Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 5, 2017

March in like a Lamb, now Lion, soon to be Lamb – March 6, 2017 City Council highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 10:16 pm

March in like a Lamb, now Lion, soon to be Lamb – March 6, 2017 City Council highlights

Lion or Lamb?This Monday’s City Council meeting has a few interesting items on the agenda. Here’s a sampler:

Reconsideration #1. Councillor Toomey filed Reconsideration of the vote taken at the City Council meeting of Feb 27, 2017 on Policy Order #7 stating that the City Council support the 10-citizen petition recently presented to the Cambridge Historical Commission, asking for a tiered designation system and other amendments to the Harvard Square Conservation District guidelines and possibly to its boundaries.

I’m curious what aspect of this proposal led to the request for Reconsideration.

Manager’s Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a request to establish the Richard C. Rossi Housing Assistance Fund (the “Fund”), and that $35,641.46 in donations received be appropriated into this Fund.

This is a great initiative, and it’s very appropriate that it be named for Rich Rossi who was a consistent supporter of housing for people of all incomes.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to establish the requirement that all appointments to the City’s commissions, advisory committees, and task forces reflect the City’s diversity and that the Civic Unity Committee is asked to sign off on all such appointments going forward. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Simmons on Order #8 of Feb 27, 2017.]

As I stated last week, this Order is not lawful as stated. It would be better if it was rephrased to read: "That the City Manager is requested to establish the goal that the City’s commissions, advisory committees, and task forces reflect the City’s diversity." Even with that revision, this goal is probably not achievable in many cases due to the applicant pool and the nature of some of the commissions that are defined by advocacy for particular issues or constituencies.

Resolution #1. Celebrate Peter Valentine’s contributions to the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Mazen, Mayor Simmons

In Cambridge, we appreciate our "characters", especially when he’s the "National Officer In Charge". By the way, according to the registered voter database, Peter Zak Valentine was born on Valentine’s Day and also registered to vote in Cambridge on Valentine’s Day.

Order #1. City Council support of the ACLU’s call for Massachusetts to withdraw from the 287(g) program.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Mazen

The quoted page gives a list of all state or local law enforcement entities that have such agreements. In Massachusetts, the only such entities are the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department, and the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.

Order #2. That the Ordinance Committee is requested to hold a hearing on the future of zoning in Alewife and to review previous zoning changes made to the area.   Councillor Cheung

A few specifics here would be helpful. A working committee of Envision Cambridge has been looking at this area for much of this past year and may be close to the point where some zoning recommendations may be possible. It is ironic, however, that there is a City Council subcommittee that has long-tern planning as part of its name yet focuses on anything but long-term planning. So it goes.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to report back on how the City can mitigate the impact of work to the conduit property in Watertown and how it will be managed in the future, what efforts can be made to preserve the two mature trees that were marked but not removed, and how to involve the Watertown Tree Warden and Watertown Town Council in ensuring that Cambridge’s right to protect its water conduit is carried out while also preserving harmonious relations with the residents of Watertown.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Kelley

This would be a good opportunity for Cambridge residents to educate themselves on how all of their basic necessities (water supply, sewerage, gas and electricity) are configured. I have long been amazed at how many people count themselves as environmental activists but know so very little about their relationship with their own local environment. How many Cambridge residents know where their water comes from, how it gets to the treatment plant, and how it is conveyed to water mains throughout the city?

Order #6. That the Ordinance Committee is requested to hold a public hearing on the draft language for short-term rentals.   Councillor Cheung

Hats off to Councillor Kelley and Wil Durbin for riding herd on this issue. I had no idea how many people are doing AirBnB and similar rentals in Cambridge until a Council committee hearing last year.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Craig A. Kelley, regarding Open Meeting Law Training.

This is a good idea from Councillor Kelley. Ideally, the State Legislature should review the current law to make sure that it is not imposing restrictions that were never intended and which serve no useful purpose. – Robert Winters


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