Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

December 9, 2018

Lotsa Ordainin’ To Do – Dec 10, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Lotsa Ordainin’ To Do – Dec 10, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Information Security Begins With You!The ordaining queue has been growing over the last few weeks – Surveillance Ordinance, Revised Street Performers Ordinance, Revised Fair Housing Ordinance, and the Mandatory Book-Burning Ordinance (OK, not really). Perhaps next year we’ll also see the Don’t Touch That Tree Ordinance, the Chicken Farming Ordinance and Handbook, and the Socialized Housing Ordinance. The business of municipal ordinances was always complicated – even in days of yore, i.e. Cambridge in 1899 (Revised Ordinances of 1892) which even contains a precursor to the zoning ordinance that would not be enacted for another quarter century. Here’s a sampler of some of the ordinances of the day:

CHAPTER 37. SECT. 1. Any minor, between the ages of seven and fifteen years, convicted of being an habitual truant, or wandering about in the streets or public places of Cambridge, having no lawful occupation or business, not attending school, and growing up in ignorance, and such children as persistently violate the reasonable rules and regulations of the public schools, shall be committed to the Middlesex Truant School for a term not exceeding two years. The Middlesex County Truant School is the place provided for the confinement, discipline, and instruction of such children.

CHAPTER 38. SECT. 1. There shall be established in the city of Cambridge a workhouse for the employment and support of the following description of persons, that is to say, poor and indigent persons that are maintained by or receive alms from, the city; persons who, being able of body to work, and not having estate or means otherwise to maintain themselves, refuse or neglect to work; persons who live a dissolute, vagrant life, and exercise no ordinary calling or lawful business; and persons who spend their time and property in public houses, to the neglect of their proper business, or who, by otherwise misspending what they earn, to the impoverishment of themselves and their families, are likely to become chargeable to the city.

CHAPTER 45. SECT. 2. No person shall climb a tree in any street, or fasten or tie a horse or other animal to, or post a bill upon, any such tree, or allow any horse or other animal owned by him, or under his control to stand so near any such tree, that such tree may be gnawed or otherwise injured by such horse or other animal so allowed to stand, and no person shall place a sign upon or around any tree on any street of the city.

Penny FarthingCHAPTER 45. SECT. 16. No person shall coast upon a sled on any street of this city without the written permission of the mayor; and without such written permission no person, in any public street or square of this city, shall ride a bicycle or tricycle at a rate of speed exceeding ten miles an hour, and only for the time, and upon such portions of the public ways, streets, or squares aforesaid as may be specified in said permit. Such reasonable conditions shall be attached to such permits as the mayor may deem proper, and in accord with the circumstances and for the occasion for which the permits may respectively be granted. Between the hours of eight o’clock in the morning and five o’clock in the afternoon, children under the age of fourteen years may use velocipedes on any sidewalk in any public way, street, or square of this city. In no part of any public grounds, commons, enclosures, and parks, now or that hereafter may be under the general charge of the park commissioners, shall children use a velocipede without the written permit of the park commissioners.

CHAPTER 45. SECT. 19. No person shall have in his possession a club or bludgeon, on any street, with intent to use the same in a sport, sham-fight or strife, or to intimidate any person or horse.

CHAPTER 45. SECT. 21. No person shall behave himself in a rude or disorderly manner, or use any indecent, profane or insulting language, in any street or public place.

CHAPTER 45. SECT. 35. No person, except by permission of the mayor, shall deliver a sermon, lecture, address, or discourse on any common or other public grounds.

CHAPTER 46. SECT. 1. No person in any public street of the city shall ring a bell or gong, between the hours of ten o’clock P.M., and six o’clock A.M., except as a warning of danger.

CHAPTER 48. SECT. 1. No child under sixteen years of age shall be, loiter or remain upon any street, highway, park or other public way or place in this city after the hour of half past nine o’clock in the afternoon of any day, unless accompanied by, or under the control or care of a parent, guardian or other adult person, or performing or returning from employment or from the performance of some duty, directed in writing by said parent, guardian or other adult person, and no such child, while performing such duty, or returning from the performance thereof, or from employment, shall loiter upon any such street, highway, park or other public way or place.

Back in the present (2018), here are a few items on the agenda that drew my attention this week:

Manager’s Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of an Advisory Committee on Climate Resilience Zoning.

Unfinished Business #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-85, regarding a report on the feasibility of appointing an advisory committee to work through resilience elements raised during the Envision process and through the Brown Petition.

The City Manager’s original 25 appointees included four city councillors and a representative from the Mayor’s Office. This led to concerns of possible Open Meeting Law violations unless the entire advisory committee was rethought as an ad-hoc City Council committee – but that would have diminished the role of all the other appointees. The new list of 20 appointees has zero councillors and nobody from the Mayor’s Office, and one MIT appointee was reclassified from "Institutional/Non-Profit Representative" to "Business Representatives/Property Owners".

Charter Right #1. Legal Opinion on Portland’s Relocation Assistance Ordinance.

Yes, it would require a Home Rule Petition. Needless to say, if the threshold for triggering this is a 10% rent increase (even if the rent was unchanged for years) I would expect a 9.5% rent increase every year to become commonplace.

Unfinished Business #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to proposed revisions to the draft Surveillance Ordinance. QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER DEC 10, 2018.

Unfinished Business #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the proposed amended Street Performers Ordinance. QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER DEC 10, 2018.

Time for some ordainin’. Please be advised that street performers may not deliver a sermon, lecture, address, or discourse on any common or other public grounds except by permission of the mayor.

Order #1. Improving Pedestrian Safety.   Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

This Order is primarily a request for information on how various "traffic calming" treatments have been working. The current policy seems primarily to be to create as much congestion as physically possible so that traffic cannot move very quickly. This has the added goal of infuriating drivers to the point that they consider alternate modes of transportation.

Order #2. Tree on City Hall Lawn.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor ZondervanCity Hall

I would suggest having conversations with both Charlie Sullivan (Historical Commission) and former City Councillor Kathleen Born before moving on this. There used to be a perimeter hedge around City Hall as well as a couple of spruce trees straddling the main entry to City Hall. About 20 years ago the consensus was that it would be ideal to restore the appearance of City Hall to its late 19th Century magnificence. This led to the removal of the hedge and the trees – as well as the ivy that had crept over much of the building surface. An additional unanticipated benefit was that the front lawn of City Hall became a significant open space resource for Central Square and a popular place for sunbathers during the warm weather months. We all love trees but any choice to plant a significant tree in front of City Hall should be weighed against these other factors.

Order #4. City Budget and Council Goals.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

While it’s a good idea to have the budget presentation highlight how it reflects City Council goals and priorities (and let’s be clear that the City Manager already does this every year), I would not want to see every City department have to justify every expenditure against that short list of Council priorities. If DPW needs to buy another packer truck or if the Fire Department needs to purchase another fire engine or hire additional firefighters, I would hope they would not need to justify this by proving how it will "implement equity policies for the people of Cambridge". Most of the City budget goes to maintaining operations, and the goals expressed by individual departments in the annual Budget Book usually highlight how they can best deliver their services. – Robert Winters

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