Over the weekend and this week, posters promoting the Affordable Housing Overlay were scotch-taped onto poles and open spaces in public areas of Central Square, Kendall Square, and Harvard Square among other places. This illegal act represents a large scale intrusion of the politics of one particular Cambridge political party into the main squares of the city. Election season has officially opened in Cambridge! This is clearly the case since this is far less about getting Cambridge residents to lobby Council members to support the flawed and failing AHO, and more about collecting names of people that can be called on to try to get people to vote against Council members and candidates who have come out in favor of letting the AHO die in committee, as is now expected.
Wanted (!)) according to the creators of this poster are people to "sign the petition to let Council know you want more affordable housing." A url address follows so that you can follow up with a quick on-line response, or you can text your name to a phone number (neither of which is linked to a specific individual or website. To date this petition effort seems not to have had much success, begun three months ago, it had only 75 names a few days ago. And, how seriously would Council members take it anyway since only the first names and last initials are listed, although some signers names can be guessed, simply because they are activists and leaders in the pro-developer AHO-supporting political PAC A Better Cambridge AF. And there is a lot in this poster that is not only false but also intended to deceive.
The Election season has clearly begun, and if this postering of a very dishonest poster is any example of what is to come we are in for a real doozy. The dominant political party in the city, A Better Cambridge, is attacking opponents full steam. A few days ago Candidate Patricia Nolan was attacked by the communications director of ABC Dan Eisner in an opinion piece in the Chronicle following her thoughtful piece on the need for Cambridge to evaluate all the alternatives for Affordable Housing. Yes we can have our differences, but this kind of personal attack, like the attack of an AHO opponents wikipedia page this spring needs to stop. And we need to to make sure that the information that we are putting out to the public is both honest and factually correct.
The word "REWARD" often accompanies "WANTED" posters, and it is no less true here. Implicit in the AHOR poster that is . being plastered around . the city is the "reward" that if Council votes to PASS the AHO that young people and others will finally be able to get affordable housing in the city. This is patently false. Between 0 and 60 new units are expected to be built if the AHO passes, no where near enough to address the circa 19,000 people on the affordable housing list, much less all those like the newly arrived Google and Bio-tech employees with considerably higher salaries who are struggling to find housing in Cambridge, don't want to commute from outside, and who are already forcing long time residents out of their homes and neighborhoods as these units are gobbled up for quick turn-around renovations for expensive leases or sales. The AHO will not help any of these people. Wanted - and Reward - for those Councillors willing to stand up to the AHO and help us put in place a viable affordable housing process and plan in the next Council term and in years following.
It is unlawful to post notices on publicly or privately owned utility poles in Cambridge without permission. The applicable provisions from the Cambridge City Code are reproduced below.