City of Somerville

The Neighborhoods goals are focused on quality of life, preserving the city’s strong residential and mixed-use neighborhoods, and providing more avenues for civic engagement.

I. Engage community members in civic life and decision-making, seeking diverse representation and participation.

II. Strengthen and support neighborhood commercial centers that integrate residential uses, offer lively destinations and contribute to Somerville’s unique identity.

III. Protect and promote a diverse and interesting mix of small-scale businesses in Somerville’s neighborhoods.

IV. Preserve and enhance the character of Somerville’s neighborhoods, enable sensitive, economically feasible maintenance and adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and respect neighborhood form and patterns while expanding Somerville’s architectural legacy.

V. Facilitate transit-oriented, neighborhood infill development when it enhances the lively, human-scaled and walkable character of Somerville blocks and neighborhoods.

VI. Improve our shared neighborhood environmental quality.

VII. Foster vital, healthy, inclusive and distinctive urban neighborhoods that are the best possible places to live, work, play, do business, learn and serve.

  • SomerViva: Established in 2013, this team of language liaisons has made it possible for non-English speakers and recent immigrants to more easily participate in civic life and access available resources. SomerViva’s work is supported by an expanded Communications department that manages numerous campaigns around civic engagement, quality of life, and safety.
  • New website: The City redesigned to provide a more user-friendly experience.
  • Union Square Main Streets and East Somerville Main Streets: These organizations have existed since before SomerVision 2030, but their work has been hugely effective at achieving many of these goals in their neighborhoods. Using City funding and donations, the Main Streets organizations provide technical assistance to businesses, plan amazing events, and otherwise support their commercial districts.
  • Somerville Arts Council placemaking initiatives: Murals, annual events, and collaboration with Main Streets events are just some of the efforts the Arts Council manages to keep the city’s neighborhoods vibrant and welcoming.

GET INVOLVED: Keep an eye on the Somerville Arts Council calendar for future events!

  • Small Business Support: This program provides free coaching and reimbursement grants to qualifying small and home-based businesses in Somerville to help them stay competitive and profitable.
  • Nibble: This Somerville Arts Council project provides culinary arts and entrepreneurial training to immigrants who are interested in turning their food into a business. They will be opening up their own space in Bow Market.
  • Preservation Awards: Each year, the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission selects and celebrates the residents who take it upon themselves to preserve their neighborhood character.
  • Brownfields Program: Property owners may apply to the City for funds to help them clean contaminated property, which can help turn vacant or underutilized lots into new development. Since 2010, the City has spent $4.5 million in state and federal grants on brownfields assessments or cleanups, resulting in acres of new parks and even making the new Green Line Station in Union Square possible.
  • Energy efficiency programs: The Somerville Energy Efficiency Now (SEEN) team offered a Heatsmart/Coolsmart Somerville initiative in 2017 and 2018, which provided discounts on air source heat pumps and promoted existing energy efficiency programs for residences, as well as other energy efficiency-related initiatives. About half of the greenhouse gas emissions in Somerville come from heating and cooling buildings, so providing information about increasing efficiency and using carbon-free heat sources can make a big difference.
  • Renewable energy: A Solarize Somerville campaign from the Office of Sustainability and Environment and the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, Housing Division helped install solar panels on 115 households. This initiative lead to the US Department of Energy awarding the City SolSmart Gold in 2017.
  • Lead Paint Safe Somerville: This incentive program helps property owners pay to remove toxic lead from their buildings.
  • Waste reduction initiatives: Another way the City is supporting environmentalism in our neighborhoods is through waste reduction efforts like Single Stream Recycling, Home Composting Program, the Electronic Waste Recycling Program, and the Curbside Textile Recycling Program.
  • 311: The Constituent Services Department has enhanced 311 to provide more opportunities for constituent engagement and feedback. Since SomerVision 2030, 311 request types have expanded from representing fewer than a dozen departments and divisions to representing nearly 40. In addition, 311 has grown from primarily phone-based to offering constituents multiple channels to connect with City services, including social media, a mobile application, and website.

GET INVOLVED: Install the 311Somerville App on your phone by searching for it in your app store of choice.

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