Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

February 19, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 373-374: Feb 19, 2019

Episode 373 – Cambridge InsideOut: Feb 19, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Feb 19, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Putnam Ave. fire; Cambridge Fire Department (Thank You!); death of Paula Sharaga; Feb 11 City Council meeting; infrastructure. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 374 – Cambridge InsideOut: Feb 19, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Feb 19, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Infrastructure – water, sewer, electric; Tree Ordinance & proposed Moratorium; Robert’s Rules & The Joy of Walking Out. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

February 10, 2019

February Falderol – Feb 11, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda and OMFUG

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:37 pm

February Falderol – Feb 11, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda and OMFUG

In between bemoaning divine trees at Harvard and ordaining a Tree Tribunal, here are a few mundane Monday items up for City Council consideration:

Water MainManager’s Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-08, regarding the Craigie Street Water Main break.

This is the kind of topic-specific response I especially like. For example: "The Cambridge water transmission and distribution system consists of about 185 miles of underground pipe, 4,450 valves and 1,800 hydrants (the “Water System”). All these pipes and appurtenances are documented in the City’s GIS system. Each water main is defined by its age (date installed), material, size and whether it is cement lined or not." And this: "CWD has replaced, repaired or added over 2,730 valves in the Water System since 1980 and has also formalized a valve exercising program." And this: "CWD has replaced/rehabilitated or improved about 43 miles of pipe within the Water System since 1992." And this: "In the 50’s and 60’s, all of the large transmission mains were cement lined. In the 90’s, about 9,500 feet of pipe were cement lined as well."

Cambridge residents should really try to get a basic idea of what it takes to keep the most basic elements of their city functioning – things like water, sewer, electric supply, natural gas infrastructure, roadways as well as things like rubbish disposal and recycling. Call it civic education.

Manager’s Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-111, regarding a report on TNC vehicles blocking travel lanes.

TNC stands for "Transportation Network Company", a relatively new term necessitated by the advent of entities like Uber and Lyft that do all they can to distinguish themselves from the (regulated) taxi industry. By their account, they’re just referral services that connect customers to drivers. One big difference is that there is built-in accountability for taxis, e.g., you could lose your right to operate as penalty for frequent or egregious violations. In contrast, many TNC drivers are just people with a license to drive with no special requirements for either customer service, geographical knowledge of an area, or expertise in lawful driving. Bending and breaking rules are common. This response from Police Commissioner Bard is primarily about short-term blocking of bike lanes for pickup/dropoff of passengers. Designated curb space for this purpose would help, and some existing taxi zones should be re-purposed for this. I don’t personally buy the notion that brief stops in bike lanes endanger either cyclists or pedestrians, but it is an inconvenience and the prevalence of these TNC vehicles warrants better allocation of space. However, congested areas with competing needs will never operate like a Swiss watch and it’s foolish to believe they ever will. Everybody has to give a little.

Unfinished Business #5. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 9, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.66 entitled “Tree Protection” to amend section 8.66.40 entitled “Applicability” and by adding a new section 8.66.055 entitled “Procedure for other projects.” [THE QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER FEB 18, 2019.]

It will be interesting to see if any actual wisdom emerges from the Feb 14 hearing on this (which some hasty councillors wanted to prevent). This has never been as simple as "Thou Shalt Not Cut That Tree No Matter What", and property owners deserve some flexibility in managing their property. Even if a tree is not currently dead, diseased, or dangerous there are situations when removal is still the best long-term option, especially if the removal may lead to better-situated, healthier trees thriving in the long term.

Applications & Petitions #1. A Zoning Petition has been received from Stephen R. Karp, Trustee of Cambridge Side Galeria Associates trust to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by adding a new Section 13.100 to Article 13.00 of the Zoning Ordinance and to amend the Zoning Map to add a new PUD-8 District overlay that certain area (which includes parcels and portions of ways and streets) labeled as "PUD-8 district".

It would be premature to comment much about this, but I definitely will look forward to a revitalized First Street, greater permeability through the site, and more diverse uses (including some housing), and improved architecture. I’m looking forward to hearing what the Planning Board and Councillor Carlone (who was involved in the original planning and development of the site) have to say as this petition makes its way through the hearings.

Order #1. That the City Council go on record reaffirming its support of the homeless issues bills awaiting action in the House and Senate, and entreats its elected delegation in both bodies to actively work on moving these measures out of their respective committees on toward adoption.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons

Order #2. City Council support of legislation that protects children.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons

Order #7. That the City Council go on record in support of an “Act relative to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program” and an “Act to ensure right to counsel in eviction proceedings".   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui

These three Orders encompass support for a range of proposals that shouldn’t be particularly controversial.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the Apr 23, 2018 Policy Order seeking additional funding for affordable housing concerns.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern

This Order really should be understood in the context of other housing-related proposals currently being considered. These include the "Overlay" proposal to facilitate the transfer of private property to public or quasi-public ownership, support for a real estate transfer tax either via Home Rule or enabling legislation at the state level to fund this property transfer, and other initiatives. The City’s policy seems to be centered on transferring as much privately-owned property into public or quasi-public ownership as possible. I’m not so sure that this is a very good long-term policy in spite of any short- or medium-term housing affordability issues.

Order #9. That Rule 39, "Rules of Travel" under the “Rules of the City Council” hereby be amended to be titled "Rules of Travel and Other Council-Related Expenditures."   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Toomey

The basic idea here is that some councillors want more flexibility in funds available to them for hosting constituents and similar purposes. Do they realize that this is the reason there is a City Council office with a budget and staff? When has it not been the case that a city councillor could simply ask the staff to make arrangements for such get-togethers?

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Siddiqui, transmitting the submission of the Mayor’s Blue-Ribbon Task Force on Tenant Displacement Jan 29, 2018 meeting minutes.

It will be interesting to see if this task force actually focuses on practical ways to address these difficulties.

Awaiting Report: 5 from 2016, 2 from 2017, 56 from 2018 (8 resolved this week), and 16 from 2019 (1 resolved this week).

That’s a total of 79 items awaiting a response with 9 of them addressed in this agenda. That’s better than most weeks. It really is ridiculous to be dragging along items from so long ago without a response. If there really is neither the need nor the willingness to act on some of these, a simple response to the effect of "Not now, Councillors" would be better than leaving so many of these things to moulder. Seriously, is anyone still all that fired up to modify zoning to restrict restaurants where a wood-fired oven is used? If the City would just come back with a very basic proposal for an Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, we could scratch a couple more items off the list. It’s a lot easier to respond to a shorter list. – Robert Winters

February 6, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 371-372: Feb 5, 2019

Episode 371 – Cambridge InsideOut: Feb 5, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Feb 5, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Patriots; Trees, continued; Eversource & Infrastructure; Assessing Upzoning; 20mph speed limit sign deluge. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 372 – Cambridge InsideOut: Feb 5, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Feb 5, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Cannabis tax; Al Vellucci; Young’uns and Commissions; Board of Fun. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

February 4, 2019

Save the Groundhogs – Feb 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 2:03 am

Save the Groundhogs – Feb 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

groundhogResearch indicates that the groundhog population in Cambridge has reached an historic low. The consequences in terms of city planning will likely be devastating. While contemplating this impending disaster, consider the following items up for discussion as we enter the last six weeks of winter.

Manager’s Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, requesting that the City Council vote to accept Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 64N, Section 3 (“G.L.c.64N, §3”), which is the state law that allows municipalities to impose a local excise tax of up to 3% on retail sales of cannabis within the City.

Into the General Fund, please. No earmarks.

Manager’s Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-104, regarding a report on a list of streets where it is recommended that the speed be reduced to 20 MPH.

If you look at the map, this is pretty close to a citywide 20mph speed limit.

Addendum: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign; Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind; Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign? Apparently there are over 400 streets that will have to get a 20mph sign because, you know, state law. You can’t paint it on the roadway, and you can’t just post the whole city as 20mph with the roads (including numbered highways) with slightly high speed limits being the exception. Logic vs. legislation.

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City departments to conduct a formal and professional financial assessment of the additional value created for the owner/petitioner by up-zonings for developments of more than 50,000 square feet.

The information will be interesting and useful, but I’m still concerned about the quid-pro-quo aspect of zoning for sale whether it be for cash or subsidized housing units.

Addendum: The Mayor amended the Order to also assess the added benefit to the City associated with upzoning. I pointed out to the Mayor after the meeting that similar analysis should accompany downzoning petitions as well. About 20 years ago downzoning was all the rage and this definitely reduced the value of many properties. Some of the upzonings in recent years simply added back the height/density that had been taken away.

Resolution #5. Retirement of Paul Burke from the Cambridge Police Department.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mallon

I have met many members of the Cambridge Police over the years, and Paul Burke ranks among my most favorite. Happy trails, Paul, and I hope to see you around town.

Order #1. Dedication sign in honor of Tom and Ray Magliozzi.   Mayor McGovern

Ray worked on my VW Bus once, but he’ll never admit it. Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.

Order #3. That the City Manager confer with Eversource and the appropriate City departments to undertake a series of studies and analyses related to finance, health and safety, building design, and long-term electricity needs before the construction of a substation in East Cambridge.   Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Siddiqui

Anyone who has ever dealt with Eversource knows that they rarely do long-term planning – just reaction to developments being built, so let’s just look at this as a way of assisting them. I’m sure they do need the new substation. The only question is where it should be located.

Addendum: There were concerns expressed during Public Comment and by some city councillors regarding potential adverse health effects associated with the electromagnetic fields adjacent to major electrical infrastructure such as the one proposed on Fulkerson Street. I wonder if they are aware that there are several high voltage underground transmission lines criss-crossing the city. Should we all run for the exits?

Order #5. That the Central Square Massachusetts Avenue sidewalk maintenance/repairs and replacement tree planting become part of the River Street/Barron Plaza project to bring Central Square back to the original circa 1990 intent.   Councillor Carlone, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon

Sure, fix up the sidewalks of Central Square and then some. I’m not sure that the "1990 intent" is necessarily the appropriate standard. There have been many reconfigurations of the sidewalks and streets of Central Square over the years and not all have been for the best.

Order #6. City Council support of traffic safety bills SD.847/HD.1653, SD.1461 and SD.1383/HD.1534.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern

The most significant of these (to me) is the setting of a safe passing distance of vulnerable road users, including cyclists. Nobody should get buzzed by a ton or more of flying steel, and that includes people standing on the sides of roadways. I also like the use of red light cameras, but you know all too well this will lead to hours of pointless debate about the evils of surveillance and the inalienable rights of scofflaws.

Order #7. Proclaim Feb 12, 2019 as Darwin Day in Cambridge.   Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

You can use the opportunity to announce the Darwin Awards.

Late Order #12. City Council support of “An Act promoting housing opportunity and mobility through eviction sealing (SD 526 and HD 3815 HOMES).”   Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Toomey

The concern expressed in the Order is that if a tenant files a complaint against a landlord it will go on the tenant’s "permanent record" and may make renting more difficult in the future. That’s a perfectly reasonable concern, though I don’t have much sympathy for repeat offenders.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 12, 2018 to discuss formation of a city commission dedicated to providing a forum for exploring and addressing the concerns of undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate and other post-high school students in Cambridge.

I wish I could have attended this hearing, but I was busy teaching some of the very same people this proposal is about. I do wonder if the students the City Council hears from are really a representative sample. I somehow doubt it.

Addendum: Several councillors chimed in on this. I have to say that forming a commission of young people that deliberates only about things of concern to young people seems awfully self-serving. A much better perspective (and one expressed by some councillors) was the importance of aggressive outreach to younger people who might serve on the whole range of City Boards & Commissions – maybe even some new ones. My suggestion is that we create the Board of Fun and charge it with coming up with ways to make Cambridge more fun for people of all ages. I can’t imagine the Planning Board ever generating plans for miniature golf and/or batting cages. It took the Charles River Conservancy to bring the skate park to North Point.

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Kelley regarding Tree Removal Comments.

Councillor Kelley makes some good points in his memo. The real problem, however, is the complete inflexibility of the moratorium proposal some councillors are backing. The inability last week of four city councillors to understand the meaning of due process continues to stun me. Will blind zeal rule the day or will an adult legislator emerge with a thoughtful compromise that provides some flexibility for homeowners faced with difficult decisions? The hearing on Feb 14 should be very telling. – Robert Winters

January 29, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 369-370: Jan 29, 2019

Episode 369 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 29, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 29, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Proposed moratorium on tree removals; Jan 28 City Council meeting. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 370 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 29, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 29, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Bottled water; value of upzoning; public funding for municipal elections (again); Jan 29 City Council meeting. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

January 28, 2019

Picking through the pieces of the Jan 28, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Picking through the pieces of the Jan 28, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

It's a twister!Here’s my initial selection of the agenda items that either I find interesting or which are sure to bring out a crowd:

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $175,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Department Extraordinary Expenditures account to fund a Climate Change Resilience Analysis which will focus on zoning recommendations.

Another $175,000 for a Climate Change Resilience Analysis? Didn’t we do this not so long ago?

Applications & Petitions #4. A Zoning Petition Has been received from Melissa Grippo and Christian Grippo, et al, requesting the City Council to vote to amend Section 5.30.11 of the Zoning Ordinance by adding the following sentence at the end of that section: “Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the Industry B District, a hotel use (Section 4.31.2), shall be governed by the second number (4.0) for purposes of determining the Maximum Ratio of Floor Area to Lot Area.”

I don’t know nuthin’ about it, but there’s now another zoning petition in the queue.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to review the City’s communications and emergency response policies and protocols related to flooding resulting from infrastructure failures.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Kelley

Order #2. City Council support for I-90 Hybrid Plan with request for further review.   Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

BIG projects can be fun because when the scale of spending is large it creates opportunities to do some creative things around the edges of the necessary stuff. Envision that.

Order #5. City Council support of HD2395: An act to further provide a rental arrearage program.   Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui

This is the kind of idea I can get behind – assisting people to get through a bad patch with some transitional assistance. It makes a lot more sense than some of the other proposals that have been floating around over the past year.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City departments to conduct a formal and professional financial assessment of the additional value created for the owner/petitioner by up-zonings for developments of more than 50,000 square feet.   Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

I suspect the motivation behind this is not just information-gathering. It sure seems like a prelude to extracting more "community benefit" money out of proposed developments – or maybe just creating a political basis for not granting zoning relief at all. Naively, I would still like to believe that zoning should be based on good planning rather than on who’s going to share the spoils.


Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 9, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.66 entitled “Tree Protection” to amend section 8.66.40 entitled “Applicability” and by adding a new section 8.66.055 entitled “Procedure for other projects.”

Order #7. That the tree protection ordinance amendment discussed at the Ordinance Committee hearing held on Wed, Jan 9, 2019 and referenced in Committee Report #3 of Jan 28, 2019 be further amended per additional language.   Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley

Basically, the sponsors want to enact a one-year moratorium on tree "removal permits" (where have we heard that phrase before) except for dead, diseased, or dangerous trees. This doesn’t seem to allow any discretion at all to property owners, and it treats ordinary small-scale homeowners just as harshly as those big evil developers. If you violate this prohibition they’ll make you pay into a tree replacement fund. I’m sure this committee report and order will bring out the troops to public comment, but there are some serious problems with this proposal.

Beyond the simple fact that there has not been proper legal notice (a moratorium is a lot stricter than a requirement to seek approval by the City Arborist), it also completely disrespects the rights of property owners to manage their own property. Furthermore, it would appear that the required payment for violating the moratorium will likely be well in excess of the cost of the tree removal. Most property owners would probably be OK with a reasonable ordinance that would dissuade them from wholesale deforestation of their property, but I seriously doubt whether there would be support for an ordinance that removed all discretion. Most property owners actually remove trees reluctantly and they certainly don’t want to have to appear before the Tree Tribunal whenever they are faced with such a decision.

This is a municipal election year and it’s pretty clear that some people are trying to make tree protection a defining issue for the upcoming election. So let me dabble in a little political calculus for you. There are two, maybe three city councillors who stand to gain politically by being the tree champions. The councillors who will be collecting those #1 Votes are the ones who already have them from those voters who are rallying around this moratorium proposal. Any other councillors will be getting a #3 at best, and those preferences will count for nothing. On the other hand, there are a lot of homeowners – and that includes a lot of environmentally-conscious homeowners – who will not be particularly keen about having their hands tied even though they probably won’t be reaching for the axe anytime during the next 12 months.

Every week it seems like the current City Council shows just how little faith they have in the people who elect them.

UPDATE: The City Council passed to a 2nd Reading the proposed revision to the Tree Ordinance included in the Committee Report (as amended in the report). Though there was spirited public comment favoring Order #7 – the proposed moratorium and punitive fines ($300/day) for removing a significant tree, the City Council voted 5-4 to send that proposal to the Ordinance Committee for an actual hearing and possible revision. This was really the only reasonable course of action, but Councillors Zondervan and Devereux apparently feel that discretionary tree removal, even by a homeowner, is the moral equivalent of murder. Councillors Kelley, Mallon, Simmons, Toomey, and Mayor McGovern voted in favor of due process; while Councillors Carlone, Devereux, Siddiqui, and Zondervan would have preferred immediate action without any public notice. There has never been any hearing where this punitive moratorium was on the agenda and where property owners could address their concerns. Councillors Zondervan and Devereux made it quite clear that they believe that informing people after a law is passed constitutes adequate notice. Democracy, representation, and due process apparently mean little to these councillors. – RW


Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Solicitor, in consultation with the Election Commission, to report back on the legality and constitutionality of the proposed “Cambridge Publicly Financed Municipal Election Program” and the “Cambridge Municipal Election People’s Pledge.”   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Kelley

Though I would like to see the legal opinion on these ideas, I still think they are ill-conceived for Cambridge municipal elections.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Carlone Co-Chair and Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Co-Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 29, 2018 to discuss Urban Form Recommendations from the Community Development Department.

Speaking of municipal elections….

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councilor E. Denise Simmons, Co-Chair and Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui Co-Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Nov 28, 2018 to discuss the proposed Affordable Housing Overlay District and on the first annual Inclusionary Zoning report.

Here’s an idea – Let the City’s policy be simply to maintain the subsidized housing stock that already exists and add to it via Inclusionary Zoning. We’re already way ahead of the game compared to almost every other city or town in Massachusetts.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Mallon, transmitting notes from the meeting of the Mayor’s Arts Task Force from Jan 10, 2019.

These Arts Task Force minutes sometimes read like the psychiatrist’s notes at a wacky therapy session. How does that make you feel? – RW

January 21, 2019

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – Jan 21, 2019

Foundry Property Management RFP — Seeking Responses!

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA), in partnership the Lemelson-MIT Program (a leader in the Foundry Consortium), is seeking Proposals for Property Management Services for the Foundry.City Seal

Later this year, the Foundry site will start construction…and before too long, we will have a vibrant community center for creativity and collaboration, buzzing with programs!

Therefore, the CRA is now seeking a property management firm. The successful respondent will be offered a two-part contract to provide consulting services to the CRA during the design and construction phases of the Foundry, and to provide property management services to the Foundry Consortium once the building is operational.

The full RFP can be downloaded from the CRA website, where we will also post addenda as needed: www.cambridgeredevelopment.org/jobs-contracting

There will be a site visit for interested parties on January 23rd at 10:00am. RFP responses are due on Thursday, February 14, 2019 by 4:00pm.

Interested parties are encouraged to register their interest before they apply by emailing Erica Schwarz at eschwarz@cambridgeredevelopment.org.


Call for Cambridge Artists: Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest
Winners Will Receive Prize Money and Artwork Will Be Displayed in Vacant Storefront Windows

Jan 3, 2019 – The City of Cambridge invites local artists to submit their work to the Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest. The program, designed by the Community Development Department and Cambridge Arts, aims to energize neighborhoods by filling empty store windows with reproductions of locally-made art.City Seal

Five finalists, chosen through a jury and public voting process, will each be awarded a one-time honorarium of $1,000. These winning designs will be available for Cambridge property owners to print and display in vacant ground-floor storefronts throughout the city.

“The City’s Retail Strategy Plan identified vacant storefront activation as a key recommendation for enhancing Cambridge’s retail environment,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “This contest is a unique opportunity for local artists to make our commercial districts more vibrant and engaging.”

“In Cambridge, we’re always looking for opportunities for our artists and businesses to partner—from the Central Square Mural Project and the Central Square Cultural District to our Creative Marketplace Exhibitions program,” said Jason Weeks, Executive Director of Cambridge Arts. “The Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest is another way the arts can make our city a more dynamic and engaging place to live, work, and explore.”

Artwork must be uploaded to an online submissions form by Friday, Feb 8, 2019 at noon. Original artwork—from paintings and prints to photographs and graphic designs—must be formatted into a digital, high-resolution PDF file that can be printed to paper or vinyl and is adaptable to a variety of window sizes. Designs must be original and not infringe on any copyrighted material.

Semi-finalists, chosen by a jury, will be announced in February 2019, followed by a public vote to help determine finalists. The five finalists will be announced in March 2019, with installations expected later in the spring.

For more information about the contest’s submission and selection process, visit www.cambridgema.gov/StorefrontContest.


Cambridge Community Electricity Program to Fund Development of Local Solar Project, Provide Savings to Consumers
The City’s new contract with Direct Energy will increase local renewable energy production and provide lower electricity rates than Eversource Basic Service.

The Cambridge Community Electricity Program is launching a new model for using the City’s electricity aggregation to directly create more local renewable electricity. Effective January 15, 2019, the program will collect a small amount of money, $0.002/kWh, from all participants as part of their regular electricity bill, which will be used to fund a new local solar project. Once built, the solar project will provide green electricity to everyone enrolled in the Cambridge Community Electricity Program.City Seal

The new program model is made possible through a 24-month electricity supply contract with Direct Energy. This contract offers new program prices that are fixed from January 2019 through January 2021. Participants in the Standard Green option will receive greener electricity than available through Eversource Basic Service by supporting the new local solar project. The Standard Green price will change to 11.12 cents/kWh, which is lower than Eversource’s January 2019 through June 2019 residential price of 13.704 cents/kWh.

The previous 100% Green option is now the new and improved 100% Green Plus option, which current 100% Green participants will be automatically enrolled in. 100% Green Plus participants will continue to receive 100% renewable electricity through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) from existing renewable energy projects in New England and will receive additional solar electricity from the local solar project. The 100% Green Plus price will be 11.94 cents/kWh, also less than Eversource’s winter 2019 Basic Service price. Any Cambridge resident or business can opt into 100% Green Plus at any time.

“This innovative model for our Community Electricity Program supports Cambridge’s local economy and furthers our renewable energy goals without having a negative impact on personal finances,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We are proud to continue pioneering programs that lower the carbon footprint of our community in cost-effective ways.”

Beginning in February 2019, Direct Energy will replace Agera Energy as the supplier listed on Eversource electricity bills. Participants will continue to receive and pay one bill from Eversource, which will be responsible for delivering electricity to Cambridge and for addressing power outages. Those who are eligible for discounts from Eversource will continue to receive the same benefits. Those with solar panels on their property will continue to receive net metering credits, which will be calculated based on the Eversource Basic Service rate, not on the program rate.

Savings cannot be guaranteed for future Eversource rate periods because Eversource’s prices change every 6 months for residential and small business customers and every 3 months for large business customers. Program participation is not required; participants can opt out of the program at any time with no penalty or fee and return to Eversource Basic Service.

All active accounts will be automatically enrolled in the new contract with Direct Energy unless participants choose to opt out. New Eversource electricity accounts in Cambridge will also be automatically enrolled in the program.

To switch between Standard Green or 100% Green Plus enrollment options or to opt out of the program, call Direct Energy at 1-866-968-8065. Cambridge residents and businesses currently enrolled with the Cambridge Community Electricity Program do not need to take any action to continue their enrollment as part of this new program model.

Additional information is available on the program website at www.masspowerchoice.com/cambridge. Questions or comments can be directed to Cambridge Community Electricity program consultants at 1-844-379-9934 or cambridge@masspowerchoice.com.

Launched in July 2017, the Cambridge Community Electricity Program is an electricity aggregation, which uses the bulk purchasing power of the entire community to negotiate a price and increase the amount of renewable energy in the City’s electricity supply. The City uses a competitive bidding process to choose an electricity supplier for residents and businesses and to secure the best price possible for the community while advancing the City’s sustainability goals.


City of Cambridge Sets Up Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund for Residents Impacted by Jan. 14 Fire on Cambridge and Hunting Streets

Jan 14, 2019 – Today, an early morning four-alarm fire ocurred at 6 Hunting St. and 851/855 Cambridge St. The initial time of the call was at 5:42am, with the fourth alarm being issued at 6:33am. In total, 12 engines, seven ladders, two squads, one rescue, and numerous chief officers and support units were on scene. No serious injuries have been reported, with only minor injuries reported due to falls on the ice.City Seal

In addition to Cambridge Fire Department, fire companies from Somerville, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Waltham, and Watertown aided at the fire scene. Fire companies from several cities and towns, including Arlington, Boston, Brookline, Newton, and Waltham, provided station coverage in Cambridge and responded to numerous unrelated incidents in the city during the fire.

“I want to thank the men and women of the Cambridge Fire Department for their quick action to contain the fire and protect the building exposures in this highly congested neighborhood,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasqaule. “Losing your home and your belongings to a fire is a devastating tragedy, and I know how difficult this time is for the impacted residents. I was proud that our staff and the American Red Cross were able to work with the displaced residents this morning to get them set-up with emergency housing, debit cards, and access to money from the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund. These residents have a long road ahead of them, and the City will continue to be here to assist them as they figure out how to move forward."

The cause of fire is under investigation by the Cambridge Fire Department’s Fire Investigation Unit and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. As part of that investigation, all residents, property managers, and owners of the buildings involved will be interviewed, and a thorough review of any files, reports, or other relevant information connected to the structures will be conducted.

The Cambridge Fire Department will have no comment on the cause and/or origin of the fire until that investigation is complete.

Support of Impacted Residents
At approximately 8am, the City of Cambridge opened a shelter for impacted residents and neighbors at the Frisoli Youth Center located 61 Willow St.

Staff from the City Manager’s Office, various City departments, Metro Housing Boston, Cambridge Housing Authority, and the American Red Cross assisted displaced residents. The Mayor, Vice Mayor, and numerous City Councillors and School Committee members visited the shelter to speak with the impacted residents.

“The first responders, City staff, local businesses, non-profits, and neighbors who responded quickly and effectively to this morning’s fire deserves our gratitude and praise. They are Cambridge’s strength and pride,” said Cambridge Mayor Marc C. McGovern.

851/855 Cambridge Street is a four-story structure with eight residential units and commercial space, and 6 Hunting Street is a three-story structure with two residential units. In total, 22 individuals in nine units were displaced (1 unit was vacant).

As part of their services, the American Red Cross provided every displaced individual with a $125 debit card for incidental supplies and every household with a $260 debit card for emergency hotel costs. Additionally, the Red Cross will follow each case for up to 45 days, as necessary. Each household will also receive follow-up support from the appropriate housing agency and all relevant City departments.

Additionally, the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund will provide displaced residents with $600 per person with a max of $2,400 per unit. Checks totaling $11,400 from the Disaster Relief Fund will be available to 19 residents tomorrow morning. The remaining three residents are currently out of state. The public can help the impacted families by donating to the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund at www.cambridgema.gov/MayorsDisasterReliefFund. Alternatively, donations can be made in person through the Finance Department’s cashier window at City Hall or mailed to address below:

Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund
c/o Finance Dept.
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Jan 21, 2019)

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 11:04 pm

Members Sought for New Grand Junction Multi-Use Path Design Working Group

Jan 3, 2019 – The City of Cambridge is seeking volunteers to serve on a new Grand Junction (GJ) Design Working Group to help guide the design of the Grand Junction (GJ) Multi-Use Path between the Charles River at the BU Bridge, and the Cambridge-Somerville city line. The group will advise Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale and his staff on key issues related to the planning and design for this important “Grand Junction Multi-Use Path and Conceptual Transit Design” project.City Seal

The GJ Design Working Group will consist of 15-20 members, including residents, businesses, property owners, institutions, standing city committees, and other interested parties.

Individuals with interest in the Grand Junction corridor, the neighborhoods along the corridor, and experience or expertise in relevant topics — transportation, accessibility, urban design and placemaking, landscape architecture — and a demonstrated ability to work effectively with diverse viewpoints are encouraged to apply.  Meetings of the GJ Design Working Group will be open to the public.

For additional questions about the new GJ Design Working Group, contact Tegin Teich, Transportation Planner, Community Development Department at 617-349-4615 or tteich@cambridgema.gov.

Individuals interested in being considered should apply by using the city’s online application system at cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter and résumé or summary of applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline for submitting applications is Thursday, January 31, 2019.


Residents Sought for Board Vacancy on Cambridge Human Rights Commission

Jan 4, 2019 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking a resident to fill a vacancy on the Cambridge Human Rights Commission.City Seal

The Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC) seeks Cambridge residents representing the diversity of Cambridge. 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.

The Human Rights Commission is made up of 11 members who serve three-year terms. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of every month at 6pm.

The deadline for submitting applications is February 8, 2019. Applications can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter and resume, or applicable experience, can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue.

For more information, contact Nancy Schlacter, Cambridge Human Rights Commission, at 617-349-4396 or nschlacter@cambridgema.gov.


Members Sought to Fill Vacancies on the Cambridge LGBTQ+ Commission

Jan 10, 2019 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking individuals to fill vacancies on the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) Commission. Prospective Commissioners must either reside or work in Cambridge.City Seal

The mission of the LGBTQ+ Commission is to advocate for a culture of respect and to monitor progress toward equality of all persons with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. The Commission also promotes policies and practices that have a positive effect on the health, welfare and safety of all persons who live, visit or work in the City of Cambridge with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

The Commission normally meets on the 4th Thursday of each month, from 6-7:30pm, at Windsor Street Community Health Center, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 119 Windsor St., Cambridge. Commissioners are expected to volunteer some time outside of meetings for various projects.

The deadline for submitting applications is February 8, 2019. Applications can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter and resume, or applicable experience, can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue.

For more information about the Commission, visit www.CambridgeMA.Gov/lgbtqplus. Minutes, and other information can be found there. Visit the Commission’s FaceBook page at: CambridgeLGBTQ+Commission.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: