Remarks by Gina Hahn to the CCSSNA Candidates Forum, April 18, 2021

Thanks, Ernie, for the chance to speak this evening. We’ve lived on Longwood Ave for thirteen years; our kids have gone through the Brookline Public Schools. I was active in the Lawrence PTO and a founding member of the Lawrence Green Team. I’m also a member of Mothers Out Front, working on their Zero-waste and town-wide composting initiatives.

I’m running for Town Meeting because right now in Brookline we have an opportunity to transform some painful realities into a better future. We’re just beginning to address our lack of racial equity and inclusivity. We also have an affordable housing crisis; many of our neighbors can’t stay in our community because of the soaring cost of housing. This leads to dislocation and weakens our social fabric.

This much most of us can agree on. 

But there’s disagreement about how to solve this.  In the case of development, the process we choose is critical to the long-term health of our community. Housing affordability is a complex issue. Trying to solve it through individual warrant articles that work to undo zoning will help developers, but it won’t help the people who actually need it. Just undoing zoning isn’t going to get us the kind of results that Brookline needs or deserves.

More development isn’t the same thing as good development. And it’s no guarantee of greater affordability. How do we get those things?  Through smart planning.

So far, Brookline hasn’t done that planning. That’s why development continues to be driven by forces outside our community—as we’re seeing right now, with major projects already slated for development in or around our neighborhood, some via 40B, which affords us fewer opportunities to shape the result.

Let’s take control of our planning process. We need to think more creatively about our built environment. Let’s work together to build a Brookline that’s based on our shared values. 

We need to pursue a real, neighborhood-based, community planning process that’s inclusive— engaging all stakeholders, not just developers. And we need to pursue affordable housing in tandem with other equally important issues like sustainability, racial justice, infrastructure, and commercial development, without compromising the green space that we all enjoy. Because, as Janey noted, these things are all interconnected.

Let’s not reinvent the wheel! We can look to Somerville’s community planning process. It yielded a comprehensive, actionable plan with measurable goals. Somerville reimagined their zoning from the ground up and now has a form-based zoning code to help them increase affordable housing in a predictable and neighborly manner. And it has overwhelming support from their community. 

For more details on Somervision, you can go to our website,

If we’re going to write something in stone, let’s take the time to get it right. Let’s plan to move forward with inclusivity, predictability, and community. I hope I’ll have the chance as Town Meeting Member to work together make this vision a reality for Brookline. Thank you.