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Engaging communities

Boston Harbor Candidates Forum

On Tuesday, September 12, 2017, nearly 100 engaged Bostonians gathered at BSA Space to hear from candidates for Boston City Council seats in Districts 1 and 2. All nine candidates from the two districts were represented at the forum, which provided an opportunity for candidates to speak to their ideas about harborfront development, water transportation, climate resilient infrastructure, and many more topics. The evening was moderated by Michael Ross, and co-hosted by Boston Harbor Now.

Popular discussion topics from the evening included whether or not commercial development had a place along the harbor, and how those projects could aid or hinder the city’s efforts at increasing climate resilience. Large storms and disaster preparedness were on the minds of many, with unanimous agreement from the candidates that Boston is not prepared to handle an event like Hurricane Harvey. Strategies proposed by the candidates differed, though all agreed that Boston has the opportunity to set a model of climate resilient development.

Transportation was another popular topic, with questions about an inner harbor ferry, water taxis, expanding Massport, and increasing coordination between the City of Boston and the MBTA. Additionally, the question of revised parking zoning in South Boston was divisive, with some candidates citing concerns that the zoning changes were in response to the wishes of large developers, not community members. Almost all candidates agreed, however, that improvements to other modes of transit were necessary in South Boston, which would hopefully reduce the level of traffic and demand for parking in the neighborhood.

Issues of housing affordability came up indirectly throughout the night. Of particular note was a conversation around the rising cost of flood insurance, and whether the City has an obligation to prevent rates—and therefore, rents—from rising. Candidates had a number of ideas on how to address this issue, ranging from establish a task force to asking large educational institutions for funds to subsidize these costs for qualifying residents. All candidates agreed that protecting residents against these cost increases was a priority, with a particular focus on protecting low- and moderate-income residents, older residents, and disabled residents.

The preliminary election for City Council will be held on September 26, 2017. Be sure to register to vote here by October 18 in order to vote in the regular election on November 7, 2017.

View the full discussion in the below video. 

Image courtesy of Christian Merfeld, Boston Harbor Now.

To learn more about how the BSA Foundation is making an impact in communities, please come to BSA Space for a one hour “tour” of BSA Foundation programs. On the tour, board members and volunteers will tell stories about how Foundation programs, and the power of design, are positively changing the lives of real people. Foundation Conversations are held on the second Wednesday of every month. Events are free, but seats are limited. Check for upcoming dates and to reserve your seat.