Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 14, 2015

The Return – Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 81 and 82

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,Cambridge InsideOut — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:28 am

Cambridge InsideOut returned on October 13, 2015 after a one-year hiatus.

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 81 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 13, 2015 at 5:30pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 82 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Oct 13, 2015 at 6:00pm. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

October 12, 2015

Flashback to March 1998

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 1:09 pm

Flashback to March 1998 (Issue #7 of the original Cambridge Civic Journal)

Save Central SquareI was looking back at some early writings in the original Cambridge Civic Journal and took note of some of the similarities between then and now. This was before the invasion of the millennials and hipsters and the full buildout of Kendall Square and its associated companies and high-income employees. Surprisingly, the tenor of the conversation hasn’t really changed all that much. Just replace "Holmes project" with "Mass & Main" and the group "Save Central Square" with "Cambridge Residents Alliance" and subtract out some of the most severe Marxists among them, and it’s hard to tell them apart. Here are a few sample quotes, starting with my own:

"Civic participation has become a way of life for me over the last twelve years and has served as a kind of free education about government and society. In recent weeks I have been having second thoughts due to all the rancor associated with the Holmes project in Central Square. In all my time in Cambridge, I have not come across a more vicious, mean-spirited group of people than the gang that calls itself Save Central Square."

"There are some in Cambridge who have a distorted view of what democracy is all about. I watched last summer as propagandists from SCS, unencumbered by employment, galloped out from Central Square yelling that "the yuppies are coming", that a building 15 stories tall was about to be built, that everyone’s rent would rise because of the Holmes project, that it would cause traffic to become unbearable, that The Gap and malls and chain stores were coming in, that all commercial tenants would be thrown out permanently, that former Gov. William Weld was behind it, and that people like me who didn’t buy the propaganda did not live in Cambridge. When you lie to people and threaten them and attribute rising housing costs to a single project, and if you have unlimited time on your hands, it is no surprise that you can gather several thousand signatures. If I believed what was being said, I would have signed their petition. Fortunately I knew better. I also know what democracy isn’t."

"Cambridge has a serious problem of authenticity. Every week I hear individuals claiming to speak for entire neighborhoods with nothing to back up their claims. Neighborhood associations with ancient membership lists and no discernible outreach will meet and make declarations about what other people supposedly believe. They will gleefully blend their own personal agendas with their associations and claim authenticity. I propose that in all public meetings there should be a prohibition against anyone claiming to represent neighborhoods unless they can provide objective substantiation of that claim. Individuals will be free to speak their mind, representatives from organizations can speak for their members, but we should have no more advocating without representation." – Robert Winters, Mar 29, 1998

In that same issue, Clifford Truesdell of Essex St. was quoted:
"Save Central Square is not the community. They are a subset of the community. The community is a lot more diverse, a lot less 60’s-ish, and a lot better mannered."

Bill Cunningham’s remarks focused on his perceptions of urban renewal and tokenism and denounced the recently passed Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. Basev Sen asserted that the Holmes project would draw high income shoppers from the suburbs. He characterized traffic studies as somewhere between shoddy and outright deceptive. Ellen Al-Wequayan characterized the Holmes project as "the death of the neighborhoods." Jeff Duritz called Central Square the most unique place he’d ever lived and warning of "downstream social consequences" of the Holmes project. He railed against Starbucks, calling on the City to take the Holmes property by eminent domain. Michael Isenberg focused on his belief that the Holmes project was not consistent with the guidelines for development in Central Square. Waddie Taylor called for a moratorium on all development in Cambridge.

Loyd Smith was inexcusably insulting to the City Council and others and was followed by James Williamson, who has become the poster boy for incivility during this entire process. Jimmy repeatedly accused City officials of lying and disrespecting guidelines for Central Square development as he went on for 15 minutes in spite of a 5 minute limit on public comment under the rules. He repeatedly characterized minor revisions to the Holmes proposal as "new proposals". He labeled the use of City funds for facade improvements in Central Square as bribes. He accused officials in the Community Development Department of deliberately withholding information from him. My favorite quote of his: "We ARE the rest of the community." If this is the case, God help us all.

My own remarks on the Holmes project went something like this:
"When we were first introduced to the proposal a year ago, we viewed it as an opportunity. We understood the process through which the proposal would have to go. We asked for the inclusion of affordable housing and this was done. Some of us asked for reduction in height and this was done. We asked for alterations to the massing of the building and this was done. We asked that light be allowed to reach Carl Barron Plaza and this was done. This was a long process, a very inclusive process, and a largely successful process. There have been calls for a greater percentage of affordable housing, as was done in the neighboring Church Corner apartments, but the density of that project was far in excess of what is called for in the Holmes proposal and should not be used as a model." Some have characterized the Holmes project in extreme terms. This is neither the death of a neighborhood nor anything else akin to the apocalypse. To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a building is just a building.

[Report on the Mar 17, 1998 Planning Board meeting where the Holmes project was approved (CCJ#7)]
You may recognize some of the players – then and now. – RW

October 2, 2015

Cambridge Education Association to host School Committee Candidate Debate/Forum (Oct 7)

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,School Committee — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 7:42 pm

Cambridge Education AssociationThe Cambridge Education Association will sponsor a forum/debate on Wednesday, October 7, for candidates seeking election to the Cambridge School Committee. The event will take place from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Cambridge Public Library-Main Branch Lecture Hall, 449 Broadway. Earl Wiman, a member of the Executive Committee of the 3-million-member National Education Association, will serve as moderator. The public is invited to attend.

Voters will elect six candidates to the Cambridge School Committee on Tuesday, November 3.

If you are interested in submitting a question for the forum, please e-mail info@cambeducation.org.

For more information, please contact Robert Travers at 617-492-4709 or e-mail him at treas@cambeducation.org.

This election will give voters the ability to make decisions that will have a significant impact on the Cambridge community. The Cambridge School Committee oversees the district’s budget, approves curriculum, and represents the school district in labor negotiations with the unions. It also serves as the voice of the public in the school district, and it must communicate the needs of the school system to the public.” – Terry Gist, president of the 1,200-member Cambridge Education Association

A Calendar of all candidate forums is at: http://cambridgecivic.com/vote/calendar2015.htm

Cambridge Municipal Election Candidates – 2015

Cambridge City Council Candidates - 2015 (updated Aug 19) - FINAL

LastFirstaddresszipbirthdateoccuppapersvalid signatures
BenzanDennis1 Pine St.021391/25/1972AttorneyJuly 186
CarloneDennis9 Washington Ave. #6021405/7/1947ArchitectJuly 263
CheungLeland157 Garden St.021382/11/1978July 176
ConnollyMike20 Harding St. #3021416/3/1980July 2467
CourtneyKim2 Ware St. #4010213812/6/1973AttorneyJuly 161
DavidsonMariko2 Ware St. #4110213811/20/1981July 171
DegoesPlinio99 Garden St.021382/10/1981TeacherJuly 184
DevereuxJan255 Lakeview Ave.021385/13/1959Writer/CommunicationsJuly 191
DietrichXavier2 Ware St. #4010213812/2/1961July 1354
KelleyCraig6 Saint Gerard Ter. #2021409/18/1962PoliticianJuly 191
LevyIlan148 Spring St.0214111/1/1967Software EngineerJuly 1364
MaherDavid120 Appleton St. #2021388/8/1958Non-profit Mgr.July 196
MahoneyPaul F.23 Lawn St.021385/8/1950July 257
MazenNadeem720 Mass. Ave. #4021399/20/1983EntrepreneurJuly 281
McGovernMarc15 Pleasant St. #20213912/21/1968Social WorkerJuly 192
MelloGary324 Franklin St. #2021395/24/1953ClerkJuly 164
MoreeGregg25 Fairfield St. #4021406/16/1957CarpenterJuly 175
SanzoneJohn540 Memorial Dr. #3040213910/16/1988July 257
SimmonsE. Denise188 Harvard St. #4B0213910/2/1951Public OfficeJuly 184
ToomeyTimothy88 6th St.021416/7/1953CouncillorJuly 199
vanBeuzekomMinka20 Essex St. #1021397/24/1960GovernmentJuly 187
WaiteRomaine60 Lawn St. #5021386/7/1991July 273
WilliamsonJames1000 Jackson Pl. #45021401/13/1951July 162

50 valid signatures are needed to have candidate’s name placed on the municipal ballot.

Cambridge School Committee Candidates - 2015 (updated Aug 19) - FINAL

LastFirstaddresszipbirthdateoccuppapersvalid signatures
BowmanManikka134 Reed St.0214011/27/1979July 189
CisterninoPia62 Holworthy St. #1021388/28/1974speech-language pathologistJuly 267
CroninFran1 Kimball Ln.021402/14/1952School CommitteeJuly 184
CrutchfieldJake281 River St.021393/31/1987TeacherJuly 153
DexterEmily9 Fenno St.021383/16/1957Educational ResearcherJuly 1398
FantiniAlfred B.4 Canal Pk. #203021416/8/1949RetiredJuly 198
HardingRichard189 Windsor St. #10213910/16/1972AdministratorJuly 181
KadeteElechi10 Laurel St. #4021399/30/1989AccountantJuly 157
KellyKathleen17 Marie Ave. #1021393/8/1960Social WorkerJuly 192
NolanPatricia184 Huron Ave.021388/28/1957School CommitteeJuly 160
WeinsteinDavid45 S. Normandy Ave.0213812/10/1972Writer/CommunicationsJuly 164

50 valid signatures are needed to have candidate’s name placed on the municipal ballot.

Vote!Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2015
(candidates are encouraged to send additional information)

2015 Calendar of Election-related Events
[ submit your events ]

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates

September 28, 2015

Post-Eclipse – Items from the Sept 28, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:27 am

Post-Eclipse – Items from the Sept 28, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

Super Lunar EclipseIt was a Super Moon in Total Eclipse on Sunday, but Monday brings us back to Earth. Here are some things of interest at this week’s City Council meeting:

Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following members of the Foundry Advisory Committee: Deborah Rue (3-year term), Folakemi Alalade (2-year term), Jamie Sabino (1-year term), Jason Slavick (3-year term), Mark Tang (2-year term), Mariam Bucheli (1-year term), Richard Thal (3-year term).

I recognize only one name in this group of appointees – and that’s probably a good thing.

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the votes necessary to seek approval from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue of the tax rate for FY2016.

Excerpts from the Manager’s letter: The actual FY16 property tax levy is $354,430,753, an increase of $12,985,298 or 3.8% from FY15. The 3.8% property tax levy increase is below the five-year average annual increase of 4.54%. With approval of these recommendations, the ten-year average annual increase will be 4.75%. Based on a property tax levy of $354.4 million, the FY16 residential tax rate will be $6.99 per thousand dollars of value, subject to Department of Revenue approval. This is a decrease of $0.83, or -10.61% from FY15. The commercial tax rate will be $17.71, which is a decrease of $1.58, or – 8.19% from FY15. This will be the eleventh year in a row that a majority of residential taxpayers will see a reduction, no change or an increase of less than $100 in their tax bill. In fact, in FY16, approximately 87% of residential taxpayers will see a reduction, no increase or an increase of less than $100. As a result of market activity in calendar year 2014, which is the basis of the FY16 property assessment, total residential property values increased by 16.28%, which is the highest increase in the past decade. Total commercial property values increased by 13.18%. For FY16, the total assessed value of taxable property in the City equals $34,680,060,680 a 15.1% increase over FY15 values. The actual FY16 total assessed values are significantly greater than the projections presented to the rating agencies in February 2015 due to continued strength in the Cambridge real estate market.

Unfinished Business #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on July 14, 2015 to discuss proposed amendments to Section 11.200 entitled Incentive Zoning Provisions and Inclusionary Housing Provisions. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Aug 24, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held July 21, 2015. Petition expires Oct 12, 2015.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee, for a public hearing held on Sept 22, 2015 to further discuss the petition to amend the incentive zoning requirements that is currently under consideration by the City Council.

There’s a good chance the amendments to the incentive zoning requirements will be ordained at this meeting.

Order #2. That the City Clerk, in consultation with the City Solicitor, draft a response regarding the Open Meeting Law complaint filed by Ilan Levy for the City Council’s consideration.   Mayor Maher

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Mayor David P. Maher transmitting an Open Meeting Law Complaint filed by Ilan Levy, 148 Spring Street.

Perhaps someone can explain to me how the reelection of councillors can somehow be interpreted as "business before the City Council" that might be subject to the Open Meeting Law. Will the councillors be voting on the question of their own reelection at an upcoming meeting? Without such a basis, this complaint could just as well have been raised about seeing more than 5 city councillors in a restaurant or at a baseball game. While the Open Meeting Law is a good idea in principle, it continues to amaze me how some individuals (and candidates) use it just to be a pain in the ass (PITA) without any constructive purpose. Perhaps there should be a PITA Slate in the November election.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Community Development Department to draft an ordinance extending Cambridge’s big bank retail storefront limitations to the rest of Porter, Harvard, Central, and Kendall Square.   Councillor Cheung

My only suggestion is that there should also be an ordinance prohibiting retail stores from covering up their windows with advertisements and other clutter to the point that you can no loonger even see inside the building. For example, drop by the CVS and Walgreens stores in Central Square.

Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to report back on the ability to increase funding for affordable housing in a manner which would not adversely impact real estate taxes on existing housing units or cause a shift in taxes from commercial, industrial and personal property taxes to the residential class and given the limitation upon the tax classification, any recommendation must not jeopardize the current tax distribution by shifting a greater burden on the residential taxpayers which would result in making existing housing less affordable for current residents.   Councillor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Vice Mayor Benzan and Councillor Kelley

This seems like a shell game. How do you increase expenditures without increasing revenue from any available taxable properties? At some point this City Council will have to address a far more general notion of what constitutes "affordable housing" that goes beyond simply subsidizing housing for people who can satisfy certain income criteria on paper. Perhaps this may be an impossible dream but in a properly functioning economy there should be a sufficient supply and a broad range of housing options of varying size, quality, and location so that most people can at least find something acceptable within their means without a government subsidy.

Order #15. That a Home Rule Petition "AN ACT TO ADOPT PROTECTIONS FOR CAMBRIDGE’S GOVERNMENTALLY-INVOLVED HOUSING STOCK" be submitted to the General Court for a special law relating to the City of Cambridge to be filed with an attested copy of this order which is hereby approved under Clause 1 of Section 8 of Article II, as amended, of the Articles of Amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to the end that legislation be adopted precisely as follows, except for clerical or editorial changes of form only.   Councillor Mazen

Perhaps this is well-intentioned, but the language in this Order has all the markings of a back door re-introduction of rent control. Perhaps that’s the intention of whoever drafted this petition. As such, I suspect the state legislature will have some reservations.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Councillor Marc C. McGovern transmitting a report on the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Income Insecurity in Cambridge.

This report is a good read about a topic that many people in Cambridge don’t really think about. I do have some questions about some of the assertions in the report, e.g. the claim that "a family of 4 needs to earn $108,800 annually to meet their minimum needs." Perhaps if you focus only on averages and medians you might draw such a conclusion, but a better analysis would look at the entire distribution of housing options and services and not just at the averages and medians. – Robert Winters

September 23, 2015

A Better Cambridge Holds Fall Discussion Series on Affordable Housing and Development in Cambridge

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,planning — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:35 pm

A Better Cambridge Holds Fall Discussion Series on Affordable Housing and Development in Cambridge

HousingA Better Cambridge (ABC), Cambridge’s citywide group of residents working to build a more diverse and livable Cambridge, has announced a fall discussion series to help engage Cambridge residents, political candidates, and policy experts in planning for the growth of a sustainable Cambridge that provides affordable housing options for all families.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th: POLICY DISCUSSION
Affordable Housing in Cambridge – At the Epicenter of Development and Demand

As Cambridge embarks on a citywide plan for development our real estate market booms and our population is expected to grow in the coming decade, low and middle-income families in Cambridge city still struggle with unaffordable and rising housing costs. How can we ensure that new development in Cambridge serves the housing needs of all families including those with lower incomes? How does this relate to other important development issues – density, walking/biking/public transit, parking, and creating exciting, walkable neighborhoods? A Better Cambridge brings together experts to discuss what Cambridge can do to build a more diverse, affordable, and livable city for all families.

  • Aaron Gornstein, President/CEO, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH)

  • Edward Marchant, Affordable Housing Development Consultant and Adjunct Lecturer of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

  • Andre Leroux, Executive Director, Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance

  • Moderator: Dante Ramos Boston Globe Op-Ed Columnist

This panel will be held on Saturday, 9/26, 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the Citywide Senior Center (806 Mass. Ave, Central Square). For updated information, including the announcement of additional panelists and moderator, visit the ABC website: http://www.abettercambridge.org/housing_forum_2015.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15th: CANDIDATES’ FORUM

Cambridge stands at a crossroads and the next City Council will play a major role in determining the future diversity, sustainability, and character of our city. As we look to this November’s municipal election, residents want to understand how all City Council candidates approach the development challenges and opportunities facing our city. Join candidates for Cambridge Cambridge City Council in a moderated discussion about their plans and visions for our city’s future.

This candidates forum will be held on Thursday, October 15th, 6:30pm to 9:30pm at the Broad Institute (415 Main Street, Kendall Square). The moderator will be Robin Young, host of "Here and Now" on WBUR. Please stay tuned to the ABC website for more details.

ABC is Cambridge’s only citywide pro-smart growth resident group. Since our founding in 2012, ABC has been instrumental in opposing the downzoning of Central Square, advocating for expansion of a mixed-use neighborhood in Kendall Square, and most recently, securing the promise of 50 units of affordable housing at Mass. Ave & Main Street. For more information about ABC or either of these events, contact jesse@abettercambridge.org.

September 21, 2015

Summer’s End – Select items from the Sept 21, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:52 am

Summer’s End – Select items from the Sept 21, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

Summer's EndThe City Council returns this week from their summer vacation. Here’s a sampler of potentially interesting items on the meeting agenda.

Reconsideration #1-3 relating to the regulation of taxi services and ride-sharing companies.

It’s anyone’s guess why these items are being reconsidered. All three of these orders were relatively benign actions about which there was little disagreement.

Reconsideration #4. Councillor Cheung has notified the City Clerk of his intention to file reconsideration on Policy Order #25 of Aug 10, 2015 adopted by the City Council to petition the Massachusetts General Court to enact the attached Home Rule Petition entitled "AN ACT TO ENABLE CERTAIN NON-CITIZEN RESIDENTS OF CAMBRIDGE TO VOTE IN SCHOOL COMMITTEE AND CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS".

Frankly, I was surprised that this order passed without any discussion. Though I seriously doubt that the proposed Home Rule petition has any chance of passage at the State House (and it shouldn’t), this is a matter that should at least have been debated.

Manager’s Agenda #21. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to recommendations from the Community Preservation Act Committee Chair that the City Council formally appropriate/allocate the Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds.

This is the annual vote on appropriation of CPA funds and there’s no doubt whatsoever that it will be for an 80-10-10% split with affordable housing getting 80% of the funds and the minimum 10% each for open space acquisition and historic preservation.

Manager’s Agenda #22. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Iram Farooq as Assistant City Manager for Community Development.

Iram Farooq is a great choice to head CDD, especially as we head into a multi-year evaluation of long-term citywide planning.

Manager’s Agenda #28. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a request from Normandy Real Estate Partners and Twining Properties ("Normandy/Twining") to make available for disposition approximately 1,042 square feet of City owned land known as Coolidge Place, which is an eight (8) foot wide public way that connects Massachusetts Avenue to the City-owned Municipal Parking Lot Number 6 on Bishop Allen Drive.

This is just a formality, but opponents might try to monkey-wrench the proposed development any way they can.

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Patrick W. Barrett III, et al. to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by amending Article 2.000 ("Definitions") and Article 4.000, Section 4.22 ("Accessory Apartments").

This is a very interesting zoning petition for many reasons – not the least of which is the fact that those who signed the petition span the whole spectrum civic/political activists. If ordained, this petition could create a significant amount of housing opportunities across the city.

Order #4. That the City Council go on record committing Cambridge to produce locally what it needs to consume by 2054.   Councillor Mazen

I seriously doubt that we’ll be seeing cows grazing on the Cambridge Common or at Danehy Park to satisfy the culinary choices of those of us who enjoy a cheeseburger now and then. Perhaps they can just print them on a 3D-printer. Then again, this is a City Council that REALLY likes to enact bans, so I suppose they could just ban anything that can’t be produced locally.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with appropriate City departments regarding the possibility of a satellite police station in Central Square, data for incidents in Central Square for the last six months, increase of the City’s drug treatment capacity and beds, additional trash barrels and updates for sidewalk and street improvements.   Vice Mayor Benzan

Though Central Square is getting better every day in many ways, and will continue to improve when more housing is created, there are some things that continue to plague the area, including vandalism, drug problems and incidents of violent crime.

Order #7. That the City Council meetings scheduled for Nov 30, 2015 and Dec 28, 2015 be and hereby are cancelled.   Councillor Toomey

Order #14. That the following regular City Council meetings be scheduled as Roundtable/Working meetings: Oct 5, 2015 – Roundtable to discuss Opioid Abuse; Oct 26, 2015 – Roundtable to discuss City-Wide Planning; Nov 16, 2015 – Roundtable between the School Committee and the City Council; Dec 14, 2015 – Roundtable to discuss Transportation Issues.   Mayor Maher

I read somewhere that cancelling a couple of meetings and scheduling several Roundtable meetings is somehow dereliction of duty on the part of the City Council. In fact, meetings around Thanksgiving and the December holidays are cancelled almost every year and this has been the case for decades. Council rules call for 6-8 Roundtable meetings per year and this will make 9 if they all happen. There were 6 last year, so this seems about right for this two-year City Council term. Besides, are there really any dire issues now that require an intense meeting schedule? I don’t think so. Besides, all of the proposed Roundtable meetings are on very essential matters.

Order #20. That the City Council go on record formally urging MIT to reconsider the decision to not renew the lease for Metropolitan Moving & Storage, and to determine whether any other viable alternatives to this plan exist.   Councillor Simmons

Considering the fact that this building is in a location close to the heart of the MIT campus, it sure seems like it could enjoy a better use than just a warehouse. In any case, it’s hard to imagine how this building can be re-purposed as housing while maintaining its fortress-like exterior. Then again, a lot of MIT people prefer to travel in tunnels, so maybe this will be ideal for them.

Order #21. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Director of Traffic, Parking and Transportation to create an electronic list containing the number of parking stickers issued to each development in the past ten (10) years should be made publicly available, to include, if possible, any demographic information that would help inform car ownership discussions such as age of the car owners.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor Mazen and Councillor McGovern

While it’s certainly true that a lot more Cambridge people are now choosing not to own a motor vehicle, it would be helpful to quantify this better. I’m especially interested in knowing how the excessive cost of on-premises parking translates into residents who do own cars choosing to instead park on the street for the cost of a resident sticker.

Order #26. That the amendment to the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge to amend the provisions of the PUD-KS District set forth in Section 13.10 of the Zoning Ordinances and which includes a majority of the Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, be refiled as of Sept 28, 2015.   Vice Mayor Benzan

It has been expected for some time that this zoning petition would be refiled to allow for at least a bit more analysis and discussion.

Order #27. That the City Manager confer with the CRA and report back with clarification regarding the past and future relationship between the CRA and Boston Properties and if Boston Properties will be the party to develop and lease any new square footage as a result of the zoning petitions passage and if the City Council can require a process for new developers to bid on CRA projects.   Councillor Toomey

It’s an interesting question whether the fact that Boston Properties was selected decades ago as the primary developer for Kendall Square means that this must always be the case.

Order #31. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority with the view in mind of purchasing the property on Vail Court in order to convert to affordable housing.   Councillor McGovern and Councillor Simmons

Whether it’s redeveloped as "affordable housing" or in some other way, it’s just ridiculous that this property so near the heart of Central Square has been derelict for decades. Perhaps the threat of eminent domain and redevelopment by the CRA may finally force some action. Then again, this is an issue that’s been debated at the City Council repeatedly and all that’s happened is that the parked vehicles have disappeared and big red X’s now festoon the exterior of the building.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 11, 2015 to discuss how to assist tenants in danger of losing their homes due to the recent sale of their buildings on Harding Street.

The committee report gives all indication that the new owners of the Harding Street properties have absolutely no clue how to manage rental properties. I really have to wonder who is financing their real estate acquisitions.

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 6, 2015 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code by adding a new Chapter 8.70 entitled "Prohibition on the Use of Polystyrene Based Disposable Food Containers."

The motto for this City Council might well be "When in doubt, ban it." Why bother trying to convince people to do the right thing when you can just make it impossible for them to do otherwise. – Robert Winters

September 19, 2015

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Sept 19, 2015)

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 2:23 pm

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Sept 19, 2015)

First of all, there’s Danehy Park Family Day today! Don’t be surprised if you see a few City Council and School Committee candidates there working the crowd. There’s also the first City Council meeting of the fall this coming Monday (Sept 21). Any human beings out there may also be interested in serving on the City’s Human Services Commission (application deadline Sept 30).

How many City officials and Outdoor Lighting Ordinance Taskforce committee members does it take to change a light bulb?

Proposed Outdoor Lighting Ordinance (as of June 4, 2015)


Danehy Park Family Day Saturday, Sept 19

Danehy Park Family DaySept 3, 2015 – The City of Cambridge will host the 20th Annual Danehy Park Family Day on Saturday, Sept 19, from 11am-4pm.

Enjoy a fun-filled day of children’s amusement rides, arts and crafts, music and roving performers, plus free hot dogs, chips, sodas and T-shirts while supplies last! Check out performances throughout the day at the children’s stage. Other special giveaways include colorful kites that appeal to kids of all ages! The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 20. Danehy Park is a 55-acre facility located at 99 Sherman Street in North Cambridge (adjacent to Garden and New Streets). This free event, sponsored by the City of Cambridge, attracts over 4,000 people annually and offers something for everyone.

Shuttle buses will be running throughout Cambridge to provide transportation. Danehy Park can be reached by public transportation: #74 bus or #78 bus from Harvard Square; #83 bus from Central Square; or take a shuttle bus from the Alewife MBTA Station. Picnics and lawn chairs are encouraged.

For more information, call 617-349-4301 or visit www.cambridgema.gov/danehypark.


Bow Tie Ride – September 27

We’ll travel from east to west, on a two-hour, 13 mile route tracing the bow-tie shaped boundaries of the city. Meet at the Cambridge Library, 10 AM, Sunday, September 27 and join this celebration of biking on a beautiful autumn day.

Bow Tie Ride - 2015

 


Cambridge Human Services Commission Vacancies

City of CambridgeCity Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking Cambridge residents interested in volunteering to serve on the nine-member Human Services Commission.

The Commission advises the City Manager and the Assistant City Manager for Human Services on human services policy issues, needs assessment, and funding allocations. In collaboration with the Department of Human Service Programs, the Commission also promotes activities that enhance the quality of life for Cambridge residents.

Over the years, the Commission has responded to local needs by recommending Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for a wide range of programs offered by the City of Cambridge and community agencies.

Commission members serve without compensation. The Commission usually meets on the second Thursday of each month from 5:30-7:30pm, at the Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave.

For more information, contact Mike Payack at 617-349-6208 or mpayack@cambridgema.gov.

Residents who wish to apply may send a letter of interest and resume by September 30 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139


Voter Registration and Absentee Ballots for the Municipal Election, November 3rd

Vote!The 2016 Cambridge Municipal Election will be held on Tues, Nov 3, 2015. For Cambridge residents not already registered, the last day to register to vote is Wed, Oct 14, 2015 from 8:30am to 8pm.

Please contact the Cambridge Election Commission office to find out when the Absentee Ballots will be available. Any voter who is unable to go to the polls on Election Day due to physical disability, religious belief, or absence from the City may request an Absentee Ballot from the Commission by Noon on Mon, Nov 2, 2015. Absentee Ballots may be mailed to voters, or such voters may choose to vote at the Commission office during regular City office hours: Mon, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tues-Thurs, 8:30am-5:00pm; Fri, 8:30am-Noon. The office will also be open for Absentee Voting on Fri, Oct 30 from 8:30am until 5:00pm and Sat, Oct 31 from 9:00am until 5:00pm. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7:00am until 8:00pm.

For any additional information, please visit the Cambridge Election Commission office at 51 Inman Street, call (617-349-4361) or visit our website at www.cambridgema.gov/election.


Affordable Rental and Homeownership Programs Information Session Sept 22

Sept 3, 2015 – The Housing Division of the City’s Community Development Department will be holding Rental and Homeownership Information Sessions on Tues, Sept 22, from 10am to 2pm, at the City Hall Annex, 2nd Floor Community Room, 344 Broadway, Cambridge.

Housing personnel from the Community Development Department will be available to discuss the city’s affordable rental and homeownership programs.
1st Session starts at 10am.
2nd Session starts at 11:30am.
3rd Session starts at 1pm.

Currently, the Housing Division is accepting applications for the Homeownership Pool and the Rental Applicant Pool. Preference is given to Cambridge residents and families with children.

For more information, please contact us at housing@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4622.


Middle-Income Rental Units Available in Cambridge

Sept 3, 2015 – The Housing Division of the City’s Community Development Department is introducing the availability of 15 rental units that are affordable to middle-income households. These units are located in a newly constructed, 91 unit mixed-income building in East Cambridge/Kendall Square.

Units are available to income and asset eligible households. There are 8 middle-income units for households with incomes between 80% and 100% of AMI and 7 units for households with incomes between 100% and 120% of AMI. Preference will be given to Cambridge residents and to families with children. There will be a one-time lottery to establish the order of applications. The application deadline for participation in the lottery is Thursday, Oct. 8 at 4pm.

Information sessions will be held on Thursday, Sept. 24, from 6-8pm, at the Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave. and on Tues, Sept 29 from 10am-1pm, at the City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway.

For more information, please contact us at housing@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4622.


Cambridge Council on Aging Public Forum on Too Much Stuff Sept 26

Sept 10, 2015 – Cambridge’s Council on Aging is hosting the public forum “Too Much Stuff” presented by Lee Shuer, Sat, Sept 26, from 9:30am-12pm, at the Cambridge Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave.

Lee Shuer, is a self-defined “Finder/Keeper.” Lee is acknowledged as a leading proponent of self-help and peer support for making and sustaining progress towards a life less cluttered. Do you have too much stuff? Do you know someone who does? Is the clutter creating problems in your life? Are you willing to begin to examine this issue? If so, please join us.

This event is free, but registration is required. To register for this public forum, contact Liz Seelman at eseelman@cambridgema.gov or call 617-349-6048.


Participatory Budgeting

The City is once again undertaking its Participatory Budgeting process. Idea Collection ended on August 31 and Proposal Development is now ongoing. Volunteer Budget Delegates turn ideas into concrete project Proposals during Sept-Nov 2015. City staff vet proposals for Feasibility and Cost during Nov 2015. Residents will Vote on which projects they’d like the City to fund during Dec 5-12, 2015. Results will then be announced. Winning projects will then be included in the City’s FY17 capital budget (Dec 2015). The pilot PB process will later be Evaluated during Jan-Mar 2016 and projects will be Implemented July 2016 onward.


Evening Parking Improvements between Harvard and Porter Squares
Cambridge extends metered parking until 8:00pm in select areas

Harvard to Porter parking meter changesAug 3, 2015 – The City of Cambridge has increased the hours of metered parking to 8:00pm for select meters between Harvard Square and Porter Square. The new hours of 8:00am to 8:00pm are currently being enforced. This change, which affects meters on Mass. Ave. between the Cambridge Common and Russell Street, Oxford Street between Kirkland Street and Garfield Street, Wendell Street between Mass. Ave. and Oxford Street, and Kirkland Street between Oxford Street and Divinity Street, follows similar alterations to metered parking hours in Harvard Square and Kendall Square.

“This section of Mass. Ave. has a great mix of restaurants, stores, and services that create a vibrant and interesting experience for residents and visitors, and we want to help support this neighborhood with how we manage our streets,” says Joseph Barr, Director of Traffic, Parking & Transportation. “Extending the hours on the meters will help create more parking opportunities for patrons visiting local businesses, contributing to the ongoing success of this unique part of Cambridge.”

Previously, metered parking spaces in this area were free and unrestricted from 6:00pm to 8:00am the following morning, which had led to some use of the spaces as overnight parking. The new hours will help to limit this practice and ensure that the spaces are used as they were intended – to increase parking options for visitors and residents.

Following a similar extension of metered parking hours last year in Kendall Square, data collected from meters in the area indicated increased turnover, and therefore greater parking availability, in the evenings. The extreme weather conditions of the past winter make it difficult, however, to quantify these changes exactly.

The rate for parking at a meter, which is $1/hour, remains the same. Signage has been updated to reflect the change, and all affected meters have been marked with a decal notifying the user of the new hours.

For additional information contact Brad Gerratt, Assistant Director of Parking Management, at bgerratt@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4722.


Cambridge GIS Creating Story Maps to Promote City Resources and Events

July 17, 2015Cambridge GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is always working towards finding new and better ways to get Cambridge geographic data out to the public. The GIS team supplies datasetsservices, and applications to city staff and department websites that host GIS maps and apps, as well as to visitors of the GIS website.

The GIS website is a portal not only to interactive mapping applications, static map setsmobile GIS, the GIS data dictionary and downloads, but it also has unique tools for exploring Cambridge through the custom address specific dashboard called myCambridge.

The GIS team recently started using Story Map Applications to promote some of the city’s great resources and events.  Story Maps are simple to create, easy to use, and accessible across all devices. They use geography as a means of organizing and presenting information. Story Maps can combine interactive maps with other rich content such as text, photos, video, audio, and web links all in one seamless experience. They are diverse, flexible, and can be applied to almost any theme.

This week, two new Story Maps went live highlighting Soofa Solar-Charging Benches and the 2015 Summer Food Programs.  Other resource oriented Story Maps include City Departments, Community Gardens, Historic Landmarks, Cambridge Public Schools and Watershed Points of Interest.

The project is just beginning and GIS hopes to continue to grow and expand and share these amazing stories with the Cambridge community.  For more information or to view our Story Map Gallery, please visit us at www.cambridgema.gov/gis

Want to keep up with what’s new in Cambridge GIS? Follow CambridgeGIS on Twitter for all the mapping and spatial data updates.

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! – September-October 2015

recycling symbol

Curbside Pickup of Food Scraps Expands! Oct 19
Volunteers Needed for Door to Door & Schools
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sept 12 and Oct 17
Shredding Event Oct 17
Fixer Fair Oct 24

Curbside Pickup of Food Scraps Expands! 10/19

Curbside pickup of food scraps is expanding in Cambridge! The pilot program of 600+ households in North Cambridge was so successful that it will expand to 5,000 more households in the Monday route. From October 6-14, eligible residences with 12 units or less and City trash service will get: how-to instructions, a kitchen bin with compostable bags, a green curbside bin (to share at multi-family buildings). Free weekly collection begins Monday, October 19.

Volunteer to knock on doors and educate North Cambridge households!

Visit CambridgeMA.Gov/CompostPickup for more info.

Volunteers Needed for Door to Door & Schools

School cafeterias in September

Love kids? Love composting? Volunteer in September (or throughout the school year) to remind students “what goes where” and why to compost and recycle. Breakfast shifts are ~7:30am-8:30am and lunch shifts arre ~11:00am-1:15pm. You can help the continued success of the school composting programs! Please email recycle@cambridgema.gov to learn more and join the team.

Door to Door in North Cambridge in October

Curbside pickup of food scraps expands in Cambridge October 19! Thousands of eligible residences will get green bins, bags, and instructions in early October. We need 40-50 volunteers to knock on doors for 2-3 hours on four weeknights: Thurs 10/8, Tues 10/13, Wed 10/14, and Thurs 10/15. DPW staff will provide each volunteer with canvassing supplies and training. Help educate residents and maximize participation, reduce waste, and protect our climate. Click here to sign up and thank you!

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sept 12 & Oct 17

  • Saturday, Sept 12, 9am-1pm, Danehy Park Parking Lot on Field St at Fern St.
  • Saturday, Oct 17, 9am-1pm, Volpe Transportation Lot 4 (via Munroe off 3rd St.)

Cambridge residents only, bring proof of residency. We accept auto fluids, batteries (non alkaline), car tires, glues, medications, mercury items, paint products, solvents, and propane tanks (20 lbs or less). If the product label includes the words POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION, bring to HHW day. Click here for more info including alternative options and what you can bring to the Recycling Center during open hours.

Shredding Event Oct 17

The Cambridge Consumers’ Council and US Postal Service are offering a free document shredding on Saturday, October 17 from 10am-2pm, in front of Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass Ave, rain or shine. Members of the public can securely dispose of personal and confidential paper documents. Documents will be destroyed on the spot in a highly advanced technical mobile shredding truck and sent for recycling. Limited drop-off parking will be available on both Mass Ave and Bigelow Street. Please call the Consumers Council at 617.349.6150 or email consumer@cambridgema.gov.

Fixer Fair Oct 24

The Somerville Arts Council is sponsoring another Fixer Fair on October 24 from 3pm-7pm, Union Square Plaza, organized by the Somerville Tool Library. Fixer Fair is a free, public, outdoor event devoted to repair! Cambridge residents are totally welcome. We’re collecting fixers, tinkers, sewers, carpenters, electricians and all sorts of folks to help organize the Fair. The Somerville Tool Library will also have a table and we’re specifically interested in Tool Library members who would be willing to staff that area, explain to attendees how the tool library works and accept tool donations.

If you’re interested in participating in any way, please email somervilletoollibrary@gmail.com with your availability, interests, questions & suggestions!


Know that recycling is easy and mandatory in Cambridge! Review what to recycle and help educate new residents! Encourage others to stay in the loop and sign up for the City’s monthly e-newsletter on recycling, composting and reducing waste. Just email us at recycle@cambridgema.gov.

  • Missed recycling or trash? Please use iReport or call DPW at 617-349-4800 no later than 12 noon the day after collection to make a request.
  • Request for toters, brochures, stickers or posters? Use our online form.
  • During holidays weeks, trash, recycling and yard waste collection is delayed one day. Check the 2015 collection schedule online for full details.
  • During winter, Clear snow to curb so collection crews can access your trash barrels and recycling toters so that they are not behind snow banks. For more info click here. Thank you.
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