Patty Nolan

What do you think are the causes of Cambridge’s high-priced housing market?

Economic growth in the area, including Kendall Square. Population growth in the area - which in the last decade was double the country's growth. And an increasing number of people wanting to live in cities instead of suburbs.

How have high housing prices affected Cambridge and the surrounding region?

Increase in number of units being built, more pressure on rents and housing prices, wider geographic area for housing search especially for middle income households.

What housing options currently exist for low-income tenants who are not high on the affordable housing waitlists? How can Cambridge help them?

Depends greatly on how "low-income" is defined. The city has a number of programs to help , as does the state - from inclusionary housing options to programs to help with home ownership to advocating for section 8 increases. Cambridge can help by ensuring all residents know about all options and working to address market gaps.

How does new market-rate residential development affect the affordability of Cambridge? How does new affordable housing affect the affordability of Cambridge?

Research on this question is quite varied. It should eventually bring prices down - if there were 100,000 new units of market rate housing somehow added to Cambridge in the next decade, prices should come down. However, if it was only Cambridge producing housing, with a potential area demand (as the Freater Boston Coalition) for 185,000 new units, prices wouldn't come down. New affordable housing affects the affordability of Cambridge for those who get into the affordable units.

What is the relationship between the twin crises of climate change and housing unaffordability? How can Cambridge address both?

In a larger macroeconomic sense, the world is all interrelated and climate refugees have already started to affect geopolitics and the USA population. That will be more challenging in the future. In a more local sense, if we don't address the climate crisis, housing will not matter, affordable or otherwise.

What effects might more housing in Cambridge have on quality of life or the environment?

It all depends on how, where, what type of housing is built. It could be positive, in providing housing in a thoughtful way that enhances city life. It could be problematic, if the infrastructure is not able to handle the number of people moving in, and if transportation networks are made even worse, and if resiliency and climate preparedness are compromised.

Do you support the Affordable Housing Overlay? Please explain.

No: I love the intention of the AHO, and yet I cannot support a plan that changes citywide zoning that has so many unanswered questions. The city's June 21 memo states CDD expects “no more than 1-2 developments” as a result of the overlay alone. Funding, not zoning, will be the prime reason for an increase in number of units. And yet there are others who have studied it and suggest there may be a lot more units - built without any public role other than input. In other words no way to influence the project the way the 100% Frost Terrace project was immeasurably improved from an environmental and neighborhood perspective. And a lot of time and energy have gone into marketing the acceptance of the plan instead of modeling in detail what it might mean and why it was chosen above other options. Why recommended over many others that have been proposed? I believe the AHO is worth studying along with other ideas for increasing affordable housing in the city.

Would you support eliminating parking minimums for new housing development citywide? Please explain.

Generally: It depends on whether it is entirely eliminated and whether the development is near public transit. And whether, if low income, residents themselves were asked about the decision. I am in favor of reducing parking requirements based on actual current use - and in favor of incentives for resident not to have cars. However, if no parking means more pressure on city streets for parking, that might make it more difficult to put in protected bike lanes, which I support.

Would you support abolishing these restrictions by establishing citywide minimum zoning that allows more multifamily housing? Please explain.

Yes: As I stated in my opposition to the AHO - why not explore keeping all zoning regulations regarding setbacks, height, FAR, etc. - and allow as many units as can fit within those bounds on any given lot.

What measures in particular should Cambridge adopt to prevent tenant displacement?

Cambridge should be creative in helping tenants - and work with landlords to provide incentives if rents go up too high or a tenant falls behind.

What should the city do to increase walking, biking, and transit usage in Cambridge?

Many things: work with MBTA on increasing reliability of buses and T. Get a bus that goes all the way from Watertown into Boston and Arlington into Boston, transiting Cambridge on the way without the need for a transfer. Lower the cost of the T for low income residents. Implement the 2015 bike plan. upgrade the current bike lanes.

What should the city do, if anything, to increase funding for housing affordability?

Consider a transfer tax of 1% on sales above $ 1 million . New York State has such a tax. put the money into affordable housing.

What other steps should the city take, if any, to encourage and fund the development of more homes, including market-rate and affordable housing, in Cambridge?

First, Cambridge should review the current state of housing and explore the repercussions of development and make sure the infrastructure is in place to fully serve the new residents projected. Before encouraging or funding even more other than what is planned, we need to take a step and think broadly about where the city is headed.

What other measures do you support that will affect housing or development in Cambridge, which you have not yet gotten a chance to talk about? (Optional)

The climate crisis has not been fully addressed in Cambridge. WE declared a climate emergency a decade ago and yet we have not met the most basic goals of our Climate Protection Action Plan.

Aside from housing and development issues, what are some major policy priorities that you hope to push for on the City Council?

Strong action on the climate crisis and working for good governance.

What have you done to advance the goals you’ve described in your answers above in your own work? 

While on School Committee, I have been an agent of positive change addressing sustainability, equity and community voice and good governance. IN my professional life, I have led an environmental company, a social benefit corporation helping non-profits, helped create jobs in worker-owned companies, developed strategy and businesses for people coming off welfare. I walk the talk of addressing sustainability and economic inequality.

connect