As condos squeeze in, space is not all that's lost - The Boston Globe

Crafting an education magnet - The Boston Globe

Little Sprouts, a Massachusetts-based operator of educationally-oriented centers for young children, has signed on as the first tenant of the re-born Presentation School in Oak Square. Tom O'Brien, president of the Presentation School Foundation comments in this story that "Allston-Brighton is facing the question of how to convince young families to become rooted here" and that PSF's partnership with Little Sprouts, WGBH, and Wheelock College will bring nationally recognized programs for children to Brighton.

But you can't attract families to A/B without housing well-suited for them. In Andreae Downs 's other story in today's Globe "As condos squeeze in, space is not all that's lost" the City employee interviewed seems rather nonchalant about the dismantling of family-friendly housing.

Derric Small, principal administrative assistant to Boston's Board of Appeal, understands that neighbors might be starting to feel squeezed as larger yards disappear around multifamily homes."They shouldn't feel alone," Small said of Allston and Brighton neighbors. "It's happening all over the city."
In this 2005 interview the Mayor expressed alarm at the the declining enrollment in Boston's public schools, which have lost 10% of its enrollment in the last 5 years and will probably close multiple schools in the next few years because of this enrollment trend.

This is clearly a situation where, as it is written in Galatians 6:7, we will reap what we sow. As Boston allows developers to maximize the number of new housing units while ignoring existing zoning laws, Allston and Brighton have fewer and fewer homes attractive to parents raising young children. If Boston really is concerned about dwindling enrollment in its schools, it would make sense to take a hard look at its housing and zoning priorities.

14 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:26 PM

    The problem with attracting young families to Allston isn't at all about the neighborhood, stock of available housing, access to public transportation or any of that, it is about the schools. Young couples do not want to put their children in Boston City schools. Until the schools improve, you are only going to get families who can't afford to live elsewhere.

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  2. Many families in Allston and Brighton (mine included) are having very positive experiences with our kids in Boston Public Schools. On what experience is your opinion based?

    Also, schools can improve over time. When new homes are built they will shape our community for decades. If schools improve but we are saddled with non-family housing then families will still be inclined go elsewhere.

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  3. Anonymous12:54 PM

    My opinion is based mostly on discussions with people who have gone through the BPS system in the last 5-10 years and others who teach there now.

    You are correct in pointing out that it is a bad situation and things will only improve slowly with more families returning to the district. However, people with young families, or who are considering starting families, are concerned with the present not the potential to improve at some unknown future date. I just don't believe that adding a significant number of single family houses is going to attract families. Even if you build it, there is no guarantee that they will come. Developers build what the market demands, and in Allston that is 1/2/3 bedroom condos for young professionals and empty nesters.

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  4. Anonymous3:16 PM

    Harry,
    Outside of the 3 exam schools, what high school would you send your child?

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  5. My oldest child will start high school in 10 years, so I am probably about 8 years away from having much of an opinion about the quality of BPS high schools.

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  6. wellbasically9:05 PM

    Anonymous' questions are worthy, but the population favored by condos tends to take no political interest in improving schools, and not just schools but other city services.

    The poor shlub they quoted said things that everybody else in his department believes: you live in a city, you should expect a degraded environment and a lower quality of life.

    The economics of the situation favor it. Each house is a small business that the investor can make money off for rent. The renters are willing to put up with more noise and pollution, at least for the few years they live here before they find a mate and move out to Cohasset.

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  7. Anonymous6:48 AM

    Harry, If your oldest is 10 years away from high school, how can you judge the the school system? There is a big change from pre-school and first grade.

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  8. I'm not trying to judge the entire school system. All I was saying is that many families I know with young children in Boston are very happy with Boston Public Schools. I don't agree with the first person who commented that the schools are so bad that only families with no other options will live in Boston.

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  9. wellbasically11:40 AM

    The market demand for condos is a non-argument to me. The market demands that we pave over the city entirely. These things don't happen in Newton because the residents have more money to fight developers. It's simply a matter of power.

    Look at who gets elected city councilor and why they get elected and you'll see why the neighborhood is wide open to exploitation.

    As far as kids go, nobody moves into A.B. with a kid. That's not true of West Roxbury however so it can't just be the fault of the schools.

    Adn the schools are not necessarily bad; it's the kids you have to watch out for.

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  10. My husband and I live on the Western Ave side of Allston, and bought a house with the explicit intention of raising a family here.

    We also own the house we used to live in, on the other side of Allston. When we went to rent the old house, we told realtors that we would accept a lower monthly rent from a family, because we really didn't want to rent to students.

    We couldn't get a family. The old house now has students in it, paying the higher rent.

    The old house is in the "BU slums" section of Allston. I assume the reason we couldn't get a family had more to do with parents not wanting their children around the noisy, drunken fights than with the school system. It's why we moved...

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  11. Anonymous4:53 PM

    Most of the people in West Roxbury send their children to Holy Name.

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  12. Very good friends of mine had been living/renting in AB North for over 10 years. They just had a baby and had been wanting to buy a house (not a condo) in AB North and gave-up because they couldn't afford one so they moved to the North Shore.

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  13. wellbasically7:45 PM

    The Holy Name commenter just proves my point.

    Perhaps we can cut to the chase here. Schools do better when a critical mass of the parents in the school know enough to care and have the ability to affect their child's performance and deal with the teachers/principal, and can also get a satisfactory response from the school.

    A person who cares enough and has the wherewithal to be a pain, and can judge whether they are getting results, might also apply this to the other city services and the city environment in general.

    People with no kids can stay up til 4 a.m. partying all summer and people with kids have to live on a different schedule. I'm not saying they all do it, most don't, but with all of us packed in like this it only takes one ill mannered jerk to screw up the neighborhood.

    People with kids who accept that will accept crappy schools too. You're never going to get decent schools as long as people who care and can navigate the system are driven away.

    The realtors and their minions at the city are working to make the ill-mannered jerk the standard setter for the neighborhood, not the family. In the end that's not really good for anybody, including the other young kidless people.

    Things are this way because the rental house is a tax-favored business in the eyes of the government. What percentage of voters are going to put some other priority over that? Maybe 30% on an ideal day. That's like 500-600 people, total in A.B. who will vote to delay development of some kind.

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  14. Informative post you have shared. Love to hear more as things move along!

    Arrielle P

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