2021 Platform


  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:

A. 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.

1. 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.  
2. Reject adding density and height to create 80% luxury housing without significant additional community benefits.
3. Create additional stable public and non-profit low, moderate and middle-income affordable housing, including through limited-equity co-ops and community land trusts. 
4. 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.
5. Use public land only for 100% affordable housing and green or open space.
6. 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. 
7. 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.
8. Pass and enforce regulations to reduce displacement of tenants caused by condo conversion, AirBnB usage, unreasonable rent increases, and no-fault evictions. 
9. Support tenant organizing efforts for protections and rights such as rent control/stabilization and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.
10. Establish a fully staffed and funded Office of Housing Stability to research, collect data, develop and implement anti-displacement policies and services.
11.  Require universities and colleges, particularly MIT, to provide meaningful increases in grad student and post-doc housing as a condition for zoning increases.
12.  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.
13.  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.
14. 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.

B.  The Right to Democratic Participation and Influence in decisions that shape our city, ensuring full participation of traditionally under-represented voices.
1.  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.
2.  Establish a program to provide some city funds to candidates running for City Council.
3.  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.
4.  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.
5.  Create a participatory process to fill positions on city boards and commissions.

C. 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.
1. 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. 
2. Institute and fund universal early childhood education.   
3. Combat bias and discrimination with proactive public and community-wide educational campaigns informed by those who are most impacted. 
4. 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.  
5. 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. 
6. 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.  

D. 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.
1. 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. 
2. Remove all military grade equipment (weapons and tools) from police, including tear gas.
3. Shift non-criminal police-based work (crossing guards, traffic and parking enforcement, construction site details, school resource officers) to well-paying civilian jobs.
4. Implement a new independent police review board accountable to civil society.
5. Provide active public and municipal support for communities facing imminent threats of violence. 
6. 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. 
7. Establish and fund community-led restorative and transformative justice measures to address harm and build community connections.

E.  The Right to a Healthy, Sustainable Environment that supports our health, safety, and quality of life. 
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Supply 100% of municipal electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2022.
4. Establish safety infrastructure standards and plans to protect residents from flooding and predicted sea-level rise.
5. 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. 

F.  The Right to Transportation, Transit, and Mobility
1.  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.
2.  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. 
3.  Increase safe bike paths and pedestrian routes as part of a commuting strategy that is less dependent on private cars.
4.  Provide city-funded transportation to areas of Cambridge underserved by the MBTA.

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Cambridge Residents Alliance