Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) - the time for change is now!

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Bring the Power Back to Your Neighborhood - IT’S NOT TOO LATE!!

  • Are you concerned your neighborhood is becoming unaffordable and losing its character?
  • Are you tired of seeing every inch of open space being eaten up by newly built structures?
  • Do you feel Boston is being built piecemeal without the benefit of a thoughtful plan?
  • Have you attended city development meetings to voice community concerns that go largely ignored?
  • Is this constant stream of development truly benefitting Boston residents over the long term?

As Boston residents, we’ve all witnessed the unprecedented number of new commercial and residential developments built over the past decade. On the surface, the city may appear to be vibrant and prosperous, but the reality is this growth has not put our neighborhoods’ needs first. Much has been provided to corporations, institutions, and special interests to entice this growth -- while residents have been left to deal with the resulting traffic, noise, pollution, garbage, and the rising cost of housing and services.

It’s easy to feel resigned to this commercial build-out as a “done deal” but the unrelenting pace of development could extend well into the next decade and beyond. It’s not too late to wrestle back the power and redirect efforts to preserve affordability and our unique Boston neighborhoods.

THE PROBLEM:

It’s clear that Boston neighborhoods’ needs are not all being met by current planning and development policies. All across the city new developments are replacing older structures, as well as open spaces, and yet there remains a real need for what makes a community livable and whole — public schools, community and senior centers, playgrounds, ample greenspace, and more affordable retail and entertainment sites.

Why is this not happening? The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) — currently referred to as the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) — is providing neither the necessary planning nor a transparent process to keep our neighborhoods diverse and livable. With each new commercial or housing development built, it’s the residents who ingest the considerable effects: from rising housing costs, congestion, and crime, to loss of valued structures and services.

There is little transparency from the city as to what and how something gets built and, worse yet, there are no checks and balances on this powerful agency. Residents need to come together, become more informed and involved, and demand transparency in the discussions, negotiations, and decisions being made about our city’s future. For too long, that power has been in the hands of the BRA -- a central decision-making body answering only to the Mayor of Boston.

The history of the BRA parallels that of the national Urban Renewal movement begun in the 1950’s, with the goal of using new development to replace increasing urban decay in the nation’s largest cities. In Boston, the BRA absorbed the city planning function in 1960, allowing it to destroy entire neighborhoods to make way for massive development, while displacing thousands of residents. This lack of both oversight and pro-active planning still exists today in the BRA.

THE SOLUTION:

There is an urgent need to raise our collective voices to end the unrestrained and unplanned development in our city! We are not anti-development; we are for thoughtfully planned development.

Sign the Attached Petition Today!

We, the undersigned, petition our Mayor, Martin J. Walsh, and Boston City Councilors to commit to:

  • An end to the BRA’s existing Urban Renewal Areas and policies across the entire city (scheduled to expire in April 2022) and adoption of a more needs-based process for reinvigorating our neighborhoods.
  • The re-establishment of a separate City Planning Agency under the oversight of the Boston City Council. After 60 years of BRA dominance with virtually no checks and balances, a separate planning body should consider the needs and desires of all our city’s residents – not just the well-funded and powerful.
  • A more fair, open, and inclusive development planning and approval process which upholds the urgent need for affordability for both small business owners and residents. This process must ensure balance between reinvigorating communities and taking the needs of that community into full consideration.
  • A more inclusive and sustainable Boston Master Urban Plan which ties directly into more granular, neighborhood-level planning and goals.