ACTION ALERT: Ask Your State Senator to Support Zoning Reform in Massachusetts

A Better Cambridge is proud to support Senate Bill 2311, legislation currently pending before the State Senate that would modernize our Commonwealth's zoning legislation with the first updates in over 40 years. We need your help to pass this legislation.We all know that Cambridge faces a housing crisis, and you often hear from me and ABC when your advocacy is needed to increase housing opportunities for families right here in Cambridge. But we all recognize that the housing shortage is a regional issue, and as much as Cambridge should be on the forefront of building more housing for all families we recognize all city and towns must do their part to address our regional housing need.We have heard over and over again about this housing crisis. The Boston Globe agrees, and they recently endorsed this legislation. ABC believes this legislation is of vital importance because, among other items, it will:  Increase multi-family zoning in communities across the state, leading to more of the homes we need. Encourage the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) so that property owners can create housing for relatives or generate the rental income needed to help stay in their homes. Special permits, which are a common approval process, would no longer require a supermajority vote. Reforming the appeals process will reduce frivolous lawsuits and lengthy court battles over development, saving time and money for local government, taxpayers, and developers. And more! Click here for more comprehensive information on what is included in this bill. The State Senate will vote on SB 2311 this Thursday, June 9th. I ask you to take a couple minutes before Thursday to contact your State Senator by completing this convenient form on the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance website. Don't worry if you're unsure who your Senator is, as this form will automatically determine the right recipient based on your address.

ABC May Newsletter: The Green Line Extension Moves Forward, But Uncertainty Remains

The state announces plans to move forward on a pared down Green Line extension, though the fate of the project is still in flux. See below for more information on the project. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES The state approved a scaled back version of the Green Line extension. There are still significant hurdles for the project, but this is welcome news for a crucial investment for the future of the community.Cambridge ChronicleTo help move the Green Line extension forward Somerville and Cambridge pledged a total of $75 million in local funds toward the project.Cambridge Chronicle There are signs that new housing coming on the market in the region is causing rent increases to slow, though the market still remains one of the most expensive in the country.Boston GlobeThe second survey for Envision Cambridge is now open. You can participate in the survey here:Envision CambridgeThe 3rd Participatory Budgeting process kicks off this month. You can find information about volunteering and a timeline for the project here:City of Cambridge Participatory Budgeting UPCOMING EVENTS City of Cambridge Citizens’ Committee on Civic Unity and the City of Cambridge are hosting an event titled, Cambridge: Who We Are and How We Got Here on Thursday, May 26th from 6:30-9 at Cambridge College, Room 152, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue. The presentation will examine the diversity of the City, including when and how different groups of residents came to Cambridge, how the City’s demographics have evolved over time, and some of the conditions that have fostered changes in the community.Citizens Committee on Civic UnityThe City Council Housing Committee will hold the second of two sessions on the recently completed inclusionary zoning study on May 31st at 6 pm in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall.The annual Cambridge Arts River Festival will be held on June 4th from 11:00 to 6:00 on the East Cambridge waterfront.City of CambridgeThe 9th annual Fresh Pond Day will take place on Saturday, June 11th from 11:00 – 3:00 at the Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Facility at 250 Fresh Pond Parkway.Fresh Pond Day LINKS OF INTEREST The Neighborhood Veto and the ‘Missing Middle’ Fixing the American Commute How Cambridge and Lexington Invented New Housing Preserving Community Character is Impossible DID YOU KNOW? According to the last U.S. Census, Cambridge's 2010 population was 105,162 people. By 2014, the Census estimated the population at 109,694 people. That is a growth of 4% over four years. At this rate of growth, Cambridge's population could reach 128,326 by the year 2030.

ACTION ALERT: Oppose Riverside Downzoning at Tuesday's Planning Board Meeting

On Tuesday the Cambridge Planning Board will hear public comment on a proposed zoning amendment that would "downzone" a huge portion of the Riverside neighborhood with the express desire to limit the size of new structures that can be built in that neighborhood. ABC strongly opposes the proposed downzoning of the Riverside neighborhood. We ask you to join us in opposition by speaking against the proposed downzoning at tomorrow's Planning Board meeting:  Planning Board MeetingTuesday, May 24th7:00 P.M.334 Broadway, 2nd Floor   If you cannot attend the meeting, or to reinforce your message, please email statements of opposition to [email protected] who will forward your comments to Planning Board members. Continue reading

Will I See You at Tuesday's Meeting?

I just wanted to remind you about the upcoming ABC general meeting that Alec included in last month's newsletter. If you've supported ABC in the past but never made it out to a general meeting this is a great one to start. The meeting will be held Tuesday, May 17th, 7:00 P.M. at CCTV, 438 Mass Ave in Central Square.On the agenda: A discussion about the recently released Cambridge Inclusionary Housing Study with Chris Cotter, Housing Director of the Community Development Department Information about Envision Cambridge from Melissa Peters, Project Planner with the Community Planning division. The exciting new vision for the future of ABC! All are invited! Please feel free to forward this email to those not already on the list. If you have a chance, please RSVP on the Facebook event we've setup for this meeting. I hope to see you on Tuesday.

ABC April Newsletter: A New Inclusionary Housing Study for Cambridge

New proposals on a state and local level to increase affordable housing are on the table which will drive discussion over the coming months. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES A long awaited inclusionary housing study was completed with recommendations to raise the affordable housing requirement for new developments. This is just the first step in a long process over the coming months in deciding what the new policy will be.Cambridge ChronicleBoston Globe A bill by state legislator Kevin Honan would require cities and towns to designate areas where multi-family housing is allowed as-of-right in addition to other policies to encourage the production of housing across the region. This would be an incredibly important policy change to help solve the regional housing crisis.Commonwealth Magazine: Moment of Reckoning for Housing and State Honan Zoning Reform Bill There are signs that new housing coming on the market in the region is causing rent increases to slow, though the market still remains one of the most expensive in the country.Boston Globe Cambridge earned the highest ranking in a survey of sustainability by STAR Communities.Cambridge Chronicle UPCOMING EVENTS The next A Better Cambridge general meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 17th at 7 pm at CCTV at 438 Mass. Ave. A public meeting on the Green Line Extension will be held on Wednesday, April 27th from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm at St. Anthony’s Parish Hall. 400 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue. Applications for the Cambridge PARK(ing) Day event to be held in September are due on May 1st.CDD LINKS OF INTEREST The Disconnect Between Liberal Aspirations and Liberal Housing Policy Is Killing Coastal U.S. Cities Exclusionary Zoning Robs Our Cities of Their Best Qualities Supply and Demand Denialism Paul Krugman: Cities for Everyone DID YOU KNOW? According to the Federal Housing Agency and CommonWealth magazine, Massachusetts home prices have increased sevenfold since 1980 -- more than any other state.  

ABC March Newlsetter: Multiple Opportunities for Involvement as Envision Cambridge Kicks Off

As winter comes to an end, Envision Cambridge, the citywide master plan initiative has started community meetings and there are numerous ways to get involved. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES You can sign up to get for the Envision Cambridge mailing list here. Additional information can be found on the CDD Website.CDDNext City recently published an article on the plan and process which included comments by ABC Chairman Jess Kanson-Benanav.Next City Boston building unions announced plans for a deal to lower costs for apartment buildings. This offer will also apply to Cambridge and Somerville.Boston Globe UPCOMING EVENTS CDD is hosting three public workshops as part of the Envision Cambridge Initiative: Thursday, March 24, 6:00 P. M. to 8:00 P. M., Kennedy Longfellow School Cafeteria, 158 Spring Street Thursday, March 31, 6:00 P. M. to 8:00 P. M., Tobin School Cafeteria, 197 Vassal Lane Saturday, April 2, 1:30 P, M. to 3:30 P. M., Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Avenue LINKS OF INTEREST How Parking Requirement Hurt the Poor Great Neighborhoods Don’t Have to Be Illegal – They’re Not Elsewhere How to Make Expensive Cities Affordable for Everyone Again How Land Use Regulation Undermines Affordable Housing DID YOU KNOW? According to a report from Zillow, Cambridge has the second highest rate of households aged at least 55 years that earn $350,000 or more in the country, 7.7%.

ABC February Newsletter: New Proposals for Central Square and More Proof That Building Means More Affordability

Spring is in sight and ABC has been planning new work for 2016. We are considering initiatives and programs that will continue to inform citizens of the important challenges we face. In addition, with the master planning process now underway, watch this space for updates including ways you can get involved in the coming months. Stay tuned for more to come. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES Cambridge resident Patrick Barrett announced plans to renovate and convert 907 Main Street into a boutique hotel. Barrett expressed a desire to incorporate a residential component into the renovation, but ultimately zoning made it too difficult. This is a real world example of how outdated and restrictive zoning has lead to the housing crisis we face today. Regarding the current zoning, Barrett said, “There are sections of the ordinance that make residential builds infinitely more difficult than hotel or commercial in business districts. I could go for a variance for relief, but some of the neighborhood groups are ruthless and would ultimately land me in Superior Court. I cannot afford to spend two years fighting a case I'd likely lose,” Barrett said. – Cambridge Chronicle Cambridge released an online brochure on affordable housing programs and services available in the city.A Long Standing Commitment to Affordable HousingThe city has made its Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report available online. The report contains budgetary information and updates on city initiatives.City of Cambridge UPCOMING EVENTS The Massachusetts presidential primary election is Tuesday, March 1st. LINKS OF INTEREST Report: Market-Rate Housing Construction is a Weapon Against Displacement In Some Cities, The Housing Construction Boom is Starting to Pay Off What Many Don’t Get About Affordable Housing: Filtering Washington Post: The Poor Are Better Off When We Build Housing for the Rich DID YOU KNOW? According to the CDD the 2014 median market rate sales price of a single family home in Cambridge was $1,200,000, for a two family $937,000, and for a condominium $575,000.

ABC January Newsletter: New Housing for Kendall Square and Master Plan Opportunities

The Cambridge City Council has kicked off its new term. With big initiatives such as the master plan and the Volpe Center the next two years will be an exciting time for the city.   DEVELOPMENT UPDATES CDD is seeking volunteers to serve on three working groups for the master plan titled Envision Cambridge. Applications are due January 22nd.CDDCambridge Chronicle The City Council approved the MXD Zoning Petition which will add one million square feet of development in Kendall Square. This will include approximately 560 residential units of which 140 will be below-market rent.Cambridge ChronicleBoston Globe The City Council approved a zoning petition initiated by Patrick Barrett that will make it easier for homeowners to create basement and accessory dwelling units.Cambridge ChronicleNew data from Reis, Inc. reports that rents in Greater Boston rose 5.7% in 2015. The average rent for an apartment is now $2,009.Boston Globe   UPCOMING EVENTS The MBTA will be holding a public meeting regarding late-night service changes on Wednesday, January 20th at 6 pm at City Hall.City of Cambridge LINKS OF INTEREST The Problem With Too Much Parking How Zoning Laws Fuel Economic Segregation The Strongest Case Yet That Excessive Parking Causes More Driving NIMBY Obstruction and the Density Paradox DID YOU KNOW? As reported by the 2010 Census, 65.4% of housing units in Cambridge are rented while 34.6% are owner occupied (including owner occupied condominiums). Approximately 14% of the entire housing stock is subsidized in some form.

ABC December Newsletter: Participatory Budgeting and Green Line Troubles

As the year ends Cambridge announces the results of the most recent round of participatory budgeting while the state takes a hard look at the Green Line extension. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES The city announced the results on how to spend $600,000 as voted on by residents. Bike infrastructure and transit signal prioritization for the No. 1 bus were the main recipients of the The state has begun the process of reevaluating the Green Line extension including cancelling current contracts. It is likely that the project will be scaled down significantly or possibly even cancelled due to cost concerns.Commonwealth MagazineBoston Globe Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies issued its annual report on the rental market. The report outlines the significant challenge in the rental market including lack of supply and increasing costs.Boston Globe Boston announced plans to double the affordable housing payments for developers in some neighborhoods.Boston Globe UPCOMING EVENTS The Cambridge Winter Farmers Market opens on Saturday, January 9th at the Cambridge Community Center.Cambridge Winter Farmers Market The Cambridge MLK Day of Service will take place on Monday, January 18th from 2-5 pm in Central Square.Many Helping Hands LINKS OF INTEREST Paul Krugman on Urban Inequality and Zoning Housing Overregulation: Liberals' Contribution to Inequality How Zoning Laws Exacerbate Inequality We Want More Walkable Neighborhoods - But Can Our Communities Deliver? DID YOU KNOW? Western Avenue was named as America’s best new bike lane for 2015 by the group People for Bikes.

ABC November Newsletter: An Important Housing Report and Election Results

The election is over and the holidays are approaching. ABC wishes you a happy Thanksgiving. DEVELOPMENT UPDATES Eight of the nine city councilors were reelected. Jan Devereux will replace Dennis Benzan in the next term. Full election results are available on Cambridge Civic Journal.Cambridge Civic Journal You can track proposed developments and provide feedback on projects using the coUrbanize website created by two MIT grads.coUrbanize The Boston Foundation released its annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card. According to the report, “We have failed to meet housing production targets because there is no way to do so given the high cost of producing housing for working and middle-income households. In part, this is because of the extreme barriers to new construction, especially in the form of severely restrictive zoning at the local level across much of Massachusetts.”Boston GlobeA survey by the Urban Land Institute of Millennials in Greater Boston found that, "80 percent of young professionals ranked access to public transit as 'very important' when choosing a place to live. More respondents said public transit was 'very important' than things such as nightlife, shopping, crime/safety and being able to walk to amenities."WBUR UPCOMING EVENTS The Cambridge Broadband Task Force will meet on Wednesday, November 18th from 6-8pm in the Ackerman Room at City Hall. The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing on a petition filed by Patrick W. Barrett that seeks to simplify zoning around accessory units on Thursday, November 19th at 2 pm in the Sullivan Chamber.Zoning Petition Target will present at a meeting of the Central Square Advisory Committee on Thursday, November 19th at 5:30 pm at the Central Square Library LINKS OF INTEREST Our Houses Don't Fit Us Anymore How Land Use Regulation Undermines Affordable Housing Lessons From the Gentrification Wars Miami Takes Aim at Its Plethora of Parking DID YOU KNOW?  A recent study by and featured on which rated cities on a variety of factors including job opportunities, diversity, and commute ranked Cambridge as the best city for Millennials in the country.