Quinton Zondervan for City Council, 2019
Incumbent first elected in 2017 and seeking second term in office
Background: Computer Science, environmental nonprofits | Focuses: Climate, transportation
Edited and condensed from recent public forums.
Is Cambridge addicted to growth? Is the way Cambridge grows healthy?
Yes, it is addicted. No, it isn’t healthy For the past few years in The Port we’ve seen the medium income go up by $20,000 a year and the neighborhood become 10 percent whiter and 7 percent less black. That’s what gentrification and displacement does – and that is the official policy of the city. All that commercial development brings in higher-earning workers who want to live here, and that displaces residents. Another example: All those commercial buildings in Kendall Square demand a brand-new power transfer station, which is to be located across the street from an elementary school and have trenches dug in five different directions through our city to connect it to other infrastructure. We are also making a direct tradeoff between more buildings and the environment.
What other ideas besides the Affordable Housing Overlay can be used for affordable housing, and how can you create more housing while protecting existing tenants?
The overlay had some good ideas in it, and we on the council tried to salvage some of that. Unfortunately, the way the conversation was led was very divisive. I tried to introduce several amendments, including a limitation on the density bonus that would be allowed, and that was ultimately defeated. There are opportunities to build housing on top of existing single-story retail building in Cambridge, but to unlock those possibilities we have to protect the retail that’s already there, and I tried to introduce an amendment to do that. It was defeated. We have to do net zero construction. And again, that amendment was defeated. We have to build affordable housing and build our tree canopy at the same time. I introduced some amendments to do that. And that was the only thing that my colleagues actually supported, in part because we had such an intense conversation about the tree canopy earlier. I’m glad we will have another opportunity to have this discussion. Hopefully it’ll be more productive.
What is your approach to climate change policy?
Nature provides the only technology that can reduce atmospheric carbon effectively and put it back in the soil, so we need to restore our forests and grasslands and really use that power of nature to heal our planet. Another big idea is to restore the Arctic ice sheet. We can do that. I recently read about a study looking at using wind-powered pumps to put water back onto the ice where it would refreeze. The Arctic ice acts as a big mirror that helps cool the planet.
Which City Council vote from the past do you wish you’d been present for to cast the deciding vote?
It was the fall of 2017. I will never forget sitting in the council chamber, in the audience, and watching the MIT Volpe upzoning get approved. And I left that meeting early to go canvass so I could be elected to the council. So if I could go back in time, I would go back to that meeting and vote no.