With Labor Day just around the corner, the City Council election will be heating up. ABC will be hosting a candidate forum as well providing ratings and endorsements for the candidates this year. With 26 candidates for nine seats there is a lot of information to sort through. A great resource to start is the candidate pages on the Cambridge Civic Journal created by Robert Winters. If you are not yet a member of ABC, please consider joining, and bring a friend to one of our upcoming events (see below). Did someone forward you this email? Make sure you don't miss another newsletter or announcement from A Better Cambridge by signing up on our website: http://www.abettercambridge.org/sign_up. Development News The City Council passed regulations for short term rentals including AirBnB. The new rules restrict short term rentals to owner occupied units as well as requiring registration for hosts.WBURA group of MIT students filed a petition with the city requiring the university to add 1,800 graduate student beds before they could develop the Volpe transportation site.Boston GlobeAt the first Ordinance Committee hearing on MIT's zoning petition for the Volpe center, councilors pushed the university for a stronger and more detailed transportation plan. The next hearing before the Ordinance Committee is on September 13th at 2:30 pm in the Sullivan Chamber at City HallCambridge ChronicleFacebook announced plans to expand its presence in Kendall Square at a new building on Binney Street.Cambridge Chronicle UPCOMING EVENTS ABC is co-sponsoring the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association's (CHAPA) 3rd annual Housing Day at the State House on Thursday, September 14th. The event aims to gather over 200 advocates to meet with lawmakers and speak up for affordable housing, homelessness prevention, and community development. To get more information on attending click here. Don't miss the ABC candidate forum on issues of housing affordability and sustainable urban development in Cambridge on Tuesday, September 19th at 630 pm at the Broad Institute, 415 Main Street. Our moderator for the evening is David Sullivan, former Cambridge City Councilor and current special counsel to the President of the Massachusetts State Senate.We are excited to invite you to our first-ever A Better Cambridge Annual Fundraiser! Come celebrate with us and help ensure that we have the resources we need to be strong and effective advocates for housing for all. It will take place on Thursday, October 5th, from 6:30-9 at Meadhall in Kendall Square and will feature special guests, a buffet dinner, a silent auction, and more! You know we know how to throw a party and this is one you really don’t want to miss! Stay tuned for ticketing information in the coming week. LINKS OF INTEREST What Happens After the Real Estate Wave Crests?YIMBYism: More Housing, But How?Sierra Club: Housing - Dense, Near Transit, and Green - Can Be a Climate Solution
I wanted to make sure you knew about two upcoming ABC events. I hope you can join us:CHAPA's Our Homes, Our Voices Rally Monday, July 31st, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm in Samuel Adams Park in front of Faneuil Hall in BostonJoin ABC along with the Citizen Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), Cambridge Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and housing advocates from around our Commonwealth for a rally in support of Federal investments in affordable homes and our communities. This is the local event in a national week of action against devastating cuts proposed by Congress and the White House to programs like public housing and Section 8.Please click here to RSVPABC's Greater Boston YIMBY Meet UpThursday, August 10th, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm at Cinderella's Pizza & Restaurant, 901 Mass Ave in Central SquareFrom Cambridge to Roslindale, Newton to Jamaica Plain, Malden to Dorchester, and points in between and far, residents are coming together to say YES In My Back Yard to more housing and sustainable development to address the housing affordability crisis in our region. Once again, ABC is devoting our regular Strictly Social event to bring together YIMBY activists from across Greater Boston. Whether you are affiliated with a YIMBY group in your community or not, we hope all pro-housing activists will join us to socialize and make connections with like-minded smart growth warriors. Please RSVP via the Facebook event. If you don't have Facebook RSVP via our website.I hope you can join us for both of these events.
Please join A Better Cambridge & affordable housing advocates from around Massachusetts for a rally in support of federal investments in affordable homes and our communities. Our Homes, Our Voices Rally Monday, July 31st 11:30 am to 1:30 pm Sam Adams Park, Boston (in front of Faneuil Hall) Organized by our partners at the Citizen Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), this rally is the local event as part of a national week of action calling on Congress to fund programs that provide critical housing and anti-homelessness support to many Americans.Please RSVP via CHAPA's Facebook page for this eventABC will join with CHAPA, Cambridge Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other residents, housing advocates and policymakers from around our Commonwealth for this important rally. Too many families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Nationally, only 25% of families in need receive housing assistance, which means millions of people do not have an affordable place to call home. The President and Congress are proposing devastating cuts that would increase housing instability and homelessness, including cuts to Section 8 and public housing. Our communities and state are working hard to address the challenges we face in Massachusetts. We cannot do it alone. Federal partnership is critical to creating vibrant communities. Please join us to ensure that everyone has the right to a safe, accessible, and affordable home.
A Better Cambridge has been shifting into higher gear recently. In fact, 2017 is shaking up to be our most impactful yet: Membership: We instituted formal membership criteria in January – and now have over 200 members! (Join here – dues are $20, but ABC will waive them if unaffordable.) 2017 City Council Election: Having formally filed as a nonprofit advocacy group we are readying to make our first-ever city councilor endorsements ahead of the November election as well as host a candidate forum this fall. Platform: At our first membership-only event in May, ABC members endorsed our platform. In a nutshell: “Increasing density is crucial to racial justice, environmental sustainability, and quality of life.” If you are as excited as we are to fight for a better Cambridge, please join, and bring a friend to one of our upcoming events (see below). Recent Events May 16 – Inaugural Members-only meeting at CCTV ABC members packed the room to the gills! We reviewed and approved the ABC platform, voted to endorse City Council candidates for the fall election, and discussed what ABC’s stance on parking minimums should be. ABC’s Map Committee also demonstrated the progress they have made explicitly mapping where Cambridge can most easily support increased density. April 19 – ABC Strictly Social Meet-Up at Tavern in the Square, Porter Square Check out our Facebook page for proof of a rollicking good time in Porter Square. March 28 – MAPC on Housing Demand in Cambridge and Greater Boston at MIT Stata Center In our March General Meeting (also packed, despite being rescheduled due to a snow storm), the Metropolitan Area Planning Council – a nonprofit promoting smart growth in the Boston area – highlighted the larger regional issues causing the housing crunch in Cambridge, and what we can do to fight it. (Check out the slides here.) UPCOMING EVENTS July 17 – Volpe Kendall Square Development: ABC’s July General Meeting (open to all) invites you to hear from and ask questions of MIT representatives about the proposed development. MIT’s proposal includes 1,400 housing units, a focus on locally-owned retail, and potentially the tallest residential building in Cambridge. There will also be a presentation on a proposed rail link for North and South Stations. Monday, July 17th • 6:30 P.M. • MIT Stata Center Let us know if you can make the meeting by RSVPing! ABC In The News The YIMBY (yes, in my back yard) movement is making headlines – and so are we! ABC cameoed in two recent high-profile articles on the dire need for increased density to remedy not only unaffordable housing, but also economic/racial inequality and environmental ills. Atlantic Monthly - From 'Not in My Backyard' to 'Yes in My Backyard' Perfectly capturing the YIMBY ethos, the article says, “With more housing, the thinking goes, the cost of rent in thriving cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Portland will not rise so quickly, which will allow more people from different economic backgrounds to live there and share in the prosperity of the local economy.” It also quotes ABC chair Jesse Kanson-Benanav early on: “We’re saying yes to opportunity, in contrast to the gloom-and-doom negativity of NIMBY. […] There’s now a pro-housing, pro-density constituency in Cambridge that hadn’t been at the table previously.” It is currently one of the magazine’s top 10 most-read articles. Boston Globe - Forget ‘Not in my backyard,’ YIMBY could be the new group on the rise Illustrated with our own Jesse as its poster boy, this May article is part of a series highlighting Boston-area “game-changers.” And YIMBY organizations are a game-changer, says the Globe. That’s definitely our plan. (For a particularly good time, read the comments to get an idea of what – even as game-changers – we’re up against!)
A Better Cambridge (ABC) thanks Slate for the article they ran by Henry Grabar about the challenges of providing affordable housing in our most expensive cities. While the article focused on San Francisco, it mentions Cambridge City Councillor Nadeem Mazen, who is quoted as saying, “The housing advocates and especially young urban planners, like this organization here A Better Cambridge, say ‘Build it now,’ ” Mazen said, referring to the local YIMBY group. “The problem with ‘Build it now’ is what we’re building is luxury housing with a small modicum of affordable required. They say there’s a 30-year wait, wait 30 years and luxury income will become middle-income housing. We have to understand that the free market isn’t going to solve this problem. Twelve or 20 percent isn’t enough.” Since Councillor Mazen mentioned us by name, we’d like to respond. Cambridge, like San Francisco, is no stranger to strong debates over the best strategies to reduce the cost of housing, and specifically increase the supply of affordable housing. ABC's fundamental belief is that the best way to reduce the cost of housing in today’s environment is to build more housing. We are just as concerned with preventing displacement of our neighbors, as we are with reducing housing costs. We believe new luxury housing provides an immediate reduction in displacement. Every luxury unit that is occupied is occupied by someone with the means to pay more rent than the vast majority of our neighbors. To compound the problem, typically when a housing development becomes too burdensome to get approved, it is replaced with a lab or office development which brings that many more affluent housing seekers into our city, displacing even more residents. We are focused on doing everything we can to bring housing costs down now. Our goal is to create an abundance of new homes in Cambridge and Metro Boston so people of all incomes can live in our city and region today. Slate has done a good job of highlighting the challenges our communities face, and the difficult politics associated with the housing debates. A Better Cambridge stands ready, willing and able to fight for housing for people of all incomes, a most basic human need. Original Link: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/metropolis/2017/06/yimbys_and_the_dsa_can_t_get_along_despite_their_common_enemy_high_rent.html
This week MIT submitted a zoning petition for their major redevelopment of the Volpe site in Kendall Square. Their proposal includes up to 1,400 housing units, a focus on locally-owned retail, and potentially the tallest residential building in Cambridge. We invite you to hear from and ask questions of MIT representatives about their proposed development at the next ABC General Meeting: ABC July General MeetingMonday, July 17th6:30 P.M.MIT Stata CenterRoom 32-144We will post signs at the Stata Center to direct attendees to the correct room Let us know if you can make the meeting by RSVPing!While RSVP is not required, it will ensure we can accommodate everyone in the room ABC is intrigued by the development plans and have some questions we’d like to explore. Given our serious housing shortage, is 1,400 units all this site can handle? Should MIT be building grad student housing there? How much parking is included, and will it too much given the development’s proximity to the Kendall T stop? We are also excited to be joined by a representative of Citizens for a North South Rail Link to learn about their campaign to build an efficient and integrated regional rail network by connecting North and South Stations in Boston. ABC believes that building a diverse and affordable region means creating more homes and increasing mobility for all residents, so we look forward to this discussion.
I wanted to make sure you knew about the special ABC members-only meeting coming up on Tuesday, May 16th. We are gathering our members and donors for this closed meeting to hear updates from our committees and make important decisions about the direction of our work in coming months. Tuesday, May 16th 6:30 - 8:30 P.M. at CCTV - 438 Mass Ave This meeting is only to dues-paying ABC members who have joined since January 1st, 2017. Members - Please click here to RSVPNot a member? Please click here to join so that you can participate on May 16th. The agenda for this meeting will tentatively include: Review and approve the proposed ABC platform Hear from the Policy Committee about our proposed Policy Advocacy Agenda Discuss and vote on ABC’s role in the fall City Council election Since ABC launched a membership drive earlier this year our supporter base has grown by leaps and bounds. We now have over a hundred dues-paying members across Cambridge that have demonstrated their commitment to building a more diverse and affordable city with housing opportunities for all families and individuals. This meeting is one of the opportunities that members have to influence the direction of our organization, so I hope you will attend on May 16.
A Better Cambridge isn’t just about work...we like to have fun too! I wanted to make sure you knew about our next Strictly Social event, coming up next week: Please RSVP via our Facebook event, or if you don’t have a Facebook account you can RSVP via our website. ABC has been busy lately! This winter we successfully advocated for passage of the Central Square Restoration Petition. Last week we celebrated Cambridge’s updated 20% inclusionary zoning ordinance. Recently we’ve joined with housing and community groups from around the region to advocate for short term rental regulations that preserve permanent housing in Cambridge. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements about our work in coming weeks... But next Wednesday's Strictly Social event is a time to let loose and celebrate our hard work! Whether you're a regular at ABC events, you've heard a little bit about us and want to know more, or you just like a good excuse to talk to great people over a beer or three while snacking on some delicious appetizers, this event is for you. All are welcome! Feel free to bring a friend.
As you may have heard, the Cambridge City Council is currently debating the best way to regulate the presence of AirBnB and other Short Term Rentals (STR) in our city. The council’s Ordinance Committee will hold a hearing on this issue next Tuesday.I hope you will attend the hearing, or write to the Councilors, to demonstrate your support for a draft ordinance limiting STRs to one owner-occupied unit, plus one additional unit on the same property. Ordinance Committee Hearing on Short Term RentalsTuesday, April 4th3:30 P.M.Sullivan ChambersCambridge City Hall Continue reading
UPDATE: Please click here to view slides from Tim Reardon's presentation. -------------------------------------- I am happy to announce that ABC has secured a new date for our March ABC meeting that was postponed due to Tuesday's snow storm. Note that the time and location remain the same: ABC March Meeting:Exploring Housing Demand in Cambridge & Greater Boston with MAPC's Tim Reardon Tuesday, March 28th 6:30 P.M. at the MIT Stata Center, Room 32-141 32 Vassar Street, Cambridge We'll post signs at the Stata Center to direct attendees to the correct roomPlease RSVP to let us know you're planning to come.RSVP is not required, but will help us ensure the room can accommodate everyone. As MAPC detailed in regional housing projections issued in 2015, demand for housing across our region expected to grow significantly over the next 25 years. This demand is due not just to new residents moving into our region, but also changing housing preferences of many families already living here, including aging baby boomers looking to downsize from suburban homes into more urban areas near public transportation, services, and amenities.YIMBYs including A Better Cambridge believe that housing production is critical to provide affordable housing opportunities to families and renters across the income spectrum...but just how much new housing is needed to make an impact? Join us for an insightful presentation to help us better understand housing demand in our community the critical role that housing production plays as we seek to build a more diverse, affordable and sustainable city and region.Please note that everyone is welcome at ABC general meetings.