Another installment of Squares + Streets Roslindale News – Foundational Zones Adopted by Zoning Commission, Upcoming Zoning Meeting on 24 April 2024, and AHMA’s initial analysis online

Three things to know:

  1. Squares + Streets Foundational Zones Adopted by Zoning CommissionThis past Wednesday, 17 April 2024, saw the Boston Zoning Commission, by a vote of 7-1, adopt the full set of S+S foundational zones – S-0 through S-5 – into the Boston Zoning Code as Article 26, along with a broad range of other modifications to the code. WalkUP Roslindale submitted its own comment letter and your correspondent testified in favor at the hearing, along with District 5 Councilor Enrique Pepen, among others supportive of the proposal. Congratulations and thanks to the city planning line staff who worked so hard to get these building blocks roughed into shape and to Director of Planning Aimee Chambers, to BPDA Director Arthur Jemison, and to Mayor Michelle Wu for supporting this work and leading the effort to get the initial step all the way over the line. Now, we turn in true earnest to the small area planning process here in Roslindale Square to figure out how best to land these zones within a framework of city policies, programs, and ordinances that will make our neighborhood center a better functioning, more welcoming place.
  2. Squares + Streets Upcoming Meeting THIS WEEKZoning Workshop, 6 pm on 24 April 2024, Roslindale Community Center (corner Cummins & Washington). This is going to be an in-person meeting. If you’re reading this, we encourage you to attend for as much of the meeting as possible. BPDA staff describe the agenda and intent as follows: At this workshop, community members will be introduced to zoning as a tool that guides development and will discuss zoning through a community development mindset. The workshop will start with a walkthrough of how zoning works in Boston with a focus on existing zoning regulations in Roslindale Square and proposed zoning in Squares + Streets zoning districts as context. The second half of the workshop will be an interactive, facilitated activity to think about how proposals for community development projects would have to interact with existing zoning regulations in Roslindale Square. By the end of the workshop, community members will have engaged in initial conversations about community development goals that will support future engagement conversations on how the mapping of Squares + Streets zoning districts can support those goals.
  3. AHMA gets the ball rolling on S+S buildout scenarios – Our friends over at Abundant Housing Massachusetts (AHMA), the Commonwealth-wide pro-housing organization, recently released their preliminary analysis of the likely range of new residential units that could result from Squares + Streets in Roslindale Square. Briefly stated, AHMA’s research projects that Roslindale’s Squares + Streets rezoning could result, over the next decade, in 300 to 1700 new residential units. That is a very broad range indeed. AHMA’s projections are presented in accessible PDFs and an interactive online tool. The tool allows users to adjust assumptions and explore rezoning’s impacts on housing production, property tax revenue, and zoning nonconformance. AHMA have also prepared a detailed video walkthrough for navigating the PDFs and interactive tool. AHMA’s analysis identifies underutilized sites on lots larger than 6,000 sq. ft. that are vacant or have older, low-rise buildings, and assumes 25-33% (i.e., up to a third) of these sites will redevelop over 10 years. The most minimal rezoning scenario only studies the transformation of commercial areas into mixed-used districts. By applying the newly adopted S2 District, which permits buildings up to five stories, this could increase Roslindale’s housing stock by 2.5% and Hyde Park’s by 5.7%. The top-of-the-range abundance rezoning scenario explores the potential for mid-to-high density housing and mixed-use projects across the entire Squares + Streets study area. By applying a mix of S2 and S3 Districts, which permit buildings up to seven stories, this could increase Roslindale’s housing stock by 13.4% and Hyde Park’s by 24.4%. More details on the methodology can be found in the PDFs and video walkthrough.AHMA have indicated that they have three goals in releasing these initial housing projections and the accompanying tools:
    • Education – AHMA wants to increase public understanding of how zoning actually translates into building more homes. The better people understand how this process works, the better the chances we can engage in collaborative community planning.
    • Advocacy – AHMA supports the abundance rezoning scenario and believes Roslindale and Cleary Squares can thoughtfully introduce far more homes while maintaining existing residents’ quality of life.
    • Framing the discussion AHMA recognizes that the minimal rezoning scenario fails to adequately address the housing needs in Roslindale and Cleary Squares, but includes it as a plausible lower bound for community discussions.

9 thoughts to “Another installment of Squares + Streets Roslindale News – Foundational Zones Adopted by Zoning Commission, Upcoming Zoning Meeting on 24 April 2024, and AHMA’s initial analysis online”

  1. Fascinating!
    2 questions about the page labeled “Abundant Scenario.” What does the dark purple represent? And are the light purple areas proposed to be Square-3 zoning?

    1. Great clarifying question, Laurie! This is Eric Ouyang from Perci PBC (which, for transparency, is a member of AHMA). I’m a part of the team of volunteers who put together the analyses, which we hope have been helpful to you and other community members.

      You’re correct that the purple areas are parcels within the S3 district of the abundance scenario. Specifically, they are those that could change based on the criteria described on the subsequent page (the parts in red, like in the “minimal” scenario are under an S2 district).

      However, there are many parcels within existing zoning’s commercial areas (Community Commercial (CC), Neighborhood Shopping (NS), etc.), which aren’t highlighted as they don’t meet the criteria. You can see the boundaries of those subdistricts in the City’s zoning viewer ( as well as on the “Creating the Future” tab in the online tool under “Zoning districts by change in density”: Hovering over each district will show you the side-by-side comparison of allowable density metrics between existing vs. the scenario.

      The darker purple just shows the portion of parcels where there’s an existing building that could change. An example of how things may change under new zoning would be to allow projects like building housing on top of the Wallpaper City building to be achievable without a zoning variance.

      1. Thanks Eric. If it is still true, could you please share with all readers that their comments will be listed under a title of “Rozzie Speaks” on this site. Along with this disclosure, could you please offer an opt out option with each response so that the author can choose whether you publish their remarks under that label or not? As you know from our email correspondence, had I known your plans, I would not have posed the question. I do not want my question to be part of your thread. I also, as suggested before, think your label should be “AHMA/WalkUp speaks.”

        1. I think there’s a misunderstanding here, so let me try to clarify: Comments posted here are to WalkUP’s website and aren’t being cross-posted to Rozzie Speaks. Posting here is like posting on any blog or newspaper website that others on the internet where people will see the conversation when they visit this page.

          In your email to me individually asking this same clarification question about the map, because I thought your observation keenly pointed out something that isn’t clear in the PDF, I thought it may be something others were wondering about as well. In my response, I asked for your permission to share, which you declined, and this was respected. Seeing today that you separately posted this same question on a public channel that others can find, I wanted to respond here for the benefit of readers of WalkUP’s website.

          In case there’s any confusion about the nature of Rozzie Speaks, it’s simply an online bulletin board for members of the public (particularly for those unfamiliar with planning & zoning) to post their questions about the projections and reactions to rezoning by emailing

          While it’s set up and maintained by AHMA volunteers, Rozzie Speaks is intended to be a neutral and safe forum for people of a range of backgrounds and perspectives to learn from each other. As you may know, the BPDA accepts comments via their website. However, there’s a lag in when those get posted for the public and there’s no way to engage in conversation with others. Rozzie Speaks hopes to fill that gap and give people another opportunity to have their voices heard.

          I hope that helps clarify things!

          1. Thank you, Eric, for this detailed explanation. It is helpful. However, I still believe that “Rozzie Speaks” is a misnomer. Being staffed by and questions answered by Abundant Housing, I believe that “Abundant Housing Speaks” is a more correct label. Also, thank you, WalkUP, for posting my remarks. I appreciate this openness.

    1. May I please ask who is asking this question? It’s silly. We are a Coalition of different neighborhood residents or business people. As we say, “Roslindale Coalition members live, own businesses or work in Roslindale. We span individual neighborhoods and are not a single-issue organization. We are interested in how the community experiences City of Boston initiatives from the BTD, BPDA, ZBA and others.Members hope to have respectful and thoughtful community conversations about complex issues. ”
      We now number 51 members and just short of half own businesses or work in the Square.

  2. This is WalkUP board member Adam Kessel — I use the WalkUP account on this blog. Is your member list public?

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Adam. I do not have permission to make the member list public for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are aware that folks who have stood up and stood out, as I have, have experienced all sorts of unpleasantries.

      Enough said. I have no more remarks or questions. However, if you would like to continue this conversation, please email me at

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