BOSTON – Boston City Councilors Ed Flynn and Kenzie Bok continue to oppose proposals from corporate operators who seek to convert residential units into executive suites, as the latest proposal for such came before the Zoning Board of Appeals this Tuesday. Both Councilors have been vocal about the need to preserve residential units in the city amidst a housing crisis, and having strong enforcement of the city’s Short Term Rentals Ordinance, which protects our housing stock from speculative investor units. The application from Sonder was ultimately denied by the Zoning Board of Appeals today.
The proposal was for Sonder to convert 21 residential units to executive suites at 101-111 Arch Street, and executive suites are a forbidden use in the Arch Street area. Concerned residents and community advocates had reached out about the proposal, as it runs in contrary to the city’s Short Term Rentals Ordinance and takes away valuable units from our city’s housing stock. There have been multiple proposals to convert short term rental units and residential units to executive suite units, and this latest proposal at Arch Street raised concerns that corporate operators are continuing to attempt to circumvent regulations and operate short term rental units in the same fashion. Councilor Flynn and Councilor Bok submitted a joint written letter to the Zoning Board of Appeals, and were pleased by the decision from the Board to deny this proposal.
“When I ran for City Council in 2017, I advocated for strong regulations to remove large corporations from the Short Term Rental market as unscrupulous speculators negatively impacted our housing stock, along with quality of life issues that ensued from de facto unregulated hotels with absentee landlords in our communities. I proudly advocated for their removal and voted in favor of the Short Term Rental ordinance. It is my belief that this and similar proposals to convert housing units into Executive Suites runs contrary to the spirit of the Short Term Rentals Ordinance,” said Councilor Flynn. “As the District 2 City Councilor, I’ve witnessed their detrimental effects and believe that our city should remain a place where working families and the middle class, our proud immigrant neighbors, our seniors and persons with disabilities can call home. I’m glad that this proposal for Executive Suites was denied, and I want to thank Councilor Bok for her partnership on this issue, along with the neighbors, civic groups and housing advocates as well.
“I am thrilled that, after so much community activism, the ZBA denied this application for a conversion of housing units into executive suites today. The Short Term Rental Ordinance was a hard-won achievement of so many downtown neighborhood groups, and we cannot allow it to be circumvented by a semantic category change. Boston needs to focus on long-term housing for our residents and on strengthening our communities during these unprecedented times. I am grateful to Councilor Flynn for his leadership and partnership on this issue, and I hope today’s decision will send a strong message to discourage any further efforts by corporate entities to evade the spirit of the city’s ordinance.”
For more information, please contact Councilor Flynn’s office at 617-635-3203, or at Ed.Flynn@Boston.gov.