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A Better Cambridge -


A Diverse and Dynamic City on the Path to Sustainable Growth


April Newsletter: An Important Proposal Moves Forward While C2 Gets a Hearing

Spring is here and with that comes the welcome return of street cleaning and the final melting of snow. Below please find the April ABC Newsletter.

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DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

The Ordinance Committee of the City Council moved the Normandy/Twining zoning petition for the proposed Mass + Main development to the full City Council with a favorable recommendation. The proposal is still before the Planning Board which will hold a second hearing on Tuesday, April 28th.
Mass and Main

The Boston Foundation released its annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card. The report analyzes the current state of the housing market and how to address the affordability crisis facing the region.
The Boston Foundation
T
he Boston Globe

Cambridge is seeking membership applications for the Transit Advisory Committee. The committee is devoted to advancing policies that strengthen public transportation. Applications are due by Friday, May 1st.
City of Cambridge

The results of the participatory budgeting initiative were announced. The projects that were approved include a public toilet for Central Square and 100 new trees for the city.
Cambridge Day

UPCOMING EVENTS

The next A Better Cambridge general meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 19th at 7 pm. Location TBD.

On Wednesday, April 15th at 5:30 pm. the Ordinance Committee will discuss the C2 portion of the K2C2 study. This study contains important recommendations for zoning around Central Square and it is encouraging that the Council is finally taking up this matter.
City of Cambridge

The annual Cambridge Science Festival kicks off on Friday, April 17th. The festival lasts until the 26th.
Cambridge Science Festival

The group Transportation for Massachusetts is hosting a statewide transportation summit on Friday, May 1st.
Transportation for Massachusetts


LINKS OF INTEREST

DID YOU KNOW?

According to the United States Census Bureau Cambridge has issued building permits for 40 housing units through the first two months of 2015 compared to 1,071 for Boston.

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ACTION ALERT: Big News for Affordable Housing in Central Square

As an advocate for a diverse Cambridge, I am hoping you can take action this week to support the creation of more affordable housing in Central Square.

Last November, Normandy Partners/Twining Properties submitted a zoning petition to create a higher-density, mixed-income and mixed-use zoning district near Mass Ave. and Main St. in Central Square. While A Better Cambridge expressed our support for key elements of the proposalwe called on Normandy/Twining to increase the number of affordable units in the project to 20%.

Our advocacy worked, and last week Normandy/Twining announced that they would increase the affordable housing percentage to 20%. This includes 17% of all units for low-income families and 3% for middle-income families. In total, this means 47 new permanently affordable and privately subsidized housing units could be built in Cambridge.

Now we need you to take action to make sure this affordable housing is built!

  • Attend this Wednesday's City Council Ordinance Committee hearing to publicly testify in support of this proposal:
    • Wednesday, 4/1 at 4:00 P.M. in the Sullivan Chambers at Cambridge City Hall
  • If you cannot attend the meeting on Wednesday, email the Ordinance Committee beforehand to let them know about your support for this proposal. Even if you can attend, consider sending an email to reinforce your support:


Finally, I invite you to join us for the next ABC general meeting this Thursday to hear about other opportunities to be involved with our advocacy work:

I hope to see you this week!

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March Newsletter: Spring Thaw Brings New Discussion for Cambridge and the Region

Congratulations/Condolences on surviving what is officially the snowiest winter on record. Spring officially arrives on Friday. Below you will find the March ABC Newsletter.

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DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

ABC released a housing statement calling on the city to create 8,500 housing units by 2030 with at least 20% of the units affordable to low-, moderate-, and middle-income families.
A Better Cambridge Housing Statement

The city is suing the owners of the abandoned Vail Court seeking unpaid fines and a cease in the use of the property as a commercial parking lot. The bulk of the fines result from a $10 per day per parking space fine, yet another way the city underprices parking.
Cambridge Day

MBTA ridership reached record levels in 2014 with 400 million rides.
WBUR

UPCOMING EVENTS

The next A Better Cambridge general meeting will take place on Thursday, April 2nd at 7 pm Location TBD.

The Boston Foundation presents its Greater Boston Housing Report Card 2014-2015 on Wednesday, March 18th at 8:30 am.
The Boston Foundation

The library is hosting planner Jim O’Connell to share his historical overview of Boston’s Metropolitan development on Thursday, March 19th at 6:30 pm.
Cambridge Library

On Wednesday, March 18th at 6:30 pm at the Fitzgerald Theatre, Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, Boston 2024 presents its plan for Boston to host the 2024 Summer Olympics to the Cambridge community. ABC member Saul Tannenbaum has analyzed the impact on Cambridge here:
CCTV Cambridge 2024

The Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to provide an update and continue discussion on the incentive zoning study from the Community Development Department on Thursday, March 19th, 2015 at 5:30 pm in the Sullivan Chamber.

The voting for the participatory budget initiative will take place from March 22nd-28th.
Full particpatory budgeting information here

The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on the Normandy/Twining Zoning petition on Wednesday April 1st at 4:00 pm in the Sullivan Chamber.


LINKS OF INTEREST

DID YOU KNOW?

As of 2013, Somerville had a population density of 19,221 people per square mile compared to 16,686 for Cambridge.

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Clarification of ABC Housing Statement

In a recent statement, A Better Cambridge called for building 8,500 housing units in Cambridge and mistakenly attributed this number to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. MAPC itself calls for the creation of between 3,100 and 6,200 units in Cambridge by 2030.
 
Our number was derived by subtracting the existing number of occupied units in Cambridge according to the 2012 American Community Survey from MAPC's projection for the number of units Cambridge needs under a "strong region." That resulted in our 8,500 unit goal.
 
We appreciate MAPC calling this error to our attention and apologize for any confusion our error in attribution caused.
 
We look forward to a robust discussion of how our community should best respond to this clear need for housing.
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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

In order to reach the target specified in an analysis of regional housing need by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), we believe that Cambridge must add approximately 8,500 housing units in the next 15 years.* 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:

Read more
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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.

 

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

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