Scale Tipped


Development in Boston is basically unchecked. The Boston Redevelopment Authority likes to promote itself as the city’s planning and development agency, but they rarely let the former get in the way of the latter.

Throughout Boston, unfortunate and transformative projects are marching through staged approvals. Towers are sprouting like unwanted garden weeds, and when residents question the vision of the city or the motives of developers they are labeled as NIMBYs. Who cares more about the destruction of their a neighborhood than the residents and taxpayers close by?  But with the BRA’s revenue steam tied to new projects, the agency is essentially on commission with regard to new buildings.

The real shame is that while the city ignores appropriate density, height, and scale, important opportunities are also being lost to address looming disasters like affordable housing and sea level rise.

The Walsh administration is doing some good work. Climate Ready Boston is an intelligent initiative managed by the Mayor’s resiliency-minded staffers. They are setting expectations around climate change impacts, assessing vulnerabilities, and eventually looking at ways to solve these tough challenges.  Somebody should invite these folks up to the ninth floor of city hall before the BRA has buried Boston in glass towers.  Look around–we are losing what makes Boston great, and our infrastructure will snap under the pressures of an over-built small city.

Somebody at city hall has to take the long view. Pump the breaks. There are some perilous issues right around the bend.