There are two competing visions for Union Square. On the one hand, there is a passionate and mobilized community calling for development without displacement and for community-led negotiations with US2. On the other hand, the LOCUS process does not support community members negotiating with the developer, leaving everything in the hands of the SRA.

Last Tuesday, UU hosted an event to highlight the benefits of a real community benefits agreement. We invited expert John Goldstein to talk about examples of successful CBAs around the country, including multi-party CBAs that included the City, the developer, and the community. MA Smart Growth Alliance director Andre Leroux also talked about the “community benefits district,” the model that Smart Growth and LOCUS are promoting, which relies on funding local services through an increased property tax.

If you missed the event, check out the video here thanks to SCATV!

The following two days were the LOCUS meetings, led by Chris Leinberger. Leinberger continued to promote a public benefits package that will be recommended by the strategy leaders to the SRA, who will then negotiate with the developer. He was very insistent that we have “limited resources” and “can’t have perfect information” before we make all our decisions — and he avoided discussion about how benefits would be paid for, assuming that US2 will contribute their money to the Green Line and not to a CBA. We were able to shift the conversation to emphasize the need for a real CBA with community negotiating power – now it’s time to make that CBA a reality!

The next Union United coalition meeting is Thursday, February 4, from 5:30-8pm at St. Joseph’s church. Come ready to take action and mobilize your neighbors to fight for community power in development!