ABC January 2021 News: Missing Middle Housing and more

(Sent Saturday, January 30th.)

On Monday, February 1, the City Council will first take up the Missing Middle Housing (MMH) zoning petition, which we’ve been very pleased to launch alongside Sunrise Boston. This petition would address several equity, affordability, and sustainability problems with current neighborhood zoning, by allowing up to 3 stories of new multi-family housing in any residential area, while removing the requirement to include often-under-utilized off-street parking spaces.

Please support the petition at this Monday’s city council meeting. You can email in or speak live; see instructions and more information at the MMH Public Comment Guide. Please also share the petition with your friends and communities!

The meeting will also include an agenda item on creating “non-congregate” shelter options for unhoused residents, meaning shelter where people are not all housed in the same room. Non-congregate shelter is desperately needed in this cold, COVID-prone winter, and would be fully reimbursed by FEMA, so please support that as well! The Right to Housing campaign has suggested talking points.

Other upcoming City meetings...

  • On Wednesday, February 17, at 2:30pm, Councillors will be debating what approach they want to take to ending exclusionary zoning. Specifically, prompted by a unanimously-passed policy order initiated by Councilor Nolan last month, there will be a joint committee hearing to discuss “the elimination of single and two-family only zoning and restrictions on the type of housing that can be built city-wide.” Will they do something toothless, cosmetic, and drawn-out, will they pass the MMH petition, or will they do something in between? This meeting will be crucial for determining that, so if you’re available, please mark your calendar and stay tuned for more details!

  • On Tuesday, February 9, at 6:30pm, there will be a Planning Board hearing to consider a zoning petition by Mothers Out Front, which would require green roofs on new or rehabbed buildings of 20,000 square feet or larger. Reach out if you’re interested in this - we are supportive of green roofs on commercial developments, but have some concerns about its impact on residential projects, especially affordable housing, and are still figuring out our stance.

  • While the Missing Middle Housing petition would specifically end residential parking minimums in zoning, there are many other parking issues the City should look at - some in zoning, some not - such as commercial parking minimums, parking maximums, and space management policies. We’ve heard there may be a comprehensive policy order to this effect on the February 8th Council agenda - check the Open Meeting Portal after Thursday evening to be sure.

In other news...

  • The Board of Zoning Appeals hearing on 49 units of affordable housing proposed for 2072 Mass Ave (at Walden Street) by Capstone/HRE has been postponed to March 4th. A neighbor is collecting signatures in support of the project.

  • Meetings for the “provisional” East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) have now restarted and entered their second year, as the Cambridge Historical Commission studies whether to extend the temporary restrictions permanently. The NCD restrictions — which apply to all buildings in the district, not just historic structures — are likely to increase the cost of housing. If you live in East Cambridge, check out the meeting schedule and email [email protected] to connect with organizing efforts to put an end to the NCD.

  • Two exciting developments from California - Sacramento has unanimously endorsed a general plan to allow fourplexes and end residential parking minimums citywide! And a week later, the Berkeley City Council voted to remove off-street parking requirements as well. These common-sense reforms are catching on nationwide … if you haven’t done so yet, sign the MMH petition to make this happen in Cambridge!