Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

September 24, 2016

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Sept 24, 2016)

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 1:35 pm

Current City Board and Commission Vacancies

Cambridge Human Rights Commission Vacancy

Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC). Made up of 11 members who serve three-year terms, the CHRC meets on the first Thursday of every month at 6pm. The Commission seeks Cambridge residents representing the diversity of Cambridge.

City SealCommissioners are expected to work with other members of the Commission and staff to fulfill the goals and objectives of the Cambridge Human Rights Commission Ordinance (CMC Chapter 2.76). Commissioners are expected to attend monthly meetings, participate in subcommittees on outreach and public education, and work with Commission staff on the investigation, mediation and resolution of complaints filed with the Commission which allege discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment or education based upon race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, family status, military status or source of income.

For more information, contact Nancy Schlacter, Cambridge Human Rights Commission, at 617-349-4396 or nschlacter@cambridgema.gov. Letters of interest, including resume and/or applicable experience, can be sent via mail, fax or e-mail by Friday, October 28, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

Members of Cambridge Boards & Commissions

September 18, 2016

Choice Items on the September 19, 2016 Cambridge City Council Meeting Agenda

Choice Items on the September 19, 2016 City Council Meeting Agenda

Peoples Republic of CambridgeHere are the items that struck me as most interesting:

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-73 and Council Order Number 4 (of Sept 12, 2016), regarding lowering speed limits in the City.

In short, the City Council jumped the gun last week. For starters, the City Council must first vote to accept those sections of the new state law that would give them the authority to lower local speed limits. They cannot even do this until Nov 7. The intention of City traffic officials was to lower the speed limit on City-owned roads to 25mph, and this communication makes quite clear that a 20mph speed limit would be a challenge to enforce – to say the least. I challenge anyone driving in Cambridge to maintain a consistent speed of 20mph or less while driving in Cambridge. It’s not unreasonable on a relatively narrow street that’s parked on both sides, but it borders on the absurd on many other streets. A limit of 25mph is doable, but not 20mph. That lower limit should be reserved for locations where it actually makes sense.

Manager’s Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a report from Public Works Commissioner Owen O’Riordan, regarding the Polystyrene Ordinance implementation. [Report]

One more example of how the City Council likes to take steps that they think will make them look "progressive" without actually thinking through the possible consequences. Few people would dispute the parts of this Ordinance that deals with expanded polystyrene (EPS), i.e. "Styrofoam". The issue is with other polystyrene products like straws, cups, lids and utensils. The available alternatives – bioplastic compostable products – decompose at much slower rates than are acceptable at any of the facilities that accept organic waste from the City of Cambridge. These materials will be rejected at these facilities. Public policy has to be based on more than just wishful thinking. I was at the committee meeting when these other materials were abruptly added to the proposed ordinance without so much as a conversation.

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to CPA [Community Preservation Act]. [Report]

As always, it’s 80% for affordable housing projects ($6,880,000 plus $1,280,000 in state matching funds), 10% for open space acquisition ($860,000 plus $160,000 in state matching funds), and 10% for historic preservation projects ($860,000 plus $1,280,000 in state matching funds). Additional fund balances will also be expended toward these three areas.

Resolution #2. Thanks to City Manager Richard Rossi for his 45 years of service to the City of Cambridge and best wishes for a truly happy and joyful retirement.   Mayor Simmons

Having known Rich Rossi for 27 years of those 45 years of service, I join in wishing Richie all the best in his many years of blissful retirement. I have known very few people who are as expert at getting things done as Rich Rossi. The people of Cambridge owe him a world class "thank you".

Tues, Sept 20

6:00pm-9:00pm   Meet the Finalists Forum  (Fitzgerald Theater, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School)

The City Council’s Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee, is inviting the public to a Meet the Finalists forum on Tues, Sept 20, 2016, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm in the Fitzgerald Theater located in the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. This forum is an opportunity for the public to meet the three finalist vying to succeed outgoing City Manager Richard C. Rossi. The meeting will be broadcast live on the City’s Municipal Cable Channel, 22-CityView.

Wed, Sept 21

5:30pm   Special City Council Meeting to publicly interview finalists for the position of City Manager, the City Council may meet in Executive Session to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with the prospective City Manager or to conduct contract negotiations with the prospective City Manager.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Vote on the selection of the next City Manager expected week of Sept 26 (possibly Thurs, Sept 29).

I have watched this process evolve from the beginning and have kept a safe distance throughout. Now that we have three candidates before us it will be interesting to see if the 9 city councillors can reach consensus (and a majority vote) on one of these three excellent candidates (Jay Ash, Louis DePasquale, and Paul Fetherston). It will also be interesting to watch how the activists may try to influence the decision and how they will respond when a decision is made. If the City Council can actually come to some kind of unanimous or near-unanimous agreement on this most important decision, it may signal their ability to thoughtfully and cooperatively decide on other matters of significance. Hope springs eternal. – Robert Winters

September 15, 2016

Preliminary Screening Committee Announces City Manager Finalists

Preliminary Screening Committee Announces City Manager Finalists
Schedule for Public forums and meetings announced

City SealSeptember 15, 2016 – Today, City Councillor David P. Maher and City of Cambridge Personnel Director Sheila Keady Rawson, co-chairs of the Cambridge City Manager Preliminary Screening Committee (PSC), announced the names of the three finalist candidates being forwarded to the entire City Council for consideration. The PSC’s decision was unanimous.

The three finalists are:

Jay AshRobert “Jay” Ash Jr. – Mr. Ash is currently the Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Previously, he served in a variety of roles in the City of Chelsea, including fourteen years as City Manager. Mr. Ash also served as a legislative aide to Representative Richard Voke. He is a graduate of Clark University.

Louis DePasqualeLouis A. DePasquale – Mr. DePasquale is the City’s Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs in Cambridge. Prior to taking on that assignment, he was the City’s Budget Director, and also worked in other capacities in the City’s Budget and Treasury Departments. Mr. DePasquale is a graduate of Boston State College and received his MPA from Northeastern University.

Paul FetherstonPaul J. Fetherston – Mr. Fetherston is currently the Assistant City Manager in Asheville, NC. He has previously served as Deputy City Manager in Boulder, CO, and has held a variety municipal management positions in Connecticut. He is a graduate of Trinity College, CT, and received his J.D. from Western New England School of Law.

Note: Photos from Commonwealth of Massachusetts, NEREJ, and City of Asheville

A “Meet the Finalists” forum will be held on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, from 6:00-9:00pm., in the Fitzgerald Auditorium at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 459 Broadway, where members of the public will have an opportunity to meet and hear each finalist’s vision for the City and answer questions. On Wednesday, September 21, beginning at 5:30pm, in the Sullivan Chamber at Cambridge City Hall, the City Council will conduct public interviews with the three finalists.

The City Council is expected to vote to appoint the next City Manager during a Special City Council Meeting on Thursday, September 29. Each meeting will be broadcast on 22-Cityview (the municipal cable channel) and can also be livestreamed online at www.CambridgeMA.GOV. Those attending the “Meet the Finalists” forum and the City Council’s public interviews will be provided the opportunity to give written feedback to the City Council.

The PSC was appointed by Mayor E. Denise Simmons and was comprised of 15 community members reflecting citywide constituencies, and four City Council members. GovHR USA, the professional consulting firm hired to assist with the recruitment and hiring process, presented candidates for the committee’s review. According to Joellen Earl, CEO of GovHR USA, the Cambridge position attracted a diverse group of 55 candidates. The PSC conducted an in-depth review of 15 candidates, 27% of which were women or persons of color. The PSC ultimately offered interviews to 8 candidates. The interviews were held on September 12 and 13.

“This was a comprehensive well organized process to review and screen City Manager candidates for submission to the City Council,” said committee member Elaine DeRosa. “This was the first time that the City initiated a national search for the City Manager’s position. The committee worked hard to complete its task. I was honored to be a part of the process.”

The PSC members included resident representatives Peter Traversy, Elaine Thorne, and Laura Booth; large business representative Jay Kiely; small business representative Patrick Magee; Cambridge Public School representative Richard Harding; public safety representative Gerald Reardon; a person with demonstrated knowledge of municipal finance representative Fred Fantini; health and human services/public health representative Claude Jacob; person with knowledge of city planning/urban development representative Susan Schlesinger; higher education/institutional partner representative Kevin Casey; public art and/or recreational representative Ellen Semonoff; affordable housing advocate Susan Connelly; nonprofit community representative Elaine DeRosa; advocate for the quality of our community’s civic and social well-being representative Reverend Lorraine Thornhill; and City Councillors Leland Cheung, David Maher, Nadeem Mazen, and Timothy Toomey.

“The screening committee was an extremely diverse and well informed group representing a wide range of interests in Cambridge,” said committee member Susan Schlesinger. “The process was professionally conducted and we had a talented group of candidates to consider. “It was honor to participate with other Cambridge residents and I look forward to following the extensive process which will occur in the next few weeks to select the next City Manager.”

The initial interviews performed by the PSC were preceded by a series of community focus groups, public meetings, and surveys, leading to the development of a leadership profile used during the recruitment phase.

“It was an honor to serve on the City Manager’s Preliminary Screening Committee with people who are committed and passionate about the growth and well-being of the City,” said committee member Rev. Lorraine Thornhill. “The diversity of opinions that were expressed highlighted the incredible richness of resources that this City is known for.”

For additional information about the City Manager search process, please visit www.CambridgeMA.GOV/CityManagerSearch.

September 14, 2016

Cambridge City Manager Candidates will Share Their Vision and Answer Questions at Public Forum on Tues, Sept 20

City Manager Candidates will Share Their Vision and Answer Questions at Public Forum
Public Invited To Participate In Meet The Finalists Forum

City SealSept 14 – The City Council’s Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee, is inviting the public to a Meet the Finalists forum on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm in the Fitzgerald Theater located in the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. This forum is an opportunity for the public to meet the three finalist vying to succeed outgoing City Manager Richard C. Rossi. The meeting will be broadcast live on the City’s Municipal Cable Channel, 22-CityView.

City Councillor David Maher, Chair of Committee that is leading the search process, said “During this forum, each finalist will present their vision for the City, answer questions, and meet members of the public. This is a great opportunity for the public to hear directly from the finalists selected by the Preliminary Screening Committee.”

A Preliminary Screening Committee, comprised of 15 community members reflecting citywide constituencies and four City Council members, has been interviewing the most qualified applicants and is recommending the three finalists to the City Council. The names of the finalists are expected to be released by Thursday, September 15, 2016.

The public can submit suggested candidate questions to the Committee until to noon on Monday, September 19. Based on the submissions received, GovHR USA, the professional recruiting consultant assisting the City Council with the hiring process, will generate questions based on the themes submitted by the public. Suggested questions can be emailed to cambridge@GovHRUSA.com.

Following the formal presentation and question part of the program, the finalists will be on hand to answer individual questions from members of the public.

For additional information or questions about the Meet the Finalists forum, please contact Fran Cronin, at 617-349-4276 or fcronin@cambridgema.gov. For information on the City Manager Search Process, please visit www.CambridgeMA.GOV/CityManagerSearch.

Note: There’s also this Special City Council meeting the following day:

Wed, Sept 21

5:30pm   Special City Council Meeting to publicly interview finalists for the position of City Manager, the City Council may meet in Executive Session to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with the prospective City Manager or to conduct contract negotiations with the prospective City Manager.  (Sullivan Chamber)

September 13, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 169-170: September 13, 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:02 pm

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 169 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 170 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 6:00pm. [On YouTube]

September 12, 2016

The Return – Notable agenda items for the Sept 12, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:03 am

The Return – Notable agenda items for the Sept 12, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Peoples Republic of CambridgeThis is the "Back from Summer Vacation" meeting of the Cambridge City Council. Here are a few items that are at least somewhat interesting (with minimal comments):

Appointments to Boards & Commissions:

Manager’s Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointments of the following persons as a members of the Commission on Immigrant Rights & Citizenship, effective Sept 1, 2016: Leslie DiTrani, Sana Ghafoor, Alejandro Heredia-Santoyo, Karin Lin, Marcio Macedo, Roxana Maldonado-Garcia, Swati Sawant, Jennifer Sparks, Merline Sylvain-Williams, Melanie Torres, and Yarlennys Villaman

Manager’s Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointments of the following persons as a members of the Cambridge Public Art Commission for a term of three years: Judy Ann Goldman and Cecily Miller

Manager’s Agenda #16. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following person as a full member of the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals for a term of 5 years, effective Aug 29, 2016: Andrea Hickey

Manager’s Agenda #17. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities for a term of three years, effective Sept 12, 2016: Katie Ashwill Allen, Stelios Gragoudas, Mike Langlois, Luis Loya and Julie Miller


Appointments by the City Council:

Order #11. Reappointment of James Monagle as City Auditor.   Mayor Simmons

Order #12. Reappointment of Donna P. Lopez as City Clerk.   Mayor Simmons

Two of my favorite people in City government. The City Council gets to appoint the City Manager, the City Auditor, and the City Clerk (and by recent tradition, the Deputy City Clerk). The Really Big Question is whether the City Council will meet its proposed date of Sept 26 to appoint the next City Manager. That’s just two weeks from now. In the meantime, congratulations to Jim and Donna (assuming their unanimous reappointment).


Buildings, architecture, and historic preservation:

Manager’s Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the final Landmark Designation Report for the Ivory Sands House at 145 Elm Street and the Cambridge Historical Commission’s recommendation.

Order #18. That the City Manager is requested to direct the 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.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

My guess is that this is motivated by a combination of Curious George, the Kiosk, and, of course, some really problematic property owners who don’t understand the value of keeping good long-term commercial tenants.


Marijuana-related:

Unfinished Business #10. A proposed amendment to the Ordinance entitled "Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge" as amended by the Planning Board recommendation to expand the requirements of the North Massachusetts Avenue Sub-district (Section 20.110) applicable generally within the portions of the Massachusetts Avenue Overlay District (MAOD) zoned Business A-2 (BA-2). The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Aug 15, 2016. Planning Board hearing was held June 21, 2016. Petition expires Sept 20, 2016.

Order #19. Zoning Changes for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Carlone

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 31, 2016 on a zoning petition by Healthy Pharms, Inc., to amend Section 20.700 Medical Marijuana Overlay Districts by creating an additional Medical Marijuana Overlay District (MMD-4). The new MMD-4 District would be coterminous with the Business B and Office 3 Districts that are within the Harvard Square Overlay District. The petition would also establish as criteria specific to the MMD-4 District that permissible dispensaries must be retail only (with no cultivation), must be set back from the sidewalk by a minimum of 15 feet and be appropriately shielded from public view, must be less than 10,000 square feet in size, are preferably located in areas with access to pedestrian and public transportation, and may be 250 feet, instead of the standard 500 feet, distant from a school, daycare center, preschool or afterschool facility or any facility in which children commonly congregate, or closer only if it is determined by the Planning Board to be sufficiently buffered such that users will not be adversely impacted by the operation of the dispensary.

Let’s hope that the City Council finally figures out that you can’t address the siting of marijuana dispensaries by a series of one-off zoning petitions.


Bicycle facilities, speed limits, and punishing drivers for the unpardonable sin of owning a motor vehicle:

Order #20. That the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee be and hereby is requested to hold a hearing 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.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Maher

The path along Concord Ave. abutting Fresh Pond would also function better as a two-way path.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to deem all residential zones as “Safety Zones” and lower speed limits to 20 MPH and to lower the speed limit in all office and business zones to 25 MPH.   Councillor Cheung, Councillor Toomey

This is incredibly short-sighted. Many residential streets should appropriately have 25mph speed limits, especially streets where there’s barely enough room for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to safely pass each other, but 20mph is more appropriate for an intensely pedestrian area such as Harvard Square or Central Square. There are many streets where the current 30mph speed limit is completely appropriate.

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor and other relevant City departments and report back to the City Council concrete next steps on how to go about lowering our speed limits as well as the timeline for these actions.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mazen

As stated above, this should be done in a more granular way rather than as a single citywide speed limit set so low that few people will respect it.

Order #17. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Traffic and Parking Department and all other appropriate City Departments to report back to the City Council on recommendations to gradually increase the parking permit fee and consider other improvements to the program to help fund the city’s budget towards reducing vehicle miles traveled and promoting alternative forms of transportation.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen

My guess is that Councillors Devereux and Mazen would like only bicycles and driverless vehicles to soon be allowed to operate in Cambridge. This is just a step toward that future. It’s interesting that ZipCar founder Robin Chase is simultaneously tweeting comparisons between restaurant costs, housing costs, and the cost of a parking permit. I guess she believes that all three should be exorbitantly expensive.


Winner of the "Most Obnoxious Committee Meeting of 2016":

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, for a public hearing held on July 27, 2016 to hear from public safety officials on training equipment, response and communication policies pertaining to demonstrations, protests, memorials and similar actions involving large numbers of people in public space, ranging from CRLS student walkouts to Black Lives Matter memorials to the “let out” time of bars to Pokémon Go chasing and similar internet-driven meetups.


Everything Else:

Manager’s Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the notification of approval of the Kendall Square Foundry Development Partners as the development entity for the Foundry.

Manager’s Agenda #18. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to early voting sites.

Manager’s Agenda #19. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-67, regarding a report on the Classification of Commercial Land Use and Recommendations study.

Charter Right #2. An application was received from Pill Hardware, requesting permission for a display of merchandise in front of the premises numbered 743 Massachusetts Avenue. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Devereux on Aug 1, 2016.]

Order #1. That the City Council go on record calling on the Massachusetts State Legislature to pass an Act affirming a terminally ill patient’s right to compassionate aid in dying.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Carlone

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to work with the appropriate City departments to determine the feasibility of creating a temporary jobs program geared toward Cambridge’s homeless population and/or determine the feasibility of awarding homeless with priority in the City’s 9-week temporary jobs program.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Mazen

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Aug 15, 2016 to continue the public discussion regarding the recently completed Inclusionary Housing Study and the Affordable Housing Trusts’ recommendations to the City Council.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a copy of a letter from Hanne Rush, Assistant Attorney General, Division of Open Government, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Office of the Attorney General, One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA, regarding the resolution of an Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by John Hawkinson on May 4, 2016.

You could define "frivilous" by some of these complaints. – Robert Winters

September 6, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 167-168: September 6, 2016

Filed under: 2016 election,Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:01 pm

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 167 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 168 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 6:00pm. [On YouTube]

August 25, 2016

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! – September 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,recycling — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 1:50 pm

recycling symbol“Get Rid of It Right” Move Out Video – share widely!
Moving Season Reminders
Donate Books and Buy Pre-Loved Books
Order Recycling Materials
Seeking Enthusiastic School Composting Helpers
Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance a Success
Part-Time Opportunities

“Get Rid of It Right” This Move Out Season

Plan ahead for move out day, and give your stuff a second chance at life!

You’re protecting the environment, and reducing waste.

Click the image below to watch a short video and visit www.CambridgeMA.Gov/MoveOut for more information.

Get Rid of it Right


Moving Season Reminders

Moving Out?

Donate It

  • Clothing and Textiles: ALL CLEAN, DRY TEXTILES can go in drop boxes found around Cambridge. Stained, torn, broken or incomplete OK. More info here. Use our Google Donate Map to find donation boxes. Good stuff gets reused and damaged stuff gets repurposed. Not accepted in curbside recycling.
  • Furniture in Good Condition: Plan ahead and arrange for a pickup of items from inside your home. Coalition for the Homeless does Cambridge pickups twice a month, and sometimes more, including Aug 28 – Sept 9! Complete the Pickup Request Form. They take all sorts of furniture as well as rugs, lamps, dishes, pots & pans, and blankets & linens. Check out other options: CambridgeMA.Gov/Furniture.
  • Household Goods (clean, good-condition): Goodwill, 520 Mass. Ave. / Boomerangs, 563 Mass. Ave. / Some items accepted on swap shelves at the Recycling Center.
  • Freecycle and Craig’s List: Freecycle: People give away and get stuff for free. Craigslist: People submit online classifieds, "For Sale" section includes a "Free" category.
  • Get Rid of It Right: City’s online list with details on how to recycle, donate or dispose of just about anything.

Sell It

  • On-line: ebay, letgo, Craigslist are just a few examples of where you can sell your stuff
  • Bring to a Consignment Shop or have a Yard Sale

Recycle in the Curbside Bin

  • Large Plastics: All large rigid plastic items are accepted, such as storage containers, laundry baskets, and toys.
  • Books: Rip off hard covers. But, please donate good-condition books. Reuse is better than recycling.
  • Items Accepted in the Curbside Recycling Program.

Common Curbside Recycling Mistakes – Leave It Out

  • NO Electronics: Special recycling or donate.
  • NO Pots, Pans, Hangers or Other Scrap Metal: Bring metal items to the Recycling Center. Many dry cleaners accept metal hangers for reuse.
  • NO Blinds/Shades, Ceramics, Dishes, Glasses, Mirrors, Frames, Video/Cassette Tapes: Donate items in good-condition, otherwise place in trash.
  • NO Clothing or Textiles: Donate all dry and clean textiles. More info here.
  • NO Plastic Bags: Bring empty, clean and dry bags to designated bins at store entrances or the Recycling Center (clean, dry bubble and shrink wrap and air pillows also accepted at RC).

Special Handling Required

  • NO Non-Alkaline Batteries: Non-Alkaline batteries accepted at the Recycling Center or Household Hazardous Waste collections. Alkaline batteries made in USA after 1994 do not contain mercury and can go in the trash.
  • NO Fluorescent Bulbs, including CFLs: There are several disposal options including most Cambridge hardware stores and the Recycling Center.
  • NO Hazardous Waste, such as Paint: Review what must be brought to one of our four annual Household Hazardous Waste collections, including oil-based paint, chemicals and waste fuels. The webpage also has alternative options if you can’t make the next collection (Sept 10).

Moving In?

Recycling is Mandatory in Cambridge – and Easy!
Review what is accepted in the curbside recycling program closely. Curbside recycling is primarily for clean containers, papers and cardboard. Recycling helps the environment and significantly reduces waste disposal costs for the city. Stay in the loop and subscribe below to receive the monthly e-newsletter from Cambridge Recycling.

What to Do with Packaging

  • Cardboard Boxes: Place in or next to recycling bin. Make sure boxes are empty (no Styrofoam, bubble wrap, or trash). Flatten when possible. Try to reuse! Post your moving boxes on Freecycle or Craigslist.
  • Bubble Wrap, Air Pillows, Shrink Wrap: Place with plastic bags at the Recycling Center during open hours. Must be empty, clean, and dry. Review accepted plastic film items here. Do not place in the curbside recycling.
  • Styrofoam Blocks and Peanuts: Blocks go in the trash. Bring peanuts to a UPS Store or to the Recycling Center during open hours for reuse. No cornstarch peanuts, which dissolve in water. Do not place in the curbside recycling.
  • Blister Packaging: Hard clear plastic form packaging can be recycled in the curbside program.

Shop Second-Hand
Shopping second-hand is much more affordable, fun, green, supports the local economy, and you can find great stuff!

  • Local Second-Hand Shops: Check out the red, green, and yellow pins on this map.
  • Stuff Sale, the biggest yard sale in Cambridge: Aug 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 & Sept 3, 4, 5. Open to all from 9 AM – 5 PM, located at the Harvard Science Center Plaza at 1 Oxford Street. You’ll find mini-fridges, rugs, lamps, futons, storage bins and hundreds of other items useful to anyone setting up an apartment. Proceeds support Harvard Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build housing for the needy.
  • On-line: Try Freecycle, Craigslist, ebay, letgo.

Donate Books and Buy Pre-Loved Books

There are many places you can donate books, including the Cambridge Recycling Center community shelves during our open hours, Tues/Thurs 4pm-7:30pm and Sat 9am-4pm. At the Recycling Center, textbooks and excess books and are taken by More Than Words, a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth by taking charge of a business. Here are a few more places you can donate books: Boomerangs, Goodwill, Rodney’s Bookstore, and the “Recycle That” and “Big Hearted Books & Clothing” donation boxes. Use our handy map.

Feel good when you read second-hand books! Some of the same places where you can donate books you can also buy them (Boomerangs, Goodwill, Rodney’s Bookstore), and here are a few more on-line: More Than Words, Amazon, BetterWorldBooks.com. Of course there are also those wonderful places where you can borrow books — visit Cambridge Public Libraries!

You can also make use of the Little Free Libraries located at various locations throughout Cambridge, including private homes. Of course, there’s also that great Cambridge tradition: a Free Box thoughtfully located in front of your house.


Have New Residents? Faded Labels? Order Recycling Materials!

Email recycle@cambridgema.gov to order.

  • recycling flyers with translations* (8.5×14)
  • toters
  • toter labels
  • "no trash, no plastic bags" stickers
  • "donate more trash less" flyers*
  • refrigerator magnets
  • translated recycling information sheets* (Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Creole, Ethiopian (Amharic))

*Also found in the "Educate Residents" section here.

Thank you for helping to spread the word!

Recycle More, Trash Less


Compost That StuffHelp Cambridge Kids Compost in the Cafeteria!

As kids head back to school they need help remembering "what goes where," as well as why recycling and composting is important. Additionally, new students need to be introduced to the program. Please consider joining us at a few school breakfasts and/or lunches at the start of the school year. We need many people to join in, as all 13 public schools now compost their food scraps, so sign up today, and tell a friend!

Email us to learn more. Thank you!!


Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) Ordinance a Success

Thanks to strong support from the local business community and their customers, the City’s Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) Ordinance has led to a significant reduction in use of single-use bags in Cambridge.

Public Works staff and volunteers from the Cambridge Recycling Advisory Committee performed a study in July at several large Cambridge businesses and found a sizeable reduction in the consumption of single-use bags.

"What we observed was significant," said Meera Singh of the Cambridge Recycling Advisory Committee. "We saw a reduction in single-use bags of 50-80% across this group."

Read the full press release here.


Part-Time Opportunities

Cambridge Recycling is hiring a Recycling & Composting Outreach Assistant.

Public Works is also hiring an Energy & Sustainability Intern.


recycling symbolKnow that recycling is easy and mandatory in Cambridge! Review what to recycle and help educate new residents! Encourage others to stay in the loop and sign up for the City’s monthly e-newsletter on recycling, composting and reducing waste. Just email us at recycle@cambridgema.gov.

  • Missed recycling or trash? Please use Commonwealth Connect and report it online or via mobile app (iPhone / Android) or call DPW at 617-349-4800 by 12 noon the day after collection to make a request.
  • Need toters, brochures, labels, or posters? Email recycle@cambridgema.gov or fill out this form.
  • Following a weekday holiday, curbside trash, recycling, compost and yard waste collection is delayed one day. Check the 2016 collection schedule.
  • Next Household Hazardous Waste Collections: Sat, Sept 10; Sat, Oct 29. Learn more here.
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