- NIMBYism is, as Manjoo says, a bipartisan sentiment. However, it is more of a contradiction for those of us on the left.
- I love the signs in Cambridge saying "refugees welcome." Unfortunately the median rent for an apartment was $3,165 in 2016. This is a form of internal migration control, less formal than what China does, but still very effective at stopping potential immigrants from other cities, states and countries.
- We are part of a national problem in which economically successful areas no longer expand. From 1850 to 1910, Chicago grew from 30,000 to 2 million. From 1950 to present, Cambridge shrank from 120,000 to 110,000. While it is true that we have more units, this is more than made up for by shrinking household size. When there is new construction it often jumps through insane hurdles, like keeping ancient exterior walls, because it would not be legal even to rebuild to the same size as before.
- The result is that the rent is crushing everyone, and unless we address it quickly, will do far more damage to the character of Cambridge than new 4-story developments will. My family could afford to live here because I'm an MIT professor and MIT helps faculty with their down payments. My friends who teach K-12 move out when they want kids unless they're married to someone in a field like biotech or software.
- I understand that it would be a shame if new development meant less tree cover in Cambridge. I love the old trees and individual houses in Cambridgeport. But if 100 people live in an apartment building here instead of on single-family lots in the suburbs then it is clearly better for energy use, pollution, biodiversity, etc.
- Obviously it requires planning and some of this involves things out of Cambridge's direct control like the MBTA. And perhaps the overlay is not the ideal way to expand capacity. But is the only one that seems to be on the table or has been in a long time.
- I recognize that opponents of the overlay are well-meaning and may also lament high rents and may want Cambridge to be a welcoming place. So I hope they can look at the big picture and realize that the only way to do this is to allow more housing.
- Aram (Tufts St)
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