The Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) met virtually on August 2 for a relatively short meeting to discuss various updates in the community and talk about meeting in person again.
First, the JPA talked about the Forbes Building, saying that the Boston City Council and Acting Mayor Janey have approved a Home Rule Petition called “An Act to Restore Boston’s Governmentally-Involved Housing Protection.”
According to the JPA meeting agenda, the owner of the Forbes Building, “Mr. Paul Clayton, has plans for the building which are likely to minimize or eliminate the availability of subsidized units to the current tenants.”
JPA Chair Rosemary Jones reported that “the next step is going to be a hearing at the State House. I will not pretend to be neutral on this. I am very much in favor of the tenants getting help and not getting evicted.”
Michael Giordano from Councilor Matt O’Malley’s office said that the Councilor was the head sponsor on the home rule petition. Giordano said that there are “about 13 units in the Boston area that are at risk of becoming unaffordable,” and the goal is aiming “to prevent the eviction of all of those tenants through a number of different ways.”
REVISED JPA ZONING FAQ SHEET AND FLOWCHART
The JPA then discussed the Zoning FAQ sheet and zoning flowchart that have been drafted as resources for members of the community. Previous iterations have been made available for people to provide feedback.
“We took people’s feedback,” said JPA member Micah Sachs, who, along with JPA member Peter Steiger, worked on the drafting of these documents.
He said that some feedback on both the FAQ document and the flowchart were incorporated in these latest iterations, but the goal was to maintain the “original intention,” which he said is “something that was concise, clear, and balanced for residential applicants that would be coming before the JPA.”
Steiger said that “Micah and I spent a fair amount of time trying to compile these,” adding that the “philosophy of the latest flow chart was to segment it into three major components.” These include the process with the Jamaica Pond Association, the general Jamaica Plain “community process,” and the Zoning Board of Appeal process.
“The flow chart is not necessarily simple because the process is not necessarily simple,” Steiger said.
A comment was made that the abutters meeting as part of the Jamaica Pond process should be made apparent in the flow chart, which JPA member David Moir agreed wkith.
The JPA ultimately voted to approve these documents, with eight members in favor, David Moir in opposition, and Kay Mathews abstaining.
The JPA also discussed potentially meeting in person again, and how they will go about finding a meeting place.
Jones said that she and others have started calling potential locations to identify where the JPA could possibly meet.
“I think this problem is going to be with us for many months to come,” said JPA member Kevin Moloney, in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with rising cases from the Delta variant.
He said that the group “should expect to be using Zoom until after Christmas sometime,” but “other people may disagree.”
Peter Steiger said “I agree with Kevin,” but suggested that a tutorial for Zoom be held so the JPA can use the platform in the most efficient way possible and to its fullest extent.
“I think we’ve been functioning amazingly well all things considered through Zoom,” he said, adding that “it might not hurt to start exploring venues.”
JPA member Franklyn Salimbene said he is in agreement with both Steiger and Moloney.
“I think we’re best to follow the guidance of the Commonwealth,” he said. “If the City comes out with even stricter guidance, we should follow the city.”
Jones said that the verdict seems to be that “we won’t work at breakneck speed to find a venue, but will keep a list of places, ideas, and costs.”
Additionally, Jones added that the JPA Annual Meeting will likely be in November on Zoom, and the organization is hoping to recruit some more members.