Thursday, March 06, 2008

Boston Beat: Within These Students' Walls...with Some Telephony, too...

My apologies to my dozens of fans. February has been the month of the paper/report and it has been deadly.

As such, I am forced to keep this short.

According to the Republican, an Appellate Tax Board closed the loophole, pending appeal on communication equipment in Massachusetts. The primary payee of this would be Verizon New England. Some estimates suggest that Springfield could receive $3 million dollars from this. However, as has been discussed before, this law could threaten Verizon's position as an employer in Springfield and its environs. Local Verizon chiefs have encouraged human/local workers on their service lines. This is despite the impending cutoff of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine from Verizon. These are UNION good paying jobs. Yes, the law that keeps some telephone property nontaxable is antiquated, but if it is to be repealed, we must offer Verizon something in return if we want them to remain good corporate citizens.

In a related story of government gone bad, an effort by the Boston City Council to limit the number of students can occupy an apartment is moving ahead. The Boston Globe Reported on this today. Now a number of near slum-lords do cram students into apartments that are barely habitable let alone overcapacity. It is also true that some of the holes that students make their homes are of their own creation. When apartments are over modified or cut up to maximize the number of rooms, this is a problem. A number of apartments are in fact quite spacious and truly have room for 5, 6, or [gulp] more students. Some have more than one bathroom and are built on two levels. Unless this proposed legislation takes these factors into account, this will not solve anything.

Part of the problem is the epic struggle between Boston area college students and the families and other residents in the area. There is a lot of finger-pointing, but as the students are often not registered voters their concerns often fall on deaf ears. This is not a wholesale defense of students. Many are boisterous, loud, destructive, and drunk, wreaking havoc upon both fellow students and other Bostonians. Moreover, their movement into housing off of campuses is blamed, though not entirely so, for higher housing costs in the Allston, Brighton, Fenway, and nearby neighborhoods. This ordinance, if passed, will only further exacerbate this problem. Prices will go up and create problems for your "starving college student" (like yours truly). In fact, those students who are fully funded by mom and dad--and appear to be the source of much of the disrespect for others and property--will not be affected so much by this increase.

If this is indeed as pressing a problem as sponsors believe, then I hope the legislation would take into account the number of bathrooms and square footage of a unit; this would then be coupled with a crackdown on slumlords renting to students. A wholesale prohibition or four or more students will solve nothing and only serve to encourage the relationship between students and the city to fester.

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