Somerville Speakup Line: Oppose An Act Authorizing City of Somerville to Impose a Real Estate Transfer Fee

Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line,

Please post for the community and all who own single/multiple properties so they can see the final bill of the transfer fee presented to the Committe of Revenue during the public hearing on Wednesday, 6/20 at the statehouse. (The link is provided below)

According to an aide of one committee member, there were 35 in favor and 3 opposed who spoke at the public hearing at the statehouse, not what we saw and heard at various  public hearings and meetings held by the city at the aldermen chambers.

In contrast, there were record numbers of opposed, filtering into the hall, many standing and extra seating provided to fill the aldermen chambers and private meeting room at both public hearings. The meetings lasted four to five hours, too long for many to have stayed so not all opposed got to speak at the podium.

The hearing at the statehouse was too, not well advertised and no doubt those who are in favor of the bill, looking to subsidize their housing, outside and within the city administration would prefer it that way.

But how many working families can take off from work for an early meeting at the statehouse? Maybe there would have been more in attendance if it was made public and held late afternoon.

Those who attended the various city meetings including two public hearings and wrote letters to the board of aldermen surpassed attendance of 200 or more.

They also have failed to inform hundreds owning multiple condos, homes and businesses who live out of state and can’t be here for meetings presented by the city including the meeting at the statehouse.

It’s imperative that property owners look over the details of the bill (below) sent to the committee. It appears there could have been some last minute changes by the board of aldermen which the public was not informed.

The next step for the transfer fee is that it be presented to the governor for his signature. If he signs it, it will return to the board of aldermen for any changes before it is then passed.

I would encourage all home and business owners to contact Governor Charlie Baker and provide their testimony as to why the transfer fee is a bad idea and how it will effect their life in a detrimental way.

They should also include how Right-of-first-refusal and Rent Control will hurt the home owners as some of those details have been discussed at previous public hearings before the board of aldermen at city hall.

No doubt they are busy crafting new bills to possibly present those bills next, or perhaps those seeking to manipulate the housing system enjoy the sport of taunting homeowners on Facebook regarding their wish to institute ROFR and Rent Control.

It is through no fault of their own, Somerville homeowners inherited million dollar properties— in my opinion, the market values are artificially increased in order to attract more speculators and developers. It also creates steady increases of tax revenue paid by struggling homeowners who were promised commercial tax revenue was coming— it’s been 20 years and we are still waiting.

Why should property owners be demonized for it? It sounds like those who wasted their college degrees are instead burning with jealousy— that’s life, they should focus on why they can’t afford to live here and find an alternate location. Isn’t that how rational people behave? They move on?

Those seeking affordable rents and homes should blame the administration for creating this mess. Local politicians had ample opportunity to force the developers to pay into the Affordable Housing Fund. They have created millions of dollars for their own deep pockets at the expense and sacrifice of thousands of working families who were forced to move out and those who remained and continue to struggle. This is obviously a class issue— those who spend $150k on college educations feel entitled to take the homes of the working class— how can this be viewed to be anything else but class discrimination?

The lack of commercial tax revenue also had a major impact on the outcome of our luxury-condo-only-city. This is narrow minded selfishness and greed that brought us here— and by a few speculating developers and an enabling group of politicians—who allowed it, nothing more.

Most of us could care less what our homes are worth. We don’t speculate property like the many who come here to make a quick sale to then buy in other towns. Much more going on beneath the surface. It’s important that all home and business owners ban together now and push back on these fees, bills and obvious violation of home owner rights.

Those who can afford to will most likely hire lawyers to fight it out in court, especially the ROFR. Which non-profit would they assign to give those unqualified— loans to convert their apartments to condos? Do they realize any of the equity growth of the condos they borrow on will go back to the non-profit which granted such loan? As a homeowner, you must do the research and learn how to protect yourself.

Direct line to the governors office:

(617) 725-4005 (ask for Tucker)

Or write an email to the following address:

constituent.services@state.ma.us

Here is the link to the final version of the transfer fee bill:

Bill H4582

An Act authorizing the City of Somerville to impose a real estate transfer fee

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H4582

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