Somerville News Weekly Speakup Line:Mayor’s Proposed Real Estate Transfer Fee

Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line,

The process needs to begin by providing all homeowners notice of the plan and the opportunity to discuss the details prior to moving forward and seeking any type of approval. Whether at the State or local level.

Somerville had built in affordable housing until the boom of condo conversions began and flippers, investors and real estate developers began buying everything up in our city. The concern by many in each and every neighborhood was ignored.

Today people are being evicted as a result of this problem forcing many to leave the City or go into public housing and senior buildings if available. Forced to leave the neighborhoods they grew up in and loved for many years.

The homes that are owner occupied whether single or multifamily are barely surviving unless they continue to raise the rents. This forces these long-term residents out of the City. They were the ones every election you knocked on their door to get their vote. They were the ones that got worn out with the repeated neighborhood meetings to fight poor development in their neighborhood.

Sadly it seems the elected officials think all the homeowners have deep pockets and keep coming to us for more money every time another brilliant scheme is devised to raise revenue.

We have been hit with constant increases due to new development, revaluation, ” minor tax increases”, CPA tax, excise tax, increased parking fees, and the numerous bonds that are coming down the pike.

The thought of a transfer tax is like the last kick in the ass by the City to those that have chosen to live here through it all.

As one wonderful long-term resident stated to me we were here when it was known as scummerville. Because it was affordable, convenient, we shopped local in all the mom and pop stores, fruit markets, bakeries, laundromat, drugstores, ate at the locally owned restaurants. We had our car serviced at the family run gas stations, visited local doctors and more.

Yes that is what we did before gentrification and over development of our city. The politicians cared, they listened, they debated and sometimes fought for what was right for the families that they represented.

Somerville needs affordable housing that must truly reflect the needs of those that are being affected. The ones being forced out, the employees that can’t afford to stay here and the homeowners who are here and have paid their dues without taking more from them.

Every property owner deserves to know all the details before any type of approval. This transfer tax was discussed at the first Alderman’s Meeting. It was recommended that the less specific the language was, the easier it will be to get through.

Somerville homeowners deserve better. Speak up before it’s too late contact your Senator, State Representatives, Alderman and Mayor. Voice you’d concerns, ask questions and demand clear answers.

John L Sullivan

9 thoughts on “Somerville News Weekly Speakup Line:Mayor’s Proposed Real Estate Transfer Fee”

  1. Very well put and thought out. I have been here long enough to know when something is supposingly going to help it is just another scheme to raise money. This city is severely lacking in helping low income housing and the homeless. And I am sure your well said statement will fall on deaf ears. But thank you for it.

  2. Home owners are not bank accounts for the city. The famous line for those who propose all the new taxes is “it’s only a small increase”. This small increase adds up and forces many out of the city. In the past 5 years the city has increased the water tax fee, increased my valuation 15%, added the CPA tax and will add to my property taxes the cost of the high school. Now when someone decides to move we must pay an exit fee to the city. This constantly coming to the property owners for money is unfair burden.

  3. C. Mullane, we are not supposed to notice these little addons. I get the feeling they think we are stupid. Tome it’s the old quacks like a duck thing.

  4. Born and brought up in Somerville. Went through all the good and bad times like everyone else. We stayed because of pride in our city. Fortunate enough to secure a great job in the city I lived in, gave back, took pride! Not ashamed to say that, however what I am ashamed of is the reputation we have now. Forcing out long time residents, high rents that do not allow low income families to live here or stay if they’ve been here for a long time.
    I’m sure Mayor Joe had the best intentions when he ran for Mayor and did his best in the beginning. But eventually, like all the rest of the politicians, greed and power took his soul. Now this long time resident is considering leaving Somerville for better parts. But who cares about that, I’ll just be replaced by someone who will empty their pockets for good ol’ honest Joe.
    Is everyone aware that the Clarendon Hill project, when complete will allow the current residents to return at the same rent. When they leave the units will not be filled with low income residents, no they will be turned over for fair market rentals at a much higher price. And where does this money go? Into the pockets of those who own and developed the property after making a lucrative deal with good ol’ Mayor Joe. I have only one question I’dlike to ask Joe…Where does he buy his pants? He has big pockets to fill and there is quite a bit of space left for more graft.

  5. These comments have neither a sense of history or a reasonable model of affordability. First, the transfer fee in Somerville goes back to 1998, and Mayor Capuano’s Affordable Housing Task Force, so there’s been discussion for a long time in many places. It was then, and is now, posited at 1% which, given last year’s real estate turnover, would generate $10,000,000 a year with which a Community Investment Trust could produce $100,000,000 in limited equity mortgages for particularly vulnerable populations – like teachers, city employees, long term residents, etc. Over half of Vienna, Austria, is currently part of a similar program, and there are transfer fees in Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Seattle (at 2%) and much of Northern California (at 1.5% in Berkeley, for jut one example). There’s plenty of precedent, and re-cycling those funds to affordable ownership options also has an extended history in many places.

    Furthermore, as a sales tax it hits newcomers most, and will – and should – have no impact whatsoever on long term residents. The ugly gentrification that is “driving” people out is largely a result of the greed of existing owners, since (a) expenses have not dramatically increased, and (b) there exist tax deferrals and abatements for the most vulnerable owners, like seniors. Mr. Sullivan does not “have to raise rents” every year. I’ve had a tenant for nearly a decade with the same rent, and I’m doing reasonably well, with substantial improvements already out for bid and fully funded.

    Plan a little, don’t just complain!

  6. Since the ordinance has not been finalized and passed your conclusion that it will have no impact on long term residents is speculation.
    Discussion and having a different opinion is not complaining. Please be open to listening to and understanding viewpoints that are different than yoursl

Leave a Reply