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Natural Awakenings Boston

The Great Neighborhoods Campaign

Over the last seven years, Massachusetts has gained 246,000 residents and 353,000 new jobs, but permitted just 81,000 units of new housing. Additionally, outdated development laws have not been improved since 1975 making the area’s housing crisis even worse and endangering existing open space.

In response, local residents are needed to ask legislators to support zoning reform in 2018 that creates homes and curbs sprawl. The Great Neighborhoods campaign has momentum, but time is running out to make sure that the Legislature backs a comprehensive and balanced bill. Governor Baker has proposed a modest zoning bill, but House and Senate leaders need to be encouraged to continue working on a comprehensive and balanced solution (House Bill 2420, sponsored by Representatives Steve Kulik and Sarah Peake; Senate Bill 81, sponsored by Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler).

The average single-family lot in Massachusetts is larger than a professional football field. Almost 40 percent of climate-damaging pollution comes from cars and trucks on the road because the state’s sprawl forces people to drive further and more often.

The Great Neighborhood bills would do the following:

• Ask all communities to contribute their fair share to solving the housing crisis

• Create statewide rules for the accessory apartments that are so needed by our seniors and disabled population

• Promote mediation and reduce frivolous court appeals

• Make it easier to use tools like special permits, site plan review, variances, and inclusionary zoning

• Encourage compact development to preserve forests and farmlands

 • Help communities master plan and get training for their board members

By planning for future growth, neighborhoods can become more affordable, downtowns more prosperous, and communities more healthy and climate-friendly.

Learn more about the campaign at Great-Neighborhoods.org.