Community-Based Economic Growth
Term One Achievements
Cambridge has an amazing amount of resources at its disposal, but we can improve how those resources are deployed. In my experience as an attorney working for small businesses, I have seen the value of community development resources. As a city councillor, it is my responsibility to help eliminate the structural barriers that stand in the way of entrepreneurs finding success.
Incentive Zoning and Linkage Fees:
As Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, I advocated for initiating our next Incentive Zoning Study, currently underway. This study analyzes the impact of nonresidential development on affordable housing and makes a recommendation for a corresponding increase to our linkage fee. I pushed for this study to include a similar investigation of the impact on employment opportunities for residents--if the data shows a jobs linkage fee would be appropriate here as well, we then have impetus to move new legislation.
The Committee has also recommended that the City update our table of commercial land uses. For reference, Cambridge underwent a comprehensive “commercial land use classification study” in 2015 that outlined a targeted approach to update our table of uses. At my urging, the City will be hiring additional zoning staff to move forward on updating the table of uses.
Legal Aid for Small Businesses:
I’ve worked to connect small business owners with legal supports and asked the city to better promote Small Business Saturday, an event helpful for measuring investment in our local economy.
Retail Strategic Plan:
I’ve pushed for progress on the city’s Retail Strategic Plan and advocated for the establishment of a Vacant Storefront Database. Tracking vacancy data, such as its prevalence by neighborhood and owner, can help us understand the depth of the problem and determine how the City can hold commercial property owners accountable. One option I have advocated for is a vacant property registration ordinance, implemented in numerous cities and towns across the country, which requires that owners of vacant commercial properties submit information to a registry and pay an annual fee for each year that the property remains vacant. We have many properties that have been vacant for 2+ years.
Cannabis Social Equity Ordinance:
In 2019, Cambridge voters mandated our city establish zoning for the cannabis industry. I’ve held numerous hearings on the issue, resulting in the establishment of a separate Cannabis Social Equity Ordinance. The City must develop a comprehensive and specific Social Equity Plan to ensure those who were disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs will benefit from the economic opportunity this emerging industry presents. This includes leveraging locally-owned companies and those owned by underrepresented groups, such as women and people of color.
To further support local business, I am committed to:
Starting a Mom and Pop Small Business Grant Program.
Committing Cambridge to more subsidized ground floor retail in new developments.
Setting aside preference for local businesses in publicly owned buildings.
Developing an incubation space where local entrepreneurs can pay subsidized rental rates to help jump start their business.
Create a Legacy Business Registry and Preservation Fund to honor long-standing businesses in Cambridge.