Jonathan King

published Join Us Today 2022-02-10 17:16:09 -0500

Join Us Today

The Cambridge Residents Alliance is committed to preserving and promoting the livable, affordable, and diverse Cambridge community. We are for the development that benefits communities, not tears them apart; development that contributes to the social, economic, political and cultural progress of people; and for development that affirms the right of people to shape their communities and destinies. We work to increase public participation in governance and policy-making at the neighborhood level and citywide through education, organizing and impacting elected officials.

published Join Cambridge Residents Alliance 2022-02-10 17:14:24 -0500

published 2021 Charter Reform Questions in Elections 2021-10-29 09:19:08 -0400

2021 Charter Reform Questions

         There are three important questions on the ballot about reform to the city charter, which describes Cambridge's form of city government. These questions are the beginning of work to change the charter and make our Cambridge government more responsive.  Many voters do not know about the ballot questions, so please share this info widely on neighborhood lists and with your friends.

City Charter Reform 
Help make our City Charter more democratic

VOTE YES on Ballot Questions 1, 2, & 3:

#1 Ends the City Manager’s sole control of all board & commission appointments by requiring Council approval;

#2 Creates an annual City Council review of the City Manager’s performance;

#3 Mandates a review of the City’s form of government every 10 years, starting in 2022. (There has been no review in 80 years.)

These questions are a beginning and it would be a big step forward for them to pass.  They are binding resolutions, and would go into effect January 1, 2022.

All eight of the incumbent councillors who are running for re-election urge a YES vote on all three questions.  Most groups are calling for Yes on all three ballot questions, including ABC, CResA, ORC, and DSA.

More info:

Many people are frustrated with the way the city is run.  We elect 9 city councilors, who elect the mayor from among themselves, and the councilors appoint the city manager.  Under our Plan E form of government, the City Manager (CM) has most of the power.  The CM appoints all the members of boards and commissions in the city, and they have not been representative of the community.  And much that the City Council passes does not get done if the CM doesn't want to do it.

One example that resonates so much now, especially with Covid, is the CM's opposition to pursuing municipal broadband.  Despite years of panels and city council votes, the CM has dragged his feet on getting a feasibility study and we are still stuck with a Comcast monopoly that is expensive and lacking in customer service.  

Some people want to consider bigger changes in the charter, such as: Should Cambridge elect the Mayor directly?  Should we have some Councilors represent Wards and some be elected citywide, instead of all being elected citywide as they are now?  Should the City Council have more power than it currently does?  Please help pass the three initial changes and then there will be a participatory public discussion of other changes.

If you have any questions or concerns on the ballot questions, please email [email protected] .

Thanks for taking action!

Lee Farris, Jonathan King, Shelley Riemann, Richard Goldberg, and Phyllis Bretholtz for the Executive Committee of the Cambridge Residents Alliance: Working for a Livable, Affordable and Diverse Cambridge


  1.  If you want to give out literature on Election Day or want a CResA yard sign, please contact [email protected]


PPS. Much of the language in this alert came from our member Rena Leib- many thanks!




published 2021 Platform 2021-09-09 11:13:10 -0400

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.

published Public Education forum 9/23/20 in Forums and Summit 2020-10-05 14:29:32 -0400

Public Education forum 9/23/20

Towards a Vision of Student Health, Wellness, and Racial Justice in Cambridge Public Schools.

On behalf of the Cambridge Residents Alliance, Our Revolution Cambridge, and Citizens for Public Schools, thanks to everyone who joined us for our recent panel discussion, "Towards a Vision of Student Health, Wellness, and Racial Justice in Cambridge Public Schools.”

More than 100 people joined the Zoom meeting to listen to and engage with the powerful and dynamic panelists. For those who were unable to join us, we are pleased to share the video of the event [link].

Here are some highlights from the six panelists. Watch the video [link] for the full panel discussion.

Cambridge School Committee member Ayesha Wilson, a product of the Cambridge Public Schools and now a youth program developer at CRLS, spoke about what it takes to create safe, equitable systems and the need for Cambridge schools to adopt contingency plans during the pandemic. She asked what it means to be an anti-racist school district and shared the example of fellow panelist Betsy Preval using A Raisin in the Sun to teach anti-racism to her students.

Betsy Preval, Director of the National Education Association Massachusetts, Cambridge Education Association Board member and on the leadership team of Educators of Color,  has been an English teacher in Cambridge for eight years. She said we have a society of haves and have nots by design, not by accident. While COVID has created new problems, many of these problems were not caused by but exacerbated by the pandemic. She spoke of the need to have meaningful shared power with marginalized youth and families of color and to bring an intersectional perspective to the work of anti-racism in education.

Kini Udovicki, born and raised in Cambridge, has been a school adjustment counselor for the last 19 years, and has worked at the Cambridge Street Upper School since 2012. She is a cultural proficiency seminar facilitator and Co-Founder of the Friday Night Hype mentoring program for Cambridge students. She addressed the need to Integrate social-emotional learning with anti-racist teaching.  She said this anti-racist work should happen across the district, affecting the choices of literature, how math is taught, and how history and science can be integrated into anti-racist teaching.

Emie Michaud Weinstock, a Haitian, Black mother of two, is a founding organizer of Cambridge Families of Color Coalition (CFCC) with a long history of advocating for racial justice in Cambridge schools. She described Building Equity Bridges, which seeks to eradicate nine barriers to racial equity. She named white privilege, bias and lack of coherence, all of which have inequitable impacts in the district. She said CFCC has demanded regular meetings with The Superintendent and shared advocacy skills to empower folks to attend school committee meetings and join the Superintendent’s working groups.

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) Senior Leo Austin-Spooner is one of the co-presidents of the student body as well as co-president of Project 10-East, CRLS’s gender-sexuality alliance. He served on the Superintendent’s COVID-19 Task Force as well as the CPSD Student Task Force to help advocate for students during the school-reopening process. Leo said returning to school has been anxiety-provoking for students, with constant, stressful last-minute changes.  If administrators are not going to be accountable to meet students’ needs, he said, student government is looking at what they can control. They’re looking at what makes an equitable, anti-racist school. To support students, they created a community resource directory with information on where to find academic support. He called for uplifting black excellence and black joy, black heroes and scholars, and dismantling the centering of white narratives.

Lisa Guisbond, Executive Director, Citizens for Public Schools and author of numerous articles in the NYT, Boston Globe, and elsewhere, linked anti-racist work with the fight against high stakes standardized testing.  She quoted author Ibram X. Kendi, who said “Standardized tests have become the most effective racist weapon ever devised to objectively degrade Black minds and legally exclude their bodies.” Kendi says that to be an antiracist, is to work to expose and eradicate such ideas wherever you encounter them. So antiracist work must include the fight against testing policies that disproportionately negatively impact students and communities of color. CPS [link] continues to do this work and invites others to join them.


Drew King, Nella LaRosa Waters, Shelley Rieman, Lisa Guisbond, and our affiliates at CRA, ORC and CPS

published '17 Election Flyer in Elections 2017-10-20 19:45:32 -0400

'17 Election Flyer

Endorsed by the Cambridge Residents Alliance:

L to R - Dennis Carlone, Sumbul Siddiqui, Vatsady Sivongxay, Jan Devereux, Quinton Zondervan

5 unique perspectives and skill sets -- together they represent our future.
for a truly progressive City Council majority
 Quinton Zondervan is President of Green Cambridge, a bold business leader and environmental
advocate who uses his technical and organizing skills to take local action on climate change.
 Vatsady Sivongxay is an attorney, community advocate, and refugee immigrant who knows how
to take problems to solutions through policy development and community engagement Sumbul
Siddiqui is a native Cantabrigian, attorney, and CRLS graduate who grew up in public and
subsidized housing. She provides legal services to low-income communities.
 Jan Devereux was endorsed by the Alliance and elected in her first run for office in 2015 based
on her development and leadership of the very effective Fresh Pond Residents Alliance.
 Dennis Carlone was first endorsed by the Alliance and elected in 2013 and again in 2015. As an
architect and urban designer, he fought for, and secured the comprehensive Envision Cambridge
planning study now underway.
(listed above in reverse alphabetical order)

These candidates represent the diversity in our city and the transparency we need for a Cambridge that
serves all its residents. They prioritize housing for low, moderate and middle-income folks, as well as transit
and environment policies that put sustainability, livability, and affordability first. Each has pledged to
refuse campaign donations from large corporate or real estate interests that are seeking zoning
changes or other benefits from city council or boards.

See the full Residents Alliance 2017 Platform on our web site.
The Cambridge Residents Alliance
is an all-volunteer citywide organization formed in 2012 to work for a livable, affordable and diverse Cambridge and
promotes resident involvement in civic life and accountability by all city officials and departments to the city’s residents.
Sign up on the website to join the email list, or email to get involved in this election. [email protected]

published MBTA Fares in Neighborhood Voices 2016-06-16 07:38:43 -0400

Public Transit Battles Heat Up as MBTA

Hikes Fares

by John MacDougall, John Ratliff  and Jonathan King

Ignoring the testimony of hundreds of pubic transit passengers and dozens of community organizations, the MBTA Fiscal Advisory Board voted recently to increase fares an average of more than 9% for its buses, subways and commuter rail trains.

The increases extend to monthly passes high school students use to get to and from school. These fare hikes fall unfairly on those least able to afford them, and represent a regressive tax.

At the same time the Board raised fares, they cut services, most notably the late night service heavily used by hospital and restaurant workers.

Testifying at the Feb. 29 MBTA hearing, Jean Cronin, 74, of Central Square, active in the Mass Senior Action Council, spoke for many seniors in noting that the fare hike will be a serious burden for people like herself who still need public transportation to get to work. Social security recipients did not receive any cost-of-living increases in their checks this year.


Representatives from a number of Community Heath Care Centers explained that efficient public transit was absolutely critical for their clients to access adequate health care.

“Every business, institution and entity in the Greater Boston area either depends upon or benefits in some way from the public transit functions of the MBTA,” argued Jonathan King, speaking on behalf of the Cambridge Residents Alliance.

Studies from Transportation for Massachusetts and the T-Riders Union showed that the State Legislature had appropriated sufficient funds to cover the immediate deficits, without fare hikes.

The increased fares can only decrease ridership: they will push T and rail passengers who have access to autos back into using them. The shift back to cars will increase the burning of gasoline and hurt efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming.

The failure of the T and commuter rail during the heavy snow last winter has brought public transit problems into sharp relief. Traveling to, from, and through Cambridge has grown increasingly difficult in recent years. Given the regional importance of the Red Line, the bus lines and major vehicular routes, congestion in Cambridge causes serious problems not only for Cambridge residents, but for people throughout the Greater Boston area.         

Intense struggles are currently under way over:

  • Whether the MBTA fare increases can be rescinded;
  • Whether the desperately needed Green Line extension through Somerville—long  planned and fully designed—will be funded (see Connolly article in this issue of Neighborhood Voices);
  • Whether the federal and state capital funds needed for new Red Line cars, signal equipment, and power supplies will be appropriated.

On the recommendation of our Public Transit Committee (Torgun Austen, Mike Connolly, chair, Jonathan King, John MacDougall, and John Ratliff) the Cambridge Residents Alliance has joined with two of the coalitions addressing these vital issues: Transportation for Massachusetts and the T-Riders Union. Both groups oppose fare increases as a means of financing regional MBTA service.


The authors are members of  the Transit/Traffic Committee of Cambridge Residents Alliance and the Mass Budget for All Campaign. John MacDougall works with the 350Ma Transportation Group and the Climate Working Group of Mass Peace Action. John Ratliff is Secretary of Mass Senior Action, and active with the Budget for All and Raise-Up campaigns. Jonathan King is V-P of Cambridge Residents Alliance and works on Transit issues with the Budget for All Coalition and Mass Peace Action.

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signed up on Join Us Today 2020-11-30 10:56:20 -0500

Join the Cambridge Residents Alliance

       The Cambridge Residents Alliance is committed to preserving and promoting a livable, affordable, and diverse Cambridge community. We are for development that benefits communities, not tears them apart; development that contributes to the social, economic, political and cultural progress of people; and for development that affirms the right of people to shape their communities and destinies. We work to increase public participation in governance and policy-making at the neighborhood level and citywide through education, organizing and impacting elected officials. By joining you indicate your  support for the above mission.

     The organization holds monthly public meetings, periodically sponsor public forums addressing pressing Cambridge issues, and send out useful updates and information through e-mail to members. Voting on organizational business requires making an annual dues donation of $10.00 or more. Member's donations provide the financial support needed to sustain communications and education. Names and donations are public information and reported annually to the Commonwealth.


donated 2022-11-13 12:17:27 -0500

Make a Ticket Donation!

Your $15.00 Ticket Donation will cover light dinner, drinks and 2023 dues. Please consider a larger 10th Anniversary Donation to support the efforts of the Cambridge Residents Alliance, in working for a livable, affordable, and diverse Cambridge.   Your donations and membership fees provide the entire budget. Our expenses include printing platforms, leaflets, website maintenance, internet service, state filing fees, and meeting room rentals. All work is volunteer. We receive no foundation support, and do not solicit or accept contributions from real estate developers or private corporations.

Thank you.