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Councilor Wu Wants to Abolish the Boston Planning & Development Agency

At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu wants to disband the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).

In a more than 50-page report she released this week, Wu explained why and how Boston should get rid of the BPDA. One of the biggest reasons for Wu’s decision is she believes the BPDA lacks transparency.

“Instead of delivering the resources to address our most urgent challenges, Boston’s development process is making our problems worse,” Wu wrote in the report.

“By developing parcel by parcel–one-off negotiations that pit residents and neighborhoods against each other–we’re missing out on an equitable, sustainable, healthy future! Boston has tremendous resources, but we just need to address issues together and empower all voices,” Wu said in a tweet.

Wu believes the city needs to move toward a direction of creating a master plan for the city in terms of development that would look at the city comprehensively.

“In most other major cities, comprehensive master planning is an ongoing process,” Wu says in the report. “Entire teams focus on this work, often supported by a master plan advisory committee or consultant.”

Wu said Boston could do much better in terms of planning development.

“Over the last two years, as Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation, I’ve had a window into Boston’s development process. Through conversations with residents and developers, public hearings on proposed projects, and meetings with civic leaders and neighborhood associations, it’s become clear that we’re not planning for our best future,” she said.

“We’re more and more anxious about rising home prices and rents, frustrated daily by increasingly awful commutes, and scared about the flooding and extreme heat that intensify every season,” she added.

The councilor also wants to end urban renewal areas, which means the agency will no longer be able to demolish homes in different areas throughout the city.

“In 2015, as part of an effort to rehabilitate the BRA’s tarnished image, Director Brian Golden issued a formal apology for the Authority’s role in demolishing the West End,” the report says. “Golden was correct that ‘although the destruction happened decades ago, the scars still remain.’ However, an apology is not enough. Boston must ensure that the power to raze hundreds of homes and whole neighborhoods is never used again.”

Wu would need approval from the City Council, Mayor Martin Walsh and the State House to go ahead with her plan.

The councilor plans on holding a series of meetings throughout the city to gather residents’ feedback.

4 Replies to “Councilor Wu Wants to Abolish the Boston Planning & Development Agency

  1. Just hand over housing and development decisions to NIMBYs. No thanks. There’s a way to reform this process but this is not it.

    1. And they are what? Your suggestions? The core need is to take planning away from a development agency and put it under a Planning Department. We might then have real planning in the City of Boston. The development agency can then help implement the plan.

  2. The comprehensive plan is the most intriguing. Many cities have this. We have had to fight for our limits repeatedly only to have to fight again a few years later. A comprehensive plan would resolve much of this, residents need a say in the plan, neighborhood by neighborhood. Without this, might makes right.

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