Master Plan Policy Order

Dennis_Carlone_headshot.pngAs a planner, architect, and urban design consultant with nearly forty years of experience working in the City of Cambridge, I entered last year’s race for the City Council with a clear objective: to advance the goal of a new, citywide Master Plan to better guide future development and reinforce the qualities that make Cambridge special.

Now, as we enter the fourth month of the new term, I am taking action to make good on the “Planning for People” message that has generated so much enthusiasm across the city.

This afternoon, with the support of my colleagues Denise Simmons and Nadeem Mazen, I have submitted a policy order that calls on the City Council to address the question of a Master Plan – and to consider new urban planning and community development priorities with a framework for reporting on these topics by July 31, 2014.

To support our Master Plan initiative – and to provide your comments and suggestions – I invite you to visit my constituent homepage and add your name to our petition. Please visit and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same!

With your participation, we intend to start a big conversation about the future of our city.

The policy order will appear on the agenda for the next regular city council meeting on Monday, April 7, at 5:30 pm.

To support of our Master Plan initiative, please sign up for public comment by calling the city council office at (617) 349-4280 on Monday between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. Alternatively, you may show up at the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall between 5:30 and 6:00 pm and add your name to the public comment list. You are welcome speak for up to 3 minutes on this item.

Thank you to everyone who has joined with me to march this issue forward. The text of the order is as follows:

Order #14   
April 7, 2014
Regular Session, 5:30 pm  
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge is required to have a comprehensive Master Plan to provide a basis for decision making regarding the long-term physical development of the City, pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 41, Section 81D; and
WHEREAS: According to M.G.L. Ch. 41, Sec. 81D, the comprehensive Master Plan must include nine elements: goals and policies, land use, housing, economic development, natural and cultural resources, open space and recreation, services and facilities, traffic and transportation, and implementation schedules; and 
WHEREAS: According to the Community Development Department, the City's Master Plan is composed of a growth policy document, the Zoning Map, the Zoning Ordinance, and various other studies that have focused on individual parts of the city at different points in time; and 
WHEREAS: The city's growth policy document has not been updated since 2007, and since that time, development pressures have intensified, with dramatic increases in the cost of housing and reports of worsening traffic congestion and gentrification across the region; and 
WHEREAS: In recent years, it has also become clear that issues of wealth inequality, transit justice, and climate vulnerability are all growing in severity; and 
WHEREAS: New neighborhood organizations have recently formed across the city, and these groups are collaborating with other established organizations and seeking a stronger role in the planning process, as they hope to knit the city together in a holistic manner through the implementation of a new, citywide Master Plan; now therefore be it 
ORDERED: That the Ordinance Committee be and hereby is requested to address the question of whether Cambridge has a Master Plan that provides a cohesive vision for how the city will grow and mature; and be it further 
ORDERED: That the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration Committee be and hereby is requested to examine opportunities for improved citywide planning, with a view toward empowering resident groups and promoting greater social equity in the community; and be it further 
ORDERED: That the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee be and hereby is requested to address concerns over traffic congestion, transportation financing, pedestrian safety, resident parking, and a desire for enhanced multi-modal transit infrastructure throughout the city; and be it further 
ORDERED: That additional hearings may be scheduled by these and other committees, with all participating committees delivering reports to the City Council by July 31, 2014; the City Council to then schedule a Special Meeting or Roundtable to address the issue of a Master Plan and to help establish the city's urban planning and community development priorities; and be it further 


That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to support the intent of this initiative, which seeks to provide the City Council, its committees, City Staff, members of the public, and all interested stakeholders with an opportunity to further explore the issues highlighted by this policy order; and be it further 


That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council with a menu of options for how news of this Master Plan initiative can be delivered to all Cambridge residents and other interested stakeholders so as to encourage a robust dialogue that embraces a range of perspectives throughout the city. 

Showing 3 reactions

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  • Chip Strang
    Bravo! To which I would add these elements: coordination with regional transportation (mass transit, highways, paths); development of digital assets (fiber optic or next technology); neighboring towns and educational institutions (complimentary development).
  • Fresh Pond Residents
    We enthusiastically support this initiative.
  • Lee Farris
    I’m very excited at this opportunity to plan proactively for the future of Cambridge. I’m looking forward to residents getting involved and participating in a Master Plan process that leads to the kind of city they want to live in.