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October 17, 2005



Mr. important is back and his pockets are wide open.......Welcome back, we missed you for a while. Jack, Joe, Sean, Bill, Bruce and Bobby Trane are waiting for u..

Citizen Needs Answers

Can anyone answer me this question?

Kim Foster-Hirch is running for Alderman at Large and she is always saying Somerville needs more affordable living areas. If this is her true platform of helping the Citizens of this City, why does her Father, Herbie Foster, conglomerate, SHA employee, retired from other state hack jobs, how does he do what he has been doing for the past 3 years?

He is converting his old apartments into condos. (By the way, you can bet Boss Hog is the silent partner on some of his properties too). He is on the zoning board to say the least, and here he is doing his own condo conversions. His most recent one is on Cross St. There were 3 families living there, one of which moved out, the other two were told to leave because of so call rodent infiltration. Boy if you want to evict your tenants, I guess it pays to know someone.

Then the other two tenants leave and one gets a ride on us. Yes, they are placed into the SHA shuffle and if not already placed in their own home, not apartment mind you, supported by SHA, they will be shortly.

Now I ask you Kim, how can you stand on a platform and tell us just the opposite of what daddy is doing? How can you!!!! He is paying for your campaign…. Never cross Daddy. Kim…


Is this true?


Foster, AKA, herbie, should be ashamed of himself. He is a low-life and should be hanging in the housing projects doing what he does best,..bullshit everyone.. he is a hack..


I just loved this week's edition of the Somerville News! Many politicians were walking around with egg on their faces because of it all this week! Keep up the good work!

Yorktown Street

By the way, if you look at the City's budget presentation, you'll see they regard condo conversion as a GOOD thing. Not surprising. It brings more tax dollars into City Hall. Never mind that it makes it harder for low- and middle-income people to live here. Condo conversion means fewer apartments to rent, and fewer two-families to buy. Rental income is the only way many people can afford to buy a house at all. So, Joe is making it easier to balance his budget but harder for the people who elected him to stay in Somerville.


yorktown, what the hell are you talking about? do you even understand how a municipality works? how about this one - is real estate your full time profession? and finally - do you have a degree in economics?

well i for one, find some of the articles in this paper, as well as other periodicals that deal with the real estate industry to be informative and make sense. have you read anything in the articles about moving forward instead of being left behind, while ever other city and town around us develops and make themselves less dependent on state and federeal aid?

look, the first job of any city should be to increase revenues - it has nothing to do with the mayor or more money at "city hall". taxes are how police and fire and teachers get paid, last time i checked we didnt live in a socialist society, so it has to be paid for somehow, doesnt it?

also, doesnt it make sense to create more "units" in a time when more money is needed for vital services instead of a smaller amount of homeowners carrying the burden of tax revenue? you must not own a home here or else youd understand exactly what im talking about. it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out that people are having a hard enough time just paying their property taxes and water bill, nevermind their mortgages. talk about collecting rents that just dont cut it

and lets move to the last little tidbit you decided to share with the play group - you actually have the nerve to give this mayor any credit for even remotely understanding the real estate market? are you feeling alright? this guy has a hard enough time controlling his department heads from imploding and trying to put together budgets - especially after the city has to settle lawsuits.

maybe im missing something, maybe you should be the next financial guru of the city because apparently you have all the answers as to keeping rents low, making the city viable financially, funding the police, fire and school departments and creating peace and harmony along the way

Yorktown Street

"Delusional," I have a degree in Political Science, and my wife is a full-time realtor, and we own our own home--but none of those things matters. What matters is your statement, "the first job of any city should be to increase revenues."

Think about that for a minute. Increase revenues at any price? What if Somerville increases revenues by making it impossible for anybody who grew up here to live here? Is that "moving forward"?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, but I've lived in Somerville for sixteen years, and I intend to live and die here. I like it here because in my block alone, carpenters, computer programmers, people who grew up here and people who grew up in Haiti can all say hi, come out to the block party, and shovel snow together all winter. We won't stay that way if it all goes condo.

Yes, the city needs to increase revenues. We need a commercial tax base--not high-end housing to the exclusion of everything else. I don't have all the answers. I don't anyone does. But relying on condo conversion to float the city's boat shouldn't be one of them.


hey yorktown - see, you do have a skewed perception at what i typed. you think about it for a moment. i never said "at any price" and i didnt say that condo conversion was the only way to go...i was wrong about you owning your own home, which is my bad, but you took what i said the wrong way. the first business of a local government is to provide services and be able to fund them, but the city of somerville doesnt control the ability of people to convert their properties into condos - in fact, the city cannot do anything about it - theres an MGL that allows for the conversion which supercedes local condo regulations. the city, by encouraging condo conversion, might be overstepping its duty in that regard, but when you look at how many times the city has been battled at every move to increase commercial projects by groups like the mystic view retards, then you can only put two and two together as to why the city wants to encourage condo conversions...which are still a good thing, but with respect to some of your concerns, now that ive had a chance to reread your comments appear to have a legitimate point....look, im not a big fan of the mayor by any stretch, who could be? but to even intimate that he might be the puppetmaster gives him way too much credit personally, politically and intellectually - maybe im wrong about that too, who knows.
im with you on the commercial tax base - actually, james norton wrote about something to do with that recently i think, im gonna have to look back. maybe we should get toegther with him and some other people and start some kind of local activist group like there were all over the city in the 70's. that might shake up the establishment and im all for that.

James Norton

Now there's a decent idea - and no, not just because you mentioned something I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Why not start groups like the MVTF and PDS? All they are is a group of people in the same room one day, deciding to take up a cause, whether you agree with them or not.

People should get involved and yes, they should form groups related to their causes. I wrote to someone this morning telling him I would support a group if a group formed. Hold your elected officials to a higher standard - make your vote count - and don't just be one lone voice at the end of the hall. Stand together, form coalitions and community-based groups and lets start talking about the issues.

Well that's all I have for you - chew on it - feel free to email me anytime.



I think that the city should take every two and three family house in the city over by eminent domain. They should then knock them all down and build enormous cement block tenements where we can all live happily ever after. It won't matter how hard someone works or how productive we are in society. We will all be able to live in Somerville together affordably and we can all join the Somerville Community Corp. with Marty Martinez and the rest of the communists who like to hurt small landlords and their families by protecting deadbeats who don't pay their rent and abuse the system. No, better yet, let's bring back rent control so we can all live affordably and people can lose the property they have invested their hard earned money on. Then all the homes can fall apart and the progressives and liberals can rename the city LaFuenteville. This is going to be great!!!


While at the candidate's forum at the VNA the other evening, it was mentioned by John L. Sullivan that converted condos are staying on the market for much longer than they had been. I forget the exact number that are on the market, but it was significant. Maybe someone can fill in the numbers for me.
I must admit that the candidates, as a group, did a fine job articulating the problem and presenting some suggestions. There weren't really any solutions, however. No surprise there... if anyone running for local office had a real solution to the housing cost dilemma, they'd proably be annointed rather than elected.
Conspicuous by its absence from the discussion was any substantive mention of the role of bankers in the real estate market. Likewise, I didn't hear much said about realtors. Each have a HUGE stake in the issue, whether in a rising OR a declining market. I personally found that to be remarkable. There was much said about developers, however.
I don't know a whole lot about Section 8 vouchers or other federal programs to create or support "affordable" housing. Thus, I'll leave it to others to explain how this should work.
My personal feelings regarding condo conversion were partially stated in the replies I gave to PDS back in July. Among these is a belief that condo conversions from 2 or 3-family homes in Somerville represent the present-day equivalent of "starter homes". Less costly and more "affordable" (a HIGHLY abused term as it applies to housing, in my opinion)than a single family or even a two or three family that the buyer intends to preserve and receive rental income to augment the mortgage with.
At some point--and based on John Sullivan's comments that point is starting to hove into view--the condo conversion market will reach its saturation point. This could be through a combination of lowering demand, rising interest rates, or excessive supply. At the end of the day, the market will address all of it, however... always has, and always will.
And to "stalin" above, I am reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill (who referred to Stalin as "Uncle Joe", by the way). Churchill once said "There are two very sure ways to destroy a perfectly good city... the first is by precision aerial bombardment; the second is by rent control."
I have a feeling that within the next 24-36 months, there wil be between $50-100 million dollars in property equity LOST in Somerville.
Id like to hear from any realtors on the blog here about their thoughts on condo conversion.

James Norton

John -

Far be it for me to say that I might have a crystal ball and predict the future, I can, without hesitation, tell you that most people in the real estate industry today have absolutely no clue as to what the local marketplace is going to do or even how to plan ahead for it, nevermind forecast it. Thank God most of them will leave the business when it starts to really slow down sales-wise.

Look, I have a couple of pointers for you when you attach your name to a public statement AND you have ambitions of running for public office: first, never ever ever say you don't have an answer about something, especially when you are trying to "address" or make a comment in the first place about any issue. Second, unless you have that crystal ball I mentioned earlier, a doctorate in economics, been in the real estate business full time for at least 10-15 years AND some kind of quantative data to support your statements, don't ever say you have a "feeling" the entire city is going to lose even a dollar of equity, nevermind millions.

That's scary that you would make that comment, based solely on a "feeling" and you should know better.

John L was right - there is a large amount of condo units (particularly conversions and new construction) - on the market for sale right now. The problem is that it really doesn't mean much to you and me and most of the people in this city. Overall, property values will go through a correction period (like how i phrased that?) but it won't be as drastic as you'd like to believe.

I hate to say this, but you also have it dead wrong about two other things - the first would be marketplace saturation - especially over the long haul. Condo conversions, development of mixed-use properties and specialty use commercial (including transient quarters) properties are desperately needed in an area roughly 5 to 10 miles in radius from Downtown Crossing. The second would be making the mistake that any loss in equity to the overall marketplace across the city would somehow be related solely to any type of slow-down in the condo conversion or brand new condo development market.

Will there be some overall equity loss? Sure there will be. Do I have the time or the space to explain on this weblog why or can I take a guess at a dollar amount during whatever period of "correction" the overall real estate marketplace will go through? No.

Be careful John - when you run for office, things you say or type in this case can come back to haunt you. While newcomers to politics are always a welcomed sight to people like me, you need to be able to back up what you say and not just ride along with a "feeling" about something as important and wide-ranging as the local real estate market.

It's good to bring up the discussion - this is what I had in mind when I started writing about it several weeks ago. This is why I try to mix it up with my writing and why I am trying to put together programming for the internet radio station.

Again, for the 20th or so time, for the many people who will read this comment, send me anonymous emails if you want to - but send me some ideas about radio shows to have. I am open to any ideas about any subjects - I want to have a broad range of shows, people and concepts on there - from mild to wild - I will consider all emails confidential and take all suggested material/topics/concepts very seriously.


A hard working property owner!

To JAR regarding your Liberal Yahoo comment "No surprise there... if anyone running for local office had a real solution to the housing cost dilemma, they'd probably be appointed rather than elected."! There is a solution JAR! Work hard just like the property owners did to enable them to buy their homes! Then here comes JAR and the rest of the liberal yahoos trying to dictate on how much a home owner has to charge for his hard earned properties! Please! Go to work! Earn your own monies to buy your own property and find out how it feels to have you JAR's and Jehlenites try to run your life!
A hard working property owner!

I agree with the property owner!

To JAR, I agree with"A hard working property owner"! I will make sure that whatever office you ever choose to run for I personaly will be on your opponents side and fund his or her campaign to the gills just to make sure you lose whatever position that you run for (like State Rep for example). I will do the same to any other whackjob liberal that wants to try to pull the same shit! JAR you are a disgeace, a freeloader and a major whackjob! Whackos like the "MVTF" and the so called Jehlenites" are all opertunistical freeloaders that like messing around with other's hard earned goodfortune! Julious spinless beings that have no back bone! Just try to depribe property owners of somthing that they own and then they form a fringin committie! All the power to you "Property owner" You are being heard load and clear!Dont cast any votes for JAR for State Rep!


I'm a life long somerville resident. Born and raised in Somerville when it was known as Slumervile. Raise and married off my kids also here in the city. Recently my lifelong next door neighbors put their house up for sale, asked a ridiculas amount and got it! Close to $990,000. Now new people live next door. Wounding who can afford such a asking price I went next door and met them. Low and behold two flamming gay guys. Queer as a four dollar bill. You know when I do my yard work and if I have to pick up something on the ground believe me I look around first. I've got to tell you though they are the best neighbors that anyone can ask for. If the house next door was sold at a lower price or even rented out as low income section eight affordable housing, I would have ended up with some trailer trash from out of town and would have ruined the hood! Somerville property is worth a fortune. It's not longer called Slumerville. Lets keep it that way! So I have to agree with the property owner and the other post to reject rejects like JAR and the freeloaders that want to ruin my city!

Ron Newman

JAR is a [b]Libertarian[/b]! And a nice guy who works for a living. Any of you who are tossing insults his way don't really know him.


Why the attacks on someone who offers a simple opinion. Somerville prices will follow the prices in the greater Boston area.

Would anyone be offended if I said the prices of stocks will drop 20% next year because President Bush has run a deficit and pushed interest rates higher? You might disagree but hey thats what these forums are for.

As for property values- its a crap shoot. Could prices drop 20% over the next year or two? Yes. Will they? Who knows. They may continue to go up they may level off.

The fact is that given higher rates and the number of units available prices are more likely to go down (in the Boston area) than up. Will the bubble burst (drop 20%)? I'd say that if Bush continues his policies and interest rates go to 8 or 9% then that's a likely scenario.

The fact is the last person I will ask if prices are going to go up is a real estate broker or property developer. They have a vested interest in saying yes get in now before its too late.

By the way, there never was a Slummerville it only existed in the small minded people who never spent time here.

AND, if prices go down 20% that will not make Somerville any worse- in fact it might have some positive impacts- But lets not tie who we are to the price placed on real estate... we are a much more and much better than the price of a home we own.

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