Councilor Edwards Presents Proposed Changes to Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeal

Councilor Lydia Edwards wants to change the city’s Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) by making it more transparent. At a recent city council meeting, Edwards presented a new proposal that would make several changes to the ZBA.

“We need to do better,” she said. “We need to think better, and we need to bring new perspectives to the table.”

City Councilor Lydia Edwards.

According to Edwards, the board is running on laws that were created more than 50 years ago.

Edwards’ proposal would prevent construction and real estate professionals from serving on the board. Also, board members would not be allowed to enter those fields after leaving the board for five years. Edwards believes this will remove conflicts of interest from the board.

“The real estate industry should not sit on any board making regulatory decisions about real estate,” she said.

She also said they will work together with the mayor’s administration, including the firm that is looking into the board.

“Let’s be honest, it’s a necessary, a very necessary conversation that we need to have in the City of Boston. We need to have a grown-up conversation,” Edwards said. “We cannot continue the way we are going.”

Edwards is seeking to also end the “revolving door” of board members.

“There should be no revolving door. Once you’ve left the ZBA, you can turn around and engage in business on things that you just voted on, on things where you just had an impact,” she said.

In her proposal, ZBA would be required to file financial interest disclosure forms and detailed information about the involved companies and landlords.

“This really speaks to the speculation conversation that we had before where there are many LLCs and foreign entities coming into the state and they’re able to get a lot of things done and no one actually knows who owns them,” Edwards said. “I want full transparency. I want to see who you are.”