Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, a grassroots organizing group located in Dorchester, spearheaded the effort to add stops in communities of color on the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, now also known as the Indigo Line. Understanding that, historically, mass investment in public transit has led to excessive gentrification in the impacted area, even before the campaign begun, GFCAC was thinking of ways to control this problem. A number of ideas were explored, eventually leading to the notion of creating special protections for the Fairmount Corridor, aimed at preventing/slowing displacement of current residents and property owners.  Understanding the far reaching implications of this initiative, GFCAC realized, for implementation, it needed to create partnerships with other community groups. They approached two coalitions, Action for Regional Equity (Action) and On the Move (OTM) to partner with them in this new effort. Below is the resulting document. The groups identified three transit routes as potential sites for this pilot project: the Green Line Extension, the former proposed 28X Route from Dudley to Mattapan and the Fairmount Corridor.

A Pilot Project – Special Protections for Transit Corridors:

A multi-issue response to today’s gentrification and inequality and unintended consequences of transit improvements in Boston and the region

Contact:              Marvin Martin, gfcac@hotmail.com, 617-436-0829

June 11, 2015

Over the past few years, Action for Regional Equity (Action), along with many, many partners, have recognized how communities of color are being left out of the improving greater Boston economy and demanded an increased public focus on the inter-related issues of housing, good jobs, transit, and other issues that underlie equity and stabilize our communities.  On the Move (OTM), a transit justice organization, also devoted to equity issues, began to focus on how transit affected other aspects of the community, particularly fueling gentrification. Together these two organizations decided to look at and address how neighborhood improvements were having adverse effects for the current residents, especially displacing people.

Our demand for Special Protections for Transit Corridors, especially for those corridors that link our communities of color to downtown, is an urgent response to the displacement in our neighborhoods.  Our demand recognizes that improving transit in our neighborhoods has had the unintended consequence of speeding gentrification and exacerbating inequality. New transit stops are attracting new development, higher property values, and higher rents. Although these problems exist in all neighborhoods, transit corridors are experiencing a more rapid rate.

Transit improvements are important to our communities because they provide access and mobility and improve air quality, etc., and that Action and its partners have worked hard to make such projects happen, but that additional protections/steps are needed to ensure that current community members, especially people of color and low-moderate income residents, aren’t displaced and get to benefit from the improvements.

Although the negative consequences were unintended, they were certainly expected; so it is something we have been planning for. One of the ways we feel we can address this issue is to create special protections for residents and businesspeople in Transit Oriented Zones.  We decided to choose a few transit corridors which we could use as pilot projects, the hope being, if they were successful, they would provide a template and a precedent for other TOD zone. We wanted areas where our members were already engaged, negative gentrification was already happening or imminent and where we were confident we could get support from local residents and stakeholders. The three pilot projects we chose are the Green Line Extension, Fairmount Corridor and the proposed MBTA bus route 28X.

We recognize that we need to put a new frame around everything we do:  While the region and city look well off, that image masks deep divisions and lack of equity that are decades and more in the making.

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