Election 2020

Is Bernie Sanders Running for NIMBY-in-Chief?

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

There’s a severe housing shortage in America’s big cities, but activists in the city of Boston are fighting the construction of 10,000 housing units in a dilapidated race track that will include several thousand affordable homes. There will also be hotels, restaurants, malls, and office developments that will create thousands of jobs.

Not good enough, say activists. There aren’t enough planning documents in Spanish and Arabic.


In early February, the Boston-area group Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It claims that city housing officials failed to provide meaningful and inclusive opportunities for community participation during their (still ongoing) review of the proposed Suffolk Downs development project.

Bernie Sanders agrees:

I guess because the housing won’t be free, Sanders believes it’s “gentrification.” Actually, no one is going to be forced out.

The project itself would displace no one. The 161-acre site on the edge of East Boston currently hosts only a race track, a clubhouse, a vacant administration building, and horse barns described in city documents as “dilapidated and unsuitable for further use.” HYM Investments wants to redevelop the area into a mixed-use development sporting 10,000 new housing units, plus retail, office, and hotel space.

That’s not all. The company will bend over backward to satisfy the ravenous appetite of activists for control.

In keeping with Boston’s inclusionary zoning requirements, the Suffolk Down development includes 930 below-market-rate units that would be reserved for tenants making no more than 70 percent of the area’s median income ($55,550 for a single person). HYM would also contribute $5 million to a housing stabilization fund, with the money going to convert existing rental housing into income-restricted units. That’s supposed to create an additional 500 affordable units.

HYM would spend $41 million on off-site roadway improvements, $20 million on public transit in Boston and neighboring Revere (where part of the Suffolk Downs site is located), and $3 million in operations subsidies to a rail transit line servicing the area. The developer intends to use union labor and to contribute $2 million to trade apprenticeship and workforce development programs. HYM says they’ve committed themselves to hiring a diverse workforce in line with Boston’s Resident Jobs Policy.

There are so many sweeteners in this deal that the Boston government might just OD on sugar. If I were a resident, I’d be thrilled at the prospects of jobs and affordable housing.

But the activists are saying that all of this doesn’t matter if all the forms aren’t all in a foreign language. And we wonder why there’s a housing crisis?

Actually, the lawyers suing the company say they are “pro-growth.” But at what cost?

Their complaint says that interpreters at public hearings were often unable to translate technical terms about the project into Spanish and that translation equipment was either unavailable or was “was hampered by high levels of static and failed batteries.”

They also say that none of the project documents were translated into Arabic.

Why is Bernie Sanders supporting these loons? Because the translation issue is just an excuse. He has always opposed developers and developments.

Sanders also has a long history of demonizing developers and lending support to NIMBYs who oppose market-rate housing construction on principle. His comments about how the Suffolk Downs project will lead to displacement and gentrification fit neatly into that worldview.

Sanders will enable this type of nonsense as president. These activists are his base. So maybe Bernie should be running for NIMBY-in-chief rather than president.