City doing its part to address Boston-area affordability crisis

Kudos to the Globe for supporting the Newton City Council’s bold vote in favor of denser development along the Washington Street corridor (“Newton takes a step to solve housing crisis,” Editorial, Dec. 21). As a longtime resident of the Washington Street area, and as an urban economist at Tufts University, I know that a housing affordability crisis plagues not only Newton but the entire Boston area, and that a central cause of this crisis is the onerous land-use restrictions implemented by more than 140 cities and towns in Greater Boston that limit housing supply.

As the Globe points out, Washington Street is the “perfect spot to add housing,” given its location near two commuter rail stations and extensive MBTA bus service. While there are reasonable concerns that development will increase traffic congestion, it is feasible to use some of the tax revenue that new development generates to finance a free electric trolley running along the Washington Street corridor.

Newton cannot solve the affordability problem on its own. That’s why the pledge of the 15 communities that make up the Metro Mayors Coalition to add 185,000 new units by 2030 is so important. The Newton City Council’s vote to move in that direction is a welcome first step.

Jeff Zabel


The writer is a professor of economics and co-director of the master’s program in data analytics at Tufts University.

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