Alison’s Priorities

My priorities center around transportation, sustainability, jobs, affordable housing and action on climate.

We need more transparency and accountability in government

I am committed to good and effective government. This requires listening to all voices and giving everyone a seat at the table. Collaboration and engagement, robust debate and thoughtful planning have been hallmarks in my work as a city councilor and I will continue on that path as your state representative.

Massachusetts is unique in that no other state in the nation exempts all three branches of government from the open meeting law.  Recently, a special commission on public records dissolved after unsuccessful attempts to expand public records law. There must be some middle ground that allows for more transparency and citizen engagement.  A healthy democracy depends on it.

Address the Climate Crises

At my core, I am an environmentalist and I recognize how important it is that we continue to push our goals around climate and sustainability issues. The Commonwealth needs to do more to support local communities who have been leading the way. Newton, Watertown and Waltham all have put together climate action plans that set targets over a 30-year time frame in order to become carbon neutral by mid-century. But we need more support from the Commonwealth on transportation, building codes and carbon pricing to ensure success.

We must hold the utilities accountable for repairing leaky gas pipes to reduce this major source of methane pollution. I oppose efforts to expand gas pipelines and will advocate and support policies that wean us off fossil fuels altogether. I will prioritize State efforts to work with local communities to prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change. Climate must be considered in everything we do because it is the most pressing issue we face. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to lead on this issue and be successful in meeting all milestones.

Invest in Transit

The transportation system is generally in poor condition. We rank 45th out of the 50 states in crumbling infrastructure. As we invest and rebuild we must be thinking about the future which must include the electrification of public transit and more active modes of transportation, including walking and biking and shared autonomous vehicles.  The current dominance of single-occupant vehicles is an expensive and inefficient mode of getting around. The average driver in Greater Boston wastes $2000 a year sitting in traffic wasting their time and burning fuel. 

This of course requires that we make significant investments in public transit, make our roads safer for all modes of transportation. Rebuilding our economy must require a serious commitment and sustained leadership at all levels of government.

The transportation system needs to move more people in fewer vehicles

One relatively simple and quick way to start this process is by prioritizing buses over vehicles that carry fewer occupants. This can include bus transit signal priority, bus rapid transit and dedicated bus lanes. Major thoroughfares like Main Street and Mount Auburn Street are likely candidates for such changes. By giving people more convenient and cost-effective choices we can coax people out of their vehicles which will reduce congestion on our roads. This of course requires that we make significant investments in public transit and make our roads safer for all modes of transportation. We can significantly improve the efficiency by prioritizing buses over vehicles that carry fewer occupants. 

Our Land use and development decisions Impact transportation patterns

There is good data demonstrating how we design the built environment has the most impact on quality of life. Changing these land-use patterns is essential to improve environmental quality, increase density where appropriate and allow us to shorten travel distances. By giving people choices and making them less dependent on driving for many local trips we can make a significant reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). This is also very important in reducing our Green House Gas emissions (GHGs). Just 10%-20% reduced single occupant vehicle (SOV) use is the difference between gridlock and moving traffic. The Commonwealth is also realizing the huge negative impacts of congestion and all the pollution, GHG emissions and lost productivity that comes with it.

We must de-carbonize Transportation

In Massachusetts, the transportation sector is both the largest and the fastest-growing emitter of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). If the Commonwealth is to meet its goal of reducing overall GHG emissions by 80 percent by 2050, a large proportion of the emission reductions will have to come from transportation. Accelerating the conversion of cars and light-duty trucks to electricity or other zero-emission technologies is a key strategy.

Needed investments need to be prioritized and funded

Our communities will need to work together to set priorities for maintaining, modernizing, and expanding its transportation systems and we will need to leverage a combination of public and private resources to make the investments needed to create, operate and maintain a 21st-century transportation system. We will also need to decide how to pay for it. But it is clear that not meeting this challenge will end up being much more costly than avoiding taking action now. Policies to consider to move the needle include:

Price parking and driving to reflect what it actually costs to drive. The way we set parking policies has an enormous impact on the built environment and how we choose to get around.

Disconnect the parking from the housing unit. This will also make the housing unit more affordable as parking adds a significant cost to any development.

Add a fee on ride-hailing services with the money dedicated to transit improvements

Demand pricing for curbside parking and delivery.

See the following links for more information:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2019/12/26/opinion/future-transportation-boston-could-be-bold-bright/

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2019/12/13/metro/massachusetts-car-economy-is-costing-us-64-billion-year-we-barely-notice-it/

https://www.mass.gov/doc/choices-for-stewardship-recommendations-to-meet-the-transportation-future-executive-summary/download

We Need More Housing and More Diverse Housing Choices

Over the last 30 years, we have not been building enough housing to meet the needs. The result is sky-high housing costs that burden all but the affluent.  I support building density where appropriate and prioritize building smaller and highly energy-efficient units.  Mixed-use developments adjacent to city centers near amenities and transit reduces reliance on driving and helps create more walkable and vibrant communities.

I support the Governor’s Housing Choice Bill which is a collaboration between the Commonwealth and our communities that will enable the adoption of certain zoning best practices related to housing development by a simple majority vote, rather than the current two-thirds supermajority.

For more information:

https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-files-new-housing-legislation-to-increase-housing-production-in

Published by Alison Leary for State Representative

Running for the 10th Middlesex Representative Seat.

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