We see Zoning Redesign as a once-in-a-generation chance to reshape Newton into a city that can respond effectively to two enormous challenges: the housing shortage and climate change.
Newton's current Zoning Ordinance—the rules governing development—stands in the way of our doing much about either. It severely limits the number and kind of new homes we can build, and where they can be built, reinforcing old patterns of segregation and shutting many people out entirely. It prevents us from making the most of our village centers and public transit resources. It constrains our economy and our environmental sustainability.
A new ordinance should enable us to substantially increase our housing opportunities—in number and kind, for all sorts of people, all across the city—and improve our response to climate change. Adding more homes, especially within walking distance of village centers and railway stops, will help revitalize areas that made Newton a desirable place to live well before the advent of zoning (1922) and the predominance of transit by automobile.
The draft new zoning ordinance now under review by the City Council's Zoning and Planning Committee (ZAP) will not get us to our goals—at least, not yet. It is narrowly focused on less consequential concerns—reconciling lot "nonconformities," preserving "neighborhood character"—and minimizing change. It would produce a city that is barely less exclusive, segregated, and car-dependent than the one we have now.
But it's not too late! We can change the conversation, and the outcome. Please pay attention to the ZAP discussions, and speak up for a more inclusive and sustainable city. Your City Councilors need to hear from you!
Attend ZAP meetings—dates, agendas, reports here.
Talk to your City Councilors—contact info here.
Send emails to City Council, Mayor, and Planning Department—click here to start, and paste the following into the cc line: , , , , , yesengine6@gmailcom.
Eventually there will be public hearings. Stay tuned!
For more about our hopes for the new zoning ordinance, click on the green links below.
Re: Priorities, goals
Engine 6 email (5/15/20) to ZAP
Re: Reframing the discussion
Deborah Crossley, Chair
Victoria Danberg, Vice Chair
Other members: Susan Albright, Lisle Baker, Joshua Krintzman, Alison Leary, Holly Ryan, Pamela Wright
Clerk: Nathan Giacalone
Zachery LeMel, Long Range Planner
Gabriel Holbrow, Community Planner
Barney Heath, Director
The image in this page's background is a screen shot of the federal Home Owners' Loan Corporation map for Newton and areas east toward Boston, from the interactive website Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America, a collaboration spearheaded by the University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab.