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Zoning Slowing Production of New Homes in Massachusetts

A quarter of all Massachusetts renters spend more than half their income on rent. A report from the Smart Growth Alliance argues NIMBYism is partly to blame.
June 27, 2019, 1pm PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Clinton, Massachusetts.

The Greater Boston area has zoned very little land for multi-family housing. Even as demand for housing has increased that zoning has been slow to change. "Like many other metros nationwide, Boston’s housing production lags far behind what is needed to keep housing costs reasonable. From 2010 to 2017, Greater Boston added 245,000 new jobs, but only permitted 71,600 new homes," Anthony Flint reports for CityLab.

One issue is the zoning decision-making process in the area, "Unlike much of the rest of the country, Massachusetts does not require communities to update their zoning on a regular basis and make it consistent with local plans," writes Flint. This means zoning changes are often made on an individual project basis, which is slow and can mobilize opposition. Another issue is that housing is often built, according to the Smart Growth Alliance, away from the center of the city.

"Dain’s case studies show that these infill projects are modest in scale and can take up to 15 years to plan and permit. Many more homes are getting built in less-developed areas, such as converted industrial properties, office parks, and other parcels isolated by highways, train tracks, waterways, or other barriers," writes Flint.

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Published on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 in CityLab
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