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A Diverse and Dynamic City on the Path to Sustainable Growth


A Better Cambridge Calls on the City to Create 8,500 Units of Housing Before 2030

Cambridge stands at a crossroads. Both people and industry find Cambridge increasingly attractive. Our economy booms, yet we suffer from an acute housing shortage. We can either seize potential opportunities to ensure the diversity, vibrancy, and values that make our city so special, or we can squander these opportunities and lose the best of our city.  We believe that time is of the essence, and for that reason we call on the City Council to take concrete action on the following items before this November’s election:

  • Respond to the housing crisis directly though increased density – taller buildings and increased floor area ratios – at major transportation hubs and along major corridors in order to allow the creation of 8,500 new housing units over the next 15 years. This includes approving the “Mass & Main” mixed-income zoning with the maximum number of affordable units possible

  • For the rest of Central Square, at a minimum pass the zoning recommendations offered by the Central Square Advisory Committee, recommendations the Council itself requested

  • Increase linkage fees and the inclusionary zoning of affordable housing, in order to both create and support more affordable units
  • Reduce or eliminate parking minimums from the zoning code, at the very least around transportation hubs

  • Use every means of influence the City has to increase the amount of housing universities build on their campuses in order to reduce the pressure on the Cambridge housing market

According to an analysis of regional housing need by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Cambridge needs to add approximately 8,500 housing units in the next 15 years to meet the expected demand for housing.  Based on an analysis of census data, we believe that maintaining diversity requires that at least 20% of the units be affordable to low-, moderate-, and middle-income families.

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ACTION ALERT: Planning Board & Ordinance Committee Need to Hear from You This Week

Late last week I emailed to remind you about this evening's Planning Board hearing on the Normandy/Twining proposal for Central Square. 

Again, I encourage you to take time this evening to attend the meeting and let the Planning Board members know that  Cambridge residents support higher density development that bring more affordable and family housing, local business opportunities, and innovative parking solution to Central Square:

  • Planning Board: Tuesday, 2/24 at 7:00 P.M. in the  Second Floor Meeting room at 344 Broadway
  • If you cannot attend the meeting, email the Planning Board by Tuesday to register your support for this proposal. Even if you can attend, consider sending an email to reinforce your support:

    • Address to Chairman Theodore Cohen and send it to lpaden@cambridgema.gov who will pass it along to the Chairman and other Planning Board members.


In addition to tonight's Planning Board hearing
, the City Council Ordinance Committee will meet on Thursday, to receive public comment on the Normandy/Twining proposal. It is important to make your voice heard at this meeting because the severe weather in February made the process exceed the statutory time frame, making the original hearing no longer count:

  • City Council Ordinance Committee: Thursday2/26 at 5:30 P.M. in the School Committee meeting room at CRLS - 459 Broadway
  • If you cannot attend the meeting, email the Ordinance Committee by Thursday to register your support. Even if you can attend, consider sending an email to reinforce your message:


Thanks for your continued support.

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ACTION ALERT: Tell the Planning Board to Support a Diverse & Affordable Central Square

Thanks to your action earlier this month, the City Council Ordinance Committee heard a clear message: Cambridge residents support zoning that will bring more affordable housing and transit-oriented development to Central Square. 

Now it's the Planning Board's turn to consider the proposal from Normandy Partners/Twining Properties to build a mixed residential and commercial development that would add more affordable housing just steps from the Central Square T. 


HOW CAN YOU TAKE ACTION?
We need you to send the Planning Board a strong message by:

1. Attending next week's Planning Board meeting to publicly testify in support of the Normandy/Twining proposal:

  • Tuesday, 2/24 at 7:00 P.M. in the Second Floor Meeting room at 344 Broadway

2. If you cannot attend the meeting, email the Planning Board by Tuesday to register your support for this proposal. Even if you can attend, consider sending an email to reinforce your support:

  • Address to Chairman Theodore Cohen and send it to lpaden@cambridgema.gov who will pass it along to the Chairman and other Planning Board members.


3. Still haven't sent a letter to the City Council? It's not too late:

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February Newsletter: New Zoning and Linkage Fees are Proposed

A Better Cambridge mourns the sudden death of Brian Murphy, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. Brian was a dedicated and gifted public servant who never sought the limelight and was a strong advocate for affordable housing. We extend our deep sympathy to his family on their untimely loss.

We hope everyone is surviving through these weeks of snow. The last few weeks have seen significant cancellations and delays for city programs. Below you will find the February ABC Newsletter.

 

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DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

As part of a zoning overhaul in Somerville, the city has released a summary of key changes in the zoning code. Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone has publicly pledged that 9,000 new units of housing need to be built in his city — already the densest city in MA. This number is up from their original estimate of 6,000 new units. Once they looked at the projected demand, the Mayor and city upped their estimates.
Somerville Zoning Changes

The Boston Globe recently published an article focused on an empty lot in Kendall Square including possible uses for the space and the plans of the owner to build a performance facility.
Boston Globe

An overhaul of Lechmere station as part of the Green Line extension is set to begin this spring. It is scheduled to be completed in 2017.
Cambridge Chronicle

Below is the link to a much anticipated Cambridge Incentive Zoning Ordinance Study recommending changes in linkage fees.
City of Cambridge

Late-night weekend service on the T was extended through June. A final decision on the program will be announced in April.
WBUR

UPCOMING EVENTS

The next A Better Cambridge general meeting will take place on Thursday, March 5th at 7 pm. Location TBD.

The Planning Board will hold a hearing on the Normandy Twining zoning petition on Tuesday, February 24th.

The Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss emerging technologies for master planning and comprehensive zoning at 3 pm on Thursday, February 19th. Local researchers will present their work on data science and neighborhood planning policy.
City of Cambridge

True Story Theater & the Cambridge Historical present The Port/Area IV Stories of Belonging on Wednesday, February 25th at 6:30 pm at the Central Square Theater.
True Story Theater

The participatory budget process is moving into the next phase. If you're a Cambridge resident 12 years of age or older, you can vote on how to spend $500,000 from the City's Capital Budget.
Full particpatory budgeting information here


LINKS OF INTEREST

DID YOU KNOW?

Only 45% of Cambridge workers drive to work alone. Since 2000, this has dropped by 5.3%, whereas nationally it has risen.

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Tuesday 1/27 Planning Board Hearing Postponed Due to Blizzard

Due to the impending blizzard, the City of Cambridge has cancelled all public meetings including Tuesday's Planning Board hearing on the Twining Properties zoning proposal for Central Square. ABC will keep an eye on the Planning Board calendar, and let you know as soon as this important hearing is rescheduled. 

Why not take advantage of tomorrow's snow day and email your comments to the Planning Board? Also, it's still worth sending a letter to the City Council Ordinance Committee if you haven't already. 

For talking points to help draft your letter and information about where to send your comments, please see last week's ABC Action Alert on our website.

Stay safe and warm! 

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Tell the Planning Board: Yes to Affordable Housing in Central Square

Thanks to your action last week, the City Council Ordinance Committee heard a clear message: Cambridge residents support zoning that will bring more affordable housing and transit-oriented development to Central Square. 

Click here to read last week's Action Alert and learn why ABC believes the Normandy Partners/Twining Properties' proposed zoning for Central Square is a productive step towards building a more diverse and sustainable city.


Now we need you to send the same message to the Planning Board:


1. Attend this week's Planning Board meeting to publicly testify in support of the Normandy/Twining proposal:

  • Planning Board - Tuesday, 1/27 at 7:00 P.M. in the Second Floor Meeting room at 344 Broadway.
  • NOTE: The City of Cambridge is preparing for the forecasted blizzard, and it possible the meeting will be postponed. ABC will monitor the situation on Monday and Tuesday to notify you ASAP if there are any changes to the meeting schedule.

2. If you cannot attend the meeting, email the Planning Board by Tuesday to register your support for this proposal. Even if you can attend, consider sending an email to reinforce your support:

  • Address to Chairman Theodore Cohen and send it to lpaden@cambridgema.gov who will pass it along to the Chairman and other Planning Board members.


3. Still haven't sent a letter to the City Council? It's not too late:

Be sure to read last week's Action Alert for talking points to include in your comments to the City Council and Planning Board.

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ABC January '15 Newsletter: An opportunity for more housing in Central Square

A belated happy New Year from A Better Cambridge. Below you will find the January ABC Newsletter. We are now officially in a Cambridge election year. Expect development to be a top issue of discussion.

Did someone forward you this email? Make sure you don't miss another newsletter or announcement from A Better Cambridge by signing up on our website: http://www.abettercambridge.org/sign_up.

DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

ABC has released a statement in support of the Twining/Normandy zoning proposal. The proposal would bring much needed housing including a significant number of affordable and three bedroom units.
ABC Action Alert

The average Boston area rent rose 5 percent from 2013, approaching $1,200 in 2014. Note that according to a survey of rents in 2013 referenced on the CDD website, the median rent in Cambridge for a one-bedroom was $2,385.
Boston Globe

The City Council continues to discuss the vacant Vail Court and possible actions that can be taken to get something done about the abandoned property right off Central Square.
Cambridge Day

CDD released a proposal for zoning changes for the eventual redevelopment of the Volpe Center in Kendall Square. The Federal Government has yet to release any proposal for the site.
City of Cambridge

The Harvard Square Advisory Committee is seeking new members. Applications are due by February 6th.
City of Cambridge

UPCOMING EVENTS

The next A Better Cambridge general meeting will take place on Thursday, February 26th at 7 pm. Location TBD.

On Thursday, January 22nd at 5:30 pm in the Sullivan Chamber, the Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing on the Normandy/Twining zoning petition. The proposal is to amend Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new Section 20.800 entitled Mass and Main Residential Mixed Income Subdistrict within the Central Square Overlay District. If you cannot attend in person we encourage you to send an email to the Council at council@cambridgema.gov AND City Clerk dlopez@cambridgema.gov

The Planning Board will also be holding a public hearing on the proposal on Tuesday, January 27th at 7:00 PM at City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway. You can email the planning board at lpaden@cambridgema.gov

On Saturday, January 24th from 10 am to 1:30 pm at the Andrew Peabody School Gym the Center for Families is hosting a Winter Family Fun Day for families with children aged 0-8.


LINKS OF INTEREST

DID YOU KNOW?

The MBTA operates 29 bus lines through Cambridge in addition to the one Green Line and five Red Line stations.

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ACTION ALERT: Support Affordable Housing & Smart Growth in Central Square

I’m writing to ask for your action to build a more diverse and sustainable Central Square. 

Right now the City Council and Planning Board are considering a major proposal from Normandy Partners/Twining Properties to build a mixed residential and commercial development that would add more affordable housing just steps from the Central Square T. 

A Better Cambridge has urged the City Council to pass zoning to create more housing along Mass. Ave, other major corridors, and transit centers in the city. We believe that zoning changes proposed by Normandy/Twining are a productive step towards address the challenges we face as a city -- encouraging our dynamic economy while creating enough housing to give families of all income levels the opportunity to live here. 

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ABC News for Dec. 2014: New Year brings major prosposals

DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

Vice Mayor Benzan, Councilor McGovern, and Councilor Cheung presented a Policy Order that will send the K2C2 studies to the Ordinance Committee to discuss. The order was passed unanimously. ABC supports the studies and it’s a welcome sign that the Council is finally doing something with the recommendations.
Cambridge Chronicle

The first of numerous roundtables with the City Council and the Planning Board to discuss citywide planning and how the process can be improved.
Cambridge Chronicle

Twining Properties and Normandy Real Estate presented a proposal to the City Council to raise the allowed heights in around the intersection of Mass Ave. and Main Street to develop the Quest Diagnostics properties into apartments and retail. The developers have already held two open houses to discuss the project and there will likely be additional opportunities for public engagement.
City of Cambridge (PDF)

The City of Cambridge has been working to reduce the number of drive-alone trips and promote walking, biking, taking transit, and carpooling since the 1990s. Carshare services, such as Zipcar and Enterprise Carshare, have become an important part of accomplishing these goals. The Cambridge Community Development Department is working with residents to explore ways to formalize carsharing in zoning regulations including conducting a survey.
City of Cambridge survey

UPCOMING EVENTS

The next A Better Cambridge general meeting will take place on Wednesday, January 14th at 7 pm at the YWCA board room. This will be a very important meeting to discuss strategy and initiatives in 2015.

The next roundtable to discuss citywide planning will take place on Monday, January 12th at 5:30 pm in the Sullivan Chamber. There is no public comment at the meeting.

The City Council Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to receive an update on the incentive zoning study from the Community Development Department on Tuesday, January 13th at 5 pm in the Basement Conference Room of 831 Mass Ave.

On Thursday, January 22nd at 5:30 pm in the Sullivan Chamber, the Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing on the Normandy/Twining zoning petition. The proposal is to amend Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new Section 20.800 entitled Mass and Main Residential Mixed Income Subdistrict within the Central Square Overlay District.


LINKS OF INTEREST

DID YOU KNOW?

According to the U.S. Census the population of Cambridge was 120,740 in 1950. As of 2010 the city was still below that peak with 105,162 residents.

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ABC Newsletter - November, 2014

Below please find the ABC November newsletter. As year-end approaches some of the more controversial issues and developments are not currently front and center, but important proposals and initiatives to keep an eye on are emerging.

Did someone forward you this email? Make sure you don't miss another newsletter or announcement from A Better Cambridge by signing up on our website: http://www.abettercambridge.org/sign_up.

DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

Vice Mayor Benzan, Councilor McGovern, and Councilor Carlone presented a Policy Order to the City Council that will explore the development of city owned parking lots in Central Square into affordable housing.
City of Cambridge

New appointments to the Planning Board were announced amid continued discussion of reforms for the Board that the city hopes will address community development concerns.
Cambridge Day
Cambridge Chronicle

The city approved a six-month pilot program for Bridj, a private transportation service based in Cambridge. The private shuttle service seeks to provide transportation connecting areas such as Coolidge Corner to Kendall Square.
Cambridge Day
Boston Globe

For the first time ever, Cambridge is allowing the community to decide where to spend a portion of the budget. The participatory budget program sets aside $500,000 to be spent within the community based on citizen input.
City of Cambridge

UPCOMING EVENTS

CDD is hosting a Bike Plan Open House on Thursday, December 4th from 5-8 pm. The event will share a draft of Cambridge Bicycle Network Plan along with an opportunity to provide input on the plan.

The Harvard Art Museums reopened this weekend after six years of renovations.

The 1st Annual Great Gobble Give-Back takes place on Saturday, November 22nd from 1-3:30 pm. The volunteer event will include trail maintenance and invasive species removal to protect the Fresh Pond habitat.


LINKS OF INTEREST

DID YOU KNOW?

According to the 2010 Census, 65.4% of all housing units in Cambridge are rented and 34.6% are owner occupied (including owner occupied condominiums). Approximately 14% of the entire housing stock is subsidized in some form.

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We're Working to Build A Better Cambridge - A Diverse and Dynamic City on the Path to Sustainable Growth