JPNC Housing Comm. Holds Regular Meeting

The Housing and Development Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council held its regular monthly meeting last Tuesday, April 18.

Chairperson Renee Stacey Welch and fellow committee and community members, including Jaya Aiyer, John Harding, Paige Sparks, Peter DeCotis, Sarah Freeman, Pam Bender, Sara Horsley, Joanne Paul, Purple Reign, Danielle Sommer-Kieta, Aidan Foley, Ben Weber, Kathy Brown, and Bernie Doherty, were among those in attendance.

Sparks updated the committee about the upcoming council election set for Saturday, June 24, from 10-4 at three locations: JP Licks, the Forest Hills T station, and the Stop and Shop near Jackson Square. Voting will be only in-person and is open to all JP residents 16 years of age and older.

All 20 seats on the council are up for grabs. There are five at-large seats and five each in neighborhood areas A,B, and C.

Sparks noted that candidates will need to collect nominating signatures (50 for at-large seats, 25 for neighborhood seats) and noted that a packet for candidates is available at all of the local public library branches and Curtis Hall. The information packet also is available on-line on the JPNC’s website.

The packets were made available as of April 24. The signatures must be submitted by May 24 at the JP Library on South St.

Sparks also noted that volunteers (who cannot be candidates) are needed to run the polls and count the ballots on Election Day.

Weber, a recently-elected member of the JPNC, was elected to the Housing and Development Committee by a vote of the committee members. (DeCotis also initially had indicated he would be a candidate, but withdrew in deference to Weber.)  Weber has been a JP resident since 2009 and works as a labor attorney. “I love Jamaica Plain and wish to become more involved with the committee,” said Weber.

The committee also voted to add two new community members, Willie Mitchell and Esther Belliard.

Welch asked her colleagues to offer suggestions about their “best practices in order to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard,” including landlords, tenants, property managers, homeowners, and others.

Doherty drew the group’s attention to the impending development at 1822 Arboretum Rd., a six-story structure that is adjacent to the Arboretum on the site of what presently is an abandoned industrial building. He noted that by converting this site and others like it to housing, it removes the possibility of creating jobs in the community, which was the basis for rezoning those areas for light-industrial use in the 1990s.

He also noted that the apartments that are designated as “affordable” are not truly affordable because the threshold of 70% of AMI (average median income) is out of reach for persons who work in jobs that pay in the range of minimum wage.

After some more discussion about the issue of affordable housing, the committee adjourned until its next meeting.

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