October 22, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights: Culture, Rats, and Parking
Tonight’s City Council agenda is short but contains a few interesting items:
Resolution #4. Congratulations to the newly state-designated Central Square Cultural District. Councillor Reeves
This is yet another signal of the ongoing revival of Central Square and the need to maintain the positive momentum. The next steps should involve some additional housing construction and "filling the gaps" where inappropriate one-story buildings now occupy parcels that once had more appropriate scale buildings – on the order of perhaps 4 or 5 stories at the sidewalk. There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel regarding the eventual report of Goody/Clancy and the associated short-term advisory committee for Central Square. One of the greatest problems over the years is that interest in Central Square is cyclical – a push for some flavor of improvements and then the excitement dies down for another decade or so. It is certainly the case that Central Square is not Kendall Square and that the appropriate densities for these respective areas are not the same, but the right balance has to be created in Central Square so that the residents, businesses, and cultural attractions can all thrive – and we’re not there yet.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public meeting held on Oct 3, 2012 to discuss a zoning petition filed by Susan Yanow, et al to rezone from the existing Business A to Business A-1 the areas bounded by Windsor, Main Streets, Bishop Allen Drive, Columbia, Prospect and Norfolk Streets; rezone from the existing Bus. B and CRDD to a proposed new district Bus. B-3 in the area bounded by Green, Landsdowne, Magazine and Prospect Streets and Mass. Ave. define as a protected neighborhood zone the area zoned Res. C-1 and bounded by Portland, Main and Windsor Streets and a line 120 feet north of and parallel to Main Street; rezone the areas currently identified as Municipal Parking Lots along Bishop Allen Drive to a proposed new Municipal Parking District (MP).
There is word going around today that the petitioners have withdrawn their petition. It’s not really clear that a petition that has been filed with 36 signatures can be "withdrawn" simply on the word of one or several of its proponents. There seems to be a suggestion that this withdrawal is being done strategically with the intent of revising and re-filing the petition. This would be a mistake. Such an absurd petition should be voted and defeated. Zoning petitions should not be filed simply as expressions of unhappiness. That’s what "letters to the editor" and the public comment period during City Council meetings are for.
Order #1. That the Mayor and the Chair of the Government Operations and Rules Committee are requested to provide updates every other week on the status of the City Manager search process to the City Council and to work with the City’s Information Technology staff to have those updates posted on the City Council website under a separate tab on the City Council’s page on the City’s website. Councillor Kelley
All sentiments like this are in order. The choice of city manager is the single most important decision to be made by the City Council, and residents and other interested parties have a right to know what’s going on so that they can express themselves to their elected representatives – the only 9 people who will actually make the decision. My main reservation in this matter is that this might turn into some kind of "process carnival" in which every aspect of life in Cambridge is discussed with minimal focus on the only thing that really matters – the capacity to competently manage this city. I also have some concern that with this City Council, the tail might wag the dog and we could end up with a hopelessly wrong choice for the next city manager.
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to work together with Inspectional Services Department, the Department of Public Works, the Law Department, the Public Information Department, the Public Health Department and a group of concerned residents and property owners to explore action on suggestions for controlling the rodent population. Councillor vanBeuzekom
This is one area in which her City Council colleagues should definitely heed the advice of Councillor vanBeuzekom. Prior to her election, Minka was an expert member of the Cambridge Rodent Task Force. Rodents quake in fear at the mention of her name.
Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City officials to explore the possibility of completing an on-street parking census and the impacts of a plan for the gradual reduction of on-street parking spaces over the next decades. Councillor vanBeuzekom
Here’s where I part company with Councillor vanBeuzekom. Though some of my climate change friends may believe otherwise, on-street parking spaces are an essential resource for those who live in this "streetcar suburb" and who do not have access to off-street parking. I cannot respect the desire of an elected official who has off-street parking dictating to the rest of us that we should lose our parking in order to produce a negligible effect on world climate. – Robert Winters