At-large city councilor Steve Murphy called for restrictions on development in Boston at a candidate forum in Roslindale tonight. Fellow at-large councilor Ayanna Pressley, meanwhile, wants to look at restricting the numbers of certain types of franchise operations in particular neighborhoods.
"The city is overdeveloped," Murphy said, adding he feels that first hand "every time I get in the car." Murphy said Boston needs "almost a moratorium on development, at least in parts of the city right now."
Pressley said she wants the city to look at whether it can limit the number of certain types of franchise outlets in neighborhoods at the forum sponsored by Progressive West Roxbury/Roslindale. She pointed to dollar stores and check-cashing places as examples of stores that do nothing to improve the economic vitality of neighborhoods, especially those that have a lot of them.
Murphy, Pressley and the three other candidates for the four open seats in the Nov. 3 election - Pressley, fellow incumbents Michelle Wu and Michael Flaherty and challenger Anissa Essaibi-George - all agreed the city needs to do something about the runaway growth the said is affecting some neighborhoods.
Murphy said he's currently disinclined to let the BRA extend its urban-renewal powers in certain neighborhoods, including the North End, because of growth issues.
Pressley said current Boston zoning is "antiquated and outdated," said the BRA needs "real reform" and said the city needs to come up with a "standard community benefits agreement" that would define exactly what neighborhoods could expect from the new development that directly affects them.
Flaherty said he's not liking the BRA much at this point, either, saying its economic-development wing constantly overpowers its planning department, to the detriment of residents who show up at hearings on projects for which decisions have already been made. He said it's time the city had a planning agency independent of the BRA.
Wu called for greater transparency in the process by which the city approves development. She said there is "a huge disconnect" between residents living near a proposed project and the process by which it wins approval.
Essaibi-George said she'd want to clamp down on the ease with which developers can get variances for projects that don't fit within their property's zoning.