City Council Scrutinizes Short-Term Rental Proposal

Cambridge City Hall
Cambridge City Hall.
Cantabrigians came out to protest a short-term rental zoning petition and called for the City Council to take steps to continue to increase the availability of housing in Cambridge at the body's weekly meeting Monday.

The zoning petition would allow for residential buildings in which the owner does not live to be used for short-term rentals 180 days a year. Previously, the Council had discussed prohibiting this type of rental, only allowing partially occupied properties to be rented out.

Some city residents criticized the petition for what they called its counterproductive impact on Cambridge’s tight housing market as a result of properties lying unoccupied while they aren’t being rented.

The Council also voted to allow the installation of illuminated bus shelters with advertisements in residential areas despite criticisms from Cantabrigians. The issue came to light following a proposal to install one of the new shelters on Aberdeen Ave. in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood, an area which is almost entirely residential.

Bus shelter company JCDecaux and the City Council have agreed to install the Strawberry Hill bus shelter under the condition that the company complete necessary regular maintenance.


However, some councillors were skeptical of the agreement, citing improper maintenance on other bus stations operated by JCDecaux.

City Manager Louis A. DePasquale defended the company and spoke about their willingness to compromise.

“They have been willing to work with us” DePasquale said. “We did not want to change the format that we believe is working.”

The Council also discussed updates to smoking restriction in workplaces around the city as a response to the 10-alarm fire last December, which authorities said was likely caused smoking at a construction site. The new health and safety code would expand the definition of “workplaces.”

Councillors also discussed better publicizing the language immersion programs in schools and new youth baseball facilities.

—Staff writer Nicholas W. Sundberg can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @NickWSundberg