Roll call on Whole Foods vote

Last evening’s motion regarding Whole Foods was passed by a margin of 9 to 8. Council members voted as follows:

For the motion:

  • Pam Bender
  • Steve Bachman
  • Red Burroughs
  • Francesca Fordiani
  • Ben Knappmiller
  • Orion Kriegman
  • Steve Laferriere
  • Emily Wheelright
  • Jesse White

Against the motion:

  • Jesse Abair
  • Karley Ausiello
  • Dave Baron
  • Dave Demerjian
  • Andrea Howley
  • Steve Lussier
  • Michael Reiskind
  • Jay Zoldak

45 responses to “Roll call on Whole Foods vote”

  1. This vote is an embarassment to Jamaica Plain. I see the same names voting against Whole Foods, as were voting to bring the massive Forest Hills initiative to JP against the wishes of the neighborhood.
    Conflicts of interest need to be dealt with.

  2. Representation is a farce. Platforms and politics well at work. Thank you for those who voted against the motion. As a member of the “Jamaica Plain” neighborhood..I thank you. Let’s stop segregating and let’s bring business to JP that reflects the whole and good corporate owners are on the list for me. Business that brings jobs, money to the community (donations) are good businesses- not to mention that this business is one that I already use and would prefer to spend my money in my neighborhood than take it elsewhere and would rather walk or bike to do that… let’s ask Rent-a-center to leave.
    And on the affordable housing concepts – why do we continue to pile people in already dense parts of JP.

  3. More jobs, much higher wages, clean, healthy foods that will cater to a much larger portion of JP, reasonably priced store brand products, a foot in the door to upward mobility.

    Please, please, can someone explain how the perceived negatives will outweigh these positives?

    This aversion to change is scary. What if JP hadn’t changed from the place it was 30 years ago?

  4. I didn’t attend the meetings, as I have assumed from the beginning that the transaction between Knapp Foods and Whole Foods was fairly straightforward- 20 year lease, same use for zoning.

    I still feel the same way. I’ve watched this whole debate with interest, BUT the but thing missing to me is DATA and rational analysis. “Not a good fit?” Hopefully this vote by JPNC is simply a meaningless echo of the voice of strident dissent expressed by the Whose Foods group. A nice way for JPNC to make a political statement, but ultimately a statement without the power to disrupt the business deal that has already been struck between the property owner and the highly competent retailer of relativley healthy foods.

    HOWEVER, it will be very disappointing to me, and many others it seems, if JPNC continues to invest time and energy to disrupt the opening of the Whole Foods store at Centre Street. IF JPNC continues on this path, it is imperative that JPNC conduct an objective analysis of the JP economy, the history of its development, within the context of the broader American economy, and provides real data- ie facts- to support any further market intervention. That would be a public service, which thus far no other person or group has provided that I know of. If such analysis does indeed exist, someone please direct me to it.

    Until that happens, my rough estimation is that Whole Foods entry to the JP retail market is the culmination of decades of economic development and growth in JP, which will provide an anchor retail location in a pivotal location at the border of two sections of JP which offer stark contrasts in racial and economic characteristics. Because the prices at Whole Foods are relatively high, there should be plenty of space in the Hyde Square retail market for alternative food stores to offer a competitive product. It will be the opposite of a Wal Mart invasion- instead of driving out local businesses with artifically low prices, Whole Foods will attract new customers to support new businesses that can safely operate at a lower price point, in a manner sheilded from direct competition by Whole Foods higher prices.

    With Whole Foods in place as an anchor store, all of the community activism energy can be focused on helpoing to support and establish complementary local businesses that will benefit from the “Whole Foods Effect.” There has been much talk of diversity, and in this instance I think Whole Foods may contribute to true economic diversity in Hyde Square. The alternative being proposed seems to be some vague amalgamation of government subsidized, unidentified business entity that would “fit in” with an existing concept of the economic profile of Hyde Square, but certainly not JP in general. I.e.- the existing concept is of a “more affordable” economy, while JP in general, in many areas, is certainly not a “more affordable” economic context- Howdy there, Pondside mansions! To me, Whole Foods does “Fit In” to an economically stable and diverse Hyde Square, and by adding some creativity and resourcefulness to the abundant energy that the community has evidenced, Hyde Square can be maintained as a socially, racially diverse destination that embraces both premium priced organic food products, as well as tatoo parlours, Latino groceries, and whatever community developers are able to create.

  5. The JPNC does not speak for me or my family. It’s ridiculous to prevent Whole Foods from coming into that space. When my dad was a kid, it was a movie theatre. Should we bring that back? Hey…not a bad idea. But I WELCOME Whole Foods. I love Whole Foods. Neighborhoods change. There is a Cuban restaurant on the corner of Paul Gore and Centre streets where my great-grandparents (Frederick and Greta Morlock) owned and operated a German bakery. And after they both died, there was a Greek deli in the same space. Neighborhoods change. Spontaneous Celebrations occupies the building which was once the German Club. Neighborhoods change. That’s a reality that we all need accept. Nothing stays the same, and “you can’t go home again.”

  6. The JPNC does not represent the interests of the majority of Jamaica Plain’s residents. What can be done to dismantle it?

  7. Dear Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council,

    I can’t express how much I appreciate that so many of you are honest and courageous enough stand up for what you have witnessed in the past several weeks. I admire that spirit very much. Thank you so much, neighbors.

  8. I support Whole Foods and was not able to attend the meeting. Is the JPNC able to articulate their opposition using facts? Why does the JPNC feel that it can make demands of Whole Foods. Is the JPNC going to be making similar demands of Stop and Shop? Did they have the same kind of conversation with Hi Lo? Hi Lo was not a good neighbor and was not a contributing member of the community, beyond selling groceries.

  9. What part of:
    is not clear?

    If every, or perish the thought, .00001% of PRIVATE business transactions went before a council on “what is ‘an appropriate fit for the neighborhood’ ” , America would grind to a halt. Do any of the whose fooders realize that? Truly realize that? Really? Honestly? Have any of the whose fooders ever subjected their own private perfectly legal transactions to a council for approval? Do they want to even go there? Can anyone FATHOM if we had such a system for perfectly legal private business transactions? There ARE systems in place for special issues already, change in special use, liquor, entertainment etc. But that is NOT the case here. It is the exact same use – there are no changes sought (or at least that we know of yet) so if they make no changes to the hi lo use of that space, there is NO public role in this private 100% legal transaction- nor should there be. Unless we all want a council to tell us what we can or cannot do that , too, is 100% perfectly legal and 100% perfectly private. Do we want that? Some arbitrary, mercurial ‘council’ that oversees what everyone does to see if it is approporaite according to their ideology?

    Let’s chat about that!

  10. I am convinced more and more with each post on the Patch and facebook that the JPNC has delegitimized itself.

    By their own admission they did not tally responses. THAT would be grounds for an international watch dog to declare an election a fraud – yet – we as JP residents are expected to allow the JPNC to continue, the groundswell of JP residents furious over this miscarriage says otherwise.

    JP owes it to the City of Boston to show that we are not to be represented be an illegitimate council of idealogues divorced from the reality of what 10,000 people want.

    Many in JP are investigating what is required to recall the council and hold new TRANSPARENT elections.

    This fiasco has shown that the JPNC has gone too far – in a bizarre fashion as the middle east dictators have – but now the day of reckoning is near and it is thanks to the availability of online posts. Traditional media such as the Gazette enabled the JPNC’s strangle hold on JP by silencing dissent for decades, but those days are quickly and clearly coming to an end.

    Several REAL (vs. ghost) voters in JP would like to know how we can recall the council – and it is crystal clear, there must be 1,000’s of others.

    Once the JPNC has been recalled, the new legitimate council must be elected during general elections no longer on secretive ballots held in their private basements.

  11. Your vote is very disappointing as you have decided to only consider the “neighborhood” to be small percentage of people who have been able to speak at a few public meetings in the evenings. You have completely considered the opinions of residents who work night shifts to be meaningless as you have not held a single forum during the day time hours. Nor have you held a forum on the weekend. Not every resident has the time to attend these meetings in such a small window and you have made no attempt to see what is the overall opinion of the entire 32,000 residents of the Jamaica Plain community. You acknowledge that you did not go through the e-mails you received and consider the amount of “likes” on a facebook page to be significant, when “liking” a page is the only way to engage in dialogue and not always representative of your personal opinion. I think this is a disgrace that you have made no attempt to find out how the entire neighborhood feels about this issue, and considered a few hundred people who have the time on evenings to be the only opinion that matters to you.

  12. The JPNC said that they were interested in hearing from the community regarding their “next steps”. The “next step” was passing a resolution “to explore alternative uses of the property at 415 Centre Street” and to request that WF not move into the community because it was not a “good fit.”

    Was this resolution or the prospect of this resolution discussed with the community before Tuesday? I don’t recall seeing it anywhere. I attended the last meeting before Tuesday’s meeting. I left before the end but at no time when I was there did the JPNC state that they were considering a resolution such as this. I don’t recall the JPNC ever requesting community feedback regarding it.

    The JPNC has a process that it uses for all other businesses in which the business comes before the board when it has information to present regarding potential zoning or other community issues. In this circumstance, the JPNC ignored this process. Instead as a “first step” the JPNC unveiled a statement not discussed or floated with the community ahead of time, requesting that Whole Foods reconsider coming to JP and committing JPNC to “explore other options” for private property currently under lease to a business who has not yet appeared before the council.

    I participated in the second JPNC meeting and I’m confused at why I should continue to work with the JPNC in the future. I feel duped.

  13. Love the plethora of “I didn’t attend the meeting, but…..”s in this comment thread. YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE TO THE MEETING. If you have, you would have heard a long, balanced discussion that was difficult on all sides. It wasn’t a decision that was come to easily, and the vote was split 9-8. If you don’t like the way the JPNC voted, then for gosh sakes, COME TO A MEETING. Otherwise, please recognize that trolling comment threads on message boards isn’t a valid, legitimate form of protest, and give it a rest. It’s great that you’ll take two minutes out of your time to write a comment, but it’s just that- two minutes of your time.

    Thanks to the JPNC members, even the ones who didn’t vote the way I wish they had, for taking hours upon hours of their time to make JP a better place. It’s a thankless but important job.

  14. I am disappointed at the lack of understanding of the JP community that the “JPNC” has volunteered to serve. I agree with previous commenters that you made no effort to poll the community about WFM not just the yahoos who show up at the meetings.

    Shame on you!

  15. Dear JPNC,

    I am very disappointed by this vote. It is obvious the positives of whole foods moving into JP out weigh the negatives. We should be honored a store and company such as Whole Foods wants to move into our town. Yet we tell them we don’t want them becuase their too good for us???

  16. Believe me, the next “forum” for this discussion, if they have one, will be attended by a lot more Pro-Whole Fooders. This ridiculous vote has gotten my attention. Heck, I will help flier my neighborhood, Williams, Rossmore, Brookley, to get people to attend.

    this is absurd. Whole Foods is great for the community.

    I loved the brilliant quote, “Jamaica Plain is ours, it’s not for the rich people!”

    Whose Taxes…..

  17. Robin,

    That’s very unfair. I work until 6:30 every night and it takes me an hour to get home. I would gladly have come to the meeting had it been held on a weekend.

    That said, if I had known that it was necessary for me to come to a neighbourhood meeting to register my consent to a legal transaction between two private partners, I might have arranged to take the time off.

  18. The vote of the council does NOT represent my view or the view of my family. I am a Hyde Square resident and I am in favor of Whole Foods replacing the Hi Lo space. At no time were these meetings advertised to say that lack of positive feedback would result in a resolution that WF was not welcome!

    The meetings were for those who had “concerns” about WF. I had none. A food store that is clean–unlike the disgusting Hi Lo–is good thing. After seeing the video of the first meeting in which supporters of WF were called “racist” and booed while trying to speak I saw no reason to attend the second meeting.

    I am disappointed that the voices of those who do not even live in JP were counted as opposition to a store that is at the end of my street.

    The fact is WF is bringing 100 jobs. WF is coming to an empty space–doesn’t Hyde Square have enough of those already? WF has a signed lease. Does the council intend to try to undo a private and perfectly legal transaction? (And what is the JPNC plan, then, for the space? A rent-a-center? A check cashing outfit? A nail salon?) There was no issue to oppose, no licensing or zoning issue.

    This process was not legitimate.

    I look to all of those members of the council who voted against WF to recuse themselves from any licensing or zoning issues that may come before it having to do with WF. Those members have proven to be biased against Whole Foods.

  19. Where is this ‘better fit’ for JP? I’ve not heard one good alternative. Everyone can think of a better fit, an idealistic ‘JP approved business’, but this is the real world. What happens while everyone brainstorms and raises funds for the next X number of years?
    Where was this process when any other business opened up?

    I can’t think of a better, majority approved, fit for JP. And by majority I do not mean non-minority as in race.

    This process is beyond ridiculous, but sadly, I will be at the next meeting with a prepared statement in favor of Whole Foods.

  20. There are a group of people that are concerned about Whole Foods coming to the neighborhood. So the JPNC held a forum for people to voice their concerns. Those people who were not concerned about it did not come.

    Now there are a group of people who are concerned about the JPNC’s recent actions and Whole Foods future ability to obtain permits, licenses, and variances on the same playing field afforded to every other business in this community.

    JPNC should hold another forum to address these new concerns as well.

  21. I am very disappointed in the outcome of the JPNC mtg. Nowhere was there any indication that some kind of vote might take place. I feel the JPNC has not been forthcoming throughout this process in terms of how they represent themselves. And I agree with others who have suggested that the council not participate in any zoning reviews that might arise in this process. You cannot be impartial when dealing with a business you have decided (in advance of actually dealing with said business) is not good for the neighborhood.

  22. I am a life long (58 yrs) resident of Jamaica Plain, I welcome the arrival of Whole Foods. There have been so many changes to this area in my lifetime, some good some not. One of the most troublesome changes for me has been the loss of a decent supermarket right here in the neighborhood. I don’t own a car and must take the #39 to Mission Hill to shop. Harvest is dirty, expensive and doesn’t carry enough of what I need. Most urban areas struggle to entice good healthy grocery stores into the neighborhoods. It is astonishing to me that the JPNC would DISCOURAGE a store like Whole Foods or any supermarket from setting up business. By the way, I work evenings so am unable to attend meetings. But I have written to Whole foods, JPfor all, and all the elected officials that might be involved in this. JPNC does not represent my interest at all.

  23. As a resident of JP, I think the stance of the council is a joke. Is the preference to have an empty store front in place of a business that is closing? Why don’t we oppose every business that wants to open in that area so that whole block can be empty. Please share what other businesses are vying for that space so I can understand why you wouldn’t want to open dialogue with Whole Foods to see what they have to offer our community.

  24. I understand much of what people wrote in these comments – the frustration is clear. I know there are a ton of reasons that Whole Foods is good for some in the community. Its good for property values, good for choice of healthy foods, potentially good for bringing more shoppers here that would support other nearby local businesses. Can people commenting on this website, though, see the other side? That if Whole Foods comes, rents will rise and some people will no longer be able to afford to live in Hyde Square? Its fine for our community to disagree – that is healthy for JP. It doesn’t feel ok though if people don’t acknowledge that some people gain and others lose as our community changes. And I want our voice as community folks to be driving the process of how our community changes, rather then let it happen by market forces alone.


    and it is clearly an issue that divides JP.

  25. I am saddened by reading such vituperative, one-sided comments from WF supporters. I was at all but one of the meetings, and though people who actually took time to come to these meetings were upset about the issue, they were courteous and the few WF supporters that spoke were in no way booed or called racist. These meetings ARE the process. I found the JPNC balanced, thoughtful and democratic. Thank you!
    It is true that on the national level large corporations and property owners prevail in shaping neighborhoods,laws and politics, but what JP offers is a neighborhood shaped by neighbors, not just “market forces.” Many of us who came here for JP’s idealistic side and have worked on JP over the years want to keep it neighborly.

    The objections to Whole Foods come in part because the Hyde Square neighborhood has for 50 years had a uniquely Latin flavor. I have run into Harvard students from other parts of the Globe who came to Centre St. from Cambridge looking for Latin restaurants. And part of JP’s uniqueness is also that through dozens of non-profits it has WORKED hard and sucessfully on being neighborly, even across class, race, disability and immigration lines.
    In the Hyde Square neighborhood, the households on the north of Centre St. have a median income of @$40000 for a family of
    4. Many depend on public transportation. No way they can afford Whole Foods, nor can they get traditional Latin staples there. On the south side of Centre, median income is over $59000 – hence the Whole Foods controversy.In many ways the rising rents and property values that brought in the Whole Foods demographic group RESULT from JP’s success in retaining its diverse charms and tolerance. Now we need to decide whether to keep our inclusive ideals or to throw working class and Latino families under the bus.
    I can afford to drive to nearby Whole Foods,and so can anyone who can afford to shop there. I am a landlord and private property owner, but I am immensely thankful to all those who are taking a stand for a diverse and brotherly JP.

  26. My wife and I support Whole Foods coming to JP. We think they will be socially responsible and good community members, as they have proven to be elsewhere. We are disappointed with the vote of the Counsel. We think it was premature and reactionary. While I’ve heard the phrase “diversity” endlessly whenever I have been to a counsel meeting, many on the counsel seem to have a bias that excludes the view point of moderate middle-class residents. I hope to see people with a wider, more inclusive and more forward looking opinions on the counsel in the future.

    Finally, we are grateful to those of you on the counsel who took a more sober approach to this issue. We realize you may not come out in the same place that we come out in on the issue, but we appreciate that you are taking the time to make a measured decision.

    Best regards,

    Walt Pollard
    Cathy Fitzgibbon

  27. Thank you, JPNC, for passing this resolution in support of diversity, equity and affordability. This is an important and strong stand to take on this issue. I do not want Whole Foods to come to Jamaica Plain, because it will raise rents (as Seth noted) and continue the gentrification of JP and the displacement of people from their homes. Thank you for for making this statement, JPNC!

  28. All kinds of things that are great for the neighborhood will ultimately raise the rent as the area becomes more desirable to live in.

    Should we stop these things? In a word, no.

    Hope mentions the issues of income, but why is there no mention of the higher wages that will be paid to those who are able to work at Whole Foods?

    If a family of four has an income of $40,000 what is the solution to their struggle? Is it to resist market forces (Idealist JP is still in America) and positive development in the neighborhood? Or, is it to embrace America and the opportunities afforded here wholeheartedly and to pursue degrees or certificates in technical education?

    Change is the only constant.

  29. I want to express my thanks to the JPNC for listening to the voices of the many people who do not support Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain and for passing a resolution reflective of the ideals of affordability, economic diversity, and equality that are so important to many of JP’s residents. Like many others, I believe that Whole Foods will contribute to an increase in the cost of living for too many people in JP, over time driving out many members of the community who can no longer afford to live in the place they now call home. Thank you for standing with those opposed to Whole Foods and for envisioning a healthy and affordable JP for all!

  30. I am grateful to the JPNC for taking on this difficult task. Process could always be improved but credit is due to those who have put in a good faith effort in the first place. I was frankly surprised that the JPNC voted on the position that they did. As a business person in and resident of the Hyde Square area, I support it. It is my opinion that international retail corporations do not bring a net benefit to the communities they locate themselves in.

  31. I’m shocked that so many of the people posting here have so little care for others in our community.

    Food is an integral part of our culture, and Hi-Lo has been extremely important for JPs Latino and Caribbean residents. Whole Foods on the other hand caters to wealthier professionals and families who have many options of where to shop.

    The fact that this change represents a privileging of the already privileged and a push against the less privileged part of this community is so obvious, that I’m really disappointed by my neighbors posts here. After all, the hipness of a diverse neighborhood has been one of the things bringing wealthier folks to JP in the first place.

    And to frame Whole Foods as “change” is like saying the tide coming in is a change for the beach. Communities of color and low-income folks in Boston are constantly pushed in and out of neighborhoods by “market forces,” from redlining to institutions expanding to gentrification like the present. It hurts families who are already hurting. A “change” would be for us to stand together for common interests and stabilize JP for all its residents, which would mean standing against Whole Foods.

    I applaud the JPNC for taking this stand. But most of all I applaud all the work by the residents, allies, and youth of JP who are doing the hard work of shining light on this. It’s takes courage to stand up for equity.

  32. This has nothing to do with “care for others in our community”.

    Betsaida Guiterrez doesn’t care about me or anyone else who she deems to be “rich”. Why should we care about her?

    This whole debate is nonsense and has the potential to set a very bad precedent for business in JP. Let’s not forget that the people and businesses that ultimately fund the JPNDC, affordable housing and all of the other entitlement programs present in JP are the very ones that these “activists” are fighting against.

    Can’t have your cake and eat it too….. I for one don’t want to see JP revert to what it was 15 years ago.

    I wonder why the crown jewels of diversity known as Eggleston and Jackson/Hyde Square stand out so much in this map? Is this what you want to bring to the rest of JP?

  33. Thank you, JPNC, for taking a clear stand in support of an equitable neighborhood! I believe that the entrance of an upscale grocery store like Whole Foods into the Hyde Square neighborhood will lead to a massive jump in the speed of displacement of low- and moderate-income families that is already taking place in Jamaica Plain. Thank you for taking on such a complex issue, for taking the time to organize two meetings for community input and for reflecting that overwhelming input in your decision. I hope that all of us in JP concerned with the entrance of Whole Foods will continue to work with the council as they move forward.

  34. Gracias to the JPNC! Thank you so much to: Pam Bender, Steve Bachman, Red Burroughs, Francesca Fordiani, Ben Knappmiller, Orion Kriegman, Steve Laferriere, Emily Wheelright, and Jesse White. I am moved by your very clear understanding that this is not just about a supermarket or what people eat. Many of the people in this community–some who don’t have the circumstances to attend all the community meetings, some who have been told all their lives that they don’t have a voice because of their race, language, income level, country of origin, or sexual orientation, some who don’t have the luxury of spending hours online attacking their own neighbors because they’re doing the real community work to help JP stay diverse and to make it more affordable–many of these residents are deeply grateful for your courage and the values that your well-informed vote represents. I’ve spent countless hours talking to folks in JP and so many of the people (who are most threatened by what a Whole Foods in JP will inevitably do to the character and affordability of this neighborhood) say that they are proud that you stood up on this issue.

    The former Hi-Lo location is not the right fit for a Whole Foods. Location matters not just in terms of real estate value, but in terms of community accessibility and character. What will JP look and sound like in 5 or 10 years? Yes, JP has been dealing with gentrification for years, but Whole Foods will surely speed up the process.

    I’ve shopped at the Whole Foods in Brighton and Cambridge, and I’ll be happy to continue doing so. I refuse to shop at a Whole Foods in a location that carries such a strong cultural legacy for this city — and that will certainly chip away at that asset. My personal convenience is not nearly as important as the loss of the cultural/racial and economic diversity in my native neighborhood. Do all JPers who shop at Whole Foods have a car to do so? No, and I understand that this is a big inconvenience to them. But let’s be real. The typical Whole Foods shopper is not low- or moderate-income and can afford a car to shop there, while the typical Hi-Lo customer is low- to moderate-income. For those of you who’ve never shopped at Hi-Lo or Stop & Shop in JP, you may not know that many car-less low-income families have to use private car services to get their groceries home. Are people really that indifferent to the tremendous inconvenience it is to low-income folks to have to leave their neighborhood to buy groceries? And, by the way, telling them to go to Stop & Shop ignores the fact that S&S does not (and will not) carry the wide variety of Puerto Rican, Cuban, Jamaican, Mexican, Dominican, and Central & South American products that Hi-Lo carried. Neither will 1 or 2 or 3 aisles in a WF. If the bodegas try to carry these products, the prices of the products will be higher than what they were at Hi-Lo for sure.

    The people who are arguing for a Whole Foods and a Latino grocer in Hyde Square are ignoring the fact that many of the very people who would shop at a new Latino grocery store in JP will be displaced by WF’s role in increasing rents, property taxes, and the cost of living in JP.

    It’s odd that some people continue to say that there are no facts being presented around this issue, when there are plenty. In fact, those who support a Whole Foods in JP have been making comments that only confirm the facts that have been presented from groups like Whose Foods. Here’s just one example: Whose Foods says that a Whole Foods in JP will increase real estate and commercial prices—studies from other cities show that they can rise by as much as 20 percent (see the “Open Letter to Jamaica Plain on the ‘Whole Foods Effect’” in the JP Gazette). John Mackey himself, the WF CEO, has echoed these studies’ findings in his public comments. Pro-WF people respond by saying that they are super excited that property values will rise and that the community will “progress” as a result. Why do you think that the owner of Milky Way’s former space is starting renovations now? He knows what’s about to happen. We all do.

    I’d like to see stats from Whole Foods in JP supporters. Do you have studies that show that a Whole Foods in JP won’t likely increase rents, that it won’t likely increase the cost of living? Do you have data that confirm that low- and moderate-income folks have not been being pushed out of JP for years and that a Whole Foods will not likely accelerate this process? Can you argue that many of the residents who will be pushed out will not be disproportionately people of color? We all know that low-income JPers are disproportionately Latino and African American. We can learn from the experiences of other cities and neighborhoods on this issue. JP’s experience may be different, but it most likely will not.

    The issue here is people in this debate do have different self-interests (but I’ll comment on a common interest we have in a bit). If you own property here, of course you’re going to be happy about rising property values. If you haven’t heard, though, you may not be that happy about the nightmare traffic and parking problems that will surely come with a Whole Foods in Hyde Sq. What’s going to happen to your parking spots in front of your house? What about when friends come to visit you? In addition, any homeowners who can’t afford to pay the rising property taxes that come with increased property values will have to sell.

    If you rent, you’re going to worry about rising rents. If you live in public housing or have Section 8, you’ll worry about what’s going to happen when your lease is up and the rising cost of living, which by the way, will affect EVERYONE in JP.

    BUT HERE’S WHAT WE ALL HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT: the economic and cultural/racial diversity of JP and the affordability of JP, not only for low-income folks, but also for the middle-class. Many middle-class folks will tell you that they can’t afford to buy a home in JP. The median price of a single family home in JP is super high and that’s a fact (a 2008 JP Gazette article reported that the median single-family home sale price in JP that year was $502,000!).

    If you’re not concerned about the displacement of lower- and moderate-income folks and how your decisions and positions on issues like this one will influence it, then just be real and say so. Debate over. But if it does matter to you (and JP has a rich history and a continuing legacy of residents of all colors and incomes who DO care deeply about this issue), then you can’t avoid the very real problem that Whole Foods will accelerate the displacement of our neighbors, friends, and families. I’ve only heard one pro-WF person suggesting new strategies for how to address this issue (and they weren’t very viable). None of the politicians are talking about it.

    Pro-WF folks who say that people should focus on bigger community issues clearly don’t know (or are purposely trying to ignore) that many of the Whose Foods members and other people organizing against a WF in JP understand how economics and public policy work. People in this community understand that a supermarket change in one of the biggest commercial and culturally rich spaces we have in JP means much more than that.

    Besides, lots of the Whose Foods folks HAVE BEEN working on a range of community issues for years, even decades, to make JP better. They’ve committed decades of volunteer and paid work to address many of the issues in our community, including public education, affordable housing, crime, environmental awareness, etc. And they are representative of JP. The Whose Foods Coalition consists of people of all races/ethnicities, ages, income levels, sexual orientations, etc. The people who don’t want a WF in JP truly reflect the diversity of this community. Some of the white folks organizing against a WF in JP are homeowners, some are low-income residents, and some are moderate- and middle- income renters. Some of the people of color organizing are middle-income homeowners, some live in public or subsidized housing, others are renters. Some are new to JP and others have been here all their lives. THAT is diversity.

    I grew up in JP and I own a home here. I know that I can benefit from an increase in my property value and in my equity, but it is far more important to me that my neighborhood be accessible to people of all incomes and races/cultures. For those who point to the public and subsidized housing in JP as a way to ensure that, don’t be so cold. Don’t forget that many of these folks and their children, including some in my own family, will want to buy homes at some point in JP. If the homes are only affordable for upper-middle and upper-class folks, then they will never have that opportunity. There are people who did cash out years ago, but for those who keep saying that SO many JP Latinos did this, I’d love to see your statistics. The majority of JP Latinos back then did not own property here and still do not. Many people left JP years ago to go to school or follow a job and have never been able to come back to JP to purchase a home again because of our neighborhood’s high prices.

    Go to the projects and talk to people. Many of them say that JP has been changing, but that they are not benefiting from that change–and that they feel like the economic shift in JP is pushing their neighbors out and marginalizing them even more. Many of them are people of color and no one is listening to them or the low- and moderate-income white JP residents. Aren’t they just as much a part of JP and its diversity as any newer, higher-income JP resident? Don’t their voices count? Haven’t they also been part of making JP the neighborhood we all love? It’s absurd for people to suggest that the newer, middle- and higher-income residents have made JP the great place is today. I grew up in this neighborhood and I remember very well the lower- and moderate-income residents who invested the little free time they had to clean up the abandoned lots in JP and to turn them into community gardens. I remember well the community work they did to preserve our green space. People have worked for decades on affordable housing in JP, including members of the Whose Foods coalition. People of all colors and incomes have done this work, so please don’t try to take the credit for all of it or make it seem like JP was “saved” principally by new money.

    Yes, neighborhoods change. No one understands that better than many of the low- and moderate-income JPers. No one understands that more than the many immigrants who came to JP and who have added to the wonderful multicultural fabric of JP. It’s unnecessary and condescending to continue to harp on that obvious point.

    That argument distracts from the real issue at hand–the displacement of low- and moderate-income residents, of all colors, who contribute to who we are as JP. Shouldn’t change benefit everyone? Doesn’t real progress in a community help everyone, not just homeowners and real estate agents? Do people honestly think that an online or newspaper poll will represent the many different voices of JP residents? Have you ever heard of the digital divide? There are lots of statistics on that. How many of you have gone into the low-income housing in JP and asked its residents what they think about all of this?

    Knapp Foods Inc. and Whole Foods did indeed engage in a private business transaction. It was clearly legal. No one has contradicted these points. This is a capitalist society, yes. There’s no need to repeat the obvious. This is also a democracy, by the way, and community members have every right to speak about and organize against a private business transaction that was made with no community process (as is common when any business enters a community) and that will accelerate the displacement of many of our residents.

    In 2006, JPers made D’Angelo sub shop pull out of opening where City Feed is now on Centre St. That was a private business transaction, was it not? And as far as the role of the Neighborhood Council, doesn’t it deal with zoning issues in which it has a say over my private homeowner business transactions? If communities didn’t or couldn’t have a say over private business transactions, then the Jamaica Pond, the Southwest Corridor, and so many other things we value about JP wouldn’t be what they are today.

    This is a free market but we have all kinds of organizations and systems that exist to make sure that there is also justice in our community/society–and that those with the most resources aren’t the only ones whose voices are heard and whose rights are respected. That, by the way, is not a Marxist, hippie, or radical thought. It’s what America says it’s all about.

    You have to think about what you love about JP. What makes it such a great neighborhood? Last time I checked, real community is about caring about your neighbor too. It’s about living in a place where neighbors INTERACT, not just live physically next to each other. It’s about understanding that your neighbor’s livelihood is connected to you.

    There are alternatives to Hi-Lo and WHOLE FOODS.

    Homeowners and other JPers of all backgrounds, please open your hearts. Think about what you love about JP. Think about who makes JP what it is — all of us. We are all JP and we should work to keep it that way.

    P.S. Whether folks agree with the JPNC’s vote or not, it’s disrespectful and unfair for people to insult the council when its members are volunteering their time to the community and when all of the members have been very thoughtful in analyzing and addressing this issue. The council, the JP Patch, and other sources widely publicized the March meeting. Each community forum was announced. It’s true that some people don’t have the resources (time, transportation, etc.) to show up to meetings. In fact, many of the people who have been organizing against a Whole Foods in JP are low-income and work night shifts (I do myself, sometimes). Many of the very people whose rents will increase as a result of a Whole Foods moving in and who live in public housing do not have the luxury of time to organize and attend meetings. If they did, the council would have easily seen five times the amount of anti-Whole Foods in JP folks at the meetings that have been held.

  35. I’d like to thank JPNC for their vote and I appreciate all of you spending countless of hours deliberating.

    Currently, I’m not a JP resident but I was 2 years ago for 4 years and had to move out because it became too expensive for me to live there. Additionally, my parents moved out of Boston 10 years ago because they couldn’t afford to live here anymore. THIS IS A PROBLEM. Whether it’s Whole Foods, or Stop and Shop, etc gentrification IS happening and our businesses facilitate a lot of this. Therefore, it is not only “nice” to have community input , it should be an imperative to include all stakeholders to shape the look and feel of their community (whichever side you stand on). And this is what’s happening now.

    I’ve read a lot of the pro-Whole Foods responses and many of them retort by saying: “Why don’t we ask Stop and Shop or Rent a Center to move out?”. I say, if you want them out then you SHOULD SAY SO! There’s no reason why they should stay there. Zoning laws and the Boston Redevelopment Authority exists for a reason and they encourage community input. And since communities do change people have every right to influence that change as is evidenced in this process.

    Finally, I hope this process opens up a positive dialogue for residents to talk to each other, especially if they don’t agree or feel marginalized for any reason. Clearly what’s coming through loud and clear is that people feel connected to JP and care very deeply for their community and they want to be heard. Let’s focus on these positives and use this as a foundation for building a connected community.

    Thank you,

  36. Hi Daisy,

    People were asking a rhetorical question abot the RAC and Stop & Shop. They were implying that these already existing businesses were allowed to open up without the neighborhood brouhaha that is happening now, and to go further they might have been implying that these companies are by no stretch of the imagination a so called ‘better fit’ for JP than Whole Foods will be.

    You can’t just kick out legal occupants, and I doubt you can rewrite zoning laws to zone out a company.

  37. Maria, I’ll keep it to the point. Rents are always increasing in desirable areas. Every single person, regardless of being pro or anti Whole Foods, on this message board, and in JP, who has had the good fortune of purchasing a condo or home in JP in the last 20-30 years has done their part to “gentrify” the neighborhood.

    Cumulatively these purchases have done more than any one business ever could to change the make up of the neighborhood, raise property value, and dictate the type of businesses that would be a viable option in the community.

    I do agree that people have been over the top in their criticism of the volunteers on the JPNC, but, it’s because to some it is unbelievable that this neighborhood improvement is viewed as anything but a great thing. Especially when they are bringing so many jobs, better wages and a revitalized market that caters to JP more than Hi-Lo ever did.

  38. Thank you JPNC for this vote and for taking a stand to support an affordable and diverse JP. The mix of cultures and incomes in JP is what makes it such a wonderful place to live. Whole Foods in an upscale and expensive place to shop, and will not be a viable grocery option for many people in the neighborhood. Neighborhoods do change, but also people change neighborhoods. Let’s keep JP a welcoming and affordable community, and bring in a business that truly reflects the community we are and the community we want to continue to be.

  39. I am very proud of the volunteer members of the JPNC who have taken a stand against Whole Foods coming to town. I had no intention of commenting until I read the “pro-WF” comments just now. I’m shocked at people’s selfishness and anger because the rest of us just don’t understand… the rights of business, the ‘obvious positives’ of having a high-end grocery store in JP, the march of progress and rising housing costs, etc. And the slurs against Egleston Sq and Jackson Sq hint of racism. It is tempting to suggest that some folks move to the suburbs now, don’t wait until your children are 4 or 5 and might have to be in school with people from Egleston Sq, but I don’t want to fuel the class rancor so I won’t mention that.

  40. Thank you to the council for your vote against bringing Whole Foods to JP! Your taking a stand has not only taken a stand for this particular cause, your stand really shows how grassroots community organizing can help turn things around and help a community’s needs really be listened to and heard. I appreciate your thoughtfulness over this issue and the greater concerns surrounding the continued gentrification of JP. Please keep it up! And keep on keepin’ on listening to the voices that see the bigger picture!

  41. I want to thank JPNDC for standing up for people who don’t usually get represented in our one-dollar-one-vote democracy system. Before coming to JP, I lived in the Fenway for 22 years. When I got there it was an affordable, diverse place, but by the time I left, it was a place only the well-heeled (face it, that means young, rich, and white) could afford to move in to. The old neighborliness seemed gone by the time I left in 2007. And yes, a turning point, in my opinion, was when Whole Foods replaced Stop and Shop on Westland Avenue. We all knew that was a signal for sure about the direction of our old neighborhood, and we were right. Now I feel I am watching a nightmare be repeated.

    So unless we want our JP to face a similar evolution, and become as exclusive as the Fenway, we will need to require that all development, commercial and residential, take the needs of our traditional residents into account. The economy should serve people, not the other way around. Thank you, JPNDC, and I hope Matt O’Malley is taking notice, because he will be judged on his actions on this issue.

  42. Here’s my guess about the difference between the nine people on the list above and the eight people below them.

    (1) Guilt. How much do you want to bet that “the nine” have more inherited wealth and privilege than “the eight”?

    (2) Money. I guess when you make enough money to shop regularly at City Feed and have your organic groceries delivered to your door and to make all of your purchases small and local … or if you don’t really need to work that much so someone can stay home to grow / cook all of your own food … you don’t need Whole Foods, right?

    Shame, shame, shame, JPNC. With such a close vote and a few people missing, you are in no position to issue a statement of any sort.

    At the very least, you should have issued two statements (majority and minority).

    And please. Anyone in this discussion who can afford to buy all of their meat and milk from local organic grass-fed delivery services and all of their expensive potatoes from City Feed — PLEASE — stop trying to pretend this is about poor and working class people in JP. It is about YOU and your overzealous “personal-is-political” need to analyze the meaning of every breath you take.

    The rest of us need to like, go shopping, make dinner, go to bed and get up the next morning for work. It would be easier to do that here, in our neighborhood, instead of elsewhere. It would also be easier to do it in a place that can manage a dinner rush without having you wait in line through the frozen food section for a half an hour (know anywhere like that?)

    There aren’t enough words, really. This has nothing to do with what is good for our neighborhood and everything to do with petty, petty personal politics and privilege.

    This week we’ll get 2010 census data for JP. Get a representative council and I’ll consider your ideas more respectfully. Until then, I think you’re speaking for a small minority of very privileged people here.

  43. I’ve been to all the meetings, and have grown increasingly convinced that Whole Foods in that location is not good for JP. I didn’t start out feeling that way, but went to hear what people thought. I learned a lot.

    A lot of people have raised valid issues about some good things WF would bring and problems it would answer. I get that.

    The more I listen, the more I believe this is not about Whole Foods or HiLo being bad or the hero. It’s about having a voice in what our neighborhood will be. For myself, I don’t want everything in the neighborhood to belong to people like me, well-off whites (for the most part), with only pockets of other cultures, races and classes so that people like me can feel multicultural while those people feel like tokens.

    I live in JP because it is diverse in many ways, unlike most neighborhoods in Boston. That takes all of us. Diversity is hard because it means getting along with people who aren’t like you. Easy to say, hard to really do. The diversity here needs to be fostered and protected. It doesn’t happen by itself. That doesn’t mean no change, again, it means having a voice in that change, based on neighbors, not solely on market forces.

    Whole Foods in that location is a real affront to that part of our neighborhood. I suspect this would be a very different discussion if WF was going in around Forest Hills or some other part of JP that is less culturally identified.

    We do have a scattering of chain stores in JP, CVS, Stop & Shop, Dunkin Donuts and Payless among them. But all of those serve everyone. Whole Foods will not, it’s way too upscale. This isn’t comparable to local chi-chi restaurants or stores in JP either, because of the scale of the change such a large business will bring.

    There are lots of more homogeneous places to choose to live around Boston. I’m hoping JP won’t become one of them. I like a place that has more room than that. I keep learning.

  44. To JPNC,
    A few questions:

    1) What percentage of the residents of JP support/do not support Whole Foods moving to JP?

    2) How does this breakdown by race, income, etc.?

    3) Where is your supporting data?

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