As State Senators representing Lexington and surrounding towns, we’re conscious of housing needs from both a local and regional perspective. We have been impressed by the effort being made in Lexington to address the need for new housing, as well as the thoughtful way in which these needs are being considered in the context of the many other important, local priorities.
We are acutely aware of the negative effect our housing crises is causing across our region. Towns in our area produce an abundance of capable young people. But when these kids grow up, they’re moving away. Not by choice, but out of necessity, due to the difficulty of finding a moderately priced place to live. This and the fact that we’re not drawing enough young folks from elsewhere to take up the slack — again because of high housing costs — results in acute labor shortages. Many longtime residents are finding it difficult to stay in the communities they have contributed so much to because of the cost and availability of appropriate housing. These issues impact us all. While Lexington is only a small part of why this is true, we can absolutely make a difference in solving it.
We want Lexington and Massachusetts to remain welcoming, accessible places to live. In addition to our deficit of housing, we recognize the importance of encouraging smaller, more sustainable housing in walkable neighborhoods as a crucial component of keeping with our state’s climate goals. Lexington’s Article 34 will provide a framework for making progress in these areas. The problems we are experiencing now — continued development of large, expensive, single family homes — will exacerbate the crisis and threaten the economic vibrancy of our communities.
We urge Lexington to provide an encouraging example for other municipalities still struggling with how to proceed, and carry on in its role as a Massachusetts leader.
Senator Mike Barrett and Senator Cindy Friedman represent the Third and Fourth Middlesex Districts respectively