Boston Mayor Martin Walsh today announced at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce event that Brian Golden has been appointed as the new Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Brian, who previously served as the Acting Director, has worked at the BRA since 2009.
NAIOP has worked with Golden over the course of the past year and we are very pleased to see his work recognized with this promotion. Starting with an initial audit of the agency, he has been acting on the recommendations to streamline operations and make the agency more fiscally responsible. We understand that he is promoting a more in-depth outside review of the BRA establishing a new strategic plan for the agency. We wholeheartedly support such a process and look forward to working with him and his team as it is implemented.
NAIOP congratulates Brian Golden and applauds Mayor Walsh for selecting such strong and capable leaders to help him make the City of Boston a great place to live and work!
A recent Globe article stated that three months into Mayor Walsh’s term, “the pipeline of major new (development) proposals has slowed to a trickle.” The implication is that the transition from the Menino Administration has left the Boston Redevelopment Authority rudderless.
I disagree. The final days of 2013 cannot be viewed as the norm for the Menino Administration. Virtually any developer with a project was aggressively pressing for its approval prior to year’s end. The BRA, most likely, set a record for the number of projects permitted.
Given that the Walsh administration has begun an in-depth audit of the BRA, it does not seem unreasonable that city leaders be given time to properly review the current process and propose needed changes in how projects are reviewed and permitted.
Less than 90 days have passed since Mayor Walsh took office. The last mayor had 20 years to shape the BRA’s review process. Before anyone questions the competency of the Walsh Administration, they should allow city leaders to get to know how the city operates and give them adequate time to make changes that could result in a stronger, more vibrant Boston.
Ed Glaeser just penned an op-ed in The Boston Globe entitled “Fix BRA; don’t break it.”
With all the campaign talk about the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s problems, it is sometimes easy to forget what it does well, and all that it has accomplished for the benefit of the City, its businesses and residents. Sometimes, a scalpel is preferable to an axe!
Glaeser’s short list of do’s and don’ts are right on target:
- Above all, don’t make it harder to build.
- Don’t imitate other cities blindly.
- Don’t give neighborhoods a veto.
- Don’t create an agency that has too many objectives.
- Don’t make a fetish of agency independence.
- Do increase independent oversight.
- Do set up clear rules.
Mayor-elect Walsh is very fortunate to be coming into office with a healthy business environment. Projects under construction or permitted and ready to go and are at an all-time high. The key is to maintain predictability and keep this momentum going. By working with developers and the community leaders that have valid concerns about growth in all of the neighborhoods, reasonable changes can be made to the permitting process.
The goals of that discussion should be to provide permitting rules that are transparent, consistent, timely, and predictable. We have a great City and we all benefit from thoughtful, well planned growth.