Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

June 25, 2015

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (June 25, 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 11:45 am

Historic and Neighborhood Conservation District Commissions Seek New Members

City SealThe Cambridge City Manager is seeking to fill vacancies for members and alternate members on the Cambridge Historical Commission, Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) Commission, Half Crown-Marsh NCD Commission, and the Mid Cambridge NCD Commission. Nominations from interested Cambridge residents are welcome through August 14.

The Cambridge Historical Commission, a body of seven members and three alternates, establishes historic preservation policy for the city and administers two historic districts, the Harvard Square Conservation District, the citywide landmark and demolition ordinances, and the preservation grant program for rehabilitation assistance. The neighborhood conservation district commissions are made up of five members and three alternates, with most members being residents of the neighborhoods. Each of the four Commission generally meets monthly to review alterations to protected buildings.

The Cambridge Historical Commission, established in 1963, is the city’s historic preservation agency. It is managed by a professional staff that supports four Commissions made up of appointed volunteers.

The current vacancies are for one alternate on the Cambridge Historical Commission, one alternate on the Avon Hill and Half Crown-Marsh NCD Commissions, and one member, who must be a tenant in the neighborhood, in the Mid-Cambridge NCD. Alternates are expected to attend all meetings and participate fully in discussion, and are designated to vote as needed.

Applicants should have an interest in architecture, local history or historic preservation and be committed to protecting the historic resources and built environment of the City. Appointments to the Commission are made by the City Manager with regard to a diversity of viewpoints. Minority candidates are particularly encouraged to apply. Individuals interested in being considered should send a letter of interest and a resume by Friday, August 14, 2015 to Charles Sullivan, Executive Director, Cambridge Historical Commission, 831 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 or by e-mail to histcomm@cambridgema.gov.


Cambridge Kids’ Council Vacancy – Application Deadline Extended to June 30

City SealCity Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking a Cambridge resident interested in volunteering to serve on the Cambridge Kids’ Council, which is dedicated to developing policy and program recommendations aimed at improving the quality of life for children, youth and families in Cambridge, so that youth are: healthy and living in safe communities; live in stable, self-sufficient, and supportive families; are engaged in enriching activities and civic life; and are prepared with the tools to help them succeed in school.

The Mayor of Cambridge serves as the Chair of the Kids’ Council. Committee members include key stakeholders in local government and in the community, which includes the following:

  • City Councilor and School Committee member;
  • City department heads (City Manager designee, Assistant City Manager for Human Services, Commissioner of Health and Hospitals, Police Commissioner, Director of the Cambridge Public Library, Superintendent of Schools);
  • Representatives from the philanthropic community, a state agency serving children, youth and families, the business community, the university community, the early childhood community, the community-at-large, and youth (ages 14-18).

The Kids’ Council is currently focusing on family engagement and developing recommendations to create and support genuine partnerships between families and the organizations and institutions that serve them. Past initiatives include: creating a citywide Family Engagement Policy adopted by the Cambridge City Council in November 2013; developing recommendations to enhance the capacity of the Community Engagement Team (CET) by hiring additional outreach workers and a full-time program assistant; developing a training program; and establishing a more formal partnership with Cambridge Public Schools. The Council is also working with Code for Boston to develop an easy-to-use, single point portal which can be translated into multiple languages so that families, youth, and those who support them can easily find the activities, services and resources they are looking for in Cambridge.

The Kids’ Council meets approximately 6-7 times per year on the 3rd Thursday of the month from 5:15-7:15pm. For more information, please contact Nancy Tauber, Executive Director, at 617-349-6239 or ntauber@cambridgema.gov.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest and a resume by the newly extended deadline of June 30, 2015 to: Cambridge Kids’ Council, 51 Inman St., Cambridge, MA 02139, or email your letter to ntauber@cambridgema.gov.


Cambridge Announces Formation of Foundry Advisory Committee – Application Deadline Extended to June 30
City Manager seeking volunteers to serve on committee

City of CambridgeThe Cambridge City Manager is seeking volunteers to serve on a new Foundry Advisory Committee that he is establishing. This group will advise and provide regular updates to the City Manager as well as providing regular updates to the Executive Director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) on proposed uses within the Foundry building, which will be redeveloped and operated consistent with the vision and objectives that grew out of an extensive community planning process. The deadline to submit a letter of interest has been extended to June 30, 2015.

In evaluating potential uses, programs, and use of shared spaces for creativity and innovation at the Foundry, the Committee will take into account the interior configuration, ongoing operations, changing demand and market forces, updates in technology and innovation, and other outside impacts. The Committee will also review any proposals for significant capital changes to the building as they affect the Foundry’s objectives.

Meetings are anticipated to occur quarterly, although more frequent meetings may be required in the initial stages of the redevelopment process. The Committee will provide annual updates to the CRA Board at regular Board meetings, which will provide the public with information regarding its activities and provide a forum for input. Members of the Committee will be initially appointed by the City Manager to staggered terms of 1-3 years.

The City Manager seeks individuals with demonstrated ability to work effectively on a team with diverse opinions to craft consensus recommendations. The City Manager’s intention is to create a committee that includes experience and expertise in related topic areas, as well as representation from various neighborhoods within the city, and local non-profit and community organizations.

Additional information regarding the Foundry building is available on the project webpage: www.cambridgema.gov/foundry

To apply, please send a letter by June 30, 2015 describing your interest in the Foundry Advisory Committee as well as any relevant experience and qualifications to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
Email: citymanager@cambridgema.gov
Fax: 617-349-4307

June 21, 2015

The Appointed Hour – Summer at Sullivan – Highlights of the June 22, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:23 pm

The Appointed Hour – Summer at Sullivan – Highlights of the June 22, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

Sullivan ChamberThis Monday’s meeting will be the last regular meeting before the summer break. [The June 29 meeting was cancelled in favor of a joint Ordinance Committee/Planning Board meeting to discuss the uniquely complex zoning petition concerning the Volpe site in Kendall Square.] Chief among the items that caught my attention are the many appointments and reappointments to City Boards & Commissionsa most honorable calling:

Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to appointments and reappointments of the following persons as members of the Cambridge Peace Commission effective June 22, 2015:
Reappointments:
Frank Connelly, Larry Kim
New appointments:
George Atallah, Aboma Dirbaba, Jame Eliscar, Gladys Friedler, Elelchi Kadete, Lijun Li, Johanne Méléance, John Ratliff, Regina Yang

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of William G. Barry, Jr. as a member of the Harvard Square Advisory Committee for a term of three years, effective June 10, 2015.

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment and reappointments of members to the Cambridge Historical Commission:
Reappointments:
William King, Robert Crocker, Chandra Harrington, Jo M Solet, Joseph V. Ferrara, Susannah Tobin
New appointment:
Shary Berg

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Mid Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District Commission, effective June 22, 2015:
Sue Myers, Monika Pauli, Nancy Goodwin, Charles Redmon

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District Commission:
Reappointments: Theresa Hamacher, Arthur Bardige
New Appointment: John Sanzone

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointments and reappointment of the following persons as member of the Half Crown-Marsh Neighborhood Conservation District Commission:
Reappointment: William King
New Appointments: James VanSickle, Judith Dortz, Charles Smith, Marie P. Dillenseger, Dr. Peter Schur

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointments and reappointments of the following persons as members of the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Health Alliance, effective June 11, 2015:
Reappointments: Maren Batalden, MD; William Hart, Everett; Madge Kaplan, Cambridge; Katharine Kosinski, MD, Cambridge
Officers: Carol Van Deusen Lukas, Chair; Joshua Posner, Vice-Chair
Reappointments: Robina Bhasin, EdM, Somerville; Danna Mauch, Ph.D., Cambridge; Barbara Anthony, Cambridge

Manager’s Agenda #15. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointments of the following persons as member of the Commission for Persons with Disabilities Advisory Board, for a term of three years, effective June 22, 2015:
Maria Fontellio, Zarha Kanji, Alicia Zeh-Dean

Serving on a City volunteer board isn’t for everyone. There’s plenty of room for disagreement among the members of any City board, but it’s really a place where reasonable people can learn from their peers and from City staff and come to reasonable conclusions – whether it be a regulatory board or an advisory board. It’s not a place for inflexible people unwilling to compromise. I have a reverence for people who choose to take on these roles without any compensation. Real civic activism is about giving your time and effort to serve on a City board or volunteering in countless other ways throughout the city. We should all tip our hats to every person named above.


The Rest:

Manager’s Agenda #17. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-30 and 15-41, regarding License Commission Fees and Cap Areas.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a complete list of all the established liquor cap areas. It would have been helpful if the number of licenses in each cap area was included in the report. It would also be interesting to get maps showing both the liquor cap areas and the fast food cap areas.

Applications & Petitions #4. A zoning petition has been received from Elizabeth M. Stern, et al. to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map by changing the current zoning designation of Lot 84 (2551 Mass. Ave.) and Lot 65 (7 Richard Ave.) on Assessing Block Map 186 from Business A-2 to Residence B and remove both from the MAOD and the NMAS, redraw the zoning district boundary lines so the two lots are in the Residence B zone and not in the MAOD or the NMAS and revise Article 20, Sections 100-111. [Petition text]

Another week, another zoning petition. The intent of this petition appears to be to prevent either new commercial construction or higher density residential construction from happening at the northwest corner of Richard Ave. and Mass. Ave. where a one-story dry cleaning business is now located.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the School Committee with the view in mind to request the Superintendent of Schools to provide data regarding Charter Schools.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Cheung, Councillor McGovern and Councillor Simmons

This would be good information to receive, but I can’t see what the City Council can do or will do with that information.

Order #2. That the City Council go on record adopting the Net Zero Action Plan which includes key actions to reduce emissions and the process that engages stakeholders.   Councillor Cheung

The recommendations are all well and good for new construction, but I do hope the City Council acts more cautiously on any requirements for existing residential buildings. If significantly onerous requirement are imposed on homeowners thinking of renovation, many homeowners will either defer necessary renovations or quietly make improvements without seeking permits. I also hope that the elected councillors also take a moment or two to understand enough physics to see why "net zero" may be unrealistic for certain building types and uses, especially in this New England climate. It would be so much better if the language could be shifted away from the often unrealistic "net zero" and toward the more sensible "maximally efficient".

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to write a letter to the Department of Public Health indicating the City of Cambridge’s non-opposition for Commonwealth Alternative Care’s application to operate a RMD at 135 Fawcett Street, Cambridge, MA.   Councillor Cheung, Councillor McGovern, Councillor Simmons and Councillor Mazen

Two points – First, it’s amazing how many roadblocks have been thrown up to block any medical marijuana dispensaries from actually being built after being approved by voters via initiative petition. Second, it should be pretty clear that full legalization of marijuana for recreational use may be only a year or two away via the ballot box, and it seems likely that any dispensaries that are approved under the current law may become the initial sites for sale for recreational use if and when that is made legal.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to install ADA compliant sidewalks, create protected bike lanes, and consider additional features to guarantee the safety of young students and all other users in the Huron Avenue area.   Councillor Mazen

This Order is about half right. The referenced sections of Huron Ave. lack sidewalks along the perimeter of the Fresh Pond Reservation and it would be good to add them from Fresh Pond Parkway to as far as the Russell Youth & Community Center. They would then also be available to young children on their bicycles. For adult cyclists there are already well-functioning bike lanes on both sides of Huron Ave. that are quite safe and allow for reasonable speeds and normal turning movements. A "cycle track" in this location is not only unnecessary, but it would also require narrowing the travel lanes to a point where cyclists who prefer the road would be less safe. The alternative would be to remove a significant number of parking spaces used frequently by people using Glacken Field, the Russell Center, the golf course, and Fresh Pond Reservation. Installing just a sidewalk would be an improvement without any negative consequences – Robert Winters.

June 19, 2015

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,campaign finance,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:45 am

This year (2015) is a municipal election year and new candidates are already emerging. Just to get the ball rolling, here is where the campaign accounts stand for incumbents and known challengers for Cambridge City Council. This information will be updated as the year progresses.

It will be interesting to see how the new individual contribution limit of $1000/year (up from $500/year) affects campaign receipts and expenditures.

City Council Campaign Finance - 2015 (updated June 26)

CandidatesStartEndOpenReceiptsExpendBalanceNotes
Benzan, Dennis1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$8207.45$7500.00$5964.65$9742.81
Carlone, Dennis1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$4272.67$6067.96$300.00$10040.63$750 refunded donations subtracted
Cheung, Leland1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$6002.06$19677.82$11911.47$13768.41
Courtney, Kim1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$0.00$1424.89$1233.71$191.18
Davidson, Mariko25-Jun-1525-Jun-15$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00Filed for organization
on June 25, 2015
DeGoes, Plineo15-Jun-1515-Jun-15$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00Filed for organization
on June 15, 2015
Devereux, Jan1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$0.00$23645.86$14277.67$9368.19
Kelley, Craig1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$2601.58$480.25$0.00$3081.83
Maher, David1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$28741.21$1150.00$5327.59$24563.62
Mazen, Nadeem1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$12273.54$2898.47$6118.43$9053.58
$10,713.18 transferred to new account
subtracted from expenditures to
balance; late-May filed report incorrect,
$480 debits entered as receipts
McGovern, Marc1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$6098.45$18686.85$8116.90$16668.40$500 receipt/returned subtracted
Sanzone, John1-May-1515-Jun-15$0.00$200.00$19.98$180.02
Simmons, Denise1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$7447.29$18471.22$3880.59$22037.92
Toomey, Tim1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$18782.29$2483.52$10975.99$10289.82
vanBeuzekom, Minka 1-Jan-1515-Jun-15$7380.40$3217.10$2053.50$8544.00

The table can be sorted by category in ascending or descending order by clicking on the category name in the top row.

You can also look up these periodic reports yourself at the OCPF website.

June 15, 2015

Noteworthy items on the June 15, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 1:10 am

Noteworthy items on the June 15, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

City HallThere are some substantial reports from the City Manager and some interesting Council Orders on this week’s agenda.

Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-97, regarding a report on the MLK School construction compliance with the Cambridge Employment Plan.

Normally I don’t care at all about this sort of bean counting, but I did find interesting the following facts in the Manager’s report:

(1) The Cambridge resident worker hours on the MLK project totaled 3.8% which is less than the required goal of 25%. However, the Cambridge resident population of workers skilled and/or experienced in construction trades has been less than 2% making this requirement virtually impossible to meet. [Perhaps it’s time to revise that goal.]

(2) The minority worker hours on the MLK project as of Apr 30, 2015 totaled 32.6% which is above the goal of 25%.

(3) The women worker hours on the MLK project as of Apr 30, 2015 totaled 1.0%. U.S. Census data reveals that women in Massachusetts skilled in the trades is less than 2%.

Manager’s Agenda #19. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to recommendations of the Cambridge Off Leash Working Group regarding off leash dogs in Cambridge.

The discussions about how best to accommodate our canine friends have been going on for a decade. Dog owners actually comprise a pretty effective political lobby in Cambridge.

Manager’s Agenda #20. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt, with suggested changes, the Carsharing Zoning Petition.

This has generated some concerns recently as well as some alternate proposals on how best to accommodate carsharing, e.g. using some on-street resident parking spaces for this purpose. This zoning petition is specifically about off-street spaces and the Planning Board recommends that off-street lots should maintain at least 75% of their spaces for privately owned vehicles and that only lots with a minimum of 4 spaces may accommodate carsharing vehicles. However, the Planning Board also recommends that these limits can be waived via a Special Permit on a case-by-case basis. The theory here is that by making carsharing more easily available the number of privately owned vehicles should decrease thereby relieving some of the demand for on-street spaces.

Manager’s Agenda #21. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to appropriate zoning language for recommended changes to the Incentive Zoning provisions, as requested in Council Order Number 6 of May 18, 2015.

As the report states, "The intent of these proposed changes is to implement changes recommended by the recently completed Incentive Zoning Nexus Study." Specific changes include:

• Removing the current special permit trigger so that housing contributions would be made by all projects with 30,000 or more square feet of uses subject to the Incentive Zoning provisions;

• Expanding the definition of an incentive project to add seven new uses for which housing contributions would be required (in addition to the current uses of office, lab and retail): hotel/motel, radio/TV studios, institutional, health care, social services, light industry/wholesale, and heavy industry;

• Increasing the contribution rate to $12 per square foot [from the current $4.58], with an annual rate increase of $1 per year over the next three years;

• Making automatic the annual adjustment of the contribution rate based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI);

• Requiring that the City initiate a periodic reevaluation of the housing contribution by initiating an updated nexus study after three years;

• Eliminating the current deduction of the first 2,500 square feet from the calculation of the contribution;

• Establishing a definition of a “Middle Income Household” and adding language to make clear that the Affordable Housing Trust can use resources generated to assist Middle Income Households.

Order #1. Zoning Amendments to the Zoning Map and Ordinance for the area along Walden Street near the intersection of Garden Street and extending through the intersection of Sherman Street currently zoned Business A be rezoned to a newly created zoning district entitled Business A-4 and add a new Business A-4 line to Section 5.33.   Councillor Cheung

If eventually ordained, this new zoning designation will respond to some of the issues raised by a proposed residential development at the former Masse’s Hardware site(s). It’s interesting that the proposed maximum residential density would actually be higher than is currently the case, though there would now be minimum front and side setbacks that do not exist under the present zoning. I have been told that the affected parties are agreeable to this new zoning.

Order #4. That the City Council meeting scheduled for Mon, June 29, 2015 be and hereby is cancelled after consultation with the City Manager so that a joint public hearing between the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee be held at 6:00pm in the Sullivan Chamber to discuss the zoning petition to amend Section 13.10 to change the development controls in the Planned Unit Development at Kendall Square (PUD-KS) Overlay District; said majority of the area of the PUD-KS is occupied by the Volpe Transportation Systems Research Center operated by the US Department of Transportation.   Mayor Maher
[Petition text] [Summary of major proposed changes] [All currently proposed zoning amendments]

The process for this zoning amendment is uniquely different than just about every other petition due to the many constraints associated with this being a federally-owned property. There are time constraints based on the current presidential term as well as financial constraints inherent in the federal law that allows this arrangement in which revenue generated from the rest of the site must cover any costs associated with constructing a new building for the Volpe Transportation Center on the site. This may also impose some limitations on the lofty goals expressed by some regarding the percentage of affordable units to be mandated as part of any residential construction. One variable that could relieve some of those constraints is the allowance of greater height and, not surprisingly, this has some people bent out of shape about the possibility that the tallest building in Cambridge might grow from this zoning. The unusual procedure of having a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Board (rather than completely separate parallel processes) is also not setting well with the same people, but in this unique situation it seems warranted.

Order #5. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council with suggested changes to Cambridge’s policy regarding advertising revenue that could help support the continuation and expansion of Hubway in the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Toomey

People may not like the advertising, but there are indications that Hubway may not be economically sustainable without it.

Order #6. That the City Council go on the record condemning Harvard Towers Corporation for neglecting to reach out to the City of Cambridge to determine if there are ways to mitigate the negative repercussions on the City’s housing market stemming from the mass eviction of tenants of 295 Harvard Street.   Councillor Simmons and Councillor McGovern

This building (built in 1962) contains 111 apartments, and tenants were given very little warning that they all have to be gone by Aug 31, 2015. The building is just a block away from where I live and nobody in my neighborhood seems to even know what is ultimately planned for the building.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to determine the feasibility of permitting cyclists to advance simultaneously with the pedestrian "walk" signal and to to confer with the appropriate departments to determine the feasibility of piloting bicycle-specific signal faces at the Cambridge-Hampshire St intersection.   Councillor Mazen

Many cyclists already do start moving with the walk light (not me), but I have to say that this is really more about convenience than about safety. When motor vehicles and bicycles are both stopped at a traffic light, all parties are aware of each other and there’s little or no conflict when the light changes. The greater hazard is from moving vehicles turning in front of moving cyclists and from cyclists positioning themselves in the roadway in ways that are fundamentally unsafe, i.e. passing a potentially turning vehicle on the right.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff or the appropriate departments on the feasibility of legally requiring supermarkets and other food seller and resellers to donate leftover food to donation centers in order to cut down on food waste.   Councillor Mazen

Many, if not most, food markets already do this to some degree. Facilitating food donations and composting programs would be more helpful than simply mandating that it be done. This means addressing the need for adequate transportation, scheduling, and other logistics.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with total amount of funds currently in and total expected to be in the Community Benefits Funds account as well as the origins of the funds and any expenditures to date.   Councillor Toomey

Charter Right #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $88,430 from Free Cash to the General Fund Executive Other Ordinary Maintenance account to be used for consulting fees to conduct a community wide needs assessment relative to our Community Benefits plan. The requested amount is two-thirds of the total cost of the needs assessment ($132,430 total). With a vested interest in the outcome, the Cambridge Community Foundation has made a substantial financial commitment of $44,000 to cover one-third of the total cost (see Agenda Item Number 15). This is the first step regarding the further development of a plan to distribute funds earmarked for Community Benefits. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on City Manager Agenda Number Fourteen of June 1, 2015.]

This matter has been stewing for a number of years and it’s about time that the City Council moved things in the direction of a resolution and a system for handling these funds and putting them toward productive use. – Robert Winters


The Upshot (the morning after): On Manager’s Agenda #1, most of the councillors chimed in about their disappointment that the dreams of past Councils regarding apprenticeships in the trades have not been realized. Chalk it up, perhaps, to the changing demographics of Cambridge or maybe to the fact that many young residents don’t understand that well-paying careers in construction, law enforcement, and other areas are actually available to them (Benzan).

There was some public comment on the Carsharing Zoning Petition (Manager’s Agenda #20) – mostly concerns about the possibility of disruptive activity associated with this commercial activity taking place in residential neighborhoods. One deficiency in the petition is that it doesn’t address the possibility that a resident with off-street parking might choose to park on the street in order to derive income by leasing their off-street space to a carsharing company. If that were to happen, there really should be a complaint-driven revocation process written into the regulations.

The recommended changes to the Incentive Zoning provisions that were the subject of Manager’s Agenda #21 are now a zoning petition that will be scheduled for Ordinance Committee and Planning Board hearings.

The Council spent far too much time discussing the propriety of cancelling their June 29 meeting in favor of a Joint Special Meeting with the Planning Board (not a Roundtable, so there will be no fixed time limit and public comment will be permitted) to discuss the Volpe zoning petition. The Special Meeting was eventually unanimously approved with the possibility that a brief Regular Meeting might also be scheduled in the event that there is any pressing regular business.

The Council voted 8-1 (Mazen voted No) on Order #8 to open the possibility of advertising on Hubway bikes as a means of ensuring the economic viability of the program.

The Council expressed their condemnation of the actions of the owners/managers of Harvard Towers (295 Harvard St.) in evicting all residents (111 apartments) with very short notice and no information on their future plans for the building.

June 10, 2015

Official 2015 Cambridge Municipal Election Calendar (w/advice)

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 8:29 pm
Wed, July 1:

Municipal Election Nomination Papers available at Election Commission office.

Nomination papers will be available through the July 31 submission deadline, but it is advisable that a candidate pick up papers early and get started collecting signatures. The process is an excellent way for a new candidates to "get their feet wet" and acclimate to the process of asking for support. ALL pages of your nomination papers must be notarized and there are a total of three sheets. You will also want to get a current database of registered voters. This is available from the Election Commission free of charge to any candidate who has pulled nomination papers. Voter history files and the street listing are also available.

Fri, July 31:

5:00pm deadline to submit nomination papers & statements of financial interest for candidates.

A minimum of 50 valid signatures must be filed and a candidate may submit up to 100 signatures. Once a voter’s signature has been recorded for a particular candidate, it cannot be used for another candidate in the same race. That is, a voter should sign for exactly one candidate for City Council and one candidate for School Committee. Candidates should submit as many signatures as possible over the minimum of 50 because it is very likely that some signatures will not be certified. It is advisable that all signatures be checked against the voter registration list before submitting them. Candidates do not have to submit all their signatures at one time, and it is advisable that signatures be submitted as each sheet becomes full. The Election Commission staff traditionally checks signatures soon after they are submitted, so it is possible to know how many signatures have been tentatively certified in case it is necessary to obtain more signatures to reach the minimum of 50 certified signatures. Actual certification is only official when the Election Commission votes to approve them.

Fri, Aug 14: 5:00pm deadline for Election Commission to certify signatures on nomination papers.
Tues, Aug 18: 5:00pm deadline for municipal candidates to file withdrawal of nomination.
Wed, Oct 14: 8:00pm deadline to register to vote in municipal election. In person registration hours are 8:30am to 8:00pm at Election Commission office only. (Mail in registration must be postmarked by Oct 14).
Mon, Oct 26:

Deadline for School Committee candidates and Political Committees to file Municipal Campaign & Political Finance Reports. (City Council candidates should consult their OCPF packets regarding depository-filing requirements).

City Council candidates are required under state law to set up a depository account at a bank. The bank will report all deposits and expenditures directly to the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF). School Committee candidates are not required to set up a depository account, but they must file a campaign finance report in mid-October and at the end of the year.

Fri, Oct 30: Election Commission will be open 8:30am to 5:00pm for over-the-counter absentee voting.
Sat, Oct 31: Election Commission office will be open 9:00am to 5:00pm for over-the-counter absentee voting.
Mon, Nov 2: Noontime (12:00pm) deadline to apply for absentee ballot, either for mail-in or over-the-counter voting.
Tues, Nov 3:

Municipal Election. Polls are open 7:00am until 8:00pm.
All absentee ballots (except Overseas Absentee Ballots) must arrive at the Election Commission office by 8:00pm to be counted. Ballot count begins at Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Avenue, Central Square after the polls close. Overseas Absentee Ballots are due by 5:00pm on Friday, Nov 13, but must be postmarked by Nov 3.

Overseas Absentee Ballots and Provisional Ballots will be counted on Fri, Nov 13 at 5:00pm.

It is expected that the Election Commission will report preliminary election results Tuesday evening (Nov 3), but this tally does not include auxiliary ballots (write-in ballots and other ballots not yet counted for a variety of reasons). These will be scanned and tabulated on Wednesday. Unofficial election results are expected to be announced on Wednesday when all of the auxiliary ballots have been included. The official election results will not be complete until any overseas absentee ballots and provisional ballots have been included on Fri, Nov 13.

Wed, Nov 4: 9:00am-5:00pm. Ballot count resumes at Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Avenue, Central Square.
Fri, Nov 13: Overseas Absentee Ballots and Provisional Ballots will be counted at 5:00pm.

Printable copy of 2015 Municipal Election Calendar

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2015
(candidates are encouraged to send additional information)

2015 Calendar of Election-related Events
[ submit your events ]

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates

June 6, 2015

Library Program – A Renaissance on the Cambridge Side of the Charles

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 11:03 am

Library Program: A Renaissance on the Cambridge Side of the Charles
(Main Branch, Cambridge Public Library (449 Broadway) on Thursday, June 11, 6:30-8:30pm)

While the Esplanade has long been the jewel on the Charles, the Cambridge river parklands, at long last, are beginning to receive their due. Hear the latest about North Point Park’s skate park and Magazine Beach and Greenough Boulevard improvements. Presenters from the Charles River Conservancy, Solomon Foundation, CNA’s Magazine Beach Committee, DCR and the City of Cambridge will share current projects. A general discussion about best models for the public/private partnerships that have made these advances possible will follow.

Rep. Jay Livingstone will kick off the event. Speakers will include Charlie Sullivan of the Cambridge Historical Commission, Gina Foote of the Charles River Conservancy, Herb Nolan of the Solomon Foundation, Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi, Karl Haglund of the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Cathie Zusy of the Magazine Beach Committee of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association. Mediator Jack Wofford will moderate the event.

Event Program

Greenough Boulevard Rendering

June 4, 2015

Cambridge Historical Commission: Open Archives – June 15 through June 18

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:10 pm

New Spaces for Open Archives – June 15 through June 18

Open Archives 2015Cambridge Open Archives marks its seventh year during the week of June 15th. Visitors are invited to explore “New Acquisitions & Old Treasures” at eight local archives. Several new repositories will be open this year – the MIT Museum’s Hart Nautical Collection and the archives of three Harvard museums – and old favorites are returning.

Each afternoon or early evening, registered participants will be welcomed at two neighboring archives for behind-the-scenes tours. The paired sites are within easy walking distance of each other.

Opening the week on Monday, June 15, with tours from 4:00 to 6:00pm, will be archives at the Longfellow House-Washington’s HQ National Historic Site and the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe.

Tuesday, June 16, from 3:00 to 5:00pm, two new sites just across Divinity Avenue from each other are featured – Harvard’s Peabody Museum and its Semitic Museum.

On Wednesday, June 17, from 6:00 to 8:00pm, tours will be offered at the Cambridge Public Library’s Cambridge Room and at an exciting new venue – the Harvard Art Museums, in the new facility opened only this past November.

Rounding up the week on Thursday, June 18, from 3:00 to 5:00pm, are two venues at MIT – the Institute Archives & Special Collections and the Museum’s Hart Nautical Collection.

Open Archives 2015

Open Archives is a free event, but visitors must register in advance, as space is extremely limited. To sign up, please email archives@cambridgema.gov and specify day or days. Registrants will be contracted with tour details. Send general questions to the archives email, or call the Cambridge Historical Commission at 617-349-4683.

Flyer for event

June 1, 2015

Budget Approval is the Big Item on the June 1, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 1:18 pm

Budget Approval is the Big Item on the June 1, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Budget Approval Night!Tonight’s the night for approval of the FY2016 Budget and related matters. Here are the items that seemed noteworthy:

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to appointment of the following persons as members of the Community Preservation Act Committee for 5-year terms effective June 1, 2015: Chandra Harrington, Thacher Tiffany

The CPA Committee is a 9-person board appoint by the City Manager. These two appointments are for the Historical Commission representative (Chandra Harrington) and the Planning Board representative (Thacher Tiffany). The CPA Committee’s next meeting is June 16 at 6:00pm in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall. The meeting agenda will include providing the public an opportunity to suggest and recommend projects for CPA funding for Housing, Open Space and Historic Preservation in FY16.

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $2,300,000 from Free Cash to the Public Works Public Investment Fund Extraordinary Expenditures Account for the third phase of the LED street light conversion project.

This should be the final phase of the conversion project. It is estimated that the City will achieve over 40% of energy savings once the project is complete. Phase 3 of the project includes the retrofitting of decorative and park fixtures across the city.

Manager’s Agenda #13. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a zoning petition to amend the provisions of the PUD-KS District set forth in Section 13.10 of the Zoning Ordinance. The intent of these proposed changes is to implement the zoning recommendations of the Kendall Square ("K2") Planning Study in order to facilitate future redevelopment of the John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, which occupies the majority of the PUD-KS District, in accordance with the study.

As the communication states: "The intent of these proposed changes is to implement the zoning recommendations of the Kendall Square (“K2”) Planning Study in order to facilitate future redevelopment of the John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, which occupies the majority of the PUD-KS District, in accordance with that study." One potentially controversial part of the proposal is that in addition to a general height cap of 250 feet in the district, there is an allowance for the Planning Board to potentially approve a single signature landmark building of up to 500 feet if it meets "a high standard for architectural excellence."

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for public hearings held on May 7, 2015, May 14, 2015 and May 13, 2015 relative to the General Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2016 and recommending adoption of the General Fund Budget in the amount of $510,570,005.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 14, 2015 relative to the Water Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2016 and recommending adoption of the Water fund Budget in the amount of $13,964,115.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 14, 2015 relative to the Public Investment Fund for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2016 and recommending adoption of the Public Investment Budget in the amount of $18,076,290.

Unfinished Business #15-20. Communications from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to orders requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $67,200,000 consisting of:

  • $37,750,000 to provide funds for various water pollution abatement projects;
  • $5,000,000 to provide funds for a Comprehensive Facilities Improvement Plan;
  • $4,600,000 to provide funds for surface improvements to the Harvard Square area;
  • $150,000 to provide funds for the purchase and installation of mechanical components to ensure the operational integrity of the elevator at the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility;
  • $15,700,000 to provide funds for various School building infrastructure projects; and
  • $4,000,000 to provide funds for the reconstruction of various City streets and sidewalks.

These are the traditional Finance Committee reports and loan authorizations relating to the approval of the FY2016 Budget.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff and the School Committee, who is requested to refer this matter to the Superintendent of Schools, regarding CPS enrollment information for multi-units, car ownership and excise tax payments and parking permit applications and trip generation data.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Cheung and Councillor McGovern

This seems like a relevant request for information as we head toward the upcoming Citywide Planning Process, i.e. "the Master Plan".

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee for a public hearing held on May 21, 2015 to discuss development of a process for the evaluation of the City Manager and recap the procedure for the setting of City Council Goals for the upcoming Legislative Term and to consider a different format.

I’ll simply expand on what I said at this meeting. I participated in the circus-like public evaluation of the City Manager back in 1993 and I would never want to see anything like that repeated again. Any member of the public may comment on the performance of the City Manager whenever they please, and they often do, but this is fundamentally the responsibility of the elected City Council to evaluate and hire a city manager. If people have issues with city management, they should speak to their councillors. It’s also important to keep distinct the periodic goal-setting process and any evaluation, contract extension, or hiring of the City Manager.

Committee Report #6. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 15, 2015 to discuss the C2 portion of the K2C2 Study.

Hopefully the stars are now aligned for more serious discussion and action at the City Council on the future of Central Square. – Robert Winters

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