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To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
If the Establishment proposed a law that a student could have only one roommate, and not two or three, in his off-campus living arrangements, one would expect all kinds of protest and demonstrations, right? Wrong. For that is exactly the law that has been proposed by the Cambridge Planning Board, that is having its hearing today (Tuesday, April 15), that is given every chance of passage by informed observers, and that has received little attention in student press or pickets so far.
If passed, the law will provide that in the zoning districts which comprise 85 per cent of Cambridge, the number of "unrelated," i.e., "non-family" persons who can legally occupy an apartment will be only two, instead of the present four. The only exception to the law will be licensed rooming houses and people already living together before the first of next month (but the exception will no longer apply to the apartment once the present roommates move out).
Frankly, as the owner of four licensed rooming houses, I would stand to benefit financially from this law, since the demand for my properties by roommates groups would be greatly increased. But it is a ridiculous law; I intend to speak against it at the hearing tonight; and I urge your readers to join me tonight in fighting this discrimination against non-family groups.
Not only students, but two young married couples (or two welfare mothers with children who want to share a big house) would be prohibited from doing so, since they would comprise more than two people "not within the second degree of kinship."
I see this law as but another attempt to legislate away the current chronic housing shortage in Cambridge by unrealistic bureaucratic rules, instead of attacking the root problem, which is simply that Cambridge has too few apartments and must have more built fast. Unfortunately, though it is little-understood or read by otherwise well-informed Cambridge citizens, the whole Cambridge zoning law is what severely limits substantial new construction. For example, how many readers are aware of the fact that our city has a 35-foot height limit in its biggest zoning district? Shouldn't we question whether this is an appropriate limit for an international city of today? One need not support all proposed changes in the zoning code (like the one finally rejected for the Baird Atomic complex) to support some needed liberalizations in what we allow our profit-minded apartment developers to build for all price ranges.
Tonight I plan to speak against a key change for the worse in Cambridge's already-antiquated zoning laws--at 8 p.m. in City Hall, Central Square. I urge those interested in this letter to take an hour to come to this hearing. For the proper growth pf Cambridge is facing some pretty big odds. Fred Meyer 80 Hammond Street 876-0500
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