Letters to the Editor

March 23, 2018
By

Making a case for the 100-percent Renewable Energy Bill

Dear Editor:

I am writing to echo the sentiments of the author of the opinion piece “Is this the new normal” (March 10, 2018) and highlight an important piece of legislation that would help mitigate the devastating effects of climate change. The ambitious 100-percent Renewable Energy Bill that is currently co-sponsored by over 50 state legislators would transition the state to 100-precent renewable energy, and if recent storms are any indication, this bill is desperately needed.

Historically, Massachusetts has been a national leader in environmental protection and sustainability, and we must lead the way once again in the transition towards 100-percent renewable energy. One hundred percent may seem drastic, but threats as drastic as climate change call for drastic solutions, and this solution is definitely doable. More than 100 major companies, including Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and Nike, have committed to 100 percent renewable energy targets. In Massachusetts, solar can provide twice as much electricity as we use each year, and offshore wind can produce more than 11 times our annual electricity use.

While the 100-percent Renewable Energy bill already has significant support in the legislature, Boston legislators Rep. Chynah Tyler, Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, Rep. Michael Moran, and Sen. Joseph Boncore should sign on as well. 71-degree weather is February is not normal. Flooding in the Seaport district is not normal. This is our wakeup call. We must act now.

Cecelia Bolon

Washington Street

 

Help strengthen Mayor Walsh’s short-term rental ordinance

(The following letter was submitted to the City Council and to the Boston Sun for publication)

Dear Editor:

I write on behalf of Stop Child Predators, a nonprofit organization that combats the sexual exploitation of children and represents and protects victims nationwide.

Parents, community leaders, and government officials have a duty to protect the youngest and most innocent among us – our children. Mayor Walsh’s short-term rental ordinance is a strong first step in protecting the tens of thousands of children across the city of Boston and in your district. As a city councilmember, you can strengthen the ordinance by stripping out the commercial investor provisions and stopping the influx of strangers coming and going in our neighborhoods.

It is not surprising that every parent faces multiple challenges in raising their family.  What may be surprising, however, is the safety challenge parents face with the influx of Airbnb short-term rentals into neighborhoods.  With a revolving door of strangers coming and going from short-term rental properties, tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete as there is no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door.

The growth of these short-term rentals, stemming from the influx of commercial interests buying up residential units to rent on sites like Airbnb, has become a significant concern among parents and law enforcement agencies across the country.

According to a [Minneapolis] Star-Tribune article last fall, an Airbnb guest staying at a rental in Minnetonka, Minnesota, was charged with an attempted sexual assault of a seven-year-old living in the house the family  rented.  Over the last year, there have been numerous stories in cities across the country, of Airbnb rentals being used for prostitution, drug trafficking, gang activity and out-of-control parties, which have led to violence and shootings in residential neighborhoods.

Because of these negative impacts, many cities and states across the country have enacted short-term safeguards to protect residents, children, and the community fabric that make up neighborhoods.

This debate is not about private property rights.  It is about common-sense protections for our children and neighborhoods throughout Boston.  Individuals and families should absolutely be able to rent out their primary residence, allowing true home sharing to occur.  But this process is being taken advantage of by commercial interests who are not necessarily vested in the community.

Airbnb certainly does not condone such bad behaviors, and most of their hosts and guests have good intentions and are law abiding citizens. But Airbnb has not done enough to combat the unacceptable actions of its operators and guests, which have included installing illegal hidden cameras, filming pornography, setting up marijuana grow rooms, trashing homes, and stealing items, all documented in a recent USA Today article.  Airbnb says it conducts background checks on its hosts and users.  But their vetting process has clearly failed as new horror stories are reported on almost every day.  Google “Airbnb and hidden cameras.”  Google “Airbnb and prostitution.”  Google “Airbnb and crime.”  The stories are real and should not be ignored.

I ask you to consider your own neighborhood.  Think about your next-door neighbors and those across the street.  What if your neighbors moved away and their homes were converted into short-term rentals or mini-hotels, replacing your neighbors with a revolving door of complete strangers and transients?

How would you feel, if you are a parent of young children, about your kids playing outside in the cul-de-sac, riding bikes, or playing ball when you have no idea who is renting out the place next door and have no real way of finding out?

Mayor Walsh’s short-term rental ordinance MUST be STRENGTHEND by stripping out the commercial investor provisions prior to adoption, so that Boston neighborhoods are protected and don’t become overrun by complete strangers and potential bad actors.

Stacie Rumenap

President, Stop Child Predators

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