At-large City Councilor Sam Yoon responds to the allston02134 candidate survey

1) Do you support the creation of a Boston Planning Department?
Yes__x__ No_____

I support the creation of a planning department separate from the BRA for several reasons. First, I believe there is an inherit conflict of interest when developers provide funding to the City’s planning department. Second, I believe that the creation of a separate planning department will facilitate more community input into the City’s planning process. Third, I support any attempt to bring more transparency and accountability to the development decisions made in our city.

Serious BRA reform is hard and will take collaboration between all members of the Council. In the meantime, I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that tax dollars are not wasted and that neighborhoods will not be negatively impacted by hasty decisions made without your input.

2) Should height limits in the North Allston Strategic Framework be strictly applied to Harvard’s proposed buildings?
Yes____ No_____

I am encouraged by the development of the Framework because it facilitates discussion between the developers and the community. As somebody who has worked for a community development corporation (CDC), I understand how difficult it is at times to get developers and members of the neighborhood to agree - something the Framework seems to do. My only concern when applying the framework strictly is that it could drive a wedge between the community and developers just as we begin to build consensus about what the neighborhood should look like.

Because of my prior experience at a CDC I also realize that community planning is an evolving process and it may be difficult at times to follow every guideline. Responsible development should not be seen as our enemy; however we must work against irresponsible development in our city. We must make sure that developers work with the residents of our neighborhoods to find common ground. As your City Councilor, I will be on call to ensure the community has a voice that is listened to.

3) Should City Council approval be required before a university can purchase property in Boston?
Yes_____ No__X__

Institutional expansion is a problem in many neighborhoods of Boston. Within the neighborhoods of Allston and Brighton, there is Harvard University, Boston College and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. These institutions are creeping into what are historically residential areas. Although the growth of these institutions can be a benefit, we shouldn’t allow expansion at the expense of those who live in the community.

City Council approval is currently required for designating city-owned property as “surplus” (no longer useful in service to the city), which is a necessary step before it is sold to a private or other public interest. Requiring City Council approval for real estate transactions between two private parties goes beyond the appropriate role of the City Council as a legislative, policymaking body. Regulating and permitting private transactions should be done by the executive branch of government.

However, as a City Councilor, I will work with my colleagues at the state level to make sure that institutions comply with not only the guidelines regarding community process that other private developers follow but that they receive even more scrutiny because of the enormous impact they can have on neighborhoods by virtue of their size and longevity.

4) What are your thoughts about a possible Charlesview relocation?

Currently the units at Charlesview need massive overhaul. They were modern units when they were built, but that was over three decades ago. Although I am excited about the talk of possible renovation, I am alarmed at the apparent lack of public consensus obtained regarding the movement of the complex. If a suitable new location is found, the relocation could be extremely beneficial to the residents of Charlesview.

I urge Harvard University, the BRA and community members to work together to find a location that is agreeable to all parties, including those who live in the complex. I will work with my colleagues in government, including the district councilor for Allston and Brighton, to ensure the community and current Charlesview tenants are given a strong voice in any new relocation decisions.

5) What should be the future of the Speedway property on Western Ave?

The Speedway property has the potential to be a tremendous benefit to the community. However, it is too early to make predictions and requests about the prospective use of this property. There are several steps that need to be completed before a development can even be conceived.

Legislation must be filed in order to sell the land. A new location for existing facilities on the property must be found. Most importantly, an extensive public process must be conducted to decide how this land can be best utilized by the neighborhood.

I hope to see some development of multi-use affordable housing included however the community’s interests are paramount. This property has great potential for a development that would benefit the community and ultimately I hope that such a project will be completed.

6) How do you feel about the vacant Harvard-owned properties in North Allston and North Brighton?

First of all, before Harvard continues to encroach on our neighborhoods, I believe it must begin a development process around the land it currently has. Harvard and other institutions are buying property all over the city before developing what they already own.

Harvard can have a tremendous impact on our communities; the question that remains is whether it will be positive or negative. I am hopeful that Harvard takes the time to consult with the community, and I am willing to help make sure that these conversations happen. However, a community process of this extent takes time. Currently, the vacant properties may be an eyesore; however, with the proper community process, new developments can be built that will enhance the community at large.


  1. Anonymous11:12 AM

    I strongly agree with Sam's answers to the survey. Re-development and affordable housing are such major issues in Allston/Brighton, and I appreciate Sam's experience and like that he is about bringing the community and the developer/institution (i.e. Harvard) together in an open dialog. Like his position in the city council among his colleges, Sam has proven that he is about bridge building- rather than "us vs. them" - politics.

  2. Anonymous10:51 PM

    Councilor Sam Yoon say's I will work with my colleagues in government, including the district councilor for Allston and Brighton, to ensure the community and current Charlesview tenants are given a strong voice in any new relocation decisions. Where have you been for the last 2 years
    when the tennants asked for A voice they where just Ignored By the Charlesview Board And Harvard University and all city officals. Oh I forgot The reason you whant to help now is because it is an Election year everyone from city hall will come out of the walls and help now because it is election time. it is to late to help out now because relocation of the new Charlesview is will be at the Brighton Mills Parking lot.

  3. Thank you Sam Yoon for your answer to number one. I and many other Allston/Brighton citizens are in agreement with you. We have experienced the BRA and it's actions that never seem to support what the people want. I'd like to see the Speedway kept for the community. I question the development of "affordable housing" on that spot. The prices never seem to be affordable to those in the community. Before Harvard is allowed any more puchases of "prized property" in Allston and Brighton they should prove they're committed to their previous promises. So far, the people aren't convinced they are.

  4. Anonymous9:33 PM

    Last time I checked Sam Yoon has been on the Boston City Council and there still is the BRA hold on the people of the city. Please remember he made these comments 2 years ago and still is. It is all reterick. I hope everybody that goes to the polls on Sept 25th remembers that we can elect new members for a change. And I strongly recommend that all of us look at the Hogan Campaign,( he may not have a lot of money in his warchest but he is an outsider and wants to be elected to serve the people not the special interests. He will bring accountability and honor back to the council.

    Thank you.

    A Concerned Resident