Hi! Pamela Thilo here - I'm a member of the ABC leadership committee. I don't usually send our email blasts, but am jumping in today because ABC's Chairman Jesse Kanson-Benanav is too modest to self-promote this great interview about his background and work with ABC that appeared in Sunday's Boston Globe:Five Things You Should Know About Jesse Kanson-Benanav: Community organizing with a focus on housingOne of the things you'll read in the interview if that Jesse recently attended the first national YIMBY conference in Boulder -- a convening of organizations and individuals from around the United States saying Yes In My Back Yard to more housing and sustainable development in our cities. Jesse has told me how excited he was after the conference to not only build on our successes in Cambridge, but to also help grow this work around the Boston region.I wanted to make sure you know that Jesse will be giving a report back from the YIMBY conference at tomorrow's ABC meeting. While this certainly won't be the last time ABC tells you about the growing national YIMBY movement, tomorrow's meeting will be an opportunity to hear directly opportunities and challenges YIMBYs face in our work moving forward. ABC June Meeting Tuesday, June 28th 7:00 P.M. at the Citywide Senior Center 806 Mass Ave in Central Square Thanks! Let us know if you can make it tomorrow by RSVPing on our website. I hope to see you then.
Before you head out for what looks to be a beautiful weekend, I wanted to send you a quick reminder about Tuesday's ABC meeting: ABC June Meeting Tuesday, June 28th 7:00 P.M. at the Citywide Senior Center 806 Mass Ave in Central Square As I mentioned in my email earlier in the week, we'll be hearing from Twining Properties about their updated plans for the development at Mass & Main in Central Square.In addition to the Mass & Main update, I'm looking forward to tell you about my experience at YIMBY2016, the first North American conference of group and individuals from around the country saying Yes In My Back Yard! to more housing and sustainable development in our cities. The conference brought together activists from many cities that are facing similar housing affordability crises to us in Cambridge/Boston. Together we brainstormed ways to build a movement supporting the creation of abundant housing for people of all income levels as a way to make our cities more affordable, integrated, and sustainable. On Tuesday, I'll share a recap of the conference including my takeaways and what the implications are for our work in Cambridge and across the Boston region. I hope you can join!Please visit our website to RSVP and let us know you'll be coming. This meeting is open to everyone, even if you've never attended an ABC meeting before.Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions. I hope you see you on June 28th.
With summer in full swing you may not be thinking as much about development in Cambridge as you are about sitting on the beach! Still, there's a lot going on so before you head out for the July 4th weekend, I hope you'll join us for the ABC June meeting coming up next week: ABC June MeetingTuesday, June 28th7:00 P.M.at the Citywide Senior Center806 Mass Ave in Central Square At this meeting we will be joined by representatives of Twining Properties, the developer of the Mass & Main project that will bring hundreds of much-needed affordable and market rate units to Central Square. After securing their zoning last year, Twining Properties will soon be moving forward with permuting the project so they will be presenting to us about their current plans and designs for the project. Please visit our website to RSVP and let us know you'll be coming. This meeting is open to everyone!Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions. I hope you see you on June 28th.
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.
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.
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@example.com who will forward your comments to Planning Board members. Continue reading
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.
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 EconomyVox.com: 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.
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. www.wheredoivotema.com 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.