As residents we are honored to live in the shadows of two of the greatest learning institutions in the world, but we cannot just live in their shadows. We can't thrive as a city when we have two different populations, one wealthy and one poor. Close to 50 percent of the kids in the public school system live in near-poverty. We need to face these challenges.
My neighborhood in Cambridge, Area IV, was the first to adopt surveillance cameras in the '80s. We dealt with the cameras, but as a young person who was growing, they felt uneasy. You felt your privacy was invaded.
A lot of pedestrians are incredibly unsafe around bikes. I propose that bikers should register their bikes and have a little plate on them, so that they may be identified. The elderly in particular have very serious complaints about bikes and how they go around the streets.
We have to urge the universities to provide housing to the highest possible percentage of graduate students so that the overflow won't be putting extreme pressure on the neighborhoods' housing markets.
We don't have very many Latino restaurants in our city, so we need more of that. We also need more southern cuisine. [Commercial expansion] can't come just in the form of chains like Tasty Burger or Starbucks.
If any group, university or not, wants to build at the neighborhood edge, they have to live by a common sense of community. You have to play by what I call a neighbor bill of rights.
Before coming to Cambridge, I had lived in Manhattan. Interestingly, I never felt threatened there. I came [to Boston] for an interview, and I was mugged across from the Christian Science Center. The difference in Manhattan is there were many people around. When I was mugged, there was nobody there. I think good urban design can lessen safety problems.
In 2007, the City Council said we had a climate emergency. Since then emissions have gone up by 17 percent. Harvard and MIT have some of the finest people in environmental engineering. If anybody has to start this dialogue [about emissions reduction] in the country, it has to be Cambridge.
Cities should never sell land—only lease it. The Council has been talking about selling three parking lots to developers. Lease the land for 40 years instead, then get it back, so that it stays affordable. What happens now is that sold land goes back on the market and becomes regular housing.
When I was in grad school in the '70s there were restaurants where you could get a decent meal for three bucks. At lunch it was students and the elderly… Now Harvard Square has dramatically changed.
You have to recognize that [Cambridge and Harvard's] histories are intertwined and that one would not be successful without the other. So I think you can't unbundle the image of Cambridge as a liberal, well-functioning bastion of good governance from Harvard University.
Last term I introduced Bridgestep, which uses analytics to analyze crime trends… Now if we get a number of 911 calls that are suspicious, or there has been a homeowner break in, or my car has been broken into, we have the analytics… I think that the challenge that I have seen when I have gone to community meetings [is that] people don't call 911.
I think Cambridge does have a history of being a leader. We were the first to adopt stretch code, we have been continually at the forefront of requiring more energy efficient buildings to be built. I think we should obviously continue to lead in that way.
This term I have been chairing neighborhood planning and trying to bring up a lot of discussions to the Council and people. I think that the reality is that there is no single thing that is going to fix the housing crutch that we have in the City of Cambridge. So you need to have a plan, you need to understand the housing market and put housing on the market each year to match that vacancy rate if you want to control the price of housing and not keep pricing people outside of Cambridge and keep gentrifying to the point where only millionaires can live here.
We would like to create more space for entrepreneurs and start-up companies in Harvard Square. [I have] worked very closely with developers to try [to implement this] and when they have retailing vacancy to fill it with a locally owned retailer as opposed to some big chain because economic studies have showed that locally owned businesses put a lot more money back into the community than businesses that are not locally owned, because they hire people who live here.
It's such a safe city. We don't have the problems that Detroit has had or Washington D.C. There's certainly always more to do like bicycle police officers.
Net-zero is a wonderful very worthy goal that I hope that we can get to in the future, but it's not attainable right now.
Cambridge does a very good job with affordable housing. What Cambridge isn't doing is middle-income housing. The goal is to get people out of affordable [housing] and into market-rate housing.
Harvard Square has lost a lot of local businesses. We've seen a bump in nightlife but we've lost a lot of local flavor. Curious George, it's still local, it's still a great store, but now it's more of a tourist destination, while the original store was a neighborhood destination. It just goes to show the changing trend in the Square.
I don't think we as a Council or as the city are very intentional about our relationship, and I think Harvard has its own plans… But if we want Harvard to be a partner in this…we need to be the ones to instigate that partnership. We need to be much more intentional than we have been in the past.
I am always interested in seeing more officers on foot or on bicycles rather than in cruisers—that is not necessarily the [Cambridge] Police Department's view. They have to move officers around town relatively quickly and from their perspective they may see more value in the flexibility of a vehicle compared to what someone on foot or a bicycle could do, or the equipment that is available to an officer in the cruiser versus one on the bicycle.
I think we need to be adaptive in terms of climate change. We need to help people prepare for extreme weather events that are certainly coming. Hurricane Sandy missed Boston by five and a half hours—that is five and a half hours away from high tide. If that had happened, we would have seen in Boston water at the steps of City Hall—much of Cambridge would have been flooded extensively.
The noise coming out of the bars and restaurants at night, the drunks wandering through your neighborhood, the cars and so forth getting parked are all things people would prefer to avoid. If you are a business owner and think, ‘Boy, my business shuts down at 11, but I think I could sell a lot more pizza at 1:30 at night if the bar were next door or if I could sell beer until 1:30 at night,’ then you would think that maybe this is a good idea. And I think Cambridge is always struggling to find that balance. Harvard Square is this stunningly vibrant place—I don't think we need to accommodate every or most alcohol licenses.
Harvard, MIT, and the other universities could team up with the city to encourage startups, especially in the high-tech and in the life sciences industries.
What happened at the Boston Marathon was very unfortunate. Those two brothers came here from the former USSR and somehow felt alienated and turned against the system. We as a community should do everything we can to help all the recent immigrants feel welcome.
To encourage bike use, we could do things like building more bike lanes, but that needs to be done in a way that serves all vehicles and not just bikers.
There has been some talk about bringing back rent control. I personally do not believe rent control works. But I think that as a community we could start conversation about the government's role in housing, so to find a solution where private developers would make profits, while keeping prices in check.
I am opposed to these large multinational retail and restaurant chains dominating and taking over Harvard Square. Maybe just having one of them somewhere is not so bad. But once we start allowing in one of them, who knows where the end is.
I'm going to set up an advisory committee for students. I want to get students from Harvard, MIT, Lesley, and Cambridge talking to each other and to have the city at the table as well. Ask any student today and most will not have any idea how to air a grievance or how to contact the Council.
People of Cambridge don't want to walk through the [Cambridge] Common at night and see people camped out there and wake up in the morning and have trash everywhere. That's people not respecting the space. You have freshmen coming into Harvard, and they're told not to walk through the Common at night. That's a problem that we can fix.
[The petition that would require new developments in Cambridge to have a net-zero emission of greenhouse gases will] have negative effects on development. People take it for granted that people always want to do business here.
You need to increase housing stock… Increase housing stock, decrease demand, the rental rate will go down.
Personally, I like mom-and-pop places, Bartley's Burgers, and places like that… That's part of the character of Cambridge and Harvard Square. But part of the reason for that—part of the reason we have banks everywhere, part of the reason why we have chains is that they can afford to navigate the zoning process, they can afford to pay a year's rent on an empty storefront while they do that process. I do want to make it easier for small businesses to compete.
I think the relationship [between Harvard and local universities] is cordial. I think the city has failed to put pressure on the universities on key issues, especially around housing issues, that would benefit especially the graduate population of these universities. I think it's kind of a laissez-faire attitude, which is nice, but there are very productive things that can come from more direct partnership.
I think there are two different issues that people are talking about when they're talking about safety in Harvard and Central Square. One of them is the kind of crimes that happen all over any city and it's a matter of patrol. Then there's this other issue, which is when people talk about ‘cleaning up Cambridge’ as a euphemism, they often mean, ‘What are we going to do about the homeless problem?’ These things aren't going to be solved in City Hall. They're going to be solved as a long-term networking project with the help of City Council and all of the stakeholders involved.
We're very for net-zero, and the people who are against it, tend not to have read [the petition]. When they say this is going to push developers out of town or this is going to make it so we can't afford affordable housing and that we're not going to be solving housing needs in Cambridge, it's very clear that these people don't understand the legislation. This proposed ordinance…this petition by Mike Connolly and Green Cambridge, makes very few infrastructure changes and has the option for no infrastructure changes, no on-site energy.
We need to increase linkage fees to make more affordable housing. The other thing is that the way legislation is written is opaque. So my goal is make sure that when we write legislation to promote low- and middle-income housing, that it's transparently useful legislation. It's my goal that City Councillors partner with nonprofit developers to secure a partnership between nonprofits and the city to secure parcels and develop affordable-only projects which currently we don't have going.
Right now the only people getting through the system have millions and millions of dollars to do very, very big projects, and that is not the way that we're going to increase the number of jobs, the nature of our jobs, our art and culture, our community service-oriented businesses in Cambridge. It's going to be through the smaller operations that grow from three to 12 people and then continue sustainably. That's where we get the vibrancy in Cambridge, and that's where we get the innovative spirit, and right now we're just being stymied by regulation and complexity.
I'm not sure that the residents always respect the University and that the University always respects the residents… I'm a firm believer in having open and honest conversations. Historically there's been some tension because there's been some mistrust. There has to be a conversation.
After any type of tragedy like [the Boston Marathon bombings], the instinct is to put cameras everywhere—my responsibility is to be more rational than that. I am not in favor of putting cameras around the city.
I agree with that [net-zero] plan in theory as a goal. I'm glad the people who filed it did file it because it's forcing people to have a conversation. I don't favor this particular petition because it hadn't been discussed enough. It's one group's idea about how to achieve and what we should do to achieve net-zero efficiency.
We need build more housing. We need to increase our inclusionary zoning. The percent of housing that's considered affordable is now 15 percent in Cambridge. We could easily go to 20 percent.
The mix of businesses is really important. Having small locally owned businesses and larger chain businesses is good... I'd like to see a more convenient, reasonably priced grocery store. I love Tasty Burger but I miss 7 to 11. Where do you go to buy a coke in Harvard Square or, god forbid, munchies at 2 a.m.? That's a loss.
You should understand just how little Harvard figures in day-to-day city business. See, it's been there forever, but it's confined in what it can do. For years now most of the university-oriented business has to do with MIT because they have the land to develop.
In Central Square, we get the same stuff going on with drug programs and alcohol programs, and we just tolerate it indefinitely. If you are going to reduce the crime rate, you have to go to the root of the crime, which is some of these programs. We have an excess of rehab programs, and it's all the stuff that nobody else would take. We dump it in Central Square.
We don't have a whole lot of acreage for things like solar. There is limited application available. I'm more in favor of looking at where we can cut back.
We can't regulate the price of housing. We lost rent control 20 years ago. Government can only do so much. We gain housing by two means. One is we find and build it ourselves and politicians are loathe to come before taxpayers saying, ‘I want another 5 million dollars for the low income people’ when the taxpayers are having problems paying for their own heat. The other way we do it is by inclusionary units. Inclusionary units on a given percentage will be put aside for lower-income people, granting the developer even more profitable units in exchange.
It makes Cambridge a really second-rate place when you can't even find a restroom. Harvard Square needs a public restroom desperately, Central Square needs it desperately, and other parts of the city as well.
I think some of that money [from The Harvard Campaign] should go to Cambridge, because Cambridge has done so much for Harvard. I definitely believe that especially if Harvard can offer some money to affordable housing in Cambridge, that would be really great.
One thing which is very visible to me is the violation of the traffic laws, because I was crossing the street, and I was hit by a car in a crossroad, so I understand what can happen to somebody's life. Cambridge should be very vigilant about it and enforce those laws to make sure that nobody violates the traffic light, and any traffic violation cannot be tolerated.
There is a large percentage of extraneous water that is getting into the sewer systems, like infiltration and inflow… 58 percent of the water that gets into the waste-water treatment plant in Deer Island is actually this unnecessary waste water. The water is not for the sewer, so that is something that we need to change.
One thing is very serious, which is that for those people who qualify for affordable housing based on their income, it's fine for them, but those who are the middle class, who do not qualify, there should be some housing for the middle-income group of people, and preference should be given to the residents who have been living in Cambridge for at least 10 years or whatever the number of years we decide.
When I came to Cambridge in 1973, we had many small drug stores. But now they're all gone, because CVS has taken over. We have to have a public hearing and see what we can do to protect the rights of small businesses because when Starbucks comes in, they destroy the local businesses.
I don't think Harvard contributes enough financially to Cambridge, and I don't know that that's something that can change. But I do think that in lieu of money there are other things that I would like to explore with the University, in the way of maybe technical expertise, some kind of business partnerships or youth development. I think there are some things that could be looked at to possibly reset the relationship with Harvard University going forward.
I don't see the Harvard campus as being a rampant crime scene. So I think that if there's been a decrease in crime, that's a good thing, but I don't know that it was such a bad situation to begin with.... I think there just needs to be a greater relationship between the police and the community. It's a proven historical fact that what's effective when it comes to police work and reducing crime and public safety is community policing and conversations with the police and the community.
I'm not against the net-zero petition, I think it's a good idea, I think it's feasible, but I'm just not sure that it's practical. I think that it has some negative effects that would kind of offset whatever environmental gains or advantages that we get from it.... I think the net-zero initiative would work against [small business development] because I think that it wouldn't be a level playing field. It would be more onerous on smaller businesses than it would on larger businesses to meet those standards.
We need to be a place where we can encourage young people to use their ideas and talents, make resources available to them through partnerships with the City and the local banks, or…the universities.
I just think there needs to be more low-income housing, because I think that what's driving the housing prices and rental prices up so much is the shortage of low-income houses. I think the pressure on prices is coming from below. If you don't have a planning perspective that looks at the community from a holistic standpoint, you won't even consider these issues. But if you have a city-wide forum or mechanism, then all of these different interests can be a part of the planning and the development, and they can be accounted for.
When you have a major and ancient and somewhat inflexible institution dealing with the public, there are always problems. I would definitely say [the relationship between Harvard and local universities] has improved; the Council's paying more attention to both the flagship universities.
More police on the spot as opposed to more surveillance cameras is certainly one of the things we can do. If we need to take a little money out of the Cambridge rainy-day fund to help pay for that, it's certainly there.
Non-fossil fuel burning is necessary wherever possible. Wind energy, which has only had a little demonstration in Cambridge up until now, needs to be expanded statewide.
Any kind of government-supported inclusive housing needs to really be looked at carefully and done equitably. I'm all for it, but it has to be done equitably and with all of the hidden costs examined.
Some of those [old businesses] are probably lost forever. I think there are plenty of community-spirited Harvard Business School graduates who would love to try to start up that kind of business again in an area like Harvard Square. Let's have the University and the city support that. We don't need to have Harvard Square be Burlington Mall—just spread out at street level instead of inside a closed gallery.
The relationship with the University was really contentious during the '60s and '70s. Many a City Council candidate ran on the platform that bashing Harvard was the way to public office. But while I was in office, Harvard did a good job of reaching out to the Council and at the very least keeping us informed.
There was federal funding for security cameras and I voted against them partly because I was so fed up with the Bush administration. But if I am on the council I will reengage this debate.
I'm a big bike rider. Bikes are huge in Cambridge. Bikes are fun because in some ways they're not that complicated. We need lots and lots of bike parking.
I support more units in Central Square and I think that's a good thing—that means taller buildings that requires more discussion. Those conversations can break down into acrimony, but they don't have to. And some thoughtful leadership for that will go a long way.
Rents are of course an issue. And this is a place that Harvard has played a positive role and can continue to play a positive role to help foster a rent structure that is going to make the numbers work out for a café.
[The student body] is a huge asset to Harvard itself and to the Cambridge community. Students and graduate students are drivers of the economy in Cambridge and the Boston area. Students are also making Cambridge far more diverse. And, of course, the academics and innovation that happen at Harvard are huge benefits to this community and help employ people in Cambridge. There's a social aspect to these innovations, too, that's tremendously important.
When you make incremental changes in terms of patrols and details and a larger police presence, you see a large change in behavior. It's an excellent, precise tool that we can use in terms of safety to make sure that our presence is known. It allows crime to decrease. We've done this in part, but it's a matter of being vigilant, and if we keep working we can make this situation completely reverse.
[Environmental issues] are complex problems, but ones that aren't outside the realm of possibility to solve—it's just a matter of investing the time and energy to do this so that we can reverse the trend of climate change.
We need to offer as much lower- and median-income housing as possible, by increasing the housing stock and increasing the rental stock. We'll be able to level off the rental prices over here, but it's not going to happen over night. It'll take a few years, but if we don't start investing now and working on a master plan for Cambridge, then we're never going to achieve anything, and income disparity will become larger and larger.
A lot of the time, the landlords are holding out for longer contracts, and unfortunately that means that many of their storefronts are just not opening up. I think the city and the state have many resources that we can bring to Harvard Square to make sure that landlords are encouraged to bring local businesses or small businesses into their storefronts. That's the very first step to making sure that we see a successful Harvard Square into the future. We want to make sure that rent's not out of reach for folks, and to encourage the profit and the revenue associated with new businesses moving in.
[Students] are in the stores, they're spending money, they're out on the Hubways. We're starting to bring them into the civic fabric of the community, which is really exciting.
Cambridge police have adopted a more analytical approach to crime solving using statistics to predict where crimes are going to happen... They've also been much more out in the community interacting with community members to change the dynamic and make crime reporting easier.
Every opportunity that I can I try to drive us away from fossil fuels. And the [net-zero] petition is one way to do that. There are various components that make sense. There are some tricky bits. Some people say that it's like a voodoo kind of thing, but we just have to do it. We'll work out the kinks.
One of the reasons why I did not support MIT's new zoning position in Kendall Square was because I wanted them to commit to building new housing. When they want something from you, that's the time when you have the most leverage to make them promise something.
I think Harvard is returning to roots of having small local businesses— it's not that the chain as getting pushed out, but the ratio of chain to local business is going in the right direction of more local.
Something that I'd love to do is to hold a forum for university students.... Students [would be] able to come in, hear from me, and I would also want to invite some of my colleagues, be it other City Councillors or city staff, and have us talk about what our goals for the City of Cambridge are and after that just engage students.
Women in terms of safety are at a slight disadvantage, and I would like to address that with the police department—what can we do to improve safety for young women or for women in general throughout the city? That relates both to university police as well as the Cambridge Police Department.
One of the key elements of my platform is to create a comprehensive sustainability plan for the city of Cambridge.... We need to dive deeper…and outline what a sustainable city would look like and then weave in the planning aspect of that. Cambridge is seeing a lot more in terms of population growth. There's a question of density and development, mitigation of the factors of climate change, traffic, housing—these are all matters that in my mind connect and relate to sustainability.
We can't say no to development. But we also can't say yes to development that isn't smart or development that's extremely high-rise, for example. So, what is development to me? It's that some of our buildings go a little bit higher but at the same time, as we're building new housing, we're doing so by building around transportation nodes like T-stops, so that people are encouraged to use that instead of purchasing a car. It's always about this give-and-take that moves us forward in the most ideal way.
I hope to be a champion for small businesses because I think they're an underdog right now, and they need a voice on the City Council or a few voices on the City Council.
Transportation impacts [of the Allston campus] will be huge. How are people going to get back and forth across the river? What will happen to the Weeks Footbridge? I don't think the City Council has demanded that the city staff think about it, but it's a burden on them.
We don't have the kind of relationship between the campus and the police that we should have. We need to do some work on that. I'm not sure the answer is surveillance cameras—I think it is more community police and a strengthened community between the community and students at Harvard and the [Cambridge] Police Department and the Harvard campus police so that we build more trust.
The biggest gains in terms of transportation aren't going to come from bikes. Bikes are a small piece of the pie. The biggest gains for the environment will be massive improvements in trains and buses.
Harvard and MIT need to house their graduate students. It's not the only thing that we need to do, but it's something that Harvard and MIT have the resources to do immediately.
I would like to review all of the license fees. Over the years they seem to keep adding a fee for this, a fee for that. I would want to take a careful look at that in consultation with local business people and the license fee and see, what makes sense here? Can this be simplified? Can it be rationalized so it's just one fee?
The government isn't looking at the total environment, but how much money can come in from outside and into Cambridge because Harvard and MIT are here. This results in commercialization. Meanwhile, the universities themselves are serving corporations much more than they should. The faculty resists this, but the administration presses for this because it brings in more money to the university.
I… consider Cambridge a relatively safe city. There is no neighborhood in which I hesitate to walk.
We should reduce pollution by reducing waste. The amount of waste in wealthy cities frighten me. The second thing is to eradicate poverty. I don't think environmentally, I think ecologically. The human, urban environment is not just trees and the air, but it's also the behavior of humans.
[The first housing policy I would implement is] rent control: to make an orderly market for people who need a place to live, who need shelter. This means regulation.
The rents have to be of such a nature that allows small businesses to supply the needs of Cambridge… Franchises are deathly. Family businesses need to come in.