If everyone can take a step back from Austin Street, I think it’s worth noting that Austin Street is only a precursor to what the administration hopes to do in (for? to?) every village center or area accessible to public transit.
The Housing Strategy session the Sunday before Thanksgiving, attended by about 100 people I believe (going by an estimate in the Tab), was an attempt to get residents to tell the city what the city has been telling us, that we need high density around village centers. I’m not sure how representative 100 people can be, although based on the group summaries at the end, most tables seemed to have a mix of pro-, no, and in-between development preferences. But I think more people need to know what happens at events like this, than just the people who attend, so I videoed as much as possible. Although with 10 breakout tables, I couldn’t be everywhere, but it’s a sampler. Thanks to Chris Pitts for processing and uploading the video.
You can read my more extensive comments on my juliamalakie.org blog post, but here’s an excerpt:
But the rules of the “game” seemed designed to achieve a particular outcome. I was especially disturbed by how the consultant invited participants to convert commercial and industrial property to residential — calling that an “opportunity” — when our percentage of commercial property is already low, and we need to preserve and expand our commercial tax base to have any hope of paying for $1 billion of unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities.
So I hope people will take the time to watch. (Sorry I didn’t post this yesterday to give people an alternative to the Pats.) I think one thing to learn from this, is that Austin Street isn’t just about Newtonville, and if you’re not worried about Austin Street because you don’t live in or frequent Newtonville, think again.