The Cambridge City Council this week capped years of planning and debate with a vote to allow basement apartments citywide come May. Fears of flooding-related costs and building-code headaches had held up a petition that Patrick Barrett, a Central Square landlord, officially put forth in August, and it looked again before this week's vote that the petition would be tabled for further study (this being Cambridge and all). In the end, seven of the nine council members voted in favor, some forcefully reminding colleagues and the public that not only are illegal basement apartments already a reality but that the city's housing costs aren't getting any lower. The People's Republic needs fresh housing and yesterday.
Marc Levy at Cambridge Day has further details: "A Basement Housing Overlay District was passed in 2011 expanding basement dwelling to some buildings along Massachusetts Avenue between Porter and Harvard squares, and it was broadened slightly last summer, but the Barrett petition would allow the conversion of basements and cellars throughout the city into 'accessory unit' apartments, with supporters saying the construction will allow families to grow, host elderly parents or underemployed adult children or to earn rental income that can help them stay in their homes." The change, due to take effect May 1 after the city figures out how to implement it, is expected to add around 1,000 apartments to Cambridge's roll. We'll see if the additions bring down rents.
· In Cambridge, a Fight Over Apartments in Building Basements [Curbed Boston]
· Family Basements Can Become Apartments Legally as of May 1, Joining the Illegal Ones [Day]
· Cambridge to M.I.T.: Prioritize Storage Instead of Housing [Curbed Boston]
[Photo via Cambridge Day]