In May 2016 the Board of Aldermen approved 20% Inclusionary Zoning city-wide
One year later, Federal Realty is asking for a waiver.
In December 2015, members of AHOC (Affordable Housing Organizing Committee) submitted a petition to raise the inclusionary zoning rate from 12.5% to 20% city-wide. The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to support it, rejecting FRIT's request for an exemption.
In April 2016, RKG Associates contracted with the city to analyze the impact of the proposed ordinance. They concluded that raising the IZ rate to 20% would have a minimal impact on large-scale developments. FRIT filed a memo objecting to their methodology.
What is FRIT asking for?
In April 2017, Federal Realty submitted a waiver request to the Planning Board asking for an exemption to 20% IZ requirement. They argue that it's not fair to change the rules midway through a development. The Planning Board will vote at 6 pm at City Hall on May 18.
May 18: Reject the Waiver!
Rally for Affordable Housing in Assembly Square
5:00 pm at City Hall
Why do we oppose this waiver?
For the past two months advocates across the city have written letters, made phone calls, and testified at public hearing, asking the Planning Board to vote NO on Federal Realty's proposed waiver. Very simply, we ask them to follow the guidance of the Board of Aldermen and uphold the 2016 inclusionary zoning ordinance for ALL developments in Somerville, including Assembly Square.
- Federal Realty has proposed a 500-unit residential building as part of Phase 2. Under 20% IZ this building would provide 100 affordable units. Under 12.5%, it would provide only 63.
- This waiver would result in the loss of 37 affordable units, exempting over 20% of the total residential development in Assembly Square from the existing IZ ordinance.
- Federal Realty petitioned the Board of Aldermen for an exemption in 2016 and was denied.
- Nine members of the Board of Aldermen have since testified publicly asking the Planning Board to uphold that position and deny FRIT's waiver request
- Updated income guidelines would not apply, leaving middle-income families locked out.
- As of last spring there were 2,200 households on the waitlist for an affordable rental unit in Somerville. SCCs most recent development at 181 Washington Street had 100 applicants for every available unit. While market forces fluctuate from year to year, our housing need continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.
Join us in asking the Planning Board to uphold the 20% Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance for Assembly Square
Where do they stand? Elected officials on the record
Ward 5 Alderman Mark Niedergang
"I don't blame FRIT for seeking this waiver. That's their job: to make money for investors. And they do a damn good job of it. Our job, as community leaders, is to take care of the residents of this city. That's why I'm asking you not to grant the waiver."
Alderman-at-Large Mary Jo Rossetti
"For a project of this size and magnitude -- and there are very few in this community of this size and magnitude -- it's a one size fits all ordinance, and it applies to this project here. I stand firm on my vote of 20% and I hope you will support it as well"
Ward 4 School Committee Member Andre Green
"I take pride in being measured in my rhetoric. So understand where I am when I say that the idea that FRIT should get an affordable housing waiver for Assembly Row is too stupid for words."
Resources and further reading
Read Federal Realty's 2017 waiver request
All documents relating to this development are available at www.somervillema.gov Full text of the waiver request is available here. Full text of the 2016 Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance is available here.
Read the original 2006 site proposal
The original design guidelines included a mix of commercial and retail on Block 8. Since 2006 the PUD has been amended twice to accommodate FRIT's expenses.
Where does the city stand? April 2017 staff memo
The planning staff has currently issued NO RECOMMENDATION. on FRIT's request for a waiver. We ask the mayor to instruct his staff to give a clear recommendation to the Planning Board on this important issue.