ABC News, March 2022: events, Alewife Quad, parking and more

(Sent on Monday, March 28th.)

The city’s Housing Committee recently agreed on an increase in the linkage fee – paid by developers of commercial projects to fund affordable housing – from $20 to $33/sq ft. Councilors had previously raised the fee in much smaller increments out of concern that it might deter future projects. Given the continued stream of commercial development and the current hot status of the Cambridge real estate market, the committee unanimously recommended the full Council set the rate at the maximum legally supported by the 2019 “nexus” study, and looked forward to beginning a new nexus study later this year.

Would you like to help choose the next City Manager? You can apply for a spot on the initial screening committee until this Thursday (3/31) at 5pm. The committee will question candidates for the job at three in-person meetings in May. Check out the City Manager job description and requirements

In mid-March, ABC memABC tabling at Porter Squarebers set up a table in Porter Square and distributed flyers spreading the word about housing issues and ABC. Additional tabling is planned for this weekend and the coming months. Contact Neil Miller if you can help. (More on other upcoming ABC activities below).

Housing matters…

  • Planning Board members recently held their third meeting to discuss the City Council’s request for “concepts and principles to eliminate single family and two family only zones in the City of Cambridge”. Although Community Development staff drafted proposed responses for the Board’s consideration, some members held to their position that “it can’t be done.” ABC continues to maintain that the current proposals are insufficient to achieve the Council’s goal of more multi-family housing citywide.

In East Cambridge, former convent, school and rectory buildings at Sacred Heart Church are slated to be repurposed as affordable rental housing. The Planning Board will hold an initial design consultation on the 46-unit AHO project on Tuesday, April 5 at 7pm.

  • Cambridge’s Affordable Housing Overlay, which has helped make possible the Sacred Heart housing (above) and four other affordable developments now in the planning stage, has been nominated for the Ivory Prize, an annual award recognizing ambitious, feasible, and scalable solutions to housing affordability. Next week, ten finalists will be named from the current 25 candidates, with the winner to be announced in early May.

ABC events…

  • Zoned Out: How zoning laws shape our city, will offer an introductory guide for folks who are (understandably) confused, baffled and/or outraged by Cambridge’s zoning rules. Register now for this Zoom presentation, which includes a Q&A session, to be held on Monday, April 18 at 7pm. 
  • Join us also for ABC social time from 7-9pm on Thursday, April 7 at Cambridge Common restaurant. Weather permitting, we will aim to be outside!
  • Cambridge will soon begin discussing major zoning revisions for the Alewife Quad district, changes that could have important implications for housing and other issues. There will be an ABC member meeting to learn and brainstorm on this subject on Thursday, March 31, 6:30-8:00pm. If you’re not yet a member, this is a great time to join!
  • Several ABC folks will be volunteering on April 29 at The Friday Café, a weekly drop-in program at First Church near Harvard Square, where homeless and housed adults can share lunch and conversation. If you can join us in helping out between 11:15am – 1:30pm, please sign up here. Contact Cathy Higgins or Hanna Shephard for more information. If you can't make it on 4/29, please contact us if you are interested in joining in the future or interested in a later shift (1:15pm - 3:15pm). 

And more…

  • This week’s Banker & Tradesman issue is focused on housing affordability, and contains an op-ed from A Better Cambridge describing the “long and uphill battle” for affordability in Cambridge.
  • A Cambridge City Councilor is among the many who’ve been squeezed by the housing shortage. The Boston Globe has the scoop.