Numerous beach closures in the summer of 2023 were a result of climate change and stormwater pollution.
“As we’ve been saying for years, the state’s MHP process is fundamentally flawed,” said Deanna Moran, Interim Vice President of Healthy and Resilient Communities at CLF. “The developer-driven Downtown MHP would have resulted in less public access to one of the city’s greatest treasures – Boston Harbor. Today’s ruling makes it clear that it’s time to center waterfront planning on public access and community input, not developer profits.”
“The public has a right to know how much value developers are truly gaining when they depart from waterfront rules,” said Deanna Moran, CLF Director of Environmental Planning. “This calculator allows us to put a dollar value on the replacement public benefits offered by developers for the first time. This increased transparency will allow residents and regulators alike to better evaluate new waterfront projects and understand the tradeoffs at play.”
“MWRA plays a vital role in keeping our local waters clean and safe, but we’ve uncovered significant problems in how it responds to unsafe levels of pollution,” said Heather Govern, Vice President of Clean Air and Water at CLF. “When the agency doesn’t do its job, sewage loaded with toxic industrial pollution threatens the decades of progress we’ve made in cleaning up Boston Harbor.”
“The public’s right to access the waterfront has been guaranteed for generations, and we must fight any attempts by unauthorized state officials to undermine it,” said Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel at CLF. “The politicized, developer-driven process that led to Boston’s harbor plan was fundamentally flawed. The lower court was correct to conclude that the state agencies did not have the authority to approve it. We’re confident the justices will uphold that decision to send Boston’s unlawful plan back to the drawing board.”
“The Superior Court made it clear: the Baker Administration’s process for handling municipal harbor plans violates state law,” he went on. “Governor Baker’s decision to ignore Mayor Janey’s request further politicizes what is already a deeply flawed process that puts developer interests ahead of public access rights and the environment.”
“Governor Baker’s comments regarding Boston’s Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan make little sense,” said CLF Senior Counsel Peter Shelley. “It is ironic that the governor won’t accept the City of Boston’s decision, since state officials have always touted the importance of local control in this planning process. The Superior Court made it clear: the Baker Administration’s process for handling municipal harbor plans violates state law. Governor Baker’s decision to ignore Mayor Janey’s request further politicizes what is already a deeply flawed process that puts developer interests ahead of public access rights and the environment.”
“The waterfront really is — legally — supposed to be a resource for everyone’s enjoyment,” Moran told GBH News. “The last time around, [developers] really drove the conversation because they came to the table with, you know, pretty much a fully baked idea of what they wanted to do. That’s why we have a plan that’s focused on two individual parcels over a 42 acre-wide district,” she said. “I don’t want to see this redo be focused on responding to, or tweaking, the existing proposals. I think we really need to take a step back and take this opportunity to think outside the box — and think about what else is possible.”
“Mayor Janey made the right decision today,” said CLF President Bradley Campbell. “Boston’s developer-driven MHP process is fundamentally flawed, and the Downtown MHP would have resulted in less public access to one of the city’s greatest treasures – Boston Harbor. It’s time to reform the planning processes for all waterfront neighborhoods to elevate the public’s voice and right to access the water. We look forward to working with the city to achieve this goal.”
“This ad hoc, parcel-by-parcel, project-by-project resilience approach is not a long-term solution,” she said, asking instead for “a better strategy” to bring the development community into conversation and leverage new development to build protections that benefit the entire neighborhood.