couple of bucks and you can get ok security cameras for under $100 a piece.

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I am generally a YIMBY kind of guy and no fan on this ZBA board, but holding back a landlord with a bad record until they clean up their act is definitely the right call.

Over the past 15 years, City Realty has established itself as a the quintessential greedy and careless landlord -one can get a sense by just googling “City realty Boston lawsuit”. A special mention for having the City council hold a special hearing to discuss their bad practices a few years back. They own hundreds of units throughout the City -if not thousands by now- and it seems that they are announcing another development project every other week. Some of them quite large.

As they are becoming such a big landlord in the City, these guys need to be held accountable and start acting like a responsible party and not just a leech.

https://www.universalhub.com/2020/board-approves-six-building-project-wi...

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"holding back a landlord with a bad record until they clean up their act is definitely the right call."

It really isn't though. The problem is these guys own dozens of properties all over the city, and time doesn't just stand still while we wait for them to become nice landlords. Those properties sit in their current state, often vacant, and the housing crisis persists.

I think it would be in CR's best interest to split development and property management into two separate companies but until they DO, it is definitely NOT in OUR best interest to just have these properties sitting vacant or derelict and not building those (badly needed) additional housing units.

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agreed. the city should be actively inspecting and fining them for every problem property. after enough citations and no progress, repossess the property and offer it to the renters at sane prices. make it EXPENSIVE to be a shitty landlord in this city. does anybody really think "small owner occupants" are buying these 2 million dollar 3 families anymore? fuck no, they're being sold by developers to massive corporate land holders who engage in rent keeping while letting the things fall apart, exacerbating the housing crisis and preventing people from putting in real roots.

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LOL @ Erlich's comment . He's dating himself, that show hasn't been on since 1983 and her books have fallen out of vogue.

But if the Ingalls' lived in a 580 sq foot cabin, they'd feel like the were livin' like the Oleson's.

Most of the Ingalls' homes were less than 250 sq ft.

In fact, the real "little house on the prairie" house.. cabin rather, outside Independence, KS is about 170 sq ft.

And Ma and Pa's final & largest home in DeSmet, SD, with all three additions was 472 sq. ft. Still a far cry from 580 or 630 sq ft. Laura's Rocky Ridge Farm home in Mansfield, MO, was much larger when it was finished in 1928.

The set from the TV show was modeled after their finished 1882-era DeSmet home. Because much like everything else from the show, most of it was modeled after their lives in Burr Oak, IA or DeSmet, but Walnut Grove sounded better for TV because Micheal Landon.

(yeah my LHOTP geek just came out)

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Also because TV production - though, yes, Michael Landon (and his perm) shaped so much of the series. (including the cringeworthy and/or annoying parts)
The series started in the period in the title character's life where she was a young girl, which was in Walnut Grove. They set it there.
It would have been a downer and a meandering, ponderous, plotline to have the whole Burr Oak/baby Charles dies/move back to Walnut Grove in a year story arc. A horrible year in the real-life story, depressing and at times creepy. Left out of the books, and it wouldn't have fit the tv series.
Yeah, they never bothered to include the move to Dakota. It was a TV series (very) loosely based on the real person's life (well, the version she wrote for children). They had a cast of regular character built up that they would have had to ditch and create new supporting characters for the new town (other than a couple. The real-life Olsens moved to Dakota, too - people followed the path due west into new homesteading territory). The TV show also had a whole town of sets and exteriors built - they weren't going to tear down & build new sets/exteriors, and no amount of window-dressing would have hidden that it was the same "town"

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TV production is right but ML had full creative control.

As someone who has read all the books, and the "adult" version of the books (No, not X rated but written for adult readers). And vast amounts of reading and what not.. I've learned a few things about the TV show.

The main thing is Season 1 was spot on to her books (Little House on the Prairie book). After that, it swayed very much. However, many of the situations in the first few seasons were ripped from the books. It may have not been in Walnut Grove, but the situation did happen.

The Burr Oak years were shown on the TV show when they moved west and ran a hotel when times were bad in the TV show. (this is the same reason why they moved to Burr Oak in real life).

The DeSmet years (and final years in the books) were the same. They plucked situations (i.e. the long winter, Manny playing taxi while she taught in a school district far away) from the last few books and used them in the series.

They did talk about Baby Charles in the TV show and books, btw. In the TV show its a 2 part episode (starring Ernest Borgenine) called "The Lord is my Shepard". In the book, it's not talked about for more than a chapter. But Laura was a little girl (and her readers are little girls sooo).

Regardless, IMHO.. Little House is still some good TV. Unlike many period shows, outside of Micheal Landon's 1970s perm, it was well done. I recently purchased the bluray edition box set. Well work the 100 bucks. Its all in high def. Make fun of Micheal Landon all you want, but he was one hell of a director and producer. The SD versions of the show (as aired by NBC in the 1970s) did not do the cinematagraphy justice at all. In High Def its like "wow.. this was just a TV show.. its like watching a mini movie"

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Well done? Some of it. Unfortunately, it had a lot of bad parts - and yeah, ML would have to own some of that.
- trite tv "write the kid(s) as disobedient, getting into trouble, etc..." plots, again and again... just drivel, plan and simple
- the "kid characters (Laura and, ummm.... Albert?, Nellie?) aging out of the kid demographic? Write in virtual clones and rehash the original characters' dynamics!" tv trope
- Laura and Almanzo's mansion
- really bad period stuff, like one episode where Laura & Almanzo are fighting, reconcile standing in front of the house when he comes home just at the end of the episode, and go inside to have supper and/or make up - leaving the horses hitched to the wagon, standing out in front of the house, in the dark, in a rainstorm!!!
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Baby Charles Ingalls and the time in Burr Oak were never mentioned in the 8 children's books or The First Four Years (though the experience can probably be assumed to have reinforced Caroline's general moral disapproval of saloons/drinking/drunkeness and her rejection of any thought of any daughter of hers working in a hotel, firmly illustrated in Little Town on the Prairie, I think). I assume it was mentioned more in Laura's original draft novel/autobiography - it certainly was in later books written about her, the family, and the various "little houses"
There was a two-year gap between the end of Plum Creek and the beginning of Silver Lake, with only a brief description of what had happened (mediocre crops, most of the family having been sick, and Mary going blind).
The gap served to close up the time/age fudging of the first two or three Laura books. Some things were out of order (Carrie's birth), or happened at ages other than what was written in the books. When her first book sold, she had no way of knowing it would become a whole series - or that she would be "writing history", as she said in some later interview. Also, I believe I read some account somewhere that some early editor refused to believe that she had such recollections of things that happened when she was 3 and pushed her to write Laura as 5 years old.
Laura's pregnancy and her & Almanzo's second child - the son who died unnamed within a couple of weeks of birth - was mentioned in The First Four Years. I forget if he was mentioned in Rose's framing sequence for On The Way Home

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The Lord Is My Shepherd

I don't remember seeing the Baby Charles storyline in the series. I could easily have missed it.
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I vaguely remember some episode(s) where there is a child (a boy) that is gravely ill, doctor can't help, anybody they consult from bigger towns/cities can't help, Charles is grasping at straws, he's ready to leave the family and take the boy to Lourdes in hopes of a miracle, pawns his pocket watch to leave the family with some funds, Mister Olson (Olsen?) takes pity and gives him $50 for it (much more than it was worth), the child dies before he can leave, big crisis of faith...
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I would have said that story was an older boy, not an infant.

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