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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Edward L. Glaeser

Urban planning in Greater Boston needs to aim higher

Do you have a picture in your head of what Greater Boston should look like in 50 years? Do you hope that we give something a little bit better to our grandchildren? A brighter Boston will not happen by accident. It will require us to plan something marvelous and embrace vision over fear — and not simply try to extend the status quo endlessly into the future.

But maintaining the status quo is a natural tendency on both sides of the Charles River. Last month, the Cambridge City Council chose not to make the zoning changes that would have allowed an ambitious life sciences building co-developed by MIT in Central Square. The City Council had earlier blocked the same team’s proposal for a new apartment tower. Cambridge had previously commissioned a plan for Kendall and Central Squares that had boldly proposed up-zoning to allow more intensive development, adding millions of square feet of new construction over time, but the NIMBYists have already laced into that plan.

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