• letter

The following is a letter we sent to Councilors Matt McLaughlin, Jake Wilson, Beatriz Gómez Mouakad, and City staff Brendan Salisbury & Dan Bartman, on .

This letter included a series of proposed changes to the Somerville Zoning Ordinance (SZO). As the tables of changes are difficult to render here, please see the original Google Doc with the actual proposed changes here.

January 6, 2023 To: Somerville City Council and Planning Department From: Somerville YIMBY

Re: Advancing SomerVision 2040 goals by spurring housing creation

SomerVision 2040 aims to create a substantial amount of new housing throughout the city. Under current zoning regulations housing supply has not kept up with demand, leading to skyrocketing prices and disruptive displacement within our community.

We have prepared the following proposal aimed at boosting production of small to medium multifamily buildings, especially in Neighborhood Residence and Midrise districts. To do that, we recommend that the city:

  • Allow the triple decker building type throughout the Neighborhood Residence (NR) zone.
  • Reduce minimum setbacks slightly.
  • Remove units-per-building maximums for most building types, leaving building type and size to determine unit count.
  • Allow Household Living by right in Midrise districts.
  • Reduce or eliminate the density factor for residential buildings in Midrise districts.
  • Raise the inclusionary zoning threshold from 3 to 5 units, making 3 and 4 family buildings financially viable.

Promoting the creation of four-family buildings in particular is of interest to us because accessibility regulations begin to apply at that size.

In the following pages, we have provided suggested updates to the Somerville Zoning Ordinance that we think will reduce impediments to the creation of new homes. We welcome your feedback and guidance on these changes.


Somerville YIMBY