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This is the website for the City of Boston’s new Planning Department, which launched on July 1. The staff and many responsibilities of the Boston Planning & Development Agency have moved to the Planning Department of the City of Boston including planning & zoning, urban design, development review, and real estate divisions. Please excuse any misalignment you may see on our site as we transition to the City. Learn more

Improving Our Development Review Process

Project Goals

The Planning Department has often heard from community members, developers, and even staff that the Article 80 development review process can be complicated and unpredictable. Mayor Wu’s vision for development is to shape growth that furthers the City’s goals of resilience, affordability, and equity through a process that is more transparent and predictable. To achieve this vision, the Planning Department is excited to work with the public to modernize the development review process.

Process Overview

Phase 1 of engagement and data collection efforts focused on identifying ideas for how to modernize Article 80 and the community engagement process. This included:

Phase 1 - Listening & Research

  • Survey Outreach
    • Community Barriers Survey (targeting those not currently involved in our process)
    • Community Experience and Mitigation Survey
    • Developer Experience Survey
  • Peer City Research into Best Practices
  • Working Sessions with:
    • Article 80 Steering Committee
    • Community leaders and organizations
    • Institutions
    • Project proponents and development teams
    • City staff
  • 2 Public Meetings
  • Presentation slides from public meetings held on February 28 and February 29, 2024
  • Public Meeting recording
  • Public Meeting Questions and Answers
    • During our public meeting on February 29, 2024 BPDA staff received some questions that we did not have a chance to cover. Here you will find those questions and corresponding answers.

Check out what we heard and learned during phase 1:

Phase 2 - Draft Recommendations

Phase 2 of our engagement efforts focused on sharing our draft recommendations for how to improve our development review process. This included:

  • Focus groups with:
    • Article 80 Steering Committee
    • Community leaders and organizations
    • Institutions (Hospitals and Universities)
    • Project proponents and development teams
    • BPDA and City staff
  • Online survey + materials
  • 10 public workshops
    • 8 in-person workshops: Brighton, Downtown, Dorchester, South Boston, Fenway, East Boston, Roslindale, Roxbury
    • 2 virtual workshops
  • Workshop materials
    • Handouts from Draft Recommendations Workshops held citywide May 11–June 6, 2024
    • Workshop recording
    • Workshop recording timestamps: to allow you to easily listen to the section you most want to hear
      • 00.00 - 23:00   Introduction &  Project Overview  
      • 23:30 - 48:00   Station #1 “Proposal for Community Advisory Teams”
      • 48:30 - 01:15   Station #2 “Proposal for Early Engagement”
      • 01:17 - 01:34   Station #3 “Proposal for Consistent Standards”
      • 01:35 - 01:55   Station #4 “Proposal for Coordinated Review”
  • City Council Hearing
    • Docket #0192 - A hearing to discuss the ongoing modernization of Article 80 in Boston's Zoning Code
    • Presentation slides from Council Hearing on July 15, 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Article 80?

  • Article 80 of the Boston Zoning Code is the regulatory process that dictates how development proposals are reviewed. The current development review process is triggered for development projects that include at least 15 units of housing, or are larger than 20,000 square feet.
  • Article 80 was adopted into the Zoning Code in 1996 and has not been updated or revised until now.

What does Article 80 Modernization mean?

  • Article 80 Modernization is the Planning Department's effort to comprehensively update our development review process. This includes working to update our community engagement practices, the Article 80 zoning code text, and our internal operations. Planning has partnered with two consultant teams to deliver this work over the next year.

Why are we modernizing Article 80?

  • We often hear from community members, developers, and even staff that the Article 80 process is complicated, unpredictable, and frustrating for those who participate.
  • The Article 80 Modernization project seeks to update our internal and external processes and the Zoning code to help address and respond to the needs of Bostonians today.
  • This project is an opportunity to rethink and create a new process to review and shape new development projects in Boston.
  • As Boston continues to grow, we want development to help serve the city and its residents in the best way possible and further the City’s goals of resilience, affordability, and equity.

What outcomes do we want to achieve?

  • To create a predictable and transparent development review process
  • To make sure Article 80 responds to the needs of Bostonians and delivers on Mayor Wu’s vision for a resilient, affordable, equitable City for all
  • Create decision-making processes that are clear, accountable and responsive to planning efforts and community needs
  • To build trust with the community and its stakeholders through predictable, transparent, and inclusive community engagement

How can I help?

  • Feedback, lived experience, and solution-oriented ideas are welcomed through the form on the webpage
  • Actively participate in ongoing Article 80 projects

Do you have questions not answered here? Please email us at [email protected]. If you have specific questions, you may email Nupoor Monani ([email protected]) to learn more about the internal operations modernization process or Kristiana Lachiusa ([email protected]) about the community engagement process.

Share Your Thoughts

Based on the initial summary of key takeaways from this work, we want to hear from you! What do you agree with or think is missing from this data? All responses are welcome and will be reviewed by the Article 80 Modernization Project team.

This form includes some optional demographic questions. Completion of these questions is not required. The City of Boston is committed to equity and inclusion, and the provided demographic information will help ensure that we reach the range of different people who live in our community.

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  • What is your Race/Ethnicity? Select all that apply: