Thursday, May 19, 2016

Council's Housing Committee meets last night on inclusionary zoning report

The Cambridge City Council’s Housing Committee delved into the inclusionary zoning report last night at the Citywide Senior Center for the first of their two hearings in May. Mayor Denise Simmons chaired the meeting and was joined by vice mayor Marc McGovern and councilors Craig Kelley, Jan Devereux and Dennis Carlone. 

Since the purpose of the session was information gathering and generating questions for the consultant, David Paul Rosen & Associates, most of the councillors’ time was spent listening to public testimony.  The consultants will be in Cambridge on May 31.

Questions from the audience included ...
  • Should the Housing Authority or CDD be given the right of first refusal in the purchase of additional units?
  • Is six units the lowest number of units that the rule should apply to?
  • Should "substantial rehabilitation" be a criteria that triggers the inclusionary requirements as well as new construction?
  • How will we evaluate the program?
  • How much time is reasonable to get new inclusionary rules done?
  • Is the proper time to review this policy after three years, not five?
  • Do inclusionary units lower housing values in a city?
  • How many mobile vouchers are there in Cambridge?
  • How many current projects will be exempt because they are already in the permitting process? 

During the councilors time to offer comments, councilor Carlone noted the pressing need for housing in the city and vice mayor McGovern stated that the task here is to figure what number is high enough that we are getting everything we can out of developers, but not so high that we shut down housing production.  City manager Rich Rossi echoed McGovern's sentiments, saying he felt that was the task to get as much out of developers while avoiding legal challenge to the policy.

The deadline for additional written question for the consultant should be sent to the City Council's Housing Committee by no later than next Wednesday, May 25. 

The May 31 meeting of the Housing Committee will take place at 6:30 pm in the Council Chamber and it will be televised.