Housing Victory: Cambridge Removes Costly Parking Requirements

We are excited to share a pro-housing victory: the Cambridge City Council voted on Monday night to remove minimum parking requirements citywide! Continue reading

Affordable housing partial victory on linkage fee

(Sent Tuesday, October 18th, 2022.) Last night, the Cambridge City Council finally ordained into law an increase in the city's "linkage fee" - a fee that developers of commercial buildings like labs and office buildings pay into the city's Affordable Housing Trust to partially compensate for the impact that new jobs have on our affordable housing crisis. The fee was previously approximately $20/sqft; now it is $33/sqft. Continue reading

Openings on Board of Zoning Appeals

Cambridge’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) could play an important role in addressing the housing crisis because they can grant Comprehensive Permits for affordable housing under Mass 40B, as well as approving variances under our own zoning code. However, the BZA has rejected some housing developments by adding their personal criteria to the legal standards for approval. For example, when an affordable housing developer tried to build 49 below-market-rate units at 2072 Massachusetts Avenue, even a super-majority of City Councilors in support could not stop the BZA from repeatedly rejecting alternative proposals that sought to meet the members’ own more stringent requirements. Continue reading

Statement regarding linkage fee amendment

(Approved by the Board and sent on Sunday, October 16th, 2022.) Dear Cambridge City Councillors: Thank you for your work to raise the Incentive Zoning linkage fee to $33/sqft. Cambridge's shortage of affordable housing has left over 20,000 families struggling to get by. With residential developers being asked to contribute on the order of $100/sqft to affordable housing through our inclusionary zoning policy, asking commercial developers to contribute $33/sqft to partially mitigate the impact they have on our housing crisis is the least we can do. Continue reading

ABC News, Sept 2022: Last night’s City Council actions, upcoming events, and more

(Sent on October 4, 2022.) A proposal to stop mandating a parking spot for every new residence was passed to a second reading by the City Council last night on a 8-1 vote (Councilor Carlone opposed). The action, which could lead to final passage as early as October 17, occurred after two amendments passed – adding developer reporting of their parking decisions and a 3-year Community Development review. The Globe covered this zoning change, noting that many other cities have removed parking mandates, often driven by the widespread and growing housing shortage. Last week, a new California law ended parking minimums statewide for most developments near transit. “Housing solutions are also climate solutions,” CA Governor Newsom noted when he signed the bill. Continue reading

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