Mayor Michelle Wu’s ‘Wutopia’ has no cars, empty skyscrapers

No cars. Empty skyscrapers. Fossil fuels banned. Major businesses fleeing the city. Vacant downtown.

This is the Wutopia that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu wants, her vision to transform the city.

Mayors like Kevin White, Ray Flynn and Tom Menino helped build Boston, and she could be presiding over its dismantling.

Wu is overseeing a commercial decline unlike any the city has seen in recent memory, with over a billion dollar hole in the budget due to declining tax revenues. And bike lanes don’t generate revenue.

Her response? Shut out the business community and titans of industry and raise taxes.

The ultra-progressive circle of advisers she’s surrounded herself with figures Wu won the mayor’s office without business leaders’ help, so why reach out to them now?

Her proposal to raise the commercial tax rate beyond the current limit was met with stiff opposition by business leaders and could get a chilly reception on Beacon Hill, but so what?

Between the commercial tax hike and new restrictions on fossil fuels, it’s making it difficult for major new development.

Wu is spinning the proposed tax hike as a tax cut for residents, arguing the late Mayor Tom Menino did the same thing when he was in charge.

She talks about “re-imagining” the city, jacks up greens fees at the city’s two historic golf courses so they’re less affordable for average residents, and shells out grants only to her various progressive causes.

The attempt to compare Wu’s tax hikes with Menino’s is not valid, critics argue, because the city’s empty downtown has never seen the decline it faces now.

And though Menino was criticized for his heavy-handed tactics, he was always accessible to most business leaders.

Business leaders say Wu is taking the city down a dangerous path toward self-destruction the way some other cities have imploded.

“This is a time unlike any other in the last 30 years, and piling more financial burdens on a struggling industry is no solution at all,” Greg Vasi, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board said. “We are deeply concerned that increasing commercial tax rates to recoup lost revenue will only take us closer to the urban doom loop being seen in many other American cities.”

And if the economy starts to go south, it’s only a matter of time before it affects Boston’s great institutions like hospitals and universities.

Wu’s plan to re-imagine Boston comes as she’s scored a string of policy and political victories.

A year and a half before the next Boston mayoral election, there are no challengers and serious questions about who would be foolhardy enough to take on the job.

Despite the heavy scrutiny Wu has been under in her first term, no one from the right has stepped forward to become a voice of the opposition.

Is she unbeatable? Will she just glide into another term – if she even runs again?

With all the criticism the progressive darling Wu gets, she still has a huge swath of support in liberal neighborhoods throughout the city.

She’s made some major missteps, like trying to move the O’Bryant School from Roxbury to white West Roxbury, and holding a segregated Christmas party, but there’s no indication those mistakes are big enough to stop her re-election chances.

The question is what will Boston look like when she leaves?

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