Neighborhoods Count

What’s happening
As the world gets increasingly complex, demographic changes, technological advances, climate change and economic tensions are creating more and more challenges.

My plans

  • It is crucial to factor what is foundational to Cambridge’s essence into the City’s policy making. As part of making this happen I listen to the people who live in the neighborhoods, because no one knows the neighborhoods better than its residents.
  • I have been a voice for neighborhood residents on issues since long before starting on the City Council — I bring that history of neighborhood advocacy into every decision I make.

Diversified Housing Helps Create a City’s Soul

What’s happening
Like much of the region, Cambridge faces both a housing crisis and an affordable housing crisis. In the face of global real estate pressures, housing prices in Cambridge pose significant challenges to keeping a healthy mix of people in our City.

My plans

  • Maximize inclusionary zoning and linkage fees for new residential and commercial developments.
  • Eliminate speculative short-term rental operators that take long-term housing off the market and inflate real estate prices.
  • Ensure the City is ready to purchase our many expiring use buildings when they come on the market, to keep hundreds and hundreds of affordable units on the market and help maintain the diversity that makes Cambridge such a special place to live.
  • Expand opportunities for homeowners to create additional residential units within their buildings.
  • Change zoning rules to reflect new opportunities to live in a community that maximizes residential opportunities in existing buildings.

Education is a Civil Right

What’s happening
Good schools are at the heart of any healthy city. Yet too many of our children do not experience the academic success they need for today’s world.

My plans

  • The City Council and the School Committee must be far more effective partners in making sure all our children get the education they need to have a successful life when they graduate from high school. Help the School Committee and the District Administration design a budget based on providing our children the education they need to succeed rather than meeting budget number set by District and City administrators that is not foundationally driven by the need to provide the educational resources our schools need. If we need to spend more money to help our children, all of our children, succeed in today’s world, then I will be supportive of a plan that explains how we’re best able to do that.
  • Help the School Committee and the District Administration understand that good ideas and innovation often come from outside an organization, to include, for Cambridge Public Schools, ideas from teachers, students, parents and general community members. I want to help the District understand that a program like the City’s Participatory Budgeting would be a great way for a school system to ensure that good educational ideas, regardless of where they originate, get a comprehensive and transparent review to see how they might help us improve the education of all of our children.

Safe Streets For Everyone

What’s happening
Streets and sidewalks must be safe for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and the emerging sector of personal electric vehicles like E-bikes, electric scooters and OneWheels. The ‘Delivery Economy’ of Ubers, Lyfts and Amazon services must fit into our streets in ways that provide us the convenience of internet-driven services while minimizing the inconvenience — and sometimes even dangers — they pose to other users of our streets and sidewalks.

My plans

  • Cambridge needs to more effectively envision and then embark on creating a future where more people safely move through and around Cambridge without a car. It may take many years, and our journey there may be bumpy at times, but a healthy Future Cambridge is one where access to transportation relies less on personal cars and more on a combination of shared and private personal mobility devices that includes cars, wheelchairs, scooters and more.
  • Programs we need to increasingly focus on now include ensuring we are creating and maintaining safe infrastructure for all users and having CPD and other City staff build and implement data-driven vehicular enforcement and transportation safety education models.
  • I started the City’s discussion about how to work with these new transportation sectors. This term, I organized multiple events to discuss how New Urban Mobility options might impact, in both positive and negative ways, our City and to explore what rules, infrastructure and government activity is needed to maximize their potential while mitigating the chaotic impact these new systems can have on our existing transportation methods. I will continue to push this discussion — and the need for concrete action in terms of infrastructure investments, staff training and regulatory reform — in the next term.

Planning For A Climate-Changed Future

What’s happening
Nothing threatens our future like climate change. From flooding, droughts and extreme rainfall to heat waves, invasive species and new diseases, the past is no longer a good predictor of our future.

My plans

  • I have been focused — and will continue to focus — on helping Cambridge meet these emerging climate challenges by rethinking obsolete zoning around things like battery storage or building drainage, promoting resiliency-based infrastructure investments like protecting and expanding our tree canopy and developing community-based resiliency education programs such as is done in New York City.
  • Last term, I chaired the Mayor’s Special Advisory Committee on Neighborhood-Based Resiliency to help identify methods of creating the civic systems and social cohesion we need to thrive in this uncertain future. This term, I have worked to implement many of these ideas through zoning proposals, grant applications and educational outreach. This next term I will work to expand the work of the Committee through partnerships with City agencies, neighborhood groups and non-profits.
  • Cambridge needs to be more adaptive for its future than it has ever been in the past. We need to think of new ways of doing old things such as creating partnerships with insurance companies to help protect our most vulnerable residents, adapting local land-use laws to encourage onsite water storage, carbon sequestration depaving programs, underwriting financial instruments to provide air conditioning to those who need our help to keep their homes from becoming dangerously hot. Some programs may be explored and discarded, some may be tried but discontinued but others will help us safely navigate the climate change challenges we already face and which will become even larger in the near future.

Craig Kelley at desk