Massachusetts Comprehensive Permits and Regional Planning Initiative, Question 2 (2010)
The measure was proposed to repeal a state law, Chapter 40B, that allowed an organization that was proposing to build government-subsidized housing that included “low- or moderate-income units to apply for a single comprehensive permit from a city or town’s zoning board of appeals.” According to the official summary of the measure, the repeal would take effect on January 1, 2011. According to Chemaly, "It's not based on helping poor people. It's all about how can we sell as many units as possible and for them to still be federally and legally (dubbed) affordable" 
Details of Chapter 40B included:
- Became a law in 1969.
- Allowed developers to avoid local zoning limits if they agreed to reserve some of their projects for moderate-income residents.
- About 25 percent of the units must have been set aside for moderate-income residents to meet this requirement.
- Local areas could reject projects if 10 percent or more of their housing stock was deemed affordable.
- If local towns or cities made progress toward said 10 percent mark, they could still reject projects.
- See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Official results follow:
|Question 2 (Comprehensive Permits and Planning)|
Results via Massachusetts Election Division
Text of measure
The summary of the measure read:
This proposed law would repeal an existing state law that allows a qualified organization wishing to build government-subsidized housing that includes low- or moderate-income units to apply for a single comprehensive permit from a city or town's zoning board of appeals (ZBA), instead of separate permits from each local agency or official having jurisdiction over any aspect of the proposed housing. The repeal would take effect on January 1, 2011, but would not stop or otherwise affect any proposed housing that had already received both a comprehensive permit and a building permit for at least one unit ...
A YES VOTE would repeal the state law allowing the issuance of a single comprehensive permit to build housing that includes low- or moderate-income units.
A NO VOTE would make no change in the state law allowing issuance of such a comprehensive permit.
- Affordable Housing Now-Yes on 2 was the main campaign for the measure. The group stated on their website, "Over the past four decades, Massachusetts has become the 3rd most expensive state in the country! We need more affordable options for our teachers, firefighters, police, public service workers and all hard-working residents of the Commonwealth. Our state’s current affordable housing plan, known as Chapter 40B, has been in place for more than 40 years and is directly responsible for our lack of affordability."
- The organization Bigger Not Better was a supporter of the measure. The advocacy group, based out of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, stated that they were "a statewide program dedicated to...promoting sustainable policies that ultimately lead to a better quality of life for all Massachusetts residents."
- Representative William Greene stated his support for the measure. Greene commented, "It’s a law that doesn’t work to begin with and is tremendously destructive to the towns who developers decide to go in and build in. It takes away any ability of towns to plan for their growth — the growth is at the whim of the developer."
- According to the Affordable Housing Now website, the following stories gave the reason why the measure should have been passed and 40B should be repealed:
- 40B Doesn't Work for Young Couples
- "We’re both teachers; with two incomes we make just over the threshold to qualify for 40B, but the reality is that housing is far too expensive for us even with two paychecks. We can’t even afford to live in the town we both teach in!"
- 40B Doesn’t Work for Single Parents
- "I’m proud to be a police officer. It isn’t easy being a single mom and working full time but I know that my daughter looks up to me and that I’m setting a good example. Unfortunately, 40B says I don’t qualify for affordable housing...I don’t see the system changing anytime soon, especially with the troubles with mortgage lenders and all those housing foreclosures I’ve read about. I do my part for others and I’m not looking for a handout, I’m just looking for a home."
- 40B Doesn’t Work for Senior Citizens
- "My husband died a few years ago and I can’t afford to pay my rent. I don’t have much of a nest egg, but the state must think it’s big enough. I try to get by on social security but things are just so expensive! My income is $35,000, which should mean that I qualify for a 40B affordable unit, but I don’t qualify for a one bedroom 40B condo because I don’t make the almost $50,000 required for their mortgage."
Other stories from the group's website can be found here.
- Committee Against Repealing the Housing Law, a state ballot committee, formed to oppose the elimination the housing law. The campaign, Vote No on 2, was a grassroots coalition of more than 1600 individuals and organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of residents. The coalition included: civic, business, religious, and academic leaders as well as senior, environmental, housing, and civil rights groups. This group contended that repealing the affordable housing law would immediately halt the creation of housing that was affordable to seniors and working families in many communities across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- Worcester Mayor Joseph C. O'Brien planned to ask the City Council to oppose Question 2. The resolution for the City Council had been planned to be proposed during the September 7, 2010 City Council Meeting.
- All four of the state's Catholic bishops stated their opposition to the proposal. In a statement by all four of the religious leaders, they stated that "Housing is a human right" and that keeping Chapter 40B would, "preserve our state’s ability to act in the most effective way to meet the need of every individual for a decent affordable home." The four bishops included, Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, Bishop George W. Coleman, Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell, and Bishop Robert J. McManus.
- State Senator James Eldridge was against the measure.
- Acia Adams-Heath and Symone Crawford, board members of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Allliance, advised voters in an editorial to vote against all three measures on the 2010 ballot. They wrote, "Most voters know about the race for Governor. And many of us have heard or read something about other races. But how many of us know about the three ballot questions that threaten our communities? They may be flying under the radar but they are, perhaps, the three most important votes we will take this November. Fortunately, there is a simple way to remember how to vote on each question – “Just Say No!”"
- Governor Deval Patrick said in a statement, "We are committed to reforms that can make the law more transparent and have instituted some already, but cannot support an outright repeal."
- State Representative Alice Wolf came out against the measure, claiming, "Cambridge is one of 51 cities and towns where more than 10 percent of the housing is affordable, so Chapter 40B does not apply. (In Cambridge, 16.1 percent – about 7,200 homes out of 44,000 – fall under the affordable category.) Nevertheless, it would be tragic to repeal the law when housing is still so expensive in this state. In addition, housing construction creates jobs, a high priority for all of us."
- State resident Bob Engler argued in a letter to the editor of Wicked Local Newton, "If you think housing is a basic right (as Congress stated in the first Housing Act of 1949) or you think it make sense to address the housing needs of the commonwealth’s citizens from a moral, political, economic or social perspective, you should vote No on Question 2."
- State Senator James Eldridge argued for the Chapter 40B law, claiming, "Many communities are motivated to build more because of this law," he said. "A lot of the affordable housing in MetroWest exists because of Chapter 40B."
- Francy Ronayne, a spokeswoman for the No on 2 Campaign, said "Given the economic situation that the commonwealth finds itself in, repealing 40B would be grossly irresponsible."
- Habitat for Humanity on Cape Cod Executive Director Victoria Goldsmith argued that "friendly" 40B projects that were happening since 2001 were threatened by the measure. Goldsmith argued, "We've relied on that law and process for 47 of the 60 homes we've developed since that time. We consider it a very important tool and even the threat of its repeal is starting to slow our work down."
- According to housing officials, Chapter 40B, since 1969, created 58,000 houses, condos, and apartments, including more than 29,000 that were affordable.
- Dottie Vaillancourt, a school nurse and a single parent argued in favor of Chapter 40B: "I was definitely one of those people that was in the middle. I had a good job but I just couldn’t afford the housing prices at the time. This program gave me the opportunity to own a home."
- John Suhrbier and Allan Rodgers, of the Winchester Housing Partnership Board, argued, "Examining experience in both Winchester and elsewhere, the existing law serves as a foundation for other affordable housing initiatives. Removing this foundation by repealing the existing law will result in the collapse of other ongoing affordable housing initiatives and leave nothing to build upon. Winchester's recently adopted master plan promotes housing that is affordable across a range of different incomes."
According to the co-owner of Freedom Petition Management, Rob Wilkinson, Chemaly paid the organization $200,000 for assistance in collecting signatures. According to Wilkinson, the firm collected a good majority of the signatures, obtaining approximately 91,000 signatures. However, Wilkinson stated that his organization was not paid in full for their efforts. Chemaly claimed that a payment plan was set in place, which Wilkinson denied. The firm was in the process of preparing a lawsuit.
According to the 2009 year-end report filed by the proponents of the measure, the campaign reported receiving $283,900 in in-kind contributions. Those contributions were related to signature gathering for the measure. The campaign also received a little over $3,000 in donations from individuals.
The following contributions were made in opposition to the measure:
|Massachusetts Association of Realtors||$235,000.00|
|Citizens Housing and Planning Association||$100,000.00|
|Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations||$61,000|
|National Apartment Association||$50,000|
|Greater Boston Real Estate Board||$47,250|
|Home Builders Association of Massachusetts||$25,000|
- Open Media Boston stated its opposition to the measure, and the two other measures slated to appear on the 2010 general election ballot in the state. The editorial, written by editor and publisher of OMB, Jason Pramas, stated, "To sum up, Open Media Boston says vote "No, No, and No" on Massachusetts Ballot Questions 1, 2, and 3. As ever, if viewers have something to say about that position - our comments section is open." For more of the editorial's arguments on each ballot question, click here.
- The Register in Yarmouth recommended a 'no' vote on the measure, stating, "With the exception of professional people and well-heeled retirees, it is all but impossible for Cape Codders at large to afford the real estate prices here. Chapter 40B does no harm, but it does a lot of good. Vote “no” on Question 2."
- The Massachusetts Daily Collegian was against the measure, as well as the two other ballot measures on the ballot. The publication wrote, "With Massachusetts in precarious financial straits, we need all of the revenue we can pump into social services. While it might be nice to have a few extra pennies in our pockets and purses, what we would lose if we pass these three questions vastly outweighs the few cents per dollar we would get back."
- The Sun Chronicle was against the measure, as well as the other two ballot measures on the ballot, writing, "Massachusetts voters face three questions on the ballot on Nov. 2. Question 1 would remove the sales tax on alcohol, 2 would repeal Chapter 40B - alternately called the affordable housing law or anti-snob zoning law - and 3 would roll back the sales tax to 3 percent. The state would be best served by votes of No on each question."
- The Tufts Daily, the independent student newspaper of Tufts University, recommended a 'no' vote on the measure. The publication stated, "We, too, oppose Question 2. The Commonwealth is currently going through some very tough economic times, and the need for affordable housing is especially important. If Question 2 passes, it will most likely result in developers building fewer affordable homes that residents desperately need."
- The South Coast Today argued that voters should reject all three measures on the 2010 ballot, stating, "The interests of Massachusetts residents will be served best by a "no" vote on all three ballot questions on Tuesday."
- The Republican published an editorial against the measure, stating, "We believe affordable housing is the responsibility of the entire region. We urge a “no” vote on Question 2. It’s the right thing to do."
- See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
- In poll, called the State House News Service Poll, the majority voters surveyed stated that they were in support of the measure. The poll was conducted by KRC/Communications between August 29-31, 2010.
- In a poll conducted by The Boston Globe, the measure had very little support of residents who took the survey.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|August 29-31, 2010||KCR/Communications||36%||54%||10%||400|
|October 2010||The Boston Globe||24%||38%||38%||Unknown|
Path to the ballot
The initiative was reviewed by the Massachusetts Legislature. The Massachusetts Legislature did not approve of the initiative by the May 4, 2010 deadline, according to the Massachusetts Elections Division, leaving petition organizers to obtain additional signatures from about 1/2 of 1% of voters who voted in the last governor election and submit them before or on July 7, 2010. According to the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office, that number amounted to 11,099 signatures. The initiative effort submitted enough signatures to be placed on the ballot.
- Massachusetts 2010 ballot measures
- 2010 ballot measures
- Massachusetts State Senate
- Massachusetts House of Representatives
- Massachusetts signature requirements
- Massachusetts 2010 Statewide Ballot Questions prepared by the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office
- Attorney General Official Website
- Massachusetts Attorney General Official Website
- Residents wary of repealing 40B law
- Campaign to Protect the Affordable Housing Law
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Daily News Tribune, "Ballot initiative effort targets 40B repeal", February 17, 2010
- ↑ Wicked Local, "Massachusetts ballot questions announced by secretary of state", July 15, 2010
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Concord Patch, "Better Not Bigger Challenges Chapter 40B", August 12, 2010
- ↑ Current Petitions Filed
- ↑ Wicked Local, "Massachusetts group: Use of 40B on the decline", March 24, 2010
- ↑ The Salem News, "Election overview: What's on the ballot statewide", August 17, 2010
- ↑ Boston Globe, "Debating 40B’s merit and impact", October 7, 2010
- ↑ Vote No on 2, "Who we are", Retrieved October 28, 2010
- ↑ Local News Telegram, "Mayor against ballot question on housing", September 7, 2010
- ↑ Boston.com, "Catholic bishops oppose repeal of state affordable housing law", September 22, 2010
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Metro Daily News, "Is Chapter 40B worth it? A look at ballot Question 2", October 7, 2010
- ↑ Dorchester Reporter, "On November 2nd, vote 'no' on all three ballot questions", October 6, 2010
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Cape Cod Times, "Question 2: Homes in the balance", October 16, 2010
- ↑ Wicked Local, "Wolf: Just say no", October 18, 2010
- ↑ Wicked Local, "Letter: Vote no on Ballot Question 2", October 5, 2010
- ↑ Metro Daily West, "Is Chapter 40B worth it? A look at ballot Question 2", October 7, 2010
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Boston Globe, "Critics push for repeal of 40B", October 17, 2010
- ↑ Wicked Local, "Suhrbier and Rodgers: Vote no on Question 2: Protect the Housing Act", October 19, 2010
- ↑ 
- ↑ Massachusetts.gov, "OCPF Searchable Campaign Finance Database", Retrieved October 25, 2010
- ↑ Wicked Local, "EDITORIAL: Ballot questions: No, no, and no", October 17, 2010
- ↑ The Daily Collegian, "Massachusetts ballot questions: No, No and No", October 21, 2010
- ↑ Sun Chronicle, "Tax-cut proposals, 40B repeal, would hobble Bay State", October 25, 2010
- ↑ Tufts Daily, "Editorial | Vote no on Massachusetts’ Questions 1 and 2", October 26, 2010
- ↑ South Coast Today, "OUR VIEW: Defeat ballot questions", October 26, 2010
- ↑ Masslive.com, "Editorial: Vote no Massachusetts ballot questions 1, 2 and 3", October 27, 2010
- ↑ Enterprise News, "Sales tax rollback wins support of 54 percent in poll", September 8, 2010
- ↑ Boston.com, "Voter initiatives target two taxes", October 27, 2010
- ↑ Current Petitions Filed
- ↑ Massachusetts Secretary of State, "Elections: Initiative Petition for Law"
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