Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 17, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 345-346: Oct 16, 2018

Episode 345 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 16, 2018 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 16, 2018 at 5:30pm. Topics: Baseball, Oct 15 Council meeting, Inman Square, Subsidized Housing Overlay controversy, Envision Cambridge. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 346 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 16, 2018 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 16, 2018 at 6:00pm. Topics: Zero Waste Report, urban design & retail (creating active storefronts), Central Square, upcoming events. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

October 15, 2018

Notable items on the Oct 15, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:07 am

Notable items on the Oct 15, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

City HallHere’s my first pass at the interesting stuff up for discussion at this week’s meeting:

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $160,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Executive Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account which will fund an expansion of free food programming for Cambridge youth.

Expanded Free Breakfast & Lunch in Cambridge schools and pre-schools courtesy of Mother Cambridge.

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $5,000,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Department Extraordinary Expenditures Account to support the completion of the Inman Square Intersection Improvements Project.

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Kelley, transmitting memorandum regarding Inman Square Redesign Project.

There are some who still feel that the plan needs revision (including Councillor Kelley), but the judge isn’t going to look at the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.

Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-76, regarding a report on Linkage fee as part of the Incentive Zoning Nexus Study.

Another study coming. At least this time there will also be effort expended to measure the impact of new nonresidential development on employment opportunities for Cambridge residents (could there be a positive impact?). Currently any linkage fees exacted from new development go toward subsidized housing. Some might argue that the greatest deficiency in how these nexus studies and associated linkage fees work is that they do little to address the lack of access for existing residents to jobs in all these new bright shiny buildings, and building additional subsidized housing without such access to employment isn’t necessarily the best strategy.

Charter Right #1. That the Envision Cambridge draft recommendations should be reviewed by the entire City Council in respective committees.

As I have said previously, handing a laundry list of suggestions from Envision Cambridge working committees to each of the City Council committees hardly seems like the best path toward comprehensive planning (you know – the Master Plan). Maybe they just want the Faster Plan.

Order #1. That the City Manager confer with the City Solicitor’s Office on the legal question and the feasibility of placing a condition in public bidding documents prohibiting municipal contractors from displaying any signage—other than company markers and contact information—on vehicles.   Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux

Though I don’t know for sure (really, I do), I believe this Order came about because somebody snapped a picture of a cement truck that had "Make America Great Again" on it.

Order #4. That the Chairs of the Ordinance Committee schedule a hearing on Tree Protections and the Chairs of the Health & Environment Committee schedule public hearings on Tree Protections and the preliminary results from the Ordinance Committee hearing.   Councillor Zondervan

I may just have to take down sooner than later that problematic ash tree in my yard that’s leaning on my roof. Otherwise, if a new ordinance is passed I may need a lawyer and an additional check.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and the City Solicitor to investigate the queries posed by the Economic and University Relations Committee for a City-Based Cannabis Social Equity Program.   Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan

Cast me out from the community, if you will, but I simply cannot wrap my head around a policy that gives preferential treatment to relatives of people convicted of drug-related crimes. Ensuring that the new dope industry provides economic opportunity broadly, i.e. "social equity", is one thing, but getting nailed for dealing dope under previous laws should not provide an advantage over those who lived within the law.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councilor E. Denise Simmons, Chair and Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Sept 27, 2018 to discuss Affordable Housing Overlay District.

The juggernaut continues. I spoke my mind on this subject at the most recent meeting of the Envision Cambridge Housing Working Group (which really should be renamed the "Subsidized Housing Working Group" based on the fact that they never addressed housing generally). As I have stated repeatedly, it’s certainly true that people want housing to be affordable in the sense that a typical person or family can find a place to buy or rent within their budget, but this is not the same as advocating for a dramatic increase in subsidized housing (of which Cambridge already has a significant amount when you add up all the Housing Authority properties, Inclusionary housing units, etc.). Indeed, I think an argument can be made that the singular focus on subsidized housing may be contributing to the non-affordability of housing generally. The best affordable housing program ever conceived was the proliferation of multi-family housing, and that involved no government subsidy at all.

Better ideas would be to permit multi-family housing in all zones, adjust allowable densities to better reflect the existing built environment, and work regionally to increase the overall housing stock. As I stated at the very first meeting of the Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee, constructing many housing units in Somerville’s Union Square, in Everett, in Allston, and elsewhere will do more toward making housing more affordable in Cambridge than anything. Only when people have options can they make rational economic choices. It is the shortage of available better options that allows housing costs in Cambridge to rise unchecked.

Committee Report #2. 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 Sept 12, 2018 to discuss Storefront Vacancies Best Practices.

Though I suppose I like the idea of "pop up" art in vacant storefronts, it’s a poor substitute for actual retail. On a related matter, current state law requires all new marijuana stores to obscure the views into these establishments (kinda like a speakeasy in the prohibition era). The crappy response has been to propose putting artsy stuff in the front windows. There are better approaches. My proposal is to create arcade-like shallow retail operations on these frontages. How about a hot dog vendor? A newsstand (if anyone still buys newspapers/magazines)? Maybe just a simple water bottle filling station. How about just creating a recessed area with an awning where a local vendor can sell hats, scarves, or trinkets? There are plenty of other good ideas. I would make the same proposal for other "formula businesses" to create active, low-cost, retail opportunities. – Robert Winters

October 3, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 343-344: Oct 2, 2018

Episode 343 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 2, 2018 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 2, 2018 at 5:30pm. Topics: Baseball, zoning & housing affordability, property taxes, tax rates, tax classification, tax levy. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 344 – Cambridge InsideOut: Oct 2, 2018 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 2, 2018 at 6:00pm. Topics: affordable housing, Envision Cambridge end game, the changing face of Central Square. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

October 1, 2018

Cambridge Absentee Voting & Designated Early Voting Locations, Dates, Hours – State Election, Nov 6, 2018

Filed under: elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 9:30 pm

Deadline to Register to Vote and Availability of Absentee Ballots for the State Election, November 6th

The State Election will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. For Cambridge residents not already registered, the last day to register to vote is Wednesday, October 17, 2018 until 8:00pm. The Office of the Secretary of State has developed an Online Voter Registration System at www.registertovotema.com. Individuals may use the online system to submit an online application, update their address or change their party affiliation. You must have a valid driver’s license, learner’s permit, or non-driver ID issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). If you do not have an RMV ID you can use the system to create an application. Print and sign the completed form and mail or bring it to the office of the Cambridge Election Commission.

Absentee Ballots are now available at the Cambridge Election Commission office. Any voter who is unable to go to the polls on Election Day due to physical disability, religious belief, or absence from the City may request an Absentee Ballot from the Commission. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Monday, November 5th at noon. Absentee Ballots may be mailed to voters, or such voters may choose to vote at the Commission office during regular city office hours: Monday, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30am-5:00pm; Friday, 8:30am-Noon.

The polls will be open on Election Day, November 6th from 7:00am until 8:00pm. For any additional information, please visit the Cambridge Election Commission office at 51 Inman Street, call 617-349-4361 or visit our website at www.cambridgema.gov/election.


City of Cambridge Designated Early Voting Sites Locations, Dates and Hours for the State Election, November 6, 2018

Vote!Early voting will begin on October 22nd and continue through November 2nd for the State Election to be held on Tuesday, November 6th. In 2016, Massachusetts voters were given the opportunity to vote prior to Election Day through early voting. Previously the only way a registered voter could vote prior to Election Day was through absentee voting. Although absentee voting is still available for registered voters who qualify, only those who will be absent from their city or town on Election Day or have a disability that prevents them from going to the polls, or have a religious belief preventing the same, are legally allowed to vote by absentee ballot.

Unlike absentee voting, early voting is for every registered voter. Registered voters do not need an excuse or reason to vote early. Regardless of whether a voter wants to take advantage of early voting, vote absentee or vote on Election Day, the first step is making sure you are registered. To check to see if you are registered to vote, and to find information on how to register to vote, you may visit the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website: www.sec.state.ma.us/ele. If you need to register to vote, you may do it online by visiting: www.RegisterToVoteMA.com. All you need is a license or an I.D. issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles to apply online. To be eligible to vote in the November 6th State Election, you must register to vote or make any necessary changes to your voter registration by the deadline of Wednesday, October 17th at 8pm.

Early voting can be done in person or by mail. In the City of Cambridge, early voting can be done in person at any of the five (5) designated early voting sites during the scheduled dates and times. Please note, however, once a voter has cast an early voting ballot, the voter may no longer vote at the polls on Election Day.

To request a ballot by mail, simply fill out an application or send us a written request with your name, Cambridge address, address where you want the ballot sent and your signature and mail it to the Election Commission, 51 Inman Street, Cambridge, MA 02139. You can download an application at www.CambridgeMA.gov/EarlyVoting.

We encourage all our citizens to exercise their right and take advantage of the opportunity to vote at one of the sites during the scheduled dates and times. For public convenience, the City of Cambridge will also offer weekday evening hours and weekend hours on Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 9am to 5pm.

CITY OF CAMBRIDGE EARLY VOTING SCHEDULE

LOCATION

DATE & TIME

City of Cambridge Election Commission Office
51 Inman Street, 1st Floor

Mon, October 22, 8:30am to 8:00pm
Tues, October 23, 8:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 24, 8:30am to 8:00pm
Thurs, October 25, 8:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, October 26, 8:30am to 6:00pm
Sat, October 27, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Mon, October 29, 8:30am to 8:00pm
Tues, October 30, 8:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 31, 8:30am to 8:00pm
Thurs, November 1, 8:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, November 2, 8:30am to 6:00pm

Police Department, Community Room
1st Floor, 125 Sixth Street

Mon, October 22, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Tues, October 23, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 24, 12:00am to 8:00pm
Thurs, October 25, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, October 26, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Sat, October 27, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Mon, October 29, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Tues, October 30, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 31, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Thurs, November 1, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, November 2, 9:30am to 6:00pm

Cambridge Water Department
250 Fresh Pond Parkway

Mon, October 22, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Tues, October 23, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 24, 12:00am to 8:00pm
Thurs, October 25, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, October 26, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Sat, October 27, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Mon, October 29, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Tues, October 30, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 31, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Thurs, November 1, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, November 2, 9:30am to 6:00pm

Main Library
449 Broadway

Mon, October 22, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Tues, October 23, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 24, 12:00am to 8:00pm
Thurs, October 25, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, October 26, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Sat, October 27, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Mon, October 29, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Tues, October 30, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 31, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Thurs, November 1, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, November 2, 9:30am to 6:00pm

O’Neill Library
70 Rindge Ave.

Mon, October 22, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Tues, October 23, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 24, 12:00am to 8:00pm
Thurs, October 25, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, October 26, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Sat, October 27, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Mon, October 29, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Tues, October 30, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Wed, October 31, 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Thurs, November 1, 9:30am to 6:00pm
Fri, November 2, 9:30am to 6:00pm

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