Submitted by Karen Willson (A member of Mothers Out Front)
I’m committed to creating a livable climate for all children and equitable communities where everyone can thrive. That’s why I support multifamily zoning in Bedford.
The state has made it clear: we must approve the MBTA Communities Multifamily Zoning warrant article. Not passing it would make Bedford ineligible for grants from the Housing Choice Initiative, the Local Capital Projects Fund, and for MassWorks infrastructure funding. Noncompliance with state law would affect funding decisions for thirteen additional state programs and could lead to civil enforcement action and risk liability under fair housing laws.
Many of the big problems we face today were created or exacerbated by decades-old exclusionary zoning laws. Single-family zoning has contributed to economic and racial segregation; resulted in suburban sprawl that turned pristine forested ecosystems and farmland into subdivisions; resulted in highways choked by commuters “driving till they qualify” for mortgages to and from work, spewing climate-wrecking emissions from their tailpipes; and caused a housing shortage with skyrocketing housing costs that threatens our state economy.
In recent years, Bedford started to right these zoning wrongs by passing warrant articles to allow Accessory Dwelling Units and two-family dwellings by right. Now it’s time to adopt multifamily zoning and embrace the principles of smart growth.
To do our part addressing the housing shortage and climate crisis, Bedford needs to add more housing options and greater housing density. Increased density in walkable neighborhoods near shops and schools and close to jobs is key to reducing the need for car trips. This reduces vehicle emissions, which is crucial from a climate perspective. Many people prefer living near amenities in walkable neighborhoods for the sense of community.
I’m grateful for the Planning Board’s hard work over the last year to create a plan for Bedford to comply with state law. They have given residents many opportunities to ask questions and give input through a focus group and public forums. During its weekly meetings, the Planning Board engages in dialogue with residents to address their concerns.
Multifamily zoning is a climate imperative. Let’s focus on what we stand to gain regionally and globally. Plan to attend the Annual Town Meeting on March 25th (and return on March 26th if necessary). Let’s vote to pass the MBTA Communities Multifamily Zoning warrant article so that future generations will inherit adequate housing, a thriving economy, and a livable climate.