ACTION ALERT: Act Now for More Housing in Central Square

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.

1. Oppose downzoning in Central Square - This Monday, 1/23, the City Council will receive a citizen petition to reduce the building heights allowed in the Mass & Main development - a site that received approval for 270 units of housing, including an unprecedented 50 affordable units, after a year-long community process. In addition to decreasing heights, this seemingly hastily-written downzoning would increase the affordable housing ratio to a level that the city’s recent inclusionary zoning study indicated would hamper new housing development in the city.

In short, reducing heights and increasing housing requirements to an infeasible level at Mass & Main will mean fewer total affordable housing units for Cambridge families in Central Square.

TAKE ACTION - Tell the City Council you oppose this petition which flies in the face of years of planning and community processes.

  • Speak at Monday’s City Council meeting: 5:30pm at City Hall. You can sign up to speak at the meeting, or call the City Council office at 617-349-4280 starting at 9:30 A.M. on Monday.

  • Email the Councillors: If you can’t attend on Monday, or to reinforce your message, email all nine members of the city council at council@cambridgema.gov. Be sure to copy city clerk dlopez@cambridgema.gov so that your message gets on the official record.


2. Support the Central Square Restoration Petition
 - I wrote you back in November to ask for your support of the CSRP, otherwise known as the Sater Petition -- a compromise upzoning for Central Square that brings height and density allowances into alignment with years of planning studies. Among other important impacts, this petition creates the potential for approximately 1,000 new units of housing in Central Square.

Thanks to your strong response, the Planning Board sent a unanimous decision recommending that the City Council adopt the new zoning. However, the petition remains stalled in the Ordinance Committee and risks expiring without passage. We need the council to schedule a second ordinance committee hearing to accept the Planning Board’s positive recommendation and send it to the full City Council for a vote.

TAKE ACTION - Tell Ordinance Committee Co-Chairs that it’s time for them to schedule a second hearing on the Sater Petition by February 6th and pass it along to the full city council with a positive recommendation so that we can finally bring Central Square zoning into alignment with years of planning.

  • Email the Ordinance Committee Co-Chairs Dennis Carlone (dcarlone@cambridgema.gov) & Leland Cheung (lcheung@cambridgema.gov). Please copy me so that we know 


3. Support the Mass & Main Special Permit - On Tuesday, 1/24, the Planning Board holds a second hearing on whether to grant a special permit for the development of Mass & Main which will add hundreds of much-need housing units to Central Square -- including over 50 affordable low- and middle-income units -- to create a vibrant, transit-accessible mixed-use community in Central Square.

If the special permit is approved on Tuesday, construction could begin this summer leading to the realization of these vital new housing units for our city in the short term. Any delays could put the entire project at risk.

TAKE ACTION - Tell the Planning Board that you support the Mass & Main development, and that it’s time to approve the special permit.

  • Speak at Tuesday’s Planning Board hearing: 8:00 P.M. at the City Hall Annex (344 Broadway, 2nd Floor). You can sign up to speak at the meeting Tuesday.

  • Email the Planning Board: If you can’t make the meeting Tuesday, or to reinforce your message, email lpaden@cambridgema.gov who will pass your message along to the members of the Planning Board.


Thank you for taking these critical actions to support a vibrant and affordable Central Square.

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