Barrett S. "Barry" Pett
Candidate for Ward 2
1. Do you believe we have a housing problem in Gloucester? If so, whom does it affect?
Yes, there is a housing problem in Gloucester and throughout the Boston area. Affordable housing is a major problem in Gloucester, especially "workforce" housing. And the problem is exceptionally in need of help in Ward 2.
2. What are your definitions of affordable housing and workforce housing? Who do you see as needing affordable and workforce housing in Gloucester?
Affordable housing and workforce housing are usually housing that costs less than 30% of one's income. Sadly, because Gloucester is lumped in with other communities in the metro Boston area, this ends up being a large part of our population. The greatest need today to me would be workforce housing, especially for those blue collar workers in the service industry. Affordable housing in general is an issue affecting all blue collar workers and many of our seniors.
3. Clustered housing: Do you generally support building more housing that is grouped, such as duplexes, multi-family, townhouses etc.? If so, where do you see possibilities in the city for more clustered housing?
Programs like 40R and Smart Growth are great for creating more housing using less land, or having more open space. Probably in Gloucester, there might be some small scale possibilities in Ward 2, larger scale in Ward 5. The issue with some people for those types in Ward 5 is that there may be a lack of public transportation available in the area.
4. When you speak with constituents (local business owners, employers, and workers) about income and housing prices in our community, what conclusions do you draw from those conversations?
In talking with constituents, almost 100% agree that there is a critical need for more workforce (and affordable housing in general) if Gloucester is going to be able to move forward. Without significant increases in workforce housing, many people will not be able to both work and live here. If they can't afford to live here, they definitely won't be able to commute to here to work. I will work with all of our housing advocates to try and improve our stock of workforce, affordable, and senior housing.
5. What do you see as the major barriers in our community to creating more affordable/workforce housing? How do we overcome them?
I believe that many in our community do not see this critical housing shortage as an issue that affects them. Those that need the housing know more of the challenges and criteria than those who do not have a direct, immediate need. I think it is important for the City Council to work with the Administration and both local and statewide organizations that fight for that housing. The Council needs to make it a priority of their agenda to try and get the correct information out to the public and they need to all work together to create more units immediately. I will be happy to keep this as one of my top priorities on the Council.
6. How have your experiences, personal and professional, shaped your views on housing and land use in Gloucester? And what have you done in the past to address these concerns?
I have served a number of years in the US Army, in many locations. I have met thousands of soldiers and I have had some interesting discussions with many about housing in their communities. Many communities have the same issues as we do here in Gloucester. Personally, I have been lucky enough to share ownership of a 3 unit in downtown Gloucester. I live in one unit, the other 2 are occupied at well below market rent. It has become more and more difficult to keep these rents affordable, and we need significantly more of this type of situation in Gloucester. Unless we make changes going forward there will be even less of this type of situation.
7a. What do you think is the best plan for meeting the requirements of the MBTA zoning?
The Administration and Community Development, Planning Department, along with the City Council and the ZBA need to come up with a plan that allows for this type of development without having significant impacts on the neighborhoods where the development occurs. They all need to work together with both developers and neighbors to move these projects forward quickly, not to have litigation hold up progress (sometimes for years), and this needs to be done for the benefit of the entire City's population, not just the pockets of a few individuals.
7b. What are your recommendations to update zoning in Gloucester’s downtown train station area (and West Gloucester station area, if applicable) to bring the City into compliance?
The City's Planning Department has worked hard on putting together ideas to make this a reality. We need to work together from all different components of City government and work with our many qualified local developers to put together the right program. Though it is many years ago, I believe my Bachelor's of Science Degree in Civil Engineering, majoring in Urban Planning helps me to be able to be a contributing Councilor in this matter.
8. Do you think that every neighborhood in Gloucester is contributing its “fair share” of housing supply for the city? If not, which neighborhoods do you think are not contributing their fair share, and how should the City address this inequity?
Each Ward in the City is different, and even neighborhoods within those Wards are different. Ward 5 and 4 probably offer the best opportunity to convert single family homes into multifamily. Ward 2, and parts of Ward 3 and 1 have some of the older single family homes that could be converted. There are also opportunities in the downtown parts of Ward 2 (and somewhat Ward 1) that could do more with "Main Street" level retail or commercial, and more upper floor housing. I don't believe the term "fair share" is appropriate. If we make more opportunities available by right or with incentives, I believe we can see more growth in stock across the City.
9. Where do you stand on two or three family homes across all neighborhoods to meet the housing needs of the average Gloucester worker?
Some of the recent steps taken by the City to allow conversion from single to multifamily is a step in the right direction. Within density and parking issues, I would like to see multifamily homes across the entire City.
10. A recent attempt to propose new restrictive regulations on Gloucester’s Short Term Rentals failed to gain support due to lack of data and overall impact. What do you think the City can do, if anything, to restrict or limit short term rentals?
I am familiar with hearing of the issues relative to short term rentals, versus long term, but I don't have enough information to make a decision as to which way the City should go. I believe there are pluses and minuses to short term, and I believe the do have a negative impact on the amount of affordable/workforce housing stock. I would be happy to learn more to make my feelings clear on the matter.
11a. Housing policy is closely linked to other policy areas, such as transit, racial justice, environmental issues, and economic sustainability. What do you think of housing policy as it interacts with these other issues?
Housing policy is linked to other policy issues. Having affordable housing in areas served by public transportation can cut down on the number of vehicles on the road and it can cut down on on the cost of individuals getting to work, shopping, etc. Different types of affordable housing such as cluster, etc. can make that housing stock more environmentally friendly. Discrimination in housing is not only illegal, but it also is extremely detrimental to housing sustainability.
11b. Additionally, how do you think housing issues are affecting local businesses and employers?
Housing issues have a direct, critical impact on local businesses. The businesses rely on local residents to prosper and the businesses (especially in the service industry) have to have employees that can live on the salaries the businesses provide for the business to succeed, and the employees need to be able live on the income the business provides. For the City to prosper, both the employers and employees need to be successful.
12a. Are there other specific housing initiatives that you think the City should prioritize?
The City needs to make the process simplified for developers, especially as we develop new Zoning changes. A 1 stop simple process across all types of development would make it easier for developers and it would make it less likely to have opposition, speeding up the entire process.
12b. Do you agree or disagree that the City of Gloucester should do more to encourage housing production of all types, including both market rate and income-restricted? If you agree, how can the City encourage housing production?
They say "it takes a village to" and I strongly agree that working together with both City (Mayor, Planning, Council, ZBA, Planning), Affordable Housing Trust and developers (especially local ones) is important for developing all types of housing, from single to multi family, market rate to income-restricted is the way to move forward. I would be happy to be an active member of the group.