MBTA Communities Working Group - May 4th, 2023

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Meeting conducted via remote participation. Materials were available from https://www.arlingtonma.gov/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/32072/.

Our May 16th meeting will be in person, and the goal will be to workshop the materials from Utile. They'll get a wider public presentation on June 8th. The goal is to present a first draft of the zoning districts, and set ourselves up for iterative refinement. The ARB will have the opportunity to review these materials during their May 22nd meeting. The first iteration will mostly consist of drawing district boundaries on a map.

Between now and the end of summer, raising awareness will be a critical outreach task.

Visioning Kits. Our immediate goal is to get the visioning kits into the hands of people who need them. Teresa asks everyone to look at the outreach spreadsheet, identify a few groups, and try to hold visioning sessions. Raising awareness is one of the goals.

Our message should evolve as we work through iterations, and invite people into the process of building and revising. Try to address questions and concerns that come up in different communities, and understand what they're talking about.

School principals could be allies in our goal of distributing information. The visioning kits have instructions on how to return materials to the planning department. The visioning kits will be living documents that evolve with the process.

Sanjay offers to make an announcement at town meeting.

Again, Utile will present their draft scenario to this group on May 16th, and we'll hold a larger public forum on June 8th. Our group will do the presentations that night; Utile will be present to answer technical questions (e.g., concerning compliance). The format for June 8th is still TBD. It may be held in person, but we'll want to create options for asynchronous participation.

After June 8th, we'll have a second survey, and continue promoting meeting in a box materials. We anticipate having a second iteration of the map in late June.

Cambridge has a community budgeting process, and there a question about whether our group could do something like that. The idea is to listen to people's priorities, and get them to understand what the tradeoffs are. For example, a number of survey respondents felt that an affordable housing component was important; that entails allowing six-plexes (or larger apartments) by right. People who are new to the issue will need to be comfortable with the complexities and tradeoffs.

Homework: group members should try to list tradeoffs, and send these lists to Claire, Teresa, and Kelly.

Teresa tells the group that HCA just hired a new resource coordinator. Teresa will work with them to collect housing stories from HCA tenants. Staff have also talked with Cecily Miller (Commission of Arts and Culture), and Rachel Olney (High School). The Chamber of Commerce is interested in the multi-family zoning, although they have concerns about the possibility of losing commercial spaces.

HCA is planning to do organizing work, and they'd like to get involved in the MBTA Community zoning effort. Right now, we need help raising awareness, giving presentations, and hearing from people.