I’m in Worcester, MA, attending the 2016 Smart Growth Alliance conference (I was an invited speaker at a prior conference.) The conference brings city planners, transportation and civic innovators, real estate and housing professionals, business leaders, non-profits, architects, Great Neighborhood and gateway cities, and –well, let’s just say a wide range of (primarily) policy folk.
It’s surprisingly enjoyable.
This year, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito is the key note speaker and we’ll hear from Worcester the host city. Other headliners include Michael Hogan President & CEO of AD Makepeace Company; Mayor Donna Holaday of Newburyport; Dan Burden the ‘walkability guru’; Parris Glendening former MD Governor and President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Inst; Veronica Eady, VP Conservation Law Foundation; and Monica Tibbits-Nutt, Executive Director 128 Business Council. There will be more than 70 speakers. Attendees often fan out in groups to cover more panels. I’ll report back where I’ve landed.
One topic that will swirl in the background concerns housing and a landmark bill S.122 proposing changes to planning, zoning and permitting. The organizers support this in a big way. Director Andre Leroux writes, “We believe that the (legislators) have done a thoughtful job balancing the needs of municipalities, developers, and the environment. “
“With two-thirds of Millennials desiring to live in walkable, transit-accessible places at the same time that seniors shift to apartment living, suburban communities have a real test before them. Communities like Newtonville need to decide between planned growth and unplanned growth. For its peers like West Concord village, Winchester Center, Andover and Newburyport, the future is already happening.” Quite a dishy prompt.
The Boston Globe endorsed the bill, you may have noticed the title: “Make Room for Granny, and other zoning fixes.” Granny does live longer than Grandpa.