Somerville News Weekly Speakup Line/Letter to the Editor:Missing Letter of Proof on Transfer Tax

Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line/Letter to the Editor

What happened to Carol Rego’s Letter to the Somerville Patch?

Is it because of who she addressed in the letter? Is that why it was removed?

Did someone from the administration advise her to take it down or possibly a call from the developer named at the bottom— who’s client list includes surrounding colleges who are vested in our real estate?

Is this what this city has come to?

Suppressing freedom of speech because it could expose some details of what others may be embarrassed about—- or would it interfere with Tufts University master plan of taking more of our residential properties in order to help them expand their student enrollments and campus along with other major players in the higher ed community and out of town and state/country parents of college students who are investing in condos?

By the way, how are those meetings coming along with preferred neighbors appointed to ask the administration of Tufts University to open up their endowments of billions and start paying the community for decades of fleecing Ward 7 properties and fire, safety and entire community for their lack of neighborly responsibly?

Sorry but the Tufts yearly hotdog & bun picnic, $100 discount classes to elderly residents and a few scholarships to SHS graduates per decade does not equate to the millions we taxpayers pick up so Tufts can continue to receive corporate welfare donations.

And while members of Our Revolution complain at city hall meetings about the lack of affordable housing while expecting the already burdened taxpayers to help them on their road to home ownership?

You can’t be serious.

Why aren’t the members of the board of Aldermen asking Tufts and the developers to be responsible and pay up? Is it because some of the aldermen are partners of the elite in colleges who are taking our real estate? Are members of Our Revolution parents investing in our real estate? I wonder how many are professors working at these very same institutions of higher learning? How are those pot farms coming along? Communal housing projects? Looks like Woodstock has reserected only it does not come in peace or love- instead disguised as bandits in kerchiefs who practice deception and removing articles of free press. It sounds all too familiar.

How about Tufts and Our Revolution create some communal housing together and let the developers pave the way to their continued prosperity—not on the continued  sacrifices and increases in taxes and water which should have sound the alarms a decade ago to audit city hall budgets.

Someone should tell them that ship has sailed— few within the administration want to add affordable housing because at previous PHCS meetings I attended comments were stated, “It does not pay”, “Affordable Housing lowers property values”, unlike their continued obsession with condo building because it’s the gift that keeps on giving— benefactors include a variety— their friends the realtors, former aldermen millionaire condo owners and landlords, property management entities, in addition to the developers who reap the most profits.

Here’s Carol’s letter…… so what about this letter is so threatening to those with vested interests?  Inquiring taxpayers have a right to know.

My opinion on the Somerville Transfer Tax, and Right of First Refusal / an open letter

By CAROL REGO (Patch Poster) – March 28, 2018 8:43 am ET

My opinion on the Somerville Transfer Tax, and Right of First Refusal / an open letter

Katie Gradowski at Somerville Journal and Editor,

Hello Katie and Editor,

I take exception to a few statements in your article in the Somerville Journal on 3/22/18.

First, I am a homeowner with only 1 house, who rents a single apartment to tenants. This house is my retirement, earned with a lot of sweat equity and sacrifice by me and my deceased husband. I have lived in Somerville my whole life, and most likely will quality for an exemption from this tax. I am not a member of the SPOA,  (Small property Owners Association), and I certainly do have an objection to more taxation. As Margaret Thatcher once said, ” Sooner or later, you are going to run out of other people’s money.”

I do not feel that the Board of Alderman (BOA) represents myself and other constituents in this community, as they seem to rubber stamp everything this mayor suggests.  I do not object to the basic premise of offering affordable housing, but why does it always fall on the homeowners to underwrite ever increasing costs?  Housing prices have been out of control for years, yet the mayor, and his BOA have not tried to check the developers. They have made and failed to enforce contracts at the Assembly Mall and other developments, overlooking enforceable, mandated affordable housing quotas.  The financial impact of these developments have been so great, that if I sold my house tomorrow, I could not afford to stay in Somerville. If they want more affordable housing, they should limit developers’ ability to maximize every inch of land for expensive new units. It has been very hard for Somerville homeowners to find a voice, as the BOA is entrenched in their thinking and moving ever further away from the opinions of the very residents who made this area attractive in the first place. It appears they will not rest until they have beat the middle class to death, while allowing rich developers to run amok.   Even with new zoning laws, I do not see this as improving, as the incentives are too great for builders, and they have more money and better lawyers than the rest of us.

The Transfer Tax ultimately increases the cost of housing and will only serve to compound the existing problem. I have had tenants for years, and I doubt that any of them had the financial ability to purchase a house, or even 1/2 of a house. It seems that since Cambridge rent control ceased, everyone has fled to Somerville. Prices have risen consistently and the city officials all seemed content to let it ride, gentrifying without interference. The proposed transfer tax of $10,000 is one month in a nursing home if I am unable to continue to age in place.

The other proposal, Right of First Refusal, is even worse than the Transfer Tax.  I have no control over the local economy and home pricing, but I do not want a tenant to hold up my sale if I should need it for my medical care, or anything else for that matter.  It is after all, my private property. There is an article in the Washington DC papers that reported that this did not work and actually intensified problems.  Washington D.C. has in fact voted to rescind the Right of First Refusal to mediate the damage. Washington Post

Recently, my father in law passed and his home needs to be sold and probated.  An existing tenant there, has done everything in their power to prevent the sale for over 9 months, creating a huge burden on our family. From where I stand, it seems that tenants already have more rights than the homeowner.

I went to a BOA meeting, and listened for several hours as they hashed out who may be exempt. They gave very little notice, offered no public discussion, and openly admitted a desire to limit public knowledge on the subject.  I heard my own alderman, who is a lawyer, actually dissent about the need for publicly for these taxes and reforms, because (they know that they need to water this down to limit public dissent before it gets to the legislature.)  With a home rule petition, we do not get to vote, we are passed over as if we do not exist.  This is a Democracy or Socialism?

As I consider the ongoing housing issues in Somerville, I find I would like more info on who is in control of the affordable housing fund. Does the money collected, stay with Somerville residents, or is it open to newcomers, legal or not. Supposedly there has been a money allocated to the city to buy housing, but they haven’t bought anything?.  Someone from a city housing group inquired about making an offer on my father in laws house, but offered well below valuation, which leads me to ask, has SCC purchased any property yet? When was the last time a building went up with a potential for a lottery? There is a question you should investigate?

There are at least 40 families looking for affordable housing that does not exist in Somerville, yet RED GATE developers are being allowed to purchase public land in West Somerville for a bargain price of $1.6 million dollars, (the cost of 1 house), so that they can build luxury housing. It is concerning to me that the city would allow ANY of its land, designated for public housing to be sold off, forget about selling it for luxury, private condos. To my ear, this is economic segregation, but it surely is filling the pocket of someone with friends in high places.  Somerville has a AAA bond rating and could surely have found another way to raise $1.6 million if they had a shortfall. RED GATE is a national investment company, looking to maximize and enhance financial returns, and is represented by large colleges, universities, churches, etc.  Our public property is being high jacked by yet another investor broker.

Very disheartened.

Carol Rego

Lifelong Somerville Resident

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