Cambridge Citizens Coalition
top image: 154 Thorndike Street (the first beneficiary of the new City Council vote to end Parking Minimums.
On Monday October 24, 2022, Cambridge City Council ended parking minimums: As CCC noted in our recent blog post, removing parking minimums in other cities like Buffalo NY has NOT meant that people create fewer parking spaces on their residential or commercial properties (indeed they often increase) but rather that the city has less control over these decisions. What this means is that the rationale that Councillor Burham Azeem and other supporting City Councillors used to justify this decision was both faulty and disingenuous. Councillor Dennis Carlone was the sole voice in opposition. Councillor Toner added an amendment to require the city to study impacts of this decision every three years, which passed, and this is fortunately now part of the city-wide ordinance.
The problem for us as a city is that our policies now are driven more by ideology than on facts or real world consequences. We have many more people moving in, many more jobs and all that will happen is that lower income people and seniors and people with families who need cars to get where they are going will have a much more difficult time here – and the environment will suffer as they look for parking on the street unless they live in the wealthier neighborhoods where onsite parking is the norm
As CCC has pointed out, most likely this will result in more multi-million dollar infill luxury housing will be built benefitting developers and investors at the expense of local residents, pushing up property values and taxes significantly for everyone, and impacting very negatively the environment..
There was one case at the BZA with parking minimum concerns when the City Council was voting on parking minimums. In short, we already have the first example (see image above).
This case is 154 Thorndike, a nearly $1.7 million East Cambridge infill luxury home project. You can find it on Zillow.
What is for sale here is a freestanding unit in a three-unit condo. The other two units are in another building that was mostly already there. The owner/developer decided to give the tandem parking spaces to one unit in the other building and a single space to this new unit. The other unit doesn't get one. Take a look at the site plan presented to the BZA, we have now allowed for one unit to get two parking spaces - completely at odds with the intent of the new order.
Moreover this freestanding unit was conveyed to the lender by a deed in lieu of foreclosure from Massimino's company, and the current beneficial owner appears to be The Grossman Companies.
Often this type of situation of a deed in lieu of foreclosure raises serious red flags with oversight agencies (think Trump properties kinds of issues).
In addition, pretty much the whole yard is now paved over – which is terrible re our serious issues around climate change.
In short this first example is not bringing down housing costs (just the reverse)
In short this first example is not helping the environment (just the reverse)
In short this decision by City Council it is taking away one of the few points of scrutiny in the process that might allow neighbors and others to address related impacts.
Welcome to the current era of ideologically driven City Council decision making aimed at largely benefit the developers at the expense of everyone else.
And when we look at how long it takes current Cambridge residents to get to work we can see the impacts of this kind of decision potentially on local residents.
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