A Q&A from a voter...

I got a message on my @votejoemurphy facebook page recently asking for answers to a couple of inciteful questions. Thank you , Dan, I hope my answers below help you understand my positions.
If anyone else out there has questions for me, I wouldn’t mind making this a regular feature….

Joe pondering the big questions…

Joe pondering the big questions…

1: How do you feel about the condo/high end apartment boom in Quincy?

I think it’s short-sighted. There is a place for high-end or luxury housing in Quincy, but we are seeing too much of it compared to workforce and affordable housing development. They Mayor’s answer is a vague promise to use some of the housing trust to alleviate the problem. Keep in mind, developers have paid over 20 million dollars in fees to this housing trust rather than build more affordable units. That’s how much more profitable it is to build high end over workforce or affordable. Evictions are up. Rents are up. Salaries and wages are flat. It’s not sustainable. Mayor Koch’s vague assurance was “How we decide to invest that money [the housing trust] will help the marketplace.”

Well, I feel better.

And let’s not forget that economies go up and then eventually down. What will this look like if hundreds of these luxury units go vacant during a recession?

2: Are you for or against the Mayors plans for Quincy Center?

You know, much of the development happening at Quincy Center is deemed “mixed use.” But I don’t really think the “use” of these developments is all that mixed, what I think is mixed is our feelings about it. Of course, we all want Quincy Center to be a safe, attractive, and lively hub of activity. It’s a natural spot to put some of our larger housing undertakings due to its proximity to amenities and transportation. For the same reasons, it’s a logical spot to put culinary and cultural attractions that people from other towns might come to enjoy.
But what about the Robertson Family who has owned Hancock St. storefronts for nearly 100 years. When Remick’s and Sears left town, that family continued to operate. When Woolworth pulled up stakes, that family continued to provide jobs and retail for locals. Shouldn’t the redevelopment of QC honor and include our loyal small-business owners rather than push them out now that we no longer “need” their contribution.
I’m also concerned about balance. QC is looking at around 12-1500 new units since 2015. So far less than 20 restaurants have moved in. What about other amenities? I have been concerned with Quincy becoming a boarding house or bedroom community for Boston since my first campaign. If I become city councilor I will look to encourage the addition of amenities for the people who already live in Quincy and I would balance the goldrush mentality of luxury housing development.

3: Are you for or against the Mayors plans for the Quincy Hospital site?

I stand with the Hospital Hill Neighbors Association. What’s happening at “Hospital Hill” is a classic example of what I refer to as the bureaucratic rope-a-dope. The administration and complicit city councilors play games with meetings and votes while trying to appease, manipulate, ignore, or bully citizen-opposition to the projects the Mayor wants to see happen. Only Anne Mahoney voted to delay the passing of the land-disposition agreement. The ward councilor who represents these citizens voted in the affirmative even while sighting the concerns of the residents. The reasoning? The councilor had faith the planning board would fully vet it. This is the rope-a-dope I’m talking about. It’s all about surviving the meeting, while exhausting the opposition. Eventually, life happens for these concerned citizens and there will come a meeting they can’t get to, or they will have to take their eyes off the ball.
Quincy is now the largest city in MA without a hospital. We have a satellite emergency room that eased the transition, but in this rope-a-dope it was simply appeasing citizens while the mayor’s plans moved on. So now it looks like Quincy will then become the largest city in MA without an Emergency Room…probably by 2021.

4: Are you for or against a city wide freeze on new multi unit condo development?

I find these “freeze” talks to be election year theatre that makes voters feel that certain politicians are in tune with their fears or concerns. Something similar was floated in the last city council election year and nothing came of it. I don’t want a smoke-in-mirror lark to give us a false sense of action. A solution that I can get behind is electing politicians that don’t come from Quincy’s political clique and aren’t swimming up to their ears in developer money. That means voting a lot of politicians out of office.

5: Are you for or against development of the Washington St area of the former Shipyard into Quincy new Retail zone?

I am excited that there is a retail zone being contemplated. Residential projects (including large apartment complexes), though they are truly businesses, bring in the residential property tax rate. It is good to add retail and business zones that can provide commercial property taxes which are charged 2x the residential rate.

6: Beyond another study...How would you fix Quincy's traffic problem.

I don’t foresee me ever voting for another traffic study ;) Traffic can be helped with just a bit of political will and common sense. Too many of our traffic lights can not be easily programmed. We should be investing in smart traffic lights and we should be making adjustments to the timings as needed. We should invest in our infrastructure so that the city is more easily traversed by foot or bike. We need the MBTA to respect south shore commuters so that more people come back to the T. Large housing projects should be strategically placed so that we can attract more and more residents who will forego car ownership. Quincy averages about 2 cars per household whereas it is slightly less than 1 in Boston and even less in Cambridge.

Anyway, Dan, thanks for the great questions. I hope I answered most of what you wanted to know about my views. Dan and everyone else, please let me know what you think! A major pillar of my campaign is about listening to you and getting your input, something I feel is not happening now.