Watch the ABC City Council Candidate Forum online

Didn't make it out to the Broad Institute to watch our City Council candidate forum in person? Thanks to CCTV you can watch the forum online, on your own time!

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Join us at A Better Cambridge's First Annual Fundraiser and Silent Auction!

Please join us at A Better Cambridge's First Annual Fundraiser! We'll mingle, bid on silent auction items, enjoy delicious hors d'oeuvres and the best beer in the city at the cash bar, and then follow it up with a buffet dinner, Meadhall-style.

We’ve had an amazing year so far, and have made a real impact on the public conversation surrounding housing affordability and sustainable urban development. With your support, we will put ourselves in the best possible position to step up our educational and advocacy efforts!

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door
http://www.abettercambridge.org/fundraiser2017

 

 

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ACTION ALERT: Three actions this week for you to support more housing in Cambridge

There is so much going on in Cambridge right now that I’m taking the risk of sending you a long Action Alert on a Monday morning.

This email contains information on three important and timely items we need you to take action on:

  1. Support New Homes at Volpe - Make your voice heard at Planning Board & Ordinance Committee meetings Tuesday & Wednesday

  2. Support Affordable Housing in Porter Square - 1791 Mass Ave development presentation on Tuesday

  3. Submit your questions (then attend) ABC City Council Candidate Forum on September 19th.

I hope that you’ll read this full email for complete details on each item above.

Read more
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ABC August 2017 Newsletter: ABC Candidate Forum September 19th

With Labor Day just around the corner, the City Council election will be heating up. ABC will be hosting a candidate forum as well providing ratings and endorsements for the candidates this year. With 26 candidates for nine seats there is a lot of information to sort through. A great resource to start is the candidate pages on the Cambridge Civic Journal created by Robert Winters.

If you are not yet a member of ABC, please consider joining, and bring a friend to one of our upcoming events (see below).

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 News

The City Council passed regulations for short term rentals including AirBnB. The new rules restrict short term rentals to owner occupied units as well as requiring registration for hosts.
WBUR

A group of MIT students filed a petition with the city requiring the university to add 1,800 graduate student beds before they could develop the Volpe transportation site.
Boston Globe

At the first Ordinance Committee hearing on MIT's zoning petition for the Volpe center, councilors pushed the university for a stronger and more detailed transportation plan. The next hearing before the Ordinance Committee is on September 13th at 2:30 pm in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall
Cambridge Chronicle

Facebook announced plans to expand its presence in Kendall Square at a new building on Binney Street.
Cambridge Chronicle

UPCOMING EVENTS

ABC is co-sponsoring the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association's (CHAPA) 3rd annual Housing Day at the State House on Thursday, September 14th. The event aims to gather over 200 advocates to meet with lawmakers and speak up for affordable housing, homelessness prevention, and community development. To get more information on attending click here.

Don't miss the ABC candidate forum on issues of housing affordability and sustainable urban development in Cambridge on Tuesday, September 19th at 630 pm at the Broad Institute, 415 Main Street. Our moderator for the evening is David Sullivan, former Cambridge City Councilor and current special counsel to the President of the Massachusetts State Senate.

We are excited to invite you to our first-ever A Better Cambridge Annual Fundraiser! Come celebrate with us and help ensure that we have the resources we need to be strong and effective advocates for housing for all. It will take place on Thursday, October 5th, from 6:30-9 at Meadhall in Kendall Square and will feature special guests, a buffet dinner, a silent auction, and more! You know we know how to throw a party and this is one you really don’t want to miss! Stay tuned for ticketing information in the coming week.

LINKS OF INTEREST

What Happens After the Real Estate Wave Crests?

YIMBYism: More Housing, But How?


Sierra Club: Housing - Dense, Near Transit, and Green - Can Be a Climate Solution


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Will you join ABC at these two upcoming events?

I wanted to make sure you knew about two upcoming ABC events. I hope you can join us:

CHAPA's Our Homes, Our Voices Rally  
Monday, July 31st, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm in Samuel Adams Park in front of Faneuil Hall in Boston
Join ABC along with the Citizen Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), Cambridge Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and housing advocates from around our Commonwealth for a rally in support of Federal investments in affordable homes and our communities. This is the local event in a national week of action against devastating cuts proposed by Congress and the White House to programs like public housing and Section 8.
Please click here to RSVP

ABC's Greater Boston YIMBY Meet Up
Thursday, August 10th, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm at Cinderella's Pizza & Restaurant, 901 Mass Ave in Central Square
From Cambridge to Roslindale, Newton to Jamaica Plain, Malden to Dorchester, and points in between and far, residents are coming together to say YES In My Back Yard to more housing and sustainable development to address the housing affordability crisis in our region. Once again, 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 socialize and make connections with like-minded smart growth warriors. 
Please RSVP via the Facebook event. If you don't have Facebook RSVP via our website.

I hope you can join us for both of these events.

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Our Homes, Our Voices: Rally for Affordable Homes - July 31, 2017

 ourhomesourvoices.png

Please join A Better Cambridge & affordable housing advocates from around Massachusetts for a rally in support of federal investments in affordable homes and our communities.

Our Homes, Our Voices Rally
Monday, July 31st
11:30 am to 1:30 pm
Sam Adams Park, Boston (in front of Faneuil Hall)

Organized by our partners at the Citizen Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), this rally is the local event as part of a national week of action calling on Congress to fund programs that provide critical housing and anti-homelessness support to many Americans.

Please RSVP via CHAPA's Facebook page for this event

ABC will join with CHAPA, Cambridge Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other residents, housing advocates and policymakers from around our Commonwealth for this important rally.

Too many families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Nationally, only 25% of families in need receive housing assistance, which means millions of people do not have an affordable place to call home. The President and Congress are proposing devastating cuts that would increase housing instability and homelessness, including cuts to Section 8 and public housing. Our communities and state are working hard to address the challenges we face in Massachusetts. We cannot do it alone. Federal partnership is critical to creating vibrant communities.

Please join us to ensure that everyone has the right to a safe, accessible, and affordable home.
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ABC July 2017 Newsletter: Volpe on the Agenda at Next Week's General Meeting

A Better Cambridge has been shifting into higher gear recently. In fact, 2017 is shaking up to be our most impactful yet:

  • Membership: We instituted formal membership criteria in January – and now have over 200 members! (Join here – dues are $20, but ABC will waive them if unaffordable.)
  • 2017 City Council Election: Having formally filed as a nonprofit advocacy group we are readying to make our first-ever city councilor endorsements ahead of the November election as well as host a candidate forum this fall.
  • Platform: At our first membership-only event in May, ABC members endorsed our platform. In a nutshell: “Increasing density is crucial to racial justice, environmental sustainability, and quality of life.”

If you are as excited as we are to fight for a better Cambridge, please join, and bring a friend to one of our upcoming events (see below).

Recent Events

May 16 – Inaugural Members-only meeting at CCTV

ABC members packed the room to the gills! We reviewed and approved the ABC platform, voted to endorse City Council candidates for the fall election, and discussed what ABC’s stance on parking minimums should be. ABC’s Map Committee also demonstrated the progress they have made explicitly mapping where Cambridge can most easily support increased density.

April 19 – ABC Strictly Social Meet-Up at Tavern in the Square, Porter Square

Check out our Facebook page for proof of a rollicking good time in Porter Square.

March 28 – MAPC on Housing Demand in Cambridge and Greater Boston at MIT Stata Center

In our March General Meeting (also packed, despite being rescheduled due to a snow storm), the Metropolitan Area Planning Council – a nonprofit promoting smart growth in the Boston area – highlighted the larger regional issues causing the housing crunch in Cambridge, and what we can do to fight it. (Check out the slides here.)

UPCOMING EVENTS

July 17 – Volpe Kendall Square Development:

ABC’s July General Meeting (open to all) invites you to hear from and ask questions of MIT representatives about the proposed development.

MIT’s proposal includes 1,400 housing units, a focus on locally-owned retail, and potentially the tallest residential building in Cambridge.

There will also be a presentation on a proposed rail link for North and South Stations.                             

Monday, July 17th • 6:30 P.M. • MIT Stata Center

Let us know if you can make the meeting by RSVPing!


ABC In The News

The YIMBY (yes, in my back yard) movement is making headlines – and so are we! ABC cameoed in two recent high-profile articles on the dire need for increased density to remedy not only unaffordable housing, but also economic/racial inequality and environmental ills.

Atlantic Monthly - From 'Not in My Backyard' to 'Yes in My Backyard'

 Perfectly capturing the YIMBY ethos, the article says, “With more housing, the thinking goes, the cost of rent in thriving cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Portland will not rise so quickly, which will allow more people from different economic backgrounds to live there and share in the prosperity of the local economy.”

It also quotes ABC chair Jesse Kanson-Benanav early on: “We’re saying yes to opportunity, in contrast to the gloom-and-doom negativity of NIMBY. […] There’s now a pro-housing, pro-density constituency in Cambridge that hadn’t been at the table previously.” 

It is currently one of the magazine’s top 10 most-read articles.

Boston Globe - Forget ‘Not in my backyard,’ YIMBY could be the new group on the rise

Illustrated with our own Jesse as its poster boy, this May article is part of a series highlighting Boston-area “game-changers.” And YIMBY organizations are a game-changer, says the Globe. That’s definitely our plan.

(For a particularly good time, read the comments to get an idea of what – even as game-changers – we’re up against!)

 

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ABC Responds to Slate Article: 'San Francisco's Civil War'

A Better Cambridge (ABC) thanks Slate for the article they ran by Henry Grabar about the challenges of providing affordable housing in our most expensive cities.

While the article focused on San Francisco, it mentions Cambridge City Councillor Nadeem Mazen, who is quoted as saying,

“The housing advocates and especially young urban planners, like this organization here A Better Cambridge, say ‘Build it now,’ ” Mazen said, referring to the local YIMBY group. “The problem with ‘Build it now’ is what we’re building is luxury housing with a small modicum of affordable required. They say there’s a 30-year wait, wait 30 years and luxury income will become middle-income housing. We have to understand that the free market isn’t going to solve this problem. Twelve or 20 percent isn’t enough.”

Since Councillor Mazen mentioned us by name, we’d like to respond.

Cambridge, like San Francisco, is no stranger to strong debates over the best strategies to reduce the cost of housing, and specifically increase the supply of affordable housing. ABC's fundamental belief is that the best way to reduce the cost of housing in today’s environment is to build more housing. We are just as concerned with preventing displacement of our neighbors, as we are with reducing housing costs. We believe new luxury housing provides an immediate reduction in displacement. Every luxury unit that is occupied is occupied by someone with the means to pay more rent than the vast majority of our neighbors. To compound the problem, typically when a housing development becomes too burdensome to get approved, it is replaced with a lab or office development which brings that many more affluent housing seekers into our city, displacing even more residents.

We are focused on doing everything we can to bring housing costs down now. Our goal is to create an abundance of new homes in Cambridge and Metro Boston so people of all incomes can live in our city and region today.

Slate has done a good job of highlighting the challenges our communities face, and the difficult politics associated with the housing debates. A Better Cambridge stands ready, willing and able to fight for housing for people of all incomes, a most basic human need.

Original Link: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/metropolis/2017/06/yimbys_and_the_dsa_can_t_get_along_despite_their_common_enemy_high_rent.html

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Learn about MIT's Volpe Development at ABC July General Meeting

This week MIT submitted a zoning petition for their major redevelopment of the Volpe site in Kendall Square. Their proposal includes up to 1,400 housing units, a focus on locally-owned retail, and potentially the tallest residential building in Cambridge.

We invite you to hear from and ask questions of MIT representatives about their proposed development at the next ABC General Meeting:

ABC July General Meeting
Monday, July 17th
6:30 P.M.
MIT Stata Center
Room 32-144
We will post signs at the Stata Center to direct attendees to the correct room

Let us know if you can make the meeting by RSVPing!
While RSVP is not required, it will ensure we can accommodate everyone in the room

ABC is intrigued by the development plans and have some questions we’d like to explore. Given our serious housing shortage, is 1,400 units all this site can handle? Should MIT be building grad student housing there? How much parking is included, and will it too much given the development’s proximity to the Kendall T stop?

We are also excited to be joined by a representative of Citizens for a North South Rail Link to learn about their campaign to build an efficient and integrated regional rail network by connecting North and South Stations in Boston. ABC believes that building a diverse and affordable region means creating more homes and increasing mobility for all residents, so we look forward to this discussion.

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Join the ABC members-only meeting on May 16

I wanted to make sure you knew about the special ABC members-only meeting coming up on Tuesday, May 16th. We are gathering our members and donors for this closed meeting to hear updates from our committees and make important decisions about the direction of our work in coming months.

 

Tuesday, May 16th
6:30 - 8:30 P.M.
at CCTV - 438 Mass Ave

This meeting is only to dues-paying ABC members who have joined since January 1st, 2017. 
Members - Please click here to RSVP
Not a member? Please click here to join so that you can participate on May 16th.

 

The agenda for this meeting will tentatively include:
  1. Review and approve the proposed ABC platform
  2. Hear from the Policy Committee about our proposed Policy Advocacy Agenda
  3. Discuss and vote on ABC’s role in the fall City Council election

Since ABC launched a membership drive earlier this year our supporter base has grown by leaps and bounds. We now have over a hundred dues-paying members across Cambridge that have demonstrated their commitment to building a more diverse and affordable city with housing opportunities for all families and individuals. This meeting is one of the opportunities that members have to influence the direction of our organization, so I hope you will attend on May 16.

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