By Stephen Quigley
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu delivered her State of the City Address at the MGM Music Hall next door to Fenway Park last week in which the mayor noted the achievements that have been accomplished over the past year and outlined a vision for making Boston a greener and more affordable city in which to live and work by 2030.
“The state of the city is strong,” said Wu adding, “We have the resources, the resolve, and responsibility to make it even stronger.” Wu praised city employees for making “every accomplishment and constituent service delivered, every detail of the agenda we’re sharing here tonight — this is only possible because of you. “Our cabinet is two-thirds people of color,” Wu noted. She singled out Boston natives Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox; Trinh Nguyen, the Chief of Worker Empowerment; and Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Development, for their commitment to Boston’s residents. “Three bus lines are entirely fare free,” said Wu, “and now we are accelerating over two dozen, new, dedicated bus lanes, expanding our bike network, and organizing even more neighborhood Open Streets events.”
The mayor highlighted that public safety will be important, noting that 900 guns were taken off the streets and that violent and property crime are at the lowest levels in 15 years. Bringing welcome news to many neighborhood residents who have bitterly complained about the indifference of the Boston Planning and Redevelopment Agency, Wu called for “charting a new course for growth, with people as our compass. Tomorrow, I’ll sign an executive order establishing a Planning Advisory Council to fully integrate long-range planning, and begin modernizing our zoning code.”
Wu noted that she aims to “sustainably” increase the population of Boston from its current number of 675,000 to 800,000. Affordable housing also figured in her goals. Wu said that more than 3,800 housing units were permitted, including 1,300 affordable units. Wu said “every square foot of city-owned property” has been analyzed “and we have identified several parcels that could be used for affordable housing units.” If “local builders work with us to design high-quality, affordable homes that enhance the surrounding neighborhood, we will give you the land for free. And we will provide increased mortgage assistance so our residents can afford to buy these homes,” said the mayor.
Wu set a goal of 2030 to have the city’s public housing developments become fossil fuel-free. “Our neighborhoods must be climate resilient and community-focused. This year we will launch a civic space master plan,” said the mayor. Wu also offered some examples “of the things we’re doing right now to strengthen our schools, support our teachers, and do right by our students.” She pointed out the brand new Boston Arts Academy in the Fenway, and the resurrection of the decade-old plan for the Josiah Quincy Upper School in Chinatown to become the city’s next state-of-the-art high school.
”This project was kicked off in 2012: three mayors and six superintendents ago. Students in the first grade when this project started will have graduated from high school by the time it is finished,” said Wu. She pointed out the early college and innovation pathways at five high schools and the partnership with UMass Boston that will provide real-life work experiences and offer college-level courses in finance, healthcare, and biotech.
Wu closed her speech saying, “Boston is a city that will never stop reaching — up toward the progress we know to be possible, and out to the community whose work makes it lasting.” District 1 City Councillor Gabriela “Gig” Coletta enthusiastically applauded Wu’s vision. “Boston has accomplished so much in the last year and I cannot wait to see all we accomplish in this year,” said Coletta. “I look forward to working with Mayor Wu on housing, climate resiliency, and mobility.”