Burlington residents reacted with some skepticism Wednesday that housing reforms unveiled last month by Mayor Miro Weinberger would increase the availability of affordable housing in the Queen City.
At part 2 of Weinberger’s Housing Summit at City Hall, residents responded to the recent proposals, which include requiring greater energy efficiency in rental housing, eliminating parking minimums for new housing and regulating AirBnBs and other short-term rentals.
Mayumi Cornell , who lives in the Old North End, isn’t optimistic that the proposed reforms — especially the short-term rental regulations — would go far enough.
“I know of an Airbnb that’s right downtown that somebody I know is renting, and it’s right next to Penny Cluse,” Cornell said. “That’s prime real estate right there. That’s somebody that could have a home that had to move somewhere else.”
Cornell said she knows people who are being priced out of the Queen City. She’s also worried about the city’s homeless population.
“They’re being ignored and they’re being pushed away,” she said. “They’re human beings, and I understand that sometimes, they cause problems, but they’re causing problems because they feel helpless and they feel hopeless.”
Ericka Redic — who moved to Burlington’s New North End from Los Angeles last year — singled out the energy efficiency mandate for rental housing. She said it would end up hurting landlords such as herself.
“I think a lot of property owners in the New North End will tell you that we don’t get heard,” she said. “The initiatives that you see in the city don’t help us. The bike lanes that you see in the city? That doesn’t help me, but I paid for it.”
The city is also proposing to boost the Housing Trust Fund, which helps build and retain affordable housing. The city would like to increase the tax rate from a half-cent on each $100 of property value to a penny.
The rate increase requires an amendment to the city charter, which voters will decide on at Town Meeting Day in March.
On Wednesday, Weinberger said conversations about the affordabailty and quantity of housing in Burlington have been fairly constant since the 1980s, when now-U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was mayor.
After review of ersident feedback and consideration by the city’s Planning Commission, the mayor said he intends to bring housing reform measures to the City Council next month.