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Boards and Commissions Directory

The City of Cambridge encourages and promotes involvement by residents in the decision-making process through participation in a variety of boards and commissions.

Serving on a board or commission can be a rewarding experience and an excellent way to contribute to the quality of life of the community in which you live or work. We rely greatly on the interest and involvement of those volunteers who seek a more active role in the functioning of their local government.

Selection for appointment to one of our boards and commissions is generally based on the following characteristics:

  • A broad perspective and concern for the welfare and progress of the City   
  • A familiarity with the City’s history, issues and goals 
  • Interest in the functions/responsibilities of the board or commission under consideration
  • City residency, in most cases 
  • A willingness to devote time and effort to the work of said board or commission  
  • Awareness of and understanding of the City’s ordinances and policies   
  • Balanced and diverse representation on boards and commissions as feasible


Boards and Commissions List

  • Advisory Committee on Environmentally Desirable Practices

    Develop and promote source reduction, recycling and other environmentally desirable methods to be used by Cambridge institutions in dealing with their solid waste; implement an environmental practices recognition program for Cambridge institutions.

  • Affirmative Action Advisory Committee

    Serve as an information link among City departments and constituencies concerned with Affirmative Action (AA) and fair labor/employment practices.

  • Affordable Housing Trust Board

    To create and preserve affordable housing opportunities in the City. The Trust is specifically charged with providing funds to assist non-profit housing organizations in creating new housing, preserving the affordability of existing housing and rehabilitating the City’s supply of multi-family housing.

  • Animal Commission

    Facilitate and promote programs affecting animal control in the City.

  • Arts Council Advisory Board

    Provide guidance and advice on enhancing the lives of the citizens of Cambridge through the arts; stimulate public awareness of the arts and of the development of ways to improve the aesthetic experience of living, working, playing and passing through the City.

  • Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District Commission

    Preserve, conserve and protect the distinctive features of the Avon Hill neighborhood through identification, conservation, and maintenance of its areas, sites and structures.

  • Bicycle Committee

    To improve conditions for bicyclists in the City of Cambridge, promote bicycling as a means of transportation, and enhance safety for bicyclists. The Committee reviews city plans for road construction, comments on relevant ordinances, organizes public events and works with other bicycle organizations at the state and national levels.

  • Board of Assessors

    Establish full and fair cash value for all real estate and personal property. Make decisions on real estate exemptions, tax abatements and personal exemptions.

  • Board of Survey

    Inspects buildings that are in bad condition and recommends to the Building Department , whether the building should be demolished, repaired or in dangerous condition. Requests for a board of survey are usually made by the Building Commissioner.

  • Board of Zoning Appeal

    To hear and decide appeals, applications for special permits, and appeals and petitions for variances from the terms of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance.

  • Boards of Examiners

    Issue licenses for the purpose of supervising construction in Cambridge.

  • Cambridge Biosafety Committee (CBC)

    Establish policies, procedures and criteria to aid in the implementation of this chapter; determine the manner in which permit holders make reports or applications to the CBC and the type of information required in such reports or applications

  • Cambridge Health Alliance

    Address all aspects of the health of the City and oversee operations of the Cambridge Public Health Commission (more commonly known as the Cambridge Health Alliance, which operates Cambridge, Somerville and Whidden Hospitals, and multiple health centers.

  • Cambridge Housing Authority

    Provide housing for families or elderly persons of low income at rent which they can afford.

  • Cambridge Redevelopment Authority

    Engage in urban redevelopment projects and other activities provided for in the enabling legislation.

  • Central Square Advisory Committee

    To review all major development proposals in the Central Square Overlay District. Provides a forum within which a wide range of perspectives on development can be heard.

  • Citizens Committee on Civic Unity

    To promote fairness, equity, unity, appreciation, and mutual understanding in the community, and preserve and enhance Cambridge as a diverse and welcoming place to live, work, and visit.

  • Climate Protection Action Committee

    This advisory committee was appointed by the City Manager to help the City carry out its climate protection plan and meet the City’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Commercial Parking Control Committee

    Maintain records of all applications for New Commercial Parking Permits.

  • Commission for Persons with Disabilities Advisory Board

    The Commission works to maximize access to all aspects of Cambridge community life for individuals with disabilities, and strives to raise awareness of disability matters, to eliminate discrimination, and to promote equal opportunity for people with all types of disabilities – physical, mental and sensory.

  • Commission on Immigrant Rights and Citizenship

    Act as a centralizing force in the City which will deal with immigrant rights and citizenship issues providing information, referral, guidance, coordination, offering and providing technical assistance to other public agencies and private persons, organizations and institutions engaged in activities and programs intended to support immigrant rights and citizenship and eliminate prejudice and discrimination against immigrants because of their status as immigrants and non citizens.

  • Commission on the Status of Women

    To ensure the equal status of women in educational, economic, political, health, legal and social spheres; to design and implement programs that promote equality for women in the City; to recommend policy to all departments, divisions and agencies of the City, including the City Manager and City Council; to initiate, coordinate and monitor legislation; and to respond to incidents of discrimination against women.

  • Community Advisory Board on the Living Wage

    To review the effectiveness of the City Living Wage Ordinance at creating and retaining Living Wage jobs, to make recommendations to the City Manager regarding the granting of Waivers to Covered Employees, to review the implementation and enforcement of the Ordinance, and to make recommendations in connection therewith.

  • Community Preservation Act Committee

    Evaluate community preservation needs of the city and make recommendations regarding expenditures from the Community Preservation Fund, consistent with the CPA.

  • Conservation Commission

    Administer the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act. pursuant to 310 Code of Massachusetts Regulations 10.0.

  • Consumer Advisory Committee

    Undertakes or recommends programs to correct, improve or coordinate the protection of consumers in the marketplace.

  • Council on Aging

    Evaluate, coordinate, promote and encourage new and existing services and activities intended to enhance or improve the quality of life of older persons in the City; Survey resources available to Cambridge elderly and act as an information and referral source regarding services, benefits, activities and programs available to them; Act in an advisory capacity to the City Manager on all matters pertaining to the welfare of elderly Cambridge citizens; Be the primary public advocate for elderly Cambridge residents.

  • Election Commission

    Conducts voter registration, supervises all elections, conducts annual City census, certifies signatures on nomination papers and petitions, administers campaign and political finance reporting.

  • Fresh Pond Master Plan Advisory Board

    Implementation of the Fresh Pond Master Plan, a long term plan for Fresh Pond Reservation lands, including resource management and usage policies for repair and protection of natural resources.

  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Commission

    Advocate for a culture of respect and to monitor progress toward equality of all persons with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity; promote policies and practices that have a positive effect on the health, welfare, and safety of all persons who live, visit or work in the City with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • Half Crown-Marsh Neighborhood Conservation District Commission

    Preserve, conserve and protect the distinctive features of the Half Crown neighborhood through identification, conservation, and maintenance of its areas, sites and structures.

  • Harvard Square Advisory Committee

    To review all major development proposals in the Harvard Square Overlay District. Provide a forum within which a wide range of perspectives on development can be heard. Hold public meetings for projects of a certain size within the Harvard Square Overlay District and make a non-binding report to the Planning Board. Review and comment on applications for variances and special permits in the district.

  • Historical Commission

    Identify, preserve and protect significant buildings, sites, structures and places within the City that constitute or reflect distinctive features of the architectural, cultural, political, economic or social history of the City. Advise city agencies for the purpose of preserving and protecting historical resources.

  • Human Rights Commission

    Protect the human rights of all citizens, tourists and visitors of Cambridge and serve as commissioners in the City’s civil rights law enforcement agency.

  • Human Services Commission

    The Commission for Human Service Programs advises the City Manager and Assistant City Manager on human services policy issues and funding allocations.

  • Kids’ Council (Coordinating Council for Children, Youth and Families)

    Direct a comprehensive local response to the needs of children, their families and other caregivers, in accordance with the guiding principles set forth in the Children, Youth and Family Policy Plan.

  • Library Board of Trustees

    Advise on the expenditure of all money presented to the Library for the purpose of books, the improvement of the Library, its care, custody, maintenance and repairs of the building.

  • License Commission

    Regulate and oversee the licenses issued in the City.

  • Mid Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District

    Preserve, conserve and protect the distinctive features of the Mid Cambridge neighborhood through identification, conservation, and maintenance of its areas, sites, and structures.

  • Peace Commission

    Originally set-up to confront the concerns of nuclear war, the Peace Commission has expanded its mission to incorporate challenging local forms of discrimination which foster violence and promoting those ideas and programs which affirm the diversity and build community within the City.

  • Pedestrian Committee

    To create a more comfortable and safe environment for walking in the City of Cambridge, promote walking as a means of transportation and enhance safety conditions for pedestrians.

  • Planning Board

    To review plans and proposals under the Special Permit provisions of the Zoning Ordinance and Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws, propose or review zoning amendments and make recommendations to the City Council, and to engage in general planning efforts to improve the physical environment of the City.

  • Pole, Conduit Commission

    Regulate the installation and maintenance of electrical poles and underground conduits for City property.

  • Police Review & Advisory Board

    Provide citizen participation in reviewing Police Department’s policies, practices and procedures and provide a prompt, impartial and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals, police officers upon whom a complaint has been brought, and employees of the Police Department.

  • Public Art Commission

    Provide guidance and advice for the proper administration and implementation of the City’s Public Art/Percent-for-Art Ordinance.

  • Public Planting Committee

    Promote and improve the quality and diversity of public plantings throughout all areas of the City.

  • Recycling Advisory Committee

    Provide advice, assistance and recommendations to the Commissioner of Public Works regarding the recycling program.

  • Retirement Board

    To serve the multi-employer defined benefit plan consisting of the members/employees, retirees and beneficiaries of the City of Cambridge, the Cambridge Housing Authority, the Cambridge Public Health Commission and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority.

  • Traffic Board

    Hold a public hearing upon petition of 50 registered voters relative to any rule or regulation proposed to be adopted, altered or repealed and not yet in effect and approve or disapprove the proposed action.

  • Transit Advisory Committee

    In May 2013, the City of Cambridge established a Transit Advisory Committee to advance an agenda for a robust public transportation system for those who live and/or work in Cambridge.

  • Water Board

    Serve as a citizen’s advisory board to the Managing Director of the Cambridge Water Department. Exercise some authority over city-owned watershed property.

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