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Old 11-29-2017, 10:16 AM   #121
JumboBuc
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Re: Why Boston rents are so high.

With respect to increasing housing stock in the suburbs, it's important to remember the plenty of jobs are also in the suburbs. It's just not the case that everyone who lives outside of Boston and its immediate neighbors needs to commute into the city for work. There must be stats on this somewhere, but I'd bet that the far majority of cars stuck in 128 traffic every morning is neither coming from nor going to a transit accessible destination.

If the suburbs were to see an increase in housing stock, a very large portion of the people who would live in that new housing would have no need to commute into the city. Many of them already work in and drive around the suburbs on a daily basis. Increasing housing options could even, to some extent, decrease traffic, as a loosened housing market would give these people more options to live where they want--not just where they can afford-- and in many situations they'd choose to live in a suburb closer to work.
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Old 11-29-2017, 10:49 AM   #122
fattony
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Re: Why Boston rents are so high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JumboBuc View Post
With respect to increasing housing stock in the suburbs, it's important to remember the plenty of jobs are also in the suburbs. It's just not the case that everyone who lives outside of Boston and its immediate neighbors needs to commute into the city for work. There must be stats on this somewhere, but I'd bet that the far majority of cars stuck in 128 traffic every morning is neither coming from nor going to a transit accessible destination.

If the suburbs were to see an increase in housing stock, a very large portion of the people who would live in that new housing would have no need to commute into the city. Many of them already work in and drive around the suburbs on a daily basis. Increasing housing options could even, to some extent, decrease traffic, as a loosened housing market would give these people more options to live where they want--not just where they can afford-- and in many situations they'd choose to live in a suburb closer to work.
Excellent points, though I have some nits to pick.

Even if the majority of (for example) 128 traffic is not city-bound, some fraction of it is. Alleviating even 5% or 10% of traffic volume can have an exponential impact on congestion and travel time. That said, traffic has a tendency to grow to fill the space available. I think it is more likely that adding CR riders to the suburbs is a way to grown Boston employment without making the highways any worse, not a way to make the highways better.

Regarding helping people find homes near their work - are you suggesting building townhouse or apartment blocks near the suburban office parks? I think Burlington and Andover are doing that a bit. My counter argument there is that such people would still be car-dependent for their (albeit short) commute and daily errands, generating loads of local traffic - exactly the reason towns oppose such development patterns. Even if you can expand local roads to absorb the increased traffic volumes... which might not even be possible... well then you've got the style of Sun Belt suburbs which I grew up in.

I think the real benefits of new suburban homes only materialize when homes, shops, and schools are in sufficient density that people don't use their cars for every little thing. Hence why I believe high density only in town centers, and not moderate density sprinkled around suburbs, is a superior approach.
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Old 11-29-2017, 11:08 AM   #123
JumboBuc
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Re: Why Boston rents are so high.

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Originally Posted by fattony View Post
Excellent points, though I have some nits to pick.

Even if the majority of (for example) 128 traffic is not city-bound, some fraction of it is. Alleviating even 5% or 10% of traffic volume can have an exponential impact on congestion and travel time. That said, traffic has a tendency to grow to fill the space available. I think it is more likely that adding CR riders to the suburbs is a way to grown Boston employment without making the highways any worse, not a way to make the highways better.

Regarding helping people find homes near their work - are you suggesting building townhouse or apartment blocks near the suburban office parks? I think Burlington and Andover are doing that a bit. My counter argument there is that such people would still be car-dependent for their (albeit short) commute and daily errands, generating loads of local traffic - exactly the reason towns oppose such development patterns. Even if you can expand local roads to absorb the increased traffic volumes... which might not even be possible... well then you've got the style of Sun Belt suburbs which I grew up in.

I think the real benefits of new suburban homes only materialize when homes, shops, and schools are in sufficient density that people don't use their cars for every little thing. Hence why I believe high density only in town centers, and not modest density sprinkled around suburbs, is a superior approach.
Sure, ideally we'd have plentiful walkable high-density town centers in the suburbs. But if we can't get there, it'd still be a net positive to increase housing density in the suburbs regardless of whether those new units are at least somewhat car dependent.

Now for some personal anecdotes: my parents are on the verge of retirement and live in a big house in the suburbs. They'd love to downsize into a smaller townhouse-style unit. Unfortunately, those are pretty much impossible to find in their community near their friends, so they'll probably stay in the house that's too big for them. My brother is a teacher in the suburbs and would love to live closer to work, but again, the housing stock near his school is too big and expensive for him. If my parents and brother could move into new higher-density suburban housing (hopefully not in the same development...) it would benefit both of them, and it would benefit society by freeing up their current units and cutting down my brother's commute. That's a clear win for everybody, even if they would all still be dependent on their cars in their new homes. There are surely (tens of?) thousands of people in Greater Boston who fit into these same buckets.
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Old 11-29-2017, 12:14 PM   #124
stick n move
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Re: Why Boston rents are so high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JumboBuc View Post
With respect to increasing housing stock in the suburbs, it's important to remember the plenty of jobs are also in the suburbs. It's just not the case that everyone who lives outside of Boston and its immediate neighbors needs to commute into the city for work. There must be stats on this somewhere, but I'd bet that the far majority of cars stuck in 128 traffic every morning is neither coming from nor going to a transit accessible destination.

If the suburbs were to see an increase in housing stock, a very large portion of the people who would live in that new housing would have no need to commute into the city. Many of them already work in and drive around the suburbs on a daily basis. Increasing housing options could even, to some extent, decrease traffic, as a loosened housing market would give these people more options to live where they want--not just where they can afford-- and in many situations they'd choose to live in a suburb closer to work.
Exactly and you can see this when you watch the amount of traffic leaving Boston at 7:30am and coming back at 5pm. Sometimes the amount of traffic leaving the city at morning rush hour or entering the city at evening rush hour is much worse than the opposite direction which means theres plenty of people living in the city and working at places like Bose in Framingham or any number of the surrounding office parks outside of Boston. One of my friends from Brighton lives in the city and Commutes to Natick for work every morning, so its not all one way at all. We definitely need to keep this in mind that its not exclusive. That being said I feel like someone working at Bose would be more likely to get an apartment in the area and someone working in Boston would want to get an apartment at the train station apartments being built. This wont be everyone as people will still like to live on the commuter rail line because its not far from Bose anyways and then they can take the train to the city easily whenever they want to come out here, but I do feel projects like that spread around the different commuter rail lines would help ease congestion because you can fit thousands of people on the lines in housing that could be taken off the roads. Like I was saying hopefully examples like Framingham will show a successful model and once that standard is set other towns with commuter rail access will see this and follow suit.
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Old 12-05-2017, 10:30 AM   #125
atlantaden
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Re: Why Boston rents are so high.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business...f0M/story.html

Sounds like some good progress in this area. Much more needs to be done.
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:36 AM   #126
tangent
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Re: Why Boston rents are so high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by atlantaden View Post
https://www.bostonglobe.com/business...f0M/story.html

Sounds like some good progress in this area. Much more needs to be done.
Really need to eliminate elected planning boards in this state, at least for special permit approvals. They don't actually do much "planning" and end up just being a bottleneck for special permits which coincidentally (not coincidentally) you need for just about everything and they mostly just meet once or twice a month for a few hours.

I guarantee that if you put the special permit power into the hands of the city council or the mayor's office in these cities and towns that there would be much more actual planning to establish by-right zoning regulations so elected officials could concern themselves with running the local government instead of worrying about how many bushes a business was going to plant or the number of stools at the bar.

Way too much ad-hoc back scratching going on among incestuous planning boards whose members are usually real estate agents, real estate lawyers or "up and coming" partisan members because no one else usually cares to run for these positions.

And planning board members often end up with interests in front of the planning boards of other cities and towns... and there is no way to regulate against those conflicts of interest because all it takes is a degree of separation to launder people's connections.

Getting a project approved shouldn't be about who you know or who your lawyer knows. Getting a good project permitted should just be about pre-planning where development makes sense and then making sure that reasonable regulations are being adhered to along the way as it gets built.

Why does this all effect lack of redevelopment... because projects are delayed as they can take years to get approved if they ever get approved. When if there were concise zoning regulations in place before a project is proposed that actually allowed the type of developments that people wanted by-right, then developers could plan and banks could finance based on the regulations rather than speculate based upon what maybe a well connected lawyer can get past the planning board.
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