The internet has created many new opportunities for people to make money with things they already own. Owner occupants making a few dollars off their spare room is a time honored tradition; in the first half of the 20th century many families took in boarders as a way to supplement their income. For many individuals, Airbnb is simply a new way to facilitate an old transaction.
However, there is a difference between a resident making some extra money by offering that extra bedroom on Airbnb and absentee landlords using the service to run unlicensed hotels. Such facilities are unsafe, unregulated and do a disservice to the communities in which they are present: limiting housing choices for community members and reducing social capital and cohesion through the introduction of large, transient populations into neighborhoods where people should have the opportunity to put down roots and know the folks next door. They also increase competition for rental units, driving up the price of existing rental apartments.
In East Boston, where many residents work in downtown hotels as service staff, large blocks of Airbnb rentals are a direct threat to their livelihoods since an unregulated business can undercut the costs of a traditional hotel. To address these issues, I propose the following initiatives:
- Airbnb units which are not owner occupied are hotels in everything but the name and they should be treated as such, and need to have regular fire and safety inspections.
- Any large residential development with 5 Airbnb units or more in it must notify all residents of the presence of these units and take appropriate safety measures.
- All Airbnb units need to be subject to local taxation.
East Boston needs its own, dedicated ambulance. Currently, when East Boston’s only ambulance is in use at the airport, residents lives are being endangered when a backup ambulance must come through the tunnels. We are all familiar with tunnel delays, which in an emergency, is a matter of life and death. As Logan’s passenger volume continues to increase, so too will the demands for ambulance service at the airport. Residents in East Boston will be safer with ambulance service dedicated to their own needs. In tandem, I will encourage Massport to increase its ambulance count, so as to provide a win-win situation for both residents and travelers.
The pace of development in Boston is quickly reaching indescribable proportions. Although I do not support stopping all development, projects must be reasonable in size, scope and density to their community.
The mayor is pushing for 53,000 new units of housing by 2030. This growth MUST include on-campus dorms to encourage students to move out of our communities and into campus housing. This will relieve tremendous pressure on the rental market and encourage longer term residents, which benefit our neighborhoods.
The city can and should be encouraging the building of more workforce housing; units that are more expensive than affordable, but less expensive than luxury. Too many members of our community are being priced out, unable to live in the city because the only new options are luxury housing. More workforce housing means that everyone has a place to live, safeguarding the health of our communities.
East Boston History Museum
For many people, say “East Boston” and the first thing they think about is Logan Airport. For those who know a little bit more, the next two thoughts are Suffolk Downs and Santarpio’s, but this corner of the City has so much more to share. From the shipbuilding tradition of Donald McKay which sent clippers like Flying Cloud around the world to being one of the United States’ busiest immigrant ports in the 19th century and yes, even aviation firsts, East Boston has a rich history. Perhaps even less well-known is that today’s East Boston has a vibrant arts scene represented at the Atlantic Works Building & Gallery. This is why we need to work together to realize the East Boston History Museum. Such a facility would draw tourists across the harbor, offer students and residents the opportunity to learn about our history, and provide another space for local artists to showcase their talents. As your City Councilor I will work with the East Boston Museum to find them a permanent home, and opportunities to continue to celebrate our rich history and culture.
In the City of Boston, a worker earning the current $11 per hour minimum wage would have to work 94 hours a week just to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the market rate. Because of this, I support the Fight for $15. That our minimum wage has failed to keep up with the true cost of living impacts workers across Boston and at Logan Airport in particular.
We all know that competent, quality workers are vital to airport security and the safety of air travelers. Airlines have outsourced thousands of jobs that once belonged to their own employees. To replace them, airlines hire low-bid contractors. Substandard pay provided by airport contractors cost Massachusetts taxpayers millions of dollars by burdening the state’s public assistance programs such as subsidized housing and Commonwealth Care. As a publicly owned entity MASSPORT should be part of the solution, creating jobs with a living wage that promote economic growth and stability.
As the Director of Development at North Suffolk Mental Health Association, I know firsthand that we have an opioid crisis in Massachusetts. People are dying from it every day and the Commonwealth’s own data shows just how big of a problem we have on our hands.
As your city councilor, I will prioritize creating a Boston version of the Angel program, pioneered and already successful in Gloucester, where an individual can walk into a police station and ask for help finding treatment. I will also push for an increase in the number of Rapid Access Treatment beds ensuring that those seeking help with addiction can get it immediately.
I also support expanding the drug court system, where an individual charged with nonviolent offenses as a result of addiction receives intensive, supervised probation and mandatory treatment, as well as random drug testing with progress monitored by a supervising probation officer. Drug Courts significantly reduce crime, as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options, though prison time remains an option for those violating their probation terms. See this page for more information.
Initiatives like these will help after an individual has become addicted, but we must work hardest at prevention. Charlestown (Turn it Around), East Boston (E.A.S.T.I.E) and the North End (North End Against Drugs) all have strong community programs working to promote drug awareness and prevention. Groups like these should be allowed into our schools to provide educational programs to steer students away from opioids and other drugs. Doctors also have an important role to play. It is well documented that prescription opioids are often the gateway to addiction. As your city councilor, I will work with the Boston Public Health Department to ensure that doctors get the training they need to help cut down new instances of addiction.
We are at the safest time at any point of our history. However, we still need to strive to ensure that our streets are safe to be walked by any person at any time of day or night. The MS13 gang remains a threat to our community that needs to be addressed.
Our Boston Police are central to dealing with MS13 and other gangs, but we have a large number of officers planning to retire in the next few years. They have served us well and have earned the right to enjoy their mature years. The Boston Police Department needs the tools and funding to engage in a comprehensive recruitment effort, reaching kids as young as middle school to ensure that they understand that police officer is a noble and needed profession. Such a recruitment drive will also help to ensure that our police force’s makeup is reflective of the neighborhoods in which it serves while be large enough to ensure adequate coverage across the city.
Bostonians want to get to our jobs, our schools, our parks, our waterfront, our homes—safely, reliably, conveniently, and affordably. This need is the same for people on both sides of the harbor. As we embrace new Bostonians and the growth they bring to our neighborhoods, we must go beyond reliance on cars and make available an array of options – ferry, walking, cycling, and transit, so that they have a viable option to get out of their cars, easing traffic for those who do need to drive, and making the city safer and healthier for everyone who moves through it.
To achieve this, we need to invest in infrastructure, including an inner harbor ferry. This would connect residents of East Boston, Charlestown and the North End to the airport, the Seaport, and the red line at South Station. This would ease congestion on the North Washington Street Bridge, the Blue line at Maverick and even on Commercial and Hanover Streets. We need to invest in infrastructure including separated bicycle facilities, fully protected intersections, comfortable and accessible sidewalks, and bus lanes. We must continue to upgrade and modernize our roadway system with adaptive signal control and transit and emergency vehicle priority.
We need to calm our neighborhood streets by increasing investment in the Neighborhood Slow Streets program – which received 47 applications this year including multiple from East Boston, Charlestown, and the North End. Where there is more pavement than we need, roads should be put on a diet to create new pedestrian and cycling connections or green space. The City must work with MassDOT to ensure that bridges and tunnels are in good order and working for everyone, and work with the MBTA to expand reliable service to everyone. We must push the City to keep its commitment to Vision Zero: the goal that not one person is seriously hurt or killed on our streets.
We have decades of experience to build on, from around the country and the world, and from right here in our city, which was built for people to get around long before cars came into the picture. We know what to do. Our city staff knows what to do. We need funding, and public support. The City Council can help provide the willpower and funding. With your support, as your councilor, I will push to make sure that all Bostonians can travel safely and easily.