Boston City Council Updates

The Boston City Council last met on Wednesday, May 23 at Boston City Council. Due to the Memorial Day weekend they won’t meet again until June 6.

Affordable Housing Funding

Mayor Martin Walsh filed an authorization order for the Department of Neighborhood Development to accept and expend $30 million to the Inclusionary Development Policy Fund for the purpose of producing and preserving affordable housing in Boston. The matter was assigned to the Committee Housing and Community Development for a hearing.

Fentanyl Protection Kits

The Boston City Council voted to approve the Mayor’s order to accept a donation of 30 fentanyl protective gear cruiser kits from 24 Trauma. Each kit includes a protective over garment, protective gloves, mask, goggle and other protective gear that will be kept in police cruisers and utilized during police responses to fentanyl involved incidents.

Pilot Programs

The Boston City Council received the contract for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement entered into by and among the City of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Seaport L-4 Title Holder LLC, and amazon.com Services, Inc. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means.

Short-Term Rentals Put On Hold

Councilor Michael Flaherty reported back to the Boston City Council that Monday’s working session on May 21 on the proposed short-term rentals ordinance led to differing perspectives between Council members on the subject.

As a review, this revised proposal eliminates investor units from the ordinance and restricts short-term rentals (defined as fewer than 28-night stays) to owner-occupied properties, except that owner-occupants of two and three family homes may list an additional owner-adjacent unit for up to 120 days per year.

The previous proposed exemption for medical stays is still included, as well as an exemption for corporate or institutional furnished stays of 10 or more consecutive nights.

Property owners that want to use residential units for short-term rentals outside the bounds of this ordinance will still have the option of applying for and securing a change of use and occupancy for those units.

“It is a complex matter,” said Flaherty. “The proposal is still a work in progress.”

The matter remains in committee for potential amendments. The next opportunity for a vote would be at the next hearing on June 6th.

Land Disposition and Stewardship

City Councilor Lydia Edwards filed a hearing order regarding public land disposition and stewardship in the City of Boston.

During the hearing she stated that public land is a public good whose protection and use or disposition should further a greater purpose, such as promoting open space, enhancing cultural activity, creating recreational opportunities or expanding and preserving affordable housing.

Currently, Boston lacks a uniform policy for land disposition that would further these community-defined priorities.

In 2017, the Department of Neighborhood Development reported 186 land parcels and buildings sold or transferred for development or open space.

Boston may have additional tools at is disposal to optimize the stewardship of land or promote long-term affordability.

“There are tools in our tool kit,” said Edwards. “When we talk about that disposition we should be making sure we are favoring Bostonians.”

The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development, & Transportation Committee for a hearing.

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