Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

April 3, 2011

April 4, 2011 City Council Agenda – Trains, Trends, & Mileage

Filed under: City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:58 pm

April 4, 2011 City Council Agenda – Trains, Trends, & Mileage

It’s mostly routine stuff this week. Here are a few that stood out for me:

Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 11-30, regarding a report on a plan and timeline for the implementation of a curbside composting program.

The short version: Great idea, 3000 tons per year of food scraps could be diverted, but processing capacity is a major barrier to expansion, so we’ll have to wait a few years until an organics recycling facility in the Boston area is a reality.

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 11-35, regarding a report on data regarding demographic and population trends though the year 2025.

In addition to the information in the report, some miscellaneous Cambridge demographic information (including recent US Census information) is assembled at http://rwinters.com/docs/population.htm. The information in the report is clear enough, but it’s still not clear exactly what information the councillors (and Mr. Seidel in particular) were looking for with this request.

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $350,000 to the Community Development Public Investment Fund Extraordinary Expenditures account from the revenue sources described below to allow for the hiring of a consultant to work on the future development of Kendall Square and Central Square.

It’s worth emphasizing that neither the City administration nor the City’s consultant can really determine what eventually is developed in Central Square, in Kendall Square, or those spaces between and beyond these areas. Proposals for traffic changes and design for the public spaces, i.e. streets and sidewalks, will certainly come of this, and maybe even a few zoning recommendations, but ultimately the ball will be in the court of those who own the property and who pay for any development. Boston-based Goody Clancy is the chosen consultant.

Manager’s Agenda #14. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the request to re-file a zoning petition to amend Section 5.28.2 of the Zoning Ordinance.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor and other relevant City staff and report back to the City Council with a detailed and formal legal opinion on the ability of 5.28 conversions to bypass use prohibitions in the Table of Uses.   Councillor Kelley and Councillor Cheung

Some form of an amendment to this section of the Zoning Ordinance will eventually be passed, but apparently the core amendments are going to be re-filed with new hearings before the Planning Board and the Ordinance Committee.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to begin filing the necessary paperwork with the Federal Railroad Administration to designate the East Cambridge railroad crossings as an official Quiet Zone.   Councillor Cheung and Vice Mayor Davis

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to relay opposition to additional train service through East Cambridge until a full environmental impact assessment and a public participation process are completed.   Vice Mayor Davis and Councillor Cheung

It’s interesting that the standard method of objecting to a proposal is not to oppose it directly but to weigh it down with regulatory hurdles. Best of luck, councillors, as we hop on board the Lt. Gov. Tim Murray Express!

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to commit the necessary staff and resources to explore the possibility of increasing the number of Single Residency Occupancy units or studio apartments in Cambridge.   Councillor Simmons

Exactly what is Councillor Simmons’ wish here? Is she claiming that there are not enough studio apartments in Cambridge? Or is she trying to expand the supply of rooming houses for people "in transition," i.e., in and out of institutions of one kind or another? Is there any doubt that most of these will end up in Central Square?

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City department heads and members of area university communities regarding the safety of nuclear reactors in Cambridge.   Councillor Seidel

No one will question the importance of safety of these reactors, but this is just a re-run of the same inquiries made a number of years ago. Look it up, councillor. You may find that all of your questions have already been answered several times over.

Order #11. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the possibility of inclusion of visuals in Cambridge zoning documents to aid in the understanding of requirements and regulations.   Councillor Seidel

How about pop-up books? Colorforms?

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor to determine whether the goals of the proposed bill in the Massachusetts House of Representatives Number 00958 (attached) could be accomplished by home rule petition, and, if so, to draft a home rule petition to be returned to the City Council by the City Council meeting of May 2, 2011.   Councillor Seidel

In a nutshell, the idea is to allow individual cities and towns to have more control in the determination of fines for a variety of motor vehicle and other violations. Great idea, as long as it doesn’t turn into just another way to increase revenue.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from D. Margaret Drury, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Civic Unity Committee for a public meeting held on Mar 9, 2011 to continue discussing with the Civic Unity Citizen Advisory Committee the recommendations of the Cambridge Review Committee Report: "Missed Opportunities, Shared Responsibilities," and implementation of these recommendations.

I’ll refrain from extended comments on this other than to say that "To Protect and Serve" is the only mission statement necessary for the Cambridge Police; and maybe it’s not the best practice for an individual city councillor to hand-pick a "Civic Unity Citizen Advisory Committee" as a means of getting additional mileage out of a minor incident on Ware Street. – Robert Winters

1 Comment

  1. With respect to order #11, why not use modern technology:

    http://web.mit.edu/rgoodspe/www/planningtech/

    “New technologies are transforming how we communicate, expanding access to data and information, and revolutionizing how we understand and navigate our cities. Join a diverse groups of practitioners, scholars, students, and citizens for a half-day conference on the impact of these changes on the field of urban planning. ”

    Just walking distance from City Hall. But nobody from the city is registered to attend.

    – Saul

    Comment by stannenb — April 4, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

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