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Wake Up Cambridge!

A new attack petition, this one steeply curtailing neighborhood efforts to safeguard our eclectic, rich, architectural legacy, has been submitted by an individual often allied with the local political group calling itself “A Better Cambridge” (ABC). This petition, falsely identified as promoting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and access (DEIA) seeks to gut Cambridge's long standing architectural preservation models (specifically Neighborhood Conservation Districts - NGC) that neighbors across the city have introduced to support the unique eclectic mix of housing in their neighborhoods , and to provide an extra level review before demolitions can be undertaken or major facade changes can be made.

Why does this matter? Because Cambridge neighborhoods matter!! And, sadly, this is just one more effort local version of a national effort (developer-led) to overturn historic preservation districts, so that they and their rich out-of-town housing investors can do whatever they want,  wherever they want. In the false name of “diversity, equity, inclusion, and access” (DEIA), the petitioners want to stop the creation of a new Neighborhood Conservation District now being discussed for the East Cambridge historic neighborhood of factory workers and immigrants, and severely limit all if not destroy all other neighborhood preservation efforts here. Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs), are established when neighbors come together to preserve the unique eclectic mix of housing in their areas. After a rigorous process of review, an NCD once established, enables the NCD board of residents in this area, along with a Cambridge Historical Commission member, to review large neighborhood projects before demolitions  can be undertaken or major facade changes made.

What does this DEIA Neighborhood Conservation Assault Petition propose? They want to stack every Conservation District Board without asking for experience or the length of time living there - and to require every District to come before City Council for regular review, modification, and re-approval. The disruptive and antagonistic methods of the ABC activists  have been exactly the opposite of Zen-DEIA principles of ethical action, transparent governance, and conflict avoidance/resolution – to say nothing of community sustainability and viability. There is also now a broader DEIA movement within conservation and preservation efforts nationally to add more preservation areas to protect and honor historically minority community residential and work areas - which for us would mean not only East Cambridge, but also parts of the Port, Cambridgeport, Riverside, North Cambridge and Fresh Pond. This petition does the opposite. The new DEIA attack petition co-opts the term and subverts it to do the opposite.

There is also an important economic impacts should this DEIA Neighborhood Conservation Assault Petition be ordained. While the petition would principally benefit non-resident investors and developers (many of whom represent national and global financial companies), the DEIA petition may also negatively local businesses framed around the tourist trade. Visitors come here keen to see and explore our unique history, any attempt to diminish or destroy our rich architectural history may upset this trade. We know that our many NCDs help to keep rental and housing costs more stable than those parts of the city which lie outside these Districts, but this is not just about economic issues, it is also about environmental sustainability - maintaining sound architecture, and refurbishing these buildings where we can in order to keep them viable today but  do so in a manner that complements the rich and diverse legacy of the neighborhood in which it was built.

The developer-linked ABC political group is the same one that submitted the mis-named city-wide up-zoning, "Missing Middle Housing," petition seeking to up-zone large parts of the city to add MORE luxury housing was bad enough problem, and is still in play, although the Planning Board voted against its approval. Thank you for your help with this, but we are still not out of the woods with this.

As residents, we have a major stake in what happens in our city, both for ourselves and for future residents. Our city is now facing severe threats on various fronts - resident displacement, lack of affordability in housing, the environment, over development, dis-functional governance, and more. Neither the City Council nor the City Management seems to be able or willing to address this, even though by area and national standards we are a very wealthy city. We are facing displaced tenants as their buildings are sold to make way for luxury buildings or developments, our own friends and children are no longer able to rent or purchase homes here. As density increases  throughout the City, we are further diminishing our threatened tree canopy and limited green space.

Cambridge, founded in 1630, is one of the oldest planned cities in America. Its history, and the legacy of its rich architecture matters - whether we are talking about workers cottages or more elite residences,  work places, or one time battlegrounds. It is important that we retain a key part of our Cambridge past not only for residents and visitors to enjoy today, but also so that newcomers to the city in the centuries that follow will be able to enjoy it as well.  As as one of the ten (10) most densely populated cities in the country, and one with hundreds of new units already added every year under existing rules, Cambridge needs smart growth, not a modern-day land rush that displaces current tenants and and promotes the destruction of our neighborhoods. Do we want to lose our historic architectural legacy too. As density increases throughout the City, we are further diminishing our threatened tree canopy and limited green space. The DEIA petition will further exacerbate this problem.

Please sign our petition BELOW to voice your opposition to this destructive, anti-neighborhood, pro-developer petition.

Also write to City Council at: 
CC the City Clerk at:
Individually contact Councillors you know!

The time is now! to WAKE UP CAMBRIDGE to the potentially devastating issues of this new potentially highly destructive petition! Our future is in all our hands. Please join us by signing this petition and joining our effort.
Find out more at as things unfold - and join our efforts!  Through our independent financial arm, CambridgePac, we will be supporting a slate of City Council candidates in the 2021 election. Follow our campaign  at

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