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City kicks off inclusionary zoning process

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  Mayor Brian Arrigo’s administration and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) are working together to bring more affordable housing to Revere through an inclusionary zoning ordinance.

  Born out of the city’s 2019 Next Stop Revere master planning process, the city held its first public forum on inclusionary zoning last Tuesday night. Under inclusionary zoning, a community can increase its affordable housing stock by requiring that developments of a certain size have a percentage of affordable units.

  “In Revere, our diverse neighborhoods are the foundation of our city, and you all know as well as I do that we are growing faster than ever,” said Arrigo. “It is really important that our housing production and our housing policies keep up at a pace to support all our residents.”

  The mayor said inclusionary zoning is a powerful municipal tool that ensures newly constructed residential developments of a certain scale are deed-restricted to be affordable to lower- and moderate-income residents.

  The inclusionary zoning ordinance that is currently being crafted with the help of the MAPC will go through Arrigo’s office before being presented to the City Council for approval. As a zoning ordinance, it would need a two-thirds vote by the council for adoption.

  “Adopting inclusionary zoning is an important feature of a growing city, and we’ve seen many of our counterparts take that step,” said Arrigo.

  The need for inclusionary zoning and more affordable housing in Revere was one of the biggest recommendations in the Next Stop Revere master planning process, Arrigo said. “As we continue to grow, this policy will allow for the city to maintain and increase housing opportunities for all residents,” said Arrigo. “We have appointed an incredible team for the Inclusionary Zoning Advisory Committee that will collaborate on a final idea that will go through my office to the City Council for approval.”

  Much of Tuesday’s initial public forum was spent on going over the nuts and bolts of what inclusionary zoning is and what is considered affordable when it comes to housing in the Greater Boston area. MAPC Principal Regional Housing and Land Use Planner Alexis Smith said the inclusionary zoning ordinance will have to take into account whether the city wants to create more affordable units that are deed-restricted at a higher percentage of the Annual Median Income (AMI) for Greater Boston, or create fewer units, but have them at a rate that helps people and families who earn the lowest levels of the AMI. Smith noted that there are also considerations that will need to be considered that create incentives for developers to create more units so that inclusionary zoning developments are cost effective for them. Some of those potential incentives include allowing more market rate units or providing some kind of tax relief for the developers.

  While the need for affordable housing is an issue throughout the region, MAPC Chief of Housing and Neighborhood Development Karina Oliver-Milchman said that it is even more pressing in Revere, given the high cost of housing and the low median income. “Given the discrepancy between the high cost of housing and the median income in Revere, it’s not surprising that 44 percent of households are considered cost burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing in the city,” said Oliver-Milchman.

  The scope and timeline of the inclusionary zoning ordinance project will extend through next spring, with additional public forums, along with additional analysis of housing needs and research into inclusionary zoning practices that will make the most sense for Revere, Oliver-Milchman said.

  Additional information about the inclusionary zoning process is available on the city’s website at revere.org/iz.

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