I support climate justice and open space protection.
Our climate is changing rapidly, and our city policies and planning must build in resilience for what’s to come. My own neighborhood near Fresh Pond, Danehy Park, and Alewife Reservation is blessed with some of the city’s largest open space resources. But with increased precipitation, sea level rise and rising temperatures on the horizon, it is also one of the most vulnerable to flooding and the urban heat island effect. Much of the soil is heavily contaminated with the area’s legacy of brickyards, dumps, and industrial uses, and the air quality is diminished by traffic congestion on Fresh Pond Parkway. Future development must be planned more thoughtfully to address the anticipated threats to the environment and public health.
As Chair of the Health & Environment Committee, sustainability and environmental protection have been a huge part of my work this term. In response to the ongoing drought, I held a hearing for the City to present its plans to protect our water supply and improve education and outreach on ways to conserve water. Our younger street trees have struggled to thrive in drought conditions and I have fought for stronger tree protections. I have worked on protecting our tree canopy, both on public and private property, as trees serve as an incredible resource to protect us from the worst effects of climate change. I have held hearings to reexamine our policy on leaf blowers, after being approached by residents with scientific data about the negative health and environmental impacts of power-blowing. In the Fall of 2016, I helped to organize the City’s second Climate Congress, which brought together approximately 100 volunteer delegates for a series of discussions and produced a contract for climate citizenship. I have supported the City’s urban agriculture initiative, municipal recycling collection for small businesses, and the citywide roll-out of home compost collection.
I have prioritized public open space in the citywide planning process, and in neighborhood development projects. Land is scarce in Cambridge, and our growth plan must recognize that we need new parks and more green to offset increased population density. The coming Volpe Center redevelopment offers a golden opportunity to create a large public park in the heart of Kendall Square that links to a network of green spaces. We must not let that opportunity slip through our hands.
I will continue to partner with local environmental groups like Green Cambridge and Mothers Out Front on new policy initiatives to help us protect, conserve and adapt to climate change. I also have championed the work of the Charles River Conservancy to create a swim park on the Charles River and the work of the Friends of Magazine Beach to restore and improve the park’s facilities.