Arlington Redevelopment Board - Mar 15th, 2021
Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1293.
These notes cover a subset of agenda items. Namely, the warrant article hearings.
- 1 Warrant Article Hearings
- 1.1 Article 45 - Increase the Percentage of Affordable Housing Units
- 1.2 Article 41 - Definition of Foundation
- 1.3 Article 38 - Energy Efficient Homes on Nonconforming Lots
- 1.4 Article 43 - Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
- 1.5 Article 42 - Affordable Housing on Privately Owned Parcels of Non-Conforming Size
Warrant Article Hearings
The board held hearings on five articles
- Article 45 - Increase the Percentage of Affordable Housing Units
- Article 41 - Definition of Foundation
- Article 38 - Energy Efficient Homes on Nonconforming Lots
- Article 43 - Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
- Article 42 - Affordable Housing on Privately Owned Parcels of Non-Conforming Size
(Rachel Zsembery, ARB Chair) Ms. Zsembery says that 17 of this years warrant articles are related to housing. She notes that the ARB had previously committed to a more comprehensive public engagement effort around housing. These articles vary in their approach and deserve to be vetted.
Article 45 - Increase the Percentage of Affordable Housing Units
(Laura Kiesel, Proponent) Ms. Kiesel is a tenant of the Housing Corporation of Arlington and a section 8 voucher holder. He'd like to increase the inclusionary zoning requirement from 15% to 25%. Although the warrant article proposes 25%, she really thinks there should be a 33% requirement. She says that Arlington is way behind on affordable housing goals and there's a very real need for more affordable housing. She says the Fenway CDC is advocating for 33% affordable housing, and she stands in solidarity with them. Massachusetts mandates 10% of housing on the subsidized housing inventory but Arlington has only 5.7%. Arlington has added 0.1% affordable housing in the last 20 years.
A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition says that people living in the Boston/Cambridge/Quincy metro area need to earn $44--45/hour to afford the housing hear. There are over 5000 households in town that meet the eligibility requirements for affordable housing.
Ms. Kiesel believes that Arlington should raise its affordable housing requirements. We have a high median income, which makes the income limits higher in neighboring communities. This issue is paramount due to covid 19. She says that African americans make $45k/year in Boston while white residents make $85k. Market rate is a proxy for discrimination. The median wealth for black households in the Boston area is $8, while it's $240k for white households.
She disagrees that a higher percentage requirement will prevent the economics from working. She says that kind of thinking devalues the people that affordable housing serves. Economics are a reflection of values.
She says there have been heartening changes low-income tax credits and other state programs. More affordable housing helps moderate income households too. As it is, low-income people are forced to live in congregate settings or to compete with middle-income households. Subsidized housing reduces displacement and increases stability. She's distressed by the board's comment about "workforce housing" at an earlier meeting. She thinks that remark is a slight against low-income people, because they work too. He says that her article was endorsed by numerous racial justice groups.
(Gene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson says he'd favor this, if he thought it would increase the amount of affordable housing in Arlington. This only affects the margins, because there are few developments where inclusionary zoning provisions kick in. Arlington has small lots and significant restrictions. The ARB proposed an article with incentives to produce more affordable units, but that proposal didn't go anywhere. Afterwards, the ARB committed to a community process around housing, but COVID put that effort on hold. Somerville went through a very long process to make their inclusionary zoning laws work. Arlington projects are done by small developers, and they won't build a project if the economics don't work. Mr. Benson thinks that a 25% requirement is more likely to decrease affordable housing production. He suggests studying and reporting, then bringing a proposal in a year. He asks Ms. Kiesel to consider combining the increased percentage with density bonuses, as that's really the only way to get more affordable housing through inclusionary zoning. Mr. Benson says he's been a proponent of affordable housing for most of his career. This needs to happen, but we need to lay the groundwork first.
(David Watson, ARB) Mr. Watson agrees that we have an affordability problem. He also agrees with Mr. Benson's comments and concerns. Mr. Watson is concerned that this article will reduce the amount of housing built, period.
(Kin Lau, ARB) Mr. Lau echoes what Mr. Benson and Mr. Watson said. He's concerned that this will slow or stop housing production. He notes that Cambridge gives density bonuses in their inclusionary zoning. He wants to encourage more input. We have to walk a fine line. Mr. Lau feels that Ms. Kiesel took his statement about workforce housing out of context. His statement that Arlington needs workforce housing didn't imply there wasn't a need for affordable housing.
(Laura Kiesel) Ms. Kiesel says there's a misunderstanding and a stigma around affordable housing.
(Melissa Tintocalis, ARB) Ms. Tintocalis appreciated the presentation. She asks when the housing production plan will be updated.
(Jenny Raitt, Planing Director) Ms. Raitt says her department just signed a contract with a consultant to work on it.
(Melissa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis thinks that a comprehensive approach and study is needed. It's important to have a plan, rather than proceeding ad-hoc.
(Laura Kiesel) Ms. Kiesel says that no one is saying that only affordable housing is needed. She says that people are dying and being made homeless.
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Patricia Worden) Ms. Worden says this article is very commendable, but she would rather see a 100% affordability requirement. She claims the board has enabled gaming of the system and reduced the number of affordable housing units built. Look at 483 Summer street. She thinks the board should help affordable housing advocates purchase apartment buildings.
(Rebecca Gruber) Ms. Gruber represents Envision Arlington's Diversity Task Group (DTG). She says DTG supports the article, as a matter of social justice. She says that Boston has racial disparity, and that's been made worse by the pandemic. We're in a unique recession which disproportionately affect the poor. She says this is a modest step in the right direction.
(Erin Fera) Ms. Fera supports the warrant article. She says we have an incredible wealth disparity. She's discouraged by the board member's concerns, and says that developers are not suffering. The Fenway area is booming, and this pandering concern for developers is discouraging. We need ways for developers to give us more housing. We don't need any more fancy, boxy apartments.
(Nick Stein) Mr. Stein asks who deserves to have a house. No one works harder than those who are close to being evicted. Essential services people work two or three jobs. Developers won't go homeless. The system is already failing these people, and every person deserves quality housing.
(David Watson) Mr. Watson says concern isn't with developers -- it's with getting projects built. Very few projects trigger our affordable housing requirements. He says the approach has to be targeted to the community.
(Sarah Mraz(?)) Ms. Mraz says this warrant article isn't exclusive with attracting development. Rents have tripled since she moved into town. People are cashing out and leaving, and that's a disgrace. This is just a start, and we don't have time to kick the can down the road.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson agrees that there is a need, and the challenge is how to get there. Dover is the only town Mr. Benson knows of that requires 25% affordable units in inclusionary zoning, and they've never gotten a single affordable unit from that.
(Wynelle Evans) Ms. Evans disagrees with the planning department's memo. She believes that market rate development is driving prices up. New development drives up prices. Elderly people move out, and people who can't afford to move here don't. She says this affects tenants too. We're well on our way to becoming an exclusionary bedroom community.
(Don Seltzer) Mr. Seltzer says that ACMi is not here, and not recording the meeting.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says he's recording the meeting, and will provide it to ACMi.
(Don Seltzer) Mr. Seltzer supports this article. He says there are already density bonuses in mixed-use and they're not working. He suggests having the affordability requirement triggered at four units, rather than six.
(Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba) Ms. Ettinger de Cuba moved here a decade ago, and says there's no way should could afford to do that now. She says this is just a first step, and is in favor of the article. She says that affordable housing has health benefits. It's related to health, especially child health. Housing instability is a health risk, and there are costs to unstable housing.
(Kelda Fontenot) Ms. Fontenot supports the article. She says nothing is perfect, and there will be multiple steps. She thinks we should look at other options, like congregate housing. She says there are plenty of illegal apartments in basements and attics.
(Xavid Pretzer) Xavid supports the concept, but thinks the board's concerns deserve consideration. We've prioritized single-family housing over buildings that could contain affordable housing. We should think about ways to reduce barriers.
(Lynette Culverhouse) Ms. Culverhouse urges the board to support the article. She says that Arlington has failed to act on increasing the amount of affordable housing for too long. There's nothing wrong with earning minimum wage. She bought her house in 1984 while working as a teacher, and couldn't live here on a teacher's salary today. She thinks that attracting non-profit developers would help.
(John Sanbonmatsu) Mr. Sanbonmatsu says his rent has doubled over the last ten years. He's a tenured professor. He says we have to take a step forward, because Arlington has only increased it's affordable housing by 0.1% in the last twenty years. He founded a group called tenants for a Liveable Arlington, and everyone had stories about the struggle to pay rent. This warrant article won't fix the problem, and it may only be symbolic. All housing should be affordable, and we should treat this problem like it's a crisis.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak is glad to see so many people show up tonight to speak in favor of Arlington's affordable housing. Mr. Revilak says that Arlington's zoning laws -- which were passed in the mid 1970s -- were largely oriented towards stopping the construction of new apartment buildings, like ones that were built in the 1950s and 1960s. This is why we've produced so little affordable housing through inclusionary zoning. The affordability requirements kick in at six units, and our bylaws provide few opportunities to build at that scale. Instead, we give a statutory preference to one- and two-family homes, and they cost what they cost.
Mr. Revilak understands the boards desire to study the issue. Though it pains him to say this, he thinks that Arlington could pass this article, spend a year studying, and pass a better version -- all before the next six-plus unit project comes along. Our inclusionary zoning bylaws have been on the books for 20 years. In fourteen of those years, there were no projects that triggered the affordability provision.
Mr. Revilak says that it takes two parties to sell a house for a million dollars: one to write the check and the other to cash it. Our used housing is expensive; it's very easy to find used houses that sell for $700--900k. If people started selling houses for $200k or $300k, we'd have the affordability problem licked. But no one does that. Housing costs are a challenge, and he's glad we're having a conversation about it.
(Susan Mortimer) Ms. Mortimer supports the warrant article. She's a proud working-class person, and says that class is a big issue that needs to be spoken about. She thinks we should also talk about the G-word: gentrification. There wouldn't be a push for affordable housing if there wasn't a need for it.
(Guillermo Hamlin) Mr. Hamlin supports the article, and believes that windfall profits will follow regardless. We could offer density bonuses. He'd be okay with density bonuses for more affordable housing.
(Judith Garber) Ms. Garber is a co-sponsor of the article and she supports it. She likes density and she's open to more density. Rents will go up without a balance of affordable housing and market rate. She likes Mr. Seltzer's suggestion to have it kick in at four units. She thinks we should pass this and see what happens.
(Kristin Morton) Ms. Morton is living in the same bedroom that she lived in as a child. She can't afford to move, and has medical needs that tie her to doctors in this area. Her grandparents bought this two-family house for $40k in 1978 and it's worth over $1M today. She'd be homeless if she weren't able to live at home. She has friends who moved out of state because they can't afford to live here, but that's not an option for her because of her medical needs. She thinks that Arlington has great proximity to Boston and great restaurants, and that we need more affordable housing.
(Anna Henkin) Ms. Henkin supports the article. She think that increasing rents and market rate construction will result in the town dying. She says she grew up in a suburb of Chicago. Developers built a lot of market rate housing and things got more expensive. Now, no one lives there. People who live here spend money here. She says there are no solutions to a problem you don't want to solve, and thinks this is a start.
(Kevin Heaton) Mr. Heaton supports the article. He thinks Arlington needs more affordable housing, and that 25% isn't much when one looks at Lexington and Cambridge.
(Esther Kingston-Mann) Ms. Kingston-Mann says these debates made her recall the time she was homeless and couldn't afford housing. Eventually, she found a low-rent rooming house. It was terrifying to live there, but she had no where else to go. She says there would be more room for low-income people if there were more affordable housing in Arlington.
(Erik) Erik supports the article. He's a tech worker who works at home. He says that commuting by car is bad for the environment, and it's expensive to maintain a car. He thinks that people at the heart of the article deserve a shorter commute. Market rate will push people out. If we allow more luxury condos to be built, people with more money will move in, and that just raises the AMI. It's a vicious cycle. He says the literature supports this idea, and we have to stop luxury condos.
(Lynette Martyn) Ms. Martyn doesn't agree with Mr. Benson's comment about Dover, because Dover is not Arlington. She says we need to pressure the market to change, and we shouldn't relinquish our power.
(Grant Cook) Mr. Cook supports more affordable housing. He says we're already an expensive bedroom community that makes it hard to build affordable housing. Instead, we emphasize single-family homes and the land they're built on. He says that people oppose more housing. Event not-for-profit developers need to make some profit. He supports negotiating. He says we could pass this, then wonder why it didn't work after 3--5 years.
(Lynette Martyn) Ms. Martyn says that if enough communities stood strong, then the market would change. She wants us to make space for affordable housing, because people are dying and homeless. She thinks that waiting would be a disservice. Arlington has an opportunity to be an upstander, and we can amend the bylaw later. She says we can't change our zoning until we know how to change affordable housing.
(Brad Adams) Mr. Adams supports the article. He says the poor people's campaign delivered a list of 14 demands to the state, and one of them was for housing. He likes Arlington, but doesn't see a future here for himself and his family, because of the costs.
(Mark Rosenthal) Mr. Rosenthal supports the article, but worries that it will run into the same problems as our existing inclusionary zoning. He thinks that developers won't build enough to comply. Mr. Rosenthal says he's been visiting planners in other towns. Winchester's planners say there are developers that build 100% affordable housing. He's disappointed to hear that from a planner in Winchester, and not from Arlington.
(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says that everyone agrees with the underlying ideas. Arlington's inclusionary zoning hasn't been very successful, but it's only part of the picture. To make that happen, market rate units have to subsidize the affordable ones. Somerville developed a very thoughtful and complex bylaw, after doing significant study. He thinks the planning memo has it right. Simply wishing won't make it so. Wishful thinking shouldn't be a substitute for public policy analysis.
There are no further comments on the article.
Article 41 - Definition of Foundation
(Patricia Worden, Proponent) Ms. Worden believes that foundation extensions happen a lot, and we need to do something to prevent that from happening. The definition she's proposing was drafted with the help of the ZBA chair. She thinks the planning director's opinion is irrelevant. She says the definition is necessary to prevent the loss of affordable homes, and that the planning department ghosted the Residential Study Group.
(David Watson) Mr. Watson would like to hear from ZBA chair Christian Klein during the public comment period, if he's attending the meeting.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson has questions about elements that are excluded from the definition of foundation. For example, why aren't porches included in the definition?
(Patricia Worden) Ms. Worden says that the ZBA should be able to determine whether a foundation is integral. It's so the ZBA could hear about proposals.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson asks why one-story garages are excluded, but not two-story garages.
(Patricia Worden) Ms. Worden says the ZBA should be able to decide.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson says the ZBA doesn't make decisions about regular building permits. He'd like to understand the reason behind making a distinction between one- and two-story garages.
(Patricia Worden) Ms. Worden says that two-family garages have a foundation that's part of the house, but one-story garages don't.
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein (who chairs the Zoning Board of Appeals) said he raised concerns with the proponent, namely with the way the definition restricted the set of materials that could be used in a foundation. He thinks Ms. Worden wants to distinguish enclosed porches from the integral part of the structure.
(Stuart Brorson) Mr. Brorson recommends the article. He says the goal is to prevent someone from building a porch, then extending the house in the porch's footprint. He thinks it closes a loophole, and suggests the board could help with the drafting.
(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti says the board needs to address foundations in order to make determinations about large additions. Otherwise, someone could build a deck, and then add stories above. He says the language may not be great, but there's a need for this.
(John Worden) Mr. Worden says that Bob Walsh was a Select Board member in the 1970s. Someone built a huge addition next door to his house, and that led to the large addition provision of our zoning bylaw. After the war, the tradition was to raise the roof when families needed more room. Raise the roof and add a story. But that's been hopelessly gamed and violated. He thinks the ARB should adopt this, or delete the exception in the large addition bylaw.
There's no further comment.
(David Watson) Mr. Watson appreciates Mr. Loreti's and Mr. Worden's elaboration, and he sees what they're trying to get at. He understands their concerns about additions, but doesn't think the article gets at that, at least not in an obvious way. He thinks the definition's terminology is imprecise and offers to work with Ms. Worden, if she's amenable to that.
(Patricia Worden) Ms. Worden says she'd be amenable to working with Mr. Watson.
Article 38 - Energy Efficient Homes on Nonconforming Lots
(Pasi Mietinen) Mr. Mietinen is here representing the Clean Energy Future Committee (CEFC). He says the CEFC was established to help meet the town's goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The net zero action plans calls for the removal of zoning barriers that stand in the way of building net zero homes. In 30 years, 70% of Arlington's homes will be over 100 years old. 30% of our residential lots are non-conforming, and require a new home to be built on the existing foundation; however, you can't make a new home fully energy efficient without replacing the foundation. This article would allow foundations to be replaced on non-conforming lots, if the new building meets high efficiency standards.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau asks about the efficiency benchmark.
(Pasi Mietinen) Mr. Mietinen says the benchmark is the building code. The home must be 20% more efficient than code, based on the HERS score.
(David Watson) Mr. Watson supports the idea. He asks if there's an interplay between this article and the definition of foundation.
(Pasi Mietinen) Mr. Mietinen says he has no position. He says the proposed definition of foundation could affect the size of a home, but this article is only concerned with the home's energy efficiency.
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Patricia Worden) Ms. Worden supports energy efficiency, but doesn't think there should be any incentives for building on non-conforming lots.
(Joanne Preston) Ms. Preston doesn't support the article. She believes it's not in the public good, in terms of slowing climate change. She says that teardowns plus the construction of energy efficient homes will not lead to energy efficiency. The carbon emitted by construction will affect energy efficiency. She says that re-use is better than demolition and reconstruction. Each building torn down will create fifty tons of landfill, and she's unconvinced this will help. She says it won't slow climate change.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery points out that there's a lot of variables that have to be considered when re-using a building.
(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti thinks this article isn't ready for prime time. Section 8.1.3 is where the bylaw should be amended. He thinks the article is greenwashing. He thinks it's better to wait and figure out how to deal with non-conforming lots. He believes this should require a special permit, rather than being by right.
(Sanjay Newton) Mr. Newton thinks the article is well thought out. He thinks it's the right kind of step to take for improving energy efficiency.
(James Fleming) Mr. Fleming asks why the minimum lot size is 5000 square feet, noting that many East Arlington lots are smaller.
(Pasi Mietinen) Mr. Mietinen says the bylaw differentiates between lots that are larger than 5000 square feet, and those that are smaller. The goal is to have language that treats the two uniformly.
(James Fleming) Mr. Fleming says that foundation replacement is expensive. He asks if one could achieve the same effect by layering insulation inside the foundation.
(Pasi Mietinen) Mr. Mietinen says this article would allow the foundation to be replaced, but it doesn't require it.
(Stuart Brorson) Mr. Brorson says that existing buildings are the greenest ones you can have. He thinks this article uses energy efficiency as an excuse to build McMansions on larger lots. He claims that Pasi has a business interest in this article, and is hiding behind the clean energy future committee.
(Pasi Mietinen) Mr. Mietinen says that his company does analytics on electric meter readings. They don't do any form of construction, and would not benefit if this article were passed.
(Judith Garber) Ms. Garber asks a question about building on non-conforming lots.
(Pasi Mietinen) Mr. Mietinen says that you have to leave 50% of the existing structure when building on non-conforming lots. You can only build a new house by renovating the existing one.
(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti says that preservation can be just as efficient as new homes. He asks why the main motion uses the term "lot width" instead of "lot frontage".
There's back and forth, over the language "lot width" versus "lot frontage".
There's no further public comment.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson asks why the article ties in to standards in the building code.
(Pasi Mietinen) Mr. Mietinen says that efficiency standards in the building code tend to increase over time. If the state code is sufficiently tight, then there's no need to require additional energy efficiency. For example, if the state code required net-zero buildings, then you're already getting something that's highly energy efficient.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson doesn't see this article as an incentive for teardowns. Rather, he thinks it's something that would apply when someone has already made the decision to tear a building down.
(Pasi Mietinen) Mr. Mietinen doesn't think there's anything in this article that would incentivize teardown.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson says that Massachusetts requires construction waste to be recycled. Contrary to Ms. Preston's remarks, you can't simply dump construction waste in a landfill.
Article 43 - Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
(Barbara Thornton, Proponent) Ms. Thornton believes that this ADU article could be the best one in the state. Town meeting almost adopted ADUs in 2019. She thinks this article is clearer than the one from 2019, has a better chance of producing more inexpensive units, and would be better for homeowners.
(Phil Tedesco, Proponent) Mr. Tedesco says that ADUs are small, independent living spaces. They'd be subject to all of the existing dimensional regulations in our zoning bylaws. They have to be accessory to an existing home, no larger than 900 square feet, and proposed bylaw would prohibit them from being sold separately as condominiums. The ADUs would be built by homeowners. The article would prohibit them from being used as short-term rentals/AirBnBs.
Other towns in Massachusetts have passed ADU bylaws, and they generally see 2--5 constructed per year. We'd expect a similar rate of construction in Arlington.
(Barbara Thornton) Ms. Thornton says that ADUs are one way to lower the cost of housing. 34% of Arlingtonians live along. ADUs can enable seniors to age in place. They can also provide housing for young adults. Arlington had 54,000 people in 1970 and only 44,000 in 2000. She hopes that ADUs can help fill some of that space.
(David Watson) Mr. Watson says he has some discomfort with allowing ADUs by right, when they can be larger than a large addition.
(Phil Tedesco) Mr. Tedesco says that existing dimensional regulations still apply. If someone needed to build a large addition in order to add an ADU, they'd still need a special permit for the large addition. He says he can try to make that clearer in the language.
(David Watson) Mr. Watson asks about the provision that would allow one ADU per principle dwelling. He'd like to know how that would work in a duplex.
(Barbara Thornton) Ms. Thornton says the intent is to allow one ADU for each side of a duplex.
(Phil Tedesco) Mr. Tedesco says that the duplex would have to be owned in condo form. He doesn't want to preclude one owner from building an ADU simply because the other owner built one first. Mr. Tedesco notes that the ADUs would have to comply with all the dimensional regulations in the zoning bylaw, so they'd probably have to be small units.
(David Watson) Mr. Watson thinks it would be difficult to extend many of the two family/duplex homes in Arlington, because they're on smaller lots. He asks about parking.
(Barbara Thornton) Ms. Thornton says they don't want to require a homeowner to create parking spaces if they don't want to.
(Phil Tedesco) Mr. Tedesco add that they don't want to require homeowners to pave over more land than necessary.
(David Watson) Mr. Watson asks about short term rentals.
(Phil Tedesco) Mr. Tedesco says that town bylaws already prohibit ADUs from being used as short term rentals. They repeated that provision in their main motion, to be absolutely clear about it.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau likes the article.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson thinks the article is very well-written and thought out. He asks if Ms. Thornton has spoken with the building inspector.
(Barbara Thornton) Ms. Thornton says she's spoken with the building inspector early and often. He was concerned about getting swamped with requests for ADUs. Newton permits 10 ADUs/year, and they have double the population of Arlington.
(Had to stop taking notes for a little while -- hand cramp. The portion I missed involves the board asking specific questions about the main motion and Ms. Thornton and Mr. Tedesco answering them).
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Patrick Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says that an amazing amount of work has gone into this, on behalf of town staff, Ms. Thornton, and Mr. Tedesco. ADUs have been around for a long time. Mr. Hanlon used to serve on the Planning Board of Fairfax County, VA and they adopted an ADU article in 1986. He thinks active assistance would help. Mr. Hanlon's brother lives in Los Angeles and has an ADU. His mom had a stroke and lived there until the day she died. His brother's new tenants are wonderful people, and the rental income helped his brother stay in the house. He notes that the state legislature put its weight behind ADUs with the recent changes to 40A.
(Sanjay Newton) Mr. Newton notes that the maximum size of an ADU is 900 square feet, and our zoning bylaw will still require a special permit for any addition over 750 square feet. When Mr. Newton's parents got married, his grandparents split their house and created an ADU for his parents to live in. He says that growing up in one was a great experience.
(Rebecca Peterson) Ms. Peterson feels there's already a process in place for building accessory dwelling units, and this is just part of a push for more density. She says that we need to protect our open space, and are losing a large piece of that because of the new high school. She says she's not hearing anything about enforcement. She's concerned that ADUs will just become short-term rentals. She wants data on how this will affect school enrollment.
(Note: as of this hearing date, Arlington does not allow accessory dwelling units, and there is no process for permitting them.)
(Don Seltzer) Mr. Seltzer says the board should focus on what's not in this proposal: neighbors and parking. He says that without a parking requirement, people will just park on private ways. He believes that inspectional services won't have the staff to enforce this. He says the town has an AirBnB registry, but it's not published. He says there needs to be enforcement and penalties. The says this article isn't about seniors. Instead it's about people with high incomes and a longer investment horizon.
(Phil Tedesco) Mr. Tedesco says they tried to be conscientious of how this would affect the building inspector. He notes that someone who adds a rogue ADU would be subject to the same enforcement actions as someone who adds a rogue addition.
(Barbara Thornton) Ms. Thornton says that people could park on a private way, but someone can call the police and have them ticketed.
(Don Seltzer) Mr. Seltzer disagrees with Ms. Thornton.
(Alex Bagnall) Mr. Bagnall is strongly in favor of ADUs as a way to add gentle density. This would give property owners flexibility. We almost allow ADUs now -- you could put in everything but the kitchen. Mr. Bagnall is in favor of more kitchens, particularly if they allow grandma to bake. He thinks we should share the good fortune of living in Arlington.
(John Worden) Mr. Worden says the safeguards of the 2019 ADU article were not put into this proposal. He thinks that ADUs should only be allowed within the existing structure of the house, and that there has to be a requirement for off street parking. He says they should be rented at an affordable rate, or to family members. Otherwise, this will just be a cash cow.
(Xavid Pretzer) Xavid thinks this is a great opportunity, which would allow homeowners to create less expensive housing. He'd like to give homeowners opportunities.
(Stuart Brorson) Mr. Brorson is against this article. He fears that ADUs will become student rentals or AirBnBs. He asks "where is the enforcement" and says the town doesn't have a good record of zoning enforcement. He says that residents shouldn't have to do enforcement. He believes this will raise home values and remove affordable housing from the marketplace.
(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti is concerned about ADUs in accessory structures. He asks the board to look at the garage at 86 River Street. He says it was built right up to the property line. He thinks that (detached) ADUs should have to comply with the setback requirements for primary structures, and not the setback requirements for accessory structures. He says there need to be regulations for fire escapes, and he's not sure how this would apply in the business districts. He thinks the changes to section 8.1.3 are superfluous and should be removed.
(Jennifer Susse) Ms. Susse thinks ADUs are a great way to add naturally affordable housing. She urges the board to reject poison pill provisions. Regarding the remark that ADUs will be cash cows: Ms. Susse owns a two-family home, and says that rental income will be essential to her during retirement. She's had tons of conversations with people about housing. There's a lot of anxiety about how more housing would change the town, but there's also lots of support for ADUs.
(Joanne Preston) Ms. Preston says the inter-generational family unit is a myth. She says that kids don't want to live with their parents; at least her 22 year old daughter didn't. She says that seniors want to live with other seniors. She says the AARP isn't a research institute -- they're just a lobbying arm with a magazine. Public transit has been cut, and neighbors don't like to call the police. Our roads are narrow. These will be market rate units and won't provide the affordability we need. She says there needs to be enforcement.
(Pam Hallet) Ms. Hallet wholeheartedly supports the article. She says it's very expensive to build affordable housing, typically $300k to $500k per dwelling unit. She think the Housing Corporation of Arlington (HCA) could add five ADUs/year in their existing buildings. She thinks inspectional services will be able to cope with this, and notes that construction involves many inspections from different inspectors. As far as parking goes, Ms. Hallet points out that HCA has a property at 20 Westminster Ave with nine units and no parking spaces. She says there haven't been any issues. She says that detached ADUs will require a certificate of occupancy, and will have to satisfy all of the relevant building and safety codes.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak like this article. He says it can cost $100k to build an ADU, and thinks that's an insanely cheap price to build housing. If we'd like to address our overall high cost of housing, we'll have to consider allowing new types that can be built for less than current price points. ADUs do that.
Mr. Revilak notes that the land for our single- and two-family homes is worth between $2M and $4M/per acre, depending on the lot size. That's doesn't include the price of the home; it's just what the land itself is worth. He thinks we need to start thinking about ways our fixed and expensive land resources more efficiently.
Finally, Mr. Revilak disagrees with the proposal that ADUs should only be allowed if they add to our affordable housing stock. He thinks the number of homeowners that would create affordable ADUs -- meaning the home owner files a deed restriction and gets an affirmatively fair housing marketing plan approved by the state -- will be approximately the same as the number of two-family homeowners who've done the same, to make their rental units "officially" affordable. He asks if planning staff can comment on the number of two-family homeowners who've done this.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says that the housing corporation of Arlington are the only ones of meeting those affordability requirements in two-family homes.
There's no further public comment.
Article 42 - Affordable Housing on Privately Owned Parcels of Non-Conforming Size
(Barbara Thornton, Proponent) Ms. Thornton would like like to withdraw this article, so she can work on more for next year. She asks the board to recommend no action.
End of warrant article hearings.