Real Estate

Mayor Wu’s ZBA picks include income-restricted renters, homeowners, and immigrants

The mayor is looking to overhaul the influential city board.

Carlin Stiehl/Boston Globe
Michelle Wu

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Monday put forth a diverse slate of appointees to the city’s powerful Zoning Board of Appeal as her administration seeks to overhaul the group and retool the city’s zoning practices amid the region’s housing crunch.

Wu is seeking to appoint 10 new members to the 14-member board and announced she would reappoint three current members, Jeanne Pinado, Sherry Dong, and Hansy Better Barraza to three-year terms.

The term of member Kerry Walsh Logue, a representative of the Building Trades Employers Association from South Boston, expires in November.

The City Council must vote to confirm Wu’s picks before they can take office.


Wu’s appointees live across Boston and include members “who are multilingual, renters in income-restricted housing, homeowners, building trades members, first generation immigrants, and multigenerational Bostonians,” according to a news release from Wu’s office.

“Their collective training and experience includes city and transportation planning, community development, affordable housing creation, sustainable development and architectural design, and construction,” officials said.

Members of the current board were all picked by previous mayors.

With her selections, Wu appears poised to be making good on her vision of reshaping Boston’s development process, which she has long argued is outdated and therefore unfit to meet the modern-day needs of the city’s complex housing issues.

The ZBA has substantial influence in Boston’s building sector, as projects seek relief from those zoning ordinances — and very often get it.

And Wu has been a sharp critic of the ZBA, particularly as a city councilor during former Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration, when the board was steeped with scandal that included a city official pleading guilty in federal court to accepting a bribe and the resignation of a ZBA member.

Wu’s nominees will help the mayor reach her goal of “rebuilding trust with communities through planning-led development while advancing equity, affordability, and resilience across all functions of the City’s development review process,” her office said.


“This outstanding slate of community members will play a key role in Boston’s growth as we work to build more housing and address the regional affordability crisis, support equitable and resilient neighborhoods, and shift to planning-led development,” Wu said in a statement. “These appointees represent the diversity, talent, and expertise of our communities that will connect Boston’s growth to addressing our greatest challenges.”

These are Wu’s proposed appointees:


  • Giovanni Valencia, West Roxbury (primary seat)
  • Alaa Mukahaal, Mission Hill (alternate seat)

Neighborhood Organization Seats

  • Norm Stembridge, Roxbury (primary seat)
  • Shavel’le Olivier, Mattapan (alternate seat)
  • Sherry Dong, Dorchester (primary seat)
  • David Aiken, East Boston (alternate seat)

Greater Boston Real Estate Board

  • Jeanne Pinado, Jamaica Plain (primary seat)
  • Katie Whewell, West End (alternate seat)

Boston Society of Architecture

  • Hansy Better Barraza, Roslindale (primary seat)
  • Thea Massouh, Brighton (alternate seat)

Building Trades Employers Association

  • Raheem Shepard, Hyde Park (primary seat)

Building Trades Council

  • Alan Langham, Dorchester (primary seat)
  • Dave Collins, Roslindale (alternate seat)


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on