Boston gondola transportation project

An aerial gondola system from an elevated platform next to South Station, to the Marine Park in the Seaport District is still being considered by private developers and public officials. If approved, it would be around a mile long and run thirty to fifty feet above Summer Street.

1The developers, Millennium Partners and Cargo Ventures, have been talking to city and state officials about the gondola and recently found support with South Boston’s congressman, Stephen Lynch. Millennium is willing to foot the bill for the construction costs, an estimated $100 million, that would include the gondola’s Seaport terminus. Such a project would help reduce vehicular traffic and reduce carbon emissions but have yet to receive official support from the city of Boston or the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Despite concerns regarding the gondola system’s aesthetics as well as potential issues with other transportation projects like dedicated bus lines, Curbed Boston readers recently voted for this project as the best idea for Boston, beating out options to build more housing, going all out to draw Amazon’s second headquarters, implementing a tap-and-go fare system for the T, and co-living.

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Is Congestion Pricing coming to Boston?

After seeing success in the city of Stockholm where they saw a 22 percent reduction in traffic, New York could become the first city in the United States to implement congestion pricing.

If it goes through, motorists driving in and out of the main commercial districts of Manhattan would be charged a fee to do so. The main reason to start a program like this is to ease traffic in the city’s most congested areas by forcing people who want to access those areas to make a decision—pay to drive through those areas or save money by walking, cycling, or taking public transport. The proposal has the backing of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a number of business groups as well as ride-hailing apps such Uber. If New York approves this plan, will Boston follow suit?

Perhaps the strongest argument in support of this plan making its way to Boston is that the revenue from congestion pricing in New York would be allocated for repairs to the region’s public transit system.

Besides having some of the world’s worst traffic (Boston ranks 14th among the world’s most congest cities), the T and commuter rail are constantly in need of monetary help to improve infrastructure and service.

However, opponents against the plan are worried that congestion pricing would send property values and prices even higher than they already are and make it harder for people to be able to afford to live within the congestion pricing zone.

New England cities among the safest in America

According to WalletHub, a personal finance site, New England is home to some of the safest cities in the nation. Using 35 key indicators of safety, analysts have compared over 180 cities and scored them in four separate categories: overall safety, home and community safety, financial safety, and natural disaster risk.

ClipThe cities of Nashua, NH, South Burlington, VT, and Warwick, RI, were rated as the safest overall and took the top three spots on the list respectively.

Warwick was rated second in terms of home and community safety, South Burlington was rated seventh in terms of financial safety, and Warwick was rated seventeenth safest in terms of natural disaster risk.

Boston is rated as the 133rd safest city. It was ranked fifth in terms of fewest traffic fatalities per capita and fourth in terms of lowest percentage of uninsured population but was tied for last in terms of most hate crimes per capita.

 

Little to no housing being built in the suburbs

The Boston Foundation reports in their annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card that while it is true that new housing is being added in the Greater Boston area, the majority of the units are in the city of Boston itself and in just a few surrounding cities while towns in the suburbs are seeing little to no construction.

2Young and working families are finding it difficult to afford to live in the city but since housing prices are increasing in the suburbs because of a lack of new construction these families are left with few options. Only a handful of towns have added noteworthy amounts of housing, including Weymouth, Framingham, Plymouth, and Sharon. Out of about 13,000 building permits that were issued this year for the entire Greater Boston area, about 40% of those were issued by the city of Boston.

Although some believe that housing prices may inhibit economic growth, schools and jobs in the area continue to attract students and professionals every year. Rent prices are also slowly falling as a direct result of the additional housing that has become available.

 

 

Cambridge imposes restrictions on AirBNB rentals

Cambridge.jpgMost of the focus on AirBNB stems from the money lost from a lack of taxation, an estimated $15 million from around 592,000 guests in Massachusetts last year. However, while other lodging establishments need to adhere to a strict set of municipal regulations, the owner of a unit on AirBNB currently does not.

State Representative Aaron Michlewitz recently proposed a bill that would impose safety and insurance regulations on top of taxing units, stating: “The taxation without the regulation piece is where the debate stands now”.

While some municipalities are waiting to see what the state decides to do, the Cambridge City Council has already voted to impose their own regulations on AirBNB rentals. Only hosts who live in the same or adjacent building would be allowed to make their units available. These units would need to be registered with the city and concede to inspections once every five years.

This would allow owners to continue to collect income from short-term rental units while ensuring guest safety. The new restrictions will take effect in April 2018.

It’s estimated that about 90,000 guests used AirBNB to find accommodations in Cambridge last year.

Where are the best places to live in Massachusetts?

2.jpg(via RealEstate.Boston) If you are not from The Bay State but wanted to move here, how would you decide where to live? A site such as Niche.com would be a great place to start, as they combine rigorous analysis with reviews from millions of people to uncover the best places to live and go to school.

They recently released their updated list for Massachusetts, assigning an overall Niche Grade based on criteria that includes grades for public schools, housing, good for families, jobs, cost of living, outdoor activities, crime and safety, nightlife, diversity, weather, health and fitness, and commute. Data sources include reviews from actual residents, as well as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the FBI, and the Census.

Among the top ten towns and cities in the state is Sharon, Sudbury, Newton, Wayland, Belmont, Boxborough, Wellesley, and Brookline, with the town of Lexington ranked as the best place to live in Massachusetts in 2017. Lexington received an A+ grade for public schools and good for families, A grades for outdoor activities, health and fitness, and commute, and A- grades for jobs, crime and safety, and diversity.

The city of Cambridge, which landed 12th on the state’s list, was ranked 11th on Niche’s 2017 Best Cities to Live in America list, receiving top marks for public schools, good for families, outdoor activities, nightlife, and commute.

The city of Boston, ranked 262nd on the state’s list, received an overall Niche Grade of B+, brought down by its poor grades in crime and safety, cost of living, public schools, and housing.

Although these type of sites are a good initial resource, a local expert in the leasing market can provide invaluable insight. Rental Beast is partnered with some of the best-trained real estate agents in the business who can help their clients make more informed decisions and find the perfect place to rent or buy.

Tips & Tricks to avoid Rental Scams

1Rental scams are at a fever pitch right now, and protecting yourself and your money while apartment hunting should be your number 1 priority.

In most cases, using common sense will help you stay out of trouble (we’ve all heard of the Nigerian Prince who will wire you a Million dollars as long as you cover the transaction fee) but even a street smart consumer can be fooled by a believable scam. Here are some tip & tricks to avoiding being duped.

1. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is…

1That newly renovated townhouse with all new stainless steel appliances, a small outdoor patio complete with a finished garden, and large three car garage that just happens to be in the heart of the city, and is going for a fraction of average rental? Yeah, thats too good to be true. Business Insider’s tip #6 is great advice – “Trust your intuition.” If the apartment of your dreams is at a price you didn’t even think possible, it is most likely a scam.

2. Never, under any circumstance, wire money to someone you have never met.

1Boston.com details the nightmare situation of finding out you have been duped online. If a landlord “had an emergency come up” or is “out of state working another property” do not wire them money to secure the apartment! Wait until they they are back (if they are actually coming back) and see the listing then. In the meantime, start your search up again. I can guarantee you, starting your apartment search over again is much less of a headache then wiring a few thousand dollars you will never get back!

3. See the listing in person!

1This is easily the best advice you can take to ensure you are not getting duped online. Schedule a showing, tour the apartment, and then you can start the process of actually applying for the apartment. If you physically cannot be present for the showing, make sure someone you trust is. Touring the apartment is your best way to ensure you are not getting scammed. Not to mention, actually seeing the apartment you will be renting for at least a year is a great idea.

The underlying theme in these tips? Common sense. Do not get yourself into trouble by rushing the apartment rental process. Take your time, do you your homework, and actually see the apartment in person.