A report released today by the Boston Foundation finds that the city of Boston is so restrained by state government that it lacks the power and ability to shape its own future. The report was co-authored by HLS Professors Gerald Frug ’63 and David Barron ’94.
“The city is subject to a multitude of state statutes that apply only to Boston, and these Boston-specific rules establish the framework for deciding matters as critical as controlling its revenues and expenditures and engaging in zoning and land-use planning,” Frug and Barron write in the report. “This legal regime is significantly out-of-date.”
At a time when urban centers around the world are in heightened competition for talent and investment, the report demonstrates that Boston lacks the flexibility and civic authority to compare and compete with American cities — let alone international centers of growth and change from Shanghai to Bangalore.
Frug and Barron offer a comparison of Boston to six other major American cities — New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, and Denver — as proof that legal reform is desperately needed.
Following the release of the report, the Boston Foundation will announce the formation of a cross sector Home Rule Task Force made up of experts from academic think tanks and business and civic leaders, many of whom also have done recent research that highlights different aspects of the state’s relationship with its cities and towns. This Task Force will be charged with the responsibility of making specific recommendations to address the report’s findings and seek ways to allow Boston to compete more effectively.
A full copy of the report, entitled Boston Bound: A Comparison of Boston’s Legal Powers with Those of Six Other Major American Cities, can be viewed here.