ACTION ALERT: Support multi-family housing at Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting

On Tuesday (Jan 18) at 6:30pm, the Cambridge Planning Board will hold its second in a series of discussions about allowing multi-family housing to be built citywide. These discussions are intended to help provide “concepts and options” for the City Council’s future consideration. Unfortunately, the previous discussion didn’t get very far, as many Planning Board members are still uninformed about the goals and benefits of fixing Cambridge’s broken neighborhood zoning. One member even fear-mongered about losing the “diversity” of Brattle St. You can help keep the Planning Board on track by writing an email to [email protected] stating your support for zoning to allow multi-family housing in every neighborhood of Cambridge, and the goals you hope it can accomplish (see below). Emails need to be received by 5:00pm on Monday, January 17. CC’ing the City Council at [email protected] and [email protected] will give your email extra impact. We do not know if the Planning Board plans to accept live public comment at Tuesday’s hearing (last time, they accepted it only at the end after Board discussion), but if you are available Tuesday evening, your participation in the Zoom webinar will also be helpful. Continue reading

ABC Support for Tenant Protection Legislation

Statement on Tenant Protection Legislation Before the Joint Committee on Housing January 11, 2022 Chairman Keenan, Chairman Arciero, members of the Committee, I am submitting this statement in support of the Tenant Protection Act (H.1378) on behalf of A Better Cambridge (ABC). ABC is a Cambridge-based all-volunteer organization working to solve our local housing affordability crisis. This solution must involve producing more housing, especially affordable housing, in Cambridge and elsewhere to meet the critical regional demand. It also requires protecting tenants from the immediate effects of this crisis; today, extreme winter conditions and two years of a global pandemic highlight the persistent gaps in our housing system. All options to create more housing equity in our Commonwealth must be considered. Continue reading

ABC News, Dec 2021: Planning Board roundtable, Events Committee, New Zealand reforms, and more

Next Tuesday, January 4, there will be a Planning Board discussion on concepts for ending exclusionary zoning in residential districts and allowing multifamily structures by-right. Unlike previous discussions, this one is not centered around a specific proposal like the recent Missing Middle Housing petition; instead, CDD’s presentation will include background information (slides 1-26) and a menu of possible approaches (slides 28-35). While the planned CDD presentation is thorough, two concerns have stuck out to ABC members. One is a focus on the residence A-1, A-2, and B districts, which underplays the problems even with existing C and C-1 districts. Another is a lack of urgency about why ending exclusionary zoning is important and why the Planning Board should go bold. You can help provide that context by email until 5:00pm the day before (Monday, January 3) or live via Zoom at the Board’s public hearing. While the Board meeting begins at 6:30pm, the discussion will be the fifth item on the agenda, so you may have to wait awhile for it. Continue reading

ABC Statement on Anti-AHO Amendments

(Approved by the A Better Cambridge board on December 7, 2021.) The 100% Affordable Housing Overlay enacted in October 2020 is beginning to show results that surpass most predictions made at that time. There are currently four projects with over 350 apartments in the planning and design review stages. With over 21,000 households on affordable housing waitlists, and with housing prices and rents continuing to rise sharply – even during the pandemic – the success of the AHO is welcome news for every Cambridge resident who supports and prioritizes creating more affordable housing. Continue reading

ABC News, November 2021: Book discussion, AHO and zoning activity, campaign finance and more

(Sent on November 23, 2021.) The ABC book club has returned! We will be reading Tufts professor Eitan Hersh’s Politics is for Power -- an analysis of the perils of “political hobbyism” -- and meeting in person to discuss it on Sunday, December 5, 1-3pm, at Darwin’s on Cambridge Street.  For more details (especially if you might be interested in a follow-up Zoom!), contact Matthew Wallace at [email protected] Additionally, for those who live in Cambridgeport or near MIT (specific ward/precinct info here), there is a special election for State Senator occurring on December 14th! You can read candidate statements from Lydia Edwards and Anthony D’Ambrosio in Cambridge Day. While ABC has not had time to conduct an endorsement process, we will note that Lydia Edwards has been endorsed by 5 ABC-endorsed City Councillors among many other state and local elected officials. Continue reading

Thank you!! Election results + next steps

(Sent November 3rd, 2021.) The preliminary results from the election are in, and it looks like Cambridge has once again elected six of our endorsed candidates to the City Council - incumbents Alanna Mallon, Marc McGovern, Sumbul Siddiqui, and Denise Simmons, plus challengers Burhan Azeem and Paul Toner! In addition, all three of the proposed charter reforms which we supported have passed, putting Cambridge on a path towards fairer and more democratic governance. Continue reading

ABC News, Sept/Oct 2021: VOTE!, AHO threats, corridor studies, and more

(Sent October 17th, 2021.) Help elect a pro-housing City Council! With the Affordable Housing Overlay under attack yet again (see below), it’s more important than ever that we elect our endorsed candidates, who will fight for a welcoming, affordable Cambridge. ABC also supports a YES vote on all 3 charter questions. Continue reading

Support for Raising the Linkage Fee

(Posted Monday, September 20th, 2021.) A Better Cambridge strongly supports PO #5 to raise the linkage fee for commercial development to $33.34/sqft, or to whatever level the Housing Committee deems appropriate. Continue reading

ABC's housing vision for the next City Council: growth, affordability, stability

OP-ED: ABC’s housing vision for the next City Council: growth, affordability, and stability (Published in the Cambridge Chronicle on September 13th, 2021.) This year, like every year, surveys reminded us that the cost of housing is the #1 issue facing Cambridge residents. (Yes, even above COVID-19.) Every year, rising rents have pushed more and more of our neighbors out of the city - away from jobs, schools, and community - and put countless others in positions of fear and instability. Every year, it gets more and more difficult for us to claim that Cambridge is a “welcoming community”, open to refugees and immigrants, when often it’s not even open to people raised here. We write to stress, however, that the housing crisis is not a force of nature - it is a crisis of our own making, which elected bodies like the Cambridge City Council have meaningful powers to address. We hope that candidates running for office this November are up to the challenge. Continue reading

ABC News, August 2021: Candidate forum, multiple mid-rise proposals in danger, and more

(Sent August 27th, 2021.) A Better Cambridge has just released the responses from an extensive City Council candidate questionnaire, completed by nearly the entire field. ABC’s public candidate forum will be streamed live on Sunday, September 19 at 4:00 pm. Please keep an eye on our Election 2021 page for more details and election news. Continue reading