To the editor:
First of all let me state up front, I’m not so naïve as to believe fixing one glitch solves all of life’s problems. Unlike like the “environmentalists” who blame everything on plant food (carbon dioxide) – but that another letter.
I expect housing to be on the agenda of the Beverly Master Plan meeting scheduled for July 23 at the new middle school.
There has been a lot of buzz about “transportation-related housing” at the state, regional and city level. It’s being touted to relieve the housing shortage in Boston. Even our congressman/presidential hopeful has gotten into the act.
So how many jobs in Beverly pay at the same rate as the people in Boston who are being forced to look elsewhere?
The problem I see is that this approach drives up the cost of condos and rents in Beverly because the “expats from Boston” can afford and expect more. As the median income for Beverly goes up with influx from Boston, so too does the rent of a 40B “affordable housing.” With a 12% “affordable” housing mandate, even with alternative cash contribution to the Beverly Affordable Housing Trust, it doesn’t make a dent in the need for real affordable housing for the people who work in the city.
By driving up the housing cost you drive up the salary/hourly rate local worker’s need to afford to live here. They end up being squeezed out of the local housing market and forced to move elsewhere.
The businesses that are here that used to pay a “Beverly living wage” will find the raises they can offer and stay competitive can’t keep up with the local cost of living. In spite of strong unions, Detroit eventually adopted a two-tier pay scale with a lower rate for new hires. Even with that, a lot of jobs moved south. Even Boeing moved operations from Seattle to South Carolina!
But you can’t outsource police, fire, teachers and the service industry workers. (Construction work inflates along with the cost of housing.)
There are other quality issues. Every additional multi-family building adds another car to the cue at the stop light and a few more seconds to clear the intersection. These little additions to the traffic problem keep adding up. Sooner or later there is a traffic jam, since the city can’t add another lane to increase road capacity.
Beverly adopted the “Complete Streets” approach. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. This approach should be extended to a “Complete City” concept where everybody that works in the city can afford to live here and the transit system supplements the need for more car traffic.
I was very impressed by the “horizontal elevator” at Love Field (Dallas/Fort Worth) between the various airline terminals. Imagine how much more the trains would get used, if you can get a rapid, safe, and dry ride to the Cummings Center, Cherry Hill, Dunham Road. Similarly, how much more attractive would the “transient-oriented housing” be with convenient access to the markets on Elliot Street, North Beverly, and Brimbal Avenue.
Condo’s and apartments for Boston ex-pats are an obvious tax revenue enhancement for the city. But if the administration persists in maximizing the annual tax increase to the limits of the law, what is the benefit to the citizens for putting up with the congestion and crowding?
When I first moved to Beverly, The Shoe provided good jobs for the people that worked there so that they could afford to live here.
Good questions for the Planning Commission. How many people who work at the Cummings Center, Cherry Hill and Dunham Road live in Beverly? Also what’s the pay distribution of the employees? These two answers will help to define the mix of needed housing.
Beverly can’t continue to ignore the unintended consequences of narrowly focused solutions and planning.