Many of you may already be familiar with this very well done video (edited by our neighbor, Chris Pitts) "The False Promise of Up-Zoning Reform", from the NVA website. But if not, it is worth watching. It is an educational piece about the result of high density development in a town in Seattle Washington, Ballard which was similar to Newton. The take away was that the high density housing did not make the city more affordable, it pushed up the price of housing and pushed out the middle class. Taxes increased but city services did not keep up with the over development and the fire and police departments were underfunded and their rail system will take about 20 years to meet the demand. This raises all of the issues that we are dealing with and more.
Here are some notes from this video:
History of Ballard, Seattle: The pro growth/high density narrative took over all of the environmental and social groups and they have rebranded deregulation and dense over development as green. The greenwashing narrative took over groups like the Sierra club, the bike club, environmental groups and the social justice movements which promote the developers vision for high density housing. The result of this high density development in Ballard was that their city became a magnet for high income high tech workers and as a result housing prices increased. This pushed out all non-high tech workers and people who once lived there moved farther out to suburbs (increasing the carbon footprint) to find less expensive housing. People who live there now have jobs that pay either $35 or $125K with little in the middle. Old homes are being demolished in exchange for building new construction apartment buildings and the character of the city has changed.
Tactics: All dialogue was shut down by demonizing the opposing voice. (This happens in many campaigns, no matter what the issue.) The tactics that were used to shut down the voice of the opposition and shut down the dialogue were public shaming, harrassment, demonizing the opposing voice, and assigning the NIMBY name to the opposition.
Results: This growth rate increased by about 420%, taxes went up, but the infrastructure did not keep pace with growth creating problems; the rail system that did not keep up with the demand and they estimate it will take 20 years to improve its service and city services of police, fire department etc lag far behind what is needed.
They recommend education and getting people involved in the issues.
Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4414&v=Jex02iV52pM
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RightSize Riverside – Let's Get it Right!
LFIA91 Cornell St.
Newton Lower Falls, MA
The Newton Lower Falls Improvement Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.