Next Steps to End Exclusionary Zoning

This past Monday, City Council approved moving forward with the process to end exclusionary zoning. Thank you very much to so many of you who emailed and spoke in support! The next steps are fast approaching, and we again need your help.

The Housing Committee and the Planning Board both have upcoming meetings to discuss zoning reform. First, the Planning Board will meet on Tuesday, May 21 at 6:30 pm to discuss a citizen petition (the "Ronayne" petition) with minor zoning changes. ABC believes the petition should be integrated into the zoning reform process already underway in the Housing Committee. (Those of you wrote into City Council may have received a reply from Councillor Nolan supporting this petition.)

As it stands, the citizen petition insufficiently changes zoning to encourage building new, environmentally friendly multifamily homes rather than larger—and more expensive—single-family homes and duplexes. For example, the petition does not allow any additional height and leaves large setbacks (the distance of the building from the street and other lots) unchanged. Height and setback limits are two central reasons why, even where apartment buildings are technically legal in Cambridge, they do not get built. 

As a result, this petition will not result in any meaningful amount of new housing and is especially unlikely to produce any permanently affordable inclusionary units that can provide homes for those on our lengthy affordable housing waitlist.

Legalizing multifamily housing on paper is not enough, we need real reform to allow apartment buildings citywide and make Cambridge a more inclusive, affordable city!


The Housing Committee has already voted unanimously in support of ending exclusionary zoning. At the hearing, Harvard professor Jason Furman, one of President Obama's top economists and a Cambridge resident, testified in favor of allowing more height and density. Paul Williams, Executive Director of the Center for Public Enterprise and one of America's top experts on social housing, also spoke in strong support

Please write to City Council and the Planning Board to support building more multifamily homes for families who need them across Cambridge and sign up to give public comment. If you want to get more involved, please email [email protected] to learn about our working group.


COMMENT in support at the Housing Committee meeting on Wednesday, May 22 at 3:00 pm and/or EMAIL the Council and the Planning Board to urge them to: 

  • Support the Housing Committee process underway to end exclusionary zoning. Table the Ronayne petition while the Housing Committee, stakeholders, and residents undertake further discussion on the most effective way to encourage building more multifamily housing, not just changing zoning on paper.
  • Sign up to give public comment at Wednesday's Housing Committee here (sign-ups open the day before the hearing and for the topic, you can just put "Support for ending exclusionary zoning")
  • Email the Council, Planning Board, and Clerk ([email protected][email protected], [email protected][email protected], BCC [email protected])

With your help, we can end exclusionary zoning, build more multifamily homes, and allow renters to live in every Cambridge neighborhood. See our website for more details.


We have three exciting upcoming events:

  • First, sign up for Abundant Housing MA's first-ever Lobby Day at the State House on Wednesday, May 29 at 10 am. Our very own, ABC Co-Chair Becca Schofield, will be speaking! We will encourage our legislators to pass Governor Healey's Affordable Homes Act and allow Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) by-right statewide.
  • Second, that same evening, Wednesday May 29, come join us from 6-8 pm for an ABC Social, on the Phoenix Landing patio at 512 Mass Ave in Central.
  • Third, on Tuesday, June 11 at 7 pm, we have a virtual book event with Richard Kahlenberg, the author of Excluded: How Snob Zoning, NIMBYism, and Class Bias Build the Walls We Don't See. Sign-up info coming soon.

🙏🙏 Thank you so much for your continued efforts! 🙏🙏