Op-Ed: Boston Needs Zoning Reform Now

The Boston Globe’s editorial board calls on the city to take on citywide zoning reform to boost housing construction and revitalize areas that have faced historical underinvestment.

1 minute read

February 21, 2023, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

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The Boston Globe Editorial Board writes in favor of reforming Boston’s complex zoning code to make it easier for homeowners to convert part of their homes to rental units as one way to increase the housing supply. In 2022, the city only permitted 31 accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Boston chief of planning James Arthur Jamison says he would like to see that number grow to 200 or 300 per year.

As the editorial explains, “There are two paths to changing the city’s zoning codes — both for those accessory units and more broadly for many of the city’s “squares and corridors” — places like Glover’s Corner or Fields Corner in Dorchester or sections of East Boston — where the Wu administration wants to encourage development of housing along commercial corridors.”

Rather than amend the code neighborhood by neighborhood, one proposed approach would make citywide changes, such as permitting ADUs without a Zoning Board of Approvals review. This approach would admittedly face pushback from neighborhood groups concerned about losing control of local decisionmaking. 

“There’s nothing sexy about zoning codes,” the board admits, but expresses optimism about the Wu administration’s efforts to reform it. “But it is where change and growth begin to happen — and it’s where this administration’s focus is spot-on.”

Saturday, February 18, 2023 in The Boston Globe

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