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Friends,

The summer is flying by, but my office is hard at work!

In East Boston, we held a significant council hearing to preview an upcoming Master Plan for East Boston. Thank you to Sen. Boncore, Rep. Madaro, Chief Dillon, Commissioner Fiandaca, Commissioner Christopher, BPDA Director of Planning Sara Myerson, Director of Waterfront Planning Rich McGuinness, many of my colleagues on the council and hundreds of community members for joining! Read more about the hearing below, and please contact my office with your own vision for Eastie. We'll continue to take constituent input on priorities for the neighborhood and what the process should look like. Expect more public meetings this fall. 

In Charlestown and the North End, we've heard recently from residents, businesses and other community stakeholders about the need for improvements to make streets more walkable, reduce traffic congestion, and ensure our communities are accessible. My office visited streets surrounding Sullivan Square and Charlestown High School on multiple occasions in the past weeks, and will be scheduling a walk through of North End streets to identify areas that are challenging for elders and persons with disabilities to traverse.

In the council, I filed legislation with Councilor Flynn to help homeowners repay back taxes. The Boston Advancing Certainty and Knowledge in Taxation (B.A.C.K. TAX) act will extend tax repayment plans to residents and commercial property owners and provide more leniency to those suffering economic hardship. Other cities that have adopted similar policies have reported an INCREASE in revenues while REDUCING the burden on those who have fallen behind due to circumstances they could not control. It would also incentivize commercial property owners who owe taxes to rent their properties at below-market rates.  

I also signed on to a zoning amendment by Councilor Wu to begin the discussion of how we treat "formula" retail businesses in zoning and how we ensure the public can weigh in on issues such as design.  This zoning amendment would NOT ban chain stores, instead it would set standards that regulate use and ensure a public process.  some areas of the city may be more suitable than others for certain retail. It's important to ensure large businesses work with local groups to find locations, and design proposals, that match neighborhood goals. 

We'll also be holding a public hearing on the Payment In Lieu of Taxes program in early August. You can read a bit more about this below.  

All the best,

Lydia Edwards
Boston City Councilor
City Councilors Weigh in on East Boston Planning
From The Bay State Banner:

Elected Officials call for affordability, local input as BPDA gears up for planning process

 

The Boston City Council’s Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation held a public hearing on a neighborhood zoning initiative and master plan Monday night in East Boston.

Nearly 200 people attended the meeting at Mario Umana Academy, led by the hearing’s lead sponsor, Councilor Lydia Edwards. She was joined by Councilors Michelle Wu, Michael Flaherty, Kim Janey and Annissa Essaibi-George, as well as Rep. Adrian Madaro and Sen. Joseph Boncore.

A panel of Boston Planning and Development Agency officials responded to councilors’ questions regarding the recently announced planning initiative PLAN: East Boston, and community members testified what they want to prioritize in a new master plan for the neighborhood.

Edwards said that the new planning initiative was necessary because current development is guided by zoning regulations and a master plan formed in 2000.

Click Here to Read More.
First Step: Councilor Edwards Holds Hearing On Possible New Master Plan
From East Boston Times - Free Press:

Monday night’s well-attended City Council hearing at the Mario Umana Academy hosted by City Councilor Lydia Edwards and chaired by Councilor Michelle Wu was the first step in creating a neighborhood-wide Master Plan that will provide a cohesive vision for the neighborhood.

Creating a Master Plan for Eastie will allow resident to ‘drive the bus and not be driven by it’ when it comes to development and other issues in the neighborhood.


“Monday night was something special,” said Edwards after the hearing. “East Boston, thanks for turning out for a positive, first conversation of many focused on improving and building upon our already beautiful community. over 200 members of our community showed up and got to work for our future. This is just the first step. There is more listening, input, and collaboration to be done. I look forward to working with all of you.” Read the Full Story Here.

Couldn't make it to the Hearing on the East Boston Masterplan?  No problem.  Watch the whole hearing here.
The Boston Advancing Certainty & Knowledge in Taxation (B.A.C.K. Tax) Act
I, along with Councilor Flynn, filed an ordinance that will extend tax repayment  plans to residents and commercial property owners and provide more leniency to those suffering economic hardship. 
City Councilors Introduce Legislation to Limit Zoning for Chain Stores
From North End Waterfront.com:

City Councilors Michelle Wu, Kim Janey and Lydia Edwards filed legislation to remove as-of-right designations for chain stores in Boston’s neighborhood business districts. The proposal, entered at today’s Council meeting, would amend the City of Boston’s Zoning Code to regulate formula retail uses, also known as chain stores, and require a conditional use permit for any such business to open and operate in a neighborhood business district.


“This zoning change prioritizes local businesses and increases transparency in development and evens the playing field to assure local businesses have a fighting chance,” said Councilor Edwards. “Our recent experience with Starbucks in the North End, demonstrates now more than ever that with increased development we need zoning codes that assure our local businesses have a certain level of protection and the chain stores have a level of accountability to our neighborhoods.” Read the Full Story Here.


In Boston, caregivers denounce separation of migrant families

From MassLive:
 

More than a dozen activists and caregivers came together in Boston Thursday morning to denounce the separation of families who arrived at the United States-Mexico border.

"I never imagined this day. I never imagined this day," Angella Foster said with disgust. As a mother and part-time caregiver who came to the U.S. from Jamaica in 1999 to escape domestic violence, Foster said the current border crisis touches her deeply.

"People leave their country for various reasons. For a mother to pack up her children and flee their country, that speaks for itself," Foster added.

On Boston City Hall Plaza Thursday morning, caregivers and nannies who were working brought young children, some who colored with crayons and looked at picture books as the adults spoke on more solemn matters.

Read the Full Story Here.

Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) Program

Property taxes fund most of the city budget--including our schools, street cleaning, public housing and other essential public services--but a growing number of properties in the City of Boston are owned by tax-exempt organizations. While many of these organizations contribute to educational, cultural and health services in the city, the growth of tax-exempt property is concerning, as it shifts the burden of paying for city services to private homeowners. 

In 2010, a task force was formed to address Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) payments, which are contributions made by institutions the city cannot legally force to pay taxes. The task force set up a framework by which non-profit institutions should pay about 25% of the taxes they would owe if they were not tax-exempt. Institutions can further reduce their proposed PILOT by half by contributing through "community benefits," which may include volunteering expert services such as legal aid or investing upstream to address health or educational issues. 

Unfortunately, a number of tax-exempt institutions, including those who participated in the task force, have not followed through on these recommendations. In other words, even institutions who participated in the task force are not paying one-half of one-quarter of their assessed value. 

For these reasons, I've called a hearing with Councilor Essaibi-George to review the PILOT program and hear from community stakeholders about how it is working. I'm also interested in hearing from Bostonians about what services should qualify as "community benefits" and how we should hold tax-exempt institutions to their promises.

Read about the PILOT program Here
Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards
Holds Second Series of Coffee Hours
Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards held her second series of Coffee Hours in each neighborhood of District 1.  In announcing these coffee hours, Edwards expressed her excitement to meet with community members one-on-one in an informal setting. Similar to the Mayor's Coffee Hours, these sessions aim to increase engagement between City Hall and community members in order to address concerns and improve the quality of life for residents.

Upcoming Coffee Hours 10:00AM - 12:00PM:
North End: Friday, August 3rd - Caffe Paradiso, 255 Hanover Street
Charlestown: Friday, August 10th - Anna's Cafe, 375 Medford Street
East Boston: Friday, August 17th - Americano Espresso Bar, 155 Meridian Street
North End Italian Feast & Procession Schedule
August 2 - 5, 2018: Saint Agrippina Di Mineo
Hanover & Battery Streets

August 10 - 12, 2018: Madonna Della Cava
Hanover & Battery Streets

August 16 - 19, 2018: Madonna Del Soccorso Di Sciacca (Fisherman's Feast)
Fleet, Lewis & North Streets

August 23, 2018: Saint Lucy
Endicott, Thacher & North Margin Streets

August 24 - 26, 2018: Saint Anthony
Endicott, Thacher & North Margin Streets

September 9, 2018: Santa Rosalia Di Palermo
North Square
Community Resources - Housing
The Department of Neighborhood Development is now accepting lottery applications for brand new affordable units in East Boston. This is a great opportunity for those that qualify to become homeowners. Check out the flyer below for information on the available units. You can also visit homecenter.boston.gov or call 617-635-4463.
More affordable housing opportunities in East Boston! This is for the apartments located at 191 Paris Street.
"Metrolist" is a clearinghouse for income-restricted and affordable housing opportunities in Boston and neighboring communities. They can help you search for housing, or list your rental unit for free in our database. Click Here for more information.
From the City of Boston
Stay safe, & sign up for Alert Boston at http://boston.gov/alert-boston  to get notified by phone, text, or email in case of an emergency.
Upcoming Council Hearings and Meetings
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at 12:00 PM
City Council Meeting. Iannella Chamber, 5th floor, Boston City Hall

Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 1:00 PM
Hearing re: PILOT Payments in the City of Boston.  Co-sponsored by Councilor Edwards and At-Large Councilor Essaibi-George. Iannella Chamber, 5th floor, Boston City Hall

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 2:00 PM
City Council Committee on Housing and Community Development Hearing re: Docket #1040 Vacant Affordable Housing & Improving to those Units in the City of Boston.  The Chair of the Committee is Councilor Edwards. Iannella Chamber, 5th floor, Boston City Hall

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at 6:00 PM
Charlestown Community Preservation Act (CPA) Meeting hosted by Councilor Edwards. Saint Francis Church, 303 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA 02129

Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at 12:00 PM
City Council Meeting. Iannella Chamber, 5th floor, Boston City Hall

August Community Meetings in District One

East Boston:
  • Harbor View Neighborhood Association - First Monday of every month 6:30 p.m.at the Edward Brooke Charter School, 145 Byron St. 
  • Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association - Second Monday of every month. 6:30 p.m. at the Jeffries Point Yacht Club, 565 Sumner St.
  • Orient Heights Neighborhood Association - Third Monday of every month. 6:30 p.m. at Ashley Street YMCA, 54 Ashley St.
  • Central Square Flats Civic Association - Third Wednesday of every month 7 p.m. at Paris Street Community Center, 112 Paris St.
  • Friends of the East Boston Greenway - Fourth Thursday of every month. 6:30 p.m. at the Anna DeFronzo Center, 395 Maverick St
  • Gove Street Citizens Association - Fourth Monday of every month 6:30 p.m. at the Noddle Island Community Room, Logan Rental Car Center
  • Eagle Hill Civic Association - Last Wednesday of every month 7 p.m., July Meeting will take place at the East Boston Social Center 
Charlestown:
  • Charlestown Neighborhood Council - First Tuesday of Every Month 7:00pm, Knights of Columbus, 595 Medford Street
  • Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard - *Next meeting in September* 7:00PM, 300 1st Ave, Charlestown, MA 2129 Spaulding in the first floor Conference Room
  • Public Safety Meeting - Last Wednesday of Every Month, 6:00pm, Boston Police, 2nd floor mtg room, 20 Vine St. 02129
North End:
  • Public Safety Meeting - First Thursday of Every Month @ 6:00PM, Nazzaro Community Center, 30 N. Bennet Street.
  • NEWRA Monthly Meeting - Second Thursday of Every Month @ 7:00PM, Nazzaro Community Center, 30 N. Bennet Street.
  • NEWNC Monthly Meeting - Second Monday of Every Month @ 7:00PM, Nazarro Community Center, 30 N. Bennet Street  *NO AUGUST MEETING
Photo from bostonplans.org
SUGGESTION BOX
Copyright © 2018 Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, All rights reserved.


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