ABC News, Aug 2022: Election Night social, town hall, zoning updates, and more

This Thursday is Cambridge’s annual September Displacement Ritual – when many people are moving in, out and sideways, and rent hikes are felt throughout the city. It’s a reminder that every year we fail to act on housing, the damage to our community gets worse. Whether you’ve managed to stay for another year or whether you’ve been pushed out to Somerville or beyond, we hope you can join us for our next social gathering, outdoors at Fresh Pond Beer Garden (next to Fresh Pond Mall) on Tuesday, September 6, 7:30pm – 10pm. We’ll be joined by friends from Abundant Housing Massachusetts as we chat about the state primary election, housing progress in Cambridge, and more. The following week, ABC will present an online Housing Crisis Town Hall with 6 City Councilors, who will discuss their efforts to make housing more available and affordable to all. Sign up on Zoom to hear the discussion on Wednesday, September 14, from 7pm to 9pm and suggest topics or questions for the Councilors in advance. Continue reading

Town Hall With 6 City Councillors September 14th

Cambridge has a housing crisis - the rent is too high, people are getting pushed out, and we're not building enough housing (especially affordable housing) to keep up with rising demand. What is the City Council doing to address this? On Wednesday, September 14th, A Better Cambridge hosted a Zoom webinar featuring six City Councillors as they discussed the work they have been doing to make housing more available and affordable to all. Watch the recording here. Continue reading

TUESDAY: Parking minimums at the Planning Board

(Sent Sunday, August 14th.) This Tuesday at 6:30pm, the Planning Board will discuss removing mandatory parking minimums from Cambridge's zoning code. This would allow buildings to provide some or no parking, according to what makes sense for the building. Here is the meeting and Zoom info. Removing parking minimums will help with housing affordability and environmental sustainability. See our one-pager (prepared for a previous hearing) to learn more. Continue reading

ABC News, July 2022: parking, linkage fee, climbing rents and more

(Sent on Friday, July 29th, 2022.) This week, the Ordinance Committee met to discuss increasing the linkage fee (paid by commercial developers to raise more funds for affordable housing) by more than 50%. The six committee members who were present expressed support for the increase, and heard additional support during public comment, but then tangled themselves up over possible tweaks and exemptions. They voted to kick the can down the road to an unspecified future Ordinance meeting, increasing the risk that they will fail to resolve issues before the legislation expires. Continue reading

ACTION ALERT: The rent and the temperature are too damn high!

(Sent on Sunday, July 24, 2022.) Cambridge needs to build less parking, and build more affordable housing. You can help us get there. This week, you can take action to fight our climate crisis and our housing crisis. The City’s Ordinance Committee – consisting of all nine City Councilors – will meet on Wednesday, July 27 to discuss raising the linkage fee on commercial development to fund affordable housing. One week later, on August 3, the Ordinance Committee will meet to discuss removing parking requirements from our zoning code. The City Council needs to hear your support for these proposals. Continue reading

ABC News, June 2022: Charter review, affordable housing hearings, parking survey, and more

(Sent Sunday, Jun 26, 2022.) Our City Charter is about to undergo a once-every-10-year review. As a first step, a committee of Cambridge voters (no elected officials) is being formed to review the Charter, hold community forums, gather input from residents and make recommendations to the City Council. You can volunteer to potentially serve on this committee – the deadline is this Tuesday (June 28) at 11pm. A similar (but separate) resident committee recently worked to narrow a pool of 30 City Manager candidates down to four finalists. From that list, the City Council has selected Yi-An Huang as the next Manager. Huang, a Cambridge resident who has held several management positions at Boston Medical Center, is expected to start in September. Like all of the finalists, Huang has expressed strong support for actions to address the effects of Cambridge’s housing crisis, especially regarding our shortage of affordable housing. What are your hopes for what the next City Manager will accomplish? Email us at [email protected].  The city is conducting a 15-month study to ensure that parking regulations align with the City’s goals for traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, climate resilience, housing, economic development and equity. Your input on parking and transportation in this 5-minute survey may help shape the resulting recommendations for potential parking changes scheduled to be drafted by this fall. Continue reading

ABC News, May 2022: City Manager finalists, Alewife rezoning and more

(Sent Wednesday, May 25th.) Four finalists for Cambridge’s next City Manager have been selected! The candidates – see their resumes and questionnaire responses here – will speak and answer questions at a Meet the Finalists forum next Tuesday, May 31. They will also be publicly interviewed by the City Council on Wednesday, June 1.  As we stated in our February letter, it is critical that the next City Manager be a progressive, pro-housing, pro-renter leader. We’d love it if you took a minute to review our letter and email a suggested interview question for the finalists to the City’s search consultant at [email protected] (by noon this Thursday).  If you attend the forum or the interviews, or just are interested, come discuss at the ABC Social on Thursday, June 2, 7-9 pm. Then you can email thoughts to the Council before they cast their votes for Manager at their June 6 meeting.  Continue reading

Upcoming ABC Events

You’re invited to ABC’s upcoming happenings. The Events Committee meets monthly to facilitate and coordinate a variety of housing-related opportunities. Don’t see an event you are interested in? Have an idea for an event that you think those interested in housing affordability would like to see? We welcome new members! Our next meeting is Tuesday, May 24 at 7:00pm. Contact Esther Hanig for the meeting’s Zoom link. Continue reading

ABC News, Apr 2022: New affordable housing, zoning resources, volunteer and social opportunities, and more

(Sent on April 26, 2022.) We need your support for the newest Affordable Housing Overlay project tonight, (April 26) at 6pm. Cambridge Housing Authority is holding a second community meeting about renovation and additions at its current SRO (single room occupancy) building at 116 Norfolk Street. The 38 existing rooms for seniors and people with disabilities will be upgraded to full studio apartments, gaining private kitchens and showers. An additional wing with 24 studio apartments will house formerly unhoused individuals, with targeted services available onsite. Despite these improvements to a 100% affordable housing building and development of new much-needed housing, some nearby residents have been organizing in opposition. Thanks to all who attended Zoned Out: how zoning laws shape our city, ABC’s virtual event on land use regulation. The slides with speaker notes and a brief list of sources and additional readings (including articles, books and a couple of short videos) are now available and are a great starting point for anyone who wants to learn what zoning is about.  Continue reading

ABC Statement on Boards and Commisssions Appointments

(Submitted in advance of an April 12 Govt. Ops Committee hearing.) Dear Members of the Government Operations Committee and Manager DePasquale, Thank you for having your hearing tomorrow, we are grateful that our City’s approach to boards and commissions is being evaluated. A Better Cambridge believes that changing the way we make appointments can make our boards’ decisions better reflect the needs and values of our diverse population. We also believe that the Cambridge City Council should set clearer rules and guidance for casework, enabling boards to better act in accordance with a shared vision for Cambridge. These unrepresentative boards wield significant power in shaping our City, and we’re hopeful for a more democratic decision-making process.  Continue reading