5 reasons you should Sign the Great Neighborhoods petition

First, a bit of background:

The petition supports passage of a “Great Neighborhoods” bill this legislative session, which ends July 13, 2018. There are two similar versions, House Bill 2420 and Senate Bill 81. These bills call for an update of Massachusetts’ planning, permitting, and zoning laws (the laws that govern what we can build and how we should grow) into ones that better support families and seniors. This means more options for housing, open space, and protection of natural resources.

So why should you sign this petition?

1. You think we should have enough homes for everyone to live in.

It seems obvious to say everyone should have a place to live, but if we continue on our current trends we will not have enough homes for everyone.

We are producing less than half the homes we need each year. In the past seven years Massachusetts gained 246,000 residents and 353,000 new jobs, but only issued permits for 81,000 new units of housing.

This bill will require every city and town to build more multi-family housing in sensible locations and will outlaw discrimination in zoning and permitting decisions. Further, this bill argues we should make it quicker and cheaper for communities to decide where to sensibly grow.

2. You think people should be able to afford to live in their homes.

Not only should we have enough homes for everyone, but should people have to spend half their income on a place to live?

Affordability is tied to reason no.1 — because housing is in short supply, what we have is expensive. As the supply of homes continues to lag behind the need, homes will get more expensive.

These bills also allow communities to establish "inclusionary zoning," or affordability requirements on developers. They also implement changes to permitting requirements that will reduce development battles, saving everyone time and money.

By encouraging more growth, the bills will increase housing supply and limit escalating

housing costs.

Read Brian Madrigal's story on his housing struggles

3. You care about walkable, bikeable neighborhoods.

Many people want to live in neighborhoods where they can walk or bike to work, school, or the grocery store. This can be for health, environmental reasons, or to save money on gas or owning a car.

Even if this is not you (you would rather drive everywhere), chances are you understand why others want — and sometimes need — other ways to get around.

The bills encourage clustering and mixing of development, meaning we should put more variety of uses (like housing, groceries, and offices) closer together. This way, people can easily walk or bike between home, work, school, and other activities.

4. You want to preserve natural resources and open space.

Every day, we lose 13 acres of forests and farmland to low-density sprawl. This means we are growing outwards and consuming more space for fewer uses.

If we cluster development and grow in sensible places, we hope to better preserve the natural resources and space we have left.

The bills also discourage cookie-cutter subdivisions and limit over-sized roadways. Finally, they allow communities to designate natural resource protection areas to limit development in sensitive locations.

5. You think grandma should be able to live with family or caregivers, if she wants to.

Perhaps grandma wants to be independent but would like to (or needs to) stay close to the family. Or perhaps grandma has her own house, but she cannot afford to keep living there and wants to make a little money by renting out a garage apartment.

The bills call for more options to develop accessory dwelling units — like a garage apartment or a tiny house in the backyard.

As a bonus, accessory apartments may also help with the supply problem we discussed in reason no.1.

So what should I do?

The first step, of course, is to sign the petition to let your legislator know you care about great neighborhoods.

Don’t forget to share it with your friends and followers using #GreatNeighborhoodsMA.

Talk or write to your legislator about the Great Neighborhoods Bill and why he or she should support it.

Still not convinced? You can find more information and stories here and here.

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