We all know that Cambridge and Greater Boston face a housing affordability crisis.
Over the years, multiple planning studies and commissions have agreed: transit-accessible Central Square is the right place to create higher density communities that provide more housing for Cambridge families.
I need you to take three actions right now to ensure that Cambridge and Central Square remain on the path towards a more vibrant and affordable community.
From Cambridge to Roslindale, Newton to Jamaica Plain, points in between and beyond, local residents are coming together to say YES In My Back Yard (YIMBY) to more housing and sustainable development to address the housing affordability crisis in our region.
This month ABC is devoting our regular Strictly Social event to bring together YIMBY activists from across Greater Boston. Whether you are affiliated with a YIMBY group in your community or not, we hope all pro-housing activists will join us to schmooze and make connections with like-minded smart growth warriors.
Thursday, January 26th
6:30pm to 9:00pm
at Cambridge Brewing Company
One Kendall Square
(a short walk from Kendall Square T)
Please let us know if you can make it by RSVPing via our Facebook event. If you don't have a Facebook account you can RSVP on our website instead.
All are welcome and we encourage you to bring a friend or two.
I hope to see you on January 26th.
On behalf of all the members and friends of A Better Cambridge, we want to wish you a very happy holiday season.
Although we face difficult times on the national and international stage, our resolve is now strengthened more than ever to fight for justice in our local community. We are lucky to live in Cambridge -- a community that understands that diversity is what makes us special and strong.
As we look to 2017, A Better Cambridge is excited to transition to a more formal membership model where our supporters will have the opportunity to actively influence the work and direction of the organization. We hope you'll join us in our effort to ensure Cambridge and Greater Boston retain their vibrant diversity by providing housing opportunities for all.
Again, happy holidays and we look forward to working with you next year.
Jesse Kanson-Benanav, Chair
Pamela Thilo, Board Clerk
Bill McAvinney, Treasurer
Alec Papazian, Board Member
Sam Seidel, Board Member
By now I'm sure you've heard of the devastating fire that impacted Cambridge's Wellington-Harrington neighborhood over the weekend. As we understand, over 60 families have been displaced. Among those neighbors displaced were residents living in St. Pat's Place, an 18-unit affordable housing development in the former Catholic church now owned by Just-A-Start Corporation. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families impacted but the fire.
While we are so lucky that no serious injuries or worse occurred as a result of this fire, we are devastated for the many families now made homeless. In the aftermath of this awful event, Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons has established a Fire Relief Fund to assist those families impacted. I hope you'll give generously to help our neighbors in this difficult time -- but donations in any amount will be useful:
At this time, the City of Cambridge and Red Cross are asking people not to make physical/material donations of food, clothing, blankets, etc. If you wish to make donations of Target or all-purpose gift cards I understand that those will be accepted in the Mayor's Office at City Hall.
Thank you for supporting our neighbors in need.
A few weeks ago I was excited to join with over a hundred other neighbors from in and around the Central Square area to add my name as a signatory to the Central Square Restoration Petition (CSRP). Primarily sponsored by Nabil Sater, longtime Cambridge resident and owner of the historic Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub, this zoning amendment would implement a number of changes that I believe will help strengthen and expand Central Square as a vibrant and diverse mixed-use district while allowing for new, desperately needed housing development in this transportation-rich neighborhood.
Don’t forget election day is November 8th, but early voting started on October 24th. See the below link for information on poll locations and times.
NEWS AND UPDATES
Early voting begins October 24th at five locations around the city.
City of Cambridge
Envision Cambridge is seeking volunteers for four Working Groups on the following topics: Housing, Climate and Environment, Economy, and Mobility. Applications are due November 18th.
The Obama Administration released a white paper on the negative consequences of restrictive zoning including increased inequality, lower economic growth, and segregation. The paper outlines policies that communities can take to increase housing production.
White House Housing Development Toolkit
Slate: The White House Is Finally Targeting the NIMBY Nonsense That’s Made Cities Unaffordable
The Boston Globe published an editorial on the subject of Obama’s housing push that cites the proposed downzoning of Riverside as a prime example of excessive local regulation.
Boston Globe: Obama’s YIMBY Moment
The next ABC general meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 16th at 7 pm. The location is TBD.
The Cambridge Historical Society is hosting the second part of a three part symposium on housing in Cambridge. The event titled, "What have been the successes & failures of affordable housing planning & activism?" takes place on Thursday, October 27th from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Cambridge Community Center.
Magazine Beach Park Cleanup will take place on Saturday, November 12 from 9 am to noon. Gather sticks, rake leaves, pick up trash. Prepare the park for the winter. To sign up contact firstname.lastname@example.org
LINKS OF INTEREST
DID YOU KNOW?
The total assessed value of all residential property in Cambridge is $24.5 billion.
I wanted to make sure you had a chance to read yesterday's Boston Globe editorial about "Obama's YIMBY Moment."
As the editorial describes, President Obama recently released a white paper calling for cities to eliminate exclusionary zoning and increase density in order create more housing opportunities for all families, including low- and moderate-income individuals. But as a famous Cantabrigian once said, all politics is local -- and to help make the President's case, the Globe editorial board described the ongoing situation with the downzoning in Riverside which A Better Cambridge has actively opposed:
I need you to take action right away to oppose new restrictions on housing development in Cambridge's Riverside neighborhood.
Back in May I sent you an email (click here to see my previous message) asking you to contact the Cambridge Planning Board in opposition to a proposed down-zoning in Riverside which would make it harder to develop much-needed new housing in accessory dwelling units in that neighborhood.
You responded and the Planning Board agreed, calling for the City to adopt a Riverside Neighborhood Conservation District instead of down-zoning. A neighborhood conservation district could ensure that the design of new housing in Riverside reflect the surroundings -- without making it harder to build critical new housing in Cambridge. ABC finds this a sufficient compromise in the midst of a serve housing shortage in our region.
But apparently some members of the City Council do not agree with the Planning Board, and have re-introduced the Riverside down-zoning for consideration at this Wednesday's Ordinance Committee meeting. In the midst of an ongoing housing crisis, ABC remains opposed to any effort to make it more difficult to create new housing for Cambridge families.
I ask you to join us in opposition by speaking against the proposed down-zoning at Wednesday's Ordinance Committee meeting:
Wednesday, October 5th
Cambridge City Hall
2nd Floor Sullivan Chambers
If you cannot attend the meeting, or to reinforce your message, please email statements of opposition to all nine members of the City Council at email@example.com. Make sure to "CC" City Clerk Donna Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your comments on the official record of the Ordinance Committee proceedings.
Thanks for your support and please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.
As summer comes to a close the City Council is back to regular weekly meetings with some big decisions to be made in the fall.