Councilor Jan Devereux

Jan DevereuxHow do you think the City of Cambridge can best support the local business community?

Continue to partner with CLF and others to heighten public awareness about the “triple impact” that shopping locally has on the city’s economy and on job creation for residents. I would sponsor a citywide PR campaign around the holidays to encourage residents to buy gifts locally instead of online — “giving begins at home.”

At the same time the city needs to help make it possible for local stores to remain in business and to remain affordable to customers — our low and moderate income families have fewer and fewer options to shop locally for food and clothing they can afford. Can we get a Market Basket to locate here?

What have you done to support the local economy in Cambridge?

In addition to doing the majority of my personal shopping locally (see below), I have worked at four local independent businesses: Cambridge Skating Club, Brattle Associates, Hammond Real Estate, Community Charter School of Cambridge.

As the president of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance I have advocated for the inclusion of ground floor retail in new residential developments around Alewife and for improved pedestrian and bike connections, which are known to increase local shopping.

Do you do your personal banking at a local bank? (Cambridge Trust, Cambridge Savings, East Cambridge Savings, Eastern Bank, Naveo, Leader Bank)

Yes, my personal accounts are at Cambridge Trust in Huron Village (customer since 1995).

What percentage of your shopping do you do at local independently owned businesses?

I estimate that 90% of my total shopping occurs in Cambridge — I don’t do much online shopping and do not like to go to Boston or beyond when I can find most of what I need closer to home.

Food — my husband and I buy about 90% of our groceries at Fresh Pond Market. We make a weekly trip to Whole Foods for items FPM doesn’t carry (mostly prepared foods).

Clothing — I don’t shop often for new clothes and I become easily overwhelmed in department stores and shopping malls. The last 3 items I purchased were shoes from The Tannery, a dress from Looks and a shirt from Marimekko in Huron Village.

Garden/Floral — I buy all my garden supplies at Bonny’s and fresh flowers at Hallie’s Garden.

Home goods — Tags is my go-to store for hardware, kitchen and bath items.

Books — Porter Square Books and the Coop books are where I do my holiday gift shopping. My friends and family are readers.

Auto — I bought my car (a 2006 Honda Civic hybrid) from Cambridge Honda across the street from my home. It is serviced there, too.

Restaurants — My husband and I don’t eat out more than once or twice a month but when we do we gravitate to our 2 favorite neighborhood restaurants, Full Moon and Gran Gusto. We celebrated two family birthdays this year at the Beat Hotel. My favorite lunch stop is Clover (I am a vegetarian). We order pizza from Village Kitchen (when it’s just me and my husband) and Armando’s (when our kids are home visiting).

Jewelry — A local jeweler Matthew Feldman made my wedding ring. Every Christmas I send my husband to Motto in Harvard Sq to get me earrings.

Stationery — I buy note cards for campaign thank you’s at Bob Slate and Black Ink.

Please rank the following as priorities for you. Please only select one priority per rank (i.e. shouldn’t all be first priority.)

  1. Environmental Sustainability
  2. Encouraging Affordable Housing Development
  3. Controlling Traffic & Encouraging Alternative Means of Transportation
  4. Encouraging Local Business Development
  5. Bringing Large Employers to Cambridge (tech, bio, etc.)

Do you have any comments on the above question?

Obviously all 5 priorities are interconnected and each is essential to maintaining a healthy and balanced economy, but sustainability has become an existential question — without more aggressive action on to address climate change our options for progress on the other 4 may be constrained. We need more affordable housing for our workforce and to preserve the city’s socio-economic diversity. Improvements to transit, pedestrian and biking facilities have been shown to benefit local retail as well as to reduce congestion. If we make progress on the first 3, then Cambridge will be even more attractive as a place to locate and operate both small local businesses and large corporations.

What would be your strategy to increase affordable housing in Cambridge?

 I would have voted to raise the linkage fee to $24 and I would support significantly increasing the inclusionary percentage for low and moderate income (a new study pending, which I hope will recommend an increase from the current 11.5% to 25%). I would support building 100% affordable housing on city-owned parking land and parking lots, and a zoning overlay to give the city a competitive advantage to purchase multi-family buildings to convert to affordable. I would support protections for elderly tenants facing no-fault evictions. I would require MIT to double the amount of new graduate student housing in its East Campus plan. The redevelopment of the Volpe Center should include more both housing than commercial and more affordable housing.

Currently there are a variety of proposed zoning changes through the city (Kendall, Central, Net Zero, Master Plan, Upper Mass Ave), how would see contributing to these discussions and where would you like to see these areas in 10 years?

 In 10 years I hope we will be well along in implementing the recommendations of the upcoming Citywide Master Plan, which will be an integrated plan that builds on all the prior studies above.

Do you think City policies appropriately regulate, under regulate or over regulate business? What action would you take regarding policies and regulations that affect the business community?

I would say that regulation and enforcement are inconsistent. This is a problem because it undermines the public trust that the system is fair to all parties. The problems with the License Commission have been very well documented. Taxi service is over-regulated while Uber is under-regulated. Airbnb is not regulated at all (yet). Car sharing services like Zipcar could be expanded if more property owners were allowed permission to dedicate spaces to such spots and if some on-street parking was reserved for car-sharing. The permitting process could be streamlined and the zoning Table of Uses updated to better reflect contemporary mixed use neighborhoods. The BZA has only denied 5% of variances and special permits over the past 2 years; if the ordinance were better aligned with the community’s current needs and standards, then we could reduce the time and expense of permitting process. The commercial sign ordinance is erratically enforced and the noise and lighting ordinances need strengthening.

If elected, on which committees could you foresee yourself taking the lead?

Transportation, housing, health & environment, and neighborhood & long-term planning.

What are one or two initiatives that you would propose to support and encourage the growth of local business?

We should explore creating retail incubator spaces that can be rented month-to-month and an inclusionary zoning program for local retail. New development in business and industrial districts should require ground floor retail. I would seek to limit the growth of chain retail stores in Harvard, Central and Kendall Squares.

If you were to win office, what would be your top three priorities? Why?

My top priorities would be the top 3 ranked in the earlier question (1. Environmental Sustainability 2. Encouraging Affordable Housing Development 3. Controlling Traffic & Encouraging Alternative Means of Transportation). See my explanation in the comment under the rankings.

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