Gov. Charlie Baker has introduced a bill (H.4290) that would make it easier for builders to win changes in zoning for new construction. Yes, Cambridge needs affordable housing, but the Baker bill will not provide it. Some people think that relaxing local control of zoning increases the amount of affordable housing automatically. This is not so. Remember that at present almost 40 percent of newly built condos are unoccupied while their absentee owners watch the values of their properties spiral. 

Cambridge’s City Council has before it a policy order that expresses support for the Baker bill. We urge that the council support the needs of most Cambridge residents and oppose the policy order as written. One fair improvement of the bill would adopt rules enabling a simple majority to make zoning changes to allow 100 percent affordable housing but keep the requirement for a super majority (67 percent) for changes that allow gentrification, condo conversion and other construction for the wealthy while displacing renters and those struggling to make mortgage payments for homes or small businesses. Including measures such as these to address the causes of displacement and the scarcity of affordable housing will be key to reversing the current crisis, and we strongly urge members of the council to strengthen any resolution for this purpose. 

Henry Wortis
Our Revolution Cambridge coordinating committee