Money, Money, Money: The Three-legged Stool Of Cambridge’s Mad Dash Towards Gentrification
Only in Cambridge would a city invest $350,000, two years of hard work and untold citizen hours in a planning study for Central Square then abandon it abruptly—without explanation—in favor of the piecemeal development the study was meant to eradicate.
Only in Cambridge would all this happen behind closed doors with most of the city’s governing body totally unaware of why the C2 study was abandoned.
Only in Cambridge, as if by coincidence, would a developer come along at the same time and propose spot-zoning for a development that greatly exceeds the controversial height and FAR limits originally proposed by the C2 committee.
Only in Cambridge would most of the City Council almost immediately start wagging their tails to welcome this new development which claims to offer a large percentage of mixed income units when it actually offers fewer lower income units than required by law.
Only in Cambridge would this development be put on a hyper-fast fast-track, once again without the agreement, knowledge or understanding of most of the city council.
And only in Cambridge would the claim of increasing the stock of affordable housing so blithely excuse and obfuscate a bald attempt to wrest millions of additional profits for a building that will have two main impacts on its neighborhood. Those impacts being, first, its luxury unit pricing will send a ripple of rent increases into the outlying area, ultimately chasing out more lower income people and families than it will ultimately house. And secondly, its massive size and scale will block the sky, gin up the winds and wall off the Area IV neighborhood from Central Square while serving as a precedent-setter for future development.
Only in Cambridge can developments that drive out today’s residents in favor of wealthier future residents be foisted on its populace as an emblematic savior of those most vulnerable citizens.
Only in Cambridge can a housing shortage throughout the metropolitan Boston area be used as a shield for gentrification in our city, as if building more units in Cambridge could ever reduce the area-wide demand that reduces Cambridge to the status of a desirable Boston neighborhood.
And only in Cambridge could city councilors whose campaign chests are filled with donations from developers and related business interests get away with failing to look beyond the false assertions of developers and pro-development city agencies.
What we need right now in Cambridge are three commitments on the part of our city councilors…
- TO REFUSE any donations from developers, their employees or relatives, or from anyone whose business is directly involved with development, and that includes lawyers who represent developers.
- TO REFUSE to vote for a single up-zoning petition until the city manager forces the Community Development Department to provide metrics that quantify the impacts of gentrification. What value does it bring to our city to receive 11.5% of inclusionary units in a development if it turns out we are forcing out more people than we are housing?
- TO LEASH the dogs of development. It’s time to turn down the heat on rampant development. Laws and regulations that were enacted fifteen years ago to promote development have succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Those laws are now fueling the fires of gentrification and displacement. City boards and agencies such as the Planning Board, the Community Development Department, the Traffic Department, and the City Solicitor must all be given a new set of marching orders, more in line with protecting our city rather than offering its jewels to the highest bidder. In effect, we must take down the FOR SALE sign visible to anyone coming into this city we all love.
Click here to view THE ECONOMIC CLEANSING OF CAMBRIDGE, PART 1.