Brookline for Everyone Endorsements for the November 2019 Special Town Meeting

Brookline for Everyone are encouraging all Town Meeting Members to vote in favor of the following warrant articles at the November 2019 Special Town Meeting:

ARTICLE 9 (Real-Estate Transfer Tax for Affordable Housing)
(revised 11/10 with additional clarification about referring study to the Land Bank committee)

Brookline for Everyone supports Article 9, a resolution to ask the Massachusetts state Legislature to allow Brookline to institute a Real Estate Transfer Tax in order to fund affordable housing programs in the Town. Brookline is in desperate need of additional housing, of all prices and forms, and a funding source for additional affordable housing, tied directly to the gains that accrue to homeowners cashing out on rising prices is equitable and just. Given that this article will ask the Select Board to begin a Home Rule petition that earmarks the tax for affordable housing but does not commit to a particular structure of the tax, Brookline for Everyone endorses the petitioner’s version of Article 9. Brookline for Everyone is concerned with the Select Board recommendation to refer to the existing Land Bank Committee as the Committee’s eventual output may not earmark tax revenue to address Brookline’s housing shortage.

ARTICLE 15 (Parking Minimums in Commercial Districits)

Brookline for Everyone supports Article 15, a zoning by-law amendment that will remove the parking minimum for most commercial uses within the ½ mile of a Green Line station, and set the current minimums as the maximum. Much of the housing growth needed in Brookline will likely occur in mixed use projects, with a commercial use on the first floor and housing above it. This warrant article makes these projects more likely by removing a significant portion of the parking requirement, lowering the cost of construction, and allowing more of the building’s space to be used for useful purposes. While it would have been preferably to remove these parking minimums town-wide, as parcels along our major bus routes and on Route 9 are also prime for mixed use projects, this is an important step toward the potential elimination of all parking minimums.

ARTICLE 19 (Accessory Dwelling Units)

Brookline for Everyone supports Article 19, which would allow owners of single family homes to have accessory dwelling units on their properties (commonly called “granny-flats”, “basement or attic apartments”, “in-law suites”, and “garage apartments”). ADUs provide an economical housing housing choice for residents, especially single adults or couples without children, who might otherwise be priced out of Brookline. ADUs can also help seniors continue to live in their homes  despite a fixed-income and rising property taxes by providing an opportunity for additional income. For these reasons, the Boston Foundation’s “Housing Report Card” calls legal ADUs a housing policy “best practice”, and ADUs exist in several nearby municipalities, including Boston, Cambridge, and Newton. While this Warrant Article is modest and includes considerable restrictions on an ADU’s appearance — prohibiting ADUs from being “street-visible” and prohibiting ADUs that are detached from a house or garage  — it is an important step in the right direction.

ARTICLE 20 (Micro-Units in Coolidge Corner)

Brookline for Everyone supports Article 20, which seeks to allow Micro Units (i.e. those smaller than 500 sq ft) in a zoning district in the heart of Coolidge Corner’s business district. Micro Units will increase the diversity of housing stock in Brookline, and will offer a more affordable alternative for young professionals and other childless adults to live nearby retail and public transit. Moreover, the residents of these tenants will help boost our local businesses.