Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Councilor Felix Arroyo Responds to the Brighton Centered Questionnaire

Councilor Felix Arroyo responded to the Brighton Centered questionnaire for the candidates for Boston City Councilor-At-Large.
  1. QUESTION: If you could reverse one decision made by the City Council in the last five years, what would it be and why?

    RESPONSE: This past summer’s vote on the FY08 City budget. The approved budget did not include the requested $8 million for youth opportunity programming (summer jobs, year-round jobs, after-school programs and youth/street workers). In a $2 billion budget, I find it extremely disappointing that we could not work together to better prioritize funding to include this minimal request from a coalition of youth and youth workers. Voting on the budget annually is our biggest decision of the year and, if three other Councilors had joined the four of us in voting against the budget, we could have negotiated for this youth programming and to better meet other top priorities. We must work more diligently to pass City budgets that meet current priorities to the limit of current revenue.

  2. QUESTION: What specific changes do you think should be made to Article 80 of the zoning code?

    RESPONSE: I have proposed the creation of a City Planning Department and elected Planning Board which would require substantial changes to Article 80 and the large development review process. In addition, I have supported and will continue to support changes to improve community process, to encourage environmentally-friendly building practices, and to maintain open space. In general, Article 80 needs to be looked at comprehensively to ensure that reforms are implanted that broaden and strengthen community-based planning for houses, schools, and open space.

  3. QUESTION: Vancouver, British Columbia, requires 25% of their new housing stock built downtown to be “family-friendly.” What is your vision of the specific design elements that would make housing “family-friendly,” and should Boston adopt a similar requirement?

    RESPONSE: "Family-friendly" housing must not only be truly affordable to working parents, it should be 3-5 bedroom housing, located near quality schools and recreation opportunities, and be free of common childhood hazards such as lead paint and faulty wiring. Most importantly, it must be quality housing at the same time it is affordable. I certainly would support and will strongly consider introducing a new Ordinance which would create a similar requirement in certain Boston neighborhoods (such as Brighton) where institutional expansion, overbuilding of luxury condominiums and other forces have driven out too many of our City’s working families.

  4. QUESTION: Some people have proposed that the BPS return to “neighborhood” or “community” schools. Do you support such a proposal? How would such a move impact the achievement gap?  

    RESPONSE: No. As a parent of five children who either attend or graduated from the public schools, I know firsthand that the current school choice system is far from perfect. However, there simply aren’t enough quality public schools in each neighborhood to fully serve the children of each neighborhood. With that reality, a move to a complete “neighborhood” school model would likely increase the achievement gap and set back our decades-long effort to truly integrate our public schools.

  5. QUESTION: Should Boston College be required to house all of their undergraduate students in on-campus dormitories? If so, where should the dormitories be located? On their 'Brighton Campus' (land recently purchased from the Archdiocese of Boston), on their 'Main Campus,' or both?  

    RESPONSE: I have proposed a University Expansion Moratorium which would condition all future expansion on the institutions paying full property taxes (in the form of a PILOT payment) and participating in a full community and City Council review. Though I’m not sure it would be legally permissible to require *all* undergraduate students to live on-campus, I support each effort to put whatever pressure is need on BC in order to encourage such a policy. I believe all undergraduates should be housed on the “Main Campus” while the St John’s Seminary land should be reserved for open space, administrative buildings (along Commonwealth Avenue only) and, if necessary, graduate student housing.

  6. QUESTION: Have you ever used the Mayor's 24-Hour Constituent Service hotline, either the phone number or the online version? Is it an effective tool for delivering constituent services? What, if anything, would you change about it?  

    RESPONSE: I’ve never used either version personally. I do think that the Mayor’s line can act as a good central number and referral service. However, I strongly support a move to a 311 system which would provide an easily recognizable number (311!) for all non-emergency service calls. I met with the Mayor of Somerville recently about their 311 system and it also includes the advantage of immediate service by those answering that line. Callers should never be forwarded to other individuals and Boston’s service line (like Somerville’s) should include trained individuals who can either immediately solve your problem or solve it personally and then call the caller back to report “problem solved.”

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