Boston Business Journal

In Charged Meeting, BPDA Board Declines to Approve Mayor Wu's Initial Reforms

Members of the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s board questioned Mayor Michelle Wu’s plans to overhaul the agency on Thursday, opting not to adopt an executive order to immediately begin some of her desired changes, at least for now.

While neighbors often square off over real estate projects at the board’s monthly meetings, public disagreement between BPDA leadership and its board is rare. The agency is at a historic crossroads, however, with Wu proposing last month to shift the BPDA’s planning function to a new city department and to abolish the BPDA and replace it with a new agency with the same name and a focus on affordability, equity and climate resiliency.

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BPDA board members, none of whom were appointed by Wu, took issue with the speed of change and what at least two of them saw as a lack of clarity around what the administration wants to do.

“It appears that we put the cart before the horse by asking us to engage in planning towards reform without having the evidence and data that indicates specifically what the reforms are,” said Ted Landsmark, the four-person board’s most vocal skeptic about the changes. “I think that that’s what we’re entitled to, as a board with members who have served the city well for years.”

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