(Sent Sunday, March 13, 2022.)
This week, there will be two public meetings about new pro-housing policies - one on ending exclusionary zoning, and one on more funding for affordable housing. See below for details.
Your support can help make a difference. Please email the City Council and the Planning Board to share your perspective!
TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 6:30PM - the Planning Board’s third hearing on ending exclusionary zoning and allowing more small apartment buildings in neighborhoods.
How you can help: The Community Development Department (CDD) and the Planning Board have so far mostly heard from anti-housing voices. They need to hear why the housing crisis matters to you. Let them know we need bold reforms and many more multi-family homes! Email [email protected] (and CC [email protected] and [email protected]). Emails must be received by 5:00pm on Monday.
Because of exclusionary zoning, most neighborhood redevelopments yield large, expensive single-detached houses. (For example, on Pearl Street.) Outright bans and onerous dimensional standards combine to make triple-deckers and other small multi-family buildings illegal to build in most of Cambridge.
Exclusionary zoning has created barriers to more affordable, equitable and sustainable neighborhoods in Cambridge. For more information, see our previous action alert on this subject or our web page on ending exclusionary zoning.
Unfortunately, the Planning Board is refusing to make new multi-family housing a priority. In a past hearing, one Board member questioned whether we even have a housing crisis!
- As a result of the Planning Board’s ambivalence, the draft zoning principles, concepts and options that CDD will present on Tuesday are incomplete.
How you can help (bonus): Include specific comments on CDD’s presentation in your email. For instance, two things that stuck out to us:
Slides 7 and 11-13 imply they are currently not considering changing allowed building sizes or parking or setback requirements in this process. Not reforming dimensional standards like these would make the rezoning much less effective. There would be many fewer homes constructed as a result.
- On slide 25 they imply that the Planning Board’s preferences will determine future work. The needs and values of Cambridge, as expressed by the City Council, should guide CDD's work. The unrepresentative Planning Board’s failure to lead should not.
How you can help (extra bonus): Register for the hearing here and attend. This is the second item on the Planning Board’s agenda, so it will likely begin sometime after 7:00pm. It is helpful to be there in the likely event that they accept live public comment. (They will decide at the hearing whether to accept comments, so we can’t guarantee it. Either way, watching will help you be a more informed advocate in the future.)
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2:00PM - a Housing Committee hearing on taxing commercial development to raise money for permanently affordable housing.
- Lab and office developments increase demand for housing, driving up rents and land prices. Despite this, they contribute less financial support to affordable housing than new housing development does.
Kendall Square office space is one of the most desirable markets for commercial real estate in the country. (It is competitive with prices in downtown Manhattan!)
Increasing the linkage fee from $20/sqft to $33/sqft would likely generate $40 million for affordable housing over the next 3 fiscal years. ($33/sqft is the maximum linkage fee legally allowed by Cambridge’s 2019 nexus study.)
- If we had made such an increase in June 2020, we would have already produced an extra $30 million for affordable housing by now.
- This move would only increase costs for commercial tenants of new buildings by approximately 2%.
How you can help (bonus): Register to attend the Housing Committee hearing and give live public comment here (signup will likely open on Tuesday).
P.S. The more people act, the more it makes a difference. Consider sharing this post!
P.P.S. We’re trying something different with how we format our action alerts. Love it? Hate it? Want to know more / less / different information? Email and let us know!