ABC Platform

ABC believes that, for Cambridge to continue to live up to its promise, we must solve our housing affordability crisis. The only way to do that is to build new homes. Increasing density is crucial to racial justice, environmental sustainability and quality of life.  

In 1950, Cambridge’s population was 120,000. Today, that is down to 110,000.

Yet, allowing more people to live here is particularly important because we are within a 30-minute transit commute of over 250,000 jobs – better than 95% of the region. In other words, increased density would provide better access to economic opportunity, with less sprawl and car dependence.

Because Cambridge’s housing supply is far below demand, the estimated monthly rent for an average apartment is now prohibitive for most – close to $3,000. But the City has many locations well-suited to growth, which could allow existing residents to stay, and new residents – at all income levels – to move in.

In fact, ABC is fighting to ensure that Cambridge increase the actual amount of below market rate housing created, and not merely the percentage of such units in prospective developments. High percentages don’t mean much if new housing never happens.

Finally, greater density helps keep Cambridge unique: more residents help support independent businesses and services, cultural initiatives and meaningful community life.

For these reasons, ABC is proud to be part of the nation’s growing YIMBY (yes in my backyard) movement. 

 

ABC’s Core Policies:
Because…

  1. Expanding home supply relieves pressure on prices, leading to more affordable living.
  2. Affordable living allows people of all backgrounds and income-levels to live close to one another, increasing economic opportunity for all, while allowing communities to thrive.
  3. Increased density in Cambridge and other urban areas is key to overcoming the massive racial segregation and economic inequality perpetuated by 70+ years of suburban sprawl.
  4. By preventing sprawl and pollution, increased density reduces our environmental impact.
  5. Density supports walkable, transit-rich, and bike-able neighborhoods, freeing able-bodied residents from costly, unhealthy and traffic-producing car reliance (thus making travel easier for those who do need cars).
  6. Greater concentrations of residents attract more businesses and services—increasing options, opportunities, and quality of life for all.

We advocate for policies that…

  1. Encourage building new homes in all of Cambridge’s neighborhoods, particularly along business corridors and near transit hubs, for people and families of all income levels.
  2. Put people before cars, by prioritizing housing over parking.

 

Policies Against Gentrification + Displacement:
Local anti-growth sentiment exacerbates a crisis of gentrification and displacement that disproportionately impacts communities of color, low-income residents, and vulnerable populations. Restricting supply creates artificial scarcity and drives up prices for everyone.

Because…

  1. In a growing economy with insufficient housing stock, higher-income newcomers compete for older housing stock and outbid lower-income residents.
  2. When neighborhoods say “no” to home construction, they deny current residents additional options for attainable homes, and create an exclusionary community.
  3. The only way to limit rising rental costs and home values is by increasing the supply of homes.

We advocate for policies that…

  1. Expand affordable and market-rate home development throughout the city.
  2. Achieve an equitable distribution of attainable homes in all of Cambridge’s neighborhoods.
  3. Maximize the number of below market rate (BMR) housing units as opposed to the percentage of BMR units in new projects.

 

Environmental Policies:
By restricting housing production in Cambridge we promote sprawl, gentrification and displacement. Densifying Cambridge promotes environmental justice. Giving all residents shared access to our transportation infrastructure and city services, is more ecologically and fiscally sustainable.

Because…

  1. Cambridge isn’t going to stop growing. 

We advocate for policies that…

  1. Ensure all communities in Cambridge can benefit from the ecological benefits of higher density living.
  2. Accommodate new residents within our neighborhoods, and not at the sprawling fringes of our region (where they will be economically isolated, and heavily reliant on cars).
  3. Reduce our collective impact on the environment and its natural resources.
  4. Incentivize the development of sustainable building forms that consume less of our resources.

 

Policies to Improve Transit:
Dense cities allow for efficient and reliable transit, walking, and biking options – options that also help keep residents physically healthy and reduce the pollution they breathe. Cambridge should encourage a robust transit network, and de-prioritize cars.

Because…

  1. Owning a car shouldn’t be a pre-requisite to living in Cambridge, and public streets should be for everyone’s use, not just those who drive and park cars.
  2. Healthy and ecological car-free travel (whether by foot, bike, and via transit) should not only be convenient, but also safe, reliable, and cost-effective.
  3. Strong transit systems are a matter of racial and economic justice, which can relieve all residents of the significant financial burdens associated with car-dependency.
  4. Discouraging people from unnecessary car use decreases traffic, thus making life easier for those whose health or commute requires that they use cars.

We advocate for policies that…

  1. Prioritize walking, biking, and using transit over driving for those who are able.
  2. Create safe and functional streets for those who walk, bike and use transit.
  3. Expand and enhance reliable transit options in Cambridge.
  4. Eliminate subsidies that induce driving and car ownership, including required parking minimums.

 

Policies Promoting Quality of Life:
When neighborhoods say YES to homes and businesses, Cambridge’s community grows stronger.

Because…

  1. Diverse, welcoming communities are thriving communities.
  2. Vibrant neighborhoods with a diversity of businesses and services can support the needs of all residents. In particular, they allow older adults to age in place.
  3. Allowing residents to meet their daily needs without having to travel far strengthens bonds with neighbors, merchants, and community members.

We advocate for policies that…

  1. Promote mixed-use development (homes, businesses, and community services).
  2. Support mixed-income, diverse neighborhoods.
  3. Encourage non-traditional housing arrangements, such as co-ops and community land trusts.

 

Extra-Municipal Policies:
While Cambridge must be a leader in promoting housing production, it is one city within a larger region. Other communities must also step up. In our region’s inner core, municipalities are tens of thousands of units behind in projected demand. 

Because…

  1. Housing demand is too great for one city or town to meet on its own.
  2. Housing production across the region will have a broader effect on affordability and provide greater opportunity to all.

We advocate for policies that…

  1. Mandate or incentivize cities to follow regional master plans and statewide housing policies.
  2. Support state-level efforts to reform zoning and increase housing production across the region.
  3. Streamline planning in a well-defined and predictable manner that does not impose significant delays or costs on projects, or allow individual property owners or neighborhood associations to hijack the building process.
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commented 2017-05-17 15:53:09 -0400
GREAT AGENDA! Well done.

For a diverse and sustainable Cambridge with housing for all.


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