Councilor Arroyo is the 3rd candidate for City Council to answer the allston02134 survey questions. You can see other responses at:
James Jenner - Allston/Brighton candidate - http://allston02134.blogspot.com/2007/06/james-jenner-city-council-candidate.html
Steve Murphy - At-large candidate - http://allston02134.blogspot.com/2007/06/at-large-city-councilor-steve-murphy.html
Here are Councilor Arroyo's responses...
1) Do you support the creation of a Boston Planning Department?
Comments: Since first introducing the concept in 2004, I continue to be the Council’s leading advocate for this much-needed reform. As directed by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the City’s “planning” process is deeply flawed. A focus on institutional and commercial development has led to an affordable housing crisis while too little is being done to preserve the city's remaining open space. A proliferation of tax-exempt properties and a lack of any real economic planning has hurt our City’s finances. For these reasons, I am the lead sponsor and author of a Home Rule Petition which would create of a City Planning Department to promote community-planning and housing development. With a new Planning Department, Boston would have comprehensive, long-term, need-driven (rather than project-driven) and community-based planning, and housing production would regain prominence. For a copy of the Home Rule Petition or for more information please contact my Chief of Staff Jamie Willmuth at (617) 635-3115.
2) Should height limits in the North Allston Strategic Framework be strictly applied to Harvard’s proposed buildings?
Comments: I remain extremely frustrated and disappointed that the BRA and the City too often treat community Master Plans as mere guidelines and commentary rather than granting them the respect these comprehensive planning documents deserve. The process of creating this Framework began in 2001. After many meetings and much hard work, the Community Planning Group of dozens of local residents created a vision for the area that maximizes opportunities for North Allston and all of Boston. The planning group, appointed by the Mayor, was representative of residents, businesses, institutions, and non-profits with interests in the area. Their work deserves more respect.
3) Should City Council approval be required before a university can purchase property in Boston?
Comments: I am the lead sponsor and author of the University Expansion Moratorium. This legislation would empower the City’s Institutional Expansion board to enforce a conditional moratorium on any College or University expanding to property not currently owned by a tax-exempt institution. The City of Boston proudly hosts a student population of well over 200,000. Our colleges and universities own just a small percentage of land in the City, have a major positive impact on our economy, and must sometimes expand to meet the needs of growing student populations. Nevertheless, in the past decade, Boston has experienced rapid and almost uncontrolled expansion by almost every major College and University. This growth significant concerns about local tax revenues because colleges and universities are tax-exempt.
The City also suffers increased density and higher housing costs as the increasing numbers of students impact demand. My Ordinance asks Boston’s Institutional Expansion Board to ensure that no College or University will gain control over taxed property without prior passage of a City Council Resolution approving the transaction. It also says that the City Council will not consider passage of such a Resolution unless the College or University agrees to make a new annual PILOT payment equal to or greater than the estimated amount which the City would have collected in property taxes. A public hearing on this Ordinance will be held this Fall
4) What are your thoughts about a possible Charlesview relocation?
I remain very concerned about the proposal to move the Charlesview Apartments and it’s nearly 600 residents to another location. Though the current site is in need of repair, I sympathize with the tenants who to not wish to relocate to the Brighton Mills or any other another location. I continue to hope that a sustainable solution can be established which will satisfy the current tenants, the Chalesview board, and Harvard University. All sides should continue to carefully explore the merits of proposed alternative sites, such as the Kmart site, in an effort to reach a mutual agreement.
5) What should be the future of the Speedway property on Western Ave?
It’s my understanding that this is largely a state issue that Representative Moran is addressing. I would not necessarily oppose Harvard or another entity purchasing this property. Whoever purchases the property should ensure that it is re-developed in accordance with the community needs and vision. No bid should be accepted from anyone who does not agree to an appropriate re-development.
6) How do you feel about the vacant Harvard-owned properties in North Allston and North Brighton?
I share the community's concerns about these properties. Certainly, I believe that Harvard has an obligation to tell the community about its intended use of these properties particular as they ask for approval of a new 50-year Master Plan. I am committed to working with community leaders to explore whether the City should consider taking and developing these parcels should Harvard indicate it has no plans for the properties. As with all vacant lots, the Department of Neighborhood Development has a responsibility to ensure that these properties are properly maintained and developed.