Coming on the heels of the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) approval of the Suffolk Downs development proposal two weeks ago, the Boston City Council’s Committee on Government Operations will hold a working session on Thursday, Oct. 8 on a fair housing and zoning proposal by Councilor Lydia Edwards.
With Suffolk Downs poised to become the largest single development in Boston’s history, Councilor Edwards’s zoning proposal would ensure equity review in large developments and major planning initiatives.
Edwards initially filed the zoning change in April 2019 and released a report last fall recommending changes to planning and zoning to ensure city efforts remove barriers to housing choice, further fair housing and address displacement.
“The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Community Advisory Committee, a coalition of housing and equity organizations, on June 6 released a report after three years of research recommending to codify equity into the zoning code,” said Edwards. “During a working session on the proposal held on June 19, the BPDA committed to implementing such an amendment.”
Edwards said this working session is part of a continued conversation between the council and the BPDA to finalize the implementation documents necessary to enforce the amendment for approval by the city council and the zoning commission.
“When finalized and implemented, the amendment will be the first of its kind in the country and will apply to Suffolk Downs, the largest private development in Boston’s history, due to language in its Planned Development Area binding it to future fair housing laws and zoning regulations,” said Edwards.
The working session will begin at 2 p.m. on Thursday and will be streamed live at boston.gov/city-council-tv.
“The City of Boston has no procedures within the development process to ensure major planning and zoning initiatives support efforts to affirmatively further fair housing as required by the 1968 Fair Housing Act,” said Edwards.
Councilor Edwards’ zoning proposal would formally incorporate fair housing requirements in the zoning code. The proposed amendment would align Boston’s zoning code with civil rights law and the city’s expressed goals to promote equity, expand housing opportunity and prevent displacement.
“Specifically, the amendment incorporates fair housing language into Article 80 of the zoning code and establishes a fair housing review of Planned Development Areas (PDAs),” said Edwards.