Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mayor Menino Supports Zoning Rule to Limit Rentals to Four or Fewer Students

Mayor Thomas Menino now supports the proposal to limit undergraduate student rentals to four or fewer students, according to the Boston Herald:
Menino has submitted a letter backing the proposal, which would amend the city’s zoning code to prohibit landlords from renting out a single unit to more than four students. Ross also has letters and pledges of support from a dozen neighborhood groups, and even a top downtown developer.
The Zoning Board will be meeting Wednesday morning to consider the proposal. Their approval is the last step in implementing the zoning rule change.

The Boston Herald news story, however, is way off in understanding the magnitude of the student apartment-packing:
The expansions are putting the squeeze on the city’s real estate market, with landlords cashing in by renting out apartments for $3,000 to $4,000 a month to half a dozen or more students at a time.
Actually, some of the apartments have as many as 10-12 students, thereby netting twice that in monthly rent. When such over-renting appears in a two-family house, such as 62-64 Kirkwood Road in Brighton, the rental value could easily be quadruple the Herald's number -- and be accompanied by a series of ISD code violations in the process. No family renter can compete with these high prices that landlords can collect from over-packed student renters.

The Allston-Brighton TAB editorial page has not taken a position on the proposed zoning change, while the Boston Herald editorial page took a position in January against it as did the Boston College student newspaper, The Heights.

A number of local institutions of higher education are in support of the proposal, according to District Councilor Michael Ross. The TAB editorial notes that Jack Dunn, Director of Public Affairs at Boston College, "supports" the idea, although this does not appear to be the same as strong institutional backing from BC.

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board opposes the proposal and thinks it violates the law -- even though, as Councilor Ross has noted, many other cities and towns in Massachusetts, such as neighboring Newton, have passed nearly identical ordinances.

The TAB covered a meeting last month of the Allston Civic Association on the topic.

The Zoning Board will be meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) at 9:00 am to consider the proposal. The City Council passed the petition unanimously in December 2007, and the Board of the Boston Redevelopment Authority passed an amended version of the ordinance last month that would specify that the rule applies only to undergraduate students, not graduate students.

Boston Zoning Board
Public Meeting
Room 900, 9th Floor, City Hall
9:00 am
Agenda: Proposal to limit student rental units to four or more people unrelated by blood or marriage/family status.

Contact the Zoning Commission directly by writing to the Chairman and Members of the Zoning Commission, 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02118.


Josh Dawson said...

This zoning rule was passed unanimously by the City Council (including Yoon and Flaherty) and signed by the Mayor. To single the Mayor out is unfair.

Michael Pahre said...

The City Council had passed the ordinance unanimously in December 2007, i.e., four months earlier than this post. I can't find a link to any article on the City Council vote, but it is referenced in this Boston Globe article.