JPNC: More affordable housing on public land

September 21, 2007
By

DAVID TABER

Vacancies filled, officers elected

An amendment greatly boosting affordability standards in the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s (JPNC) Transit Oriented Development (TOD) guidelines was approved at the council’s September meeting.

The non-binding guidelines, adopted by the council in January, recommend affordable housing, economic development, environmental protection and community benefit standards for TOD. The affordability language in the original guidelines mirrored language in the JPNC’s Inclusionary Zoning Guidelines, which apply to all of JP. The amendment, however calls for more stringent standards in the disposition and development of publicly owned land near major transportation hubs.

The amendment was proposed with an eye toward the ongoing Forest Hills Improvement Initiative (FHII), a series of Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA)-led community meetings to develop use guidelines for the disposition of five MBTA properties and one privately owned property around Forest Hills Station.

“We want to be set up to address [Forest Hills],” said council member Francesca Fordiani, who presented the amendment on behalf of the JPNC Housing and Development Committee.

The original guidelines language calls for 25 percent of units in new developments to be made affordable to people earning less than 80 percent of the area median income (AMI). It also calls for the average cost of all the affordable units to be affordable to homeowners earning 65 percent AMI.

The amendment calls for the greater of either 50 percent or a percentage equivalent to that of JP residents earning less than 80 percent AMI to be made affordable when publicly owned land is sold and developed.

From the research she has done, Fordiani said, “it looks like 66 percent of JP earns less than 80 percent.”

The council passed the amendment. It also voted to empower the executive committee to draft a letter to the BRA and MBTA urging that the JPNC guidelines be included in the use and design guidelines for the Forest Hills parcels.

The guidelines will also come into play as the parcels are sold and developers, whose plans will almost certainly require zoning variances, appear before the council’s Zoning Committee, said council member Steve Backman.

Candidates and Officials

Candidates were approved in short order to fill three of the four council vacancies left after its July election.

Kathy Holland and Edmund Cape were approved to fill two of the three vacant Area A seats, and Kalila Barnett was approved to fill a vacant slot in Area C.

Council member Francesca Fordiani was given the go-ahead to convene an ad hoc group to clarify vague language in the election rules and consider integrating them into the council’s by-laws.

By council vote, Jesús Gerena was elected chair of the council and Michael Reiskind was re-elected as secretary.

Both Pamela Bender and Felix Arroyo Jr. were nominated for vice-chair. Since Arroyo was absent, the vote was put off until October.

Permits Approved

Reiskind reported that, since the council’s August meeting, the Public Service Committee had met twice. The committee recommended that the JPNC approve petitions for the transfer of a beer and wine license on Centre St. and the granting of a fortune-tellers license to the proprietor of Botanica San Miguel at 142-B South St.

The council also approved transfer of Cha Fan’s alcohol license to Daniel and Kristen Valchovic. Reiskind reported they will operate out of the same 763 Centre St. location and plan to run an operation similar in size and scope to what is currently there, “but without the Asian influence.”

Of the fortune tellers license, Reiskind explained that the licensing board regulates fortune tellers because, “There has been a history of some fortune-telling establishments having some readings or séances in which an enormous amount of money is charged—in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

Maria Espritu Santo, whose name translates to Maria Holy Ghost, will charge between $12 and $15, and her prices will be posted, Reiskind said.