Engaging Our Community in Planning for the Future Now is your chance to collectively reimagine and reinvent Cambridge.

Ever wonder what Cambridge will be like in 2040? Or think about what might happen along the way? This November, Cambridge launched an exciting, multi-year process to develop a new Citywide Plan.

The Citywide Plan is an opportunity to set a new direction for a sustainable, prosperous future.

A Shared Vision for a Diverse City

Cambridge is a city of diverse places, people, and ideas.

Made up of 13 neighborhoods—from East Cambridge and Wellington-Harrington to Strawberry Hill, North Cambridge and everywhere in between—the city’s multifaceted community includes long-time residents, young families, students, local businesses, innovative startups, international corporations, revered educational institutions, and lots more. This mix of voices makes Cambridge the exceptional place it is today.

“The Citywide Plan is a plan for and by the community. We need all voices represented in the process.” - Richard C. Rossi, City Manager

Citywide planning will bring these voices together into conversation, and craft a shared vision for a more livable, sustainable, and equitable Cambridge. It will serve as a guide for how the city changes over time. To do this, the plan will create a well-defined roadmap that identifies effective, short and long-term actions to produce tangible results.

To help lead this effort, the City will work with an interdisciplinary team of consultants, led by Boston-based Utile Architecture + Planning. The Utile team will provide technical expertise in a range of fields, from transportation and housing to urban design and community engagement.

The Utile Team will also lead a planning study for the Fresh Pond/Alewife area which will be integrated into the overall Citywide Plan. The area study will address key issues, such as the character of future development, climate change preparedness, infrastructure, mobility, and zoning changes needed to accomplish City goals.

The planning process is expected to conclude in 2018, and will inform the City’s capital and operational budgeting, neighborhood and district plans, and zoning and other policies going forward.

A Comprehensive Study Built on a Strong Foundation


This includes work on climate change, transportation, land use, open space, housing affordability, community health, homelessness and income insecurity, early childhood education, and many other topic areas. Studies and plans have also been conducted for geographic areas of the city, most recently the K2C2 effort examining Kendall Square and Central Square.

The Citywide Plan will build upon this foundation and offer additional ideas to ensure that the City’s plans and programs are aligned to support a common direction for Cambridge.

We will use six lenses to look at the various planning topics. These include:

  • Social Equity and Diversity: Celebrating the cultural, demographic and economic mix in our community
  • Environmental Resiliency: Reducing our environmental footprint while preparing for impacts of climate change
  • Character of Neighborhoods and Squares: Preserving our strong architectural heritage of quiet neighborhoods and vibrant commercial areas
  • Healthy Community: Improving the health and well-being of our community
  • Learning Community: Expanding access to education and lifelong learning in academics, arts, and cultural programs
  • Coordination with the Region: Leveraging regional partnerships to improve shared resources

These lenses represent community values and will help shape the vision and recommendations of the plan.

Engaging the Cambridge Community

Working with Utile, the City will also look beyond traditional methods of public engagement and employ creative methods to get people involved. A strong online and social media presence will be key to this effort, as will abundant opportunities to engage in-person.

Success of the Citywide Plan rests on its ability to engage the entire community.

It is a core goal of the Plan to provide an accessible forum for all stakeholders to share ideas. Toward this end, the City aims to reach as many people as possible and ensure that dialogue is representative of the City’s diversity. This will include multiple approaches, including partnering with the City’s Community Engagement Team and lowering potential barriers to meeting attendance by providing childcare, translation, and food for participants.

Publication of the Office of the City Manager

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Adapted from Winter 2015 CityView Newsletter

Created By
Lee Gianetti


Photo Credits: Gretchen Ertl & City of Cambridge

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