Nicola Williams for City Council, 2019
Challenger running for City Council for the first time
Background: Entrepreneur, event organization | Focuses: Affordable housing, environmental sustainability, women’s rights
Edited and condensed from recent public forums.
Is Cambridge addicted to growth? Is the way Cambridge grows healthy?
I wouldn’t say we’re addicted to growth, but we’re codependent on developers. Our policies don’t look at what our residents really need. How are you going to sustain growth back to 1950 levels – when we had larger families – when we’re already near the top in density and Envision doesn’t have an infrastructure plan? How are we going to support the infrastructure for this growth? Did anybody ask me, or you, if it makes sense to grow at that pace in the next 12 years? We need to step back, take a pause, and even consider a moratorium on the type of outlandish development that we’ve been doing until we figure out what our community needs and work from there. Our Community Development Department should just be called the Development Department, because it actually is promoting, advertising and marketing projects that are not in the best interest of the community.
What other ideas besides the Affordable Housing Overlay can be used to create affordable housing, and how can you create more housing while protecting existing tenants?
The overlay was a bad plan with great intentions. I support housing that is affordable for all Cambridge residents, but we need a comprehensive housing plan, not just a cookie-cutter approach. The overlay was divisive – when half the city doesn’t support something, there’s got to be a problem with it. So you try and come to a place where we can bring other people in. Meanwhile, we’ve has 25 years and still do not have strong tenant protections, including for condo conversions and no-fault evictions. Why? Boston and Somerville do. Not acceptable. That should have been where the efforts were.
What is your approach to climate change policy?
Keep the the tree-cutting moratorium in place until we come up with a proper policy around our tree canopy. We need to educate more of our residents so they can be part of saving our trees. And we need to build housing from a perspective of looking at the environment.
Which City Council vote from the past do you wish you’d been present for to cast the deciding vote?
The only councillor that voted to not support the school budget was Quinton Zondervan. I would go back to support him, because the budget did not address the racial achievement gap by setting the same standards for black and brown students as for their white peers. We need to have the same standards to uplift our community in ways that provide for economic justice.