'19 Platform

Cambridge Residents Alliance 2019 Platform

The Cambridge Residents Alliance was formed in 2012 to have an impact on the city’s rapidly rising housing prices and the displacement and gentrification that has accompanied it. 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, and more. We are building alliances both within the city and across city lines to create networks that foster collaboration and mutual inspiration.                                                                    

Much like the national movement “Right to the City,” the Cambridge Residents Alliance was born out of our desire to change the public discourse on urban design. We believe in an urban human rights agenda which asserts that everyone has a right to the city, especially those with long roots here, and to shape and design their environment. Particularly in these times, when many of our residents, with and without legal status, live in fear and endure the realities of increased discrimination and dislocation, we must build a city that includes and protects the rights and needs of all our residents. We believe in:

  1. 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. Individuals and families of ordinary means must be able to find secure housing in Cambridge. As rents skyrocket, we must strengthen the rights of tenants and homeowner occupants, make community planning decisions participatory and transparent, preserve and develop affordable housing, and increase the share of permanently affordable housing that is removed from the private real estate market.
  2. City subsidies such as zoning changes must only support development projects that have a majority of neighborhood resident support, have an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement and provide living wage jobs. We reject adding density and height to create 80% luxury housing without significant additional community benefits.
  1. Public land must be used for 100% permanently affordable housing, open and green space.
  2. The inclusionary zoning formula for new residential development must include at least 20% moderate- and low-income and 5% middle income units with a commitment to regular future increases.
  3. City policies must prevent no-fault evictions of residents who are paying their rents; establish a Housing Stability Office to implement this policy and other means of reducing displacement.
  4. Our universities, particularly MIT, must be required to provide affordable housing for their thousands of off-campus graduate and post-graduate students and fellows as a condition for any zoning increase.
  5. Cambridge’s Community Development Department must prioritize creative solutions to housing and land use that benefit the city’s residents, including supporting enforceable Community Benefits Agreements created by residents.
  1. Any housing built to greater height or density than allowed by zoning should have to provide something like 1/3 low and moderate income, 1/3 middle income, 1/3 market rate units.
  1. Increase city money/ general revenues allocated to build affordable housing.
  1. Oppose all tenant displacement due to condo conversion, Air BnB, etc. via regulation.
  2. Accountability: Require developers to provide concrete data on jobs, training programs, internships, etc. that they promised to provide in exchange for zoning relief.


  1. The Right to Democratic Participation: Our right to the city includes the right of every resident to participate in decisions that shape our city—its budget, land, development, jobs, schools, services, and approach to public safety. It includes the right to information, transparency, popular participation, and equal representation.
  2. 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.
  1. Establish a program to provide some city funds to candidates running for City Council.
  1. The Right to the Public Good: Our right to the city includes the right of every resident to have equal access to public spaces, resources and services, quality education, public libraries, healthcare and other safety net programs in order to thrive, regardless of background.
  2. Prioritize full investment in public schools and early education, especially where the achievement gap demonstrates unequal access to early childhood education and other proven indicators for learning success.
  1. Develop new mentorship, internship and other programs that prepare our young people for good wages and participation in all sectors of the traditional and emerging economies without presumption of a full college education.
  2. Create safe neighborhoods by supporting community-led prevention initiatives, by holding police accountable to the community, expanding restorative justice measures and by preventing racial profiling.
  3. Build the infrastructure for free access to municipal high-speed internet for all residents throughout the city.


  1. The Right to Equity and Justice: As a City with a history of progressive social justice movements, the City of Cambridge as well as its universities, businesses, houses of worship and community centers must be held to this tradition by fighting explicit, implicit and institutional discrimination against residents and upholding their civil rights and liberties. Our city’s strength is its diversity, thus the voices of those facing disenfranchisement need to be prioritized in determining solutions.
  2. The City of Cambridge must live up to its designation as a "Sanctuary City" by protecting immigrants and refugees from detention or deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by refusing to collaborate with immigration authorities, and connecting them with a net of resources that will help them to know their rights, explore routes to citizenship, and identify "sanctuary spaces" protected from ICE.
  3. Cambridge will provide active public support for our Muslim residents and their places of worship, especially in these times of significant threats.


  1. The Right to a Healthy, Sustainable Environment: Our right to the city includes the right of every resident to live, work, play and learn in a sustainable environment that supports our health, safety, & quality of life.
  2. Implement measures to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicular traffic, including: reducing speed limits; promoting mode shift to public transit, walking and biking; promoting electric vehicles (private and public fleets, including trucks and buses); enforcing anti-idling laws.
  3. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions with policies that will meet the goal of using 100% clean, renewable energy by 2035, in private and city-owned buildings and vehicles.
  4. Supply 100% of municipal electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2020.
  5. Create safety infrastructure and plans to protect residents from flooding due to climate change.
  6. Protect residents from escalating heat by increasing the urban forest, including street trees.


  1. The Right to Transportation, Transit, and Mobility: All mobility options must be informed by accurate data with a focus on safety. Significant increases in vehicle traffic and bicycle use throughout the city present challenges that must be met with forward-thinking policies supported by independent data. We support the following:
  2. Conduct an independent analysis of traffic conditions throughout the city and of each proposed development.
  3. Work with Transit for MA (T4MA) to find resources to increase the capacity of public transportation.
  4. Find and implement the most modern, tested safe biking strategies throughout the City.

The Cambridge Residents Alliance:

Working for a Livable, Affordable and Diverse Cambridge

www.cambridgeresidentsalliance.org   [email protected]

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Cambridge Residents Alliance