Cambridge Zoning History - Charles Sullivan (Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Commission) - on Factories and Zoning Facts
The city-wide MMH up-zoning petition goes next to the Planning Board (May 11, 2021 at 6:30 PM) and then to the Ordinance Committee of City Council. Get information for letters and the sign-up link to speak at the CCCoalition.org website. Follow updates on the MMH here as well.
The mis-named Missing Middle Housing (MMH) city wide up-zoning petition that will allow more luxury housing to be built in Cambridge is being promoted by the local developer-linked political group that calls itself A Better Cambridge (ABC - strongly identified with several Councillors) . One issue they keep coming back to is race, and the impact the MMH will have on racial disparities, claiming that our zoning history has largely been framed around race. Not true! The MMH Up-zoning Petition calls for a massive zoning change to build more luxury (market rate) housing at far greater density than currently allowed. It promotes the demolition of current housing, diminishes open space and tree canopy, increases traffic, and encourages McMansions and multi-story luxury duplexes in every neighborhood. It jeopardizes affordable housing, adds ZERO housing for middle income residents, and benefits investors and developers. It will do nothing to make the city more affordable to renters or buyers, and will likely make things worse. Nor does this MMH petition address or redress the actual history of zoning in this city which is based largely on the once prominent roles that factories had here.
Read CCC's opinion piece "The 'Offal' Truth about Cambridge Zoning," which details how Cambridge's zoning came about. The link is www.cambridgeday.com/2021/04/22/the-offal-truth-behind-cambridge-zoning/
Watch Charles Sullivan (Director of the Cambridge Historical Commission) talk on April 29, 2021 as he addresses this issue at the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association. This video titled "Neighborhood Zoning & Development History" can be viewed here, introduced by former President of C.N.A., Cathie Zusy: www.cambridgeport.org/history along with the Q and A session found at the same link. Regardless of the origin of today's wealth disparities in Cambridge, the Planning Board has seemed generally persuaded that the MMH as presented would only make things worse. Even the proponents admitted that it was aimed at providing more housing for people making more than $100,000 a year. While the Cambridgeport post includes a "warning" that despite the historian Charles Sullivan's detailed analysis on the specific history of Cambridge zoning, "redlining is inextricably intertwined with the history of racism" here, it is clear that our zoning history begins with the city's important factory history and related health issues that impacted negatively those living nearby, making some areas of the city less desirable than others; and impacting everything from access to bank loans, redlining, and Federal Housing Policy . While race has been an issue in other aspects of city life, most notably economic equity, nothing in the MMH will address these issues - or the longstanding concern about affordable housing availability.
Please sign our Petition to stop this massive citywide up-zoning to add more luxury (market rate) housing. Your help makes a tremendous difference! If you know someone who has not yet signed, PLEASE encourage them to do it now. Here is the link: bit.ly/wakeupcambridge