Below are some of the issues I care most about:
As someone who grew up in Cambridge public housing, and would not be here without it, I will be a strong advocate for increasing affordable housing. This is one important way to preserve the racial and socio-economic diversity that makes Cambridge such a unique place to live. It is essential work if we want to ensure that Cambridge is a place where longtime families and newcomers can both find affordable options.
While the Cambridge City Council recently passed an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance for Inclusionary Housing, increasing the number of affordable units required in new Cambridge developments from 15% to 20%, the challenges of increasing and diversifying our city’s housing stock remain.
Ultimately, I want to help plan for sustainable development that prioritizes socio-economic diversity and affordable housing and addresses displacement and social equity. To do this, some of my ideas are:
Establish an Office of Housing Stability to help individuals find and maintain stable affordable housing.
Incentivize small landlords to maintain rents below market so that they receive a $1,500 tax credit for each unit rented in a 2-to-4-unit building.
Increase Cambridge’s linkage fee (which require large new non-residential developments to make contributions based on the size of the building to the Affordable Housing Trust or build the housing), and expand the sizes and uses of buildings that must pay a linkage fee.
Demand more from our developers; treat inclusionary tenants equally as market-rate tenants.
Demand that universities build affordable housing for their students.
Demand greater tenant protections to prevent the no-fault evictions.
Economic and Community Development
In my experience as an attorney working for small businesses, I have seen the value of community development resources. I believe it is a city’s and a councilor’s responsibility to help eliminate the structural barriers that stand in the way of entrepreneurs finding success.
I envision the Community Development Department offering entrepreneurs and small businesses more traditional and non-traditional finance opportunities, like partnering with local banks to offer a low-interest loan fund for new retail and restaurant venues. I also propose a small business retention program that would offer applicants grants, loans, and technical assistance. Similar models exist in cities like Lowell.
We can also start recognizing small businesses as historic assets similar to what San Francisco does with its Legacy Business Historic Preservation. Additionally, we must address the impact of construction on small businesses, offer more community education to new business owners, and form a site finder service that provides a database of commercial space available in Cambridge.
While there are provisions for subsidized ground floor retail in new developments like Mass and Main, we should continue to support local vendors and small shops. Projects like Bow Market in Union Square, Somerville prove that smaller footprints and shorter leases are attractive to entrepreneurs, city departments, and community groups.
Ultimately, I want to help support small businesses and enhance community development by advocating for affordable commercial space, and help foster stronger neighborhoods and empower community members to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems. To do this, some of my ideas are:
Eliminate structural barriers that stand in the way of local entrepreneurs finding success.
Build a site finder service that provides a database of commercial space available in Cambridge.
Commit Cambridge to more subsidized ground floor retail in new developments.
Set aside a preference for local businesses in publicly owned buildings since many cities invest in real estate of their own.
Commit Cambridge to more subsidized ground floor retail in new developments. Require that some space in certain new development projects be set aside for locally owned businesses.
Create the Legacy Business Registry and Preservation Fund for businesses-honoring those longstanding businesses in Cambridge.
Subsidize memberships to Cambridge First for low income entrepreneurs.
Enforce the City’s policies against vacant storefronts.
Cambridge has a population of over 110,000 people. 71,000 are registered voters, and yet only 16% voted in our last municipal election. What can we do as a city to increase turnout and improve overall civic engagement? We have successful models to point to. Both the Civic Innovation Challenge Inventory and the Participatory Budgeting process prove there is interest in community-led and championed initiatives. I believe engaging the wider community, especially people who have not historically voted, is inherently part of a councilor's job, and am prepared to think creatively about ways to make it part of my work, if elected.
Given our numbers, the lack of local participation should concern everyone. The vast majority of decisions that affect the lives of everyday Americans, Cantabrigians included, are made at the local level. In fact, all of the issues I've written about here are within the Council's purview to affect. It is absolutely essential that we all pay attention and participate.
When I think about civic engagement, I also think about campaign finance reform. We must identify ways to discuss campaign finance reform openly and enact policy that can serve as a model for other municipalities across the country.
Ultimately, I want to help promote broader civic engagement and improve the responsiveness of Cambridge City government to all community members. To do this, some of my ideas are:
Commit Cambridge to increasing voter turnout; publicly fund campaigns.
Bring City Council meetings to residents, by hosting them around the city (Rindge towers or at one of our many youth centeres).
Film Commission meetings, making those meetings more accessible.
Supporting the Arts
As an attorney who represents artists and also works with makerspaces in Massachusetts, I believe we can strengthen resources for artists who live and work in Cambridge. While Cambridge offers excellent resources, cities across Massachusetts and the United States have carved out special provisions that pertain to arts and culture uses.
I will work collaboratively with nonprofits and city departments to find ways to further support the local arts and creative economy. We can look to neighboring communities and other cities for inspiration, and prove our commitment to the arts by giving real attention to opportunities like the Foundry Building on Rogers Street.
I also want to help increase the intersectionality of Cambridge’s approach to environmental challenges, and particularly to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and keep Cambridge committed to sustainability efforts. To do this, some of my ideas are:
Increase outreach regarding net zero and implementing ideas of the Net Zero Task Force, making sure new municipal buildings are net zero by 2020. In Cambridge, 80% of our climate destroying emissions come from building energy use.
Consider funding trash and recycling programs through the following mechanisms:
Expand the Curbside Compost Pilot
Create swap shop(s) in Cambridge
Offer a business trash and recycling service
Offer a non-resident trash and recycling service
Examine the Cambridge Carbon Fund, passed by San Francisco, and see what parallels may be drawn to the context of Cambridge. San Francisco passed an ordinance establishing the San Francisco Carbon Mitigation Program to mitigate and sequester carbon by:
Requiring City departments to pay Carbon Impact Payments—a 13% surcharge for each airline ticket purchased for staff.
Mandating San Francisco Department of Environment to grant those funds to government, nonprofit or business projects that reduce or offset polluting greenhouse gas emissions in the Bay Area.
Funding carbon offset projects like community gardens and tree plantings and funds projects to retain storm water, cool temperatures, filter air, and more.