September 7, 2021:
[Cambridge Residents Alliance Endorsements for the 2021 City Council Election will be posted here in a few days]
Cambridge Residents Alliance 2021 Platform
The Cambridge Residents Alliance was formed in 2012 to advocate for a livable, affordable, and diverse city by fighting the displacement and gentrification that have accompanied the city’s rapidly rising housing prices. As neighbors and community activists, we seek to create local impacts in the fields of housing, human rights, urban land use, community development, civic engagement, environmental justice, new concepts of public safety, privacy, and more. We are building alliances both within the city and across city lines to create networks that foster collaboration and mutual inspiration.
Our agenda for a livable city asserts everyone should have a voice, especially those with historic roots in Cambridge and those communities which have been marginalized by class or race, to shape and design their environment. We must build a city that includes and protects all our residents and preserves a sustainable environment.
We believe in:
- The Right to Remain in a Stable Community
Cambridge is a community, not real estate to be bought and sold for profit on the international market without regard for the impact on our residents. The city government’s emphasis on commercial and market rate housing development fuels gentrification and displacement. We must strengthen the liveability, diversity and affordability of our neighborhoods.
- Offer City subsidies such as zoning changes only to support development projects that have a majority of neighborhood resident support, have an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement negotiated with residents, and provide living wage jobs. Make explicit whether a community benefit agreement targets impacted neighborhoods or is spread around the city.
- Reject adding density and height to create 80% luxury housing without significant additional community benefits.
- Create additional stable public and non-profit low, moderate and middle-income affordable housing, including through limited-equity co-ops and community land trusts.
- Increase funding for affordable housing, including by increasing linkage fees on commercial buildings, floating bonds, and passing a real estate transfer fee on commercial and residential sales.
- Use public land only for 100% affordable housing and green or open space.
- Strengthen the inclusionary zoning formula for new residential development to require at least 20% moderate- and low-income and 5% middle-income units, with a commitment to regular future increases.
- For any housing built to greater height or density than allowed by zoning, require 1/3 low and moderate income, 1/3 middle income, 1/3 market rate units.
- Pass and enforce regulations to reduce displacement of tenants caused by condo conversion, AirBnB usage, unreasonable rent increases, and no-fault evictions.
- Support tenant organizing efforts for protections and rights such as rent control/stabilization and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.
- Establish a fully staffed and funded Office of Housing Stability to research, collect data, develop and implement anti-displacement policies and services.
- Require universities and colleges, particularly MIT, to provide meaningful increases in grad student and post-doc housing as a condition for zoning increases.
- Refocus the Community Development Dept. to prioritize creative solutions to housing and land use that benefit the city’s residents, rather than enabling and promoting the plans of developers.
- Maintain public records on and oversee community benefit agreements, including requiring developers to provide annual concrete data on jobs, training programs, and internships promised in exchange for zoning increases.
- Support unhoused peoples’ efforts for recognition and to create permanent non-congregate housing options with no preconditions for entry, voluntary supportive services and comprehensively trained staff.
- The Right to Democratic Participation and Influence in decisions that shape our city, ensuring full participation of traditionally under-represented voices.
- All candidates for City Council must pledge to refuse campaign contributions from any large corporate or real estate interests that are seeking zoning changes or other benefits from the Cambridge City Council or city boards. This will enable voters to be more confident that councilors prioritize residents’ interests.
- Establish a program to provide some city funds to candidates running for City Council.
- Change the city charter to increase the power of elected city councilors relative to the power of the city manager, with broad public participation in the charter review process.
- Choose a new city manager who will prioritize residents’ needs and who has experience in policies that create an equitable and just city. Conduct a nationwide city manager search with genuine and diverse community participation.
- Create a participatory process to fill positions on city boards and commissions.
- The Right to Equity, Justice and the Public Good
Every resident must have equal access to public spaces, resources and services, quality education, public libraries, healthcare and other safety net programs. The city, as well as our educational, religious and civic institutions, will strive for the protection of all residents from explicit, implicit and institutional discrimination, and uphold their civil rights and liberties.
- Build the infrastructure for affordable access to municipal high-speed internet for all residents. Insist on a city-owned network as opposed to a digital equity-only solution, which leaves small businesses without affordable service.
- Institute and fund universal early childhood education.
- Combat bias and discrimination with proactive public and community-wide educational campaigns informed by those who are most impacted.
- Respond to the impacts of the COVID pandemic with on-going assistance in the areas of food, housing (preventing eviction and continuing rental and mortgage support), employment, and income. Ensure continued equal access to testing, vaccines and information for all residents.
- Establish a firm timeline, beginning on July 1, 2021, and provide funds to implement the recommendations of the External Assessment of Recruitment, Hiring and Promotion Practices and create a process to involve community members.
- Expand the role of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to ensure that DEI is achieved in all city departments, practices, policies, and protocols. Create a means of resident involvement.
- Right to Public Safety
All residents have a right to a robust sense of safety with opportunities to benefit from the diversity of our communities. In light of harms stemming from traditional policing, especially affecting low-income and communities of color, Cambridge deserves new models with funding to ensure public safety and create genuine police accountability to the community.
- Implement the Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team (HEART), a non-police-based emergency response team funded by the City government and accountable to the communities, under the leadership of The Black Response.
- Remove all military grade equipment (weapons and tools) from police, including tear gas.
- Shift non-criminal police-based work (crossing guards, traffic and parking enforcement, construction site details, school resource officers) to well-paying civilian jobs.
- Implement a new independent police review board accountable to civil society.
- Provide active public and municipal support for communities facing imminent threats of violence.
- Enforce "Sanctuary City" protections of immigrants and refugees from detention or deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through city officials refusing to collaborate with immigration authorities.
- Establish and fund community-led restorative and transformative justice measures to address harm and build community connections.
- The Right to a Healthy, Sustainable Environment that supports our health, safety, and quality of life.
- Incentivize greener commercial buildings through fees on lifetime emissions from new buildings to be used for energy efficiency projects and green job training for low income and minority communities.
- Reduce emissions from vehicular traffic by promoting mode shift to public transit, walking and biking; promoting electric vehicles (private and public fleets, including trucks and buses); and enforcing anti-idling laws.
- Supply 100% of municipal electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2022.
- Establish safety infrastructure standards and plans to protect residents from flooding and predicted sea-level rise.
- Protect residents from escalating heat through implementation of the Urban Forest Master Plan and the new Tree Protection Ordinance, as well as providing energy efficiency upgrades and air conditioning to low-income and most impacted communities in Cambridge.
- The Right to Transportation, Transit, and Mobility
- Conduct independent analyses of traffic conditions caused by new development, and of traffic throughout the city, rather than relying solely on developer-funded and City department studies.
- Work with statewide advocates to pressure the state to fully fund, modernize, and expand the services of the MBTA, including a commuter rail stop at Alewife.
- Increase safe bike paths and pedestrian routes as part of a commuting strategy that is less dependent on private cars.
- Provide city-funded transportation to areas of Cambridge underserved by the MBTA.
Monday, September 23, 2019
The Cambridge Residents Alliance Forms Democracy for Cambridge PAC and
Announces its Endorsements for the 2019 City Council Election
The Cambridge Residents Alliance has created the Democracy for Cambridge Political Action Committee to raise funds to publicize endorsed candidates and carry forward its priorities through electoral participation.
The Democracy for Cambridge PAC is announcing its endorsements of 7 candidates for election to the City Council in 2019. They all seek bold change through policies and programs that create and preserve affordable housing, protect tenants from displacement in an unforgiving housing market, increase democratic participation in elections including campaign finance reform, improve equity and justice, and ensure Cambridge is preparing for climate change. Endorsed candidates have demonstrated a commitment to a future city that prioritizes affordable housing for low- and moderate-income people, improves traffic and transit policies and protects civil rights and liberties of all residents regardless of citizenship status.
Each candidate has pledged to refuse campaign donations from any large corporate or real estate interests that are seeking zoning changes or other benefits from the Cambridge City Council or City boards. Fuller descriptions of the candidates, the endorsement process and the full details of our platform can be found on our website: www.democracyforcambridge.org.
Democracy for Cambridge endorsees, in alphabetical order, are:
- Dennis Carlone was first endorsed by the Residents Alliance and elected in 2013 and again in 2015 and 2017. He is an award-winning architect and urban planner who uses his political and professional skills to promote planning for people and prevent exploitive development. He has co-chaired the important Ordinance Committee, secured additional city funding for affordable housing, and was chief sponsor of the Net Zero and plastic bag ban ordinances.
- Charles Franklin is a first-time candidate and a computer engineer, a founder of “Upgrade Cambridge” to bring municipal broadband to the city, a member of the steering committee of the Inman Square Neighborhood Association and a strong advocate for bicycle and pedestrian safety. He is action-oriented with a strong focus on strengthening equal access to all the City’s resources.
- Risa Mednick is a first-time candidate who directed Transition House, Cambridge’s program for domestic violence prevention and intervention and its shelter. She has focused her life’s work on sustaining the most basic things people need to live -- freedom from violence and abuse, safe housing, access to health care, money and jobs. She will bring that deep knowledge of the city to the Council.
- Patty Nolan is a first-time Council candidate, after serving for 14 years on the Cambridge School Committee. She brings to the Council her long-term commitments to good governance and accountability, a history of activism in the face of the climate crisis and deep knowledge of our educational system.
- Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler is a first-time candidate who works for a land-use policy organization in Cambridge. He grew up in subsidized housing and is a renter. As a democratic socialist, he volunteers as an organizer and activist for tenant protections and policies that stabilize rents in the city. He supports a Cambridge “Green New Deal” and programs to address wealth and racial equity gaps.
- Nicola Williams is a first-time candidate who founded her small consulting business in Cambridge and has directed and promoted the city’s Caribbean Carnival for 27 years. She sees commercial corporations forcing out small businesses as the prices of land and buildings skyrocket. She wants to see increased affordable homeownership and is committed to bringing the voices of all residents to the implementation of city development policies.
- Quinton Zondervan was endorsed by the Residents Alliance in 2017 and is seeking a second term on the Council. An immigrant, Quinton is a graduate of MIT, a tech entrepreneur, a non-profit leader of Green Cambridge, co-authored the Net Zero zoning petition, and secured additional city funding for affordable housing. He brings his considerable skills to challenging urban issues, including bold thinking about the climate crisis, protecting our tree canopy and the future of transportation and transit.
The Cambridge Residents Alliance is an all-volunteer citywide organization formed in 2012 to work for a livable, affordable and diverse Cambridge. The Alliance has over 1800 supporters, is a 501c4 non-profit corporation registered in Massachusetts and holds educational forums on community issues and encourages residents to get involved in civic life.
For questions or further comment:
Nancy Ryan, 617-642-5449