Inside the mind of a NIMBY

Matthew

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Check out this choice quote from their website:

Why Give Away Our Parking Lots?

Additionally troubling is the apparent willingness or desire of the Community Development Department (CDD) to have our public parking lots included in private developers’ projects. Aside from listing these public properties as available for development, arguing that we can easily replace the lost spots with underground parking facilities, the CDD gives no importance to the resulting loss of open space, singular sky views or tree-lined vistas the lots now provide. Nor does the CDD give any mention or importance to the two panoramic murals we would lose that now give artistic vitality to our Central Square neighborhoods.
Apparently, parking lots now qualify as "open space" according to these idiots.

Anyone want to go there on Saturday to give them a piece of our mind?
 

Ron Newman

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The one legitimate concern I can see about (one of) the parking lots is that it serves as a Farmers' Market site on Mondays from May through November. We have a similar issue in Davis Square, where the city wants to sell a parking lot to a hotel developer, but hasn't explained what will happen to our Farmers' Market.
 

BostonUrbEx

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At least one of you better go, dammit! I have work, can't make it. But if these NIMBYs are allowed to wallow in shit, I'll be disappointed.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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The one legitimate concern I can see about (one of) the parking lots is that it serves as a Farmers' Market site on Mondays from May through November. We have a similar issue in Davis Square, where the city wants to sell a parking lot to a hotel developer, but hasn't explained what will happen to our Farmers' Market.
Indoor Farmer's Market in the hotel lobby seems to me like it'd work out reasonably well. Has that been proposed?

Apparently, parking lots now qualify as "open space" according to these idiots.

Anyone want to go there on Saturday to give them a piece of our mind?
At least one of you better go, dammit! I have work, can't make it. But if these NIMBYs are allowed to wallow in shit, I'll be disappointed.
No promises.

;)
 

Ron Newman

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The hotel proposal in Davis Square isn't far enough along for that kind of discussion to even start yet. All that has happened so far is that the city of Somerville has designated the lot as 'surplus' and will seek bids from hotel developers.

I think vendors and customers prefer outdoor farmers' markets during good weather months.
 

Commuting Boston Student

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The hotel proposal in Davis Square isn't far enough along for that kind of discussion to even start yet. All that has happened so far is that the city of Somerville has designated the lot as 'surplus' and will seek bids from hotel developers.

I think vendors and customers prefer outdoor farmers' markets during good weather months.
Oh, I got the impression it was farther along than that. My bad.

Indoor farmers' markets may lack the openness of outdoor markets, but they do carry certain other advantages - the ability to operate through inclement weather, and winter markets are two that immediately spring to mind.

I'm not saying everyone would be totally thrilled about it, but I don't think it's a straight loss to move the market out of a parking lot and into the development.
 

Matthew

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Does anyone here live in or near Area IV?

BTW, I've met Stephen Kaiser, he's a pretty sensible guy, and he's speaking at this forum, so maybe not all hope is lost for these folks.
 
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czsz

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The one legitimate concern I can see about (one of) the parking lots is that it serves as a Farmers' Market site on Mondays from May through November. We have a similar issue in Davis Square, where the city wants to sell a parking lot to a hotel developer, but hasn't explained what will happen to our Farmers' Market.
Is there not enough open space somewhere else in and around Davis Square to host a Farmer's Market? It's not exactly Manhattan there.
 

Ron Newman

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Beyond parking lots? Not really. We have some small green spaces (Kenney Park, Seven Hills Park, the linear park along the Community Path), but letting farmer's trucks park and drive on those green spaces every week will quickly turn them brown.
 

Matthew

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Tons of street space that can be used too. Once upon a time that used to be considerd part of the open space as well.

They manage to do these types of things in many other places. Cambridge and Somerville are just not that dense nor are they that bereft of open spaces.
 

datadyne007

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Tons of street space that can be used too. Once upon a time that used to be considerd part of the open space as well.

They manage to do these types of things in many other places. Cambridge and Somerville are just not that dense nor are they that bereft of open spaces.
Somerville is actually the densest area in Massachusetts, but I agree with your point. You could easily close a street on a weekend day and turn it into a farmer's market. Everyone rides a bike in Cambriville anyway.
 

Matthew

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Somerville is the 17th or so densest city in America (and #1 in New England) but that's using the somewhat dubious "population / city land area" measure.

If you actually look at charts of census tract density, it's more like Brighton (away from Comm Ave).

This is not to disparage Somerville at all, but just walking around there should tell you that this is a place with overly wide roads and streetcar suburban character.
 

czsz

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My local farmer's market in Brooklyn is held in a small public plaza; the trucks park on the street. Hard to believe they couldn't in Somerville. Bespeaks a very suburban mentality to believe they require a lot.
 

Ron Newman

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That's exactly what Somerville does in Union Square for the Saturday farmers' market. But I think the Davis Square plaza (next to JP Licks) is too crowded with tables, chairs, statues, trees, etc. for that to work.
 
C

cozzyd

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Close the block of Highland Ave. leading up to the square and have it there.
 
C

cozzyd

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Been too busy for foruming, so just going to stop by briefly and leave this here:



Source: http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox...e=tw&utm_medium=sm&utm_campaign=button_chunky

I was at this meeting. In case you aren't familiar, they support a 1 year moratorium on upzoning around Alewife and Central Square. See http://www.cambridgeresidentsalliance.org/ Among the things presented are the following:

- Too much traffic at certain intersections (Central Square in particular).
-Traffic makes walking and biking unpleasant.
- Red line almost up to capacity through Cambridge. Showed video of Tokyo subway. pushers. Some panelists were fine with Northpoint developments (away from Central Square and the Red Line), others not so much.
- Developers only care about maximizing profit, not the community
- Upzoning proposals traffic studies ignore other proposed developments.
- The surface lots are needed for people who were displaced from Cambridge by high rents to visit community resources (like churches they used to go to)
- H-Mart in Burlington has tons of traffic so putting in central square may have the same result.
- Cambridge is too expensive to live in
- Building more units will raise prices more. They claim evidence suggests that building more housing has resulted in higher costs over the years.
- Canyon roads suck, model should be Paris.
- The city is not doing a good job at traffic analysis, signal timing, etc.
- Big developments should be elsewhere instead (Orange Line).
- Some other stuff


Things that confused me were how they could be complaining about people moving away because it's too expensive at the same time as opposing higher-density housing.

They were in support of public transit, but worried that the red line would get even more crowded with new development. They are also worried about MBTA funding.

The audience members who asked questions seemed in general more unsupportive than supportive, but there was applause for both sides. Overall it was a good discussion.
 

Matthew

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Thanks for braving the NIMBYs. I was not feeling well and did not feel up to trekking to Cambridge for this.

The Red Line has the largest vehicles and loading gauge of all the rapid transit lines in the system. Yet it only barely outperforms the Green Line in weekday ridership, which means it is far below potential capacity, if the T were ever to try.

I wish I could say to them: "Complaining about the Red Line? How about we swap lines? Have the Green Line, I'll take the Red, please."

And for such a "progressive" community there's little to no understanding of the fact that parking lots are the bringers of traffic congestion. Sigh. Cambridge has too many parking lots, and they still have minimum parking requirements for some reason.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Thanks for braving the NIMBYs. I was not feeling well and did not feel up to trekking to Cambridge for this.

The Red Line has the largest vehicles and loading gauge of all the rapid transit lines in the system. Yet it only barely outperforms the Green Line in weekday ridership, which means it is far below potential capacity, if the T were ever to try.

I wish I could say to them: "Complaining about the Red Line? How about we swap lines? Have the Green Line, I'll take the Red, please."
It is very much below-capacity when you look at reverse-direction trips. 5:00pm anywhere north of Park St.: outbound will be crushed while inbound still has 15-25% available seating. Morning is even more stark...outbounds will be virtually empty after Kendall while inbounds are sardine-can packed. The schedules are balanced 1:1 in each direction because that's the only way you can feed the car supply for the prevailing direction. That not only is a senseless waste of contraflow capacity, but it also hampers track capacity in the prevailing direction with no physical means to unbalance the inbound vs. outbound schedules with more trips in the prevailing direction. This is a problem. Red is by far the most unbalanced line for stops considered inside the urban core. You expect this effect on most of Blue and on Orange from Community College north because they're mostly outside the core, but not in the densest parts of Cambridge.

Green keeps a pretty even keel from Kenmore-GC. The difference in prevailing direction may be the difference between sardine can and not-sardine-can, but for the most part anything traveling at rush hour is going to be plenty full. Same is true of the B out to Harvard Ave. where there aren't huge unidirectional ridership tilts, and the same is quite likely to be true GC-North Station and GC-Lechmere when GLX Phase I ups the headways there in the ballpark of the rest of the subway.

That's fodder for analysis: why is Cambridge's commute-directional traffic so wildly skewed compared to south of the river? Expand the scope of study out to the key bus routes or even some segments of the Orange Line and the difference is still going to look stark with much more directional bleed-through in Boston traffic patterns vs. Cambridge. Now, there's obvious culprits to point to like the type of developments in Kendall and Alewife that have left those areas so heavily skewed to 9-to-5 traffic. But it's also not exactly hard to get to Central or Harvard against the grain and off-peak whereas Allston is a GL trip from hill...so there's something a bit different with the "destination" squares too. I suspect looking at that angle is going to say some very telling things about the city's approach to development, parking, and so on.


I wonder if--apart from this having to be taken into consideration from a development planning standpoint--there aren't some flaws in the Cambridge bus network, especially the crosstown routes, that are preventing some mitigation. I don't know what they are, but it's worth studying in the same amount of detail as the Boston-centric Key Routes program is. And that the cancellation of even the no-build Urban Ring Phase I collection of crosstown express buses is overtly sandbagging some reachable solutions to this, especially around MIT/Kendall.

Ultimately, this is also why STEP is set on advocating for a Porter extension of the GLX Union Branch in some less debt-ridden decade to be determined. That's a de facto ring route out of North Station/Northpoint that explicitly takes advantage of some of that sorely unused reverse-direction Red Line capacity by serving 9-to-5 destinations in Alewife from NS and to Northpoint from Central/Harvard in the contraflow direction. It is at least consistent with how those two big-growth areas have been developed to-date, even though it doesn't solve the city's overall problem of excessive 9-to-5 skew. That impact, plus the more obvious ones of serving the dense Somerville Ave. corridor and making access from Arlington to the city much easier, I think more than justify the potential radial ridership. But, of course, they gotta finish GLX and other pressing stuff first so...in a decade TBD.


Point is, there's a lot of little things here that could be done and reasons for the skew that haven't been well-studied. And it's strange that this has been as poorly-studied as it has given how hands-on Cambridge has been with this development boom.
 

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