Malden News

ELECTION 2019: Questions for the Candidates: Week 4 of 5 – Housing Needs

 

By Prisco Tammaro

The 2019 elections in Malden are approaching. The Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

To provide Malden voters with information, Neighborhood View is running a series of “Quality of Life” questions and answers with the city council and mayoral candidates. Suggestions for questions were provided via Facebook on a Malden (MA) Politic’s poll; 10 questions were formulated by the moderators in consultation with Neighborhood View and sent to all  candidates. Each candidate was given 150 words to respond to each question. Every effort was made to reach out to every candidate.

Below are answers to Question 7 and 8 which focus on housing needs in Malden. Please note: all opinions here are those of the candidates and Neighborhood View has not checked the accuracy of these comments.

See links for previous questions at the bottom of this page. 


QUESTION 7:

What percentage of units in new developments would be allocated to affordable housing? 


MAYOR – Incumbent – GARY CHRISTENSON

Several communities have adopted inclusionary zoning to leverage the private sector housing market to create affordable units for low-income residents. Each of the local policies varies depending on the particular community’s affordable housing needs and real-estate market. The success of inclusionary zoning hinges on a well-crafted policy that sets goals and percentages using informed local data. We recently committed to conducting a financial feasibility analysis to help us better understand the impacts and make sure we are designing a policy and proposing percentages that will fit the specific needs of our community and the realities of our housing market.

 


MAYOR – Challenger – JOHN MATHESON

Malden has added thousands of new apartments, while our mayor failed to negotiate any affordable housing. This explosion of high-rent units has a depressing effect on the state aid that Malden schools need. This was a major mistake. As mayor, I will end this neglect and ensure that Malden maintains a 10 percent stock of affordable units. Moreover, we will create opportunities for residents to buy their own home, affordably. Malden has lost thousands of great senior citizens who downsized their homes only to find they have no affordable options to stay in Malden. Therefore, we will pay particular attention to seniors and veterans, and make Malden a place where people will want to stay.


At Large Councillor – Incumbent – CRAIG SPADAFORA

Did not respond. 

 

 


10-demaria

At Large Councillor – Incumbent – DEBBIE DEMARIA

I am so thrilled we are once again discussing inclusionary zoning. In 2017 both Councillor O’Malley and myself brought forth our proposed ordinance to the Planning Board. While it failed due to a lack of education among both the members of the PB as well as our Council, timing is everything. The needs in our community have taken us by storm ~ demanding affordability. With Malden being hugely desirable, many developers have beaten us to the punch by buying up property and charging outrageously high rent. The market has turned in their favor and NOT for our Malden residents, Clearly I support IZ! I believe we must stick to a minimum of 10 percent. The MRA’s proposal, under the direction of the mayor, at first glance, looks mindful and thorough and includes the needs of all. I look forward to a deep dive in Ordinance Committee on Sept. 16.


11-winslowAt Large Councillor – Incumbent – STEVEN WINSLOW

A minimum of 15% of new developments with 10 or more units.

 

 


12-leone

At Large Councillor – Challenger – JERRY LEONE

The city should tighten all restrictions and allow no more multi-unit rental housing to be built. Malden has more than 90 percent more subsidized housing units per square mile than any city which abuts ours, including Everett and Revere. [Malden has] over 2,000 more units than Melrose, which has far more land available. Our city schools have over 40 percent economically disadvantaged students. For this reason I do not support inclusionary zoning except for senior citizens who have been long-term residents. Our neighbors must fill the void. Malden has done its part and it is now overwhelming the city financially.

 


1-crowe

WARD 1 Councillor – Incumbent – PEG CROWE

Did not respond.

 

 


2-condonWARD 2 Councillor – Incumbent – PAUL CONDON

Did not respond.

 

 

 


3a-LinehamWARD 3 Councillor – Non-Incumbent – AMANDA LINEHAN

At a minimum, we should be pushing for an inclusionary zoning policy that would require 15% of units in a new building to be affordable (meaning targeted to households making 80% of the area median income, which is $89,200 for a four-person household). Of course, this requires additional production to take place, as 15% of zero is still zero. Key areas that could accommodate new housing would be Malden Hospital, Commercial Street, upzoning in Malden Center and selectively in other Squares, infill development such as the Habitat for Humanity site near Pine Banks Park, and subdividing larger homes into condominiums. Smaller gains could be made by allowing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also called in-law apartments, by right in neighborhoods. Overall, we should be focusing growth where infrastructure, jobs, and transit already exist, and be pushing for driving alternatives like frequent MBTA bus service and private shuttles from apartments to transit.


3b-OrsinoWARD 3 Councillor – Non-Incumbent – JULIANNE ORSINO

I fully support an inclusionary zoning ordinance in the city. In fact, it is far overdue. The percent of units is an important element of inclusionary zoning and is a piece of the larger puzzle. Today, we have the opportunity to leverage the work from other municipalities and create an ordinance that best fits Malden. I support the current City Council taking the lead with this important work as it is critical to keeping Malden affordable and in line with current zoning ordinances in Massachusetts as soon as possible. As your Ward 3 City Councillor, I will work with all City Councillors to implement this ordinance. Let’s not wait!

 


4-omalleyWARD 4 Councillor – Incumbent – RYAN O’MALLEY

The Malden City Council is working hand in hand with Mayor Gary Christenson and the MRA to conduct a study to determine what percentage our inclusionary zoning ordinance should require. I am looking forward to utilizing reliable data to determine the figure that will work best for the Malden community and economy.

 

 


5a-murphyWARD 5 Councillor – Incumbent – BARBARA MURPHY

Evan Spetrini, senior planner and policy manager, and Ales Pratt, community development director of the MRA, presented a Housing Strategy Plan for Malden on Sept. 3. I was a sponsor of these initiative and voted to move them to Ordinance Committee for further discussion. Three strategies are under consideration to address this topic, including an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Inclusionary Zoning Financial Feasibility Analysis, and a Security Deposit Pilot Program. Specific to inclusionary zoning goals, we need the proper analysis to strike the right balance so that we maximize the creation of affordable housing without overshooting in a way that discourages developers from developing at all. The goal is to maximize the number of affordable units without becoming cost prohibitive. If we set the bar too high, it will prohibit development, which in turn will mean less affordable units. The proper analysis should drive the number, not gut instinct.


5b-najmiWARD 5 Councillor – Challenger – DANYAL NAJMI

I support the Redevelopment Authority’s plan to conduct an assessment first, and decide the percentage based on what will have the greatest positive impact on overall affordability in Malden.

 


6-camellWARD 6 Councillor – Incumbent – DAVID CAMELL

There are ongoing efforts right now to pinpoint the right answer on that based on economic reality rather than rhetoric. However, besides inclusionary zoning, what I want to see is how do we achieve a livable city for our people who are already here? Do we have no strategy for affordable housing among our existing stock (and likewise solutions for impact of new units on existing capacity on traffic and schools, etc.)? So the overall strategy can’t depend solely on producing more housing stock. (But to not dodge the question, my gut does say that 20 percent seems at the moment a reasonable starting point for discussion).

 


7-andersonWARD 7 Councillor – Incumbent – NEAL ANDERSON

Did not respond.

 

 


8a-sicaWARD 8 Councillor – Incumbent – JADEANNE SICA

Like the question about Malden Hospital and housing, I don’t think it’s as simple as picking a number. The discussion about housing needs to be much more comprehensive than that. We should be focused on affordable housing with a focus on making ownership affordable. I support working collaboratively as a community to find ways to make sure that families who are the fabric of Malden can afford to continue to call Malden home. We can do better in having requirements for developers that address the issue of cost of housing.

 


8b-vanni-no imageWARD 8 Councillor – Challenger – ANDREW VANNI

Did not respond.

 

 


QUESTION 8:

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) projects that Malden will see demand for an additional 3,852 units between 2018 and 2030. Do you feel Malden should attempt to meet these projections? Otherwise what quantity of additional units should Malden plan to build for 2030?

Again, as in all questions, all opinions here are those of the candidates and Neighborhood View has not checked the accuracy of their comments.


MAYOR – Incumbent – GARY CHRISTENSON

Projecting future housing demands and assigning numbers to it, in the middle of an unprecedented building boom, is a recipe for trouble. I believe that we as a City need to do what makes sense for us, based upon community input, collaboration with the City Council, and detailed information that helps inform us as to the impact of those decisions. That is a fluid process. We should not be setting targets at any one point in time.

 

 


MAYOR – Challenger – JOHN MATHESON

The purported housing demand is merely a product of politicians and their connections with apartment developers. In reality, the developers got very wealthy, while the cost of living for the rest of us went up faster than household income. One connected developer was even given a $2 million tax discount for nothing in return. More apartments are crowding our schools. The high rent charged by these apartments has made Malden appear to be a more affluent community, which has a depressing effect on the state aid that Malden schools need. At the same time, we lost after-school program funding, raising costs for struggling families. This model has to change. Malden has enough people, apartments, and cars for the foreseeable future. The mayor supports the MAPC housing production, and just last October, he signed a pledge to build more apartments. Conversely, I will focus on economic growth through new businesses.


At Large Councillor – Incumbent – CRAIG SPADAFORA

Did not respond. 

 

 


10-demariaAt Large Councillor – Incumbent – DEBBIE DEMARIA

Knowledge requires  a comprehensive grasp and awareness. MAPC was commissioned to do this project for Malden. This is a guideline, plain and simple. We as a City should move forward cautiously and not attempt to set goals based on projections, but rather needs of our community. The previous 10-year trend of development filled the pockets of many. I will leave it up to the reader to question those ethics. I was on Council for six years, and these previous developments were NOT under my leadership. However, I did support the development of Jefferson Apartment Group (the new City Hall) and still believe that to be a brave new beginning for Malden. I did not support the purchase or development of the Masonic building. Nor did I support their tax exemption waiver or lack of (none) affordable living. I cannot imagine another 4,000 more residential units. Are you kidding me?


At Large Councillor – Incumbent – STEVEN WINSLOW11-winslow

Malden has been a community where working people can afford to purchase homes, rent apartments, raise their families, and comfortably age. I am committed to preserving that important aspect of Malden. As a result, we do need to have plans that identify areas in the city where the infrastructure exists or can readily be improved to meet the needs of development planned to add housing.

 


12-leoneAt Large Councillor – Challenger – JERRY LEONE

MAPC asked Malden to build 3,800 more housing units in the next decade. We are the most densely populated and built-out community north of Boston which is not adjacent to Boston. Winchester with far more land, money, and located on the commuter rail, was asked by MAPC to build a few hundred units. Malden should stop building housing except for single or two-family owner occupied homes as the citizens directed in the Moratorium Survey of 2017. It is time for real equity and those towns with low density like Winchester need to begin sharing in the challenge. Malden has more than done its part.

 


1-crowe

WARD 1 Councillor – Incumbent – PEG CROWE

Did not respond. 

 

 

 


2-condonWARD 2 Councillor – Incumbent – PAUL CONDON

Did not respond.

 

 

 


3a-LinehamWARD 3 Councillor – Non-Incumbent – AMANDA LINEHAN

I do believe we are already seeing a dramatic uptick in demand for housing in Malden, and a combination of generational preferences for urban living, our proximity to Boston/Cambridge/Somerville, plus our extremely constrained real estate market have worsened local affordability, competition, flipping, and displacement. As the MAPC demand projections are based on the existence of a healthy job market, I do believe we should work to meet that demand in a smart, locally appropriate way. If we do nothing, the market will only grow tighter, and we may face increased income segregation, more absentee landlords, and an intensifying eviction rate. Unfortunately, the market will not adopt an equity lens on its own, so we must work to preserve our diverse community through smart housing policy before it’s too late. (In disclosure, I work at MAPC as communications director, but have no role in developing housing or other data projections).


3b-OrsinoWARD 3 Councillor – Non-Incumbent – JULIANNE ORSINO

The workforce housing demand presented by MAPC is 12,400 housing units for those born after 1980. That is very specific! Also projected is 3,852 in addition to what is already being built. (3,852 new + 2,148 permits=6000 housing units recommended.) Since this analysis only considers workforce housing for a specific age group, it leaves many Malden residents who are looking for affordable options out in the cold. There will be a reduction to the Chapter 70 school funding we receive and an increase in the MBTA assessment to the city. These are examples of the negative downstream impacts resulting from trusting only one data source. We need to consider other perspectives. As a data person and your City Councillor, I will look closely at the numbers regardless of the source and ask the critical questions needed to keep Malden open to all and moving forward with smart growth. Let’s talk commercial development!


4-omalleyWARD 4 Councillor – Incumbent – RYAN O’MALLEY

As Malden continues to become a community where people want to live, we have an opportunity to harness high quality redevelopment projects to extract a greater level of community benefits that increase our standard of living. The City Hall project, which was approved in 2015 before I joined the City Council, is a good example of using redevelopment to get community benefits like a new city hall, police station, and the reconnection of Pleasant Street. Other projects like the Combined Properties project at the old Mal’s Market/Super Fitness site on Exchange Street, and the development by Former State Representative Jack Brennan and Corcoran Jennison, are examples of projects that, in my opinion, were detrimental to the community because they didn’t not generate enough, if any, community benefits. For instance, the project spearheaded by Brennan and Jennison eliminated desperately needed public parking lots on Florence Street. We must learn from the mistakes of the past so that we do not repeat them.


5a-murphyWARD 5 Councillor – Incumbent – BARBARA MURPHY

The continual growth of our community should only occur after a thoughtful and thorough review of the impact such growth will have on our ability to continue to deliver services our residents expect. There is no denying that with additional growth comes added strain on our school system, public safety, and city services. While the answer to the question doesn’t end with that analysis, it certainly starts there. Understanding the underlying data that goes into the demand projections and how to ensure it gets solved equally by all communities are critical aspects of this issue.

 


5b-najmiWARD 5 Councillor – Challenger – DANYAL NAJMI

Absolutely. Housing costs are one of the most urgent issues facing our community, and we cannot hope to keep the costs down without creating more supply. But creating this number of units will not be enough – we have seen a lot of development in Malden that has been high-end and far out of the price range of most Malden residents and families. Future developments need to be strategic – built to cater to the needs of the full demographic that calls our city home, whether it be families or individuals, young or old, and across the income spectrum. We need to be selective about which developers we work with; they must be committed to the wellbeing of our people and community and not just looking for maximum profit. We also must be vigilant about preventing monopolies from manipulating the housing market, while supporting all of our residents, homeowners and renters alike.


6-camellWARD 6 Councillor – Incumbent – DAVID CAMELL

This is closely related to the answer for Q7. The real challenge from the City’ perspective is that of the climbing cost of living that threatens housing security for our Malden residents. Does the creation of more units alleviate that pricing pressure? Perhaps, but is housing production the most efficient way to address the issue, given the additional demands it puts on infrastructure? We have also heard this is a regional challenge. Where are regional and/or state resources? If the Commonwealth is asking Malden to provide infrastructure to support more units, how are they going to help? A negotiation must happen from a position of power, and currently we wield a strong position through our power to say”No.”If that answer is to change, we are going to have to hear something constructive from the Commonwealth.


7-andersonWARD 7 Councillor – Incumbent – NEAL ANDERSON

Did not respond.

 

 


8a-sicaWARD 8 Councillor – Incumbent – JADEANNE SICA

With all due respect to MAPC, I don’t believe any outside group should be setting targets for us. There are so many variables involved, including the need for a deeper understanding of true demand and the short term and long term drivers of such. The answer to this question and the question of affordable housing really are mutually exclusive and need to be discussed in tandem and not in a vacuum.

 


8b-vanni-no imageWARD 8 Councillor – Challenger – ANDREW VANNI

Did not respond.

 

 


“Election 2019: Questions for Candidates” will conclude next week.  

See answers to Question 1 and 2 (transparency) here

See answers to Question 3 and 4 (development) here

See answers to Question 5 and 6 (trees and traffic) here

 

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  1. ELECTION 2019: Final Questions for Candidates: Political Philosophy & Campaign Team – Neighborhood View

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