Good riddance! That was my reaction to news that State Rep. Martha “Marty” Walz (D – Boston) was announcing the intention to resign from her seat on Beacon Hill. Walz made the announcement on Jan. 30, but she doesn’t seek to go out quietly.
Marty Walz – who will become the president of two Planned Parenthood organizations in Massachusetts, as well as the CEO of one – has vowed to squelch Boston’s growth. According to the Banker and Tradesman, Walz has filed one last piece of legislation for Beacon Hill to vote on: a bill which proposes new buildings cannot cast shadows on six Boston parks.
Walz is no stranger to such obstructionist laws, and in 2011 she introduced similar legislation, Bill H.1169. The bill proposed that no new construction would be allowed should it potentially cast a shadow on parks such as the Commonwealth Ave. Mall and Copley Square Plaza. Such legislation would effectively gut any significant project in the designated ‘Back Bay High Spine,’ an area explicitly zoned for lofty developments in Boston.
While her alleged intentions are admirable to some, the effects are far too detrimental to Boston’s growth and residents. With yet another major hurdle for new development, Boston’s already constrained housing supply and high rental rates will only be further exacerbated. This is great for those wealthy enough to own and rent out property in Boston (the same people who I suspect are most likely in their district to get out and vote for a State Representative,) but a huge blow to the working and middle class residents of Boston.
It is no secret that building in Boston frequently requires developers to go vertical in order to turn a profit. In seeking profit, developers expand the supply of apartments, offices, and hotel rooms, thus driving down rents. Many projects have fizzled out entirely due to Boston’s already restrictive laws on new development, with height restrictions principal amongst them. The effects are obvious, and Boston is consistently criticized for its high cost of living.
A special election date has been set for June 25, and the race is already starting to take shape. The favorite thus far in the race appears to be one of Suffolk’s own: alumnus Nils Tracy, a resident of Beacon Hill who obtained a Juris Doctorate degree from Suffolk University. Tracy said in a statement, “We have to deal with rent inflation,” which signals to me that he may not be up for the same games as Walz.
Until it comes time to choose a new representative, however, we must ensure that Walz’s last piece of legislation is firmly voted down. Should the bill come to pass, I assure you that development in Boston will fall even further behind demand. Rents will continue to climb, inequality will continue to grow, and our city’s health will be at stake.
I bid you farewell, Marty Walz. May you never have a say in city development again, for you have shown little understanding of its mechanics. Lest I forget, please take fellow-obstructionist Rep. Byron Rushing with you on the way out.