Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

December 28, 2016

Cambridge Civic/Political Review 2016

Cambridge Civic/Political Review 2016

Great Events:

May 7 – Moving Day at MIT celebrating the 100th Anniversary of MIT’s move from Boston across the river to Cambridge

MIT Moving Day
Crossing the Charles
MIT Moving Day
Suffragist Katharine Dexter McCormick (who is a dead ringer
for our friend Martha Eddison) and MIT President Rafael Reif

June 4 – Cambridge River Festival along Cambridge Parkway and Lechmere Canal.

Aug 25 – The 2016 Oldtime Baseball Game at St. Peter’s Field on Sherman St. in North Cambridge


Glory

March 12 – Under the guidance of Coach Lance Dottin, Cambridge defeated Lowell by a score of 54-38 to win the Division 1 North Championship.

March 14 – At the Boston Garden, the Falcons won over Catholic Memorial in the semifinals by a score of 77-73.

March 19 – In Springfield, Cambridge defeated St. John’s by a score of 66-51 to win the Division 1 State Championship.

Falcons


Louis A. DePasqualeRetirements and Appointments (just a few significant ones of many):

Susan Flannery retired as Director of the Cambridge Public Library. She was succeeded by Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley.

Police Commissioner Robert Haas retired and Police Superintendent Christopher J. Burke was appointed as Acting Police Commissioner, effective May 8, 2016.

Retirement of Terry Dumas, Director of the Planning and Development Department for over 25 years and as a staff member for a total of 33 years at the Cambridge Housing Authority.

On July 1, CPS welcomed Dr. Kenneth Salim as the new Superintendent of Schools succeeding Jeffrey Young.

Appointments by the City Council:

Mar 11 – Announcement by Richard Rossi that he would not seek a contract extension as City Manager.

Sept 12 – Reappointment of James Monagle as City Auditor.

Sept 12 – Reappointment of Donna P. Lopez as City Clerk.

Sept 29 – Appointment of Louis DePasquale as City Manager.

Nov 14 – Oath of Office for Louis DePasquale as Cambridge City Manager

The City Clerks and City Managers of Cambridge


Deaths (only a few of the significant passings this year):

Feb 18Death of Marci Mitler in Porter Square

Feb 28 – Death of Dorothy Steele on Columbia Street

Mar 28 – Death of Election Commissioner Peter Sheinfeld.

April 14Death of Suzanne Schell Pearce.

June 23Death of cyclist Amanda Phillips in Inman Square

June 25Murder of Anthony Clay on Harvard Street

Oct 5Death of Lexington cyclist Bernard "Joe" Lavins in Porter Square

In the wider world, let’s take special note of the passing of musicians David Bowie (Jan 10), Glenn Frey (Jan 17), Paul Kantner (Jan 28), Keith Emerson (Mar 11), Prince (Apr 21), Leonard Cohen (Nov 10), Leon Russell (Nov 13), and Greg Lake (Dec 7).


Mayor SimmonsPolitics and Elections:

Inauguration of City Council and School Committee

One new city councillor: Jan Devereux

Election of the Mayor (Denise Simmons) and Vice Mayor (Marc McGovern)

Two new School Committee members: Manikka Bowman and Emily Dexter

Election of School Committee Vice Chair (Fred Fantini)

March 1 Presidential Primary (Super Tuesday)

September State Primary: Connolly defeats Toomey; Jehlen defeats Cheung

November 8 – Election of "He Who Shall Not Be Named" as President

Initiative Petition on Lifting of Cap on Charter School Defeated

Initiative Petition on Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Narrowly Wins

David Maher selected as next President & CEO of Cambridge Chamber of Commerce
  • Maher will not seek re-election to City Council


Day-to-Day Stuff and Around Town:

The Plastic Bag Ban went into effect on March 31.

Sept 19 – DPW Commissioner Owen O’Riordan reported on issues relating to the implementation of the Polystyrene Ordinance.

October – Harvard dining hall workers strike over wages, benefits (Cambridge Chronicle, by Amy Saltzman)

Cambridge and much of eastern Massachusetts suffered a severe drought that required Cambridge to purchase water from the MBTA so that the Cambridge reservoirs would not fall below critical levels. [October 31 Committee Report].

PB Winners 2016Dec 14 – Participatory Budgeting Results Announced
[Total Budget $706,000]

Solar Power Shines! ($260,000)

Safer Crosswalks for Busy Roads ($104,000)

Solar-Powered Real-Time Bus Tracker Displays ($150,000)

Kinetic Energy Tiles ($50,000)

Hydration Stations in Four Locations! ($37,000)

Upgrade the Moore Youth Center ($80,000)

Cambridge Street Art Trail ($25,000)


Many Election-Related Proposals:

Mar 21 – City Council Order seeking to allow Cambridge to institute municipal lobbying regulations. [Never went anywhere]

Mar 21 – City Council Order to hold hearings on the feasibility of facilitating the appointment of an “Non-Citizen Representative” to the City Council. [Never went anywhere]

May 2 – City Council Order seeking to publish a Cambridge voter guide to be distributed to each household in Cambridge a month before the 2017 municipal election.

June 13 – City Council Order asking that Cambridge operate at least 5 early polling locations, for the entire day, for the entirety of the 11-day early voting period.

Turnout figures for Early Voting (complete)

Early Voting Location Oct 24 Oct 25 Oct 26 Oct 27 Oct 28 Oct 29 Oct 31 Nov 1 Nov 2 Nov 3 Nov 4 Total
Main Library (449 Broadway) 619 396 465 262 289 688 483 376 624 436 848 5486
Election Commission (51 Inman St.) 576 399 465 304 304 401 532 399 571 455 564 4970
O’Neill Library (Rindge Ave.) 387 208 302 171 207 373 273 216 395 279 478 3289
Water Department (at Fresh Pond) 368 207 218 131 157 429 233 216 348 254 474 3035
Police Department (East Cambridge) 290 186 225 93 104 263 251 205 349 260 508 2734
All Locations 2240 1396 1675 961 1061 2154 1772 1412 2287 1684 2872 19514

June 13 – City Council Order asking to explore voter reward options for municipal elections.

June 20 – City Council Order to hold hearings of the Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration, and the Government Operations committee to discuss different models for campaign finance reform and publicly-funded municipal elections in Cambridge.

Nov 7 – City Council Order asking opinion of City Solicitor on the possibility of allowing non-citizen Cambridge residents to vote in municipal elections without a home-rule petition. [This Order was subsequently amended to actually send such a Home Rule Petition to the State Legislature without holding any hearings or debate on the proposal.]


Civics and Government:

Envision Cambridge continues: Workshops, Outreach, Appointment of Advisory Committees, Committee Meetings, Updates

Charter School Roundtable and Ballot Question [Divide widens on Question 2 in Cambridge (Cambridge Chronicle, by Natalie Handy)]


Traffic/Transportation:

Mar 21 – The City Council adopted the Complete Streets Policy and Council Order.

Mar 21 – The City Council adopted a Policy Order committing Vision Zero, a set of goals of eliminating transportation fatalities and serious injuries.

Apr 25 – City Council Order requested information on the feasibility of waiving the motor vehicle excise tax for electric vehicles.

Apr 25 – City Council Order asking if any progress has been made on the willingness of the City of Cambridge (and local developers) to contribute to a successful Green Line Extension.

May 9 – City Manager Richard Rossi communicates to City Council that City intends to commit $25 million toward successful completion of the Green Line Extension (GLX) Project. Somerville will commit $50 million and Medford will also commit funds.

May 31 – Waverly Path Project Opening Celebration

June 9 – Grand Opening of the first phase (Main Street to Broadway along Galileo Galilei Way) of the Grand Junction Pathway.

June 20 – Communication from Richard C. Rossi regarding the acquisition of two parcels of the Watertown Branch railroad from B&M Corporation for the purpose of creating a future multi-use path and greenway.

25mphJune 22 – City presentation of possible reconfigurations for Inman Square roadways

June 27 – City Council Order regarding feasibility of the City of Cambridge filing its own home rule petition to reduce local speed limits (as Boston was then also seeking to do).

Sept 12 – City Council Order prematurely call for declaring all residential zones in Cambridge to be “Safety Zones” with 20mph speed limits and all office and business zones reduced to 25mph. [Council adopted state’s enabling legislation two months later and set citywide 25mph speed limit.]

Sept 12 – City Council Order asking City Solicitor and other relevant City departments to report back to the City Council on next steps on how to go about lowering our speed limits as well as the timeline for these actions.

Sept 12 – City Council Order seeking to increase the parking permit fee and consider other changes to towards reducing vehicle miles traveled and promoting alternative forms of transportation.

Sept 26 – City Manager Richard Rossi conveys City’s Agreement with MassDOT and MBTA regarding funding contribution agreement for Green Line Extension Project.

Oct 17 – City Council Order seeking to form a Vision Zero Working Group comprised of staff from the relevant City departments and residents to collaboratively develop and review traffic safety plans, street designs, public education initiatives, traffic enforcement and related policies with the shared goal of eliminating crashes that result in serious injuries and deaths as quickly as possible.

Oct 17 – City Council Order seeking to restrict the routes of travel and delivery hours of oversized trucks on City streets.

Nov 7 – City Council adopts Chapter 218 of the Acts of 2016, “An Act Modernizing Municipal Finance and Government”, Sections 193 and 194 giving municipalities the authority to reduce speed limits on all ways other than state highways.

Dec 8 – Speed Limit on City-Owned Streets Reduced to 25mph
City of Cambridge implements component of Vision Zero Initiative


Bicycle Specific Blitz of No-Process Orders:

Sept 12 – City Council Order asking for hearing of Transportation and Public Utilities Committee to discuss how City staff review use of bike infrastructure to determine what works, what does not work and what could be improved and to specifically discuss the possibility of making the Western Avenue cycle track a two-direction bike facility.

Oct 17 – City Council Order seeking information from Community Development Department and the Cambridge Police Commissioner on specific recommendations and measures the City should consider in order to prevent future bicycle accidents and fatalities from occurring, and to make our streets safer for bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians.

Oct 17 – City Council Order calling for pilot system of flex-post separated bike lanes and intersections, along Massachusetts Avenue, Hampshire Street, and Cambridge Street.

Oct 17 – City Council Order to schedule hearing of Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee to discuss the possibility of adding a bike-bus lane to Pearl Street and any measures that can be taken to accommodate on-street parking preferences of residents.

Oct 17 – City Council Order asking to include separated bicycle facilities or adjacent off-street paths in any plans for reconstructing all or part of Massachusetts Avenue.

Oct 17 – City Council Order seeking a pilot program of segregated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue between Cedar Street and Harvard Square; on Cambridge Street between Inman Square and Quincy Street; and on Broadway between Prospect Street and Quincy Street.

Oct 17 – City Council Order asking for segregated bike lanes on both sides of Huron Avenue for the full length of its reconstruction.

Nov 7 – City Council Order seeking a deadline of Nov 1, 2017 for fully implementing the various street improvements and safety measures for increasing bicycle safety that were passed during the Oct 17, 2016 meeting.


Housing/Zoning:

Jan 11 – Ordination of Barrett Petition to modify zoning relating to Accessory Apartments and Basement Space

Apr 11 – Inclusionary Housing Study followed by many hearings of the City Council’s Housing Committee
[Aug 11 Committee Reports: Report #1, Report #11, Report #12]
The proposals are now before the Ordinance Committee with action expected in early 2017.

Multiple Medical Marijuana Dispensaries filed zoning petitions for favorable sites.
The City Council is currently attempting to address this by alter the allowed uses in certain business zones.

Aug 1 – City Council Order seeking update on the status of the Classification of Commercial Land Use and Recommendations Study.
Sept 12 – The Classification of Commercial Land Use and Recommendations study is reported to the City Council
This may play a significant role in 2017 if the City Council chooses (as is expected) to update the "Table of Uses" for the various business zones in the city.
The series of marijuana dispensary zoning matters plus the recent initiative petition regarding recreation marijuana and potential retail stores may necessitate this discussion.


Harvard Square:

Aug 1 – Committee Report of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee on topic of possible formation of a special working group tasked with developing a framework for the continued stewardship, curatorship and oversight of the Out of Town News Kiosk in Harvard Square.

Sept 12 – City Council Order asking Historical Commission to produce a new status report that reviews the Harvard Square Conservation District’s effectiveness since 2005, and that considers whether new zoning regulations may be necessary to fulfill the community’s goals.

Oct 17 – Committee Report of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee on the redesign of the Out of Town News Kiosk.

The year ended with significant activism regarding the future of Harvard Square and specifically the plans for the Abbot Building (Curious George) and neighboring buildings recently purchased with plans for significant alterations. The status of some major vacant spaces, esp. the Harvard Square Cinema, have also been central to this discussion.


Central Square:

Dec 19 – Ordinance Committee Report on zoning petition submitted by Nabil Sater, et al to amend the Zoning Ordinances in the Central Square Overlay District, Section 20.300 (a.k.a. – the Central Square Restoration Petition). This petition received unanimous approval by the Planning Board at its initial hearing.


Kendall Square and Nearby:

Sept 12 – Notification from City Manager of approval of the Kendall Square Foundry Development Partners as the development entity for the Foundry.
This was followed by irate reaction from at least one city councillor. [Councilor calls Foundry process egregious; city manager says project not finalized (Cambridge Chronicle, by Adam Sennott)]
The latest word is that the entire process is being restarted.

Volpe Working Group Formed

Oct 3 – As part of the City’s continuing effort to plan for the future redevelopment of the Volpe National Transportation Research Center site in Kendall Square, the City Manager has appointed a "Volpe Working Group" consisting of residents of the surrounding neighborhoods – East Cambridge, the Port, and Wellington-Harrington – along with representatives of the Kendall Square business community and other community stakeholders.

Nov 15 – MIT tapped to redevelop Volpe Center in Cambridge (Boston Globe)


Berkshire St. fire, Dec 3, 2016Wellington/Harrington Neighborhood:

Dec 3 – The Berkshire Street Fire

The Dec 3, 2016 fire in the Harrington/Wellington/East Cambridge neighborhoods caused significant damage to six buildings, and fire or water damage to at least five others.

Initial estimates were that there were 48 displaced families, representing 104 individuals, registered with the Red Cross of Massachusetts.

The public can donate to the Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund online at www.cambridgema.gov/firefund or by sending a check to:

Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

By all accounts, the City, many relief agencies, and a tremendous number of individuals really stepped up to the plate to assist others in the wake of this catastrophic event.


Other City Council Initiatives:

Minimum Wage:
June 13 – City Council Order asking that the Mayor convene a Task Force charged with establishing recommendations for the City Council on what the ideal minimum wage in Cambridge should be, and how to best implement this increase without creating unintended consequences in Cambridge or elsewhere.

Outdoor Lighting:
There were various hearings and other meetings on the recommendations from the Outdoor Lighting Task Force (and related proposals for zoning changes) that address the potential detrimental impact of outdoor lighting and propose solutions that diminish existing problems and address problems that may be created by new development. [Report][Proposed Ordinance]. The Task Force was appointed Dec 2, 2013 and was originally expected to complete its report and draft Ordinance by Spring 2014. It took a lot longer than that with many different iterations of the proposed Ordinance.

Short-Term Rentals:
June 20 – City Council Order calling for a joint hearing of the Public Safety and Housing Committees for the purpose of gathering testimony from stakeholders in the City regarding the impact of short-term rentals on our communities with a view in mind to draft an ordinance that meets the goals outlined above, and to refer that proposed ordinance to the Ordinance Committee at the appropriate time.
Councillor Kelley’s June 20 Communication on "Short-Term Rentals in Cambridge: An Overview of Current Usage and Patterns as well as Policy Recommendations".
Aug 1 – Committee Report of Public Safety Committee and Housing Committee on the presence and impact of short-term rental units (Airbnb, FlipKey, VRBO, etc.) in Cambridge.

Broadband Task Force:
Sept 26 – Broadband Task Force recommendations and Tilson Report.
One estimate is that it would cost $187 million dollars to build such a network with no guarantee that customers would leave Comcast or another Internet service provider in favor of such a new network.

Nov 17 – Joint Statement of Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale Regarding Cambridge as a Sanctuary City


Eminent Domain:

June 13 – City Manager’s recommendation that the City Council approve an Order to take the property at 859 Massachusetts Avenue by eminent domain at a cost of $1,363,875. (This would be a friendly taking from the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.)
June 20 – City Council approves this taking and related expenditure. City Manager Richard Rossi explained at the meeting that the facilities study as well as the $5 million renovation cost will cover three buildings – the newly acquired 859 Mass. Ave. building as well as 831 Mass. Ave. (the Lombardi Building) and 3 Bigelow St. (currently used for transitional housing). It is anticipated that 859 Mass. Ave. will be used for housing and 3 Bigelow St. will be converted to municipal uses and possibly joined to an expanded 831 Mass. Ave.

Sept 26 – After multiple City Council Orders calling for the City to take the long-derelict Vail Court property on Bishop Allen Drive, the City Manager brought in a recommendation and plan to take Vail Court by eminent domain. This was approved by the City Council, and the cost is now being challenged by the previous property owners.


Now, on to 2017 – a municipal election year!

December 2, 2016

Where did the Amanda Phillips crash happen? And why?

Filed under: Cambridge,cycling,Deaths — Tags: , , , , , — jsallen @ 10:47 am

In a previous post, I stated that Amanda Phillips’s fatal crash occurred outside Inman Square, not in the Square.

An examination of news photos and a Google Street View establishes the precise location — 1423 Cambridge Street, just west of the Square.

The Google Street View

Boston Globe article with photo: note the blue recycling bin peeking out from behind the trash barrel, the distinctive leaning tree, and the ambulance parked on Hampshire Street in the background.

The Cambridge Patch has an even better photo.

This evidence establishes that Phillips had exited Inman Square. It has been reported that she rode off the sidewalk. That would place her in the same precarious situation as with the bike lanes exiting the Square in a “Peanut Roundabout” proposal advanced by the Boston Cyclists Union.

I also commend readers to Paul Schimek’s examination of factors which led to the crash.

July 16, 2016

Floyd Freeman, Nov 7, 1915 – July 11, 2016, neighbor, friend, philosopher

Filed under: Cambridge,Deaths — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 9:44 pm

Floyd Freeman

Floyd Freeman – neighbor, friend, philosopher
Nov 7, 1915 – July 11, 2016, age 100 years

Floyd Freeman and Robert Winters (2005)
Floyd Freeman and Robert Winters at Floyd’s 90th birthday party (2005)

March 16, 2015

Items of Interest on the March 16, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Deaths — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 11:11 am

Items of Interest on the March 16, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Perhaps the most notable items this week are the announcement of the annual water/sewer rates, a couple of committee reports relating to the proposed Twining/Normandy petition, and a resolution on the tragic death of Marcia Diehl – a friend to thousands of Cantabrigians, including me.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $6,000,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Public Works Other Ordinary Maintenance account ($4,825,000) and to the General Fund Public Works Extraordinary Expenditures account ($175,000) and to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Extraordinary Maintenance account ($1,000,000) to cover winter 2014-2015 snowstorm expenses associated with snow plowing contracts, salt and other material, and repair costs.

Some years the "Rainy Day Fund" can be a "Snowy Winter Fund". Few should be surprised at this additional cost after a record-breaking winter. Spring (technically) arrives with the vernal equinox this Friday at 6:45pm EDT.

Manager’s Agenda #17. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-04, regarding a report on next steps to converting the Watertown Branch rail line.

We’re getting there – slowly but surely. This will one day be a nice addition to the off-road recreational facilities for the local region, and will also provide pretty handy access to the Arsenal Mall area.

Manager’s Agenda #18. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the block rates for water consumption and sewer use for the period beginning Apr 1, 2015 and ending Mar 31, 2016.

The recommendation is for a 0% increase in the water consumption block rate and a 6.8% increase in the sewer use block rate, resulting in a 4.9% increase in the combined rate for the coming year. This is the fifth consecutive year that the City has been able to produce a 0% increase in the water rate.

Average Changes in Water/Sewer Annual Bills
Residential Type FY15 Average FY16 Projected Annual Variance % Change
Single Family $730 $766 $36 4.9%
Two Family $1,020 $1,070 $50 4.9%
Three Family $1,480 $1553 $73 4.9%

Unfinished Business #12. That any committee report that has not been signed by the Chair of the committee within seven days after submission of the committee report by the City Clerk be placed on the City Council Agenda unsigned. Order Number Eight of Mar 2, 2015 Referred to Unfinished Business.

It’s interesting that at the first meeting after Councillor Toomey introduced the Order calling for this modification in the City Council Rules to hasten the delivery of committee reports, this agenda contains 5 committee reports.

Resolution #27. Condolences to the family of Marcia Deihl.   Councillor Simmons

Marcia was killed while riding her bicycle last Wednesday afternoon, March 11. Reports indicate that she was likely exiting the Whole Foods onto Putnam Ave. or riding along Putnam Ave. when she was struck and killed by a truck traveling on Putnam Ave. Many of us are eager to learn more details about this tragedy. Though I didn’t know Marcia nearly as well as some others who are now really suffering from this loss, I really loved her sense of humor and her distinctive way with words. Our shared interests included old VWs, kitsch, Zippy the Pinhead, and everything about Cambridge. [Globe story on Marcia Diehl]

Marcia Diehl (early '70s)
Marcia Diehl (early 1970s)

While looking over old email messages from Marcia, I came across this one from 2009: "We really need a Cambridge History thing, or class, or institutionalized available web site. My specialty is the 70s, and I loved working with Charlie (Sullivan) and the Historical Commission looking for old photos. I have performed a few Cambridge history in music shows, one of which ‘When Hippies Roamed the Earth’ is centered around the Inman, Harvard, and Central Square cultural and political counterculture. Another one was songs related to social justice history at Old Cambridge Baptist Church."

Two years ago (Feb 2013) Marcia wrote this in the CCJ Forum: "I remember being called a ‘barnie’ and having garbage thrown at me when a bunch of us college grad hippie pinkos lived in communes on the Broadway and Columbia corner in 1971-2. CRA paid us a thousand each to relocate and we carried our stuff across the street to a Chiccarelli building. At a rent control strike hearing, she yelled ‘THEY WANT MY BLOOD, THEY WANT MY BLOOD!’ Ah, memories. I’ve lived kitty corner to Villa Vellucci in almost-East Cambridge, attended many times, and busked in Harvard Square. Now retired and living two blocks from where I did 35 years ago in my favorite spot in the universe, Cambridgeport, I know I am not worthy to be a Cantabrigian."

You were as worthy as anyone who has ever lived here, Marcia. I hope we can name a park or a garden after you.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to review the questions raised from Kim Courtney and report back to the City Council on such matters the City Manager considers appropriate to address.   Councillor McGovern, Mayor Maher, Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen [Attachments]

I suspect there must be some connection here between the apparent licensing irregularities with Mr. Kapsalis (owner of The Cellar and a neighboring liquor store) and a petition that was submitted to the License Commission several months ago attempting to block Ms. Courtney and her partner from opening a competing establishment near to Mr. Kapsalis’ businesses. That petition was pretty much 100% fraudulent and even included fake names at my address. I was able to see the petition when an investigator from the License Commission came to my house verifying the names of those who had apparently signed the petition. It also had the name of at least one friend of mine who said he had never signed such a petition. Even a casual look at the petition showed that it was all likely written by the same person. Who does something like that? I never patronized The Cellar or his liquor store anyway, so they won’t be missing my business.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 22, 2015 to discuss the Normandy/Twining zoning petition to amend Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new Section 20.800 entitled Mass. and Main Residential Mixed Income Sub district within the Central Square Overlay District.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 26, 2015 to discuss the refiled Normandy/Twining petition to amend the Zoning Ordinances in Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and the zoning map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new section 20.800 entitled Mass and Main Residential Mixed Income Subdistrict within the Central Square Overlay District.

The next couple of months should prove interesting. The Cambridge Residents Alliance was spawned a few years back in response to proposals for new housing in and around Central Square. [In short, they don’t want it.] They’ve now spawned yet another entity specifically trying to block new housing at this Lafayette Square location. It’s anybody’s guess how this zoning proposal will fare and how the actual building will take shape should the zoning change make it possible.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Jan 13, 2015 to discuss the production of language for a city-wide affordable housing overlay district, to be considered by the City Council to identify areas in the city that would be best suited for an affordable housing overlay district.

I’m still curious to see what people have in mind with this proposed "affordable housing overlay district." So far all I’ve heard is the sentiment that only low- and moderate-income people are welcome in areas like Central Square, and that’s not a particularly sustainable (or even friendly) perspective. – Robert Winters

February 5, 2015

Brian Murphy, 1964-2015

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council,Deaths — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 3:44 pm

Feb 5, 2015 – I am stunned upon hearing of the unexpected death of a friend – Brian Murphy, Assistant City Manager for Community Development and former Cambridge City Councillor (2002-2009) – an essential person in the civic life of Cambridge. I simply have no words to express my grief. – RW

MESSAGE FROM THE CITY MANAGER:
It with great sadness that I inform you of the death of Brian Murphy, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. Brian was a dedicated husband and father, and a close personal friend to so many of us in this City.

We mourn the sudden loss of our colleague and friend and our thoughts and support go out to Brian’s family at this time.

Employees will be notified of funeral arrangements, once they are determined.

I recognize that we all deal with grief in a very personal way. I encourage you utilize the services available through our Employee Assistance Program.

Brian MurphyI wrote in February 2011 – just 4 short years ago: "As was noted in a Late Order at the February 7 City Council meeting, former City Councillor Brian Murphy will soon take the reins as Assistant City Manager in charge of the Community Development Department. I met at length with Brian when he first ran for City Council (2001). I suggested that he attend the Budget Hearings to learn more about City government and meet all the players in the City administration. Brian attended every one of those hearings. As a councillor, he then chaired the Finance Committee. He and David Maher were also the prime players among the elected officials in negotiating with Harvard in their major Riverside development a few years ago. You have to respect a guy who actually shows up and does his job, and I’m sure Brian will be a popular hands-on manager at Community Development."" – Robert Winters


Brian P. Murphy, Esq. of Cambridge, suddenly February 5, 2014. Beloved husband of Katherine (Champion). Loving father of Molly K. and Joseph C. Dear son of the late Joseph G., Esq. and Mary T. (Keaney) Murphy. Visiting hours in the Sullivan Chamber of the Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass Ave. on Wednesday 3-7pm. Funeral mass in St. Paul’s Church Bow & Arrow Sts. Cambridge Thursday at 10:00am. Complete notice to follow. [Obituary & Guestbook]

Funeral Home
Brown & Hickey Funeral Home
36 Trapelo Road
Belmont, MA
Map / Directions
Visitation
Sullivan Chamber of the Cambridge City Hall
795 Mass Ave 
Cambridge, MA
Map / Directions
Wednesday, February 11, 2015;
3:00pm-7:00pm
Service
St. Paul’s Church
Bow & Arrow Sts.
Cambridge, MA
Map / Directions
Thursday, February 12, 2015;
10:00am
Cemetery
Cambridge Cemetery
76 Coolidge Ave
Cambridge,  MA  US  02138
Map / Directions
Thursday, February 12, 2015

Brian Murphy (2003)
Brian Murphy in 2003

January 1, 2015

Mario Cuomo (June 15, 1932 – January 1, 2015) – Mirrors

Filed under: Deaths — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 8:38 pm

Mario Cuomo - Mirrors
from the November 1985 "Mad as Hell" Issue of the National Lampoon
Mario Cuomo
June 15, 1932 – January 1, 2015

July 27, 2012

City Council to discuss last December’s fatal bicycle crash

On Monday, July 30, 2012, the Cambridge City Council is to discuss a City Manager’s report on the December, 2011 fatal truck/bicycle crash at Vassar Street and Massachusetts Avenue. (I commented on that crash in an earlier post in this Forum).

The city has posted the agenda of the meeting. The City Manager’s report on the crash is on that agenda.

I’ve posted that report here — indented, with my comments unindented:

July 30, 2012

To the [City Council]:

In response to Awaiting Report Item Number 12-63 relative to a report on safety issues at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Vasser [sic] Street, Director of Traffic, Parking and Transportation Susan E. Clippinger reports the following:

In response to the fatal bicycle crash on December 27, 2011, the Traffic, Parking + Transportation Department conducted a review of the intersection that included the operation of the traffic signal, signs and pavement markings of the intersection, and a review of the crash history of the location.

Using both the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Cambridge Police Department crash information, TP+T reviewed 19 incidents involving bicycles which occurred in the 5 years between 2007 and 2011 (excluding the fatality which was under investigation). The purpose of the review was to determine if a common type of crash was frequently occurring and if engineering measures could be implemented to prevent future crashes.

A Policy Order Resolution from the May 14 City Council meeting (third page here) describes Vassar Street and Massachusetts Avenue as the second-worst intersection for crashes in the city, and reports 55 crashes, with 24 involving “cars” (which I take to mean all motor vehicles). Clippinger reported on 19 bicycle-motor vehicle crashes over a 5-year period — however, single-bicycle, bicycle-bicycle and bicycle-pedestrian crashes are just as real. Perhaps Clippinger did not report on 5 of the bicycle-motor vehicle crashes because evidence was too sparse, but on the other hand, what about the remaining 31? All 55 crashes were serious enough that police reports were filed. Also, bicycle crashes of all kinds, especially those not involving motor vehicles, are greatly under-reported to police.

A couple years ago in a national Webinar, the City’s bicycle coordinator, Cara Seiderman, said that there had been no crashes on the Vassar Street sidepaths. Evidently, she excluded intersections, and even so, her statement was incorrect. There had been at least two bicycle-pedestrian crashes on the sidepaths in which someone was taken away in an ambulance. Following each of these crashes, one of the parties e-mailed me, having read my online comments about the sidepaths. There have almost certainly been additional crashes.

Clippinger’s report continues:

We found that in 17 of the 19 crashes, the bicycle was proceeding through the intersection and was not turning left or right. In eight of the 19 crashes, the vehicle was turning right. A common cause of this type of crash is that either the driver fails to yield upon turning or the bicycle is traveling too fast to stop in time for a vehicle that is in the process of turning.

Clippinger places the responsibility on the motorist to look to the right rear to yield to bicyclists who are foolishly overtaking on the right. Bike lanes to the right of right-turning traffic at intersections, as here, encourage bicyclists to make this mistake.

It also appears that most of these crashes were minor; only two crashes resulted in the cyclist’s being transported to the hospital.

17 of the 19 cyclists described in the report evidently were lucky. Such “coffin corner” crashes are often fatal when the right-turning vehicle is a large truck or bus. However, Clippinger doesn’t report how serious any of the injuries were, whether or not the cyclists were transported to the hospital. To be fair, she may not have had access to this information. It’s hard to get.

Based on the limited information we have on the location and direction of the cyclist involved in the December 27 crash, TP+T determined that this crash is not consistent with the crashes experienced previously at this location. Further, we determined that the traffic signal operation, signs, pavement markings, and layout of the intersection did not contribute to this crash.

I agree that this was a different type of crash. However, features of the intersection almost certainly contributed to the crash. As I noted in my review of the Tech article — and as reported by eyewitnesses — the right turn was difficult for the trucker because of a bulbout and street furniture on the corner. It is likely that the driver was looking into his right side-view mirror to make sure that the truck cleared the street furniture, and so failed to see the bcyclist. To clear the street furniture, the truck crossed the centerline on Vassar Street, placing it in head-on conflict with traffic in the oncoming left-turn lane, one of the possible locations of the cyclist. The layout of the intersection had nothing to do with this?

However, I think that the cyclist most likely was crossing in front of the truck from right to left. In that case, he had been riding wrong-way on the Vassar Street sidepath, and then turned to his right across the street. The sidepath and connecting bike lane enable this conduct. He could have been looking to the right for traffic, and failed to notice the truck on his left. Also, his brakes may have functioned poorly in the wet.

Clippinger concludes:

TP+T remains fully committed to improving the safety of our roads for all users, particularly for pedestrians and bicycles. We continue to research causes of crashes citywide, and each year we use that information to make engineering improvements we feel will reduce the number and severity of crashes.

“We feel”. I’d prefer a stronger report, examining all types of crashes, and a bicycle program guided by careful research rather than feelings.

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