Editorial: Fix the DND map

It’s great that Mayor Walsh and the Department of Neighborhood Development have created the city’s first comprehensive student housing report.

It is not great that DND continues to poison its reports by using an old BRA map that was never correct. We have warned of this repeatedly, and here we go again.

JP as a whole is not heavily impacted by student housing, but neighboring Mission Hill definitely is. Mission Hill does not exist on the DND map, instead melded into JP. And this is not the only crucial DND report to rely on the map; others include abandoned properties and mortgage foreclosures.

By continuing to employ an utterly fictional map, DND wrecks the capacity to easily comprehend those impacts. And as the City, under Mayor Walsh, embarks on unprecedented levels of citywide planning, accurate maps matter even more.

This is not about quibbling over essentially imaginary borders. The map in question has no roots in history or common usage. The BRA itself has admitted its map was deliberately erroneous, created just to make its census-counting job easier—even though it also made it wrong. It got away with it for decades.

But DND in particular continues to use and defend it under the ridiculous claim that being consistent is more important than being correct. Nor is ZIP code data the same as neighborhoods. The truth is, DND simply doesn’t want to devote the resources to fixing its mistake, and the new administration has new people who are ignorant of the problem.

The DND’s map is simply wrong and so is its neighborhood analysis. Period. If student housing matters—and it does—so does getting those things right. Do the work, folks.

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