Environmental justice is a crucial component of my vision for a diverse and inclusive Cambridge. I understand that conservation and preservation alone are not enough and that we must work together to be proactive in protecting ourselves,our communities, and the environment as a whole from the consequences of global warming. Broad concerns about the global impact of climate change cannot supercede local efforts to improve the welfare of our residents, especially those who are most vulnerable. Social, economic, and public health concerns must be taken into account, recognizing that safeguarding the natural world includes protecting those who live in it.
As your City Councillor, I will:
Preserve the urban forest, one of our most important natural resources.
The many trees in Cambridge enhance air quality; reduce noise pollution and energy consumption; shade our residences, streets, and parks; and generally improve the city’s livability and residents’ quality of life. Still, our wonderful urban forest is at risk from heat stress, storms, and pest insects. I will work with environmental groups and the Department of Public Works to effectively manage this valuable natural resource and ensure that all our residents continue to benefit from all the urban forest provides. I will ensure that all trees lost to climate change are replaced with native species to ensure that our fragile ecosystem is not further disrupted.
Encourage reuse, renewal, and recycling
I will work with nonprofits to expand our urban gardens and increase participation in existing program by schools, businesses, and residences. I will expand our composting program to cover renter households, and increase the scope of what residents can recycle. I will streamline regulatory framework to allow for off-grid and microgrid power generation using solar power and other renewable resources. I will vote to acquire more electric school buses to reduce fuel costs and air pollution. I will reach out to educational institutions and the private sector to explore solutions to reduce energy use and waste production.
Improve energy efficiency in existing buildings, especially public housing and low-income homes.
As summers get hotter and winters get colder, heating and cooling costs will only continue to increase. Leaky insulation and inefficient heating & cooling systems increase the economic and public health costs for all our residents. I will seek funds to expand the scope of existing programs that provide fuel assistance and weatherization so that more families can be eligible to receive these critical benefits. I will reach out to low-income and immigrant communities to promote awareness of the resources available to mitigate the energy burden faced by so many.
Promote sustainable new housing and economic development.
If implemented correctly, the bold and ambitious Net Zero Action plan will improve livability and efficiency while reducing our carbon footprint. I support the implementation of financial mechanisms to incentivize the creation of energy efficient and affordable new housing, and discourage expensive and energy-efficient new construction. I will collaborate with nonprofits, educational institutions, and industry partners sector to support renewable energy generation, create green job programs, and find the best ways to accelerate sustainable innovation. I will work to implement pilot programs testing these initiatives as early as possible and in the neighborhoods where they can have the greatest impact. I will oppose the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure within city limits, and audit existing infrastructure to prevent further fossil fuel leaks.
Promote sustainable alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle transportation, including ridesharing, bicycling, and high-occupancy public transit.
Public mass transit is an be effective, efficient, and environmentally friendly alternative to commuting by car. However, there are often valid social and economic reasons that public transit usage is not more widespread, including fare increases and deteriorating infrastructure. Making public transit more convenient and accessible must be a cornerstone of the city’s environmental agenda. I will work with the MBTA to increase service on the neglected Kendall Square bus routes and to implement transit priority on high-traffic streets like Massachusetts Avenue and Mount Auburn Street. I will partner with neighboring local governments to encourage a feasibility study on regional Bus Rapid Transit. I will explore sources of funding to subsidize T passes for low-income residents, and ensure that new transit will serve all of our neighborhoods. I will work to facilitate business membership in Transportation Management Associations to promote alternative modes of transportation through initiatives like commuter shuttles and the MBTA Corporate Pass. As our zoning regulations are overhauled, I will work to ensure that new zoning facilitates transit-oriented development.
Increasing number of Cantabrigians use bicycles for work, recreation, exercise, and transportation. Recent fatal accidents have been tragic reminders of urgent need to ensure cyclists safety. To that end, I applaud and fully support the city’s Vision Zero plan, and will vote to accelerate the rollout of protected bike lanes and implement other safety measures like bike boxes and shared-priority lanes. I will work to ensure that redevelopment efforts in areas like Inman Square follow through on promised traffic calming and bicycle safety measures, and encourage traffic enforcement of bike lane violations throughout the city. I will vote to maintain and improve existing cycling infrastructure, including repainting bike lanes and restoring public bike repair stations. I will work with developers to provide repair equipment and sheltered bike parking in new housing developments.
Devote myself to the struggle against environmental racism, because climate justice is social justice.
Along with low-income and renter households, households of color are some of the hardest-hit by the consequences of a rapidly-warming planet. Far too often, the conversations surrounding climate change are shaped by the needs of the wealthy and privileged, erasing the concerns of those impacted by climate change the most. There is a deep disconnect between these communities and the mainstream climate movement, ignoring the potential for collaboration and collective action. As a City Councillor, I will forge alliances between existing climate activist movements and the neighborhoods most affected by climate change. I will support creating a City Commission on Environmental Justice to ensure the needs of these communities are taken into account in the development and implementation of City policy.