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Westside Working Group Recommendations Report

Over two months in 2023, Smart Growth America and Westside Legends convened the Westside Working Group as part of our technical assistance program to advance equitable zoning reform and affordable housing development in Massachusetts. The Westside Working Group consisted of community members, civic leaders, and business leaders to develop recommendations to support affordable housing preservation and creation, economic development for BIPOC organizations, and wealth generation and preservation for BIPOC residents of the Westside neighborhood in Pittsfield. ​ The six recommendations are as follows:

  1. Support grassroots advocacy, bolster community voices in housing and community development decisions, and expand upon existing community engagement efforts. ​​This includes increasing engagement with community groups, supporting community-led candidate forums, and expanding accessibility of community workshops and public meetings. ​
  2. Create an Equitable Development Roundtable to facilitate collaborative and cross-sectional discussions and relationships. ​​This involves identifying key stakeholders, developing tangible goals, and establishing an annual accountability process.
  3. Create and implement a vacant lot remediation strategy focused on the Westside. ​This includes creating an inventory of vacant lots, engaging with community groups, and establishing a community land trust. ​
  4. Develop City-supported educational programming to encourage and support BIPOC wealth generation. ​​This involves identifying and promoting existing educational resources, leveraging available funding sources, and enhancing inclusive community outreach and engagement efforts. ​
  5. Update zoning to allow for mixed-use development and infill on the Westside. ​This includes adopting by-right approval and zoning text amendments, implementing a typical pre-approved gentle density housing permit process, and reviewing current accessory dwelling unit (ADU) pre-approvals. ​
  6. Update the 2009 Master Plan. ​​This involves identifying key stakeholders, reviewing the current Master Plan, and developing a vision for an Equitable Development Plan. ​

Overall, these recommendations, when implemented, can help the City of Pittsfield start to build trust, promote inclusivity, and advance the well-being of all residents, particularly those in the Westside community. The success of these recommendations relies heavily on the active participation of Westside residents and other stakeholders, necessitating regular communication, forums for feedback, and mechanisms for accountability. By working collaboratively, Pittsfield can take significant steps toward creating a brighter future for its residents and the city.


Read the recommendations report here