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Old 01-11-2010, 09:45 PM   #1
JohnAKeith
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Mission Hill (Re-)Development

I don't think there's a thread on here for all things Mission Hill, so let's start one.

Here's an article from today's Boston Globe. Suffice it to say, it made me seethe. I responded to Councilor Ross's statement by responding on twitter, "Well, the only logical solution is to force the university to kick-out the extra 585 students and send them back home."

Subsequent to this story, Councilor Ross is now suggesting the problem is that on-campus housing is too expensive, so students move off-campus.

So, expect new, price-setting legislation, any day, now.

I am impressed by Councilor Ross's skill level. Not only is he a cracker-jack politician, he's apparently an economist.

Boston prods NU on student numbers
Councilor, BRA cite 15,000 limit

Quote:
Renewing a long-simmering dispute, Boston officials are accusing Northeastern University of reneging on commitments to limit its undergraduate enrollment to 15,000 and move more students out of city neighborhoods.

In a letter to the Boston Redevelopment Authority Friday, Michael Ross, president of the Boston City Council, cited Northeastern figures showing that enrollment now stands at 15,585, with 7,800 of those students, or 50 percent, living in off-campus housing.

Northeastern previously pledged to curb its enrollment to help ease an overall housing crunch that contributes to the high cost of rental units in Boston, which consistently ranks among the most expensive places to live in the country. Ross said the 585 extra students have a significant impact on dense neighborhoods like Mission Hill, where their presence creates inevitable conflicts over property upkeep and noise and reduces the availability of affordable apartments.

?They?re taking an already difficult rental market and making it worse,?? said Ross, who is asking the BRA to force the university to reduce enrollment and accept fewer students next year. ?They have to ac knowledge this is a destabilizing factor in the city.??

Northeastern officials denied they are reneging on their commitments, saying the university pledged in city planning documents to limit its enrollment to ?approximately 15,000 students?? and that its current student population is within an acceptable range.

They also said the current enrollment number is not the result of the university ignoring the 15,000 limit and simply accepting 585 more students. Rather, it is at least partially due to an increasing graduation rate, with 75 percent of freshmen students staying through to graduation, compared with 64 percent in 2006. And Northeastern is housing more students on campus than at any time in its history, according to a university spokesman.

?Northeastern has a strong track record of working with the community and the mayor on these issues, and that will continue,?? said the spokesman, Michael Armini.

BRA director John Palmieri said Ross?s letter prompted him to contact the university Friday and ask for more concerted efforts to reduce the number of students living in city neighborhoods.

Palmieri stopped short of calling for specific enrollment reductions, but said the city intends to pursue the issue when Northeastern seeks to renew its master plan with Boston this year. The master plan establishes parameters for university expansion, development, and other issues, and it is the primary mechanism for making universities comply with enrollment limits.

?We expect them to adhere to the goals they set,?? Palmieri said of Northeastern. ?They have done a good job trying to behave as a good neighbor, but we have to address these issues as we move forward.??

The shortage of dormitory housing for Boston?s college students is not limited to Northeastern, but the university has found itself embroiled in some high-profile disputes.

In 2000, a computer error caused the university to accept 600 more students than it was expecting, leaving officials scrambling to find housing for them. Many of the students ended up living in Mission Hill and Fenway neighborhoods.

In the following years, the university pledged to build more dormitories and dramatically reduce the number of students living in city neighborhoods. But Ross said those efforts have been only marginally effective.

This year, for example, the university opened a new 1,200-student dormitory in Mission Hill, yet the number of students living in neighborhood apartments has dropped by only 78, according to Ross.

Northeastern lags behind most Boston universities in terms of the percentage of students living on campus. While Northeastern houses 50 percent of its students, Boston University houses 80 percent and Boston College 82 percent. Emerson College is also on the higher end of the range. However, Suffolk University has the most severe housing shortage, with only about 30 percent of its students living in dorms, according to BRA officials.

Officials with Northeastern said its housing numbers are skewed by changes in the way it manages its properties. At the request of neighborhood residents, the university has turned over some apartment buildings to private control. That has caused many students once counted as living in Northeastern housing to now be counted as living off campus, according to Armini, the university spokesman.

Armini said the university also has been forced to temporarily shelve plans to build a 600-unit dormitory due to the recession, which has stressed finances of colleges across the country.

?It?s just a very difficult economic climate right now,?? he said.
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Last edited by JohnAKeith; 01-12-2010 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:23 PM   #2
joebos
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

Students living in that area do have an effect on pricing and quality-of-life. What's wrong with trying to retain/make affordable areas within the city? I'm not sure that I agree with Ross's solution, but at least he's asking for the University to try stick to their goal. Isnt that his job?

The cracker-jack politician comments was a little harsh. Would you like it if I called you a failed politician?
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:32 PM   #3
itchy
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

I bet many cities across the country wished that their universities were too popular. Money-spending students aren't exactly a real burden to bear in recessionary times...

Boston often seems to try to kick its golden goose (and, really, an increasingly necessary pillar of its economy) in the beak. I'd like to see Boston wean itself off students to a degree, but it will only do that by encouraging current students to stay and build businesses that will attract non-students (and more future students, for that matter, who in turn will be encouraged to stay, and so on).

It's that base of students that the city needs to tap into and encourage to stay in order to have a thriving economy going forward, as I recall KentXie referring to in the past. In the short term, the best way to have more students stay on and create businesses and jobs is by simply having that critical mass of students and treating them humanely, like anyone else who can pay the rent -- rather than de facto redlining them, discriminating against them and pushing them out of housing when they've got a check in hand. If they're too loud, let the police deal with that, and maybe for that matter increase fines for disturbing the peace. That way, the city can even profit off of their loutishness and improve its fiscal situation. But these are all separate issues best dealt with with a scalpel rather than hatchet.

And as callous as it is to say this, you're going to generate a lot more job opportunities, not to mention tax revenues, for the city/region and MA residents by treating students nicely and making them want to stay and create jobs, rather than telling them they aren't allowed to live in certain neighborhoods and giving the housing stock over to "affordable housing." (Still unclear what it means at all; if you live some place where the housing is too expensive, chances are groceries, clothes and everything else will be too expensive too unless you massively rig all areas of commerce with lavish subsidies...)

Last edited by itchy; 01-11-2010 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:58 PM   #4
joebos
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

So, asking the University to house more students in dorms is treating them shabbily? I suppose you could make the argument that they're not as invested in the community if they live on campus. Is it true that groceries and clothes are also too expensive here? Do you have some numbers or is this just your general opinion? I guess I would like some basis for these claims. I've also read that one of the biggest reasons young people DON'T stay here is the cost of housing.

I need to read up on this subject before I post more.
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:02 AM   #5
jass
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

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Originally Posted by joebos View Post
So, asking the University to house more students in dorms is treating them shabbily?
You do know what happens every time a university proposes building a new dorm right?

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Originally Posted by joebos View Post
I need to read up on this subject before I post more.
You really do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joebos View Post
Students living in that area do have an effect on pricing and quality-of-life. What's wrong with trying to retain/make affordable areas within the city?
And we all know how well rent control and arbitrary housing limits works.



Mike Ross is the 2nd worst politician in this country after Sarah Palin. And at least she quit to become a TV star.
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:08 AM   #6
joebos
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

Did I say he was a great politician? Did I suggest rent control? Did I suggest arbitrary limits? No, I asked questions. You added those things so you could be the smart-ass. Do you feel powerful now?

So I guess what happens here is that we call people names and then throw insults when they ask questions.

Last edited by joebos; 01-12-2010 at 12:33 AM.
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Old 01-12-2010, 02:05 AM   #7
jass
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

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Originally Posted by joebos View Post
Did I say he was a great politician? Did I suggest rent control? Did I suggest arbitrary limits? No, I asked questions. You added those things so you could be the smart-ass. Do you feel powerful now?

So I guess what happens here is that we call people names and then throw insults when they ask questions.
At no point did I "call people names" or throw around an insult.

The large space between the reply to your quote and the next part is to indicate that they are not related. The sarah palin comment was not directed at you.
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:21 AM   #8
bbfen
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

It seems that Mike Ross has no idea how college admissions work. Since he represents a district with a few colleges, he should read up before tattling to the BRA.

I agree with itchy about the golden goose issue in this city.
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:27 AM   #9
KentXie
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

There are a couple of things that needs to happen:

Don't let NEU lie. Although Building K was put on hold due to the economy, I'm nearly sure NEU has more than enough funds to start the project. They just gave President Aoun a huge raise amidst the recession. They need to start the project by the end of this year at the latest.

If they want to keep students on campus, then the politicians need to keep community opposition for building within the campus low. As you can see with BU and the multi-purpose dorm tower down at St. Botolph St, building within a campus is nearly impossible with communities dictating what a university can and cannot do within their own property. The university should be allowed to build at least 20 stories and at most 30.

Driving down enrollment is completely backward and should not be seen as a viable solution.

Also, I'm surprised that NEU didn't mention about its five year program whic is one of the reasons why there are more student enrolled in NEU. They have to keep an additional class.
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:34 AM   #10
JohnAKeith
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

joebos, actually, the "genius" sarcasm was what I felt was harsh so I've edited it, in fact.

The irony is, on Sunday, I was thinking to myself, "You should be less critical of people, make things less personal." I was thinking of Mike Ross, specifically.

Then he went and did this and set me off.

"Failed politician" wouldn't hurt me but many other things do. I have a very thin skin.

Wasn't there some joke?

Some guy sees another on the street. "You lousy, sketchy, creepy politician."

"How dare you call me a politician!"
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:32 AM   #11
Bubbybu
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

jesus christ...this thread is not even 10 posts deep and it's already brimming with obnoxiousness.

this must be a board record...
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:37 AM   #12
TomOfBoston
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

It is no secret that Northeastern is agressively trying to raise itself in the national rankings. Increasing the size of the freshman class would only lower GPA's and test scores. What has happened at NU is that with better quality students and a better university life there, the retention rate has skyrocketed: few dropouts and transfer outs. If anything, Northeastern may DECREASE the size of the freshman class in order to raise its admission standards and rankings while still staying within the 15,000 undergrad student total.

As for quality of life, does anyone remember what Mission Hill was like 30 years ago? I'd rather have to sidestep drunk student vomit on the sidewalks than blood and police tape.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:46 AM   #13
palindrome
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

oh the irony....errrr.....frustration.

http://enews.thewarrengroup.com/bt/H...t/Default.aspx

http://www.archboston.org/community/...te+dorm+fenway


This building could have been finished now and housing 1140 students, or at least 800 at the scaled down project.

You reap what you sow.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:52 AM   #14
sidewalks
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

From my experience, the politicians in this city love the concept of 'taking kids out of the neighborhoods and putting them in dorms', but when it comes time to support a dormitory development project their tune changes.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:52 AM   #15
joebos
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

"As for quality of life, does anyone remember what Mission Hill was like 30 years ago? I'd rather have to sidestep drunk student vomit on the sidewalks than blood and police tape."

We should base our expectations for this area on the way it was 30 years ago?
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Old 01-12-2010, 09:16 AM   #16
TomOfBoston
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

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"As for quality of life, does anyone remember what Mission Hill was like 30 years ago? I'd rather have to sidestep drunk student vomit on the sidewalks than blood and police tape."

We should base our expectations for this area on the way it was 30 years ago?
No, but it was primarily students who changed the area for the better. Now the idea seems to be to continue the improvement by kicking out the students and bringing in more affordable housing, which is the politically correct term now for public housing projects, albeit more aesthetically pleasing than the ones from the 50's.
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Old 01-12-2010, 09:38 AM   #17
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

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It's that base of students that the city needs to tap into and encourage to stay in order to have a thriving economy going forward
Quality of student life doesn't necessarily translate into staying in the area. There's probably no greater post-graduation retention among students who've lived in BU luxury dorms than among those who lived under an Allston slumlord. What matters is primarily the job market and economic considerations.

I've always thought that Mass should refund an in-state college graduate's first full post-graduation tax year's income tax if the graduate remains a resident of the state for two full tax years post-graduation. E.g. if you graduate in May 2010, your 2011 state income tax will be refunded in full at the end of 2012 if you've remained a resident from 2010-2012.
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Old 01-12-2010, 09:41 AM   #18
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

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I've always thought that Mass should refund an in-state college graduate's first full post-graduation tax year's income tax if the graduate remains a resident of the state for two full tax years post-graduation. E.g. if you graduate in May 2010, your 2011 state income tax will be refunded in full at the end of 2012 if you've remained a resident from 2010-2012.
That is quite brilliant.
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:14 AM   #19
itchy
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

Shepard, I see your point. However, it's clear that having a larger number of educated people/college grads is essential to any region that is going to do well economically in this country (maybe you can be a thriving Vietnamese province without an educated base, but that's because you have the low-cost labor that won't be coming back to this country in the next 30 years).

Decreasing the overall number of college students in the city isn't going to help you there. Neither is making those college students feel like criminals, or red-lining them out of areas.

And once they've graduated, what they want -- or even need -- is a liquid rental housing market. There are few markets more liquid than those that are full of college students -- by definition, you'll get high turnover and pretty low rates (the avg. NU student isn't shelling out $3K per month ... or even $600, I'd bet).

By making that large swath of rentals "affordable housing," you're essentially making the market rigid, less liquid, and less appealing to mobile/flexible people who need a large liquid base to guarantee they can find a place to live if they plan to live in one apt. for a year, then move to a nicer place when they get a raise. And given that not many grads are going to qualify for affordable housing, it's not going to help their retention at all.

As for your point about tax rebates, I think it's an interesting idea, but I'd be worried about abuse -- people living tax-free for two years, then jetting. Then you'd have a huge base of high-earning, no-tax-paying people -- not good for city services. Ultimately, if you want to hold on to people, you have to have either jobs or a lifestyle.

Really big cities like NY, Chicago, LA have both by dint of their size. A city like SF or Austin has the lifestyle, in part because its nightlife isn't reputed as being awful across the country. And places like TX or NC are fairly big jobs creators in part because of their less burdensome tax structures, (whereas MA, NJ, CA and NY push people out with their heavier tax structures...). I'd say that for Boston to really succeed in keeping grads around, city and state would have to give a little ground on taxes in a broad way that affects all (rather than tinkering with incentives for certain classes of people for a year or two) and Boston could also lighten up on residential and entertainment restrictions to create more places for grads to live and enjoy themselves.
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:05 PM   #20
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Re: Mission Hill (Re-)Development

Itchy I'd say you're characterization of Boston as being on the outside looking in when compared to NY, LA, Chicago, SF Austin is inaccurate. While I agree there are myriad ways for Boston to improve, it is most definitely a first tier city for college grads.

Personally, I think Shepard's suggestion is quite innovative. It would undoubtedly be pilloried for being classist, but I think it might help the economy.
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