Cambridge City
MA

Policy Order
POR 2019 #225
ORDER ADOPTED
Jun 24, 2019 5:30 PM

That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department, Assessor’s Office, and the City Solicitor’s Office on developing a Vacant Storefront Registration Policy.

Information

Department:City Clerk's Office, SSSponsors:Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Councillor Alanna Mallon, Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Councillor Quinton Zondervan
Category:Policy Order

Attachments

  1. Printout

Body

WHEREAS:

According to the Cambridge Community Development Department’s April 2019 Cambridge Ground Floor Vacancy Database, a total of nine storefronts city-wide are listed as having remained vacant for 4+ years, and five for 2+ years, with Harvard Square containing the greatest number of total vacancies at 17; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

There are many causes for these vacancies, whether it be the forced displacement of small business owners due to inability to sustain increasingly unaffordable rents, or a landlord’s decision to hold out for a higher-paying tenant, or simply a lack of investment or neglect on behalf of property owners, many of whom do not reside in Cambridge and may own multiple retail properties across many locations; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

The increase in both the number and longevity of storefront vacancies negatively impacts those businesses currently operating in our Squares, and can turn previously vibrant retail districts into blighted areas; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

It is in the best interest of the public for the City to mitigate long term storefront vacancies through the development of more specific definitions and targeted regulations; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

At the April 30, 2019 meeting of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, the Cambridge Community Development Department presented on its recommendations for what might be included in such a policy, which was followed by a discussion amongst the committee members, city staff, community stakeholders and business associations, of the potential interventions presented, their benefits and drawbacks, and additional innovative solutions; now therefore be it

 

 

ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the Community Development Department, Assessor’s Office, and the City Solicitor’s Office on developing a Vacant Storefront Registration Policy, incorporating in its language the recommendations discussed at the April 30, 2019 meeting of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, such as enacting a requirement that any ground floor retail property vacant for a time period of 1-2 years register with the City, regardless of whether the storefront has been intermittently activated, and possible avenues for incentivizing or otherwise enforcing compliance with such a requirement; and be it further

 

 

ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the Community Development Department to ensure the involvement of Cambridge’s small business community throughout this process, providing opportunities for input on the content, language and potential implications of any drafted policy prior to its enactment; and be it further

 

 

ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the Economic Development and University Relations Committee on the matters above by its next hearing to be scheduled in September 2019.

 

Meeting History

Jun 24, 2019 5:30 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft

BY AFFIRMATIVE VOTE OF NINE MEMBERS

RESULT:ORDER ADOPTED