Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rosie Hanlon Responds to the Crowdsourced A-B City Council Candidate Questionnaire

Allston-Brighton District 9 City Council Candidate Rosie Hanlon responds to the crowdsourced questionnaire at the Brighton Centered Blog:
  1. What could the city do about noisy parties, illegal parking (both on front lawns and streets), and tenant occupancy code issues, either by enforcing existing ordinances, increasing or changing penalties, or passing new ones?

    Response: The two primary common denominators between these three issues are: students and landlords/management companies. Students will always live in Allston-Brighton and landlords will provide their housing. Therefore, it is critical that our next City Councilor work with colleges, universities, property owners and management companies to ensure students and non-students alike can co-exist in way that does not threaten the safety of our neighborhoods and our quality of life. For more than a decade, I have served on the Boston College Task Force – I was appointed by Mayor Menino to represent the community and work with Boston College to minimize the negative impact of institutional expansion. I am the only candidate with a proven track record of successfully representing and protecting the community from the negative consequences of institutional expansion. Now more than ever, we need a City Councilor with experience – someone who knows how to voice our concerns in a way that will get things done.

    Noisy Parties: This year, the Boston Police Department is partnering with Boston College security to increase its presence in the Cleveland Circle areas on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday nights. Also, Boston University has instituted a new “partying-policy”. This is a good start but the city, campus/university administrators, campus police and landlords must do more.

    First, BPD must not be content to slap students on the writs simply chalking-up their behaviors to “kids being kids”. I will work with BPD to enforce the laws. If party revelers find themselves in the back of a paddy wagon and spending the night in jail, they’ll be much less likely to engage in disruptive behavior. Undergraduate students (the primary offenders), don’t want to hurt their chanced of acceptance to graduate school or have to explain an arrest record to future employers.

    Second, civil penalties should be enforced and fines increased on the party hosts, party guests and landlords alike. If party hosts know that they will be held accountable for their guests behavior, they are much more likely to self-monitor and stop the problem before its necessary to get the police involved. And, the party revelers themselves will quiet down because steep fines will threaten their available “beer money”! Additionally, holding landlords fiscally responsible will get their attention and they’ll be more likely to evict their partying tenants who are costing them money.

    Third, the schools themselves must be much more aggressive ensuring that their students who live off-campus respect their neighbors. For example, an effective enforcement tool is a policy whereby students who cannot abide by community standards forfeit their “right” to live-off campus. Disciplinary actions including suspensions and possibly expulsions for repeat offenders are other necessary enforcement tools.

    Parking: Unfortunately, issuing parking tickets aren’t enough to prevent students from illegal parking because so many of them have out of state licenses and know that they’ll be long gone before the system can track them down. Parking is a huge problem in certain areas of both Allston and Brighton and, as City Councilor, I will take a four-pronged approach.

    First, I will work with schools to develop parking lots for students and require that all students with cars, both those living on and off campus, use these designated lots when parking overnight. (Other colleges and universities have successfully implemented this approach.) Second, I will work to create more Resident Only parking spaces. Third, I will work to develop more public-parking garages as they’ve done in Brookline, the Coolidge Corner area being a perfect example. And fourth, I will work with owners of local towing companies to patrol those areas where it is a real problem.

    Tenant Occupancy Codes: Tenant occupancy codes exist as a matter of public safety and public health. As City Councilor, I will enforce existing laws and hold landlords responsible for violations of local ordinances.

  2. What will be your first three steps as the new A-B City Councilor to improve the infrastructure of Allston/Brighton?

    Response: I have identified 8 priority issues: affordable housing; business viability; city services; civil and human rights; education; environment; institutional expansion; and public safety. Improving Allston-Brighton’s infrastructure is essential to improving our quality of life and sustaining the vibrancy of our community and its diverse neighborhoods. I am committed to representing, serving and protecting Allston-Brighton and I have the experience and a proven track record of results when it comes to building and strengthening our infrastructure.

    There are many steps I will take as City Councilor to accomplish this and I’ve addressed a number of these in my responses to other questions pertaining city services, education and institutional expansion. Therefore, my response to this question will focus on affordable housing, business viability and public safety.

    The work of a City Councilor is to foster stable communities through the creation of an affordable housing stock. I believe to create that community in Allston-Brighton, there needs to be a range of housing opportunities including both rental housing and homeownership for a mix of incomes. As City Councilor, I will work with all partners in housing creation to ensure that those who want to reside in Allston-Brighton will find the housing opportunity that meets their needs and those who want to stay in Allston-Brighton will not be priced out.

    A key component to promoting and protecting our community’s strength is ensuring the viability of our local businesses. Does Allston-Brighton have the infrastructure to attract and sustain commercial and other retail stores? Are we a community that will support local businesses and engage in public-private activities that benefit all? Can we become a shopping destination for residents and non-residents alike? The answer is a resounding yes! I have worked to accomplish just this in the Brighton Main Streets are and I am committed to working with others to do the same throughout Allston-Brighton.

    Everyday we read in the papers or hear stories on local news about murders, domestic violence, drug deals, sexual assaults, home invasions and other threats to our safety. There is perhaps no greater social ill than violence and its devastating impact on victims, families and the community-at-large. The murder rate in Boston is higher than it’s been in years and many communities are paralyzed with fear: residents are afraid to walk the streets at night or to let their children play outside during the day. In Allston-Brighton we’re fortunate that we haven’t experienced the same levels of violence as many neighborhoods but we must remain vigilant with a zero-tolerance approach. This requires a combination of prevention and intervention programs, including providing police and prosecutors with the tools necessary to enforce the laws and increase offender accountability. We must also create and support public-private partnerships that provide victims with the services they need to seek safety, justice and healing.

  3. What are the specific steps you will take in order to implement the needs of the community related to institutional expansion (Harvard, BC)?

    Response: I am the only candidate with a proven track record of successfully representing and protecting the community from the negative consequences of institutional expansion. For more than a decade, I have developed important relationships with Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, St. Elizabeth’s, Genzyme, WGBH and other institutions and large companies. These relationships are essential to my effective advocacy and negotiations on behalf of the community. Our neighborhoods continue to face serious threats and now more than ever we need a City Councilor with experience – someone who knows how to voice our concerns in a way that will get things done.

    Specifically, leveraging my experiences and relationships, I will promote transparency and ensure accountability during all planning and development phases. The fact remains that Boston College and Harvard own land in and abutting Allston-Brighton. As long as their proposed development complies with zoning laws and regulations, they will build and develop this property. To assert that a City Councilor has the power or ability to prevent these institutions from “legal” development is naive and unrealistic.

    Rather, as City Councilor, I will be a strong voice for residents and a tough negotiator. As I have already done, I will be effective by convincing Boston College, Harvard and others that they also have a strong interest in protecting and serving the well-being of Allston-Brighton. For example, one position I will take is to negotiate to prevent dormitories from being built on recently acquired property.

    As City Councilor I will continue to actively bring our community’s voices to all tables and will appoint and reappoint only respected, committed and engaged members to task forces, boards, advisory groups and committees charged with advocating on our behalf.

  4. Do you support the goal that BC build dormitories for their juniors on the main campus and therefore eliminate undergraduate student rentals on neighborhood streets? If so, what steps would you take to accomplish this?

    Response: Boston College has recently acquired more than 64 acres from the Archdiocese of Boston and much of that land directly abuts neighborhoods. Therefore, the building of student dorms “on” BC-owned land is not necessarily the answer to the problems we experience.

    As a general principle, as City Councilor I would strongly encourage Boston College to build new dorms and increase the number of on-campus rooms not only for juniors but also for all students.

    In fact, I am the only candidate who has served on the Boston College Task Force. I was appointed by Mayor Menino and have served on this Task Force for more than a decade. In this capacity, I negotiated with Boston College for the creation of 850 rooms on campus.

    As City Councilor, I will continue these efforts.

  5. What measures do you propose for improving the appearance of Allston-Brighton, particularly related to trash, street-cleaning, and graffiti?

    Response: One of a City Councilor’s primary responsibilities is making sure that residents’ basic needs are met. Whether it is dealing with trash, rodent infestation, playgrounds, street lights, transportation, traffic congestion, parking availability of access to park and clearly marked bike paths, the health, safety and well-being of our communities requires nothing less. Allston-Brighton deserves better and I know how to get things done.

    For example, I responded to residents concerns about littering and street garbage by providing more city trash cans in Brighton. As City Councilor, I will do the same in Allston.

    Also, I provided Brighton Main Streets local businesses with brooms and strongly encouraged them to sweep in front of their businesses each day. I will work with Allston local businesses in the same way.

    As City Councilor, I will hold landlords accountable for property upkeep and maintenance and work with Inspectional Services to guarantee clean and sanitary home and work conditions.

    As City Councilor I will replicate my successes in Brighton in Allston.

  6. While City Councilor, do you intend to work a second job, run a business, stand for another office, or leave for another job before your term expires?

    Response: I was born and grew-up in Brighton and it’s where I’m now raising my children. I’ve dedicated my career to working and advocating on behalf of this community for more than 15 years. Unlike other candidates, I have never run for any other elected offices. I am committed to continuing what I’ve been doing my entire life: working to improve Allston-Brighton residents’ quality of life. I want to give future generations the opportunity to call Allston-Brighton their home.

    When I am elected City Councilor, I will resign from my current position as the Executive Director of Brighton Main Streets and focus exclusively on my roles and responsibilities as City Councilor. I have never entertained holding any other elected office nor am I pursuing any other government, private or non-profit position.

  7. What are your plans to improve the Allston-Brighton school system without overhauling the whole Boston school system?

    Response: I understand that a strong educational system is fundamental to our children’s and our community’s health, safety and future. We must provide access to affordable daycare so parents can work. We must provide schools and teachers with the resources they need to provide students with first-rate classroom academic experiences. We must provide students with the opportunity to enjoy other learning opportunities such as music, sports and the arts. We must provide residents with adult-education options. Parents, teachers, employers, city officials and business owners alike, we must work together to support and strengthen our public education system. As City Councilor, I am committed to prioritizing education and will continue my efforts to maximize our fiscal and community resources to enhance Allston-Brighton schools and education programs.

    As City Councilor, I will build new public-private partnerships to increase resources for books, teaching supplies, science and lab apparatus, sports equipment, etc. I have already been doing this for many years. For example, I forged a public-private partnership between the Jackson Mann School and New Balance in which the company supplied new sneakers for students participating in a walking group as part of a weight-loss program. I also partnered with Boston Public Schools to bring Countdown to Kindergarten to Allston-Brighton – an annual parade in August to connect families with local businesses who give children about to start school fun gifts. This event continues to grow every year and is a real crowd pleaser for parents, children and local businesses alike.

    I will also create relationships and youth programs working with our wealth of local expertise, e.g, Boston University and New England Conservatories of Music, MA School of Art, etc.

    I will lead initiatives to increase families’ access to affordable childcare, after-school and summer programs.

    I will work with parents, schools, the city and others to explore student uniforms in all public schools.

    And finally, I will promote teen-dating violence prevention, diversity, tolerance, self-defense and conflict resolution in schools.

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