Monday, October 23, 2017

Boston City Council Looks At South Boston Funding, Right To Charge & To Purchase, CPA & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and more at their October 18, 2017 meeting:

Yesterday (October 18, 2017) was Councilor Bill Linehan’s final Council meeting, as he submitted a letter of resignation and we thanked him for his combined 43 years of service to the city. Mayor Walsh joined us to present Councilor Linehan with a silver Revere Bowl, and in line with Council tradition I presented him with a crystal gavel given to outgoing Councilors who have served as Council President.

South Boston Community Funding: The Council voted to pass Mayor Walsh’s order to accept additional funding from Massport for the South Boston Foundation. This $1.5 million is pursuant to the Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) agreement, and will be paid in ten annual payments of up to $150,000. Councilor Linehan urged support of this as his final item he wanted to accomplish for his district.

Right to Charge: The Council voted unanimously to advance the right-to-charge legislation that I introduced which would codify the right of condominium and homeowners to install personal electric vehicle charging stations in or near their dedicated parking spots. In Boston, we have many multi-family homes that have been converted to condos, sometimes with just 2 or 3 condos in the association, and the governing documents require unanimous consent for any changes to the property. That means one owner could prevent another from switching to an electric vehicle by blocking installation of charging infrastructure for any reason. Given that 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, we want residents in any living situation to be able to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, and we want to set the stage for charging infrastructure now since the costs of electric vehicles are quickly becoming more affordable. Other states and jurisdictions have passed similar right-to-charge laws that prevent condo associations from being able to block homeowners from installing charging infrastructure at the owner’s expense; associations may still add reasonable conditions or restrictions on the location and other features. At last week’s hearing, representatives from the Environment department and Transportation department expressed support for the content but passed along concerns from the law department that the City would be more vulnerable to litigation by passing this in the form of an ordinance rather than a home-rule petition. Although I am generally skeptical of filing home-rule petitions since we have no control over the pace and likelihood of state approvals, I have already spoken with state colleagues who are optimistic about passage on a reasonable timeline. With passage of the home-rule petition at the Council, we begin the process of advocating on Beacon Hill. More to come!

Tenant's Right to Purchase: The Council voted to adopt Councilor Pressley’s resolution urging the State Legislature to pass H.3017, An Act to Preserve Affordable Housing Through A Local Option Tenant’s Right to Purchase. This bill would allow tenants, or a non-profit on their behalf, the opportunity to match the fair market value offered by a prospective buyer for a building with three or more units. This would provide an important tool for Boston to fight the displacement and affordable housing crises.

NOTE on Community Preservation Act: The CPA committee and working group met last week to develop the application for the CPC and the guidelines for evaluation. The approved application should be up on the City website soon. We also discussed the fact that since passing the relevant orders and ordinances, we discovered a mismatch in timeline. The original order required that nominations be finalized within 90 days of passage, instead of within 90 days of the relevant committee being formed. In order to line up those timelines and give the City Council’s CPA committee 90 days to complete their work, we will be filing an amendment to the law at next week’s meeting.

For complete notes on Boston City Council meetings, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email. 

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