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Tony Gross
Candidate for At-Large

1. Do you believe we have a housing problem in Gloucester? If so, whom does it affect?                                                                                                                                 


Yes, young families, working middle class, teachers, police, firefighters, service workers, elderly, low income.

2. What are your definitions of affordable housing and workforce housing? Who do you see as needing affordable and workforce housing in Gloucester?    


Housing that is affordable for a family of two with an income of $50,000. Young families, working middle class, teachers, police, firefighters, service workers, fishing crews


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?                                                      

Done right cluster housing that preserves open space will be beneficial. Would not limit the possibility to any specific areas of the city.

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?  


 The high cost of housing is creating a labor shortage, both skilled and unskilled, imperiling the future of local businesses.

5. What do you see as the major barriers in our community to creating more affordable/workforce housing? How do we overcome them?                                                                                                                             

Market rate housing prices that continue to spiral out of sight is the greatest barrier. As Gloucester continues to be "discovered" the competition for real estate has left those with limited means at a disadvantage.

We need to find additional funding sources for the Affordable Housing Trust so the City can purchase properties, complete the permit process and put development of affordable housing on the properties out to bid.

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?  


As for personal experience, I lived several years in the R5 district and parking was always a major quality of life issue. Living in Gloucester without a car is challenging, as the most recent Housing Production Plan stated "the majority of Gloucester residents need a car to run errands". I advocated for a parking study to be done in the congested residential areas surrounding  downtown. Unfortunately, the parking study currently being conducted is only for the downtown business areas. This is also a social justice issue since the majority of economically disadvantaged households are downtown.

7a. What do you think is the best plan for meeting the requirements of the MBTA zoning?                                                                                                                                      


As the Massachusetts Attorney General has made clear accepting the TOD requirements is not optional. Somehow we need to ensure that not only is there sufficient, frequent public transportation within the TOD area but there also needs to be other critical resources like grocery stores, pharmacies and etc. The recent change of allowing mixed use allows for more  possibilities and should give credit to some existing properties.

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?


Hard to make a recommendation on a mandated statute.

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?



9. Where do you stand on two or three family homes across all neighborhoods to meet the housing needs of  the average Gloucester worker?                                                                                                                               


Since two and three families do not meet the inclusionary housing requirements and that Gloucester is in the Greater Boston AMI the housing needs of the average worker will still struggle. As we see with the units that were recently built on East Main St. the market rate units are way out of reach for the average worker.

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?                                                                                               

The proposed STR ordinance did not fail it was withdrawn without prejudice to be brought back in the future.

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?  


 Income inequality has been a major driving force behind the high housing costs. Even supply-side and trickle-down economics supporters are beginning to recognize this. When homes are being purchased to serve as a second or third home or is purchased as a short-term rental investment the prospective buyer with limited means is outbid every time.

Housing policies need to interact with all the issues listed above. Transit for example on the one hand not having a car saves that expense but with the limited bus schedule it also causes added expenses for cabs to the Dr's appointment, grocery store, pharmacy, and other retail businesses, bus service starts at 8 and ends at 6 limiting availability.

We passed the Flood Plain Overlay District to help restrict development along vulnerable shoreline areas. Gloucester needs to decide if it wants to adopt the state's energy Stretch Code. Our current economic stability is dependent on affordable housing, we are on a path to becoming another bedroom community.


11b. Additionally, how do you think housing issues are affecting local businesses and employers?      


The high cost of housing is creating a labor shortage, both skilled and unskilled, imperiling the future of local businesses.

12a. Are there other specific housing initiatives that you think the City should prioritize?  


The Inclusionary Housing requirements are a policy that is beneficial.
Continue work on passing a Short-term Rental Ordinance.
Create more funding sources for the Affordable Housing Trust.
With more funds in the Affordable Housing Trust, the city could buy properties, pre-permit them, and put the development of those properties out to bid to create affordable housing with home ownership possibility.

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?    

Agree, finding the way is the challenge.

Unfortunately, because market rate housing that is built keeps getting more expensive, it drives up home prices all over the city putting affordable housing farther out of reach. This is the challenge, easing zoning to build more market rate housing in all likelihood will not ease the affordability of homes and unless the market changes dramatically it may exacerbate the problem as each home sale drives the next sale higher.

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