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MHP testifies in support of housing choice legislation

Posted on January 31, 2018

BOSTON --- A wide range of state, non-profit and business leaders appeared at the State House recently to testify in support of Gov. Charlie Baker's Act to Promote Housing Choices.

The measure would allow cities and towns to adopt certain zoning practices by simple majority, rather than the current two-thirds super majority. A review of zoning codes by MHP showed that Massachusetts is one of only 10 states in the country to have such a high threshold.

"This legislation would make it easier for local officials to permit housing," Gov. Baker told the Joint Committee on Housing in a hearing held Jan. 30. "There's no question people want to live here but we're building half of what we used to do in the 1980s."

MHP's Clark Ziegler also testified, saying the measure could be a game changer for three reasons: 1) it's tied to a meaningful goal; 2) built on a broad-based consensus of what cities and towns need to do; and 3) eliminates the 2/3rds vote hurdle that stymies local leadership on housing.

                                                  Clark Ziegler's full testimony on Act to Promote Housing Choices

The measure complements the Baker Administration's recent announcement of a new Housing Choice Intiative funding program and the administration's new goal of creating 135,000 new units by 2025. 

Zoning changes that  would qualify for the simple majority threshold include:

· Building mixed-use, multi-family, and starter homes, and adopting 40R “Smart Growth” zoning in
town centers and near transit;
· Allowing the development of accessory dwelling units, or “in-law” apartments;
· Granting increased density through a special permit process;
· Allowing for the transfer of development rights and enacting natural resource protection zoning; and
· Reducing parking requirements and dimensional requirements, such as minimum lot sizes.

To read the full bill, click here.

Joining Baker were his economic development secretary, Jay Ash, and his housing secretary, Chrystal Korengay, who is leaving her post to become executive director at MassHousing, a quasi-public state agency.

"Housing is the cornerstone of development," said Ash. "It's time to remove barriers and promote housing production."