The City of Cambridge is seeking Cambridge residents to serve on the Planning Board. The Planning Board makes recommendations and decisions about urban development on behalf of the City of Cambridge. The application deadline is Monday, March 6, 2023. More details here.
The Planning Board has significant power to facilitate or thwart housing growth in Cambridge through its discretionary authority to grant or deny special permits to almost all sizable building proposals. In summer 2021, for instance, members of the Planning Board used this power to delay 46 homes in the heart of Central Square for months over concerns about parking and aesthetics. (The homes remain unbuilt today, and the project seems to have stalled as a result of delays.) Yet despite its tremendous influence over Cambridge’s future, the Planning Board’s membership is not representative of the city’s diverse, majority-renter population and its discussions would greatly benefit from a wider variety of experiences.
In addition, the Planning Board plays a major advisory role in analyzing and proposing zoning changes to the City Council. In early 2022, the current members expressed a generally negative opinion of allowing new multi-family housing citywide, slowing down the still-incomplete process to end exclusionary zoning significantly and leading ABC member Danny Hidalgo to write "Do Planning Board members understand the housing crisis?". They also balked at recent proposals to end parking minimums and increase allowed heights on Cambridge Street.
Members receive $6,000 per year as a stipend, and generally serve a 5-year term. A background in planning, architecture, or law is advantageous, but the primary requirement is that you be available for weeknight meetings and interested in thoughtfully reviewing proposals and meeting materials. If you or someone you know may be interested in serving on the Planning Board, please apply or encourage them to apply! If you have questions, suggested applicants, or want to learn more, please reach out to us at [email protected].