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Trump stiffs head of local fan club | The Jim Jones of Massachusetts politics | Suburban rents spike | Crazy California home prices in our future? | More of the same at the MBTA | Quick Hits | About Contrarian Boston |
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The Massachusetts housing market is a hot mess. And, no joke, California might have the solution.
The Baker administration has all but scoffed at California’s increasingly hard-headed measures to boost construction of new homes of all types.
After all, what could there be to possibly learn from such a basket case of a blue state, whose stratospheric home prices make even Massachusetts look like a bargain?
“We have such a long tradition of local control here in Massachusetts. The beauty of Housing Choice – it totally respects that,” Mike Kennealy, the state’s housing and economic development chief, told me last year in a piece I wrote for CommonWealth Magazine.
Well, it turns, lots.
California saw a more than 15 percent jump during the first six months of 2022 in permits issued for new homes, condos and apartments compared to the same period in 2021, coming in at over 71,000. And those numbers are up roughly 40 percent compared to 2019 as well, according to the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.
The progress comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers steadily demolish long-standing obstacles to new housing thrown up by cities, towns and suburbs across the Golden State.
A new law, just inked in the last few weeks, make it easier to convert commercial buildings, parking lots and the like into affordable housing. That law follows on the heels of previously inked legislation that now allows as many as four homes to be built on a lot that previously just held one.
California has also started taking a tough line in thwarting NIMBY subversion of the new pro-building laws by local officials by attempting, in one case, to declare an entire town a mountain lion sanctuary.
Traffic and school children are the things NIMBYies love to hate
Considerably more modest reforms by Gov. Charlie Baker are also starting to have an impact, with overall residential construction up 10 percent in Massachusetts so far in 2022 compared to last year.
However, that’s after years of stagnation that saw little or no new significant growth in the number of new homes and apartments built.
Another bad sign are the suburban officials who have suggested simply ignoring the Baker administration’s new MBTA Communities law, which requires zoning for multifamily housing around T stations, citing the relatively weak penalties.
Attorney General Maura Healey, the Democratic candidate for governor, apparently wants to continue the tradition of mollycoddling NIMBY suburbs, with lots of carrots to encourage communities to open their doors to new apartment construction.
Are we going to wait until our backs are against the wall – as they frankly did in California - before cracking down on the abuse of local control?
The Massachusetts housing market may not be as bad as the Golden State’s. But barring an effective effort to demolish local roadblocks to new housing, we are heading there fast.
A not so helping hand: MassGOP candidate for governor foots the bill for Trump phone rally
That would be Geoff Diehl. The Trump fanboy shelled out $7,343 to foot the bill for a “tele-rally” the ex-president held to drum up support for the Republican candidate for governor, campaign finance records show.
When your campaign has just $80,000 in cash on hand after its best month of fundraising in September, that’s a lot of money.
Last fall Trump endorsed Diehl, then a little known former state lawmaker, as a payback for Gov. Charlie Baker’s criticism of his more unhinged statements, but has really done nothing to help Diehl beyond a few attaboys.
Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue, Part II?
Trump last spring told Howie Carr on his radio show that he might come up to Massachusetts to do a fundraiser or rally for Diehl. But with a month left until election day, time is running out.
The fact that Diehl had to pay for the tele-rally highlights what Trump and cronies really mean when they say they would like to “help out,” which actually means helping themselves out to anything that is not nailed down.
A case in point is Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s one-time campaign manager and henchman, to whom Diehl has paid tens of thousands of dollars for his services as a senior political advisor.
That is quality advice, given that Diehl has been unable to raise enough money to buy TV ads and that he barely made it through the state Republican primary, even though it was dominated by hard line Trumpies.
Oh, and let’s not forget that Lewandowski was probably the genius who decided to bring in South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to do a rally for Diehl. Lewandowski was given the broom by Trump-loving Noem, for whom he had been doing unpaid consulting work, after he was accused last year of sexually harassing a wealthy conservative donor at a fundraiser.
Diehl’s campaign also blew more than $500 to buy 25 copies of the South Dakota governor’s memoir, “Not My First Rodeo” in connection with a fundraiser. We are sure it’s destined to be a classic.
Probably some useful fence-mending for Lewandowski, but not sure how this helps Diehl.
That is, unless he’s really not running for governor, but instead wants to be the permanent chair of the Trump’s Massachusetts fan club.
In that case, it all makes perfect sense.
Think Boston is seeing the biggest rent increases? Think again
Rather, it’s the suburbs that have seen the biggest rental hikes, and not just in the Boston area but around the country, since Covid-19 first hit back in March 2020, according to Apartment List.
Boston rents plunged nearly 14 percent during the first year of the pandemic, compared to 5.8 percent in the city’s suburbs.
And as rents have rebounded over the past year, the suburbs led the way as well, with an 18.8 percent increase compared to 11.3 percent in Boston, the online rental market tracker reports.
Overpromising and underdelivering at the MBTA
Too many media outlets bought into hype about the T’s big Orange Line shutdown and the idea that it would be some sort of game changer.
But it clearly wasn’t, with the Orange Line now slower than it was before, the Globe reports, citing data analyzed by TransitMatters.
As the lives of hundreds of thousands of commuters were upended for a month, T managers held out the promise of a faster Orange Line at the end of the very long repair tunnel.
Now T officials, per the Globe, can’t say when the slow zones on the Orange Line will be eliminated.
What a mess.
Meet Jim “Jones” Lyons, head of the MassGOP
That’s Howie Carr’s spot-on nickname for Lyons, the man leading the state Republican party to likely electoral extinction come November.
Baker could have headed off the Diehl disaster by buying him - and a bunch of the party’s other Trumpie troublemakers - off with a patronage jobs in state government, or so says Carr in his Boston Herald column.
The MassGOP is on a suicide mission. Jim Jones would have approved. (By Nancy Wong - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Here’s Carr: “As former President Lyndon Johnson used to say when he hired his political opponents, ‘I’d rather have them inside the tent (urinating) out than outside the tent (urinating) in.’
Which is exactly what the Jonestown Losers’ Club is now doing.”
As long as you don’t have a teenager or college student, it’s all great: “Massachusetts sports betting to launch in late January ahead of Super Bowl” Boston Herald
Street fighting in Cambridge: “Street brawl of up to 200 outside restaurant ended with the sound of gunfire, police say (updated)” Cambridge Day
Still no action on economic development bill, including money for affordable housing: “Dems Struggling To Salvage Jobs, Tax Relief Plans” State House News Service
No kidding: “Putin’s aggression is being felt in our electric bills” CommonWealth Magazine
Scoop or pandering to a billionaire jerk? Washington Post plays up exclusive interview with Starbucks chief: “Howard Schultz’s fight to stop a Starbucks barista uprising
Too fast? “Fed’s Inflation Fight Has Some Economists Fearing an Unnecessarily Deep Downturn” Wall Street Journal
About Contrarian Boston
I have fielded emails over the past couple of months asking what Contrarian Boston is about.
Here’s a link to our mission statement – you can find it in the “about” section.
For a more prosaic, nuts-and-bolts description, read on.
An online newsletter, Contrarian Boston publishes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In Contrarian Boston you’ll find analysis of the day’s news, and original reporting as well.
Our focus is:
· Politics and all levels of governance, good and bad, with an emphasis on state and local, with some national mixed in;
· Economic growth and business, especially real estate, housing and new development projects;
· The media and why it does what it does;
· Education, from school board spats to the doings of multibillion-dollar university endowments;
· And whatever else catches our fancy.