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Somerville gentrification

(simply copying a comment I made elsewhere:)

So, according to Google's convenient graph, Somerville's population was 76,295 in 1990, and 78,804 in 2013. That's 3% growth stretched over 23 years. Boston has grown 13% in the same period. Cambridge, 12%. Massachusetts, 12%. The US as a whole, 28%. If population increase had been distributed evenly, there should be over 97,000 people in Somerville now. Or 85,000, at only the state's level of growth.

In reality there's been migration to warmer (or cheaper) states; OTOH, there's also been migration back into dense cities, as many people who grew up in suburbs don't want to live there. Except hardly anyone's building dense cities anymore -- it's usually illegal[1] -- so the price of the old stuff gets bid up way high. 97,000 people wanting to live in the space of 78,000 people will explain a lot of the housing price increase even without bringing in tech or "have no kids"[2] money.

(And I think it's fair to use the higher number -- after all, Boston and Cambridge rents have been going up a lot too, indicating people want to move here faster than housing can be built for them.)

[1] A friend claimed that 99% of Somerville is non-conforming to the current zoning code. If the city burned down, it wouldn't allow itself to be rebuilt as it is.

[2] Or "have no car" money, what with relying on bikes and the Red Line.

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Damien Sullivan
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