To the Cambridge City Council:
As a Cambridge resident I believe we must preserve the rich cultural and economic diversity in our city today by creating the new housing needed to make Cambridge affordable for all families in the future. I believe that the continued vibrancy of Central Square is best served by expanding the housing, commercial, retail, and cultural options in the neighborhood. New development can serve the varied needs of working families and independent businesses, while promoting sustainable growth that allows residents the opportunity to live, work, shop, and play in the same community.
In 2011 the City Council established a Central Square Advisory Committee (C2) to chart the future of Central Square. Its final report in 2013 represented the culmination of an inclusive 18-month community-driven process building on the work of the prior Red Ribbon and Silver Ribbon commissions. Its conclusion: “The most important thing that can be done to preserve the diversity of the square is to increase the supply of housing.” The Metropolitan Area Planning Council recently predicted our region needs up to 145,000 new housing units to meet growing demand, with at least 6000 needed in Cambridge alone. Our neighbors in Boston and Somerville have instituted aggressive plans to increase housing options in their cities, and Cambridge should not be left behind. It's time for us to do the same.
I ask the Cambridge City Council and Planning Board to take up the C2 plan and put into motion a process leading to the passage new zoning for Central Square that:
Permits increased density to create new housing, shopping, and cultural options and concurrently uses all available policy tools to expand housing affordability.
Emphasizes walking, biking, and transit and reduces car dependency to build a more sustainable city.
Supports social and economic diversity by enabling the neighborhood’s growth to respond to our community's changing needs.
Incentivizes the creation of additional community benefits, including affordable housing, open space, and cultural venues.
Any citywide planning initiatives should build upon rather than replace the diligent work of the C2 Advisory Committee. Sixteen months have passed since the C2 Committee made its recommendations. It’s time for the city to act.