Cambridge Citizens Coalition
NEW AHO CITYWIDE UP-ZONING PETITION with potential impacts on every city property is submitted by Councillors Azeem, McGovern, Simmons, and Zondervan (11.21.22) and is likely on a fast track toward approval.
To be allowed if the AHO UP-ZONING PETITION PASSES:
Affordable Housing Developments in major Cambridge and Minor Corridors (see map below) can become 10, 11 or 15 stories high. In Cambridge City Squares (see map below) AHO structures can be taller than the current 23 story Rindge Towers. These structures also will be allowed anywhere in the city if multiple properties are joined together. Above right is an image of what such a 25 story structure might look like in Harvard Square at the Bank of America site. By way of comparison, the very tall Harvard Smith Center is only ten (10) stories tall. We are currently working with architects to create models of likely impacts for other neighborhoods of the city.
What parts of the city will be impacted by this zoning petition, and to what degree? Those residents living near major Squares (or several-property compositions) may see new structures reaching 25 story (280') heights. Those residents living near avenues or corridors in the cities may going forward have affordable housing developments reaching 9, 10 or 13 stories without setbacks, parking, or green spaces. SEE MAP BELOW.
Read the petition language at the PURPLE button below:
Sign the Petition to Stop the Massive Upzoning BELOW
This new city-side radical up zoning petition is on a fast track to confirmation. It will be discussed first at the November 21 City Council Meeting, and from there will either be likely moved to the Ordinance Committee or the Housing and/or Neighborhood Committee, and afterwards to the Planning Committee and then back to City Council for a final vote. This will take place over the Thanksgiving week through the December Holiday Season with a possibly final vote in January. Of note: last year six AHO developments were approved (with some 1000 units) so the current system is working. Moreover the city itself owns land with 13 parking lots in Central Square, and building additional AHOs on city-owned land makes for more financial sense and will not increase property values/housing costs to the same degree.
Robert Winters of Cambridge Civic Journal writes of this radical up-zoning petition: "This may well be the most outrageous proposal I have ever seen from this or any other Cambridge City Council." Any such structure built will become the new norm against which new structures of any time will be compared for local "context" and architectural appropriateness in arguing for extra historical or zoning allowances.
KEY TAKE AWAYS
MAJOR ISSUES are in play in this radical new AHO zoning petition.
Timeline on the new AHO Amendment: This will first be discussed at the Nov. 21, 2022 City Council Meeting and likely will be forwarded to the Housing and/or Neighborhood and Long-Term Planning Committees for discussion and public comment. After this it would likely come back to the Ordinance Committee before going to the Planning Board and then back to City Council for ordination, likely in the early New Year.