Affordable Housing: The City Council must continue to play a leadership role in the fight to keep Cambridge affordable. In the 2014-2015 Council term, we were able to create the first middle-income inclusionary housing units in the city’s history and have supported the housing authority as it embarks on a roughly $450 million rehabilitation of the city’s existing public housing. We were also able to nearly triple the city’s housing linkage fee, which will leverage new density to support affordable housing creation.
In the coming term, I will continue to be an outspoken advocate for the placement of affordable housing throughout the city rather than only in certain neighborhoods. We should look to growth and redevelopment in new parts of Cambridge to help remedy the geographic disparities in Cambridge’s affordable housing stock. The concentration of affordable housing in only certain neighborhoods only serves to increase social and economic disparities, and this is not something that the City Council should tolerate.
Sound Fiscal Management: The City of Cambridge continues to enjoy healthy revenues and a rare AAA bond rating from all three credit rating agencies. Under these conditions, good fiscal management means making capital investments in the facilities and infrastructure that will enhance the lives of residents and add value to our city. The new Martin Luther King school and the King Open reconstruction project are good examples of the kinds of investments that are now possible. Good financial management also allows the city to keep property tax rates low to mitigate and in many cases completely offset the cost of rising assessed values.
Transportation: Cambridge’s growth has put a large amount of pressure on our city’s roads and MBTA bus and rapid transit service. As we work to reduce congestion and increase public transit capacity, it is important that we continue our commitment to alternative modes of transportation like walking and biking. I have worked diligently to move the Grand Junction Rail Trail project forward, and we are now seeing construction begin on a portion of the path between Main St. and Broadway. Once completed, this rail trail will provide pedestrians and cyclists with a direct, safe route between East Cambridge, Area IV, Kendall Square and Cambridgeport, and will connect our neighborhoods to a network of existing and planned paths that span the entire Greater Boston region.
I will also continue to advocate for pedestrian safety improvements in key areas. I have been successful in obtaining a commitment from MassDOT to accelerate construction of new “HAWK” signals at Memorial Drive that will greatly enhance pedestrian visibility and safety. Preliminary work has begun on these improvements and they are expected to be completed in 2016.
Many parts of Cambridge are growing rapidly, and development in East Cambridge and Kendall Square especially is occurring in close proximity to residential neighborhoods. One of my priorities is to ensure that mitigation from that development directly benefits impacted neighborhoods. In the coming term, I will continue to advocate for and support mitigation in the form of public open space. Large buildings can make city streets seem cramped and overwhelming, so with every large building that is constructed we need to make sure that we are securing enough land for parks and playgrounds.
As the city enters a master planning process, we should look to past efforts to guide us in the present. Over the last decade, residents from neighborhoods across Cambridge have dedicated countless hours of their time to dozens of planning processes that took place across the city. Rather than start from scratch, we should draw on those efforts in order to build a new master plan that balances growth and housing creation with transit and open space needs.
Environment and Public Health
The City Council has an important role to play in guiding development toward more sustainable environmental practices. Most new development in Kendall Square is now attaining the highest LEED certifications, and I am proud of the great strides that we have made in ensuring that municipal buildings are up to the highest environmental standards.
I pride myself on being a tireless advocate for my constituents and I feel that one of my most important duties as a councillor is to assist residents in accessing city services. I am always ready to listen if you are having trouble with a city service or have ideas about how to make Cambridge a better place to live.