Industry Groups Worry Massachusetts Climate Bill Could Derail Development

Legislation would slash emissions by 50% of 1990 levels by the end of this decade

Written By: Scott Van Voorhis | This article was originally published in Engineering News Record on January 6, 2021

A sweeping and newly passed Massachusetts climate change bill could derail development projects and thwart construction as the battered economy struggles to regain its footing, industry groups warn.

NAIOP Massachusetts, which represents major commercial and residential developers, says the goals of the bill, which would slash emissions by 50% of 1990 levels by end of this decade, are laudable. The NextGen Roadmap bill even won praise from one of state’s largest business groups, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, as well as from environmental organizations.

“Overall, we were heartened when those commitments were made,” said Anastasia Nicolaou, Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs at NAIOP Massachusetts.

However, NAIOP Massachusetts, as well as the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, two groups that represent major developers and the many of the firms that work with them, say they have major reservations about a specific provision in the bill they contend would drive up construction costs and make development much costly and difficult.

In particular, a provision in the newly passed NextGen Roadmap bill would enable individual cities, towns and suburbs to mandate tough, net-zero-energy building codes could hurt construction and development at a time when the economy remains shaky, they say.

The rules are needed because “projects and buildings municipalities approve for construction this year will still be up and going strong in 2050, when the entire economy of Massachusetts, in all its aspects, must put out “net zero” emissions,” said State Sen. Mike Barrett and Rep. Thomas Golden, both Democrats and the chairs of the Legislature’s climate change committee, in a statement. “So we give the force of law to the creation of a ‘net zero stretch energy code’.”

Yet for developers, achieving net-zero emissions in new office or other commercial buildings is “rarely achievable,” especially when it comes to structures more than 10 stories, Nicolaou of NAIOP Massachusetts contends.

While some legislators have argued that a wave of new solar-power construction could help make net-zero a reality, Nicolaou is skeptical there is currently enough clean energy to fulfill demand.

“Carbon reduction is increasingly important – we just need to ensure we get there in a practical and feasible way,” she said.

The goal could drive up construction and maintenance costs, seriously undermining the feasibility of large-scale commercial or residential projects.

“Net zero increases the cost of construction … current rents would not be able to cover the increases,” Nicolaou said. “It could have the effect of driving our innovation economy right out of the state.”

Meanwhile, the relatively broad and ambiguous wording of the net-zero energy provision also has the potential to cast a large degree of uncertainty over development projects currently under review by local officials, or getting ready to start the review process, Nicolaou said.

The bill leaves it up to the state Dept. of Energy Resources to develop the new, net-zero energy stretch code, which could then be adopted by individual communities.

But as it stands now, there is no definition yet of what net-zero energy will mean in practical terms, or to what types of buildings it would apply to.

And while the tough new energy code would not go into effect unless it is adopted by various cities and towns, officials in Boston, Somerville and Cambridge, where the lion’s share of construction in Eastern Massachusetts takes place, wrote letters of support for the new legislation, Nicolaou said.

“Any project currently being planned or designed anywhere in Massachusetts will have to seriously consider moving forward without knowing what requirements will be in place,” she said.

Greg Vasil, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, expressed similar concerns.

There will be an impact with process and there certainly will be an impact with costs,” Vasil said. “Everyone recognizes the need to do something with climate change,” Vasil said, calling it a “balancing act.”

Local communities that go beyond the state building code and implement net-zero requirements could force some developers who had planned on building more affordable workforce housing to instead focus on luxury units.

A project, for example that previously would have cost $400 to $500 a square foot to build, might cost $525 a square foot.

“These codes can be onerous and can really drive up costs,” Vasil said.

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) released his own plan this week that would cut emissions by a sizable but slightly smaller 45% over the same time period.

Officials in Baker’s office have said the governor is reviewing the climate change bill passed by the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature, and have not indicated either way whether he will sign it.

Meanwhile, both development and real estate groups said they will also be keeping a close eye on new rules proposed by Boston officials to deal with another facet of climate change— more frequent flooding as sea level rise.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency is pushing a plan for an overlay zoning district that could cover parts of the city that are increasingly prone to flooding.

New projects bigger than 20,000 sq ft, in turn, would have to go through an additional step in the city review process, one that would require developers to make design changes or take other measures to deal with potential flooding.

“It’s understandable why the review has to take place,” Vasil said. “The real catch is how it works practically and how it affects construction costs and what they market will bear and no bear in terms of those costs.”

Lawmakers also sent a $16.5 billion transportation bond bill to Baker’s desk. The bill authorizes billions of dollars in bonds for highway and bridge maintenance, train modernization, and major capital projects such as an MBTA Red Line-Blue Line Connector and the extension of commuter rail service to the South Coast. It also funds the approaches to the two Cape Cod bridges.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Governor Baker Announces New Restrictions Designed to Curb the Spike of COVID-19: Business Capacity, Gathering Limits, and Hospital Requirements Updated

Today, Governor Baker announced new statewide restrictions designed to curb the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts. These restrictions will go into effect starting Saturday, December 26 and be in place for at least 2 weeks. It is the goal of the Baker-Polito Administration to keep these measures temporary, but extensions may be required based on public health data. 

New Business Restrictions

The new statewide requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Indoor and outdoor gathering limits for private property, public spaces and event venues have been reduced to 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors.
  • Office limitations will be reduced to 25% of total capacity.
  • Capacities for restaurants, personal services, retail, libraries, lodging, theaters, performance venues, places of worship, museums, cultural facilities and others will be reduced to 25%.
  • Workers and staff will not count towards the occupancy count for restaurants, personal services, places of worship and retail businesses such as grocery stores.
  • All other sector-specific guidance remains in place.

For the most up-to-date guidance, requirements and information on the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response, please visit: mass.gov/reopening.

Updated Hospital Guidance

In order to preserve bed capacity, today it was also announced that effective 12:01am on December 26, all hospitals must postpone or cancel all non-essential in-patient elective invasive procedures, unless postponement would lead to high-risk or significant clinical decline of an individuals health. Additionally, hospitals are advised not to schedule new in-patient non-essential elective procedures until further notice by the Department of Public Health. Ambulatory, outpatient treatment, and preventive procedures (such as mammograms or cancer screenings) are not impacted. In-patient and emergency services are also not affected by this order.

Boston First to Embrace Obama-Era Zoning Rules

Development association backs plan to incorporate fair-housing review for residential projects

By: Scott Van Voorhis | This article was originally published in ENR New England on December 21, 2020

Boston will become the first major city in the country to incorporate Obama-era, federal anti-discrimination rules into the process of reviewing major new apartment and condo projects.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) on Dec. 17 voted to add Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rules to the city’s zoning code, a move that comes amid an ongoing surge of large, new residential projects not just downtown, but increasingly in the city’s working-class and minority neighborhoods.

The Obama-era rules became a favorite target of President Donald Trump on the campaign trail, who rescinded the policy over the summer, arguing they would lead to flood of “low-income housing” into the suburbs.

However, the new policy has the solid backing a major trade group representing developers in Boston and across Massachusetts.

Tamara Small, CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts, said the developers in her organization recognize the need for the rules, having formed a group to provide feedback on the proposal to the elected officials working on it.

“It was a collaborative process,” Small said. “We really want to tackle decades of systemic discrimination in housing. Our members are very focused on creating housing opportunities.”

“It is really important to recognize that the real estate industry of today is not the real estate industry of the 1950’s,” Small said.

The organization’s main concern was that the rules and the vetting process be predictable and clearly laid out, as well as having enough flexibility to enable developers to come with creative ways of fulfilling their obligations.

“We also weighed in to ensure there is a process that is both predictable and clear to understand,” Small said.

Under the new requirements, housing developers will use an online tool created by BPDA officials to submit a range of information called for under the new policy, starting with the proposed site of the project and the neighborhood it would be built in.

Developers would also be required to examine the potential for gentrification and other potentially negative impacts on “area residents historically discriminated against,” the development authority noted in a press release.

To head off or mitigate any potential negative impacts, developers would be able to pick from a number of options laid out by the city under the new review process.

These include boosting the number of affordable units available for rent or purchase at below market rates in the proposed project, or further deepening the affordability.

Other options include providing more two-bedroom affordable units large enough for families, or ensuring the number of family-sized, affordable units in the proposed project matches up with the percent of these larger apartments and condos in the neighborhood.

Developers also have the flexibility to propose alternative steps as well to address potential neighborhood displacement and affordability issues, Small said.

“They will have flexibility to come up with creative solutions that might be better suited for that project and for that neighborhood,” Small said.

The proposal was championed by City Councilor Lydia Edwards, with the council voting on Dec. 9 to unanimously approve it.

The last and final stop will come before the Boston Zoning Commission, which is expected to approve the amendment to the city’s zoning rules early next year.

“To reverse the exclusionary housing practices of the past that have kept families of color from accessing safe and secure housing and building generational wealth, we must support aggressive new housing policies that promote equity and fairness,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement.

How CRE in Massachusetts Navigated a Year of Pandemic and Social Unrest

Industry Responded with Kindness, Creativity and Courage

By Tamara Small | The below was originally published in Banker & Tradesman on December 20, 2020.

This time last year, no one knew what 2020 would hold. Instead, as an industry we predicted an expansion of the office as a talent recruitment tool, fast-paced industrial growth, and a continued tightening of the housing market.  

While some of these predictions were accurate, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly turned others on their head. One thing is clear; 2020 drastically changed expectations and the way the world did business.  

Instrumental in COVID-19 Response 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Massachusetts, no one knew how to respond. Frontline workers, who are still risking their lives every day, did not have enough masks to do their jobs safely. Families were thrown into chaos – with kids home from school, online learning developing on the go, and jobs thrown into uncharted territory. And no one needs to be reminded of the stampede on basic necessities.  

Commercial real estate companies across the commonwealth rose to the occasion. Within days, JLL released a new platform to increase communications and resources between tenants and landlords. Within weeks, Federal Realty Investment Trust worked with the city of Somerville to bring a mask decontamination system to the Greater Boston area – which has been instrumental in providing health care professionals the clean, safe equipment they need. Boston Urban Partners started Family Meal, a six-episode series of live–streamed cooking classes with local, award winning chefs (including Jodie Adams and Andy Husbands) to raise money for No Kid Hungry. These are just a few of the extraordinary acts of company kindness we have seen. 

But that is not all. Automatic doors, new air filtration systems, hand sanitizer stations and socially distanced work areas have been implemented in office buildings and common areas. Residential property owners have taken the Boston Housing Stability Pledge to ensure resident safety during this public health crisis. Commercial owners worked with small businesses to help provide needed relief to survive this crisis. New platforms and protocols for curbside pickup, online and in-person shopping, and dining have all quickly been implemented and continually refined as new public health information becomes available. As CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts, I am proud to represent an industry that stepped up in a global health crisis to do its part.  

Economic Development Becomes Economic Relief 

On March 4, Gov. Charlie Baker released his proposal for an economic development bill. Within weeks, it became clear that an economic relief bill would instead be required for Massachusetts’ businesses and residents – just one of many necessary legislative and executive actions.  

But in the background of COVID, the housing crisis deepened. An Act to Promote Housing Choices, which was originally filed by Baker and is now in conference committee, is targeted at lowering voting thresholds in key zoning votes, allowing for increased production of critically needed housing. If it does not pass, expect the production of housing to slow.  

The conversation around transportation changed in some ways, and in other ways not at all. Suddenly, with massively decreased ridership (and little-to-no road congestion), the MBTA was faced with enormous revenue shortfalls. Proposed service changes have been met with opposition, but a modified version of the changes was approved last week. It is clear that our overburdened system will continue to face tough choices into next year.   

What quickly became clear is that the uniqueness of this crisis requires a cautionary approach to policymaking to ensure there are no unintended consequences or long-term impediments to economic growth and stability. The only path to a sustainable recovery is to create a climate for job creation and economic opportunity for all. NAIOP will continue to work with policymakers to ensure thoughtful, practical economic relief is implemented.  

DEI Efforts Come to the Forefront 

In June, society’s attention finally focused on what we have collectively ignored for far too long – hundreds of years of brutality, racism, and inequity throughout the United States of America. While COVID-19 pushed us into unusual and unprecedented times, the systemic issues being protested were with us long before the pandemic.   

NAIOP asked its members and colleagues to listen, learn, engage their leadership and support MWBE businesses. We have seen member-companies like VHB quickly take action to communicate with their employees and the public about its commitment to continuing to be active participants in advancing racial justice and social equity – and it did not stop there.  

Industry conversations on successful diversity initiatives saw over 300 live virtual participants and over 200 after-event watches. More and more companies started reviewing their internal practices and the industry is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The time for real change is now.  

While 2020 was in many ways unexpected, CRE rose to the challenges faced by our communities, our colleagues, and our friends and family. While it is hard to know what 2021 has in store for us, we here at NAIOP know that CRE will continue to evolve and endure.  

On December 21, 2020, NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, joined several business groups and environmental groups to re-affirm their support of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) and applaud the Baker-Polito Administration’s leadership in developing the landmark regional project. Below please find the accompanying joint press release.

Leading Massachusetts Business and Environmental Groups Join Together to Re-affirm Support for TCI, Applaud Governor Baker’s Leadership

A group of leading Massachusetts business and environmental organizations joined together today to re-affirm their endorsement of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) and applaud Governor Baker’s leadership in developing the landmark regional program designed to reduce pollution and upgrade the state’s transportation infrastructure. 

Governor Baker was joined by leaders from Connecticut, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing them to TCI and a set of principles for implementing it. Many additional states also submitted a strong statement of support for continuing to work collaboratively to develop the TCI model rule.  

TCI works by placing a regional cap on total pollution from tailpipe emissions. Companies that sell and distribute motor vehicle fuels in the participating states will purchase allowances based on emissions. Proceeds from the sale of allowances are sent back to the states, where they will be invested in clean transportation options. Transportation is the single-largest source of emissions in the Commonwealth.   

“Although the pandemic and addressing the public health and economic fallout from it has to be our top priority, we cannot lose sight of Massachusetts’ long-term transportation and environmental goals. TCI is still an important collaboration for making progress on both that deserves our attention and support.” Says Eileen McAnneny, President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation

“Climate change and transportation infrastructure continue to be important issues for the state’s long-term competitiveness and key tools in addressing racial, health and other societal inequalities,” said JD Chesloff, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. “The potential of TCI to make progress in these areas is encouraging and we look forward to seeing additional details and working with stakeholders to help shape this initiative over the next few years.” 

“Using a proven mechanism to protect our environment, grow our economy, and improve public health, TCI demonstrates that climate change need not be a partisan issue nor a point of contention between the business and environmental communities,” said Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, President of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. “COVID-19 has highlighted the serious health consequences of pollution and poor air quality.  We applaud Governor Baker for his early and effective leadership in making TCI a reality.” 

“NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, recognizes that all sectors of the economy need to work together to reduce carbon emissions. TCI is an innovative tool that will have a measurable impact on the Commonwealth’s goal of net zero by 2050, while also creating a new mechanism for funding transportation infrastructure improvements, which are critical to our economic recovery and climate future,” said Tamara Small, CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Baker-Polito administration as well as a broad coalition of business and environmental groups as this advances.”  

“We commend Governor Baker for his leadership moving TCI to this critical point in the development process. Major investors and companies have made it clear that they see TCI as a valuable tool to both tackle transportation emissions and revitalize state economies at a time when they need it most. We look forward to continued collaboration with the governor and his peers throughout the region to ensure the program is implemented in a way that benefits all communities, especially those who have suffered on the frontlines of vehicle pollution.” — Anne Kelly, Vice President of Government Affairs at Ceres. 

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About Ceres  Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and inequitable workplaces. Our mission: Ceres is transforming the economy to build a sustainable future for people and the planet. 

About the Environmental League of Massachusetts  The Environmental League of Massachusetts is committed to combating climate change and protecting our land, water, and public health. By creating diverse alliances and building the power of the environmental community, we use our collective influence to ensure Massachusetts is a leader in environmental and economic sustainability. 

About the Massachusetts Business Roundtable  The Massachusetts Business Roundtable (MBR) is a public policy organization comprised of Chief Executive Officers and Senior Executives from some of the state’s largest employers. MBR’s members employ more than 250,000 people in the Commonwealth. 

About the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation  Founded in 1932, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) is widely recognized as the state’s premier public policy organization dealing with state and local fiscal, tax and economic policies. MTF’s record of high quality research and non-partisan analysis has earned the organization broad credibility on Beacon Hill and across the Commonwealth. 

About NAIOP  NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, represents the interests of more than 1700 members involved with the development, ownership, management, and financing of office, research & development, industrial, mixed use, multifamily, retail and institutional space throughout the Commonwealth.   

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh Announces a City-Wide Rollback to Modified Phase II: Greater Boston Communities Expected to Follow Suit

Today, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the City of Boston will rollback to a modified Phase II based on the most recent public health metrics for a minimum of 3 weeks. In his announcement, Mayor Walsh also indicated that Lynn, Newton, Somerville, Brockton, Winthrop, and Arlington are moving forward with similar actions today. In the City of Boston, these actions go into effect on Wednesday, December 16.
Changes in this update include but are not limited to:

  • Museums, movie theaters, aquariums, and indoor event spaces will temporarily close to in-person use.
  • Indoor recreational and athletic facilities will close for general use.
  • Indoor facilities for lower contact activities will also temporarily close, including bowling alleys, batting cages, driving ranges, and rock climbing gyms.

Activities that continue as part of Phase II include:

  • Retail stores and personal services like hair salons and barber shops can remain open.
  • Office space will remain limited to 40% capacity.

Additionally, indoor dining at restaurants and bars may continue, with strict adherence to City Guidelines and State Sector Specific Protocols.

Recent Statewide Actions

As a reminder, last week Governor Baker announced a statewide rollback to Phase III, Step 1 in the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan. In the Executive Order, Governor Baker also announced updates to the the protocols governing workspaces, restaurants and indoor dining, and office capacities. These requirements went into effect on Sunday, December 13.
Sector specific guidance has been updated. All information related to Massachusetts’ Reopening Plan can be found by visiting mass.gov/reopening.

COVID-19 Update: Governor Announces Statewide Rollback to Step III, Phase 1 Reopening; Workplace, Office, Retail and Restaurant Guidance Revised; DPH Releases Updated Return to Work Guidance

The Baker-Polito Administration announced several actions yesterday and today in an effort to contain the recent COVID-19 case rise in the Commonwealth.

Governor Announces Statewide Rollback to Phase III, Step 1
This afternoon, Governor Baker announced a statewide rollback to Phase III, Step 1 in the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan. In the Executive Order, Governor Baker also announced updates to the the protocols governing workspaces, restaurants and indoor dining, and office capacities. These requirements will go into effect on Sunday, December 13.

Changes in this update include but are not limited to:

  • Gyms, stores, offices, and church capacity will be reduced to 40%.
  • The maximum indoor capacity for private gatherings remains at 10 people, while the maximum outdoor capacity for private gatherings will now be 25. The full revised gatherings order can be found by clicking here.
  • Restaurant table capacity will be reduced to 6 persons and total dining time will be limited to 90 minutes.
  • Restaurant diners will be required to wear masks unless actively eating or drinking.
  • Workers will be required to wear masks in all common areas and meeting rooms even where 6ft. social distancing guidelines can be maintained.
  • Employers are asked to allow remote work and telecommuting where possible.

Sector specific guidance will be updated to reflect these changes this week. All information related to Massachusetts’ Reopening Plan can be found by visiting mass.gov/reopening.

DPH Releases Revised Return to Work Guidance
On December 7, 2020, the Department of Public Health revised its return to work guidance, which outlines when workers should quarantine or isolate, and provides guidance on when isolation can end. The guidance also outlines qualifying circumstances that could potentially shorten a strict quarantine period.

An earlier posting of this update incorrectly indicated that restaurant capacity would be decreased to 40%. The post was updated on December 8, 2020 @ 5:25pm.

NAIOP Massachusetts Honors Members for Extraordinary Leadership

Tad Heuer of Foley Hoag LLP, Amanda Strong of MIT Management Company and Taidgh McClory of T.H. McClory LLC to be Honored at Annual Meeting

Today, NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, announced the recipients of the Chapter’s 2020 Government Affairs Champion Award and the 2020 President’s Award. The awards will be presented at the Chapter’s Annual Meeting, preceding NAIOP’s Virtual Impact Awards Celebration on December 2nd.  

The NAIOP President’s Award will be presented to Amanda Strong of MIT Investment Management Company and Taidgh McClory of T.H. McClory LLC in recognition of their exceptional leadership, strategic direction and vision for NAIOP’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. With their support, NAIOP has been able to strengthen industry DEI efforts through programming, expanding opportunities for minority and women owned businesses in CRE, launching a DEI strategic plan, and continuing to expand the talent pipeline through the CREST and REEX programs.  

“While diversity, equity and inclusion were brought to the forefront of every conversation in 2020, Amanda and Taidgh have been leaders for NAIOP on these important issues much longer. It is a privilege each year to acknowledge the members who have made significant contributions to benefit our industry, but this is especially meaningful, ” said Leslie Cohen, COO at Samuels & Associates and NAIOP’s 2020 President. “All of us at NAIOP are so grateful to Amanda and Taidgh for their hard work, leadership, and valuable support.”

Tad Heuer of Foley Hoag LLP, will receive this year’s Government Affairs Champion Award in honor of his tremendous contributions to NAIOP’s advocacy, providing comments and analysis on NAIOP’s legislative, judicial, and regulatory advocacy. NAIOP is grateful for Tad’s commitment and tireless advocacy efforts on behalf of the commercial real estate industry.  

“Year after year our members have benefited from Tad’s expertise, but when this pandemic began, Tad went above and beyond,” said Tamara Small, CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts. “This year, he has provided critical analyses and feedback that ensured myriad pieces of legislation and emergency orders were implemented in a thoughtful, practical way under extraordinary circumstances. This recognition is a small token of our gratitude for his ongoing work on behalf of NAIOP.”  

To learn more about NAIOP’s Annual Meeting and Virtual Impact Awards, or to register to attend, visit www.naiopimpact.com.

COVID-19 Update: Governor Baker Announces Targeted Interventions Designed to #StopTheSpread

Earlier this afternoon, in light of the recent rise in infection rates of COVID-19 throughout the Commonwealth, Governor Baker announced several new restrictions and targeted interventions meant to #StopTheSpread.

Stay-At-Home Advisory Updated

The Department of Public Health has issued an updated stay-at-home advisory, asking all residents to stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. with exceptions for necessary activities, such as going to work or school.


Early Closure of Businesses and Activities

In order to ensure that individuals are back at their residence by 10 p.m., Governor Baker has issued a new executive order that requires a 9:30 p.m. closure of certain businesses. However, exemptions will be allowed, including allowing employees to conduct cleaning or stocking businesses overnight, and it does not pertain to construction, manufacturing or lab work. Supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, and retail stores will also be allowed to stay open after 9:30 p.m.

This order requires that:

– all indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, such as casinos, theaters and arcades, must be closed to the public by 9:30 p.m.

– restaurants must be closed for table service by 9:30 p.m., although takeout service will be allowed to continue.

– liquor stores and other retail establishments that sell alcohol must cease alcohol sales by 9:30 p.m. (but may continue to sell other products).

For a full list of businesses affected by this order, please click here.


Updated Gatherings Order

In addition to the new business requirements, the Baker-Polito Administration has updated the private gatherings restrictions in the new gatherings order. For private homes, a maximum of 10 people will be allowed indoors, 25 people outdoors. The limit on gatherings held in public spaces and at event venues (e.g. wedding venues) remains the same. All gatherings inside and outside must end by 9:30 p.m. to ensure individuals are in their own households by 10 p.m.


The new gatherings order also requires that organizers of gatherings report known positive COVID-19 cases to the local health department in that community and requires organizers to cooperate with contact tracing. The gatherings order authorizes continued enforcement by local health and police departments and specifies that fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit at a particular gathering.


New Mask Wearing Guidelines and Requirements

Everyone over the age of 5 must now wear a face covering in public regardless of distance to other people. This means there are no longer exemptions or exceptions for when you can maintain social distance.


Additionally, while the revised order still allows for an exception for residents who cannot wear a face-covering due to a medical or disabling condition, it allows employers to require employees to provide proof of such a condition. It also allows schools to require that students participating in in-person learning provide proof of such a medical or disabling condition.

All of these measures will go into effect at 12:01am on Friday, November 6. Sector-by-sector guidance updates are anticipated to be released later this week.


NAIOP will continue to advocate for policies, Executive Orders and legislation that address how this public health crisis is affecting real estate and overall economic development. We are working on numerous initiatives. Please feel free to reach out to CEO Tamara Small or Government Affairs Associate Anastasia Nicolaou if you have any questions. 

COVID-19 UPDATE: Municipalities Receive New Guidance for Project Review; Governor Baker Files Revised Budget Proposal; Eviction Moratorium Ending Oct. 17; Mayor Announces Housing Stability Pledge for Landlords

This week there were several actions taken regarding the state’s COVID-19 response.

NAIOP Advocacy Results in New Guidance, Proposed Legislative Fix

Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020, An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19, was enacted in April to alleviate challenges faced by municipalities as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. NAIOP, together with the Massachusetts Municipal Association and the Home Builders and Remodelers of Massachusetts, worked to ensure that this legislation provided permit granting bodies with the authority they needed to conduct meetings and public hearings remotely.

Late last week, in response to concerns NAIOP and others have raised regarding certain municipalities’ reticence to restart public meetings, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) released official guidance for municipalities, urging them to conduct remote hearings on all applications for permits or approvals related to housing production, and reinforces that all remote hearings should be implemented in a fair manner for all types of housing, in particular referencing 40B projects.

Additionally, the Baker-Polito Administration has included language in their proposed supplemental budget to end all municipal hearing delays as allowed by Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020 on December 1, 2020. This proposed legislation is a direct result of NAIOP’s advocacy, and we will continue to monitor the language as it moves through the supplemental budget process.

Governor Files Amended FY21 Budget

On October 14, Governor Baker filed a revised budget proposal for fiscal year 2021. The revised proposal includes over $100 million to support economic development and small business efforts as the Commonwealth continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s budget proposes a total of $45.5 billion in gross spending, and authorizes a withdrawal of up to $1.35 million from the Stabilization Fund. In order to avoid further burdening businesses and residents during the ongoing crisis, the Governor’s budget does not include any broad-based tax increases and he has signaled he will veto tax hikes if pursued by the Legislature. 

NAIOP is currently reviewing the Governor’s proposal and will be closely monitoring the budget process.

Eviction Moratorium to Expire – New Resources Announced

The Commonwealth’s eviction moratorium, which applies to residential tenants and small businesses, will expire on October 17. Earlier this week, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a comprehensive set of resources, known as the Eviction Diversion Initiative, to support residential tenants and property owners during the financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. NAIOP is supportive of this comprehensive approach to working with owners and tenants to provide critical resources to ensure housing stability. 

The Administration is making a $171 million total commitment this fiscal year, with $112 million of new funding to support new and expanded housing stability programs during the remainder of the fiscal year. Learn more about these resources here.

Mayor Walsh Announces Housing Stability Pledge

Last week, Mayor Walsh announced the creation of the Housing Stability Pledge for landlords. The Pledge, aimed to deter residential evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, requires landlords to abide by the current CDC Eviction Order; engage with tenants to create a payment plan; accept rental assistance where available; and make rent adjustments for Section 8/MRVP families who are falling behind on their rent. This is an opt-in program for residential landlords located within the City of Boston.

NAIOP will continue to advocate for policies, Executive Orders and legislation that address how this public health crisis is affecting real estate and overall economic development. We are working on numerous initiatives. Please feel free to reach out to CEO Tamara Small or Government Affairs Associate Anastasia Nicolaou if you have any questions.