ABC November News: 2072 Mass Ave hearing, neighborhood associations, & more

(Sent on Monday, November 30th, 2020.)

On Thursday, December 10th at 6pm, the Board of Zoning Appeal will be deciding whether to grant a comprehensive permit for the 49-unit affordable housing project at 2072 Mass Ave (near Porter Square). A Better Cambridge is strongly in support of this project - in addition to providing 49 units of badly-needed affordable housing, some at deeply affordable rates, it is a great model of what Passive House, sustainable development should look like along corridors near transit. Sadly, some neighbors are complaining about scale and parking; pro-housing voices are needed, especially if you live nearby.

To learn more about (or sign up for) BZA hearing, click here. If you cannot make the meeting, you can email comments to mpacheco@cambridgema.gov, referencing case number BZA-017326-2020. (If you want guidance, see ABC’s Public Comment Guide for more detail.) There will also be a non-binding Planning Board meeting to discuss the project on Tuesday, December 1st at 6:30pm, where public comment will also be accepted.


Neighborhood associations under scrutiny…

  • In late October, an East Cambridge Planning Team board member made homophobic harassing comments against a disagreeing voice on an open discussion list. The resulting outcry led to his resignation from the board, as well as citywide discussion about the inclusiveness of neighborhood associations in general, and the East Cambridge Planning Team in particular. These discussions go hand in hand with growing awareness of how neighborhood participation in public meetings often fails to be representative, and the importance of broad, representative, and respectful participation for ensuring outcomes that meet the needs of the city.

    At last Monday’s Council meeting, a policy order was proposed, condemning the incident and calling for a committee hearing to discuss ways the City can help neighborhood organizations be more accessible and welcoming in the future. The policy order was delayed by one week, meaning it is on tonight’s agenda. If you are interested, you can sign up here to comment at tonight’s 5:30pm City Council Meeting (use “Calendar #3” for Agenda Item), and/or email comments to council@cambridgema.gov and clerk@cambridgema.gov.

In other news...

  • On Wednesday, December 16th, we will be having a book club meeting to discuss Susan Fainstein’s The Just City, an exploration of how urban planning processes can neglect or address social justice and inequality. There will be a short summary at the start, so while reading the book is encouraged, it is not required to participate in discussion. Sign up here!

    (Also, in January, we are thinking of reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities, so stay tuned!)

  • Have you, or someone you know, had to go through a BZA or historical conservation process in Cambridge for a minor improvement or renovation? Did it cause delays, expenses, or reductions in what you were able to do? We are collecting stories, in the hopes of shedding light on the roadblocks created by these processes. Reach out to alexandra@abettercambridge.org.