ABC News, July 2021: Candidate forum, condo conversion, parking and more

(Sent on July 30th, 2021.)

The November municipal elections are fast approaching, and it's critical that we elect a pro-housing City Council. ABC is planning a public forum for Council candidates on September 19 at 4:00 pm. Please keep an eye on our Election 2021 page for more details and election news.

  • The City Council has opened a path to stronger protections for renters by forwarding a condo conversion ordinance to the Housing Committee for further discussion. The proposed law, which includes advance notice requirements as long as 5 years, a tenant right-to-purchase period of at least 180 days and landlord-paid relocation costs, could be enacted without home rule permission from the Legislature.
  • The Affordable Housing Overlay survived a brief tree-protection scare! In a proposed amendment to Cambridge’s tree protection ordinance, affordable housing projects would no longer be exempt and would be required to “maximize” the tree canopy, an imprecise goal which would have made construction permits subject to legal challenges. After concerns that this would undermine a key aspect of the AHO, a compromise amendment from Mayor Siddiqui now makes AH developers eligible to “apply for funding to increase canopy...within the scope and limitations of such projects.”
  • Want to know more about housing issues, but not sure where to start? ABC has released an “Essential Reading List 2021, containing a sampler of articles, books, and graphics that can help you be better informed. (For a more exhaustive list, see our full resources page.)
  • The City Council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee recently discussed potential changes to parking policies, including residential parking permit fees and parking minimums. Community Development staff reviewed current regulations and described potential policy approaches now used elsewhere. They will soon begin a study to gather information and engage the community on this subject. 
  • The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority is assembling an advisory group to help shape the agency’s priorities. They’re seeking people who live or work in Cambridge to “consider future projects and programs through an equity lens for the benefit of the entire Cambridge community." The group will meet 4-6 times over a year, starting this Fall. Are you interested?
  • On August 3 at 6:30pm, Progressive Mass will stream a book talk about modern liberalism with Lily Geismer, author of “Don't Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party” (sign-up here). The book “traces the evolution of modern liberalism by focusing on the suburban organizing along ... Route 128 ... in the 1950s and 1960s.” Geismer surveys political fights over land use, fair housing and other issues, and finds “important lessons for activists of today.”
  • Climate researchers get it! In a short, insightful article, Build Mixed-Income Housing in Wealthy Urban Neighborhoods, Zack Subin of the Rocky Mountain Institute noted that “the primary obstacle to building more homes and reducing car dependence is one and the same: exclusionary zoning.” Subin referenced the ABC/Sunrise plan for legalizing missing middle housing in Cambridge.
  • The City has released a wide-ranging climate-change readiness plan, Resilient Cambridge, including action recommendations aimed at goals of closer neighborhoods, better buildings, stronger infrastructure and a greener city.  It’s available in summary form and in several publications at varying levels of detail.