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BETTER IDEAS

Many of the ideas proposed by the Town emphasize mixed-use development as promoted by Metropolitan Area Planning Council boilerplate, even though recent research shows that in municipalities all over the country these projects often result in empty storefronts and continued increases in housing prices. The proposals fail to specify affordable unit requirements for projects of less than six units. They allow the elimination of open space in many cases, and make no provision for the protection of existing residents and businesses.


The findings of the Master Plan state that residents want to maintain Arlington's relative affordability, plan for climate change, and protect our neighborhoods and historic areas. Much recent research points to new approaches to these issues, and we believe the Town has an obligation to its citizens to investigate them. Here are some of the most important:


~ Protect our environment, and plan with climate resiliency in mind. Create land trusts, protect open space requirements.


~ Prioritize affordability, and consider various means to achieve it such as linkage fees, an affordable housing trust fund, low-or no-interest housing loans for affordable housing, revolving loan funds, lease-to-purchase options.

"A number of cities have now developed plans to expand affordable housing options for a broad spectrum of renters, from those facing homelessness up to middle-income households. In addition to federal funds, these plans draw on a range of resources that include linkage fees on new commercial development, tax-increment financing, taxes on real estate transactions, and the use of publicly owned land. "



~ Target density to specific sites, not the entirety of Mass Ave, and encourage design that is appropriate in scale and appearance for the targeted districts. They currently contain a mix of single family, 2-family, and multi-unit buildings, and are a continuous part of our other neighborhoods. They don’t exist in a vacuum ripe for transformation.


~ Encourage redevelopment over teardowns, and enhance current programs for the purchase, re-use, and conversion of existing houses, condominiums, and multi-family housing to affordable units, such as those provided by the Housing Corporation of Arlington, the Arlington Housing Authority, and others.


~ Protect existing residents from displacement, perhaps by requiring preference for current residents in new construction.


~ Encourage the growth of our commercial tax base.


~ Capitalize on our status as one of the Battle Road communities, by discouraging large-scale development on main corridors near historic sites, as recommended by the Battle Road Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan.


~ Work for statewide changes, such as the $500 million bond bill proposed by Sen. Jamie Eldridge of Acton (SD 1173), which would be financed by a real estate transfer tax, with half the proceeds set aside for public housing authorities and half for nonprofit developers of low-income housing.


~ Encourage resident input, not just rubber-stamping of Town proposals after minimal and highly-programmed sessions. Make sure boards and committees have more-balanced representation, rather than the current over-representation of the real estate community.


~ Explore options such as co-housing, congregate housing, and 55+ housing.


~ Maintain Arlington’s “town” feel. We are not a small city.