Really Really Free Market tomorrow (Sunday)

The Allston/Brighton Neighborhood Assembly invites you to the second Allston Really Really Free Market on Sunday from 10-4 at Ringer Park.

What is a Really Really Free Market? It's just like it sounds, a market that is really, really free. People bring stuff (like books, cloths, food,toys, music, crafts, skills, art, etc, but no furniture please), and people take stuff. No money involved, everything is free. There will also be frisbees, football sand other things to play games with.

Students, landlords flouting a city limit

As I wrote back in March, the zoning change to prohibit 5 or more undergraduates from living in the same apartment seemed like a small step at best to change the quality of life in Boston neighborhoods where students abound in off-campus housing. Today the Globe reports that Inspectional Services has no way to determine if someone is an undergraduate student and brokers and landlords aren't hesitating to violate the ordinance.

Until the market fundamentals change or much stronger laws are passed, I see little chance of the status quo changing. It will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable change in Allston next fall, when BU is able to house 960 more of its students on-campus in its Student Village Phase II dormitory.

Harvard's treatment of minorities

Apparently the Harvard Police and others at Harvard have been less than welcoming to black students and faculty around the campus in Cambridge. As Harvard's campus and police force develop a greater presence here, what does this mean for the 4% of Allston/Brighton residents who are black and the 31% of A/B residents who are not white? And the neighborhood closest to Harvard's expansion is much more racially diverse (55% white) than A/B as a whole (69% white).

It is ironic that I saw this Globe article just after reading the section of the BRA's Scoping Determination for Harvard's Master Plan that emphasizes permeability and that Harvard's campus should be "a welcoming relationship for non-Harvard members of the Allston community and for visitors."

Black students, faculty hope Harvard police review sparks wider dialogue on race - The Boston Globe

Ain't No Party Like an HBS Party, says Boston Magazine

According to this story in the current issue of Boston Magazine, there is quite a party going on in Allston at Harvard's Business School . As HBS is accepting younger students, wild keg parties and beer-pong tournaments (also known as Beirut) are described as common. The students there will soon be even younger, as a new HBS program, 2+2, will add several dozen 24 year olds to the mix.

"You look back at some nights and you could say it happened at the University of Florida or you could say it happened at Harvard Business School, " said a second-year HBS student told Boston Magazine . A recent grad described the scence as "a lot of these people are 26, 27, have half a million dollars in the bank, and are completely burned out from all the 90-hour workweeks. They really just want to have a good time."

This should give pause to residents and City officials considering Harvard's expansion plans that will bring HBS and other student housing closer to North Allston's residential neighborhoods. Harvard's Master Plan draft proposes 500,000 square feet for Harvard Business School academic and housing uses, 350,000 square feet of graduate student housing (590 beds), and 800,000 square feet of undergraduate housing. But Harvard proposes not a single unit of housing for non-student adults who teach or work at Harvard and might become more permanent members of the community.

Allston/Brighton is already dominated by residents in their 20's, who make up 45% of our population (compared with 23% for the entire city of Boston). As with other demographic segments like renter/owner, it is a question of finding a good balance and anticipating how changes will affect (positively and negatively) different groups of people.

Construction ending at the Lincoln St Green Strip

Construction on the Lincoln Street Green Strip is scheduled to conclude this week. The raised planters are being filled with soil and wildflower seeds will be applied. Removal of invasive species continues and more debris will be removed from the site.

Tonight's movie at Harvard's Ed Portal - I, Robot

Tonight at 7 I, Robot is being shown at the Ed Portal (175 North Harvard St)

Deadline tomorrow to register to vote in Sept primary

The last day to register to vote in the September 16 State Primary is tomorrow. All voter registration forms must be postmarked by August 27th.

Registered Republicans may vote in the Republican primary. Registered Democrats may vote in the Democratic primary. Registered voters who are not enrolled in a party may vote in either primary.

You can register to vote by filling out, printing, signing, and mailing in a form available at Just click on register.

Allston/Brighton voters will find most or all local incumbents running unopposed for re-election, but go ahead and register anyway. It doesn't anything (beyond the cost of the stamp) and is an important part of our citizenship. With more people registered and more interested voters, more candidates may follow.

Allston-Brighton Community Survey is online

You can follow the link below to take the survey being conducted by Copernicus Marketing Consulting to assess the needs and aspirations of Allston/Brighton residents. The results will inform the community benefits planning associated with Harvard's expansion, and should also be useful in other situations (benefits associated with Boston College's expansion and others).

It is estimated that the survey will take 20 minutes and it must be completed in one session.

DoubleTree loses its ivy

Maybe this happened a while back, but driving down Soldiers Field Road today I noticed that all the ivy has been taken off the Harvard-owned DoubleTree hotel at the corner of Cambridge St and Soldiers Field Rd.

I was always impressed by how high it was able to climb and thought it looked nice. This photo from Google Street View shows how it used to look.

Upcoming zoning & licensing hearings

125-127 Brooks Street - Combine parcels and erect a two-family dwelling

Americans Pop Tattoo Company, 195 Gardner Street - Change the legal occupancy from two hundred and twelve apartments, garage, dry cleaners, retail store, pizza/deli restaurant to two hundred and thirteen apartments, garage, pizza/deli restaurant and tattoo parlor.

Liquor license transfer from El Cafetal Restaurant, 479 Cambridge Street to Taqueria El Carrizal, 254 Brighton Ave

427 Faneuil Street has applied for a Seven-Day Common Victualler License

More info at

Missing & damaged copper

Here are a couple photos from Holton St showing missing copper downspouts and broken brackets related to the post below.

Copper stolen from St. A & McNamara House

What is the world coming to when someone will travel from Hull to Allston to steal copper from a church and senior citizen home? Reputable recyclers seems to be paying about $3/pound for copper. If you are selling old gutters from the back of your pickup truck I would think you are getting something less than that. This problem is happening all over the country, and certainly is not unique to Allston.

Suspected copper crook arrested - Allston/Brighton TAB

Tonight's movie at Harvard's Ed Portal - A Bug's Life

Tonight at 5:30 A Bug's Life is being shown at the Ed Portal (175 North Harvard St)

Multi-million dollar Harvard purchase on Western Ave

Harvard purchased 1340 Soldiers Field Road (also known as 441-443 Western Ave), a rather uninteresting one-story brick commercial building on 3/4 of an acre. Assessed by the City for more than $2 million, this property (show with a blue outline in the map) completes a huge block of contiguous properties for Harvard on the north side of Western Ave with a view of the Charles River.

Keeping with past practices, Harvard created a temporary corporation "441 LLC" to acquire the property for $1 and then quickly merged it with Harvard Real Estate Allston Inc.

Everett St "house" for sale

There isn't much house left here, but it is nice to see that 205 Everett St is up for sale. I wrote about this property in October 2007, and since then it looks like the current owner has done absolutely nothing to maintain the property. The weeds are high, the trash on the sidewalk is thick, windows have been left open year round, and we can only hope that someone will buy this property and improve it.
Its current condition is a disgrace. It is a visible property at the corner of Everett and Holton and the house has some history, as described by Bill Marchione on the BAHS website:

In 1836, Abel Rice, a cousin of Edmund Rice, and a former Brighton Center schoolmaster, purchased eight acres of land near the intersection of Everett and Holton Streets. Here the farmer/ schoolmaster constructed a Greek revival-style residence, with an ell for schoolrooms, a structure which still stands at 205 Everett Street. Rice devoted his North Allston acreage to the cultivation of strawberries. He is said to have introduced the very first strawberries to the Boston market.

An asking price has not yet been set for the property. It is assessed by the City for $447,900.

Allston Civic Association meeting agenda for Wednesday, Aug 20

This month's meeting is Wednesday Aug 20th 6:30P.M. at the Honan Library

  • Harvard University - relocation of the firefighter training facility to Holton St. & night football game in September
  • Taqueria Carpizal - 254 Brighton Ave. - Transfer of B & W license from local restaurant.
  • Blanchards Liquors - 103 Harvard Ave. - Expansion of premises
  • David Tayeh - 1217A Comm Ave - Smoking Bar proposal

Globe story on Harvard's styrene leak

Harvard vows to neighbors that pipe repairs will be safe - The Boston Globe

Allston: From lamentable to lovable

A BU student's experience living on Ashford St really isn't representative of life in many other parts of Allston, but it is nice that she grew to love that corner of the neighborhood.

Allston: From lamentable to lovable - The Boston Globe

News reports on Harvard's toxic gas release in Allston

Toxic Release Prompts Allston Residents To Question Risks of Harvard Construction
A toxic chemical was inadvertently released into the air during a Harvard construction project earlier this month, prompting Allston residents at a special meeting called by the University Monday night to express concern over future health risks as construction continues.

Styrene leak sets off outrage at contractor, Harvard
City officials, neighbors and local legislators were outraged when a contractor hired by Harvard University exposed Allston residents to a chemical causing negative health effects.

Unintended consequences of housing developments

These stories consider the effects of Section 8 housing vouchers that subsidize rents for low-income people to move into neighborhoods more expensive than they could afford without the federal subsidy. While this type of relocation is not what is being proposed for the residents of Charlesview, some of the issues are relevant as we think about an enlarged Charlesview moving from its current isolated current location into close proximity with an existing neighborhood.

The concept of unintended consequences applies to any new housing being proposed, such as the several hundred units of student housing proposed by Harvard near the Windom Street neighborhood. We should think about not only the people who will live in the new housing but also how the new housing will affect the existing community. Especially when there will be significant differences between the new and existing residences. Whether these differences are age (student housing) or economic (Charlesview) they should be considered carefully and be informed by precedents elsewhere.

There are also plenty of examples of housing voucher programs and people with these vouchers that have been successful. Just like there are low-income housing projects that thrive and others that resemble a scene from the TV show "The Wire". Why do some succeed while others fail? Or, more fundamentally, how should "success" be defined?

This is about more than the current residents of Charlesview, many of whom will not live there in 5, 10, or 20 years. It is about how we design, build, maintain, and sustain our society for our collective benefit.

As Program Moves Poor to Suburbs, Tensions Follow - The New York Times

American Murder Mystery - The Atlantic

Natomas crime wave raises question about low-income housing - The Sacramento Bee

'Traffic,' by Tom Vanderbilt

Traffic is a frequent topic of conversation in A/B, especially when Harvard, BC, Lowe's, and others are seeking to expand here. This new book offers some new ideas, challenges some conventional wisdom, and offers a glimpse at traffic jams across the centuries.

Book Review - 'Traffic,' by Tom Vanderbilt - Review -

...People are driving to do things they once did at home or down the block. “It is not just that American households have more cars,” he writes, “it is that they are finding new places to take them.” They’re going someplace to eat. They’re driving to Whole Foods because they don’t like the produce at their neighborhood supermarket. They’re going out to get coffee.

Traffic does not yield to simple, appealing solutions. Adding lanes or roads is a short-lived fix. Widen one highway, and drivers from another will defect. Soon that road is worse than it was before. The most effective, least popular solution — aside from the currently effective, unpopular solution of $5-a-gallon gasoline — is congestion pricing: charging extra to use roads during rush hours

Meeting tonight - Chemical release at Harvard construction site

According to a flyer distributed to residents near the construction site, there will be a meeting tonight at 6 at the former WGBH building at 114 Western Ave for neighbors to learn more about the unauthorized chemical release on August 1 that occurred during construction of Harvard's Science Complex.

More info is available at the ABNNF Google Group.

Bike lanes for bikes

There has been a lot of hoopla about the new bike lanes on the 3/4 of a mile of Comm Ave between Allston and Kenmore Sq and they are a welcome addition to the city. Now it looks like we need some traffic enforcement. Predictability is one of the most important factors for safe roads for both drivers and bicyclists to be able to anticipate what will happen on the road. Cars parked in the bike lane force the bikes to swerve in and out of traffic - a situation that could be more dangerous than having no bike lane at all. So hopefully drivers will learn - with help from some parking tickets, if needed - that bike lanes are for bikes, not cars.

Neighbors spruce up Everett Street

The TAB describes the ABNNF's Everett St planting in a story featuring my son Levi.

Neighbors spruce up Everett Street with greenery - Allston/Brighton TAB

Harvard Allston Task Force - no meeting tonight

There has been some confusion about this month's schedule for Harvard Allston Task Force meetings. A schedule was announced in June with meetings on August 6 and August 20. However, an email sent Monday lists the only August meeting on August 13. There is also a Library Park meeting tomorrow night - see Monday's email for details.

Write the TAB to support housing for all in A/B

The opinion piece by Allston resident David McNair in this week's TAB explains what many people believe to be one of the most important issues relating to the proposed Charlesview expansion and relocation. David writes about the benefits and precedents for a true mixed income development. This is this the opposite of what Charlesview proposed - they want to put exclusively low-income housing at the KMart site and all of the project's market-rate condos along the river.

Overwhelming evidence has shown that a real, integrated development, with people of diverse incomes living side-by-side, is best for the people living in the development and the people living around it.

"Mixed-Income Housing: Myth and Fact" published by the Urban Land Institute, tells us that:

"Mixed-income housing has been recognized as a means to leverage market forces to provide a secure, high-quality, well-maintained living environment while increasing affordable housing options for lower- and moderate-income households. As a result, mixing incomes has become a popular way to supply affordable housing options, increase absorption in large planned developments, revitalize urban neighborhoods, and decrease the concentration of poverty in publicly assisted housing. When located close to job centers and services, mixed-income housing provides more than just another housing product—it also activates smart growth principles by reducing travel times and congestion."
Mixed-Income Housing Developments: Promise and Reality, published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, recognizes that "mixed-income housing is not a silver bullet" but also concludes that

"History has shown that concentrating large numbers of very poor households in one area is a destructive policy that is to be avoided at all costs."

In the face of strong evidence like this, it is hard to understand why Charlesview and Harvard favor an economically-segregated development.

Charlesview, the City, and Harvard need to hear from the Allston and Brighton community that we understand the benefits and importance of an inclusive, integrated development and the benefits of mixed-income development.

Please write to the Editor of the TAB at to support a mixed-income Charlesview.

Charlesview plans should promote economic diversity in housing - Allston/Brighton TAB

New at the Honan Library

This great map from 1925 on the floor in front of the main desk shows the neighborhood around the library as it used to be. You can also see the map here on the Brighton Allston Historical Society website but it is worth a trip to the library to see it printed in this large format.

Photos of Everett St planting last weekend

More photos at

ABNNF meets tonight

We will meet at 6:30 at the Resource Center (367 Western Avenue) for our August meeting

- Our framework for the Charlesview relocation--we have presented our ideas to the BRA, and now we need to strategize how to build support for them.

- Community Needs Assessment survey: Harvard's consultant group, Copernicus, is almost ready to launch this extensive survey of Allston/Brighton residents and their needs in the areas of education, healthcare, housing, open space/public realm, and transportation. Results of this survey will weigh heavily on the "master plan for community benefits" associated with Harvard's campus master plan, and it would be useful for us to reach some consensus on how to respond to it.

How's the water?

The story in today's NY Times brings to mind the rather sorry state of outdoor swimming in Allston. The nearby DCR pool at Magazine Beach in Cambridge gets 5 stars, but on this side of the river the options are either the Reilly Memorial Swimming Pool (355 Chestnut Hill Ave) in the southwest corner of the neighborhood or the one hard alongside the Mass Pike, Soldiers Field Rd, and North Beacon St shown in the photo to the right.

This pool might have been quite nice before the Pike was built, and it is too bad that the mitigation for the Pike's construction (if there was any) didn't include relocating the pool to somewhere else. In its current location, you can just about feel the car and truck exhaust wafting down the hill from the Pike to the pool. Getting there by bike or foot is just about impossible. And the building doesn't seem to have been renovated since its construction (probably in the 1930s or 40s based on its architecture and condition).

The existing pool and building doesn't use that much land - at 100x300 feet it is less than 3/4 of an acre. Even still, I don't expect a new pool, useful for only 3 months of the year, to be at the top of anyone's list during the Community-Wide Planning of A/B North or any other planning exercise. But it also can't be that expensive to dig a hole and build a small, one-story bath house. While a swimmable Charles River may still be years away, a new, clean, attractive pool accessible by car, foot, and bicycle is worth considering.

Discovering the Cool Pleasure of New York City Pools -

Lose the chain-link

People in Somerville are literally taking down barriers and enjoying the improved appearance of yards without chain link fences.

Neighbors lose the chain-link and reconnect the community - The Boston Globe

We've made many improvements to the Lincoln Street Green Strip this summer (and more are still to come). Removing and lowering the old chain link fence was one of the simplest things and one that I think has make a very positive difference.

Please join us for Everett St planting on Saturday and Sunday

Here are just a few of the many trees and other plants that we have for our Everett St planting days this weekend. 9 to Noon both days - refreshments and tools will be provided. The more the merrier!