Councilor Lydia Edwards said she would fully support parts of the plan presented by Councilor Michelle Wu to eliminate the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) – in particular those about transferring BPDA land to the City for revenue generation.
Edwards co-hosted a talk in East Boston recently with Councilor Wu about the report, which was unveiled two weeks ago and submitted to the Council for review. Both are on the same page with regards to skepticism over the structure of the BPDA, though Edwards prefers to overhaul the agency and maybe not yet abolish it.
She said she is on the same page with more oversight of the Agency and the property it owns.
“What I feel and what I think the report answers very well is the immediate steps we can take to ensure there is a certain level of accountability,” she said. “One of those is the BPDA budget should be from City funds and not from development of property. They should bring back those properties back to the purview of the City. The City should be generating money from those things and then paying the BPDA like they are any other City department. That automatically allows the City Council to have a vote on their budget, to hold them accountable for how they spend their money.”
That is a big issue in Charlestown, as the BPDA owns a tremendous amount of property in the Town – particularly in the Navy Yard. Those properties are major revenue generators for the Agency, and any such plan like Edwards suggests would take those revenues from the BPDA and transfer them to the City.
Edwards said bringing them back into the fold of regular City government would also take the conflict of interest off the table. Right now, she said, if they don’t develop the City, they don’t get paid.
“It takes away from the pressure they have, which is literally if they don’t develop, they don’t get paid,” she said. “So, we think that’s an inherent conflict of interest because at the end of the day, their own survival is dependent upon development in Boston. That’s my big problem. At this point, I think it’s a worthy conversation and I think a lot of people wouldn’t mind having the BPDA brought under City control.”
That said, abolishing it altogether is a longer question to ponder, Edwards said.
“In terms of abolishing it, I think that’s a longer conversation and I think it’s important Councilor Wu kicks off that conversation this year,” she said.