Jake grew up in West Newton, in a family of medical and public-health professionals. He attended Temple Emanuel, Peirce, Day, and Newton North. After graduating from Harvard College, Jake joined the Marines. He commanded infantry in Afghanistan and special operations in Panama over 4.5 years
Back home, Jake's work on municipal policy earned him a place on the Better Government Commission for Charlie Baker in 2014. He was first elected to the Newton City Council in 2015, while earning an MBA in Finance from MIT Sloan. Voters re-elected him in 2017. That election, Jake was the first to endorse Ruthanne Fuller for mayor. He is now the vice-chair of Public Safety & Transportation and a member of the Land Use committee. Jake is a Democrat.
Jake lives in Newtonville with his wife, Michelle, and Labrador Retriever, Donut. In his day job, he's a software product director. He focuses on property and transportation technology.
Getting around keeps getting harder. Yet here in the science capital of the world we ignore the evidence about how to reduce congestion. Here are five ideas, tried and proven elsewhere, that state policymakers should test: read more
Jake is dedicated to smarter transportation policy; sustainability; world-class schools; and walkable housing & retail development
- Progressive transportation policy
Mobility policy & technology is changing, fast. Jake is well prepared to guide local transportation policy:
- Currently director of product for Solaria Labs, the innovation arm of Liberty Mutual Insurance. Jake leads research and development teams focused on new forms of housing & transportation.
- Currently vice-chair of the Public Safety & Transportation Committee
- Formerly a municipal policy writer for Harvard Kennedy School
- Degrees in economics & finance with a focus on their application to urban planning
The infrastructure investments & development permits enacted today prefigure mobility in the future. With the city council, the mayor, and his constituents, Jake promotes:
- Walkability: Safe, comfortable, interesting, and useful pedestrian experiences for all ages and physical abilities. Jake evaluates both individual projects, like Riverside, and city-led initiatives, like the Washington Street vision plan, through the lens of walkability.
- People-throughput, not car-throughput: Buses, light-rail, heavy rail, shuttles, rideshare, cycling, and scooters are all viable alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. The design of our streets and the structure of our fees should let each modality compete equally to move people comfortably and conveniently.
- Aggressive transportation-demand-management strictures in special permits: Developers should be responsible for reducing car-trips in major projects. Jake has helped lead that effort for the Northland project under review.
For environmental sustainability, Jake has been a strong supporter of
- solar-panel installations on public sites;
- greener development standards;
- plastic-bag & styrofoam bans;
- stormwater fees to encourage on-site treatment; and
- municipal purchasing of renewable energy.
For fiscal sustainability, Jake was an early champion of more prudent funding of the city's post-employment-benefits liability. Jake also advocated more aggressive issuance of Newton's AAA debt, historically cheap in an era of low interest rates, to fund deferred road repair.
Newton teachers were the most important formative influence on Jake besides his parents themselves. Every child deserves the excellent education he received at Peirce, Day, and Newton North. In his role as a city councilor, distinct from the school committee, this translates to two commitments:
- Support school budgets that pay the salaries & benefits necessary to recruit and retain excellent teachers.
- Hold the planning and public buildings departments to account for coordinating with the schools on capacity and enrollment.
Jake was also an early and influential advocate for full-day Kindergarten.
Newton's housing prices are driving out its middle class. We are not a fully welcoming city so long as teachers, civil servants, retail employees, young families, and downsizing baby boomers cannot afford to move or stay here.
Promoting housing & retail affordability is a four-pronged effort:
- Build more—and more diverse—housing stock. Within regional labor markets, housing prices respond to supply-and-demand: increasing the supply of housing puts downward pressure on prices. Encouraging accessory units is one mechanism; denser redevelopment in walkable, mixed-use formats is another.
- Use inclusionary zoning, which Newton pioneered, to set aside income-restricted units in every significant project. Similar policies can ensure retail square footage is available for local business, too. Retail inclusionary zoning is best negotiated for each project, rather than laid down by fiat citywide.
- Help seniors stay in Newton through deferred property taxes; proactive services and programming; and all-age-friendly development standards.
- Unbundle parking from development. Bundled parking increases the cost of housing and retail and induces traffic.
Jake steers towards planned progress in the debates over development. He pushes back against both developers who aim too big and NIMBY opponents who cast each proposal as a zero-sum conflict. The 'planned progress’ balance is one that welcomes change but insists that its benefits are shared and its costs addressed.
Join seven thousand neighbors by subscribing to the monthly email updates at the top of the page. Jake also publishes each topic as a Note on Facebook. You can read those Notes, dealing with housing, transportation, the environment, budgeting, and more, here: Newton News archive
Op-Eds & articles
Jake has written extensively on the intersection of policy, politics, and technology at the state and local level
For hire: CEO of housing and transit
Eastern Mass. has too little housing and too much traffic. Here’s a bold fix.
CommonWealth, June 2018.
EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS has a lot going for it. From the outside looking in, we’re thriving in the information economy. We can boast a talented workforce; world-class research and development; productive relations between government, business, and academia; nationally esteemed health care and education services; and access to deep capital markets. [read more]
Amazon, come to Boston
America’s best company should build HQ2 in America’s best city.
CommonWealth, September 2017.
Build it in Boston. Your second corporate headquarters, which you intend to be a “full equal” to Amazon’s home in Seattle, belongs in the Athens of America. I know there’s competition – Vancouver, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Denver, to name just a few – but Boston is best for three reasons: talent, research and development, and infrastructure. [read more]
Democrats’ platform of opportunity
Party needs a coherent, future-oriented vision.
CommonWealth, April 2017.
THERE’S AN OLD QUIP that a camel is a horse designed by committee. In June, Massachusetts Democrats will affirm a new state platform – the camel meant to guide federal and state party officials from Massachusetts for the next four years, including the gubernatorial candidates. Like 2013’s version, it will be a laundry list, not a vision. [read more]
Massachusetts Drone Regulations Still Up in the Air
7 News, Boston, April 2017.
NEWTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Drones have taken off in Massachusetts, with nearly 10,000 registered with the Federal Aviation Administration in our state last year. [read more]
The dissonance of zoning and immigration
Democrats must be the party of open doors – at all levels.
CommonWealth, March 2017.
NEWTON RECENTLY BECAME a sanctuary city. I was proud to co-sponsor the ordinance and gratified by the legion of residents who rallied at City Hall in support of their immigrant neighbors. The next night, I listened to some of those same residents decry a request to build housing and retail near the Newtonville commuter rail station. They did not want the influx of people, with the attendant traffic and school children, and they did not want the bigger building. [read more]
Much of our history is the struggle to make good on that promise for those who were left out of the 18th century social contract: women, immigrants, African-Americans, those with disabilities and those without inherited wealth, among many others. It is a good struggle. As an American, I am proud of the American promise; as a Democrat, I am proud of my party for protecting it during this election season. [read more]
Newton Election 2015: Auchincloss unseats Johnson; incumbents prevail elsewhere
Wiked Local, November 2015.
Jacob D. Auchincloss unseated longtime incumbent Marcia Johnson in the four-way race for Ward 2 aldermen at-large -- the only challenger to win election among the five contested aldermen races this election cycle.
With 4,797 votes, Auchincloss came in second in the race for two spots to incumbent Susan Albright, who earned 5,370 votes. Johnson trailed with 4,328 votes, while Lynne LeBlanc, another challenger, finished with 3,488 votes, according to unofficial results. [read more]
In what has become the most competitive race of this election cycle, three newcomers are challenging incumbent aldermen at-large Susan Albright and Marcia Johnson, who have a combined 28 years experience representing the Newtonville-centered ward. [read more]
Auchincloss announces bid for Newton alderman
Wiked Local, January 2015.
A 2006 Newton North and 2010 Harvard graduate, combat Marine and current MBA candidate at the MIT Sloan School of Management has thrown his hat in the ring for the Ward 2 alderman at-large seat in November’s election.
Jacob “Jake” Auchincloss said he would bring a fresh perspective and sound judgment to the board. [read more]
Pre-K for every Newton child
Wiked Local, January 2015.
Newton’s hard-won reputation for academic excellence will erode if the city does not invest in universal access to early childhood education. We are already behind by neglecting to provide bona fide full-day kindergarten, as 85 percent of the state’s school districts do; we are falling farther behind by ignoring low-income families’ demand for high-quality preschool. [read more]
- Living Large on a Small Footprint
- Engineers at MIT seek to make housing more affordable by reducing unit size without making the apartments feel smaller
- Data-Smart City Solutions, August 2014.
Engineers at MIT’s Media Lab may soon offer cities another lever to increase both workforce housing and urban density. The CityHome is a transformable wall system that integrates furniture, storage, exercise equipment, lighting, office space, and entertainment hardware. Critically, the CityHome is both modular and scalable: it is smart architecture that can be inserted into a “dumb” chassis, thereby relieving risk-averse developers from up-front overhead costs. [read more]
The Best and the Brightest of Local Regulatory Reform
The Regulatory Reform Committee addresses municipal innovation
Data-Smart City Solutions, July 2014.
The $18 billion valuation of Uber is, in the words of L. Gordon Crovitz writing in the Wall Street Journal, a market estimate of the value of the waste caused by taxi regulations around the world. And taxi regulations are but one of myriad anachronistic, duplicative, or unduly cumbersome rules that have turned many American local codes into demoralizing puzzles. Beyond headliners like Uber that have challenged regulatory landscapes, though, these local codes have been subject to much less scrutiny than their federal counterparts. [read more]
Old Town, New Tricks
Coordination between local firms helps a once-battered neighborhood in Panama City thrive
Data-Smart City Solutions, July 2014.
Casco Viejo is the beating heart of a booming city. At the southwestern tip of Panama’s capital, the vibrant neighborhood overlooks the Pacific entrance to the Canal, through which hundreds of millions of tons of containerized freight pass each year. The success of the Casco and the Canal represent the same approach manifested at the local and the global scale: Operations that serve an international clientele demand logistics beyond the means of the Panamanian government. The Panama Canal Authority is a patrimony unto itself; it coordinates tariffs, cranes, locks, and docks with constitutionally protected autonomy. There are no such formal mandates in the Casco. But there is Casco Parking. [read more]
Social Physics As A Public Utility
Tools for measuring innovation potential should challenge how cities plan and design
Data-Smart City Solutions, May 2014.
Prime innovation ecologies are at a premium these days, as both municipal and private-sector officials scout out sites to host the next innovation district or biotechnology firm. A new branch of science, social physics, will help them develop innovative neighborhoods to deepen their bench of prospects. [read more]
Regulatory Climate Index 2014
Data-Smart City Solutions, May 2014.
A small business in Dallas can secure a construction permit in 50 days, for just under $10,000. Its twin in San Francisco? More than six months at ten times the cost. [read more]
Paid for by the Committee to Elect Jacob Auchincloss