Dear Billy T and Somerville News Weekly Speakup Line,
Before I list my reasons for voting NO on the transfer tax, I would like to point out an undercurrent which is reshaping our city into something many of us don’t want and never asked for—
Ask your aldermen which profession they hold and if they continue to be working in this field, are they conflicted in anyway about the financial harm done to the local working class by their decisions to increase gentrification or is it just business as usual?
While their developer friends are given the keys to the kingdom —-what’s in it for us? The case made of the growing equity in our homes due to the work of others is deceptive — since many of us would only choose to leave if given no other choice. Some of us consider our homes priceless, do they?
Remember the Preservation Act?
The $300 yearly increases added to our real estate tax?—forced upon us as the new $285 million dollar high school and $50 million towards GLX—
The Preservation Act too was like a thief in the night, robbing us before we woke up to the blinding reality of yet another tax increase, lobbied by the transients and those pretending to be saviors of the poor while they enjoy the continued comforts and privileges at the expense of working class constituents.
The Preservation Act was enacted to fund historical homes, green space and affordable housing.
How has that money been applied and distributed? What percentage went to historical homes and to affordable housing?
Green space? Except for the few micro-parks built that even a flock of morning doves would find cramped and unappealing— what has been produced on a larger scale?
A Transient Community
Renters generally remain only until graduation or after 2 years at their first job— then add one line item “Boston, MA”, at the top of the resume to sound the alarms of a talent seeking employer and off they go with the U-Haul!
Since we all love studies— lets do a one on how many couples rush to purchase homes in Arlington, Lexington and Melrose after a few short years of living here and realize the honeymoon bliss of Somerville is over.
Those entering the workforce after college later relocate for new jobs in California, Vermont, Pennsylvania and other affordable destinations.
In most cases, they returned home with their parents due to job loss at start-ups suffering from loss of sales or salaries not meeting cost of living expense.
Student loan blues set in quickly, along with burdening rents, car insurance, registration, parking tickets, and parking in Boston.
This crowd does not include the wealthy who have arrived without a care in the world. Parents and trusts funds will rock them to sleep in comfortable slumber eternally, or until the next big crash.
There are tenants who remain apprehensive when considering the large investment of condo living.
The majority of couples who purchase single family homes and new condos are also benefiting from lucrative paying jobs in finance, green energy and biotechnology— no worries for this crowd.
They are not among average working class families and singles and certainly not looking for a handout from the tax transfer.
So who is really benefiting from the tax transfer? Can we see a show of hands?
The transfer tax triggered a memory for me about 5 years ago— I learned units in Boston were going for $3500 and surrounding cities would see sharp increases in taxes, especially in Somerville. At the time, it didn’t seem possible but here we are—
Families and elderly are being sacrificed for the preferred constituent— one that is transient, flipping properties, dancing in the streets in green leotards and moving on.
Those who are pushing the transfer tax have their own separate agendas. Some wishing to buy but want existing local homeowners to pay the tax. Some who have no desire to move and who can afford to remain will never be effected by the tax.
As Board of Aldermen who rent, the transfer tax will not effect them either. Those who own can afford to remain as they have other jobs and can afford an expensive Somerville— it creates exclusivity.
As constituents I would ask you to find out who your aldermen are— do they have your best interest in mind when making these decisions?
Based on their present and past occupations, some are not struggling financially as our local working class community, nor are the monied transient newcomers who have been granted many benefits since they arrived to our city.
Some aldermen have grown up here as we have, others have benefited in positions of redevelopment, hold degrees as lawyers, working for corporations, business owners in the very square which is under development, work at local universities that are currently benefiting by redevelopment, family members also benefiting by working in positions which favor redevelopment, or acting as community organizers to help push their rallying message—freeing up the last housing stock for sales to monied outsiders. That’s the Somerville of present day. So where do we fit into this landscape?
Lack of large commercial development revenue has made residential developers rich as we continue to be financially strained.
Instead of forcing only some to pay more, we should insist the assessors office reassess properties that are currently not up to date.
The only reason they pushed for condo development is to create a preferred voter pool who are aligned with same philosophies of what our city should be.
Another reason is to keep our real estate in the hands of a selective group of developers and contractors who benefit.
Allowing commercial development requires letting go. It also would reveal a mature, unselfish professionalism we don’t see here within our political circles.
So please write and attend the meeting at city hall on April 4, 6:00 p.m.
We need to stand together and tell the politicians — No more taxes, no more tax increases, hidden fees and other ways they find to extract our hard earned money.
How do members of the Board of Alderman expect residents to agree to the transfer tax when they can’t even agree on how it should be written? Some wanting it, others not wanting it, they also disagree on the length of time as owners, while others prefer to exclude exemption status entirely.
Charity starts at home—
Somerville is our home too. We should have a say in these decisions that effect our lives.
We deserve consideration, respect and equal opportunity to decide on financial obligations which are paid with our taxes.
So……. Why do we need a transfer tax?
Judy Locchi Jacobs