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CLIMATE-CHANGE RESPONSE: Cambridge residents' petition aims to protect public health, safety

Cambridge residents from across the city, including several prominent community and public health leaders, have filed a zoning petition to ensure future large developments in the city are climate resilient. 

flooding

The proposed changes, titled “Zoning Amendments for a Flood and Heat Resilient Cambridge” will require all pending and future developments to incorporate climate resiliency into building and site design.

The petition signers see these issues as essential to the safety and public health of Cambridge residents.

Petition, background >>

The proposed zoning changes provide a positive step to protect residents, workers and property owners from the major threats of extreme heat and flooding identified in the city’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA).

“The situation is urgent. We want to change the rules now to make sure that our city’s decisions address the serious impacts identified by the CVVA and the solutions in Cambridge’s Preparedness and Resilience planning,” Doug Brown, co-signer of the zoning petition, said in an April 12 news release.

Environmental health advocate and petitioner Mike Nakagawa emphasized that the climate changes to come will put the very young and the very old at highest risk. “This petition addresses the two biggest concerns of the CCVA, extreme heat and flooding. It puts common-sense protections in place that will make buildings safer and better protect residents.”

The CCVA identified extreme heat as needing immediate attention because heat will start having a significant impact on public health within a 10-year time frame.


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The proposed zoning acts on several of the city’s Preparedness and Resilience strategies by introducing a citywide Green Factor score to encourage developers to build greener and cooler. The Green Factor score, used in Seattle and Washington, D.C., improves livability and ecological functions through increased green space, plantings -- such as trees, green roofs and vegetated walls -- and improvements in how communities deal with storm water.

The petition increases flood resilience by including areas that will be subject to future flooding because of climate change in the Flood Plain Overlay District zoning, and incorporating stronger design requirements that will protect people and property.

The zoning petition signers reflect the growing conviction of many city residents and property owners that issues of climate change must be addressed now, since buildings constructed now will be in the front line of the effects of climate change during the lifetime of the structure. The community members want to start ensuring that all Cambridge residents will be safe in their homes and workplaces through thoughtful preparation for extreme heat and floods. 


This news release, which offers a viewpoint, was published Friday, April 13, 2018.

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