Preventing gentrification needs a regional approach

On February 27, 2014, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

mayor_webBy Joseph A. Curtatone

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and  do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

On March 4, the city, Somerville Community Corporation (SCC) and Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) will hold the third public forum on housing affordability in Somerville, to continue to strategize around a strong and effective housing agenda for the city. I hope you’ll attend, as there is plenty to talk about, like “Dimensions of Displacement,” the report that the MAPC produced with support from the city and SCC on potential gentrification along the Green Line Extension corridor.

The report reaches some conclusions that we probably could have guessed before, but now we have hard data to back it up—and a baseline by which to measure changes in the future. It also dispels some possible misconceptions about gentrification in Somerville. But one conclusion is clear—beyond what we must do as a community to address potential displacement of our people, there’s an urgent need for a regional approach to this issue.

The report lays out the challenges that the Green Line Extension will bring along with its enormous benefits to our city and residents. So while transit access and air quality will go up with the Green Line, the report projects that rents will also go up along the Green Line Extension corridor and residents could be displaced by this, as well as by condo conversions specifically around Gilman Square, Washington Street and Union Square. Property values are also expected to increase in areas within a half-mile walking distance of the new T-stops. But the report states that the expected increases in assessments will lead to little displacement risk for property owners because the increase is small relative to household income and ability to pay.

Lower-income households tend to be renters, not owners, though, so we need to look at strategies for how to protect them and how to maintain affordability for our working middle class. New condo construction—as opposed to condo conversions in existing multi-families that take rental units off the market—was cited in the report as a means to put downward pressure on both rents and property costs by increasing supply. That’s just one solution we are focused on. Another is bringing new commercial development to the city, which will help stabilize the tax base and relieve the burden on everyone.

Right now, the report didn’t find that certain groups are being pushed out. We’re not only already more diverse than the region as a whole, but Somerville has actually become more diverse in recent years. Higher income households are more likely to be moving out and not moving in—not lower income households—while Asian and black residents are arriving faster than they are leaving and our Hispanic, foreign-born and senior populations are fairly constant. But if we don’t act, that could change. Meanwhile, the report does show young families moving out at higher numbers than they are replaced, so we know we must address the need for family housing.

Now that the report gave us this detailed snapshot of where we are today, we will be better able to track changes and understand whether we’re seeing displacement of certain groups of people in our community. That means we can gauge the efficacy of the policies we already have in place, lead a more informed discussion about how to prevent that displacement, and enact the right future policies because we’ll know who exactly is being displaced.

Addressing potential displacement in Somerville means we have to create more growth in general along the lines of what we’ve proposed in SomerVision, which sets significant goals for housing and affordability. If we don’t, there will be increased pressure on our existing housing, and lower-income residents will probably be the first to bear that burden and be pushed out. We do not want to let that happen.

We have as robust a program as any city to address affordability and displacement. Our inclusionary zoning requires that affordable units be built alongside new units at rates far above the state’s benchmark. Our linkage fee and passage of the Community Preservation Act bring in funds that are used to build more affordable housing through our Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Beyond housing, we keep Somerville affordable by not charging families for scholastic sports and extracurricular programs, and offering free or very low cost programs through our schools, Recreation Department and libraries. And as I announced in my inaugural address, we’re pursuing the creation of a new affordable housing program specifically for working middle class families, and will create new fabrication and arts districts that will preserve artist and maker spaces and live-work buildings.

But beyond what we must do and are doing as a community to address this issue, other communities must also do their part. The rising cost of housing is not an issue that stops at our borders. The severe shortfall in new housing construction that is helping to drive housing costs up—Green Line or no Green Line—is a problem that is region wide.

The statistics are staggering. A recent study of the 55 largest U.S. cities found that 61 percent of Boston’s low-price neighborhoods gentrified between 2000 and 2007. That’s the highest total in the nation. A gap of 300,000 housing units between the demand for homes near transit over the next 20 years and the supply in the Greater Boston area was reported by a study by the  transportation and community development nonprofit Reconnecting America. The MAPC report calculated the minimum need for regional housing growth—calling for 435,000 new homes by 2040. And most of those homes need to be multi-family units. We have already set a goal in our SomerVision plan to build 6,000 units in Somerville by 2020, which MAPC cites as the approximate number needed if our population trends remain steady. But we can’t build the whole 435,000 homes the region needs by ourselves.

Affordability is a major challenge we’re ready to embrace—and already have in many ways. We need other communities in the metro region to embrace that challenge with us. Every city and town in the region needs a real housing policy and higher thresholds for affordable housing. We’re collaborating with the MAPC and SCC on our housing roundtable series that concludes on March 4. That collaboration needs to expand beyond city borders. A collaborative, coordinated effort by all the cities and towns affected is the only real solution for real relief from the regional housing burden.


85 Responses to “Preventing gentrification needs a regional approach”

  1. wth says:

    I can’t even read this homily of how wonderful MAPC and SCC and the mayor is. You can create all the affordable units you want, it is not going to ‘prevent gentrification’. Not only are residents driven out by rising rents and housing costs and units built too small for families, but businesses as well. So the businesses that make an area diverse are priced out. Some small businesses have already had to leave Union Square due to rising costs.

  2. philb says:

    Well written. It is supply and demand both locally and regionally. I constantly hear residents and politicians working to limit the number of units in condo developments, then at the same time complain about the rising cost of housing that limiting supply causes.

  3. leona says:

    The reason people complain about the number of units has to do with over-building an area, and building residential as opposed to business. Residential units cost the city much more in city services than business and they pay less in taxes. The mayor keeps saying we need more business in the city, but constantly allows developers to build condos in every empty parcel, and over-build beyond the constraints of the zoning laws.

  4. ritepride says:

    Like the middle class families are going to buy a dozen (cost $48.00) cupcakes at $3-$4 each or fancy shmancy special beers/Ales at $6-$8 a bottle at these new stores popping up in the squares.

    Hey our mayor/ceo[Curtatone’s essentially obnoxious], the IT, Ben Affleck or Matt Damon crowd may be able to afford it but not the average person. So when the Tran$ient$ move out after staying for three years What’s going to happen to these Gentrification Vendors?

    Dont you just love when they talk about parking spaces at a development…Ah 1.5678th parking spots per living unit. What do you own to fit into that .5678th of the parking spot??? A roll of toilet paper??
    What Asylum did these politicians, planners, etc., escape from???

    The “T” bus routes serve the residents well, we don’t need fancy GLX so we can keep up with Chumley & the gang, especially when in these “tough fiscal times” we are going to destroy 15 -20 bridges that were rebuilt within the last 15 years because the “T”/State Engineers did not widen these bridges when they were recently rebuilt. So now in the “tough fiscal times we are wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. A GLX trolley broke down this week, shutting down the system between Lechmere & Government Center, That does not happen when a bus breaks down, the other buses just drive around the broken down bus. Wait till the GLX ages a little and while your watching tv it gets interupted by the loud squeal of the trolley wheels. Then the GentryTransy crowd will be screamin to bring back the buses.

    Then go to these “forums” where you can listen but dont talk, or if they have a meeting where you may be able to talk, they divide the room up into groups at tables and the group your sitting with is addressing something you have no interest in, meanwhile a table on the other side of the room may have a table that is discussing what you need to know.
    The typical Curtatone Dog & Pony Show….Much ado about nothing! Et tu Brute…Your really not getting to talk!

  5. Somerbreeze says:

    This is kind of ironic, as young professionals get Open Sesame at City Hall, while seniors, small property owners and the disabled get Short Shrift…

    Joey Cakes sheds crocodile tears over gentrification–how quickly they evaporate!

  6. A.Moore says:

    This from our ceo who was touting his building efforts here which are mostly NOT family size apartments.

  7. philb says:

    Bus lines do not provide an adequate level of service. A right of way and increased frequency is absolutely required in order to rely on those public transportation. When a bus that runs every half hour doesn’t show, that is a painful hour you wait. As a consequence if you are not on the T, you usually need a car to get by.

  8. Bostom says:

    You do the math. “We have already set a goal in our SomerVision plan to build 6,000 units in Somerville by 2020.” OK, reality check: 1000 units a year for the next six years? It’s already March 2014. Is the City of Somerville now granting – on average – newbuild or conversion permits that equate to three or four new housing units a day? They’re not open Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, so starting construction on roughly three or four new or restructured units on each working day of the year for the next six years is what it would take to get 6000 new units on line in Somerville. Apart from the sheer impossibility of that happening (ah, but you say, “They could build a new Assembly Square with hundreds if not thousands of units”) there’s the fact that the units like those now being built and planned there are most definitely not “family-friendly.” The economics of development on that scale reward greater density, not less, so where would they be sited in one of, if not the, most densely populated cities in the United States? Land use in Somerville today isn’t quite a zero-sum game: you can squeeze in a few more units by replacing something here now with a new or reconfigured structure of even greater density or by converting old commerical buildings into residential space – I see some really expensive loft-like units in Union Square above street level shops on the horizon – but few if any suitable sites for large-scale development exist in Somerville. More importantly, is that what the people – as opposed to the government – of Somerville want?

    You do the math. “Higher income households are more likely to be moving out and not moving in” and “Meanwhile, the report does show young families moving out at higher numbers than they are replaced, so we know we must address the need for family housing.” That’s damning evidence of failure and one more reason “Fun City’s” pandering to the most fickle demographic – the highly paid and highly mobile who don’t put down roots here that last for generations – is both farce and tragedy in equal measure. These groups are leaving for different reasons, and with them go some of Somerville’s best hopes. The wealthy, one suspects, can find places they think more suitable for their changing tastes at prices they can afford rather than settling in here, hopefully generous with their money, commitment, and expertise. Unless they’re trust fund babies, they made that money with skills from which we all might benefit. Young families are leaving because the schools aren’t what they should be; schools being what matters most to families with kids. They’re better than they were, and I’m happy to see the improvements, especially at Somerville High, but of 321 school districts in Massachusetts, Somerville is ranked as number 271.* Until that number approaches 50th from the top and not the bottom, Somerville won’t attract and keep the famililies with incomes to buy the homes – not condos – sufficient to their needs and suitable to their tastes.

    Finally, forget the “forum.” These tricked-out presentations are not about discussion, or input, or detailing possible options to explore. They’re most certainly not about those in the audience being heard much less listened to. They serve as a basis for telling you what they’ve decided will be done, not to solicit your ideas as to what should be done. If you’re a developer with deep pockets and a generous, giving nature, your views and desires will be heard, albeit not at a public forum. If you’re a resident, not so much.

    * from
    whose sources are the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Dept of Education, and the MA Dept. of Education.

  9. soscla says:

    My rent will be going up $150/mo as of June 1st. My salary will not. I am already paying 3/4 of my income to just my rent. That does not leave a lot left for groceries, bills, health care, clothing, and god forbid any entertainment spending in Somerville or elsewhere. My rent raises every two years. My salary does not. I am a single, no-longer-in-my-30’s person, working in the arts. Every time my rent goes up, I have to reconfigure my spending, just to continue to live here. That means any discretionary spending gets cut even more– 3$ donuts?? are you crazy?

  10. Kelly says:

    I think most people would consider me one of the “young professionals” of Somerville. And yes, I plan to move out of Somerville once I have kids. Why? Because there’s no available housing here. I want a single family home where I don’t have to have noisy people living above or worry about people below me resenting my children running about the house (as I do where I currently live). That’s ok. Yes, we want people to live, work, play, and raise a family here in Somerville…but unless you want to pay $1mil or live in an apartment – that’s not happening. So let’s just accept the new Somerville for what it is – a “stopover” for the ‘young professionals’ that can afford to live here for a bit, until they move onto the suburbs.

  11. sd says:

    somervision says 6000 units by 2030. not 2020. 2030.

  12. bob says:

    Bravo, Bostom, your explanation of the term ‘forum’ is spot on. This is all smoke and mirrors, bread and circuses as they hope and pray that we don’t figure out what is really going on.

  13. Bostom says:

    SD says: somervision says 6000 units by 2030. not 2020. 2030.

    Thanks, SD, for the correction. I trust it’s a typo, either on the Mayor’s part (who, um, wrote the article or is it the work of a flack our taxes pay for?) or on the part of the Somerville TIMES. Hard as it is proofread our own work, if the mayor’s pen touched paper, you’d think that glaring a discrepancy in the numbers would twig him to check his work.

    The larger point (where to put 6000 new housing units in sixteen years, not in six) remains.

  14. score says:

    I wonder who’s keeping score on progress in meeting 6,000 units? There must be nearly 1,000 approved or under construction over the last 12-18 months. An incomplete and quicky tally without caveats, etc…:

    Assembly Row = 450
    90 Washington = 157
    9/39 Medford St = 100
    315 Broadway = 56
    181 Washington = 35
    625 McGrath Hwy = 34
    197 Washington = 30
    380 Somerville Ave = 30
    182 Broadway = 19
    70 Prospect = 14
    21 Village St = 6
    6-8 Broadway = 5
    97 Prospect = 7

  15. philb? says:

    buses are no good? must have subway? I live in Union Sq., I’ve been getting everywhere I need to go on buses for 20 years. Yeah, sometimes they’re late, but it all works. Lots of us have been doing it for years. I will be moving soon, as rent just went sky high. Kelly sums it up, between MCAS scores and her reasons, families can’t stayhere. it’s no longer a family-friendly place. and all the references to transients are spot on. This is a stop off on the way to the suburbs. Once you outgrow the festivals (and you will!) you’re gone. Once you have children and your priorities change, the never-ending street closures, re-routing and noise are just too frustrating

  16. Go up says:

    The best place for these units to go is up. We only have so much land and the sky is truly the limit. Unfortunately a perfect spot for tall buildings like the assembly square site or innerbelt road area is limited. I was very disappointed to learn that assembly wouldn’t be going up 25-30 stories since that would be the perfect spot for such a building. It’s not near any neighborhood (particularly the side near the T station) and it has the infrastructure to move large amounts of people quickly. It could have been a landmark for the city. I know some would call it an eyesore since they might actually see it but many here can’t be pleased with any changes so it’s time to stop trying to please them.

  17. samira says:

    @Go up: wow. The good thing about Assembly Square is that it is not going up. Too many tall buildings cause a lack of sun and a wind tunnel. It would also mean that those who can afford to live in those buildings will have some type of a view, while the rest of us, for instance Ten Hills and parts of East Somerville (yes, Assembly Square is indeed near neighborhoods), would lose their views. Infrastructure? Really? Drive onto the Wellington Bridge any day toward Medford/Everett. It is a bottlejam now, nevermind when Assembly Square is completed.

  18. Go up says:

    Samira you are EXACTLY the type of person I was referring to. Nimbyism at it’s best right there.

    The building I was hoping to see would be at the farthest point away from ten hills. Yes it would be tall and yes you would see it form your home and so would many others form the city and from downtown Boston. That’s the point. You want a landmark that people can see from far away. It would be at the furthest possible point from your neighborhood and would be next to the T station. YOU do know that the infrastructure I was referring to is the T station right?

    A s far as the wind tunnel nonsense goes that is present when you are next to the buildings, something you would not be since you don’t live next to the new T station. How do I know that? Well you said you live in ten hills and that is not next to the T station as much as might want it to be.

    Also the view you would lose would be of Everett or Chelsea and the power plant. I see your point about not wanting to lose a view like that, the majesty of it is amazing.

    But we could just go on and on building 100 units on a postage stamp.

  19. Frankly says:

    The increase in linkage fees is mind boggling. The mayor says in this article we need to attract commercial investment. But in a city desperately trying to attract commercial investment to mitigate tax increases on long time Somerville residents, we have effectively fined anyone who wants to expand a local business or locate their business here (and employ local residents) in order to subsidize the rent of someone on the housing lottery list which, by law, can’t be restricted to Somerville residents.

  20. ritepride says:

    “Go up” First, with power outages, and in Somerville we have our fair share of them….Do you want to be climbing 10/20/30 flights of stairs to get into your apartment?

    Second, fire department aerial ladders only go 100 ft, It is displayed on the side of the ladder, so what ever floors are above that mark, good luck as elevators shut down when the alarm is activated…..++++ since Prop 2nhalf and other budget cuts, there are less aerial ladder trucks available today. You cannot cut services, equipment, personnel and expect the same service. Somerville had 7 fire stations, today they have 5 and have 2 less Engine Companies and 1 less Ladder Company.

    So “Go up” if you like 25-30 story apartment bldgs, move into one and if your on the high floors….take lessons & buy a parachute.

  21. Go Away says:

    you’re completely misunderstanding and seem devoted to putting up high rise monstrosities. I don’t want that either. and infrastructure? what the hell inf. does Assembly have? Samira doesn’t want your landmark vision, neither do lots of people. we don’t want to become a giant, faceless city. that seems to be the vision. Ten Hills and East. Som. are certainly neighbors to Assembly. It’s amazing that when someone present a reasoned argument, you presume they stupidly don’t understand or have some nimby situation

  22. Go up says:

    Riptide stop acting as if 25 stories is such a great height. If Boston can have 50 story buildings then we can certainly have half that. We get it you want more funding for the FD. you’ve been on that kick for years now. Boston has budget problems also but they don’t have parachutes either in their tall buildings. Again just because you can see something from your home doesn’t make it ugly, if you don’t like something just because you can see it form your home, makes you small minded.

    Either we keep building large projects on a small amount of land or find new ways to put those units in. These units are going in one way or the other. How they go in is up to us.

  23. Go Away says:

    oh, I see what you did there. the name is ritepride and you went and made it riptide—very funny, creative. I remember MY first beer.

  24. Kelley says:

    Man, I have’d lived here since 1953 and the most significant changes to Somerville housing were the loss of over 12,000 housing units during the construction of Rte. 93, then the loss of rent and the condo conversion controls when the state rent control law was repealed in 1994.

    Living in Somerville during the period of rent control, was in reality a great place to live. You had greater mobility in terms of what neighborhood you wanted to live in. Money was tight, the recessions of the 70s really affected the the area, but if you think that Somerville is cool now you just weren’t here then. There was so much more to do and it was a lot cheaper to do it. You didn’t have to cough up more than half of your take home pay to a landlord.

    Housing in Somerville has always been driven by greed and when the controls were eliminated in ’94 all hell broke loose. I worked at the First National warehouse, and Somerville Lumber when they were considered good paying jobs. I do not think you could live in these towers being built there now with the wages you earned then. These towers do not serve any purpose but to make money for the developer. This is not a solution to the housing crisis in Somerville. You would have to be pretty naïve to think that the forces that brought about the repeal of rent control give a rat’s ass about the working poor people of Somerville. The real bottom line to all this is that a vast number of people in this town know squat about how it was to grow up here. The Somerville that I grew up in is long gone, never to be seen again, c’est la vie.

    Most of the commentary seems to be coming from “stopovers”. I’ve seen you cats come into Somerville and split and I find your lame attempts at being glib pretty damn boring and self-serving. So why don’t you shut the hell up, because you really, really, don’t know what you’re talking about, and you have no solutions. Your so lame your not even part of the problem.

  25. ritepride says:

    “Go Away” “I see what you did there. the name is ritepride and you went and made it riptide—very funny”…….. Duh No! Any similarities or mispelling or misuse of my name are highly deceptive, controversial and could be by someone from cityhall or its annex… tufts.

  26. ritepride says:

    “Go up” Thank God! There are hills that block my view so your issue on that is moot.

    Boston high rises are a result of developers (Planation Owners) like Mr. Rappaport who destroyed neighborhoods like the west end forcing people out of their homes. Hey if you like them (after seeing what happened in NYC on 9-11) and want to put your wife/kids in harms way living high above, then do your own thing, though there is probably no woman who would put up with you.

    I did not bring up Fire Dept. funding, just pointed out that there is less available today, just like in Boston. So while your hanging out the window it is going to take a little longer for the mutual aid ladder from Chelsea or Newton to get there.

    So what state were you imported from to here? Maybe your parents will take u back & place you in their Lo-Rise room…

  27. Go up says:

    Shiteside I don’t work for city hall or tufts. I’ve lived here since 1972 and I can spot a bitter smoke eater form a mile away. I do have a finished basement so when your wife throws you out you can live here but I will need some of your pension or disability that your on.

    Of course I may be wrong, you might not be a smoke eater since you’re so afraid of height…

    See you at the public meeting for the powderhouse school.

  28. Freebie says:

    Anyone who says there are no families here surely didn’t walk by any of the local playgrounds this weekend. My kids could barely use the slide or swings the playground was so packed today. We have more children per square mile than any city in MA.

    I am part of a wave of families that moved here in the last 10 years and plan to stay. It’s happening, the elementary schools are actually quite good.

    Now please stop saying there are no children because you don’t see them playing in the streets. Street play doesn’t happen here or anywhere else like it did in the past.

  29. “It also dispels some possible misconceptions about gentrification in Somerville”. Gentrification forces out working class singles, families and elderly. What “misconception” could they possibly be referring to? Everyone knows what it means–the rich move in–the poor move out. Unless the city officials put on the brakes to the greedy developer and real estate sharks, it will continue until this place resembles Newbury Street.

    “But the report states that the expected increases in assessments will lead to little displacement risk for property owners because the increase is small relative to household income and ability to pay.Lower-income households tend to be renters, not owners”. What so called, “report”, and who would be its creator?

    I’ve gone to the meetings–have you? The few courageous ones who stood up to tell their ugly stories of triple tax hikes are living on moderate incomes and retirement pensions. At the rates our taxes are today, we all would have to make between $75 -$100k in order to remain in this city.
    Word out, is Ward 7 homes are escalating up to $900k sales, so I’m sure their now looking for another round of tax gouging next year. That’s fine if you are a seasoned house flipper and have zero investment in the city. But for those who wish to remain, it is hard as hell to manage simultaneous increases in bills which are just as high to pay, which cannot be pushed aside until next month–mortgages, water bills and utilities.

    They say these meetings are open to residents and our voices will be heard and considered, well, I am telling you as one voice in the crowd, this is not what happens. It is my honest opinion, they invite their friends to outnumber the rest of us so our voices will be squashed when it doesn’t go along with their own self-serving goals and deceptive agendas. At the end of their decisions, they can always fall back on their community outreach BS, “well it was open to the residents and homeowners”, they voted on it.

  30. Tufts is holding their last and final meeting on March 26. I encourage anyone interested in seeing what I just described above, to attend. We residents who have been outnumbered by their friends in the cheering section, could certainly use your help.

    Their PR promoter’s failed attempt to describe their parking garage on Boston Ave., as similar to Davis Square=Times Square was a joke. In my mind, what would be the massacre of Holland Street if both an entrance and exit were to be, instead of sharing the burden on both sides of the footprint, giving Broadway some of Holland Street’s misery. When asked were the resident resided who was adamant about Holland Street servicing the massive traffic jams including Tufts 265 cars–she answered, “I live on Broadway”. I rest my case. This same woman describes “students as wonderful and loves to be surrounded by them”, who if asked, I assure you has never been awakened by a drunken, toilet paper hanging, pissing in the street, party fest at her door. When asked how many in the audience were Architects by trade, I counted over 12 raised hands who also happen to claim residency. Our crowd was pitted against university ties, affiliates who also have a horse in the race, including one town official who will remain unnamed, but still challenge his alliances with a university who continually changes the game plan at ever meeting. One brave soul stood up and said the same I know to be true, “Tufts asked for more administrative offices during the initial process at the advisory committee meetings. If they were asking then what they are asking now, the decision to move forward, may have changed our minds”. The last meeting, they asked for “Evening Graduate classed and undergraduate classes”, to be housed at PHCS. Last week, we saw a slide showing a long list of classroom options–Eliot Pearson, School of Engineering, etc. I guess they are hoping to persuade us by deception. Not happening.

    My heart goes out to those who will be effected the most–residents of Paulina Street, who will deal with a driveway of delivery vehicles and the promise of one a day or one a week at the very most. Based on all I have heard by 4 meetings I have attended, I’m sure this will change from now until the truck enters that driveway. But as madam Architect voiced at her prickly roundtable of discussion–“everyone’s input should be accounted for, not just Paulina”. My guess is her residence is far from the annoying intrusions of quality of life, that we will be dealing with after this project is complete.

  31. Somerbreeze says:

    We should never forget what some developers are capable of, like Jerome Rappaport, who helped to blitz the so-called “slums” (neighborhoods, actually) of Boston’s West End, a notorious and shameful chapter in the city’s history, as ritepride has pointed out. And lo, the New Boston was born, with Concrete Canyon Government Center and City Hall Ugly…

    In Somerville, don’t tell me that “Dah Envelope, Puhleese…” in City Hall doesn’t still hold sway, except that now it’s done by EFT (hey, an upgrade!). And guess what billionaire developer is buying up property in Union Square–who but Harold Brown, one of Boston’s biggest slumlords of the 1960s!

    Ah, the more things change….

  32. Kelley,

    “The Somerville that I grew up in is long gone….”

    There are still many of us around.

    Please come to the next Tufts meeting and those which will be held at city hall when the aldermen get to decide what will be. I’m hoping more residents will attend and share their concerns on what this project will mean to our neighborhoods.

    Thank you for your comments. You’re right–the transients don’t have a clue about the motivations of the developers. If someone richer comes along, they too will be tossed under the bus, all the name of “progress”.

    Progress for some, is destruction to others. In this case, it is their lives which are being destroyed, by forcing them to be uprooted without the means to start over. For those who have never experienced poverty, losing a job, support by their family money–they don’t get it.

    Somerville is not a class project–it is our HOME.

  33. tired says:

    this is such a tired discussion, over and over again. yes, the playgrounds and tot lots are full. but they are not staying past school age. maybe you intend to, but I bet you change your mind, and if not, you are in a very small minority

  34. Yes, tired–

    Many of us residents who are continually being patronized and lied to, are exhausted. But it’s obvious they try hard to break us down, humiliate us, make jokes about having a bocci court (since a few of the elderly residents are of Italian descent as myself) or by some strange fate the PHCS is on fire in the middle of the night by an act of God, they chant at the meeting, “let it burn”, but none other than the brown peacock, madam architect herself who puts her hands up in front of residents who wish to speak their opinion. This past meeting lasted over 3 hours.

    Luckily, the Ward 7 alderman had reminded the architect and audience that everyone has a voice at these meetings–not just those promoting rock walls and a day care center playground, maybe for Eliot Pearson and the one at TAB, perhaps?

    Not only are these comments disrespectful to residents who have lived in the area for many generations, some who built the school, laughing at the comment, “let it burn”, it is also a horrifying reminder of the fires this city has encountered over the past 2-3 years, past year the worst.

    I find it interesting the green line extension will be running in the same path, some coincidence. Someone asked about responsibility of liability is someone gets hurt from the rock climbing wall. No one from Tufts could answer it, not even their lawyer or real estate executive who presented the slide on moving their campus classrooms to PHCS.

    There was also mention of having an outdoor movie theatre at the site. So, what if you are in your home living room on Holland or Broadway and are hoping for a quite, relaxing evening? Guess what. Maybe their first showing should be “Dumb and Dumber”, as they celebrate yet another victory of encroachment upon the residential community.

    A simple question of 71 or 51 vans who provide transportation to the elderly, can’t be answered. Yet, they use the city planner as a whipping post as to build an argument for the need of more parking for Tufts employees. No one can agree as to how many vans, how many Tufts occupants are in TAB or will be at PHCS, yet they expect us to just say yes to all the above, just because they claim, “we have been such a great neighbor”. I guess that means you can take a free class anytime you want. Just don’t expect to be welcomed. I took classes there while employed–you are never respected or acknowledged by professor or student, few maybe. I still managed to hold good grades despite the alienation of ignorant suburbanites with no respect for themselves or their “neighbors”. These are people who only know suburbia, so don’t expect the welcome wagon. As one professor referred to us as mere, “working class”, until they need something. They have no idea what the rest of us go through to make a living and keep a home. Someone is always there to take care of the insulated crowd. If they fall on real tough times, their problems are much more important than yours or mine. At least we are real. What did they think of Somerville in the 70’s or 80’s? Now that our real estate is worth millions, suddenly they are our friends?

    All while, reminding us the meeting is in overtime and we need to wrap it up. This reminder only occurs when they can’t hear themselves talk, and talk they do, especially madam architect who’s over zealous, elitist behavior is more than enough to bare at these meetings. Do they expect to be on the front page of the Boston Globe?

    My point is this–those who have a pony in the race, will try to steer us into the direction they want because it’s money in their bank accounts, so called status, and exposure to the industry, something to brag about at cocktail hour because frankly, it’s all they care about. They, as the man on the hill, who is always looking out for number one, could give a rats a$$ about the rest of us who will be paying for their “Let’s build a new Somerville”, science project and experiment for the next 25-30 years, then leaving the burden it to our children. The city officials are not working for architects or developers–they are working for us and I as one long-time resident and taxpayer, expect that ALL residents have a say on hour our city is shaped. Tufts should not be allowed to hold meetings which are suppose to be held by the city. Cambridge City Hall would never allow what is going on with Tufts. Their residents always come first and the colleges which reside there respect the community.

    Speaking of units–they are only building 2 bedroom condos and apartments, so much for wishing to keep working families in the city. The primary stakeholders are –single, childless, professional.

  35. here we go again says:

    Pixie, unfortunately all meetings for proposed developments are run by the developer, not by the city. This has been a huge problem, as often the developer misrepresents what they plan to do, or discusses plans that are not possible due to zoning, or legal, issues. They are also responsible for inviting abutters, which makes it easy to cut back on the numbers invited for their own purposes. Despite the fact that members of the Planning Board usually attend the meeting they say nothing, which gives residents the impression that the developer is speaking the truth. When you find out you have been lied to it is too late. This entire process needs to change.

  36. Freebie says:


    More and more families are absolutely staying given the current state of the elementary schools. Actually, the bigger reason families leave now is housing cost and size. However, I can tell you that the number of families staying now in West Somerville seems much higher than even 5 years ago.

  37. Freebie says:

    Regarding schools, take a look at the animated MCAS chart at the bottom of this page. Some would say this is actually a product of the gentrification, as different families put their kids in the schools

  38. GetOffMyLawn says:

    By the way, the link to the report “Dimensions of Displacement” mentioned in the original article is here: – the executive summary’s a quick read and interesting to ponder.

    The map on page 7 alone is worth it, though raises some questions, e.g., why are Lowell and Gilman Sq. stations’ areas unlikely to rise in price? The full report says “Gilman Sq. and Lowell St. already have premiums in place, so we do not expect rents to rise sharply around these stations in the near term.” I guess they’re basing that on the map on page 6. From page 25 of the full report it sounds like those near the proposed Lowell and Gilman station locations have already had their rents upped, compared to those more distant. Not sure I believe that – it seems based on some assumption that rentals are all the same, aside from the transit premium.

  39. here we go again says:

    Again, there may have been an increase in affordable housing units, but for the most part they are not ‘family’ units, i.e. majoriety two- or three-bedroom units. The large amount of young people also proves our point. They are young professionals who will move when they have kids, or when those kids are in grade 1 (so as to take full advantage of full day FREE preschool and kindergarten. The large amount of same sex couples is the icing on the cake. The end.

  40. To: here we go again….

    You are right. One important part of the equation is timing–
    These projects are now being created all based on the changes in residents. When I asked an abutter, Paulina Street homeowner where the rest of Paulina street residents were–he answered, “They are mostly absentee landlords”, who don’t care.

    There you go–5, 10 and 20 years ago, this project would never happen. They are bringing more people into the city who are shifting the landscape. But most plan to live here only a few years for college, then move away.

    I remain unconvinced that there will be many long term residents living in Somerville. It’s a stop over, like Vegas was for GI’s, or for day trippers to the Cape and weekend R&R in the NH white mountains. After the appeal wears off, they are off to explore another region or territory. Boredom sets in quick with this crowd. Somerville is just the lastest fad, a class project, weekend experiment. When they get tired of it, what will become of all the empty high priced condos? This feels like the late 90’s before the housing bubble. They get everyone excited about buying high priced real estate, but only the chosen few know when to buy and sell, everyone else is left holding the empty bag of promises to home ownership. People in the “know”, will just keep flipping houses until it’s impossible for the working class to keep up. I wonder if the home assessments will go down once they are rid of all the undesirables. Won’t that be an outrage. People keep saying Cambridge RE taxes are low. I wonder why?

  41. PS–

    Same can be said for VOTING–how many move in just to get their vote on the ballot, to then move back to suburbia once they get their degree.

    How many long-term residents vs. transients do our local politicians represent?

    If we are attending meetings to decide on projects, why are transients allowed to vote on these projects when they have no intention of remaining in the city?

    How many long-term residents will be using the Rock Wall, skateboarding, bike riding at the PHCS or attending the outdoor movie theatre? Maybe there would be a mixed crowd, but that would depend on a number of other factors–for instance, will there be day and evening undergraduate and graduate classrooms?

    I don’t believe the campus and residential neighborhoods can be integrated. However, if we base this on voters and non-voters, it may help predict a similar outcome as other cases we have seen in the past.

    Our state rep of 16 years was right–the city has changed and so have the voters. If we took a survey of how many long-term voters, new voters, transient voters, and non-voters, what would it tell us?

    Ward 7 has always been a difficult ward to win for past politicians. I’m beginning to understand the complexities and why it happened. And Tufts believes they are just about to reach the finish line.

  42. Freebie says:


    As someone who lived here in my 20s and am now raising a family here, I can assure you people do not leave out of Boredom. You think these transient people move to Arlington or Wellesley because it’s less boring? The appeal of Somerville is that it’s much less boring than the generally uninteresting suburbs around here. People move for more space, affordability, and school perceptions. These luxury condos will be sold to the next round of high income IT and Biotech workers.

    Davis square is really just getting started. Thrillist just listed Davis Square as having one of the best Irish pubs, whiskey bars, and coffee shops in the whole country. Unfortunately those condo prices are not going down anytime soon.

  43. Frankly says:

    Lots of bitterness here … or is it jealousy? Most of us raising families here today do so because we choose to – because Somerville offers us a great quality of life for us and our children – not because it is cheap or we can’t move anywhere else. That is a good thing. Times change.

  44. here we go again says:

    Pixie, a real problem we have seen lately is in voters vs. non-voters. I don’t understand why students who are living part-time in a city while attending college are allowed to vote in local elections. Most of them use their family address as their address of record, so how is it they are able to register to vote from a dorm room address. That is a huge part of what is changing the landscape. I wonder how many of these students are also registered to vote at home, and even vote absentee in home elections?

    Frankly, I don’t give a d**n. Very patronizing to take legitimate concerns and brush them off as the jealousy of the working poor. I trust as more and more large buildings go up, more and more ‘newbies’ will see a decline in their quality of life. Traffic on Cedar Street has tripled, there was a serious accident at the entrance/exit to Maxwell’s Green, and pretty soon you will not be able to drive through Wellington Circle.

  45. yuppie says:

    yeah, bitterness. If you don’t agree or can’t open your mind to think about how people are feeling, then we must all be bitter, “Times change” I think that’s what Colombus said to the Indians…..

  46. ritepride says:

    Tufts for years has owned $ome $omerville politicians. Between the Western Jr High $1.00 give-away which was to include the city use of some of the Western building for city programs, which Babs Reubel bitches about like the vans parked there to transport the elderly.

    Parts of Packard Ave and other city owned streets that have been taken over by TAX EXEMPT Tufts with “TUFTS NO PARKING” of “TUFTS PERMIT PARKING” signage and the TAXPAYERS are dictated to about parking in front of their own home with permits because TUFTS tells their students that they cannot park their cars in Tufts parking lots at night, so viola they end up on Somerville streets, (remember the time Tufts students who had printed their own Somerville Parking Permits and were bagged by one of Somerville’s finest [Police] who picked up on it..

    Yes this city definitely needs another FBI “Agent Jack” visit. Then we will need a special election to fill some vacancies as some pols/hacks will be away at “Club Fed” a “secure facility” where they might even get to meet “Whitey” himself.

  47. ritepride says:

    Well “Freebie” naturally “Thrillist” will list not just Davis Sq but the whole city as it is only 4 square miles, thus it averages either a liquor store or bar every 234 feet. It’s an alcoholics dream, that is why we have “frequent flyers” going in ambulances so many times a day. If it isnt the booze it is the drugs. Though “dry” Arlington is starting to open liquor stores etc, so they can hang in “classier” places within their boundaries.

    Then add the “frequent” trips to Tufts campus for alcohol poisoning/drugs….Ah those parents must be proud shelling out over $50k year for Chumley and Miopiah getting an “education” for an ambulance ride, though it is not “officially listed” in the curriculum.

    Instead of the city shelling out $250,000+ a year for guaranteed ambulance coverage, the taxpayers should be getting $$$ from the
    ambulance company. though you can be pretty sure some people at the
    city’s Highland Ave corporate hdqtrs may already be getting some $$$, or Patriotsl tickets, Gift Certificates.. etc., etc….cause historically after all this is “Somerville, Dah Envelope puhleez”.

  48. LOL…yuppie,

    Jealousy? Bitterness? I would love to see how the suburbanites would react to encroachment by a neighboring college with blatant disregard for the quality of life of their residents. Or dealing with 2 a.m., pounding on the doors and windows because their IPhone tells them it’s hiding inside the residence the app has indicated–maybe they should try to perfect the software, since it’s range can be up to 100-200 feet. When asked if the drunken disorderly and belligerent well dressed, 20 something male and friend could be members of the frat house up the street–the LE declined to answer. Turns out the phone was left in a cab and the cab was in the neighborhood, not my house. I thought they were trying to call for help because someone was injured and lying in the middle of the street. When I asked the officer what the major crisis was , he simply stated that he lost his IPHONE, I asked, “Are you telling me that for 45 min., I have been listening to pounding and kicking on doors over a cell phone? Bringing the entitled crowd to our neighborhoods will bring more of this grief. Do we know how much property Tufts owns? How many residential housing which is rented to students and turned into offices? Can we see a highlighted map? How about their “master-plan” of taking over neighborhoods in Ward 7, or shall we just sit back and let them lie to us at meetings and secretly acquire more of our real estate until it’s too late to push back. Maybe they would like to have an office at city hall? Maybe they have one already.

    What exactly are we suppose to be jealous and bitter about, exactly…”FRANKLY”?

    The shallow, arrogant and clueless, who suffer from tunnel vision, and can’t understand common sense? Who are continually beating the deafening drums, demanding their self-professed entitlements at our expense, as we witness at every city meeting run by the, “it’s all about me”, crowd.

    Do you think it’s a coincidence that 12 architects/residents are attending these meetings? Maybe there is more to go around.

    And where to the Aldermen stand on this issue? Who do they represent?
    When most of the local residents and homeowners are non-voters, non-residential-exempt, living in FL, who don’t give a damn. Others who believe we can turn Somerville into Disneyland, but are not planning to invest in our properties, school system or PTA committees. As the young woman at the PHSC, “Parents of school age children leave the city and brag about their cash-out-condo for the house in the burbs, when they tell the mother with toddlers, “See you in Lexington in 10 years”….hahaha.

    The presidential candidate’s son told a group of towns-folk, “We can’t let the hospice center come to the “hill”, our property values will plummet.
    What is good for some is not good for all.

    It puts it all in perspective, don’t it?

  49. “here we go again”….

    “how is it they are able to register to vote from a dorm room address”–great question! I bet I have the answer. How many pols have connections to Tufts….I can name two, one is an alum + state rep, other is alderman-at-large with family who work and are graduates.
    My, my, what tangled webs….

  50. Freebie– “Thrillist” is an expert on what the most popular place in the country? Do they know that we have the most colleges on the planet in one location? Doesn’t that fact put a spin on everything they try to promote?

    Condo prices are rising? I sense another housing bubble on the horizon. Who will be betting against the loans so they can make a killing on WS? Hurry, see how many you can buy and sell just before the next crash, then we can share stories on how many toys I have in my sandbox…I mean, trophy home.

    It matters nothing to me if my home was valued at $5 million dollars by next week. Money is liquid, here today, gone tomorrow. If you are not giving a great portion to taxes, you are hiding it on the islands and paying lawyers around the clock to make sure it doesn’t surface on the Feds watch list. You call that great living? I call it something else.

    Some people actually have a value system they live by–if some choose to make money their higher power, it’s their decision. Some of us know the difference between earning a real living and acquiring one from shady dealings. Like it or not, the fact is housing has always been a part of that equation because it’s EASY MONEY and I have learned that easy money does not teach a person experience, it makes them lazy, arrogant and entitled. Unfortunately, it is the greed which is associated with money that ruins millions of lives everyday. Money can be replaced, and we can learn to do without–people cannot.

  51. ritepride says:

    “Go up” No, I’m not afraid of heights. “Finished basement” you did get permits for it, as if not joey will be looking for “fineage”. No I do not get “disability”. I do get a pension but it is small like your brain. Hey look at the bright side. If you lived on the tenth floor of a building fire, I would rush up the stairs and save your chia pet as my first priority.

  52. matt c says:

    Ladies and Gents. The idea that only property owners, long term residents (whatever that means) non-condo owners, or non-students can vote is a silly path to even consider going down. If you question someones validity as a voter, volunteer to work on the election committee.

  53. therealdeal says:

    No one is suggesting that the groups you mention cannot vote, only that some of them should not vote. And it has nothing to do with the election committee, it is law. When my children went away to college they continued to vote from our home as that was their ‘legal, primary residence’. The idea that students, who reside here for about 9 months each year for a total of 4 years (generally) can vote in local elections is ludicrous in my opinion and completely skews our local and state elections. This law needs to change as voting results are no longer reflecting the wishes of legal, permanent residents. And there is no way to know if these students are also voting with absentee ballots from their legal home address.

  54. matt c says:

    therealdeal – if we follow that line of thought snow birds who go south for part of the winter would also lose their right to vote… which is equally a bad idea. like it or not students live here, spend their money here and deserve the right to vote here. Now if the city wanted to counter many of the problems described by Pixi that have resulted from Tufts expansion the city should put lots of effort in forcing the school to house students on campus. Its not unheard of; many schools – like BC and Brandeis require all undergrads to live in dorms. That way Tufts would have to take care of their students and not continue to consume city resources (like police) as they do today. It would also free up lots of housing in the city restraining growth in rent in abutting neighborhoods.

  55. Brian Murphy says:

    I’m a lifelong villen, proud of it, and yes I’m bitter. People like Frankly don’t give a damn either. They either never had the opportunity to experience real community or the soul to understand it. What is so precious to some of us is sentimental claptrap to them. Their “quality of life for us” has more to do with having classy restaurants, festivals, high test scores and expensive housing than having each other. People who get hurt by their improving quality of life are unfortunate collateral damage.

    I think that some of the bitterness that I read and hear has to do with feeling like there’s nothing we can do about it. Pixie is right that the “solutions” that SCC and the mayor (or whoever does his thinking and writing) offer are self serving bandaids. You only need to read the title of this article to know that they won’t work. Bill Shelton seems to be the only one writing about what we really need to do about jobs and affordable housing. I thought it was great that his column was on the same page as the mayor’s, and about the same subject. One was fiction and one was fact.

  56. “the_real_deal”…THANK YOU!

  57. Go up says:

    redtide tell us another story of engine 7 and then tell us about car 54 or maybe adam 12 and then tell us about the Coolidge administration, that never gets old (unlike that diaper your wearing). You should have qualified for a mental disability given the quality and repetitive nature of your posts. Since you didn’t bring up the wifey I guess she did the smart thing and left you all alone in your old age to bitch about the same thing over and over again on the internet. Good luck with that and your hemorrhoids.

  58. therealdeal says:

    matt c, you always seem to take legitimate concerns to the most ridiculous conclusion. There is a huge difference between someone who spends part of each year in another state, and someone who is here part of each year temporarily. The snow birds you refer to can still vote in only one location, legally, which is the location they consider their “primary legal residence”, and where they spend the majority of their time. I will guarantee you that every most if not all of Tufts students who are voting here list Mommy and Daddy’s house as their “primary legal residence”, and that is where they get things like school loan paperwork, bank account and credit card statements, tax returns, etc. Perhaps the election department should look into what they list as their primary legal residence on their tax returns or on their student loan applications. That is where they can legally vote.

  59. Somerbreeze says:

    @Go up – Go play in traffic, loser.

  60. Matt C says:

    Therealdeal. What I’m trying to say is you cannot automatically take away the rights of a group of people because their voting pattern does not align well with your values.

  61. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    In order for anyone to understand this situation we have been facing over the past 25+ years, you must have been effected by encroachment. The usual suspects responsible are Tufts, Developers and their enablers and benefactors who reside at city hall.

    The voter issue is the main reason the tides have changed. I suspect voter fraud has been going on for a number if years.

    End result, city hall gets what they want. There is a reason to increase student population in the city. Who do you think fill the bars?

    Matt never seems to be able to follow along.
    How many years have you lived here?

  62. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    Go up,

    How’s the job going at city hall? Are you getting OT for harassing local residents who expose the truth? Is this what we are paying taxes for?

  63. Go up says:

    Yes pixie this is why you are paying taxes. I’ll tell Joe to go up on yours.

  64. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    That reminds me, up yours, how are those indictments coming along?
    I believe Cedar Street is beginning to mold.
    What goes around comes back around. Few important people are listening to the “whiner”, we all got his number, except for the dim witted and hopeless delusional. Every administration comes to an end. Remember he’s looking for much greener pastures now but I wouldn’t be too quick to keep riding those tattered coat-tails. Enjoy the country club! Don’t forget the golf clubs.

  65. payattention says:

    Matt, please try to keep up. We are not talking about taking away the right to vote. People are saying that students, i.e. temporary residents should not be allowed to vote in local elections. They have a permanent residence which is where they should be voting. We have too many students in Somerville and in Boston, and they have too large an impact on election results and don’t actually live here.

  66. Somerbreeze says:

    Go up = City Hall troll…

  67. matt c says:

    When I was an undergrad and grad student I was a registered voter in the community where I where I lived, worked and attended classes 9-10 months of the year… where laws and regulation would affect me most, which was my right.

    Hershkoff v. Bd. of Registrars of Voters if you want to read about the case law…

    Pixi, rather than insult me you could encourage people to do their homework rather than just reacting emotionally to something they dont’t like.

  68. payattention says:

    I believe a previous poster stated that it was the law, but that it was in his/her opinion, a bad law. While you were temporarily at school, what did you list as your legal residence on your taxes and other legal documents? That is where you can legally vote. It is not just a matter of your current mailing address. I agree it is a bad law, because students are generally in the area for 3 or 4 years, mostly living in dorms on a campus and not in the community. A large school in your community should not be able to decide the outcome of local elections. Period.

  69. MarketMan says:

    payattention: so, in your opinion, how long should you have to live in a community to earn the right to vote there? 3-4 years is not insignificant.

  70. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    What’s not to understand?
    Do tourists and second he owners get to vote?

  71. Pixie Pocahontas says:


    How have I insulted you? Other posters have drawn their own conclusions. Your argument fails to to make sense. Why should anyone who moves to an area for several years with zero investment to the community, with a permanent address in another town or state be able to vote? Ward 7 has experienced most voter fraud abuse due to student population. One local politician admits there is voter fraud at every election since special interests groups have vested interests in our city. They help plant voters who will sway votes. This has happened in every election for Ward 7 alderman and state rep., in the last 15 years. I use to volunteer on campaigns and also work at the polls where many students were turned away for there inability to provide proof of residency, many were unregistered. But, as soon as their candidate is elected, they move out.

    So I ask you, hypothetically, if I don’t like the way a certain town is run in Florida where I own a second home, can I register to vote there and still vote where my primary residence is located? Isn’t a crime to commit voter fraud?

    Does it perpetuate goals of Tufts to have politicians with ties? Family members who are employed, graduated and also alumni? The otherwise confidential information can be used to manipulate decisions. Isn’t that conflict of interest? When people run for public office they are suppose to work on behalf of the community wishes, that means taxpaying homeowners and renters who have invested in the town/city. Not out-of-towners with hidden agendas, usually some form of financial gain. In the long run, it strips the community who work for the benefit of maintaining a diverse, income balanced and supportive network. It is only driven by greed which creates social instability.

    Why is Tufts allowed to keep buying our residential properties, and not paying real estate taxes. These properties could be owned by families. We are losing our residential inventory which creates real estate increases.

    The aldermen should be paying attention to the deed on TAB. When the sale agreement for PHCS is being worked on, they should add an addendum to extend their deed to fifty years. It’s got an expiration date and its coming up in a few years, at which time they can do whatever they want with TAB. I’m guessing luxury condos. Those tangled webs sure do get sticky.

  72. Go up says:

    Somerbreeze= Dbag

  73. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    We are losing residential homes with creates sharp increases in real estate taxes. Non-profits who take away homes from potential buyers with families are also contributing to the problems we are having in the city. It’s becoming one segment of the population and politicians with connections should be removed from office. They are no friend to the local voters who wish to keep their neighborhoods free from late night disturbances and added congestion by their visitors. Tufts should build dorms on the hill and landlords will find mature professionals and families who may remain for more than four years who will help us keep Somerville strong as a community, not just a temporary stop.

  74. Matt C says:

    Do you really believe that 5% of the tufts students who vote would actually put the effort into committing voter fraud? Honestly…

    While students may have different wants, needs, and desires than you they are far more in time with their peers who will continue to cycle through the university long after we are dead. Their vote represents the population of students who are and will continue to be part of the community just as seniors today advocate for positions that will benefit not just themselves but seniors that will live here.

    Tufts is not going away, and as you point out some of their students stick around, vote, run for office and then (right or wrong) advocate for an institution that helped them to be successful.

    I would love to see you dedicate yourself to the task of eradicating voter fraud in ward 7. Prove the rest of us wrong and help us to see this scourge on our community

  75. Pixie Pocahontas says:


    Do you understand the reality of what happens to whistleblowers as the previous poster clearly illustrates by making threats of raising taxes when people expose the truth? One previous candidate had a member of the assessors office show up at his house after he filed to join the race as an outsider. There are plenty of creative ways to get rid of those who expose corruption. You really believe it’s that easy? Now who’s being naive.

    Tufts students do not share the same status as those who pay taxes and have kids in our schools. Obviously, you have a reason for backing Tufts, maybe you would share it with the rest of us. For many years, Tufts has taken much more than they give back to our community and our taxpaying residents who elected politicians with relationships with Tufts are paying the price. We have given 75-100 residential properties to Tufts so they can profit, they use our fire and police at no cost, the western junior high was a gift and at 20 million+ market estimate, PHCS and land is another freebie. Compared to other colleges, they are viewed as expansionist freeloaders. I would like to see how welcoming you would be as a residential abutter to PHCS who will be over run by increased noise and pollution by 265 daily drivers to include: daycare parents, employees and those attending evening graduate classes.
    Obviously, Tufts is planning to build more administrative offices on their campus and push students into our neighborhoods. A former Tufts officer shared he was fed up and left for a different job in law enforcement because he couldn’t do his job properly. The kids whine to parents (many are high paying alums)who call the deans, all is forgotten. That is the major problem, lack of accountability and abuse of power – for students, parents, administrators and politicians. Until we as a city can hold them responsible, we will continue to pay their bills. They don’t give a damn about the local residents of our city, they view themselves as superior to us, always have. If they were paying their fair share in taxes, there would not be as much resentment. Their lack of tax revenue falls on us. Why should we continue to give away our valuable land to an institution which doesn’t respect our quality of life or financial struggles. And the politicians who back Tufts should not be allowed to hold office. They are a disgrace to their jobs which represents fairness and compassion to struggling residents. They act as though we should go along with their wishes and behave like Wallstreet, all profit and back room dealing, while home, business and pension owners suffer.

  76. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    By the way, Tufts students are among the population who adore their bikes while condemning cars, trucks and their drivers, yet they and their representatives at the university and city hall, have no issues with proposed 265 vehicles at TAB.

    What happened to the mayor’s goal of promoting Somerville as a walkable city? I guess that also applies to working class residents, only.

    Universities and businesses are encouraging employees to use public transportation which I do. Tufts should provide a list of employees who commute and towns they reside. Let’s see why they need 265 parking spaces. They are also allowed to park on our streets, do they pay for their permit parking? Or is that another freebie?

    Some colleges and companies have initiated surveys to be completed by employees explaining what form of transportation they use. If they travel by car, have no access of public transportation that is acceptable. If they live near the MBTA and drive they must explain why.

    Isn’t it hypocritical, elitist and anti-green of them to allow their special employees to park on our streets, to further clog up Holland Street and pollute our neighborhood for a matter of convenience?

    Is this Tufts definition of being neighborly?

    “….they read all the books, but can’t find the answers”.

  77. cambridgeyuppie says:

    Come on guys, Tufts is a farce, in my opinion. Only students with money who don’t get into Harvard or MIT go there, really. Same for BU and BC.

  78. MDNIONAKIS says:


  79. Johnnie Jazz says:

    People who don’t own property should not be allowed to vote. They’re not putting in, so why should they have a say in what gets done in a district/ward/state or government. That would eliminate the fraud. Bring the deed or mortgage statement and you can vote. If you don’t have them then you don’t vote. Simple.

  80. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    Cambridge, MD and Johnnie,

    All great points.

    Cambridge-yup, Cambridge homeowners pay less taxes because they allow big business–biotech and pharm. MIT & Harvard maintain double digit billions of endowment, each pay $10 million to the city each year. With Tufts $1.3 billion endowment, they could pay the city $2 million without notice.

    As they continue to land bank, their income continues to surge which our real estate taxes keep rising.

    MD, you are correct. The only way to reverse the damage done to erosion of small business and homeowners, we need to elect a new mayor and new administration. Getting rid of the toxic cronyism, graft, corruption, nepotism –we would have a balanced budget without over spending we currently have seen.

    Johnnie, maybe too idealist but would rid our city of the part time and temporary residents who only take but give nothing back. I would go one step further buy raising residential exemption but also calculating our real estate taxes based on our income. Giving the rich the highest rate, while working class and elderly paying a modest tax on their properties and business. But obviously the rich, influential and higher ed which reside in 02155 will keep taking advantage of the corporate welfare as we saw at congressional hearings. Have you wondered where the local pols are getting their campaign funding?

  81. matt c says:

    I have no love or hate or personal relationship with tufts. I went to public schools k-college. I personally don’t see the value of an expensive undergrad degree. What I do align with is students and I disagree with your desire to disenfranchise them because they want things that are different then you.

    They are part of the fabric of this community, and help to fuel not only the cities economy but also that of the region at large. The majority of businesses in the area are here because of our universities and students. Pixi I know by your tales of woe and loss of what was that you haven’t spent much time living elsewhere but ask people who have…university towns and regions have a different feel than those devoid of the culture of education, an openness, eclecticism, and an opportunity to do something different.

    This all said, universities should pay their fair share of taxes, lets say residential rates rather than commercial rates.

  82. Pixie Pocahontas says:


    I have visited Europe and other states in U.S., most in NE.
    Yes, it’s true some areas which are absent of colleges are distressed, without community, where many raise families.

    Who I blame most is the mayor and members of the administration as well as developers. But Tufts is deceitful and have become self righteous when it comes to our property. We owe them nothing because they do nothing for the residents of our town.

    I believe campuses should be self contained. Residents should have the final say on projects including Tufts. That is not the case. One neighbor who has worked there for over 20 years has shared that PHCS is already been signed off. Others believe this to be true since the mayor always gets his way no matter what.

    I take issue with the university’s lack of respect towards residents and abutters at the meetings. They are condescending and ignorant of what residents will be dealing with if project goes through. They go back to their trophy homes in the burbs while we live with more congestion in traffic and people. Those who don’t have to live with added stresses in our neighborhoods really could care less how it effects us. They are too busy counting their profits and newly acquired status as builders.

  83. Freebie says:

    Trtust me, Tufts kids are not flooding the polls to vote on local issue. They certainly have the right to if they live here, but its just not happening.

    Secondly, requiring home ownership to vote is ludicrous. Renters who live here have just as much say and rights as a homeowner. I have owned here for 8 years and I know renters who have lived here much longer than I have.

  84. poll tax says:

    Johnnie I can’t believe how ignorant your suggestion is. YOu have to own property to vote? that used to be called a poll tax. So, at 18 you have to pull together a down payment in order to vote. I’ve worked all my life and will never own property. I pay rent that I’m pretty sure covers my landlords property taxes. So I’m contributing. Elders living in Senior housing can’t vote? Pretty snobby to think owning property is the only criteria for voting.

  85. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    I understand Johnnies comment, because it comes from a place where many of us feel that the radical progressive and liberal movement have taken over our town by force. Year after year, slowly forcing local residents to move due to condo flipping and many other deliberate tactics. You should have witnessed the out of town wackos who bullied us at a sign stand out some years back over a state rep seat. It got so bad, we had to have SPD to be present. Local races got ugly once they set root.

    Gone are the days when people are friendly and you know your neighbors. They moved here because our real estate is highly sought after and can always generate profits. Since the mayor is so obsessed with his yuppie minions graph charts, ask him to produce a few that show us how many young professionals have moved to the city since 1970-present. How many have children enrolled from k-HS graduation, how many rent apts, condos and have owned their own homes for 0-30+ years. Then show charts on how many local owners from 1950-present, renters, who are elderly, working singles and families. Include incomes and minorities, all races, ethnicities and employers/self employed.

    Don’t fault Johnnie for his comment. I have a feeling his message was making us think about the bigger picture. If you think about what’s happened to all of us since globalization began, it becomes clear. Previous articles have proven what we see today- the powerful elite have decided to move into our cities. If towns have a large working class community, it can take years for them to gain some footing.

    I worked the polls for Trane and Ciampa. As long-time residents and politicians, they cared about the elderly and working class residents. If still in office today, we would not be dealing with these overwhelming problems, and a Tufts would not be waiting for the ink to dry on their “negotiating contract”, for PHCS. Joe is only concerned about Joe. I was warned about his plan for Assembly about 10 years ago when he was threatening to shut down WHYC. He puts on a good act for the naive newbies who have remained unsuspecting and insulated by suburban culture. Those of us who had to grow up fast have figured out enough only to be plagued with disappointment, stress of our uncertain futures and heartbroken over the loss of comfort from good neighbors who were in some cases better than family members.

    By the way, my long-time neighbor who’s husband was our junior high principal and teacher, shared that as head librarian she discovered Tufts was established as a college for poor residents who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity into higher education. How times have changed. She found this information in some dusty old book at the central library.

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