[The author is a co-chair of the Friends of the White Geese and was a 2005 candidate for city council.]
Thank you for the interesting editorial supporting a strikingly destructive zoning change for which you give Councilor Galluccio, credit.
Regrettably, I understand that the city council passed this outrage last night.
This proposal is outrageous because of fine print on top of fine print which is kept secret.
Increasing yard requirements is a flat out lie when the fine print says that the City Manager’s appointees can ignore the yard requirements. It gets worse because the City Manager’s appointees have contempt for zoning protections that responsible members of the community cherish and the City Manager’s appointees routinely wipe out these enivironmentally protective because the City of Cambridge has contempt for the environment.
The design review provisions which were sneaked into the zoning ordinance by the city council and city manager has provisions which allow the planning board to IGNORE those zoning protections at the whim of irresponsible developers. And the planning board ROUTINELY ignores such protections.
Those protections should be only ignored by variance, that is, only if the developer is denied use of the property if he/she cannot get the variance. The design review provisions (and similar provisions in comparably complicated other parts of the zoning ordinance) turn variances into special permits. And a special permit is exactly the opposite of a variance. The developer is allowed to ignore zoning protections unless you can prove otherwise.
The cutoff point for this outrageous destruction of our zoning protections is reduced from approximately the size of the Inn at Harvard in Harvard Square to about half its size (numbers not exact).
The Inn at Harvard building is the most successful recent building in Harvard Square. Harvard did not want that grass. Harvard did not want those trees. Harvard wanted that building right out to the lot line, and the Planning Board routinely grants such outrages.
You praise Galluccio. On the grounds that you give for your praise Galluccio, I condemn him and I condemn the rest of the people associated with this continuing series of outrages.