Ordinance Amendments on 2019/08/08


During the Ordinance Commitee on 2019-08-08, the City Council went through a section by section markup on the proposed Affordable Housing Overlay. This attempts to summarize the practical changes to the overlay as a result of that meeting in layman's terms. This is not the last time they will meet, and the Overlay still has a ways to go before it could pass; this is just one step on the path. Changes which have no impact on the zoning requirements or impact are omitted.

There are three major changes that have been implemented so far:

  • Parking requirements have been eliminated entirely.
  • BA/BA-2 zoning districts are limited to 6 stories in height (with 4 story transitions to nearby lower height districts).
  • All required open space must be permeable open space (ie, tarmac doesn't count).

The following is a summary of each of the changed items. The amendments are as labeled in the amendment doc produced by the Mayor's office.

Section 1 - Purpose and Intent

Section one was amended to indicate that results of the design review process should inform the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust's funding decisions (#5), and that the design guidelines of the ordinance must be followed. (#5A)

Section 3 - Eligibility

In addition to preferring Cambridge residents, AHO dwellings must include a preference for recently displaced Cambridge residents. (#6.1)

Section 5 - Dimensional Standards

AHO buildings in BA and BA-2 zones are now limited to 6 stories/65' in height. (#9) For buildings in these zones, within 35' of lower height districts, buildings are limited to 47'/4 stories. (#10) No dwelling units are allowed below grade. (#12)

Front yard setbacks have changed language, though the result seems to be about the same. (#15) Bike storage can not be within 7.5' of an abutting building. (#17A)

Parking space no longer reduces/counts as open space. (#18)

All required open space at grade level must be permeable open space. (#20) Shared roof decks can count towards up to 25% of open space. (#21) Bike parking counts as permeable open space. (#22)

Parking is no longer required, except to comply with ADA loading and unloading requirements. (#23) Parking must be at least 7.5 feet from buildings (rather than 5'). (#23b)

Details on each Amendment Vote

At today's long (7-hour) ordinance committee hearing, a number of amendments were discussed. The list of amendments that was discussed at the hearing was prepared by the Mayor's office, and is available here.

This the current resolution of amendments, as gathered from John Hawkinson's extremely dedicated live-tweeting of events. This list is subject to change based on the final report from the clerk. (Items which are 'deferred' will likely be discussed at a later meeting or a later date.)

A full breakdown of what this means for the overlay in layman's terms will be provided shortly.

  • #1 - deferred
  • #2 - deferred
  • #3 - deferred
  • #4 Passed (But still contains text "to be filled in")
  • #5 - approved, without the "principal funder" text originally included.
  • #5A - passed, with "as appropriate to the neighborhood context" removed, and "Guidelines" changed to "objectives"
  • #6.1 - passes
  • #6.2 - failed
  • #6.3 - withdrawn
  • #7 - deferred
  • #8.1(a) - withdrawn
  • #8.1(b) - failed
  • #8.2 - deferred
  • #9 -> amended to 65; passed
  • #10.1 -> failed
  • #10.2 -> passed
  • #11 -> withdrawn
  • #12 -> passed
  • #13, #14, #36d -> Will be given to CDD for staff analysis
  • #15 -> passed
  • #16 -> failed
  • #17 -> failed
  • #17A -> passed
  • #18 -> passed
  • #19 -> failed
  • #20 -> passed with an amendment to add "at grade level"
  • #21 -> 25% limit, passed
  • #22 -> passes
  • #22A -> withdrawn
  • #23 -> striking "sufficient", passed (6.a.1.c removed, 6.a.1.d removed)
  • 23a -> irrelevant
  • 23b -> passed
  • 23c -> staff review
  • 24 -> failed
  • #25 -> failed
  • Small amendments on page 21:
    • #34a: passed
    • #34b: passed
    • #34c: "handle" -> "handles" passed.
  • Amendment after 38 regarding rooftop decks -> passed