Where I stand on important issues facing Newton?
I am running for City Council because I believe our City government is on the wrong path. And as I have spoken to neighbors, friends, and residents across the City, I feel that a significant number of voices are being under-represented and are going unheard by our current body of Councilors. If I am elected, I intend to make sure our government is transparent and accountable.
Below are views on what I consider the most important issues facing our city:
I am not anti-development; I am for responsible development. If elected, I would like to get Newton back on the right track and start making reasonable development decisions for the City. And unlike our current councilors, I am prepared to push back on these mega-development developers. We need to make sure that if we bring these new developments to the City, we need to be prepared to deal with the problems that come with large developments. I believe the City is making irresponsible development decisions, and at an incredibly fast pace. They are not considering the pressures on our infrastructure and City systems (like police and fire calls for an added 2000+ units, stress on our public works departments, stress on our already crowded roads and public transit systems, and school space, in our already crowded schools, for all the added children these rentals will bring in). We need a fiscally sound plan to deal with these factors prior to the construction of these developments; it’s not fair to expect Newton’s citizens to “live with” the consequences of overcrowding and resource stress while the City “figures it out.”
ZONING AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING
As many of you know, it is getting harder and harder to be able to afford a house in Newton. And everyday, smaller, naturally affordable houses are being demolished to erect multi-million dollar mansions that very few can afford. This type of development rules out home ownership out for many teachers, fire fighters, police men, working class families, millennials, and older residents looking to downsize.
It will fall on the next City Council to help guide the zoning regulations to a more reasonable result for our residents. While zoning cannot prevent demolition, it can control what can be built after a demolition. Our current zoning approach leads to targeting houses on larger lots for tear-down. In Newton’s new zoning regulations, we should aim for significantly reducing the rate of tear-downs by reducing the size of what can be built on a lot. This would save naturally affordable houses for middle class families to compete over. In addition, I believe the City Council should incentivize more alternative affordable housing options, such as accessory apartments, micro-units with shared living spaces, and non-profit developer projects, whose sole intention is to provide affordable housing to the residents who really need it.
I support the work the current City Council has made thus far in expanding environmental services, energy programs, and transportation options, but we need to go further. Solar panels in parking lots and on public buildings, green energy credits, and electric car charging stations are all great starts that I would like to expand upon if elected.
I would like to work with the MBTA to encourage better and increased public transportation. The MBTA needs to not only prioritize making our three commuter rail stops accessible to people with disabilities, but they should ultimately focus on making our stations able to make pick-up/drop-off available on both rails, allowing for more trains and more scheduled stops. We also need to make the MBTA make a better plan for residents of Newton to move North to South with public transportation.
OPEN SPACE / GREEN SPACE
I would also like to see the City emphasize the creation and/or conservation of more green space in the City. Over the years, I have seen lots built out to their fullest, former conservation land rezoned for building, and developments encroaching on the limited green space we still have available. In two prominent examples, Webster Woods, near Boston College, and Carlson Avenue Woods, near Oak Hill Park, it was the blood, sweat, and tears of the residents and abutters who ultimately saved the land. The City Council needs to ensure that other naturally wooded sanctuaries are protected against future development, because the residents shouldn’t need to fight so hard against the destruction of green spaces in their neighborhoods.
SENIORS IN NEWTON
As long time citizens of out City, we should try to enrich the quality of life for seniors wishing to remain in Newton. As a City Councilor, I would propose programs and initiatives that would do more to foster the kind of housing developments that can meet this rising demand of senior residents wishing to downsize. In addition, enriching opportunities and programs for this section of our community would be a priority for me.