It is important for Brookline to meet the state-mandated guidelines for MBTA-CA compliance by the Dec. 31st deadline. The potential benefits of delay don't justify the risks and costs.
The Harvard Street zoning proposal has undergone extensive development and consideration by qualified professionals, both inside and outside the Planning Department. It has also undergone meaningful public engagement. The fact that this plan is based on a study that pre-dates MBTA-CA is a benefit that the town can leverage. The zoning proposal isn't perfect nor is it final, but the process laid out to resolve its remaining issues is reasonable. In addition to MBTA-CA compliance, the Harvard Street zoning proposal incentivizes the development of housing at a variety of income levels.
I acknowledge risks to the viability of our main commercial corridor in the Harvard Street zoning proposal, alternative zoning proposals, and the status quo. In aggregate, the components of the Harvard Street zoning proposal, other proposed changes to our zoning as well as various economic and social forces are sufficient to mitigate that risk relative to the other paths forward.
Harvard Street is not a monolithic area and different areas deserve different treatment. The Harvard Street zoning proposal also reflects this position.
The creation of the MBTA-CA Multifamily Permitting Committee (MMPC) by the Select Board has been and will be beneficial to the town.
Since its first meeting on April 26, the MMPC has been working hard to understand and meet its charge. The members of the committee deserve recognition for their work.
To date, the MMPC is still developing solutions that will meet the charge of the committee. The presentation given by Dick Benka to the Select Board last Tuesday is an accurate reflection of their progress.
To date, the MMPC has not sufficiently developed any proposals for MBTA-CA compliance to take a position. They have identified opportunities for rezoning that would unlock additional housing (such as Walnut St/Juniper St and in Chestnut Hill); these opportunities should be further developed. However, as the committee has identified, such opportunities would not comply with MBTA-CA.
With grace, I and others may change our positions in the face of new information, new arguments or reconsideration of the values that we hold.