Saturday, November 19, 2005

Liberalism in Cambridge, MA

Writeen 8/19/05 for submittal to Cambridge Chronicle, not certain if published (Bob):

RE: Letter: Liberalism in Cambridge

Cambridge Chronicle

The report calling Cambridge not even in the top five of America’s most liberal communities comes as no surprise.

On housing and the environment, Cambridge, on matters solely within its powers, is the opposite of liberalism.

We have one of America’s most densely populated cities but we have twice the jobs we should have.

As a result of this, first, a lot of people have to commute to their jobs in Cambridge and drive as part of that commute.
Secondly, that disproportion of jobs gives us two times the people looking for housing in Cambridge we should have. Our bizarrely overpriced housing stock is a direct result of this vast disproportion of jobs.

And our city’s development policies are exactly wrong.

The city initiatives for Mass. Ave. between Harvard University and Porter Square are the wrong thing being done yet again.

The "planners" are trying to provide extreme incentives for first floor commercial use at the expense of housing and first floor open space. The "planners" are fighting to destroy the neighborhood retail block at the Three Aces and fighting to destroy the plaza at Porter Station.

The city manager has an equally bad proposal for Alewife Brook Parkway and west.

The shopping center proposal is so dense the "planners" keep their goals secret. The fine print translates as 50% denser than Harvard Square or more. The manager says that he would not be so irresponsible as to implement what he is asking for.

Housing zoning at a reasonable scale should be replacing industrial and other commercial zoning.

The area across from Fresh Pond on Concord Avenue should be neighborhood scale housing. Housing should be required for the railroad tracks west of Alewife Station, at the same density and construction type as the Inn at Harvard in Harvard Square. The Alewife shopping centers should be downzoned to neighborhood business districts.
Cambridge is flooding Alewife because they "don’t have the money" to do it right after spending open space money on Lincoln. They don’t have the money after destroying wetlands and starving the white geese on the Charles River.

They don’t have the money after putting up a wall of introduced vegetation in place of the Magazine Beach wetlands.
Cambridge’s real policies leave me wondering how we got found to be in the top ten of the most liberal cities in the country. Reality is strikingly different from lovely claims.