Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

April 30, 2012

Budget Season – April 30, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Comcast — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 1:59 pm

Budget Season – April 30, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

The centerpiece of tonight’s meeting is the FY2013 Budget. The Budget Hearings of the Finance Committee will commence this week. See schedule below.

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board petition to amend the Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge for an area along North Massachusetts Avenue.

From the report: "The petition amends the Zoning Map by changing the zoning of an area in the vicinity of Trolley Square and Linear Park from Business A-2 to Residence C-2B. This will allow a similar density to the current Business A-2 zoning district, but is limited to residential uses and provides increased setback and open space standards. The proposed map change is complementary to the proposed zoning text changes to the Mass. Ave. Overlay District previously submitted to the Council."

The meatiest items on the agenda are the annual Big Capital items to be financed by bonds. These are always introduced around the time of the submission of the annual budget. Here are this year’s Big Ticket items:

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $2,100,000 to provide funds for the replacement of the slate roof on City Hall and additional funds for the replacement of the roofs on the Ryan Garage and Simard Buildings at Public Works.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $5,000,000 to provide funds for improvements to the Kendall Square area including Main Street between Broadway and Ames Street including the reconstruction of streets and sidewalks and the installation of new pedestrian-scale public lighting, street furniture, trees, and other beautification measures.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $1,245,000 to provide funds for the acquisition of a ladder truck and pumper to replace vehicles that have been in service since 1994 and 1991, respectively.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $1,540,000 to provide funds for the design, regrade, drainage, and installation of new synthetic field surfaces on the soccer fields at Danehy Park.

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $7,557,670 to provide funds for construction of sewer separation, stormwater management and combined sewer overflow reduction elimination improvements within the City’s Alewife watershed.

The central item on tonight’s agenda is the Budget Overview (672 KB PDF). It is always informative and usually very responsive to most of the concerns expressed by councillors during the months leading up to the submission of the budget. The Manager’s presentation is invariable followed by well-deserved praise from most of the councillors. Indeed, their jobs are made so much easier because of the efforts of the City Manager’s Office and the Finance Department to plan and provide adequate funding for all the services and programs that Cambridge provides. [Download the entire FY2013 Budget Book (18.2MB PDF)]

Unfinished Business #6. That the FY2013 City Budget be referred to the Finance Committee, with the exception that the Budget Overview be postponed to … the Apr 30, 2012 City Council meeting … at which time the City Manager will give an overview of the 2013 City Budget….

Then there’s this:

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to report to the City Council on appropriate regulation of satellite dishes, possibly through an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance.   Mayor Davis

I don’t suppose anyone likes the idea of satellite dishes decorating the exterior of many residential buildings in Cambridge, but this is the consequence of the predatory pricing of Comcast’s Evil Empire. If the City Council acts in such a way as to make it difficult to find an affordable alternative to the Evil Empire, then they have indeed gone over to The Dark Side. – Robert Winters

Comments?


Schedule of Budget Hearings:

Wed, May 2

9:00am   The City Council’s Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing on the FY2013 City Budget. This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Mayor’s Office
Executive
City Council
City Clerk
Law
Finance Admin.
Budget
Personnel
Assessing
Purchasing
Auditing
Treasury/Revenue
Information Technology
Employee Benefits
General Services
Election Commission
Public Celebrations
Reserve
License Commission
Animal Commission
Fire Department
Police Department
Traffic, Parking & Transportation
Inspectional Services
Weights & Measures
Electrical
Emergency Communications
Cable TV

Wed, May 9

9:00am   The City Council’s Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing on the FY2013 City Budget. This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Public Works
Cambridge Health Alliance
Water
Community Development
Historical Commission
Conservation Commission
Peace Commission
Police Review & Advisory Board
Debt Service
Library
Human Services
Women’s Commission
Human Rights Commission
Veterans
MWRA
Cherry Sheet
Summaries Section
Revenue Section
Public Investment

Date changes for individual departments may occur.

Wed, May 16

6:00pm   The City Council’s Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing on the FY2013 School Department Budget. This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 Cambridge City Council Meeting Highlights – featuring the Proposed FY2013 Budget

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Comcast — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 1:48 pm

April 23, 2012 Cambridge City Council Meeting Highlights – featuring the Proposed FY2013 Budget

The FY2013 Budget for the City of Cambridge will be submitted this Monday, April 23 to the City Council. Here’s a table of the bottom line for all of the City Departments for FY2013 as well as FY2005 and FY2012 for comparison:

City of Cambridge FY2013 Budget

GENERAL GOVERNMENT FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Mayor 430,035 587,235 554,040 -5.7 28.8
Executive 1,353,140 1,999,890 2,068,675 3.4 52.9
City Council 975,570 1,602,960 1,642,165 2.4 68.3
City Clerk 720,925 964,540 1,067,130 10.6 48.0
Law 1,780,975 2,112,790 2,061,495 -2.4 15.8
Finance 8,837,560 12,046,005 12,350,575 2.5 39.8
Employee Benefits 20,499,920 30,922,965 31,796,130 2.8 55.1
General Services 984,345 739,215 726,475 -1.7 -26.2
Election 756,540 1,062,480 1,004,285 -5.5 32.7
Public Celebrations 671,505 791,445 799,370 1.0 19.0
Reserve 37,500 37,500 37,500 0.0 0.0
TOTAL $37,048,015 $52,867,025 $54,107,840 2.3 46.0
           
PUBLIC SAFETY FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Animal Commission 228,870 288,660 298,585 3.4 30.5
Fire 28,891,840 39,055,065 40,111,145 2.7 38.8
Police 31,515,220 43,496,275 45,643,095 4.9 44.8
Traffic, Parking & Transportation 8,175,095 10,294,470 10,551,435 2.5 29.1
Police Review & Advisory Board 77,210 103,745 70,730 -31.8 -8.4
Inspectional Services 2,261,215 2,992,440 3,115,045 4.1 37.8
License 726,735 931,910 986,140 5.8 35.7
Weights & Measures 98,910 130,025 134,325 3.3 35.8
Electrical 2,239,640 2,773,865 2,792,005 0.7 24.7
Emergency Management 137,820 0 0 -100.0
Emergency Communications 3,097,485 4,085,420 4,242,970 3.9 37.0
TOTAL $77,450,040 $104,151,875 $107,945,475 3.6 39.4
           
COMMUNITY MAINT/DEVELOPMENT FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Public Works 23,648,125 30,397,855 31,945,265 5.1 35.1
Community Development 4,472,620 5,283,620 5,482,210 3.8 22.6
Historical Commission 457,580 571,470 587,025 2.7 28.3
Conservation Commission 89,760 100,305 101,925 1.6 13.6
Peace Commission 76,215 119,590 139,595 16.7 83.2
Cable T.V. 999,500 1,402,505 1,436,360 2.4 43.7
Debt Service 23,917,070 44,594,830 47,526,975 6.6 98.7
TOTAL $53,660,870 $82,470,175 $87,219,355 5.8 62.5
           
HUMAN RESOURCE/DEVELOPMENT FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Library 5,461,430 8,398,455 8,710,520 3.7 59.5
Human Services 14,581,590 21,227,585 22,480,760 5.9 54.2
Women’s Commission 155,860 217,720 225,425 3.5 44.6
Human Rights Commission 158,730 222,615 220,160 -1.1 38.7
Veterans 510,885 1,033,660 981,165 -5.1 92.1
TOTAL $20,868,495 $31,100,035 $32,618,030 4.9 56.3
           
CITY TOTAL $189,027,420 $270,589,110 $281,890,700 4.2 49.1
           
EDUCATION FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Schools Operating (TOTAL) 122,053,195 140,719,260 144,987,705 3.0 18.8
           
INTERGOVERNMENTAL FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
MWRA 16,177,455 21,699,800 21,006,055 -3.2 29.8
Cherry Sheet Assessments 11,569,960 18,285,305 19,700,025 7.7 70.3
Cambridge Health Alliance 6,500,000 6,000,000 6,500,000 8.3 0.0
TOTAL 34,247,415 45,985,105 47,206,080 2.7 37.8
           
GRAND TOTALS $345,328,030 $457,293,475 $474,084,485 3.7 37.3
         
FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
WATER $17,098,120 $14,902,620 $14,144,080 -5.1 -17.3
PUBLIC INVESTMENT $8,834,255 $11,613,225 $21,277,065 83.2 140.8

PDF of this Chart    Open Chart on separate page

Note 1: There’s nothing special about FY2005 for making comparisions. That’s just the earliest year with available online budget summaries.

Note 2: Don’t jump to conclusions about the apparent jump in budget for the Peace Commission or the apparent drop in budget for the Police Review Advisory Board. They now share an Executive Director, so the changes are most likely related to which budget is covering that salary.


The proposed FY2013 Budget is City Manager’s Agenda #1. There are a few other items on the agenda as well. For example:

City Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Police Review & Advisory Board for a term of five years, effective Apr 17, 2012:
Ann Coyne,
Laurance Kimbrough,
Lucy Murray-Brown

City Manager’s Agenda #12. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Board of Zoning Appeals effective Apr 18, 2012:
Lindsey Thorne-Bingham (Full Member, 5-year term);  Janet Green (Associate Member, 2-year term)
Andrea Hickey (Associate Member, 2-year term);  Kevin McAvey (Associate Member, 2-year term)

City Manager’s Agenda #13. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Human Rights Commissioner for three year terms effective Apr 18, 2012:
Brendan St. Amant,
Adrian Velazquez

It’s apparently catch-up time for appointments to City boards and commissions.

City Manager’s Agenda #15. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $11,917,462 from Free Cash to the General Fund Law Department Travel and Training (Judgment and Damages) account.

This is the formal balancing of the books to account for the payment out of free cash to cover the legal settlement costs relating to the unfortunate outcome of the lawsuits of Monteiro, Wong, and Stamper. Hopefully we’ll not see any other opportunistic lawsuits like these any time soon.

Resolution #11. Resolution on the death of Timothy J. Decker.   Vice Mayor Simmons, Councillor Maher, Councillor Cheung, Mayor Davis, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Reeves, Councillor Toomey and Councillor vanBeuzekom

Sincere condolences to Marjorie Decker on the loss of her father.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the feasibility of converting portions of the 4th floor of City Hall, or some other under-utilized building space already owned by the City, into office space for the eight members of the City Council who do not currently have office space within City Hall.   Vice Mayor Simmons and Councillor Cheung

This unnecessary Order will likely be approved on a unanimous or near-unanimous vote. It should be noted that during course of the last decade or so, city councillors were granted exclusive parking spaces behind City Hall (usually vacant), their own personal assistants (primarily campaign workers), and magnificent salary increases. The job description remains the same as it was in 1941. Note that the City Council budget has also increased 68% in 8 years. This Order rather absurdly asserts that city councillors lack sufficient space in City Hall. This doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Order #6. That the matter of Reconsideration in Rule Sixteen of the City Council Rules be referred to the Government Operations and Rules Committee for review.   Councillor Maher

This is a good idea, especially since at least one councillor has chosen to file Reconsideration purely to delay matters that have been overwhelmingly supported. Some councillors appear to have never been acquainted with Robert’s Rules or Order or even the City Council’s own adopted rules. This is good for occasional comedy, but not so great for efficient meetings.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to determine if Cambridge can take similar steps towards being re-certified to regulate basic cable costs in the City of Cambridge and to report back to the City Council.   Councillor Toomey

I won’t hold my breath expecting anything to come of this. The Evil Empire of Comcast shall not yield. Besides, it’s not the "basic cable" costs that are the big problem with Comcast. It’s the fact that all the other cable packages are absurdly overpriced and the City is not legally permitted to negotiate any of those rates or selections. That’s why I dumped Comcast and use a roof antenna. – Robert Winters

April 9, 2012

Well-Appointed – April 9, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Well-Appointed – April 9, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Tonight’s meeting features several notable appointments by the City Manager. The first is this:

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Nancy Tauber as the Executive Director of the Cambridge Kids’ Council effective Apr 24, 2012.

I cannot imagine a better choice to head this agency. I have often wondered what exactly the Kids’ Council does – primarily because most of what I think it should do is already managed in the Dept. of Human Services Programs, the School Department, and elsewhere. If the theory is that all this child-centered programming should be coordinated within the Kids’ Council, then there’s been a big gap between theory and reality. The addition of Nancy Tauber as Executive Director is a great step forward to realizing what this agency is supposed to be about.

Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, requesting City Council confirmation of members of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board in accordance with Chapter 121B of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Though any complaints about the delay in making these appointments are entirely valid, the quality of the four appointments to the CRA certainly make up for this. Joining state appointee Barry Zevin will be (pending City Council approval) Margaret Drury, Kathleen Born, Chris Bator, and Conrad Crawford. Recently retired City Clerk Margaret Drury and former City Councillor and current architect Kathleen Born are stunningly good choices. Based on the credentials of the other two gentlemen, they also seem to be excellent choices.

April 9, 2012
To the Honorable, the City Council:

In accordance with Chapter 121B of the Massachusetts General Laws, I am submitting the following names for City Council confirmation as members of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board.

D. Margaret Drury, 1-year term to expire April 12, 2013:
Margaret is the recently retired City Clerk, former Executive Director of the Cambridge Rent Control Board and an Attorney.

Chris Bator, 3-year term to expire April 12, 2015:
Chris is an Assistant United States Attorney serving in that role since 1990. Prior to that, he served as the Assistant to the Commissioner of Health and Hospitals in Boston and as Executive Assistant to Mayor Kevin White.

Conrad Crawford, 4-year term to expire April 12, 2016:
Conrad is presently the Director of Partnerships for the Department of Conservation and Recreation and has experience in energy efficient transportation products. He is a resident of East Cambridge.

Kathleen Born, 5-year term to expire April 12, 2017:
Kathy is an Architect and former Cambridge City Councillor. She co-chaired the Ordinance Committee, and is thus very familiar with the zoning process. The State appointment term expiration would occur in 2014.

Since this recommendation results in a reconstruction of the Board, my recommendation results in staggered terms with one member’s term expiring in each of the five years. Subsequent appointments would be for 5-year terms.

Very truly yours, Robert W. Healy, City Manager

Though the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority is most known for the redevelopment of the Kendall Square MXD district, the CRA in the past played a major role in housing development in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood and elsewhere. It is certainly possible that the CRA could again take on that role elsewhere in the city.

Applications & Petitions #2. An application was received from Cambridge Housing Authority requesting permission for a curb cut at the premises numbered 7 Temple Street; said petition has received approval from Inspectional Services, Traffic, Parking and Transportation, Historical Commission and Public Works. No response has been received from the neighborhood association.

This is the first sign in a long time that the proposed Cambridge Housing Authority residential project on the site of the long-abandoned YWCA pool on Temple Street may at last be moving forward.

Order #2. Urge greater cooperation from the Cambridge Housing Authority to better serve the people of Cambridge.   Vice Mayor Simmons and Councillor Cheung

This is a very long-winded Order that on the one hand could be interpreted as a statement of exasperation by city councillors at the nonresponsiveness of personnel at the CHA. On the other hand, the age-old practice of elected officials delivering CHA housing to constituents could be the basis of this Order. Should elected officials be actively placing individuals in public housing? Considering the political implications of providing such an economic benefit to potential voters, one might argue that all housing placements should be done objectively without any political influence. It’s very hard to read between the lines of this Order to discern its real intent.

Order #3. That the petition to amend the Zoning Ordinance to add to the Special Dimensional Regulations a Special Regulation for Municipal Elementary and Middle (K-8) Schools be referred to the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee for a hearing and report.   Councillor Maher

This matter was introduced at the end of the last Council term as a necessary step in the planning for future school reconstruction. The delay in choosing a mayor and in appointing the Council subcommittees pushed this matter back, but it will now move forward with Ordinance Committee and Planning Board hearings.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant departments in order to present to the City Council a map of Cambridge that shows, by location and by date, all of the areas where construction is and will be taking place over the coming decade.   Vice Mayor Simmons

An initial read of this Order suggests some kind of mystical powers within CDD to peer into the future. Some projects are definitely in the planning stage, but it’s doubtful whether CDD could accurately state where and what will be built more than a couple of years into the future. Even the dense-pack proposals now being crafted by Goody Clancy as part of the Kendall Square/Central Square (K2C2) Study may not be realized anytime soon, if ever.

Order #8. That a one-time suspension of Council Rule 23B be allowed, for the broadcast of the Wed, Apr 25, 2012, 4:00pm Cambridge City Council Roundtable Meeting (a meeting to receive an update from Goody Clancy and the Community Development Department on the Kendall Central Study.)   Councillor vanBeuzekom

None of the recent Kendall Square and Central Square studies and its related committee meetings, with and without the red ribbons, have involved much in the way of community participation. Indeed, the Red Ribbon report from last year seemed disconnected from much of the discussion that took place at the various minimally publicized meetings leading up to the report. It’s doubtful that broadcasting the April 25 Roundtable meeting (no public comment allowed) will do much for either public awareness or involvement.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor’s Office, the City Auditor and the Community Development Department to explore the City of Cambridge’s relationship with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority and any of its current and future development projects.   Councillor vanBeuzekom and Vice Mayor Simmons

The time is certainly right for evaluating the past, present, and possible future role of the CRA. This should not, however, delay the City Council from approving the four persons appointed by the City Manager. After the newly reconstituted CRA Board meets and gets organized, it might be a good time to have a City Council Roundtable meeting with the CRA Board and its Executive Director. – Robert Winters

April 5, 2012

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area – Cambridge Redevelopment Authority

Filed under: Cambridge Redevelopment Authority,Kendall Square — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 10:30 am

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area – Cambridge Redevelopment Authority

documents provided by Joseph Tulimieri, Exec. Director, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project/Chronology (dated February 2012)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan History (dated February 2012)

Report on Authority Land Holdings and Disposition Plans (dated September 1, 2011)


Background material on the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority provided at the March 22, 2011 joint meeting of the Cambridge City Council’s Neighborhood & Long-Term Planning Committee and the Economic Development, Training, & Employment Committee.

Note (Apr 5): The links are provided to give a little perspective to those who were not around when the Kendall Square MXD district was little more than vacant lots. The district is now almost completely built and is a major part of the commercial tax base for Cambridge. The staff of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) was reduced a number of years ago and its function is now primarily administrative. Though one may argue that the granting of a sign to Microsoft and the modification of a covenant for the garage rooftop garden are significant policy decisions, in the long view these are relatively minor administrative decisions.

The more important question, and the one not asked by the local bloggers, is what role the CRA should play in the future. Earlier in its history, the CRA was greatly involved in housing development outside the Kendall Square MXD district. Much of this function has been assumed in the ensuing years by the Community Development Department and the Affordable Housing Trust in partnership with both for-profit and non-profit developers. An interesting question is whether the CRA might play a role in future housing development – especially in light of some of the proposals currently being floated for the areas now being discussed in the Kendall Square/Central Square study. – Robert Winters

Update: Four new City appointments have been made to the Board of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority. They join gubernatorial appointee Barry Zevin to complete the five-person Board. The four City appointees must be confirmed by the City Council.

City Manager Letter –
April 9, 2012
To the Honorable, the City Council:

In accordance with Chapter 121B of the Massachusetts General Laws, I am submitting the following names for City Council confirmation as members of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board.

D. Margaret Drury, 1-year term to expire April 12, 2013:
Margaret is the recently retired City Clerk, former Executive Director of the Cambridge Rent Control Board and an Attorney.

Chris Bator, 3-year term to expire April 12, 2015:
Chris is an Assistant United States Attorney serving in that role since 1990. Prior to that, he served as the Assistant to the Commissioner of Health and Hospitals in Boston and as Executive Assistant to Mayor Kevin White.

Conrad Crawford, 4-year term to expire April 12, 2016:
Conrad is presently the Director of Partnerships for the Department of Conservation and Recreation and has experience in energy efficient transportation products. He is a resident of East Cambridge.

Kathleen Born, 5-year term to expire April 12, 2017:
Kathy is an Architect and former Cambridge City Councillor. She co-chaired the Ordinance Committee, and is thus very familiar with the zoning process. The State appointment term expiration would occur in 2014.

Since this recommendation results in a reconstruction of the Board, my recommendation results in staggered terms with one member’s term expiring in each of the five years. Subsequent appointments would be for 5-year terms.

Very truly yours,
Robert W. Healy
City Manager

April 2, 2012

Apr 2, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights and other News from the People’s Republic

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council,Kendall Square — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 1:20 pm

Apr 2, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights and other News from the People’s Republic

There’s not much to say about the meeting itself, but the agenda items do bring a few other things to mind.Bike Post

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the supplemental appropriation of a Metropolitan Area Planning Council Regional Bike Parking Program Grant in the amount of $24,948 to the Grant Fund Community Development Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account to purchase bicycle parking racks.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of a $2,000 grant received form the Cambridge Health Department to the Grant Fund Community Development Department Salary and Wages account to pay for an intern who will work with city staff to promote cycling and to research and plan for bicycle parking in numerous locations around Cambridge.

This is all well and good, but there are a few things about all these bike posts sprouting through the sidewalks of Cambridge that need to be said. First, it’s incredible how many abandoned bikes are clogging up these posts. The fact that the DPW guy in charge of wrangling bikes was arrested for stealing bicycles may be a factor, but I’d love to hear a truck making the rounds announcing "Bike rack cleaning. No parking on the odd side of the street or your bike will be tagged and towed. Bike rack cleaning…."

Another curious fact of these bike racks is that the responsibility of property owners to provide space for bikes for their residential and commercial tenants is being transferred to the City. On my block, my tenants store their bikes in the basement or behind the house but other property owners provide no space at all on premises for bicycles. The plan is apparently to transfer this responsibility entirely to the City by installing bike racks on the sidewalk – even though the primary users are not customers but tenants of the buildings. One commercial building with plentiful basement space and four commercial parking spaces behind the building now has no parking on premises for either bikes or motor vehicles. The parking spaces were given to an abutting residential condo building, and the City will be providing bike parking on the sidewalk. I wish I could externalize all my responsibilities like that.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 12-34, regarding a report on designated open space within the MXD District. [attachment]

This report really should have been provided a month ago when the controversy over the Kendall Square rooftop garden first arose. Better late than never, I suppose. It would be more informative if there was an accompanying document showing the whole range of current and planned open space in the wider area, especially the new open space that came out of the Alexandria rezoning process.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the North Massachusetts Avenue Rezoning Petition received from the Planning Board. [attachment]

This petition concerns the part of Mass. Ave. from Porter Square to the Arlington line. As the report states, the principal elements of the proposed zoning are maintaining ground floor retail (non·residential uses on the ground floor would be required), protecting historic structures, facilitating outdoor seating, and adjusting the Business A2 (BA2) district boundaries. The closing sentence states, "The Planning Board feels that the proposed zoning changes reflect key opportunities to allow North Massachusetts Avenue to continue to evolve into an inviting, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use street with active ground floors."

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to a request that the City Council authorize the City Manager to seek approval from the Office of the Inspector General to utilize "Construction Manager-at-Risk" as the contracting method for the Martin Luther King School Renovation Project.

I don’t profess to understand what advantages this may have, but anything that may potentially limit costs is welcome. We’ve spent a lot of money in recent years on the Library, the Police Station, and the High School, and much more will be spent during the next decade in reconstructing buildings that will house the new middle school programs.

Order #1. That the City Council schedule a Roundtable Meeting for Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 4:00pm to receive an update from Goody Clancy and the Community Development Department on the Kendall Central Study.   Mayor Davis

This is one of MANY meetings coming up regarding possible plans for both Kendall Square and Central Square. One criticism I would express about the Goody Clancy role in this is the strong sense that their primary goal even before entering into this was to dramatically increase the residential and commercial density everywhere possible between Kendall Square and Central Square. Some of this is good, but the whole process feels like a juggernaut with the various advisory committees simply receiving the "vision" of the planners and not the other way around. Perhaps the upcoming meetings on Apr 4 (Central), Apr 5 (Kendall), Apr 6 (Kendall), Apr 10 (Kendall), Apr 11 (Central), Apr 12 (Kendall), Apr 25 (Goody Clancy at the City Council), and Apr 26 (Kendall) will bring out some more residents – few of whom have attended any of the previous meetings.

So many of the people who will be affected by proposals for Central Square have had little or no input into these ongoing discussions. This includes the Red Ribbon stuff of the last two years. The first news for some will be when places like the Clear Conscience Café and the Harvest Market are hustled out of their spaces to make room for other things. Other favorite places will be priced out of Central Square as it continues its transformation toward upscale restaurants as basic retail outlets pass into history. It’s popular to talk about buying local, but we are swiftly moving toward a future where a trip to Somerville or Everett will be necessary for anyone seeking affordable groceries, clothing, and other basic needs.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the Council on the legal requirements for public notice and meetings including issues on legibility, regulatory framework and definition and public comment at said meeting or hearing.   Councillor Kelley

The impetus for this Order is the proposed Dunkin Donuts next to the Evergood Market at Mass. Ave. and Shepard St. It’s doubtful whether there would have been such outrage if the Dunkin Donuts was proposed to open on Broadway or in East Cambridge or Central Square. Alas, not all neighborhoods have a Master Plan. – Robert Winters

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