Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 31, 2013

Early look at the April 1 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Kendall Square,MIT — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 9:14 pm

Early look at the April 1 Cambridge City Council agenda

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming up at Monday’s City Council meeting:

City Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-29, regarding a report on the feasibility of not allowing residents of new buildings to obtain on-street resident parking stickers.

The City Solicitor reports that this question was already fully answered 11 years ago when the question arose whether resident parking stickers could be withheld from Harvard students residing in Harvard dormitories. The advice then as now was that a resident of Cambridge whose motor vehicle is registered in Massachusetts and principally garaged in Cambridge is entitled to receive a resident parking sticker. End of story.

Another zoning petition arrives:

Applications & Petitions #2. A zoning petition has been received from Michael Phillips, et al., requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance to the Special District 2 (SD-2) zoning district in North Cambridge.

Heather Hoffman insists that the East Cambridge Planning Team has expressed no opinion on the MIT/Kendall Zoning Petition in:

Communications #2. A communication was received from Heather Hoffman regarding the MIT petition and East Cambridge Planning Team.

Councillor Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee responds with:

Order #7. That Committee Report #6 of Mar 18, 2013 be amended on page two in the second paragraph by striking out the sentence that reads: "The MIT proposal has received support from the East Cambridge Planning Team."   Councillor Maher

So what DOES the East Cambridge Planning Team really have to say about this? Inquiring minds want to know.

Contrary to the fanciful claims of the Wizard of Essex Street that the MIT faculty doesn’t like the MIT/Kendall Petition, there are these:

Communications #6. A communication was received from Marc Kastner, Dean, School of Science, Donner Professor of Science, MIT School of Science transmitting strong support for the Institute’s proposed rezoning of Kendall Square.

Communications #7. A communication was received from Adele Naude Santos, Dean, Professor of Architecture and Planning, School of Architecture + Planning transmitting enthusiasm and support for the Institute’s Kendall Square proposal.

Communications #9. A communication was received from David Schmittlein, John C Head III Dean, MIT Sloan School of Management, Professor of Marketing transmitting support for the Institute’s proposed rezoning of Kendall Square.

Could it be that the "MIT Faculty Newsletter" is not actually the newsletter of the MIT faculty? It sure seems like it.

We should all be entertained by Councillors Decker and Cheung when this comes up:

Order #1. That all public meetings and hearings be conducted within the city limits and have a Cambridge address, and in the event that a public meeting or hearing is held outside of the city limits, that a vote be required of the City Council to approve said meeting or hearing being held outside the city limits.   Councillor Decker

Vice Mayor raises a valid question with:

Order #3. That the Government Operation and Rules Committee is requested to provide an update to the City Council on any progress that has been made in drafting a Community Benefits & Mitigation Plan, and that an expected timeframe in which a formal recommendation on policy might be made to the City Council is also provided.   Vice Mayor Simmons

Councillor vanBeuzekom declares war in:

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to urge the Cambridge Retirement Board of Trustees to cease investments in fossil fuel companies, review Cambridge’s investment portfolio, contact fund managers for any fossil fuel company investments, prepare a report which explains options for investing in the pension fund in a way that maximizes positive impact of the fund, establish investment policies which support local projects and jobs, create a timeline for implementation of findings and release annual updates.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

Will Cambridge ban gasoline after they ban plastic bags, styrofoam, and soda pop? Will they declare Cambridge a pepperoni-free zone? – Robert Winters


  1. Serious Question: Do councilors feel compelled to bring a certain amount of policy orders annually? There are a significant amount that really seem like: 1) a waste of resources; 2) a waste of money; 3) pointless.

    Minka’s request puzzles the hell out of me and I think from a practical sense, “What the heck should the city manager do with such an order?” Annual updates? Really?

    Serious Question #2: “Community Benefits & Mitigation Plan” what exactly does this mean? Could this be a much needed plan to make sure monies provided either through linkage or other means actually go to the communities impacted by such development instead of simply being thrown into the bottomless pit of the housing trust? Surely not right?

    Comment by Patrick Barret — April 1, 2013 @ 8:48 am

  2. Sorry I didn’t get around to answering your pressing question earlier. As I have testified more than once, and at least once when you were in attendance (I am crushed that you don’t hang on every pearl that drops from my lips, but I guess them’s the breaks), the East Cambridge Planning Team has never taken a vote on the MIT petition. Therefore, we do not officially support or oppose it, either in whole or in part, and no one, not the Planning Board, not Brian Murphy, not individual city councillors and especially not members of the Planning Team, gets to claim that we have.

    I said that there are people active on the Planning Team who support the petition, people who oppose it and people who come down somewhere in the middle. You may not understand why it’s important not to put words in people’s mouths, but the way l’Affaire Google was handled taught me how critical it is. If you have listened to Barbara Broussard’s testimony at any of these meetings, it’s obvious that she understands that as well and has made a point of making these distinctions clearly. It’s one of the reasons for the level of respect she has from many people who don’t necessarily agree with her, and it’s something lots of people could learn from.

    As to Mr. Barrett’s Serious Question #2, yes, lots of us think that mitigation, by definition, needs to address the impact a project has on the surrounding neighborhood. Take a look at the history of the second EF building, which was just topped off, if you want to understand what might have set this off. This was a situation where the developers offered mitigation measures that affected the immediate neighborhood of the building and that were attractive to the neighborhood organization but were dramatically changed once city councillors got involved. It’s a lot bigger than the housing trust, believe me, and it sounds like a matter on which you’d find a lot of common ground with people you often disagree with.

    Comment by Heather Hoffman — April 8, 2013 @ 11:35 am

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