Boston Globe Calls for MIT Graduate Student Housing

Good article from the Boston Sunday Globe Editorial Page: "MIT is only now launching an assessment of its housing program for its graduate and post-doctoral students, 5,000 of whom currently live off campus. The school’s graduate students put huge amounts of upward pressure on neighborhood housing prices." Click here to read the full story at The Boston Globe website.

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Community Needs Verses Corporate Real Estate

As many of you know, large real estate corporations are aggressively promoting new large-scale developments in Cambridge. Despite some architectural enhancements, their plans are in essence “ high towers - sky high prices..”.  Ensuing street congestion and public transit burdens from the thousands of additional employees and residents are brushed aside. These plans will come before the City Council in the form of up-zoning proposals for Central Square in the next few months.May_4_Program_Copy_3_red.jpg

Residents need to put forward alternative views of the Cambridge we want – livable, affordable, diverse. The Saturday May 4 forum is the beginning of presenting resident’s views uncoupled from real estate interests. The lead speaker Prof. Tom Angotti is a national expert on the conflicts between community housing needs and global real estate corporations. The panelists include Area 4 community leaders and affordable housing advocates. Please try to attend, and encourage your neighbors.

Prof. Tom Angotti is Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development (CCPD). His recent book, New York For Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate (MIT Press, 2008) won the Paul Davidoff Award in 2009 and International Planning History Society Book Prize in 2010. His other books include Metropolis 2000: Planning Poverty and Politics, Housing in Italy and The New Century of the Metropolis: Enclave Development and Urban Orientalism. He has collaborated on many community-based plans and written about community land trusts.

To attend, please click here to RSVP on our website.

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City Council to Vote on MIT Deal

The MIT corporate real estate deal will be decided this Monday night, April 8th starting at 5:30 pm in City Hall.

If you have concerns about the future of our city, then this is a very important moment for you to show up to speak or simply to be present to signify your concernPlease join us!

The MIT Investment Management Company is seeking approval to build a series of commercial office towers on the grounds of the institute's East Campus campus by Kendall Square.  In addition, a large housing tower consisting mostly of market-rate apartments is proposed for a parcel that sits next to the Broad Canal.

By all accounts, the project will do some good.  But what's really troubling is how many critical issues have been ignored as MIT races to cash in on a new construction project.

The MIT deal does nothing to provide housing to several thousand graduate and post-doc students who move into nearby neighborhoods to be close to the campus.  As MIT's own Fred Salvucci has testified, this pushes up rents and pushes out families.

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Thanks To You, We Are Protecting Affordable Housing

We want to thank the many Cambridge residents who participated in the efforts to limit the size of the proposed Forest City biolab building at 300 Mass. Ave. and to protect the affordability of 168 apartments for current and future tenants in nearby Auburn Court and Kennedy Biscuit apartments at University Park.

While we lost the fight to limit the biolab to the size allowed under current zoning, we contributed to an important affordable housing victory. Neighbors’ letters, phone calls, and testimony at City Council meetings, along with more than 500 signatures on our “Keep Cambridge Livable” petition, altered the terms of debate and helped secure the housing victory. 

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Crush Hour In Cambridge

Cambridge streets will become ever more choked with traffic and its public transit systems will be overwhelmed if proposed zoning changes to allow massive new development go forward, according to experts at a recent traffic forum sponsored by the Cambridge Residents Alliance.

Steve Kaiser, a traffic engineer working with the alliance, said the only way the city has been able to claim the existing transportation infrastructure can handle the huge traffic increase — estimated to be at least 50,000 additional car trips per day — is by focusing on certain intersections and ignoring others. “They simply refuse to look at the bottlenecks,” he told more than 70 people who attended the November 17 forum at the Senior Center in Central Square.

“I was told by a staff person in the city’s traffic department that if they included the bottlenecks in their study, they would not be able to justify any new development…Instead, they focus only on what I call the ‘puff-ball’ intersections and then come to the conclusion that everything will be all right.”

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The Red Line Through Cambridge — Already Congested

Talk at “Crush Hour in Cambridge”

       Cambridge, Boston and surrounding communities are blessed with effective public transit systems. In fact ours - opened in 1897 between Park Street and Boylston Street downtown - is the oldest continuously operating system in the country.

       In the ensuing 115 years the system has grown dramatically and become an intimate circulation system for the area. The MBTA serves 175 communities, and a population of 4.7 million people.

       You are all intimately familiar with the rapid transit or subway lines on the T. In this map the width shows the relatively usage – clearly the red line is one of the backbones of the overall system.

        The system is overseen by the State Dept. of Transportation, established by Gov. Patrick in 2009. A five member Board of Directors governs the DOT. They also have authority over the Mass Bay Transportation Authority –the MBTA -, which operates the area public transit system, including the Red Line. The political process is regional, with a number of bodies contributing, most notably the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

         There is no explicit municipal authority over the T, neither Red Line nor buses; thus the City of Cambridge cannot purchase rail cars, order an increase in the frequency of trains, or otherwise alter service...

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Newsletter Issue #1

Welcome to the first issue of Neighborhood Voices, the newsletter of the Cambridge Residents Alliance. Our members include homeowners and tenants in both public and private housing across the city. We are united by our desire for a livable, affordable and diverse Cambridge and by our concerns about the looming tsunami of large-scale developments being proposed for Kendall Square, Central Square, Alewife Brook, and other parts of the city.

We believe that many of these projects do not respond to the needs of Cambridge residents. We are saddened by seeing our friends and neighbors forced out of the city because they cannot afford to live here anymore.

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Planning Board and Ordinance Committee Support Issues Raised by Yanow Petition

The Area 4 Neighborhood Preservation Petition (“Yanow petition”) was presented to the Cambridge Planning Board on Tuesday evening October 3, and the Ordinance Committee of the City Council on the following afternoon. The hearing rooms were packed with those opposing and those supporting. Susan Yanow’s thoughtful and articulate slide show presentation explained why five key planning principles do not work in the current situation in Cambridge, and why the petition is therefore needed.

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City Council Rejects Forest City Upzoning Petition

In August the Cambridge city council surprised many people when it failed to adopt a zoning change which would pave the way for expansion of University Park and a big new bio-lab on Mass. Avenue. For the bio-lab’s opponents, the council vote was the climax of several months of organizing. For residents of University Park’s 168 low- and moderate-income apartments, it may be a new beginning.

In 1988, the Cambridge City Council signed off on zoning changes to allow University Park to be developed on land that MIT bought in the 1970s, mostly from Simplex Wire & Cable. MIT’s Simplex plan had been strongly resisted by neighborhood groups. To win city council votes, MIT’s developer, Forest City, agreed to build 400 apartments among the labs and offices, and to reserve 150 of them for low and moderate income households. Forest City also had to limit their frontage on Mass. Avenue.

But in 2011 Forest City came back with a petition to expand University Park on the 300 Mass. Avenue block. They wanted to put up a big new bio-lab building for their biggest tenant, Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Everyone expected that the city councilors would approve the Forest City up-zoning petition this summer.  But they didn’t.  Why not?

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Council Lets Forest City Plan Expire

Resident's mobilization slows Forest City Ratner effort to steamroller City Council...  

City councillors let a biotech building proposal for near Central Square die — at least for now — at a special meeting Monday. Read the full story here in Cambridge Day.

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