Statement regarding linkage fee amendment

(Approved by the Board and sent on Sunday, October 16th, 2022.)

Dear Cambridge City Councillors:

Thank you for your work to raise the Incentive Zoning linkage fee to $33/sqft. Cambridge's shortage of affordable housing has left over 20,000 families struggling to get by. With residential developers being asked to contribute on the order of $100/sqft to affordable housing through our inclusionary zoning policy, asking commercial developers to contribute $33/sqft to partially mitigate the impact they have on our housing crisis is the least we can do.

We share the concerns raised by CDD and the Affordable Housing Trust regarding a proposed deduction for demolished floor area, which could significantly undercut this progress. While it may sound reasonable in the abstract, it has not been made clear what public policy goal is supposed to be served by this deduction, nor why such a goal would be more important than funding desperately needed affordable housing, nor why such a goal cannot wait a year to be more fully explored in the coming nexus study. As CDD noted, many questions about the intended scope of the deduction remain unresolved. It has not been analyzed what the impact of such a deduction would be on funding for affordable housing, nor whether such a deduction would inappropriately incentivize environmentally destructive demolitions in situations where they are not warranted.

The A Better Cambridge board opposes the inclusion of such a demolition deduction in this iteration of the Incentive Zoning policy, and hopes that you will move swiftly to ordain the full un-deducted $33/sqft fee so that fewer of Cambridge's affordable housing needs can go unmet. We look forward to moving on to discussions of the coming nexus study and a holistic look at how all fees on development impact our housing crisis. We also look forward to discussions of other budgetary ways to fund the rest of our affordable housing needs.

Thank you, on behalf of the board,

Allan Sadun, co-chair
Becca Schofield, co-chair