Preserve East Cambridge as a Welcoming Place for All

Preserve East Cambridge as a Welcoming Place for All

March 4, 2021
Petition to
Cambridge Historical Comission and 1 other
Signatures: 155Next Goal: 200
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Why this petition matters

Started by Neighbors for a Bright Future

Historic preservation districting can be used in good faith to provide reasonable protections for truly historic architecture, but too often conservation districts are used by entrenched homeowners to preserve their neighborhoods in amber, to protect their investments, and to maintain the homogeneity of their neighborhoods.

That is the case with the proposed East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District, which includes most of the neighborhood and huge swaths of homes that even the Historical Commission admits hold no historic value. The district was proposed by a group of homeowners to prevent development of homes for new neighbors and to raise their property values, and the Cambridge Historical Commission has ignored steady concerns from renters, housing advocates, and neighbors who feel this process has been botched. Concerns include fears that the proposed district will add to housing costs, harm renters and regular homeowners, and set back efforts to end the racist after-effects of redlining. Despite these issues, the Commission is pressing ahead with a deeply flawed study process to send the district proposal to the City Council for approval.

The Historical Commission will meet March 17th to discuss "neighborhood goals" for the proposed district. Concerned neighbors call upon the Commission to end the study immediately due to its flawed origins and process. An unfair process that has excluded huge portions of the community cannot lead to a fair result. But if the Commission insists on proceeding despite community objections, we demand that the Commission adopt the below neighborhood goals for the district to reduce its potential to harm equity and affordability in the neighborhood and to preserve East Cambridge as a dynamic home for diverse future generations of residents to live and work.

The Historical Commission and the study committee should adopt the following goals for the East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District:

  1. Maintain the same rights and opportunities for current and future residents and small businesses to shape the architectural and aesthetic character of East Cambridge that previous generations enjoyed; do not privilege the past over the future.
  2. Rely on existing laws to conserve truly historic architecture, such as the city's recently strengthened tear down ordinance or land-marking tools already in place and in effective use in East Cambridge.
  3. Rely on education, information sharing, and public assistance through grants—all provided by our Historical Commission—as well as the fact that the neighborhood is protected from development by zoning, rather than coercion and financial burdens, to empower residents to knowledgeably and consensually protect the historic features of their properties.
  4. Create zero new barriers to living or working in East Cambridge for renters, new home buyers, immigrants, entrepreneurs, long-term residents, local businesses, or anyone seeking to contribute to the fabric of our community.
  5. Create zero possibility that a conservation district will exacerbate our housing affordability crisis via new requirements that are expected to artificially raise property values.
  6. Create zero new housing costs resulting from new materials requirements, use impairments, time spent in review processes, etc.

Community voices with concerns about the Conservation District have been completely shut out of the Historic Commission’s process, limited by zoom constraints. Please sign your name to show that significant concern exists within community that needs to be addressed. 

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Signatures: 155Next Goal: 200
Support now

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