City Councilor Andrea Campbell
I’m blessed to live right along the Neponset River Greenway, an incredible multimodal trail that connects Mattapan, Dorchester, and Milton. This is a beautiful greenway that all residents enjoy as a means for recreation and transit which is easily accessible to many diverse communities.
Many Boston residents live in areas at severe risk of flooding. Flood protection projects come at high cost, but doing nothing will be even more costly. How will you prioritize projects to address climate resilience and whose responsibility is it to pay for them?
We are seeing the effects of climate change today in our City, with our residents, cultural institutions, and environmental advocates feeling as if the City is not providing a clear vision for how to ensure every neighborhood is resilient. I have met with our anchor institutions like the Children’s Museum and the Aquarium who are worried about the next decade for their communities and the lack of help or planning the City has offered to solve these problems proactively. As Mayor, I will turn existing Climate and Resiliency plans into action, setting clear timelines and metrics to hold us accountable and convening key community partners like our PILOT institutions, business leaders, and experts to ensure all future projects are built with resiliency top of mind. To read more about my climate justice plan, visit my website here.
Given the urgency of climate change and the momentum towards net zero buildings, what actions will you take to support swift implementation of the Zero Carbon Zoning for new buildings and Emissions Performance Standard for existing buildings?
We need to act now to combat the effects of climate change and that begins with prioritizing proven methods we know work. As Mayor, I will lead in sustainability and emissions reduction through our own budget, buildings and assets and have committed to making City operations carbon neutral by 2035. I will build a resiliency plan of action for every Boston neighborhood and create pathways for our communities of color to retrofit buildings and maximize energy efficiency programs for lower-income residents, small landlords, and renters to access affordable clean energy alternatives. I will continue to work with research institutions to find ways to move up our timelines and exceed our goals to ensure that Boston is a national leader on resiliency and sustainability.
How can the City overcome challenges in housing production and better provide housing of all shapes and sizes at a range of affordability levels?
Housing is a human right and one of my top priorities. That’s why I released my housing plan, an equity-driven approach to solving the housing crisis that will engage all stakeholders, optimize the City’s housing assistance programs to provide immediate relief, take a holistic approach to planning and zoning reform, tackle homelessness, and create more safe, affordable, and stable housing for all Bostonians. As substantial new federal assistance is available to provide rental relief and other supports for residents, we must seize this moment. This includes increasing housing affordability by leveraging City assets that are sitting vacant and support the work of community land trusts. We also need to increase the production of housing that is affordable for Boston residents, while ensuring that the jobs on those sites provide prevailing wages. As a councilor, I’ve been proud to start a vacant lots initiative that is currently activating 30 vacant City-owned lots along Blue Hill Ave for housing and mixed use development that will provide affordable rents and ownership opportunities. As mayor, I’ll expand that initiative, starting with activating 100 vacant lots in my first 100 days for new housing, prioritizing small and mid-level local developers to create local jobs. I will take action to enable more transit oriented development, allow for accessory dwelling units, and remove affordable housing from the lengthy Article 80 review process.
To increase affordability, I will push for a change in the definition of Area Median Income to ensure income-restricted units truly support the financial needs of low and middle- income residents and explore a Citywide increase to the IDP percentage to 20%, especially in neighborhoods that are seeing lots of development and economic growth (like the Seaport, South End, Back Bay). I will also encourage developers to build on-site inclusionary development as much as possible to help bridge the racial and class divisions while also simultaneously strengthening the IDP transfer program for off-site development. This will trigger market-rate developers who can then transfer their mandatory inclusionary units to a non-profit affordable housing developer who will get more bang for their buck building more affordable units by tapping into government subsidies and tax credits.
Many Boston neighborhoods do not see new development as positive. Would you agree or disagree with this statement? Is there a neighborhood or part of Boston where you think that new development has had positive impacts on the surrounding community? Which area and why did it work?
Development can be positive, but it's clear the status quo development in Boston has not worked for all our neighborhoods. It is shameful that in a resource-rich City, an entire neighborhood of luxury development, new offices and restaurants was built in the Seaport, while public housing in Franklin Field hasn’t been renovated in decades and Mattapan still does not have one sit-down restaurant with a liquor license. As mayor, I will ensure neighborhood planning is equitable, resilient, and community-informed so that all Bostonians can benefit from the City’s growth. As a City Councilor, I have a record of leading boldly on creating more affordable housing units. The first piece of legislation I filed on the Council was the Community Preservation Act, a critical legislative tool for municipalities to generate millions of dollars annually for the creation of affordable housing, historic preservation, and greenspaces. We must continue to expand development in our City and do so with intentionality. As we look at building more in Boston, it's not just to meet the needs of the housing crisis, it's to expand businesses in our City to meet the needs of residents. As Mayor, I will create a City Hall that fosters development for small businesses like coffee shops that are open past 4pm, small grocers, women and diversity owned companies. We need diversity of businesses and ensure our local workforce has opportunities for this growth.
We are seeing unprecedentedly large projects in the City, like Suffolk Downs and Bay City. Are the plans for these, and past development areas, like the Seaport, being made the right way? Who should lead the planning of future projects like these, developers or the City? Are there opportunities for the City to be more proactive, while respecting the interests of impacted communities and property owners?
The City needs to take a more active role in planning to develop neighborhood approaches to development to meet the needs of residents, ensure our City is affordable to live, and ensure that large development is done the right way. My priority is ensuring the City is more proactive in addressing the long standing inequities in Boston in their planning process.
How else can the BSA and the architecture community best be involved in decision making and shaping Boston's future?
The job of preserving our historic buildings and looking towards the future of our planning cannot be done alone and I will proudly work with the BSA and architecture community to do so. We know the architecture community has a critical role to play in how residents interact with their communities and I will proudly work with them to create a more welcoming and inclusive City that is designed with intention. It’s also critically important to engage the BSA to help the City create sustainable spaces and buildings, working with residents and communities of color to ensure their voices are heard throughout the community planning processes.