JPA Hears Two Zoning Matters; Chats with D6 City Council Candidate Kendra Hicks

The Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) met virtually on April 5, where members voted on two zoning matters and heard from District 6 City Council candidate Kendra Hicks.

Zoning

The two zoning issues were at 79 Perkins St, where the proposal was to change the existing three unit building to a four unit building and install a partial sprinkler system, and at 56 Lochstead Ave., to construct an addition on an existing deck.

Christopher Page, the owner of the building at 79 Perkins St., said that he wants to be able to provide an affordable unit for one or two of his children, who were raised in the city and would like to remain close by. Page lives down the street at 67 Perkins St.

The violations cited in this proposal are insufficient off-street parking, insufficient lot area, and excessive Floor Area Ratio (FAR).

JPA member Franklyn Salimbene said that he is very familiar with the street, and in looking at the violations, it “appears there is not sufficient off-street parking” and also noted the citation of excessive FAR.

“We’ve been talking a lot about mass and crowding, at least with some of the projects coming forth,” he said, adding that he believes changing a three unit building to a four unit one is “perhaps too far.”

He added that while “I appreciate the family element,” he wondered why one of the existing three apartments couldn’t be freed up for Page’s children to live in.

Page said that there are currently tenants in all of the units, and that he does understand there “is an issue with parking.” He said there is room for six tandem parking spaces, though he acknowledged that the city doesn’t prefer that arrangement.

He said that the parking “works well now,” as there are “four, if not five, cars there.”

Peter Steiger spoke about the argument for increasing density for affordable housing versus a “general resistance within the neighborhood to increase the units in a particular zoning” district. He asked how affordable this unit will be.

Page said it will be “affordable for my children because I could make it affordable for my children.” He said he “didn’t think about making it affordable for someone else.”

Page said he has 21 letters of support from neighbors on Perkins and Zamora Streets as well as direct abutters. He said that one neighbor did express concern about the parking situation.

Julie Glowacki, who said she lives across the street from 79 Perkins St., said that Page and his tenants are “good neighbors,” and  pointed out that the proposal includes three bedrooms and three full baths. “Are there going to be three cars additional to the neighborhood?” She asked. “There’s no parking on that side of the street; the parking is on my side of the street. She said many commuters drive into the neighborhood to park and then take the 39 bus to work.

Page said that only one or two of his children would live in the building.

“I can’t imagine a six car tandem parking,” Moloney said. “That is really impractical to have three cars lined up at the end of the driveway and three cars behind it.”

Moloney said he wanted to oppose this project, but JPA member Micah Sachs stated why he believes the JPA should not oppose this project. He said that the 21 letters of support from neighbors “who apparently are not concerned about the parking,” are a reason not to oppose.

“For us to say that the parking is the acute issue that this should be rejected on I don’t think is valid,” Sachs said. “The actual people in the neighborhood are saying that it is not [an issue.]”

JPA member Martin Thompson said that “there’s a shortage of housing as we know throughout the city,” adding that he doesn’t know if there is enough of a negative impact on neighbors to warrant opposition. He said that the neighborhood should “encourage units within the housing stock that exists rather than allowing large developments in their place.”

The JPA ultimately voted four to two, with two members abstaining, to oppose the proposal.

56 Lochstead Ave.

The proposal at 56 Lochstead Ave. is to create an addition on an existing deck.

Owner Frank Schillace has lived at the property with his wife and kids for about two years, and Schillace said that the property abuts the Rogerson House, which has not expressed any concerns about the proposal.

He said that there are a lot of employees who park along the fence, and that he finds trash from that property in his yard.

“We have an uncovered porch,” he said, adding that he and his family “want to extend it towards the fence line…” so a privacy fence and greenery can be put up. He said there is a 10 foot setback on the side yard, and he wants to bring the deck out to around five feet of that, which requires a variance.

He said that he has not received any objection from any neighbors.

The JPA voted not to oppose this project.

Kendra Hicks, Candidate for District 6 City Council

Kendra Hicks spoke to the JPA about her campaign and her vision for the city should she be elected as District 6’s next city councilor.

She talked about her “personal walk up stream” that began when she was in sixth grade and was invited to join a festival organization program at Spontaneous Celebrations. She began to learn about the history of Jamaica Plain, where she was raised. She said she “learned about how people in my neighborhood fought against the highway” and other issues.

“Stories like this really ignited me early on,” she said. She also talked about how she founded Beantown Society, which was “for youth by youth.”

She also worked as the youngest street worker in the city, and :one of only a handful of women.”

Hicks said she believes real change will come from “structural policy changes,” and her many years of service in positions such as at the Boston Public Health Commission, where she “supported racial justice and health equity work,” have helped her better understand the issues.

She said that a portion of the “ethos” of her campaign is “how are we going to bring people with us?”

Hicks also said that she has learned many things from talking to residents of the district, including that “though our challenges may differ,” many of the general values are the same across the board, such as the desire for safe and affordable housing and quality schools for the city’s youth.

She said by “anchor[ing[ ourselves in these shared values,” it “invite[s] more people to the table.”

Hicks said that it is important to “meet people where they’re at,” as not everyone has had the same experiences. She said she believes she can succeed at “finding creative solutions to complex challenges.”

JPA member Martin Thompson said, “W e talk about change and yet change doesn’t really happen. I hope that you represent something that will actually happen.”

Hicks said that “no matter which neighborhood we live in,” people “want safe communities.” She said that it is important to be “fiscally responsible with our dollars” and “reframe the conversation” about “what, and specifically who, we’re investing in.” She said with things like “defunding the police,” she wants to “ensure that our tax dollars are being spent responsibly.”

She said that one of her top priorities is safe communities and addressing the root causes of crime, as well as implementing “community-based violence prevention and intervention strategies.”

For more information about Hicks’ campaign and policy platform, visit hicksfordistrictsix.com, and email [email protected] with any questions, comments, or concerns.

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