Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 21, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 213-214: March 21, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 213 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast March 21, 2017 at 5:30pm. Topics included the State Championship victory of the CRLS Boys Basketball team, some upcoming civic events, design review of MIT-Kendall projects, and a curious zoning petition that appeared at the Mon, Mar 20 City Council meeting regarding short-term rentals. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 214 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast March 21, 2017 at 6:00pm. Topics included zoning and short-term rentals, changes to the Smoking Ordinance, and the proposed changes to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance that was passed to a 2nd Reading at the Mon, Mar 20 City Council meeting. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in this episode]

March 19, 2017

Springtime in Cambridge: Featured Mar 20, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Items

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:51 pm

Springtime in Cambridge: Featured Mar 20, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Items

It's SpringHere’s a sampler of items of potential interest at the March 20 Cambridge City Council meeting. Happy spring! (It’ll be warm again before you know it.)

On the Table #5. 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. Tabled on a motion by Councillor Cheung on a voice vote of 8 members on Mar 6, 2017.]

Perhaps they’ll settle this on Monday. As I’ve stated before, the goal is laudable but you cannot give veto power over City Manager appointments to a committee.

Unfinished Business #6. An amendment to the Municipal Code Ordinance that Title 8 entitled “Health and Safety” be amended in Chapter 8.28 entitled “Restriction on Youth Access to Tobacco Products and in Smoking in Workplaces and Public Places” by amending 8.28.050 entitled “ Definitions for Prohibition of Smoking in Workplaces” by adding a new definition. [The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Mar 20, 2017.]

I’m sure a few of the smoking risk denial crowd will be there to testify against this. They should take a walk on Berkshire St. beforehand.

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from the Friends of Observatory Hill Village, to establish the Observatory Hill Village Overlay District. (1000+ additional signatures for this zoning petition are on file in the City Clerk’s Office.)

The language of the petition seems reasonable enough, but I’m always curious about what recent activities in an area lead to the decision to submit a petition for a change in the zoning. Are back yards being built over? Are new buildings being built that bear no relationship to the existing buildings. Just curious.


Applications & Petitions #3. A zoning petition has been received from Latoyea Hawkins Cockrill, et a., to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge to regulate short-term rental uses throughout the City.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 1, 2017 to draft language for short-term rental regulations to be forwarded to the Ordinance Committee.

These two have to be discussed together, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this petition and the soon-to-be City Council petition on the same topic are processed concurrently. There has been some discussion on the neighborhood listservs that the Cockrill Petition is really being submitted by AirBnB to counter the proposal coming out of the City Council that would normalize short-term rentals but restrict it to owner-occupied properties. I expect there will be a lot of public comment on this one.


Communications #3. A communication was received from Peter Valentine, 37 Brookline Street, transmitting thanks for seeing the true totality of what he does, reducing complicated things to their simplest level.

In a strange way, I have to agree with Peter.

Resolution #2. Congratulations to the CRLS Boys Basketball Team on their Division 1 (North) Championship.   Councillor Toomey

Now we can add a 2nd straight State Championship to that. The CRLS Falcons won the championship game on Saturday night by a score of 70-43 over Franklin High School.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City departments on the feasibility of installing a hitting tunnel at Danehy Park for youth and high school sports.   Councillor Toomey

I’ve been badgering Kendall Square developers for years about putting a miniature golf course there. A batting cage would also be nice. Show us how Innovative you really are.

Order #5. Recognize the efforts of AIDS Action Cambridge, the SIFMA Now Coalition, and First Church in Cambridge to promote greater awareness about the ongoing opiate epidemic crisis, and their collective efforts to increase access to effective treatment throughout Cambridge.   Mayor Simmons

Further comment is unnecessary. This is important.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 14, 2017 to discuss the Retail Strategic Plan and similar issues related to the retail environment in Cambridge.

This report seems short on specifics, but apparently the process leading to a Retail Strategic Plan for Cambridge business districts still has a way to go. In any case, it’s not always the City plans that govern the eventual outcomes. There are many hands stirring these pots and zoning alone cannot predetermine outcomes.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 25, 2017 to discuss the City’s Fiscal Year 2018 Operating and Capital Budget.

The Manager and staff provided the context, and the councillors provided the wish lists. Tune in early May for the Budget Hearings.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 28, 2017 to conduct an additional hearing to discuss a petition by the City Council to amend provisions of the Zoning Ordinance as it related to Inclusionary Housing, including the insertion of new definitions in Article 2.000 and the substitution of revised zoning text for the current text to Sections 11.200 through 11.206.

This is the meatiest item on the agenda. It is presumed that the petition will be passed to a 2nd Reading with the 20% net inclusionary housing mandate and other changes. The sticky point is whether the Council wants to jettison legal reasoning and retroactively impose the same requirements on Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) that have already received Special Permits. It may be politically popular to impose requirements that are certain to be challenged and likely to be invalidated by the courts but, hey, enjoy your Revolution. Then educate yourselves about long-term planning and financing of large-scale developments. – Robert Winters

March 10, 2017

Paul Toner Declares Candidacy for Cambridge City Council

Filed under: 2017 election,Cambridge,City Council,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 2:10 pm

Paul Toner Declares Candidacy for Cambridge City Council
Lifelong Cambridge resident, parent, education leader and activist announces run for Cambridge City Council with support of community leaders

Paul TonerMarch 10, 2017 – The Toner for City Council campaign released the following statement today:

Paul Toner is a lifelong resident of Cambridge who has chosen to live and work, as well as raise and educate his children in the city. An attorney and former Cambridge Public Schools teacher and lawyer, Paul went on to become one of the most influential public education leaders in the state as President of the 110,000 member Massachusetts Teachers Association. He is currently the Executive Director of Teach Plus Massachusetts and has served on the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Directors, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and numerous education committees.

Paul Lonergan, Campaign Chairman for the Committee to Elect Paul Toner stated “I have known Paul Toner for many years. He is a good friend and great dad. He has been a proven leader in his career and the community and will bring common sense leadership to the City Council. I am proud to support him in this campaign.”

"I’ve had the privilege of working with Paul for many years on education and economic issues at the state and local level. I know he’ll work tirelessly with everyone to keep our city diverse and affordable." Said David Sullivan, North Cambridge resident and former City Councillor.

“Paul will be an incredibly effective advocate for all of Cambridge,” current City Councilor David Maher said. “Paul has spent his career bringing people together to make progress towards a vision of shared prosperity and a government that works for everyone. I know he will do the same as a City Councilor.”

Toner said “Eighteen years ago, I was David Maher’s campaign manager for his first City Council race. I know how long ago it was because my daughter was 6 months old as I toted her around the city campaigning for David. She is now 18, a senior at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School and is preparing for college in the fall.”

“Throughout my life and career as a teacher, lawyer, union leader, and public school parent, I have sought to serve my community. I see running for the City Council at this time as an extension of this work and as an opportunity to use my skills, experience, and wealth of knowledge to make a meaningful impact on the council.”

“I have seen enormous changes in our community and there are new challenges ahead. I believe I can help to bring old and new Cambridge together. Through open and respectful public discourse that is so sorely needed in our political conversations right now, we can make real progress on the challenges that we face. As a leader, I have sought to build consensus to make policy decisions based on collaboration, open dialogue, and data. I am confident that I can bring the same spirit of respect and collaboration to the council. I will work with the council members, staff, and constituents to provide the solutions-oriented leadership necessary to develop and implement a vision for our city that preserves the best of our past and prepares us for the future.”

March 9, 2017

Sean Tierney Announces Candidacy for Cambridge City Council

Filed under: 2017 election,Cambridge,City Council,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 6:09 pm

Sean Tierney for Cambridge City CouncilSean TierneyThurs, Mar 9, 2017 – Sean Tierney announced today his candidacy for Cambridge City Council. Mr. Tierney is the Research Director & Legal Counsel for the Joint Committee on Housing for the Massachusetts State Legislature. In his announcement, Mr. Tierney highlighted his housing and public policy experience as crucial attributes that he would bring to the Council.

“I want to use my experience as a housing policy attorney to help Cambridge adequately address our housing needs. I am committed to developing city policies that help our longtime residents stay in our neighborhoods. I also recognize the profound need for new housing options for all income levels. This is a challenging issue for Cambridge. We must work together, but we must also partner with our municipal neighbors to confront our housing shortage as a regional crisis,” Mr. Tierney said.

In an email and Facebook message to supporters, Mr. Tierney credited his Cambridge upbringing for defining his values, political philosophy, and commitment to the Cambridge community.

“I am a proud graduate of the Cambridge Public Schools and continue to volunteer as a football coach for the Falcons. At Cambridge Rindge and Latin we were taught the importance of our high school’s motto: “opportunity, diversity, and respect.” We learned to recognize gaps in opportunity and understand the roots of inequality and privilege; to celebrate our differences, and treat each other with compassion and dignity; to question the status quo and to believe that through hard work, dedication, and consensus, we can always do better. These are the core values that drive my candidacy,” Mr. Tierney said.

Mr. Tierney began his career working at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics where he ran the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. The Tierney campaign highlighted their candidate’s dedication to public service:

  • Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Teaching Fellow, City on a Hill High School in Roxbury.
  • Rappaport Fellow in Law and Public Policy, Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
  • Legal Intern, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.
  • Cambridge Ward 9 Delegate, 2014 State Democratic Convention.
  • Fellow, New Leaders Council, a training program for progressive Millenials.
  • Deputy Legal Counsel, Committee on Revenue at Massachusetts Legislature.
  • Research Director & Legal Counsel, Committee on Housing at Massachusetts Legislature.

Mr. Tierney hopes to weave Cambridge’s rich history with the exciting possibilities of the city’s growing economy. He is committed to fostering pipelines of opportunity for all residents by leveraging our universities and the innovation economy.

“I believe that our diverse history and shared values will guide us as we work together to make Cambridge an inclusive and world-class city for generations. As city councilor, I will honor this history and represent our shared future,” Tierney said.

In his announcement, Mr. Tierney summed up his campaign in one sentence, “This is who I am, and this is what this campaign is all about: The City of Cambridge.”

Contact: 857-217-4236


Sean Tierney for Cambridge City CouncilStatement from Sean Tierney, Candidate for Cambridge City Council

My name is Sean Tierney and I am running for Cambridge City Council. I am a lifelong Cambridge resident, a volunteer in our community, and a housing policy attorney for the State Legislature. As your next city councilor, I will use my public policy experience and my passion for Cambridge to build a future for all city residents.

A Dedication to Public Service

I began my professional career working at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. I hosted national and international leaders and learned about the importance of strong and effective leadership. Inspired by President Kennedy’s famous words that an “educated citizen has an obligation to serve the public,” I decided to attend law school with the goal of serving my community.

In law school, I committed myself to public service opportunities. I taught Constitutional Law and coached a moot court team at City on a Hill High School in Roxbury, researched election law issues for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, and served as a Rappaport Fellow in Law and Public Policy at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. Now, as a licensed attorney, I develop affordable housing policy for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

I hope to continue on my path as a public servant for our city.

A Pro-Housing Agenda

I want to use my experience as a housing policy attorney to help Cambridge adequately address our housing needs. I am committed to developing city policies that help our longtime residents stay in our neighborhoods. I also recognize the profound need for new housing options for all income levels. This is a challenging issue for Cambridge. We must work together, but we must also partner with our municipal neighbors to confront our housing shortage as a regional crisis.

Cambridge Values

I am a proud graduate of the Cambridge Public Schools and continue to volunteer as a football coach for the Falcons. At Cambridge Rindge and Latin, we were taught the importance of our high school’s motto: “opportunity, diversity, and respect.” We learned to recognize gaps in opportunity and understand the roots of inequality and privilege; to celebrate our differences, and treat each other with compassion and dignity; to question the status quo and to believe that through hard work, dedication, and consensus, we can always do better. These are the core values that drive my candidacy.

A Commitment to Community

Sean TierneyCambridge is many things to many people. It is a new and exciting place centered around our universities, life sciences, and technology sector. It’s also a community with deep roots, family ties, and streets that are neighborhoods.

To me, Cambridge is also a place where friendships are forged on our athletic fields and in our classrooms; it’s playing on Huron Ave. and sleepovers on Western. It’s an afternoon in Jefferson Park and a night in Harvard Square. It’s S&S wings, Coast Café, Angelo’s cheese fries, Izzy’s, and a slice at Armando’s. It’s 1369 coffee, Memorial Drive on Sunday afternoons, and the graffiti wall on Modica Way. It’s Hoyt Field, Gold Star Pool, and a walk around Fresh Pond. It’s helping your neighbor shovel snow and finding a gift of Haitian griot and pikliz at your door. It’s art, it’s style, it’s individuality, and at the same time it’s community.

I believe that our diverse history and shared values will guide us as we work together to make Cambridge an inclusive and world-class city for generations. As city councilor, I will honor this history and represent our shared future.

This is who I am and this is what this campaign is all about: The City of Cambridge.

I look forward to meeting you and hearing your story.


March 7, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 211-212: March 7, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 211 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on March 7, 2017 at 5:30pm. Topics included upcoming Cambridge events and new candidates for City Council and School Committee. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 212 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on March 7, 2017 at 6:00pm. The main topics were items discussed at the Mar 6 Cambridge City Council meeting – with a little special attention to Peter Valentine. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in this episode]

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

Comments?

March 1, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 209-210: February 28, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 209 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Feb 28, 2017 at 5:30pm. Our guest was School Committee member Kathleen Kelly who spoke about the School Department budget, enrollment, and lots more. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 210 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Feb 28, 2017 at 6:00pm. The main topic was the Feb 27 City Council meeting, including the unanimous ordination of the Central Square Restoration Petition. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in this episode]

February 26, 2017

Before the March – Items of Interest at the February 27, 2017 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 11:56 pm

Before the March – Items of Interest at the February 27, 2017 Cambridge City Council meeting

Time TravelIn between Resistance Rallies and Sanctuary Sessions, the Cambridge City Council occasionally meets to talk about Municipal Matters. Here are a few items that may be of interest to those not marching or carrying signs on Monday.

Manager’s Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the City of Cambridge retaining its noteworthy distinction of being one of approximately 35 municipalities in the United States with AAA ratings from each of the nation’s three major credit rating agencies.

It has become an annual tradition. Keep it up. People will complain anyway.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $48,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Finance (Personnel) Other Ordinary Maintenance account. This appropriation will be used to procure consultant services to assist in the hiring of a new Police Commissioner.

The public is invited to assist the City with the development of the leadership profile for the Police Commissioner search. Members of the public may participate in the process by attending one of the Citywide Public Forums or by providing written feedback. Two Citywide Public Forums, facilitated by PERF, are being held on:
  • Thursday, March 2, 2017, from 6-8pm, School Committee Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway
  • Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 10am–12pm, Citywide Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Avenue.


Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a revised and annotated version of the Central Square Restoration Zoning Petition.

Unfinished Business #9. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for an additional public hearing held on Feb 2, 2017 to discuss the Central Square Restoration Zoning petition. [The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Feb 27, 2017. Planning Board hearing held Nov 29, 2016. Petition expires Mar 1, 2017.]

This is the last chance to ordain this before its expiration date. It appears to have unanimous support, but there could still be a tweak or two before it’s official. The real question is whether these very modest zoning changes will provide sufficient incentive for us to see actual positive changes in Central Square. In any case, this is a good start.


Applications & Petitions #3. A Zoning Petition has been received from the owner of the property at Third Street and Cambridge Street to amend the existing zoning at that location to authorize the construction of a 45 unit residential building with small scale retail on the ground floor and parking below grade.

Another day, another zoning petition. Actually, there are two additional City Council zoning petitions being introduced at this meeting – Order #17 and Order #20.

Resolution #2. Thanks to Luis Vasquez for his service to fathers in Cambridge.   Councillor Cheung

Luis Vasquez is one of the most decent people I have met in my nearly 40 years in Cambridge.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Mayor to make the Sullivan Chamber and the prior goal setting facilitator, or any professional facilitator, available on a weekly basis for half day or full day City Council goal setting sessions   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Devereux

This Order seems to suggest that City Council goal-setting is an extended exercise that goes on for days and days. In truth, it’s just a snapshot of general priorities at a given time – and it has never taken all that much time to develop nor should it. Like a party platform, it just lays out some general goals and principles. It’s a bit bewildering that they haven’t completed this by now, but it’s not like building Rome.

Order #7. City Council support of 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.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Mazen

Though this petition appears to be a response to the current specific redevelopment plans for the Abbot Building in Harvard Square, the idea contained in this petition is interesting and potentially worth pursuing. I suspect it would simply make official what likely already happens, i.e. the Cambridge Historical Commission evaluating buildings as possessing varying degrees of historical significance.

Order #8. 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.   Mayor Simmons

This is a laudable goal but the Order as written is a clear violation of state law. The City Manager is the appointing authority and this Order calls for making appointments to all boards and commissions contingent on approval of a City Council subcommittee. Another problem with this order is that the word "diversity" means a lot of things – and not just what people look like. Should there be mandatory diversity of viewpoint on all advisory committees? We could use a lot more diversity of viewpoint, but some of these boards do, in fact, act as advocates for a particular point of view. Perhaps this Order should be amended by replacing the word "requirement" with the word "goal" and by removing the proposal to give the Civic Unity Committee veto power over City Manager appointments.

Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to provide an update to the City Council on what progress has been made in meeting the goal of creating 1,000 new affordable units by the end of this decade.   Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern

As a rule, goals like this are far too constraining in the absence of other considerations. If this was to be accomplished via Inclusionary Zoning, this implies that the City should have a goal of producing over 8,600 new housing units per decade under current standards or 5,000 new housing units under the proposed new 20% standard. I don’t wish to refer all such considerations to the Envision Cambridge process, but it is a valid long-term planning concern. In addition, housing growth (both "affordable" and in general) has to be accomplished in the whole region and not just in a few cities and towns within the region.

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to work with relevant City Departments and industry leaders to generate a report on the potential growth of next-generation wireless technology in the City, to include: the expected footprint of citywide coverage from just one company and what market competition might produce; the integration of public and private infrastructure to support the network; what local standards the City might hope to maintain relative to aesthetics and safety; and how this new technology fits into our Broadband access plans.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Cheung

Though these are all valid concerns, including the proliferation of seemingly random (and sometimes noisy and ugly) structures perched atop utility poles and buildings, my guess is that when all is said and done the selection of broadcast channels will continue to suck and the cost of access to "premium" services like Red Sox games will continue to soar without limit.

Order #17. Amendments to the Zoning Map and Ordinance by creating a new Section 11.900 – Registration of Vacant/Abandoned Buildings; Maintenance and Security Requirements.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Carlone

I’m eternally curious about the motivation of actions such as this one. Could this be related to the long-term vacancy of a place like the Harvard Square Cinema building? Or is this just a way to address long-term horror shows like the Vail Court property on Bishop Allen Drive without having to file a half dozen City Council orders and inviting lawsuits after an eminent domain taking? I do find it curious that this proposed zoning amendment would assess a monthly fee at a rate of 4.17 percent of the assessed value of the property on any property that is vacant more than 6 months. That’s 50% of the assessed value per year. With rates like that this really starts to look like a regulatory taking of the property and it’s doubtful that courts will look kindly on such a fee structure.

Order #18. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to ask the Volpe Working Group to consider how the GSA building will be integrated in with the rest of the site and to ask the independent design consultant to be more involved in the urban design process going forward.   Councillor Cheung

At the MIT meeting on this matter it was revealed that the Volpe replacement building would have to be located at the northwest corner of the Volpe site and that much of the open space associated with the future federal property could be integrated with the rest of the open space planned on the site. Details at http://www.volpemit.com and, in particular in this PDF slide presentation of the Feb 16, 2017 meeting.

Order #20. Proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinances regarding rooftop spaces in Central Square.   Councillor Cheung, Councillor Carlone

This seems like a sensible outgrowth of the discussion that grew out of the Central Square Restoration Petition which will hopefully be ordained by the time this Order comes up in the agenda. See you at the March. – Robert Winters

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: