CHAPA Statement on Final MBTA Community Guidelines
August 12, 2022
CHAPA is pleased to see that the final MBTA multi-family zoning guidelines issued by the Baker Administration put the Commonwealth on the path to achieving our state’s housing goals. This is the most significant change to zoning in more than 40 years and will make it possible to create the homes people need, support local businesses, reduce car dependency, and help stabilize rents and home prices that have been rising faster than people’s incomes.
The final MBTA multifamily zoning guidance gives the green light for communities to get started on the critical work of establishing areas where multifamily homes will be allowed as of right, rather than the current extensive processes for zoning approvals and special permits that can make it impossible to create the homes we need. The guidelines thoughtfully address questions that arose after the initial draft was released while continuing to hold our communities to meet specific targets for homes that must be allowed. In addition, multiple forms of technical assistance will be available to help communities adopt zoning that complies with the law and enable communities to use this opportunity to advance local goals around affordability, sustainability, economic development, fair housing, and inclusion.
The guidance clarifies that communities can require affordability through local inclusionary zoning policies or through the state’s smart growth law, Chapter 40R. We encourage all communities to adopt 40R districts. By doing so, we will see more affordable homes created as part of future development and communities will receive financial benefits for establishing zoning and issuing building permits. This incentivizes new homes to be created in these areas.
Ultimately, we cannot build what is not allowed. Zoning is the tool our communities use to determine what can and cannot be built, translating into who has or does not have the opportunity to live there. Zoning is historically rooted in segregation and shaped by redlining, and the effects last for generations. By zoning for multifamily housing that creates opportunities for people across income levels, we are setting our intentions for the future. We are taking a critical step to replace exclusionary zoning with zoning that allows us to have the future we deserve – a future where everyone can thrive.