Robert LaTrémouille
2005 Candidate for Cambridge City Council

Home address:
30 Griswold St.
Cambridge MA 02138

Contact information:
Telephone: 617-491-7181
Cell: 617-283-7649

Post Office Box 391412
Cambridge, MA 02139-0015

Send contributions to:
La Trémouille Campaign
651 Green Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

30 years fighting for Cambridge. With major successes.

Active in environmental, neighborhood, housing, transportation and police-planning issues.

Leader in mobilizing support to preserve the Charles River environment and wildlife. The Cambridge City Council has gotten more complaints about Cambridge and the MDC/DCR’s destruction on the Charles than on any other issue since 2000.

Forced the Cambridge City Manager to rebuild Guffey Park at Arrow & Mass Ave after he destroyed it.

Saved historical 10 Mt. Auburn Street building from destruction by Harvard University.

Forced Inn at Harvard to have green yards and kept it from being 72% larger.

Major zoning victories despite opposition by the City Manager’s friends:

  • Three successful downzoning petitions for 80% of Mass Ave between Harvard and Central Squares, for a more residential and environmentally responsible city. He provided meaningful protection for neighborhood businesses.
  • Successful downzoning of A.D. Little site in Alewife Reservation in N. Cambridge. A 200 car parking lot has been returned to the Alewife reservation.
  • Successful downzoning petitions for Green Street, Maple Avenue, Fayette Street, Youville/Cambridge Hospital, Lesley College/Harvard Law School, first block of Mt. Auburn Street, Harvard Houses district.
  • Removed the Planning Board’s unlimited variance powers for larger buildings.
  • Reversed provisions allowing commercial garages in residential districts.

Protected neighborhoods on Mass. Ave. in Mid-Cambridge/Riverside, on Cambridge Street/Inman Square-East Cambridge, River Street, Trader Joe’s site, Mt. Auburn Street, Broadway, Western Ave., Blanchard Road.

Repeatedly killed destructive city manager initiatives.

Knows intricacies of Federal housing subsidies and health planning issues.

Has worked on the Urban Ring subway expansion for 20 years and bike regulation for 30 years.

Member, Assn for Public Transportation.

Co-founder, Friends of the White Geese.

Former Director, Mass. Tenants Org.

Charter / Early Member, neighborhood associations in Mid- and North Cambridge.

Governor’s Office Internship in Consumer and Health Fields.

Cambridge-born, has lived in Cambridge Highlands (Sancta Maria), Riverside, City Hall, Cambridge Hospital, East Harvard Square, North Cambridge, Windsor Street, and Lower Harvard Street (The Port) neighborhoods.

Education: UMass Amherst (B.A. Cum Laude) and Boston University (J.D.)

Veteran, U.S. Army, 3 Years.

Top Priorities:
A government worthy of respect
• Housing
• Open space / environment
• Transportation

Quality of Life and Public Safety:
Cambridge is strikingly below where it should be in open space. Moneys voted by Cantabrigians in the Community Preservation Act tax should be used for new Cambridge open space, not on Lincoln ($1.1 million spent during this term), not on contractor make work followed by gold plating as in so many projects (see below for details)

We have a severe lack of traffic enforcement with regard to a minority of vehicles.

It should be possible for people to legally cross on a walk light without have good reason to fear being run down by some person running a red light. It should be possible for drivers to proceed on green without having good reason to fear somebody running a red light in front of them. It should be possible for pedestrians to walk down a sidewalk without being endangered by silent missiles traveling inches from their unsuspecting bodies. The city manager has created great confusion among the police department about vehicular regulation. The confusion must be ended. People should be safe on our streets.

Traffic, Parking, and Transportation:
1. The most important approach to the traffic situation has to be a significant changes in development regulation.

Cambridge has twice the jobs it needs for its population. We need to replace commercial zoning with residential zoning at a proper scale. Retail generates 9 times the traffic as does housing. Office uses generate three times the traffic as residential.

2. I oppose the relocating of Mass. Pike off ramps to Cambridgeport by an off ramp running on the rail bridge under the BU Bridge. This route was proven feasible by MBTA using Urban Ring money. Recently the state has floated a change in the pike which would allow such an off ramp carry traffic to / from both directions of the Mass. Pike.

Shortly after the MBTA report, Harvard bought the Mass. Pike off-ramps. Pike in Allston and the rail yards next to them. The railroad would like to move their operations beyond I-495. Relocating the off ramps to Cambridgeport would allow Harvard to build on an area equal to Harvard Yard, Harvard's North Yard (Law School) and half the Divinity area combined.

Cambridge and the DCR/MDC are creating the infrastructure to accept the off ramps now. Multiple road projects in the BU Bridge area clearly fit the package, as do plans to destroy more than 449 to 660 trees on Memorial Drive between the Longfellow Bridge and Magazine Beach. I oppose it all and condemn a the vote by the Cambridge City Council told the city manager not to tell them what is going on on Memorial Drive. His report was put in committee followed by a silly "hearing" which ignored the real issues.

3. We need the MBTA's Urban Ring rapid transit with a crossing of the Charles River near the Mass. Ave. bridge, not at the BU Bridge. A properly aligned Urban Ring rapid transit system would help load off the downtown subways without harming Cambridge. The Urban Ring rapid transit would be a subway system from Charlestown to Kendall to the Harvard Medical Area and then Roxbury.

The Mass. Ave. / Kenmore crossing of the Charles (which I suggested six years before the MBTA picked it up) would go be built the railroad tracks at the MIT campus and turn under the playing fields with a stop at Mass. Ave. This alignment makes transportation sense and lacks a Putnam Avenue stop present in the other proposal, BU Bridge crossing. This Putnam Avenue stop which would be highly destructive to the Cambridgeport neighborhood.

Quite scary is an another alternative being pushed by Harvard and which has been floated in the name of the Sierra Club during this campaign. Harvard wants to run streetcars on the ground on the same railroad tracks. Harvard wants to run those street cars over the rail bridge under the BU bridge to Harvard's campus on the Mass. Pike off ramps it recently purchased.

This proposal would have the destructive Putnam Avenue stop plus add major harm to the Charles River environment.

This proposal was presented by one candidate as part of a report which he quoted that he wrote in a Sierra Club publication. The candidate did not even mention the two official MBTA options. I have made repeated attempts to get the candidate and the Sierra Club to clarify their position. Particularly distressing was a supporting petition distributed by a professional architect representing the Sierra Club. The petition supported Urban Ring rapid transit. The Sierra Club has failed to explain what people would have been supporting by signing this petition since the Sierra Club has yet to disown the Harvard proposal being at least half communicated in its name.

Municipal Finance, City Budget, Assessments, and Property Taxes:
I support a wage tax on city employers to reduce the property tax burden by placing municipal costs on those who work in our city as well as those who live here.

Cambridge voters approved a tax increase for community preservation. A significant part of the tax increase is supposed to be spent on public open space as part of the preservation of the Cambridge community.

The lion's share of Cambridge's most recent open space expenditure from this fund, $1.1 million, was spent on Lincoln, buying open space for the benefit of Cambridge's water supply.

This is dishonest and a violation of the public trust. 9 city councilors voted for it.

Open space money should be used on Cambridge open space and should be done intelligently, not with the destructive make work followed by gold plating which is the current status quo.

Similarly, open space expenditures are shockingly wasteful. Tree destruction is the first thing the City Manager does when he works on city parks. Parks should be built around trees. Trees should not be destroyed because they are “in the way” of parks.

Land Use, Planning, Economic Development:
This is my field of greatest expertise and major accomplishments.

Cambridge housing is way overpriced because of bad planning.

I have worked for 30 years with a lot of success to replace commercial zoning with housing zoning at responsible scale and with responsible regulation.

I would continue to do so as a city councilor, supporting real residential zoning and opposing the city manager's nonstop fine print.

The city manager is going in exactly the wrong direction with his current draft initiative to wipe out all first floor housing between Harvard U and nearly the Arlington line, along with the destruction of as much first floor open space as he can get away with. University uses, dormitories, would be given preference over market residential housing.

Particularly threatened by this outrage are the treed plaza at Porter Station and the overwhelmingly residential first two blocks above Harvard University and the Three Aces Block which Harvard wants to destroy.

My zoning has helped save Three Aces so far. The City Manager would destroy all this housing. I would like a further downzoning of the area to provide greater protections now available in the zoning ordinance which were not when I wrote this zoning.

The city manager is going in exactly the wrong direction with his bizarre proposal now under city council consideration to allow the city manager's appointees to authorize construction on the Alewife Brook Parkway shopping centers and near Alewife Station at a density 50% higher than Harvard Square.

I have proposed a responsible alternative. My alternative would convert the industrial area on Concord Avenue to neighborhood density housing, downzone the shopping centers to neighborhood scale, and allow housing north of the tracks near Alewife station comparable to the Inn at Harvard (which I forced on Harvard in a downzoning).

Human Services Programs:
The city and state have wiped out access to Memorial Drive by the handicapped and the needy by destroying all their parking on the river between the BU and Longfellow Bridges as part of the upgrade to accept Mass. Pike traffic. I think that, instead of destroying all those trees straightening out the highway, they should put the parking back.

I would take action to save the elderly housing at 10 Mount Auburn Street. This elderly housing is threatened by a large parking garage under way several block from the building. That parking garage is too far from 10 Mount Auburn for meaningful use by the elderly but it would allow conversion of the building to non-elderly uses, which cannot legally be done without the parking which is under construction. A key zoning paragraph could be and should be corrected. This threat to the elderly is an undisclosed part of the Riverside zoning change written by the City Manager and Harvard.

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation:
The zoning I wrote has resulted in 200 parking spaces being returned to the environment at Alewife.

I wrote the first open space district zoning in a residential neighborhood as part of the Maple Avenue downzoning when we rezoned to open space the tot lot at the corner of Marie Avenue.

My zoning changes have consistently created requirements for open space around buildings facing the street, publicly valuable open space which costs the city nothing.

The City Manager's horribly complicated zoning proposals consistently wipe out or reduce open space requirements around buildings, as part of the undisclosed fine print.

The city's public works policy is rather clearly needless destruction followed by gold-plating followed by bragging.

A 20 year old woods in Vellucci Park in Inman Square was destroyed to replace it with a barren plaza.

The city manager is drafting zoning changes to provide incredible incentives to destroy the MBTA's heavily treed plaza at Porter Station and replace it with Retail.

City Hall had a 24 hour cacophony of bird song, 365 days a year on it front lawn. They destroyed the bird's trees and vines and replaced it with a dead environment of grass.

8 to 12 20 year old trees in Brattle Square were destroyed to replace them with 8 to 12 saplings.

More than 448 to 669 trees are slated to be destroyed on Memorial Drive between Longfellow Bridge and Magazine Beach as part of the infrastructure being created to allow moving the Mass. Pike exits from Allston-Brighton to Memorial Drive..

The city completed a sewerage project across from the Hyatt on Memorial Drive about a year ago. They left a construction wall blocking access to the grass on Memorial Drive from the Charles River, starving the 25 year resident Charles River White Geese.

At Magazine Beach, all native vegetation, all wetlands and all animal habitat on the Charles River has been destroyed. Walls have been up a year now, barring the 25 year resident Charles River White Geese from their principal feeding grounds for the past 25 years.

A wall of introduced vegetation is being installed at Magazine Beach blocking view of the Charles River and permanently starving the animals.

All wetlands, wetlands vegetation and animal habitat is being destroyed on the Charles River.

Alewife is being flooded. The city says it "can't afford" to do the job right. The city has plenty of money which it is spending on environmental destruction, and it "saves money" by environmental destruction.

Cambridge residents voted for creation of passive open space IN CAMBRIDGE when we voted for the Community Preservation Act tax. The city council has used 1.1 million dollars on open space in Cambridge. Money the Cambridge voters ordered the city to use on Cambridge open space is being used to subsidize the water rate by expansion of the water supply's land.

The people have spoken. The people want passive open space, not bizarre projects which only benefit the people paid to destroy the environment and paid to repace it with gold plating.

Taxpayer dollars should not be wasted destroying perfectly healthy trees and replacing them with saplings or even worse replacing them with a dead plaza as in Inman Square. Taxpayer dollars should not be spent destroying the environment and starving valuable, beautiful animals.

I will work to implement the will that the voters have so clearly stated. One person telling the truth can break the current situation in which nine councilors simply tell their constituents the same nonsense.

Energy, the Environment, and Public Health:
Of course we should obey all the current ideas on environmental responsibility as part of so many other people doing the same things.

The real trouble in Cambridge, however, is that we have in the city council nine heartless animal starvers who routinely and needlessly destroy the environment, particularly but not solely trees, as part of public projects.

I have been standing up to the environmental destruction being implemented by the City Council and its friends. All wetland is being destroyed on the Charles River, all animal habitat, more than 449 to 660 trees in just one part of Memorial Drive.

Magazine Beach has had its most important wetlands destroyed and replaced with a wall of designer greenery blocking view of the Charles. The Magazine Beach animals are being heartlessly starved.

Alewife is being flooded. The city cannot afford to do the job right. They are spending the money destroying our world.

The Council lies about their really destructive behavior on matters within their power by bragging about lovely records on matters which anybody can do. People who destroy areas under their safeguard have no business bragging about environmental initiatives on matters anybody can do. I will stand up to the shell games of telling people: "Don't look at our destruction of that part of the earth which is our sole responsibility. Look at our fancy light bulbs."

I have gone into detail in the parks section on this abdication of responsibility with regard to the Cambridge environment, this flat out destruction of the public resources of our city.

I have and I will raise the real issues.

Cambridge housing is way overpriced because of bad planning.

I have worked for 30 years with a lot of success to replace commercial zoning with housing zoning at responsible scale.

I would continue to do so as a city councilor, supporting real residential zoning and opposing the city manager's nonstop fine print.

The city manager is going in exactly the wrong direction with his current draft initiative to wipe out all first floor housing between Harvard U and Porter Square, along with the destruction of first floor open space there.

The city manager is going in exactly the wrong direction with his bizarre proposal now under city council consideration to allow the city manager's appointees to authorize construction on the Alewife Brook Parkway shopping centers and near Alewife Station at a density 50% higher than Harvard Square.

I have proposed a responsible alternative. My alternative would convert the industrial area on Concord Avenue to neighborhood density housing, downzone the shopping centers to neighborhood scale, and allow housing north of the tracks near Alewife station comparable to the Inn at Harvard (which I forced on Harvard in a downzoning).

Arts and Public Celebrations:
The city should be honoring its most precious possession on the Charles River, the 25 year resident Charles River White Geese. It should not be heartlessly starving them, as stated above.

The Charles River Regatta is a strikingly destructive event because people in its name are ruthlessly destroying the environment. Each year pretty much all native vegetation is simply destroyed by people who have contempt for nature. This event should be a celebration of the natural Charles River, not an excuse for people to destroy nature and turn the Charles River into the equivalent of somebody's front lawn.

University Relations:
I have repeated experiences dealing with Harvard and MIT. I have major victories.

The reality is that the big problem in environmental destruction going on in this city is that the principal beneficiaries include the institutions. The reality is that there are too many people claiming to be "negotiating" with the institutions, people who have records that are problems themselves.

A few examples will show the problem.

I forced Harvard to build the Inn at Harvard with grass around it. Harvard wanted the Inn at Harvard to be 72% larger than it is. My zoning forced them to build at the current size. My downzoning won with seven favorable votes and an eighth vote was absent because the councilor was in the hospital.

Harvard recently built two extremely large buildings on the Harvard Square end of Cambridge Street. People calling themselves "neighborhood representatives" spent years "negotiating" with Harvard on these buildings. The key people said they would negotiate everything. The key people said that they just would not allow discussion of zoning.

The Inn at Harvard and the Cambridge Street projects both started with the same zoning. The Cambridge St. buildings are on the edge of a residential neighborhood, are 72% denser in construction than the Inn at Harvard and are built to the sidewalk. The Inn at Harvard is in East Harvard Square and it has open space on its property, required by my zoning.

I have been working on the Urban Ring rapid transit for nearly 20 years. The MBTA, officers of the Association for Public Transportation and I all think that the MBTA's rapid transit route runs from Charlestown to Lechmere to Kendall to MIT to the Harvard Medical Area to Roxbury, with two alternative crossings under the Charles River, one west of the Mass. Ave. bridge, the other east of the BU Bridge.

Harvard (and only Harvard) is trying to get the route moved so that the Urban Ring rapid transit would become a streetcar route connecting Harvard's new Allston Campus to Cambridge. Harvard would build on the Rail Bridge under the BU Bridge and then on the tracks east of the Cambridgeport neighborhood with a stop, at minimum at Putnam Avenue. The MBTA gave up on building on that rail bridge for rapid transit in the mid 80's.

There has recently been distributed an article on the Urban Ring to people in Cambridgeport. It was printed in a Sierra Club publication, and was written by a candidate who has presented himself to a Cambridgeport group as a representative of the Sierra Club. That article goes into detail about phase 2 of the Urban Ring and discusses only one alternative for Phase 3, the rapid transit phase.

The Sierra Club has long claimed to support rapid transit as part of the Urban Ring.

Trouble is that the one route mentioned in that article is the one that Harvard is trying to get to go to its Allston Campus, and there no mention whatsoever of the MBTA proposal. There is no mention that the only supporter of this route is Harvard or that the MBTA gave up on that crossing in the 80's. There is no mention of the two alternatives being considered by the MBTA.

I have gone to a lot of effort trying to get the Sierra Club to explain its position on Urban Ring rapid transit.

I have been met with silence.

Key Sierra Club activists include too many connections with the people who "negotiated" with Harvard over the Cambridge Street buildings. The group has filed a lot of extremely complicated zoning petitions with undisclosed fine print that, too often, modifies the proposal to achieve exactly the opposite of what they claim to be fighting for.

I would continue my aggressive approach with Harvard, MIT and the other institutions while continuing to keep out of the mix, as much as possible, people who sound great and have problems with implementation.

Civic Participation:
See my background, above.

Cambridge Public Schools:
Public officials in their public actions should provide role models worthy of emulation by the school population.

Nine city councilors are heartlessly starving the 25 year resident Charles River White Geese by walling off their food of 25 years from access from the Charles River. A wall across from the Hyatt has remained there for a year after the completion of the sewer project for which it was placed.

The bizarre project at Magazine Beach openly starves these beautiful animals for a goal which makes no sense and is the exact opposite of what the public has been told is wanted on the Charles River.

Our school children should be protected from exposure to heartless animal starvers including the nine incumbents. They should not have such people presented to them as roll models.

We need to replace all nine. My election would be a start.

1. City Manager. During the last election, I was the only candidate publicly calling for the firing of the Cambridge City Manager. Now we have two. Elect these two people and add three others and we can get rid of a very destructive person.

2. Election Commission. Very serious problems which are part of my wish to remove the city manager and the city solicitor.

  1. The election commission is flatly refusing to obey the 1998 Robinson court decision. The election commission has thrown out large numbers of valid signatures because they refuse to respect the Robinson requirement that candidates can copy election signature forms and get valid signatures on form copies.
  2. The election commission refuses to allow Veterans the same recognition on the ballot as is received by incumbent city councilors in spite of the fact that the legal requirements are essentially the same.

It should not be necessary to sue city departments to force them to obey the law.

Page last updated October 02, 2006 Cambridge Candidates