Saying no and sticking to it used to serve Cambridge well. A righteous devotion to “no’’ in the late 1960s and early 1970s blocked a monstrous highway that would have plowed through the middle of Central Square. Absolutism saved the city once. But it won’t work twice.
A group of residents is currently pushing measures to stymie new real estate development around Central Square. The residents are trying to down-zone the area, and have already succeeded in putting a pair of planned construction projects on the shelf. They’re doing all this in the name of preserving Central Square. That’s a problem, because Cambridge residents can’t just wish the real estate market away. They can stand by and get steamrolled, or they can harness development as a tool for creating broad public goods. “No’’ isn’t an option.