Unequal housing choices – the great disparity among Boston’s neighborhoods – widen the existing gaps in health outcomes, wealth, and stability. The City of Boston contains over 800 vacant affordable housing units, but residents and developers alike are often hamstrung by a cumbersome process that lacks fairness and transparency. Jeff will work to establish better family placement, and advocate for a stronger audit practices and oversight within the annual housing certification process. As your City Councilor, Jeff will work to formulate new neighborhood-based AMI (area median income) models, being mindful of the economic vitality required to encourage and sustain building and renewal of housing stock. Jeff will work to create new regulations for the development of workforce housing and explore union involvement and local funding of such projects to create this middle-income housing and to expand the availability of income restricted units.
Jeff believes that quality public education must be student- and parent-focused, with policy-making decisions involving all stakeholders: teachers, administration, government, wraparound services, and others. In education, we must address a holistic approach to the needs of each child. As a father of two, Jeff understands that the complex puzzle to student success is not merely in the classroom, but also relies on social and emotional wellness, housing and economic stability, public safety, transportation, and many additional considerations. Supporting wraparound services – ESL, special needs learning, trauma counseling, mental health professionals – is key. Funding has been a consistent challenge for Boston Public Schools, and Jeff will be a voice for fairness, encouraging partners at the City and State levels to reassess the per-student funding formulas and fix a broken system. Jeff also supports creative solutions to decrease funding gaps, such as assessments on rideshare services originating in the City (for example, $2 per ride could generate $70M in new revenue per year).
Boston has served as a national model for community policing, with some of the lowest crime rates of urban areas across the country. But a stark divide persists, and we face a clear crisis in some neighborhoods, disproportionately impacting communities of color. Trauma is real, and our public safety must go beyond simply law enforcement and include a comprehensive, community-involved approach to keeping our families and neighborhoods safe. And, put simply, there are just too many guns on our streets. In addition, we absolutely must provide proper support and safety measures to support our firefighters and curb the crisis-point levels of cancer and other job-related illness. Jeff will be a strong and consistent advocate for all public safety departments across the City.
Jeff has been a long-time advocate for access to healthy food options, recognizing that far too many residents in Boston live in “food deserts” with limited access to affordable, health-conscious choices. As your City Councilor, Jeff will advocate for city tax credits, friendly zoning policies, and grants to address the lack access to local produce and healthy meals within walking distance within neighborhoods. These efforts will seek to reduce health disparities and ease the transportation burdens in underserved areas of Boston, while creating incentives for smaller retail markets to sell healthy food and affordable costs. In addition, Jeff will support expanded access to healthy local food in our schools through farm-to-table partnerships. These opportunities also serve to boost economic stability for family farmers regionally and pioneers in urban agriculture across the City.
It is no secret that Boston faces a broad series of challenges with regards to transportation: a struggling MBTA; rideshare opportunities; bicycle access; pedestrian and overall safety; growing traffic. But Boston is also home to an incredible professional community of designers, planners, developers and policymakers, with a plethora of talent to create and advance a vision for Boston’s transport future. Creative dialogue about transportation options became a tangential benefit of the discussion of Boston hosting the Olympics, and despite the failure of the overall effort, these alternative ideas deserve some level of consideration – such as a gondola from South Boston to South Station, an extension of the Emerald Necklace, or a Boston-Quincy ferry service. We can ensure that all of our neighborhoods have access to safe, active modes of transportation and Jeff will champion increased investments in synthesized network hubs, including subways, walking and biking infrastructure, and gold standard bus rapid transit (e.g. dedicated right of way, busway alignment, off-board fare collection, intersection treatments, and platform-level boarding).
Boston is defined by our parks and open spaces, with hundreds of parks dotting our neighborhoods, activated waterfront locations, and swaths of green space like the famed Emerald Necklace and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Community Preservation Act can create funds to protect these vital community centers, but we must make extra effort to preserve and protect the spaces that balance the sometimes-aggressive rate of development in Boston. Buildings contribute to over half of greenhouse gas emissions in Boston, and addressing the energy efficiency in development is a significant first step to combatting climate change. Boston’s climate resilience is a very real concern and we must take every step possible towards preparation and mitigation. Beyond development, we must also look at transportation efficiencies in Boston, including support for green solutions on carbon neutrality such as expanded EV charging stations, and evaluation of environmental degradation across Boston resulting from the impacts of transportation.
In FY18, reports show the city took in less than 75% of requested PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) contributions. Nonprofits in Boston from the educational and medical sectors own and occupy billions of dollars in property across the City, and yet, paid less than $34 million in PILOT contributions. These institutions are staples of Boston, but we must create a community process requiring these nonprofits ensure that their “community benefits” do, in fact, benefit the community, and report these contributions in a consistent and transparent manner. There can be a balance between supporting these massive nonprofit institutions and ensuring that all residents in Boston can benefit from their presence. Jeff will be a voice to ensure that these institutions are paying their expected fair share.
Cranes in the sky are a sign of economic strength, but there is a balance to protect residents from the unintended consequences of rapid development. As your City Councilor, Jeff will always be a voice for residents to balance the scales. For example, Jeff will support: funding for critical infrastructure needs and protecting the Boston Groundwater Trust; deed restrictions and zoning reform; and sunlight impacts of high development proposals. The role of the Council is to seek balance, working with community groups and developers alike to protect our quality of life.