Citywide Child Care Zoning
Monday, August 28, 2023 | 6:00 PM–7:30 PM
The BPDA hosted a Public Meeting on the draft of this zoning text amendment on August 28, 2023 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM on Zoom.
Presentation (English) | Presentation (Español) | Presentation (简体中文 - Chinese Simplified) | Presentation (繁體中文 - Chinese Traditional) | Presentation (Kriolu) | Presentation (Kreyòl Ayisyen) | Presentation (Tiếng Việt) | Recording
The Zoom recording from this public meeting shows the Vietnamese presentation, but the audio is in English. You can follow along with the recording using the presentations in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Creole, Simplified Chinese, or Traditional Chinese above.
A public comment period was open from August 28, 2023 through September 15, 2023.
The BPDA’s Zoning Reform team is proposing a zoning text amendment to the Boston Zoning Code to make it easier to create child care facilities in all neighborhoods of Boston. We are doing this by updating definitions for child care in the Boston Zoning Code and making child care centers and accessory family child care homes an allowed land use in all neighborhood subdistricts of the City.
These changes are being made with support from and in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Early Childhood (OEC). Following up on research conducted by the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement (MOWA) in their 2021 report Making Child Care Work: Results from the 2021 Child Care Census Survey and the Boston Opportunity Agenda (BOA) in their 2023 report (Re)Building Boston’s Early Education and Care Sector: Supply, Affordability and Quality Needed, OEC and the BPDA have identified barriers within the Zoning Code that should be removed to reduce the cost and administrative difficulties of developing child care in several parts of the City.
Background on Child Care in the Zoning Code
As of Spring 2023, there are terms and definitions in Article 2 (Definitions) of the Boston Zoning Code for child care facilities that are outdated and do not align with the terms used by the state regulatory body for child care, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). While the City still uses the terms “day care center” and “accessory family day care,” EEC uses the terms “child care center” and “accessory family child care” along with updated definitions which differentiate them from other types of day care, such as day care for seniors.
Additionally, the citywide land use regulations in Article 8 (Regulation of Uses) and the neighborhood district-specific land use regulations that are throughout the Code list “day care center” and “accessory family day care home” as conditional or forbidden uses in certain subdistricts. This means that child care facilities cannot be built in those places at all or have to go through the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) process to receive a conditional use permit, thus presenting an administrative and financial barrier to developing these spaces.
Certain neighborhood subdistricts currently have limitations on “day care centers” and “accessory family day care homes” that prevent them from being developed beyond the ground floor or limit how much space they can take on a property. These dimensional restrictions do not align with state regulations and make it difficult to increase the size and amount of service that child care providers hope to offer to Boston’s children.
Lastly, many Boston neighborhoods have minimum off-street parking requirements for “day care centers” that require them to build a specific number of parking spaces based on the size of their property. This can be an expensive barrier for developing child care centers especially if certain facilities do not require parking spaces to provide their services. This current requirement also does not align with the City’s goals to reduce reliance on private vehicles and limit parking minimum requirements.
Key Changes from this Text Amendment
Update the terms and definitions related to child care facilities in Article 2 and throughout the Zoning Code
Make “child care centers” and “accessory family child care homes” allowed uses in all Boston neighborhoods in the use tables of each neighborhood district zoning article*
Remove restrictions to the development of child care facilities above the ground floor and other barriers related to the amount of space they can take on a property
Remove off-street parking minimum requirements in the parking regulations of each neighborhood district zoning article for child care centers
*with the exception of Maritime Economy Reserve districts.
Goals and Impacts
Bring the Zoning Code up-to-date with state level definitions of child care facilities
Make it easier for child care providers to create child care facilities in all neighborhoods, particularly those with large communities of color and immigrant communities where demand for child care is concentrated
Enable the creation of more home-based child care facilities through the addition and allowance of “accessory family child care homes” in all residential areas
Support the creation of more affordable child care options by reducing zoning barriers that can add to the cost of care
Process + Timeline
Drafting Period (July-August 2023)
The zoning text amendment will be drafted with support and insight from the Mayor’s Office of Early Childhood (OEC).
Public Meeting (August 28, 2023)
The zoning text amendment draft will be presented to the public with OEC providing additional background information on child care supply and demand and the impacts these zoning changes will have on that issue.
BPDA Board Meeting (September 28, 2023)
The zoning text amendment draft will be presented to the BPDA Board and approved for peteition to the Boston Zoning Comission.
Zoning Commission Presentation (October 18, 2023)
The zoning text amendment draft will be presented to the Zoning Commission for approval and, if approved, be updated within the Boston Zoning Code.