Note: We’re planning to run a range of views on the rezoning of Union Square.
This one is from Matt McLaughlin, president of Save Our Somerville.
“The Green Line is coming through, which is a great step forward for Somerville. I look forward to jumping on the Green Line and going into Boston. But where am I going to live?
“Working class people can’t afford to live in Davis. So I hope the city will give assurances that people will not be pushed out the way they were in Davis.
“The Green Line expansion will change the culture. I don’t want Somerville to turn into Allston-Brighton, a college town with no community, that caters to the young upper class who have no intention of staying in the neighborhood. Somerville has been family-oriented, immigrant-oriented, working class oriented—people feel comfortable living there, sending their kids to school. In Davis Square, sometimes I feel like an outsider in my own community. There’s a store for crepes, 4 or 5 coffee shops, but the only thing I go there for is the bowling alley or the movie theater.
“Union Square today has its own identity, with the ethnic shops, the Portuguese deli, Tibetan and Mexican restaurants and other shops, all run by people who live in the community and contribute to it. But when the Green Line comes through, they might not be able to live here. You might still have the restaurants, and everyone can sit around and eat their sushi and talk about how much they love the diversity of Somerville, but the only thing diverse about it will be the food, because the people who run the restaurants will be pushed out.
“I’m not sure I have the big answer for that. We’re fighting this tide, and you do what you can. SOS and AHOC and the Somerville Community Corporation want 15 percent affordable housing throughout Union Square, and it’s something like 12 now. Boston, Chelsea, Cambridge, they all have more affordable housing than we do. So I think it’s a very modest proposal.
“And we need to maintain the community feeling so that people who do own property feel like they want to stay instead of selling and moving out.”