Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 27, 2019

Nervously Waiting and Wading through the Campaign Mailers – October 28, 2019 City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:15 pm

Nervously Waiting and Wading through the Campaign Mailers – October 28, 2019 City Council Agenda

Ballot BoxHere are some items of interest up for discussion/approval/referral this week:

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $350,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Library Extraordinary Expenditures account. This appropriation will fund a feasibility study and interior improvements to the Central Square Branch Library.

It’s all feasible. The greater questions are (a) whether the City is willing to substantially redesign the Central Sq. library entrance to make it less of a nuisance, and (b) whether there’s any interest in adding another level or two of parking to the Green Street Garage to meet existing demand and to compensate for losses elsewhere in the Central Square area. My guess is that they’ll do neither.

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the request for two appropriations of $23,000,000 from Free Cash and $7,000,000 from Cambridge Redevelopment Authority for the Foundry project.

The gift that keeps on giving.</sarcasm>

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff on determining the most appropriate signage and messaging that would best educate cyclists on the importance of following traffic laws, particularly stopping at red lights, for their own safety and the safety of other cyclists and pedestrians.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone

Ensuring cyclists own safety seems like a continuing uphill battle. This past Thursday on my way to teach a lecture I watched two cyclists with no lights ride at around 8:00pm directly across the path of a large truck on Oxford Street below the field of vision of the driver. Near miss.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department, the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and the Department of Public Works to determine what facilities, parking changes, and other improvements to the pavement conditions would be necessary and feasible to make Porter Square and Massachusetts Avenue between Roseland Street and Beech Street a quick-build Complete Street with bus priority.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Zondervan

I have minimal knowledge of the best remedy for this area. I can, however, show at least one location where paradoxically the removal of an exclusive bus priority lane would actually make bus traffic move more quickly. Beware of one-size-fits-all solutions.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Co-Chair and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Sept 24, 2019 to discuss the City policy on sidewalk surface treatments as discussed in Policy Order #16 of July 30, 2019.

I like all-brick sidewalks except when I have to shovel them after a snowstorm. Then again, in my neighborhood when an asphalt patch of a concrete sidewalk is made it can take over 5 years to restore the sidewalk. Or never. Especially if the cut was made by Eversource/Neverfinish.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Mayor McGovern, transmitting a report, "The Kind of City which is Desirable and Obtainable:" A brief history of zoning in Cambridge.

I love anecdotal and oral histories. They add to the story. As for the political point attempting to be made here, never forget the age-old advice that "correlation does not imply causation." Cambridge zoning was initially done to simply acknowledge and codify what was already built. One definitely gets the impression that the current mayor wants to obliterate existing zoning primarily to facilitate a specific proposal. If you start with a conclusion you can nearly always cobble together a narrative to support it. I am far more interested in the here and now and whether specific modifications to existing zoning might be appropriate to achieve best outcomes, e.g. transit-oriented development, moderate increases in density, and adjusting the table of uses to reflect present-day uses in commercial zones. – Robert Winters

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