Peter Hsu

I am a practicing physician who cares about our community just as much as I care about my patients and their families. Even as a physician, my colleagues and I agree that Cambridge is very expensive to live in. I do not sugarcoat things, and with a research background in health policy, I understand not every policy makes everyone happy. However, I believe it is important to create and shape policies that strengthen and protect the common or core values of our city. If elected, I will do my best to vote for policies that create a more affordable, diverse, sustainable, and vibrant Cambridge.

What is your personal experience of housing in Cambridge and how has that affected your decision to run for city council? Do you rent or own? Have you ever lived in public or subsidized housing?

I own my current place, but buying it was not an easy process. Folks assume physicians are rich, which might be true for some just like in every profession, but for physicians living in Cambridge, I personally do not believe most of my colleagues, including myself, have the monetary power to just buy a house without some serious planning or thinking, simply because it is a huge amount to invest. Although I own my unit, I do rent out two of my rooms at a reasonable and affordable price, and thus far, I have been getting very positive feedback from folks on how just these little things have made a difference in their lives. Therefore, my Cambridge living situation and experience has definitely confirmed my belief that, if elected, I will do my very best to vote for policies that would allow more affordable housing and reasonable, stronger tenant protection.

As City Councillor, what would be your top priorities to address our housing crisis?

Housing abundance, hosing affordability, and environmental sustainability.

As Councillor, will you champion efforts to end exclusionary zoning in Cambridge by reforming the zoning code to allow, at minimum, four-story multi-family housing by right in all Cambridge neighborhoods?

Yes. I think it is reasonable and appropriate to end exclusionary zoning. I believe four-story is also reasonable, but how high do we go should be discussed and carefully planned.

In conjunction with direct support for affordable housing and inclusionary zoning requirements, do you believe that new market-rate housing development is a key pillar in making Cambridge an affordable city?

Generally Yes. This has to do with simple economics in finding that great balance between demand and supply (an extremely difficult task to achieve). Therefore, new market-rate housing development is a key pillar in making Cambridge an affordable city, especially rate of influx and efflux of residents remain stable.

Do you believe Cambridge should go further to promote transit-oriented housing development, such as allowing greater height and density within walking distance of MBTA stations?

Generally Yes. Environmental sustainability should be a key consideration in any project and I personally believe transit-oriented housing development does promote environmental sustainability. However, how high do we go should be discussed and planned carefully.

Do you support the proposed Alewife overlay district?

Generally Yes

Do you support also rezoning the Fresh Pond shopping center?

Generally Not. I believe the proposed overlay district generally serves our city’s goals for Alewife’s public realm, built form, site development, sustainability, and resiliency. I must confess, I do not know enough about the reason and appropriateness for rezoning the Fresh Pond shopping center, but based on my understanding, the current layout is designed to accommodate future active use. I think I will need to learn more about the risks and benefits associated with rezoning in relation to future active use in order to make an informed decision.

Do you support the proposal to expand the Affordable Housing Overlay to allow more height for 100% affordable housing development in major squares (15 stories) and corridors (12 stories)?

Yes. Generally, I believe we need more units in order to be affordable and I do believe the proposal to expand the Affordable Housing Overlay is intended to achieve affordability in the long run. Therefore, as of now, I do support this proposal. However, I must also admit that I believe I have to learn more from both sides in order to make an informed decision.

Do you support further increasing city funding for affordable housing to 10% of the City budget?

Generally Yes. We all know housing affordability is a major issue for our city and, therefore, I do support in proportioning more of our city’s budget to affordable housing. The key thing I need to consider is if we were to increase our city’s funding for affordable housing, how does that affect the project that was going to use that budget.

How can Cambridge better protect tenants against displacement?

I believe some of the key strategies would involve better tenant education, increasing funding for tenant protection mainly in the forms of eviction prevention and housing support, better communication and guidelines for landlords, and better research and analyses on displacement data pertinent to our city.

ABC has repeatedly supported state legislation enabling cities to better protect tenants. Do you support such legislation?


If something like it passed, what kind of city tenant protections would you favor? Would you support any kind of rent stabilization, such as the petition from Mayor Wu, which would cap rent increases at a maximum of 10% while exempting new construction, along with requiring just cause for eviction?

I favor tenant protections that are reasonable, which is generally the case when passed through legislature. I do support capping rent increases and I am saying this as a landlord. I think 10% is reasonable as long as other “risks” remain stable. I definitely support requiring just cause for eviction.

Do you believe we have a climate obligation to pursue greater density city-wide and allow more people to live here?

Yes. In general, I believe the more able or capable someone is, he or she will likely need to take on more responsibility in order to make our community and society better. In my opinion, Cambridge is a great, awesome, and capable city with lots of opportunities and potentials, so I do believe we have a climate obligation to pursue greater density city-side and allow more people to live here.

Do you favor an at-large system over a ward-based system?

Yes. I personally think the current system is working fine for Cambridge and I do agree ward-based system can be associated with negative effects on political representation and housing production.

The City Council is currently considering NCD reforms which would increase diversity on boards and commissions, amplify the voices of renters, exempt affordable housing, and enforce term limits. Do you believe these bodies need reform generally?


Do you support the proposed NCD reforms specifically?

Yes. I believe it is really in Cambridge’s best interest to have unelected land use boards to be more representative of what our city is and what Cambridge stands for, including diversity, resilience, affordability, and sustainability.

Would you support combining the City’s housing functions in a new Housing Department headed by a new Assistant City Manager, or is there an alternative approach to organization / staffing you would support? How specifically would you hold the City Manager and city staff accountable for meeting housing goals?

I support combining the City’s housing functions in a new Housing Department, which can either be headed by our City Manager, a new Assistant City Manager, or another name that most of us agree upon. I believe having a dedicated task force is in Cambridge’s best interest in order to fight the current housing crisis. Because of the fact this housing crisis is both real and hugely impactful, I do believe holding our City Manager and city staff highly accountable for meeting housing goals is reasonable and appropriate.

Do you have anything else you’d like to highlight about your candidacy?

I believe in working together to achieve a common goal. I also believe in respecting different opinions in order to form stronger and more inclusive policies. Together, I believe we can make Cambridge better!