Somerville Speakup Line:Letter Sent to BOA In Opposition of Transfer Fee Tax

Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line:

Here is the email I sent to the Aldermen yesterday.

Dear Board of Aldermen,

This transfer fee is nothing more than a socialist extortion and should not pass in any form. If the “People’s Republic of Cambridge” stopped it so will we.

The CPA tax and the Proposition 2 1/2 override were more than enough pilfering from us Home owners and this needs to stop. If this city really meant what they say they would have made FRIT and other developers cede the 20% affordable housing rates but chose another back room bag job and settled for 6% and a cash payment for units that will take years to develop the inventory the 20% would have gotten us on that deal. This fee is just a greedy cash grab to be taken away from home owners fed up with the increased taxes and having to make choice to sell and move to more affordable locations. The city cannot be trusted to do the right thing and actually use it as intended. The exemptions will of course not be honored and just temporarily permitted to see how much money is lost and at that time and will then try to modify it to remove the exemptions one by one while also trying to increase the percentage collected on this tax. I know some of you Aldermen are in favor of no exemptions and that is just greed.

Taxes are rarely reduced and most likely rise as current and future administrations get used to the deeper trough you feed from. I will be at the meeting and look forward to informing the people of this socialistic crap for what it is “Robbing the Hood” instead of Robin Hood. I have no connection to SPOA or any other landlord organizations but I would ally with them in opposition to this. Sometimes cities and towns become more expensive due to location and people have to make choices and move to a city or town that provides housing at a price within their budget. I would love to live in Dover, Wayland, Weston, Duxbury or Marblehead but they are beyond my budget so I am here.

If the city continues to increase taxes we landlords will just pass it on to our tenants as higher and higher rents which will accelerate the gentrification process led by these same steps you are supporting to fight gentrification.

What will be your next suggestion? Rent Control? Change is inevitable and when Somerville developed as much as it did why would any rational person not expect rent and home prices rise in relation to the surrounding development? Why should the homeowner be made to pay for something they had no direct input in?

I am not going to be made to feel guilty for this outright stealing from me to give to others. We have charity for that and you and the other socialists can give all the money you want but keep your hands out of my pocket when doing it. I will fight hard to keep what I earned and saved for my family to stay right where it is.

I will see you on Wednesday when I have my say.


Peter Blaikie – Home Owner

5 thoughts on “Somerville Speakup Line:Letter Sent to BOA In Opposition of Transfer Fee Tax”

  1. Starting off with “socialist extortion” pretty much seals the deal for this nutty rant. Hint: there are reasons one might be opposed to the transfer tax & right of first refusal. You articulated exactly zero of them. If you want your letter to be taken seriously by the aldermen, write a serious letter.

  2. Why would we want to supply an affordable housing fund to the city? the tenant right of first refusal is a purposeful taking of private property. A tenant would need to have 80-100K to buy their rental unit if the unit were 5-6 rooms of 2/3 bedrooms. First not all tenants can afford to buy, or WANT to buy. Keep in mind that the majorty of renters are passing through, not settling here for the long term. Which begs the question why the city would be trying to help more transient average income renters. They like to attach the trigger word ‘affordable’ to the initiative but it is not targeting low income people whatsoever. My tenants may not be able to afford to buy their unit – so what would happen to them? The city would buy the house and theyd be out, or, their rent would double. In fact, their rent would double if they could afford to buy at 500k. If a tenant can afford to pay ‘fair market value’, then they can afford to shop on the open market – why is there an initiative to help people who have that level of income? If 70% of Somerville residents are renters, as cited at the BOA meeting, then its counter to affordable housing to take these units out of the general rental pool. Effectively reducing the pool of rental units, and raising the rents for the majority. This initiative sets in place a convoluted process and conditions that strangle a property owners right to sell on the open market for highest value. First an owner has to get a Purchase and Sales. No buyer is going to want to get involved when this process could take 5 months, meanwhile tying up their money for a sale that may not happen. Buyers and developers also will not want to assume all the strings attached once they become owners. Developers will look for opportunities elsewhere, like Medford, and diminished interest in Somerville will reduce a property owners sale price. Once a P&S establishes value (which cannot include value of any development potential that a buyer would be willing to pay !!!), then tenants have a 45 day window to decide if they want to purchase. Then another 120 days to set up financing. Why the right to assign you ask? This reveals the real purpose of this initiative. The right to assign brings in the city, who will either finance or purchase at the bargain basement price of a tainted property. Don’t be suckered by the affordable trigger word. And make no mistake about the end result. Rental units will be removed from the general pool, and turned into affordable units. This will hurt the majority of the 70% of renters in the city. Fewer rentals = escalating rents and more competition. The 1st right of refusal is an insidious proposition. It hurts small property owners. It hurts renters. Unless you can buy your unit and pay a mortgage, RE taxes and condo fee, and want the city as your landlord and to put whoever they want in as your co-renter, this is not for you. If you don’t buy your unit, expect your rent to double when the city purchases your building. This proposal benefits no persons and one entity.

  3. Look at the annual Somerville Budgets, tax revenues are up almost $40 million annually from 2014 to 2018. Where has that money gone each year??? With Union Square development starting and Assembly Row continuing to expand the tax base, why cannot a portion of those new tax funds be used for affordable housing?

    Look at Somerville 2030 Vision. The city is way behind their goals of increasing housing stock by 6,000 market units and 1,200 affordable housing units. Nearly halfway there, the city has only built 1,000 market units and 250 affordable units, and is way behind its goals.

    The city needs to encourage more development, and increase the supply of houses to keep prices down. Any real estate agent will tell you prices are high now because too much demand and not enough supply. This tax will only slow development, causing a further shortage in supply and higher prices. More development will put a downward pressure on prices and increase tax revenues without forcing the current home owners to pay more.

  4. So many meeting dates out there! What date/time/location is the Transfer Fee and Right of First Refusal meetings being held?

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