Zoning Reform Gets Another Try as Massachusetts Wrestles With Housing Crunch

Strong support for local control has made statewide legislation to address the housing affordability crisis difficult to approve in the Bay State.

1 minute read

March 20, 2019, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Prospect Hill Park, Waltham, MA

Bill Damon / Flickr

An article by Tim Logan provides evidence that Massachusetts is lagging behind the leaders in recent policy actions to spur housing production and protects tenants rights.

According to Logan, "in Massachusetts, even incremental legislation that aims to make it easier for towns to change their own zoning has proved to be a challenge."

The state has another chance to jumpstart new housing and development policies, reports Logan. Governor Charlie Baker was on hand to promote the relaunch legislation that failed to achieve approval last year.

"Developers and housing advocates have long pushed for changes to state zoning rules that would encourage, or even require, more multifamily development in more places. But their efforts have repeatedly run smack into one of Massachusetts’ most-cherished governmental traditions: local control of land use and zoning in the state’s 351 cities and towns," explains Logan.

"Even at the recent State House event, with all its talk of the need for more housing, Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito stressed their background as local officials, and promised to preserve local decision-making."

In addition to the legislation supported by the Governor's Office, Logan notes several other pro-development bills currently proposed in the legislature, such as "former Housing Committee co-chair Senator Joe Boncore that would require communities with MBTA stations to have at least some areas designated for multifamily zoning."

Saturday, March 16, 2019 in The Boston Globe

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Pumping Gas

10 States Where the Gas Tax Is Highest

As the gap between gas tax revenue and transportation funding needs widen across the country, the funding mechanism is drawing increased scrutiny from both public officials and consumers.

June 9, 2024 - The Ascent

Concrete walkway with landscaping, decorative tiles, and picnic tables in a Los Angeles County park.

Wish Granted: Former Brownfield Transformed to New Park

Wishing Tree Park in West Carson, California officially opened last month, replacing a brownfield site with a much-needed green space for recreation and respite.

June 14 - Urbanize LA

"No right turn on red" and "Turning vehicles yield to pedestrians" sign.

The Tide is Turning on Right Turns on Red

The policy, which stems from the gas embargo of the 1970s, makes intersections more dangerous for pedestrians.

June 14 - NPR

Thick green forest on edge of lake in Louisville, Kentucky.

Louisville Begins Process to Clean Superfund Site

A public forest is home to dozens of barrels that have been leaking toxic materials for decades.

June 14 - Inside Climate News

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.