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A Better Cambridge -


A Diverse and Dynamic City on the Path to Sustainable Growth


1 Day Left: Take Action to Build Housing Now in Cambridge

We still need you to take action by tomorrow and tell the City Council you support Policy Order 15, an order by Mayor Maher, Vice Mayor Benzan, and Councilor McGovern on the issue of a Master Plan in Cambridge. 

A Better Cambridge supports strong, community based urban planning that helps us build housing now in Cambridge. We believe that the Maher/Benzan/McGovern policy order is most appropriate because it initiates a planning process facilitated by the professional staff of the Cambridge Community Development Department. 

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ACTION ALERT: Build Housing Now! ABC Statement on City Council Master Plan Policy Orders

We just learned that two competing policy orders will be submitted at Monday’s City Council meeting calling for the initiation of a master plan in Cambridge. A Better Cambridge supports strong, community-based urban planning that helps build housing now in our city. We welcome all productive contributions to that discussion.

ABC supports the policy order submitted by Mayor Maher, Vice Mayor Benzan, and Councilor McGovern. Their order recognizes the important work of previous community planning studies in Cambridge, as well as the critical role new development plays in expanding the diversity and livability of our community.

We ask you to immediately submit written comments to the City Council stating your support for the Maher/Benzan/McGovern policy order. In addition to stating your support for this order, we hope your comments to the council will include reference to the key ABC talking points elaborated on below.

We must act immediately, and we’re counting on you to help.

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Take Action to Expand Sustainable Growth in Central Square

A Better Cambridge was founded in 2012, in response to attempts by a small group of residents to turn back the clock on sustainable growth in Cambridge by submitting a zoning change that, among other negative impacts, would have permanently preserved certain parking lots in Central Square.

They're at it again. Now this small but vocal group of residents is fighting a smart, sustainable development in the heart of Central Square that would bring much-needed new housing and jobs to a currently underutilized parking lot just a stone's throw from the Central Square T Station.

Thanks to petition signatures and letters from you and hundreds of your friends and neighbors, A Better Cambridge was able to stop the Central Square downzoning. We need you to take action again to ensure our city remains on the path towards sustainable growth.

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ABC Letter to Planning Board on 10 Essex Street

Mr. Hugh Russell, Chairman
Cambridge Planning Board
344 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02139 

Dear Chairman Russell,

I am writing on behalf of A Better Cambridge to express our support for the 3MJ Associates special permit application for 10 Essex Street. While we see this as a modest proposal that does not fully achieve our vision for sustainable growth in Central Square, we do see it as a positive step in that direction. In recent years, residents and other stakeholders have had the opportunity to help shape the future direction of growth in Central Square through the Central Square Advisory Committee and other public processes. We believe the 3MJ proposal is a step towards a more diverse and livable neighborhood by converting an under-utilized parking lot in the heart of Central Square into more sustainable use that takes advantage of adjacent transit and other non-car transportation options. However, more should be expected from future development in Central Square. 

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Vote Tuesday for a Diverse and Livable Cambridge

This is it. Tomorrow is election day in Cambridge. Will you make time to cast your ballot for Cambridge’s future?

There are important issues at stake in this election. Will Cambridge adopt policies that allow our city to grow sustainably, creating vibrant neighborhoods near public transportation where all families can afford to live, work, shop, and play?

Or, will Cambridge severely restrict growth ensuring that only the wealthiest people among us can afford to live in this community?

We believe a better Cambridge is one that grows sustainably, taking advantage of proximity to public transportation to expand housing choices for all Cambridge families.

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Cambridge City Council Candidate Ratings - 2013

Cambridge, Massachusetts (October 26, 2013) - A Better Cambridge - a group of Cambridge resident group working to build a more diverse and livable city on the path towards sustainable growth -- has released the results of it's 2013 City Council Candidate ratings. 

A Better Cambridge looks forward to working with all nine members of the next city council to help build a more diverse and livable city.

The next City Council will make important decisions that could impact the future of growth in Cambridge, and help reduce the high cost of housing for working families, young adults, and retirees in Cambridge.

We believe a better Cambridge is a Cambridge that grows smart and sustainably, taking advantage of Cambridge's proximity to public and alternate transportation to expand housing choices for all Cambridge families and a sustainable future for our community. See the full ABC mission and vision at http://www.abettercambridge.org/our_mission

A Better Cambridge encourages all voters to consider which candidates are best prepared to make smart decisions that strengthen Cambridge’s diverse, vibrant neighborhoods and squares. These ratings, however, are not intended to be an endorsement of any individual or slate of candidates. Furthermore, the questionnaire and analysis is intended to give information about how the various candidate stand on the issues that ABC has focused on, and is not intended to be an exhaustive analysis of their stance on every issue currently facing Cambridge.

In low-information elections like this one, ABC knows it's difficult for voters to make the complex decisions about how they will rank candidates on their City Council ballot. To help voters understand where the candidates stand on difficult urban growth issues facing Cambridge, we distributed a 6-question survey to all 25 candidates, as well as conducted extensive third-party research using news articles and other organizations candidate questionnaires to assess their position on 4 key development issues now facing the city.

Remember: In Cambridge we don't just vote for one City Council candidate, we rank multiple candidates in order of preference. The system is called Proportional Representation (you can read more about it here) and the goal is to rank the candidates in order of your preference for seeing them elected to the council. #1 is your top candidate, and so forth -- try to rank at least 4!

For additional information, we encourage voters to view these additional resources:

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City Council Candidates Respond to ABC Questionnaire

On Tuesday, November 5th, Cambridge voters will go to the polls to elect the next City Council. We believe that the next City Council will have a major impact in determining the future course of urban growth in Cambridge. As we look to the upcoming municipal election, ABC wants to understand how all City Council candidates approach the development challenges and opportunities facing our city.

To understand the candidates' plans and priorities if elected, ABC distributed a questionnaire based on our 5-point mission to all candidates. The responses we received are linked in full below. 

Stay tuned for ABC's analysis of these responses. 

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Sign Our Petition: Tell City Council & Planning Board to Vote NO on Net Zero Zoning

ABC Sustainability

Sign our petition to the Cambridge City Council & Planning Board: CLICK HERE TO SIGN

We believe that the Net Zero zoning proposal, however well-intentioned, is a narrow, inadequate and potentially harmful approach to reducing carbon dependence and emissions in Cambridge. For this reason, we ask the Cambridge City Council and the Planning Board to vote down this proposal to give our community the chance to implement broad and effective sustainability measures.

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Net Zero Letter to Cambridge City Council & Planning Board

Mr. Hugh Russell, Chair
Cambridge Planning Board
344 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02139

 

Dear Chairman Russell,

On behalf of the members of A Better Cambridge, I am writing to ask you to vote NO on the Connolly Net Zero proposal.

While we wholeheartedly agree with the goal of eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels in Cambridge, we believe that the Connolly Net Zero zoning currently being considered by the City Council and Planning Board would do more harm than good in our community:

  • Net Zero affordable, multi-family housing is untested - There is no practice-based evidence that carbon-neutral, multi-family housing can built in a cost effective manner that keeps housing affordable to all Cambridge families. The proposed net zero zoning will hurt our ability to create the kinds of higher density, mixed residential and commercial buildings we need to sustain a diverse and affordable city.

  • Net Zero in Cambridge only ignores the reality of our carbon footprint - Every hundred square feet of development in Cambridge is a hundred square feet not going up along routes 128 or 495. To the extent that this proposal moves new construction away from Cambridge, with its high standards on sustainability, and into surrounding areas, it runs a substantial risk of actually raising the very emissions it proposes to contain.

  • Keep our Money Local - Under this proposal, developers could meet net zero requirements by paying out-of-Cambridge and out of State energy companies to offsets their emissions -- missing the opportunity to direct more funding to local programs like subsidies for conversions of existing buildings and smaller residences.

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Net Zero: Right Goal, Wrong Approach

Have feedback? Feel free to leave it in the comments below. Also, we encourage you to visit the Cambridge Civic Journal and participate in the conversation in the ongoing conversation about our statement on the net zero zoning petition.

The members of A Better Cambridge thank the proponents of the Connolly Net Zero Petition for provoking such an important discussion about climate change adaptation in Cambridge. The Connolly Petition has challenged our community to take a serious look at how we will eliminate consumption of fossil fuels and promote alternative energy use across the city of Cambridge.

A better Cambridge is a net zero Cambridge. Eliminating carbon emissions should be a primary goal in Cambridge. We believe that a viable approach to serious energy efficiency in Cambridge relies on a multi-pronged strategy that addresses what we require of new development and how we adapt existing buildings, with a focus on multi-modal transportation throughout. A key achievement will be that carbon emissions are reduced within our city through construction of better and more efficient buildings, without at the same time exporting emissions to communities outside of our borders.

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