Editorial: Replace the LMA Guidelines

March 7, 2014
By

The LMA Interim Guidelines should be tossed into the recycling bin of history and replaced with a serious, inclusive master plan for the LMA.

The guidelines are a reprehensible Boston Redevelopment Authority trick that institutionalized back-room dealing-making. They are a broken promise. Their very name of “Interim” is an insult to the community they were forced upon with protest, as well as a manipulative falsehood that pretends its excesses are temporary even though they are now 11 years old.

The BRA attempts to claim they are a stunning success while being unable to explain the simplest of details about them, including why they haven’t been finished with promised public input. That is because they are fundamentally shady and not good for this neighborhood, or any neighborhood.

The first accomplishment of the guidelines was permitting a controversial tower project that evicted the last long-time residents of the LMA—which is still largely zoned residential, incidentally—then promptly failed, creating a hole as ugly as the infamous Filene’s crater in Downtown Crossing that the BRA also enabled through pet-project connivance. Only now is another project finally filling that gap—minus historic buildings and residents lost forever.

The major intent of the guidelines was to pressure LMA developers, through a bald tit-for-tat system, to also build in South Boston, where Mayor Menino envisioned his legacy projects. That certainly worked, in the sense of sparking inorganic gentrification of South Boston via a mechanism that no one living over there knew about.

The LMA would be booming without these guidelines. The projects going up would have been better with real planning and real input. The BRA can do better.

Mission Hill and the LMA deserve to be more than the butt of a BRA joke and a lever to build mayoral pyramids elsewhere. Mayor Walsh is rightly reining in the BRA and reorienting it to serve, rather than play, the public. The LMA Interim Guidelines should be among the first of the bad old ways to go.

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