Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

June 11, 2012

On the Agenda – Highlights of the June 11, 2012 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council,planning — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:45 am

On the Agenda – Highlights of the June 11, 2012 Cambridge City Council meeting

There are several substantial items on the agenda this week. Among them:

City Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 12-33, regarding a report on a plan for implementing separate trash or recycling curbside pickup for small businesses along existing curbside pickup routes. ["Please be advised that I am not recommending the implementation of such a program given the cost impacts to the City."]

This responds to an Order that grew, at least in part, out of East Cambridge traffic congestion problems caused by multiple collection vehicles. Needless to say, the suggestion that the City should take over all collection did not resonate with these multiple waste haulers. The real deal-breaker is the very substantial additional cost.

City Manager’s Agenda #28. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the purchase of 53.6 acres of watershed land in Lincoln, MA, for $1,152,247 from Community Preservation Act Open Space Reserve Fund, for the purposes of drinking water supply protection and land conservation.

This watershed land is located on the north side of Route 2 in Lincoln just east of Bedford Road. The City has in recent years acquired numerous parcels through which the Hobbs Brook flows en route to the Cambridge Reservoir (Hobbs Basin) in the vicinity of Route 2 and Route 128. Some may argue that Community Preservation Act open space funds should be spent exclusively within the city limits, but watershed protection is generally a very good investment.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Cambridge Police Commissioner, the Superintendent of Schools, and other appropriate personnel to organize a youth-focused community forum to discuss issues related to the shooting at Willow Street on June 3, 2012, to allow our young people a chance to openly communicate their concerns, grievances, and ideas directly with City officials and administrators.   Vice Mayor Simmons

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Cambridge Police Commissioner and to urge him to reach out to the various stake holders in the community, including building managers, property owners, and local business owners, in an attempt to proactively address the summer violence before it has a chance to begin.   Vice Mayor Simmons

Though the law enforcement aspects of the shooting near Donnelly Field are appropriately in the hands of the Cambridge Police and the District Attorney, it is appropriate that Vice Mayor Denise Simmons should take a leadership role in the many other necessary responses to this incident that hit uncomfortably close to home. The greatest opportunity for leadership lies among the young people who know the victims and who may be able to help in the resolution of the case and in the prevention of future violence.

Order #4. That a Task Force be formed to review Cambridge’s current program to creatively encourage and maximize participation in PILOT agreements with the City, and to evaluate the possibilities of implementing SILOT (Services In Lieu of Payment) and/or GILOT (Grants In Lieu of Payment) programs.   Councillor vanBeuzekom and Councillor Cheung

The motivation of this Order appears to be a comparable program by the City of Boston that has achieved some success in generating addition revenue from tax-exempt institutions. Though the prospects are not great for additional payments in lieu of taxes, there is clearly plenty of opportunity for non-profit and educational institutions to offer services in lieu of taxes. The major colleges already provide many such services and could probably do more with some facilitation.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City and Harvard staff to determine who is doing what on the Cambridge Street Overpass, how through passage is being safely managed, how signage has been displayed, what the overall plans for this project are and the timing of the work and its expected completion date.   Councillor Kelley

There was a very comprehensive presentation about this made at a recent meeting of the Mid-Cambridge Neighborhood Association. Though substantial work is planned, the disruption both to the tunnel and the plaza above should be acceptable. The redesigned plaza will no longer have its familar grassy areas, but it will have the potential to become an important new public space for both Harvard and the City. [Details on the project (DPW) – Check out all the tabs.] I just hope the Harvard planners have an alternative for driving stakes into the ground when they want to install a tent. It’s not so easy to drive stakes into concreate pavers.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with an explanation of how the City plans to maintain grade separated bikeways and keep them as free from sand, branches and other debris as the adjacent streets.   Councillor Kelley

The larger issue is the grade-separated facilties themselves. While City officials and the public continually frown upon bicycling on sidewalks, they are simultaneously designing it into the Western Avenue project commencing later this year. To those of us who choose to ride in the street with all other vehicles, the City proposal will be less safe for us and slower for the cyclists who use the sidewalk track. It is very unlikely that the sidewalk track will be kept free of snow and ice in the winter. [“Cycle track”: a sidewalk by another name]

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with an explanation of how the locations for the three bike corrals currently in place in Cambridge were determined.   Councillor Kelley

Good question. One of these corrals appeared recently in front of the Broadway Bicycle School. It’s empty basically all the time. [Correction: On Monday there were 8 bikes locked up there, probably related to the City Hall Annex.] Cyclists coming to the Broadway Bicycle School generally bring their bikes inside to work on them. Meanwhile in places all over Cambridge there are derelict bikes chained up for months at a time taking up many of the available locations for locking up a bike.

Order #14. That the City Manager confer with the appropriate departments to discuss the potential of installing security cameras in the Donnelly Field area and report back to the City Council.   Councillor Toomey

The recent shooting at Donnelly Field does not in and of itself justify the installation of such cameras, but their presence could very well have resolved this case in short order. Though the government conspiracy theorists may feel otherwise, their arguments against these cameras remain weak. Public spaces are public and cameras strategically located along roads and on public buildings can and do help in solving crimes.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 15, 2012 to discuss the petition of Forest City/MIT to amend the Zoning Ordinances by extending the Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District from Green Street out to Massachusetts Avenue in the area adjacent to Blanche Street and further to provide for the potential development of a residential building on Sidney Street between Massachusetts Avenue and Green Street.

A few thoughts on this (more to follow in the coming weeks as the various advisory committees complete their efforts):

Though the proposal for the All-Asia block is similar to what MIT/Forest City proposed last year, the proposal for a 165-foot residential tower next to the Lafayette Square fire house apparently came out of the Community Development Department. Forest City was receptive to the idea, but it wasn’t their idea. A more human-scale residential building next to the firehouse might be more acceptable as long as an equivalent amount of open space is relocated to a site people would actually use. MIT/Forest City’s primary motivation is the development of the All-Asia block – something they would have done 20 years ago if they had sufficient control of the property. Significant height (about 140 ft.) and density is also proposed there. Of great concern to some MIT faculty is the current trend of MIT sacrificing properties close to the core campus to private development (e.g., Pfizer, Novartis) that might otherwise have supported the academic mission of the Institute.

I would caution people against taking an either-or view of this or any of the other proposals that will soon appear for future development in the greater Central Square area. Some will be opposed to any additional height or density and others will be receptive to any and all additional height or density. I find both of these points of view to be lacking. Surely there is room for people to express their own "vision" for what they want the future of Central Square to be – as opposed to simply reacting to the proposals of others. It’s ironic that the City Council has a Neighborhood & Long-term Planning Committee, yet two things the committee apparently doesn’t do are neighborhood and long-term planning.

I would much rather see the emphasis be on increasing density within the envelope currently prescribed by the zoning code with some strategic modification to induce good uses. The zoning is actually pretty generous already and there are many underbuilt sites in the area – including the All-Asia block. My "vision" for Central Square primarily consists of replacing the one-story and two-story "taxpayer" buildings with buildings that rise 3 to 5 stories at Mass. Ave. and possibly step back an additional story or two. I feel that a good-looking ten-story building like the Central Square Building at Mass. Ave. and Western Ave. should be the (anomalous) upper limit for height. I might be convinced that one other such building should be built, but this should not be the norm. Central Square is not Kendall Square, and it should not be redeveloped in the manner of Kendall Square. The Central Square neighborhood is already somewhat dense and can afford to be more dense if the gaps along Mass. Ave. are better developed and if some of the back lots see new construction. If housing in new buildings close to work is what is needed, I would suggest that the best place for new housing would be in Kendall Square, in the area between Main Street and Mass. Ave. replacing some of the old industrial properties, and on some (not all) of the parking lots.

Regarding the issue of shadows cast by taller buildings, I’ve always felt this to be primarily a naysayer strategy transparently intended to block a given proposal. In Jill Brown-Rhone Park (Lafayette Square), the City has installed umbrellas in that area because of the excess sunniness. I would prefer to see a shorter building than the 165 foot tower currently proposed, but I don’t really care about the shadows. I simply prefer a more human scale in an area that is primarily oriented toward neighborhood people rather than trans-national industries. We have Kendall Square and downtown Boston for that sort of thing.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 23, 2012 to discuss a petition to amend the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge by adding to Section 5.50 entitled "Special Dimensional Regulations" a section 5.54 entitled "Special Regulations for Municipal Elementary and Middle (K-8) Schools.

This is largely a formality despite some of the scary and dishonest e-mail alerts distributed by some activists with nothing better to do than spread false rumors about unlimited heights, unlimited parking, exemption from all zoning, and the consolidation of all middle school programs into a single "supersized" building. False, false, false, and false. – Robert Winters

May 13, 2012

Ducks in a Row – May 14, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,cycling — Tags: , , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:43 pm

Ducks in a Row – May 14, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

This week’s meeting is in many ways the set-up meeting preceding next week’s meeting at which the FY2013 Budget will be approved. There are 5 loan authorization orders On the Table totaling $17,442,670 to cover various public works projects that will be voted this week to get all the ducks in a row. Beyond this, it’s all miscellany.

Order #3. That the Mayor is requested to confer with relevant City staff and City Councillors and report back to the City Council on the status of the process for filling the City Manager and City Clerk positions.   Councillor Kelley

Orders like this one make me laugh. Councillor Kelley is the house obstructionist who always votes in the most contrary way in all matters relating to the City Manager. This has earned him the privilege of playing no role whatsoever in the eventual selection of the next city manager (he may have company). If any other councillor offers a substitute order, it will likely eclipse Kelley’s order – even if the substitution is just a punctuation change. In matters of consequence, especially in matters such as this, I would expect the process to be begin with an Order from any of 6 councillors – a list that does not include Councillor Kelley.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Cambridge Conservation Commission to provide an explanation of how the waiting lists for community garden plots work.   Councillor Cheung

This reminds me of the thoroughly unenlightened mandate laid down several years ago by the Community Development Department regarding the assignment of plots in community gardens. Rather than maintaining an organic mix of new gardeners and long-time gardeners, they proposed evicting any gardener who had tilled their plot for more than three years. It was disappointing to have the Community Development Department ripping the community out of community gardening. In contrast, the Conservation Commission staff generally kept a more balanced approach and I hope this is still the case. The best community gardens in Cambridge are generally the ones in which the gardeners manage their own affairs with adequate City support and minimal intrusion. They have always encouraged sufficient turnover for new gardeners.

Order #11. That the City Manager is requested work with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and report back on a proposed plan of action to improve safety in area of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street.   Councillor Cheung

I pass by this intersection often and the white bicycle marking where Phyo Kyaw was killed in late December is a chilling reminder of how suddenly a life can end. There are rumors circulating about the circumstances of that death, but the matter is now with the District Attorney and details are hard to come by. The intersection is rated as one of the city’s most dangerous, but this is as much a function of the volume of traffic – motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian – as it is about any design flaw. Indeed, it’s just an ordinary intersection of two roads. It would be interesting to see a comparison between the frequency of accidents before and after the City "improved" Vassar Street with its absurd "cycle track" design and narrowing of the roadway. For those of us who bicycle in the road rather than on the sidewalk, that was no improvement. The City is planning to "improve" Western Avenue in a similar manner beginning later this year. – Robert Winters

April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 Cambridge City Council Meeting Highlights – featuring the Proposed FY2013 Budget

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Comcast — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 1:48 pm

April 23, 2012 Cambridge City Council Meeting Highlights – featuring the Proposed FY2013 Budget

The FY2013 Budget for the City of Cambridge will be submitted this Monday, April 23 to the City Council. Here’s a table of the bottom line for all of the City Departments for FY2013 as well as FY2005 and FY2012 for comparison:

City of Cambridge FY2013 Budget

GENERAL GOVERNMENT FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Mayor 430,035 587,235 554,040 -5.7 28.8
Executive 1,353,140 1,999,890 2,068,675 3.4 52.9
City Council 975,570 1,602,960 1,642,165 2.4 68.3
City Clerk 720,925 964,540 1,067,130 10.6 48.0
Law 1,780,975 2,112,790 2,061,495 -2.4 15.8
Finance 8,837,560 12,046,005 12,350,575 2.5 39.8
Employee Benefits 20,499,920 30,922,965 31,796,130 2.8 55.1
General Services 984,345 739,215 726,475 -1.7 -26.2
Election 756,540 1,062,480 1,004,285 -5.5 32.7
Public Celebrations 671,505 791,445 799,370 1.0 19.0
Reserve 37,500 37,500 37,500 0.0 0.0
TOTAL $37,048,015 $52,867,025 $54,107,840 2.3 46.0
           
PUBLIC SAFETY FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Animal Commission 228,870 288,660 298,585 3.4 30.5
Fire 28,891,840 39,055,065 40,111,145 2.7 38.8
Police 31,515,220 43,496,275 45,643,095 4.9 44.8
Traffic, Parking & Transportation 8,175,095 10,294,470 10,551,435 2.5 29.1
Police Review & Advisory Board 77,210 103,745 70,730 -31.8 -8.4
Inspectional Services 2,261,215 2,992,440 3,115,045 4.1 37.8
License 726,735 931,910 986,140 5.8 35.7
Weights & Measures 98,910 130,025 134,325 3.3 35.8
Electrical 2,239,640 2,773,865 2,792,005 0.7 24.7
Emergency Management 137,820 0 0 -100.0
Emergency Communications 3,097,485 4,085,420 4,242,970 3.9 37.0
TOTAL $77,450,040 $104,151,875 $107,945,475 3.6 39.4
           
COMMUNITY MAINT/DEVELOPMENT FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Public Works 23,648,125 30,397,855 31,945,265 5.1 35.1
Community Development 4,472,620 5,283,620 5,482,210 3.8 22.6
Historical Commission 457,580 571,470 587,025 2.7 28.3
Conservation Commission 89,760 100,305 101,925 1.6 13.6
Peace Commission 76,215 119,590 139,595 16.7 83.2
Cable T.V. 999,500 1,402,505 1,436,360 2.4 43.7
Debt Service 23,917,070 44,594,830 47,526,975 6.6 98.7
TOTAL $53,660,870 $82,470,175 $87,219,355 5.8 62.5
           
HUMAN RESOURCE/DEVELOPMENT FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Library 5,461,430 8,398,455 8,710,520 3.7 59.5
Human Services 14,581,590 21,227,585 22,480,760 5.9 54.2
Women’s Commission 155,860 217,720 225,425 3.5 44.6
Human Rights Commission 158,730 222,615 220,160 -1.1 38.7
Veterans 510,885 1,033,660 981,165 -5.1 92.1
TOTAL $20,868,495 $31,100,035 $32,618,030 4.9 56.3
           
CITY TOTAL $189,027,420 $270,589,110 $281,890,700 4.2 49.1
           
EDUCATION FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
Schools Operating (TOTAL) 122,053,195 140,719,260 144,987,705 3.0 18.8
           
INTERGOVERNMENTAL FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
MWRA 16,177,455 21,699,800 21,006,055 -3.2 29.8
Cherry Sheet Assessments 11,569,960 18,285,305 19,700,025 7.7 70.3
Cambridge Health Alliance 6,500,000 6,000,000 6,500,000 8.3 0.0
TOTAL 34,247,415 45,985,105 47,206,080 2.7 37.8
           
GRAND TOTALS $345,328,030 $457,293,475 $474,084,485 3.7 37.3
         
FY05 submitted FY12 submitted FY13 submitted 1 yr % change 8 yr % change
WATER $17,098,120 $14,902,620 $14,144,080 -5.1 -17.3
PUBLIC INVESTMENT $8,834,255 $11,613,225 $21,277,065 83.2 140.8

PDF of this Chart    Open Chart on separate page

Note 1: There’s nothing special about FY2005 for making comparisions. That’s just the earliest year with available online budget summaries.

Note 2: Don’t jump to conclusions about the apparent jump in budget for the Peace Commission or the apparent drop in budget for the Police Review Advisory Board. They now share an Executive Director, so the changes are most likely related to which budget is covering that salary.


The proposed FY2013 Budget is City Manager’s Agenda #1. There are a few other items on the agenda as well. For example:

City Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Police Review & Advisory Board for a term of five years, effective Apr 17, 2012:
Ann Coyne,
Laurance Kimbrough,
Lucy Murray-Brown

City Manager’s Agenda #12. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Board of Zoning Appeals effective Apr 18, 2012:
Lindsey Thorne-Bingham (Full Member, 5-year term);  Janet Green (Associate Member, 2-year term)
Andrea Hickey (Associate Member, 2-year term);  Kevin McAvey (Associate Member, 2-year term)

City Manager’s Agenda #13. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as members of the Human Rights Commissioner for three year terms effective Apr 18, 2012:
Brendan St. Amant,
Adrian Velazquez

It’s apparently catch-up time for appointments to City boards and commissions.

City Manager’s Agenda #15. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $11,917,462 from Free Cash to the General Fund Law Department Travel and Training (Judgment and Damages) account.

This is the formal balancing of the books to account for the payment out of free cash to cover the legal settlement costs relating to the unfortunate outcome of the lawsuits of Monteiro, Wong, and Stamper. Hopefully we’ll not see any other opportunistic lawsuits like these any time soon.

Resolution #11. Resolution on the death of Timothy J. Decker.   Vice Mayor Simmons, Councillor Maher, Councillor Cheung, Mayor Davis, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Reeves, Councillor Toomey and Councillor vanBeuzekom

Sincere condolences to Marjorie Decker on the loss of her father.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the feasibility of converting portions of the 4th floor of City Hall, or some other under-utilized building space already owned by the City, into office space for the eight members of the City Council who do not currently have office space within City Hall.   Vice Mayor Simmons and Councillor Cheung

This unnecessary Order will likely be approved on a unanimous or near-unanimous vote. It should be noted that during course of the last decade or so, city councillors were granted exclusive parking spaces behind City Hall (usually vacant), their own personal assistants (primarily campaign workers), and magnificent salary increases. The job description remains the same as it was in 1941. Note that the City Council budget has also increased 68% in 8 years. This Order rather absurdly asserts that city councillors lack sufficient space in City Hall. This doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Order #6. That the matter of Reconsideration in Rule Sixteen of the City Council Rules be referred to the Government Operations and Rules Committee for review.   Councillor Maher

This is a good idea, especially since at least one councillor has chosen to file Reconsideration purely to delay matters that have been overwhelmingly supported. Some councillors appear to have never been acquainted with Robert’s Rules or Order or even the City Council’s own adopted rules. This is good for occasional comedy, but not so great for efficient meetings.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to determine if Cambridge can take similar steps towards being re-certified to regulate basic cable costs in the City of Cambridge and to report back to the City Council.   Councillor Toomey

I won’t hold my breath expecting anything to come of this. The Evil Empire of Comcast shall not yield. Besides, it’s not the "basic cable" costs that are the big problem with Comcast. It’s the fact that all the other cable packages are absurdly overpriced and the City is not legally permitted to negotiate any of those rates or selections. That’s why I dumped Comcast and use a roof antenna. – Robert Winters

April 2, 2012

Apr 2, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights and other News from the People’s Republic

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council,Kendall Square — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 1:20 pm

Apr 2, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights and other News from the People’s Republic

There’s not much to say about the meeting itself, but the agenda items do bring a few other things to mind.Bike Post

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the supplemental appropriation of a Metropolitan Area Planning Council Regional Bike Parking Program Grant in the amount of $24,948 to the Grant Fund Community Development Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account to purchase bicycle parking racks.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of a $2,000 grant received form the Cambridge Health Department to the Grant Fund Community Development Department Salary and Wages account to pay for an intern who will work with city staff to promote cycling and to research and plan for bicycle parking in numerous locations around Cambridge.

This is all well and good, but there are a few things about all these bike posts sprouting through the sidewalks of Cambridge that need to be said. First, it’s incredible how many abandoned bikes are clogging up these posts. The fact that the DPW guy in charge of wrangling bikes was arrested for stealing bicycles may be a factor, but I’d love to hear a truck making the rounds announcing "Bike rack cleaning. No parking on the odd side of the street or your bike will be tagged and towed. Bike rack cleaning…."

Another curious fact of these bike racks is that the responsibility of property owners to provide space for bikes for their residential and commercial tenants is being transferred to the City. On my block, my tenants store their bikes in the basement or behind the house but other property owners provide no space at all on premises for bicycles. The plan is apparently to transfer this responsibility entirely to the City by installing bike racks on the sidewalk – even though the primary users are not customers but tenants of the buildings. One commercial building with plentiful basement space and four commercial parking spaces behind the building now has no parking on premises for either bikes or motor vehicles. The parking spaces were given to an abutting residential condo building, and the City will be providing bike parking on the sidewalk. I wish I could externalize all my responsibilities like that.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 12-34, regarding a report on designated open space within the MXD District. [attachment]

This report really should have been provided a month ago when the controversy over the Kendall Square rooftop garden first arose. Better late than never, I suppose. It would be more informative if there was an accompanying document showing the whole range of current and planned open space in the wider area, especially the new open space that came out of the Alexandria rezoning process.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the North Massachusetts Avenue Rezoning Petition received from the Planning Board. [attachment]

This petition concerns the part of Mass. Ave. from Porter Square to the Arlington line. As the report states, the principal elements of the proposed zoning are maintaining ground floor retail (non·residential uses on the ground floor would be required), protecting historic structures, facilitating outdoor seating, and adjusting the Business A2 (BA2) district boundaries. The closing sentence states, "The Planning Board feels that the proposed zoning changes reflect key opportunities to allow North Massachusetts Avenue to continue to evolve into an inviting, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use street with active ground floors."

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to a request that the City Council authorize the City Manager to seek approval from the Office of the Inspector General to utilize "Construction Manager-at-Risk" as the contracting method for the Martin Luther King School Renovation Project.

I don’t profess to understand what advantages this may have, but anything that may potentially limit costs is welcome. We’ve spent a lot of money in recent years on the Library, the Police Station, and the High School, and much more will be spent during the next decade in reconstructing buildings that will house the new middle school programs.

Order #1. That the City Council schedule a Roundtable Meeting for Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 4:00pm to receive an update from Goody Clancy and the Community Development Department on the Kendall Central Study.   Mayor Davis

This is one of MANY meetings coming up regarding possible plans for both Kendall Square and Central Square. One criticism I would express about the Goody Clancy role in this is the strong sense that their primary goal even before entering into this was to dramatically increase the residential and commercial density everywhere possible between Kendall Square and Central Square. Some of this is good, but the whole process feels like a juggernaut with the various advisory committees simply receiving the "vision" of the planners and not the other way around. Perhaps the upcoming meetings on Apr 4 (Central), Apr 5 (Kendall), Apr 6 (Kendall), Apr 10 (Kendall), Apr 11 (Central), Apr 12 (Kendall), Apr 25 (Goody Clancy at the City Council), and Apr 26 (Kendall) will bring out some more residents – few of whom have attended any of the previous meetings.

So many of the people who will be affected by proposals for Central Square have had little or no input into these ongoing discussions. This includes the Red Ribbon stuff of the last two years. The first news for some will be when places like the Clear Conscience Café and the Harvest Market are hustled out of their spaces to make room for other things. Other favorite places will be priced out of Central Square as it continues its transformation toward upscale restaurants as basic retail outlets pass into history. It’s popular to talk about buying local, but we are swiftly moving toward a future where a trip to Somerville or Everett will be necessary for anyone seeking affordable groceries, clothing, and other basic needs.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the Council on the legal requirements for public notice and meetings including issues on legibility, regulatory framework and definition and public comment at said meeting or hearing.   Councillor Kelley

The impetus for this Order is the proposed Dunkin Donuts next to the Evergood Market at Mass. Ave. and Shepard St. It’s doubtful whether there would have been such outrage if the Dunkin Donuts was proposed to open on Broadway or in East Cambridge or Central Square. Alas, not all neighborhoods have a Master Plan. – Robert Winters

March 26, 2012

Ins and Outs – Monday, Mar 26 City Council meeting and other news

Filed under: 2012 election,City Council,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:05 am

Ins and Outs – Monday, Mar 26 City Council meeting and other news

Though there is a City Council meeting this week, all the really interesting stuff happened at last week’s meeting and in the days that followed. The Biggest Item by far was last week’s Order relating to the extension of the City Manager’s contract through June 2013 coupled with Bob Healy’s statement that he would retire at the end of the contract. As if one major retirement wasn’t enough, State Representative Alice Wolf announced on Thursday that she would not seek reelection this Fall. As expected, City Councillor Marjorie Decker then announced her candidacy for the seat now occupied by State Rep. Wolf. Others may yet toss their hats into the ring for the Democratic Primary in September and there’s a decent chance that there may even be a challenger in the November General Election.

Meanwhile at this week’s City Council meeting, there are a few interesting agenda items:

Manager’s Agenda #10. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Larry Ward as an Election Commissioner for term of four years, effective Apr 1, 2012, in accordance with Chapter 239 of the Acts of 1921 as amended.

The Manager had a tough choice between nominees Tom Stohlman and Larry Ward. I suppose it didn’t hurt that Councillors Reeves and Simmons were actively supporting Larry Ward (who will be a fabulous election commissioner). If there’s an opening on the Planning Board anytime soon, I hope Tom Stohlman is interested. Even better, let’s hope Tom runs for City Council again and wins.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the Board of Zoning Appeal to restart the process of the Dunkin Donuts cafe/coffee shop at 1678 Massachusetts Avenue. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Order Number Seventeen of Mar 19, 2012.]

The discussion on this at the end of the March 19 City Council meeting illuminated the kind of elitism of which Cantabigians are often accused. If this was yet another yuppie café there would be no objections. (The site is next door to the Evergood Market.) Think of the bright side, folks. With a donut shop, you’ll have plenty of police protection. (I know I’ll get grief for that….)

Applications & Petitions #6. A zoning petition has been received from Zevart M. Hollisian, Trustee of Garabed B. Hollisian Trust and L-Z Realty Trust and Seth D. Alexander, President, MIT Investment Management Company, requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance by extending the Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District from Green Street out to Massachusetts Avenue in the area adjacent to Blanche Street; said parcel to be developed by Forest City.

The Forest City/University Park zoning petition returns. This would alter the zoning in the area bounded on three sides by Green Street, Blanche Street, and Mass. Ave. easterly to the former Cambridgeport Saloon (even more formerly Fathers Four) to extend the Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District (CRDD) to include this block. The 7-page petition is here: http://www2.cambridgema.gov/CityOfCambridge_Content/documents/Foresst%20City%20%20Sidney%20St.pdf.

Resolution #1. Congratulations to Mayor Emeritus Walter J. Sullivan and Marion Sullivan as they prepare to celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary on July 22, 2012.   Vice Mayor Simmons, Councillor Toomey

Yes, indeed – wonderful people with a marvelous extended family.

Resolution #3. Urge residents to be cognizant of the beginning of street cleaning which commences the first week of April.   Councillor Toomey

No parking on the odd side of the street or your car will be tagged and towed. Street Cleaning. No parking on the odd side of the street or your car will be tagged and towed. Street Cleaning. No parking on the odd side of the street or your car will be tagged and towed. Street Cleaning…..

Resolution #7. Thanks to State Representative Alice Wolf for her years of service to the citizens of Cambridge.   Mayor Davis, Councillor Toomey, Councillor vanBeuzekom

Absolutely, yet I couldn’t help but notice that Marjorie Decker wasn’t listed as a cosponsor. Perhaps she was busy…..

It never ceases to amaze me how much the Democratic Party in Massachusetts abhors contested elections within its own party. This was the case when Marjorie Decker challenged Paul Demakis in 2002 and all the party regulars recoiled in horror. It makes you wonder what will happen if another Democratic hat comes flying into the ring for Wolf’s seat. Meanwhile, in the other House and Senate Cambridge districts, all we hear are crickets. – Robert Winters

March 19, 2012

Getting Down to Business – Mar 19, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Getting Down to Business – Mar 19, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

There can be little doubt that this meeting is the most serious meeting so far this year and possibly for this entire year. Front and center on the agenda is City Council Order #7, cosponsored by seven of the nine city councillors, calling for an extension of the City Manager’s contract (through mid-2013) and a commitment to begin consideration of how the process of succession might be conducted should this be the final contract extension for City Manager Robert W. Healy. There has been no recent public statement from Mr. Healy regarding his wishes for any additional contract extension, but a short-term extension like the one proposed seems consistent with statements made in recent years. It is noteworthy that seven of the nine city councillors had the good sense to grant a contract extension. The two councillors who did not sign on to this Order are Councillor Kelley (who has been a vocal opponent of Mr. Healy since long before his time as a councillor) and Councillor Reeves (speculation encouraged).
[Update: City Manager Robert Healy has now stated that he will retire at the end of this extended contract – in mid-2013.]
The relevant Order is this:

O-7     Mar 19, 2012
COUNCILLOR MAHER, COUNCILLOR CHEUNG, COUNCILLOR DECKER, VICE MAYOR SIMMONS, COUNCILLOR TOOMEY, MAYOR DAVIS, COUNCILLOR VANBEUZEKOM
WHEREAS: City Manager Robert Healy’s current employment contract with the City of Cambridge expires on Sept 30, 2012; and
WHEREAS: The contract contains a notification provision which needs action by the City Council or Mr. Healy on or before Mar 31, 2012; and
WHEREAS: As a result of Mr. Healy’s long tenure as City Manager, the City of Cambridge has not undertaken a search for a new City Manager for over thirty years; and
WHEREAS: It is imperative to the overall stability of the City of Cambridge that the City Council develop both a comprehensive short-term and long-term succession plan that will assist the City Council in their ongoing goal of providing fiscal stability and thoughtful strategic planning and any short-term plan should be in place before the FY 2014 budget process begins; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Council amends the expiration date of the City Manager’s current employment contract to June 30, 2013 which coincides with the fiscal FY 2013 year-end; and be it further
ORDERED: That all other provisions of the employment contract remain unchanged; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Council’s Government Operations and Rules Committee, with the assistance of the City Manager, begin the process of developing comprehensive short-term and long-term succession plans. Such plans shall include timelines and outline opportunities for input from the community including residents, businesses, institutions and City staff. Once developed, such plans shall be presented to the full City Council for final consideration.

Regardless whether any addition contract extensions occur in the future, there is wisdom in this City Council developing some kind of vision of how the City will one day, perhaps next year, make the difficult transition to a new City Manager after three decades of extraordinarily competent leadership. Let’s just hope that when the time comes this City Council or a future City Council is up to the task.

Elsewhere on the agenda:

Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the block rates for water consumption and sewer use for the period beginning Apr 1, 2012 and ending Mar 31, 2013.

The proposal is that the water and sewer rates remain unchanged for the coming year – the 2nd consecutive year of 0% increases. The future may not be as bright with projected water rate increases in the coming few years of 1.1%, 0.2%, 1.3%, and 2.0% but more significant projected sewer rate increases of 5.8%, 9.1%, 6.0%, and 10.2%. Sewer costs are currently about 72% of a typical water/sewer bill, so escalating sewer rates will have a significant impact down the road even as the water rates remain relatively stable.

On The Table #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to a request from Boston Properties Limited Partnership ("Boston Properties") for the modification of two existing open space restriction covenants on buildings located at Four and Five Cambridge Center in connection with the creation of a new 47,000 square foot urban park and new open space restriction covenant for a net gain 28,853 square feet of public open space.

The proposal introduced several weeks ago by Boston Properties (to reduce the rooftop garden on the Kendall Square garage in exchange for greatly extending the agreement to maintain the garden and landscaping additional open space in the Kendall Square MXD District) was Tabled in order to allow more time for public process and, presumably, negotiation. Much of the public comment to date has been resoundingly negative, and there has been at least one proposal (from the East Cambridge Planning Team) to link any changes to the existing rooftop park to the provision of comparable space on adjacent buildings and a commitment to build the housing mandated by zoning guidelines. There are efforts to lure prize tenant Google away from Cambridge should this matter be long delayed, so there is some pressure on the City Council to resolve this soon and, hopefully, amicably for all affected parties.

Communications #3-32 and #36-111. A barrage of computer-generated petitions regarding the proposed reconfiguration of Community Schools programs associated with the temporary relocation of the King School and the programs housed therein.

It took me all of about a week to grow tired of the computer-generated communications that these "change.org" petitions produce – all identical lemming-like statements of dissatisfaction over whatever the flavor-of-the-week gripe happens to be. There are aspects of the proposed Community Schools reconfiguration worthy of discussion, but advocacy by the pound is thoroughly unappealing. Several well-considered letters from a few thoughtful individuals carry so much more weight than 76 sheep clicking "send" on a petition-generating website.

Much more entertaining are the following communications from the Odd Wizard of Franklin Street.

Communication #34. A communication was received from Peter Valentine regarding activity throughout the nation and territories where the national interests are involved.

Peter urges the following: To all True Americans from Peter Valentine, National Officer In Charge under the authority of a Constitutional State of "Imminent Danger That Will Not Admit Delay" 37 Brookline St., 3/9/2012. Orders that all governments in the United States of America be it Town, City, State or National implement a Department of Constitutional monitoring, investigation and corrective action to whatever degree necessary pertaining to any rights violations that a citizen believes a government may have perpetuated against a citizens’ constitutional rights. And further to all True Americans be it known that the National Officer In Charge is aware of all subversive activity throughout the nation and territories where the national interests are involved whether it be enemies who have infiltrated the government, the security forces or to undermine the security and well being of society in general. As Above, So Below. The term True American does not have to be defined because if you are a True American, You have The intelligence to Know What It Means.

Communication #113. A communication was received from Peter Valentine regarding the way to end all the world’s problems is for everyone to become creative instead of average and or despotic.

Peter urges the following: To all True Americans from The National Officer In Charge, under the authority of a "Constitutional State of Imminent Danger That Will Not Admit Delay", citizen Peter Valentine, 37 Brookline St. 3/11/2012. The Officer In Charge sends the Directive forward that the way to end all the world’s problems if for everyone to become Creative instead of Average and or Despotic.

Resolution #1. Retirement of Darleen G. Bonislawski from the Election Commission.   Mayor Davis

Darleen Bonislawski has served honorably as an Election Commissioner since 1988 (24 years). As one of the few residents who ever goes to meetings of the Election Commission, I’ll note that Darleen has been the most outspoken commissioner advocating for members of under-represented communities to register and to vote. Her successor must be appointed by April 1 from a list of three persons nominated by the Cambridge Democratic City Committee. Two of those nominees, Tom Stohlman and Larry Ward, are superb choices – either of whom would be an excellent choice to succeed Darleen.

Order #3. That the City Manager, in conjunction with the Community Development Department, is requested to investigate the improper leases and rental of owned affordable housing units.   Councillor Reeves

What a revelation. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the days of rent control when property owners were constrained in what they could legally charge for rent, but many tenants were earning great money (including a former mayor) and other tenants were subletting their rent-controlled apartments for substantially more than the maximum legal rent. I guess it just goes to show that we’re all good capitalists at heart. That includes many people in subsidized housing who are expert at being "poor on paper" in order to qualify for taxpayer-supported cheap housing, and apparently a few ultra-capitalists who are now using their taxpayer-supported housing as a tradable commodity. All Hail Marx and Lenin here in the Peoples Republic!

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Information Technology Department and the Government Operations and Rules Committee to look into the feasibility of recording all roll call votes online and report back to the Cambridge City Council.   Councillor Cheung

As the ultimate Council observer, I endorse this wholeheartedly. It does, however, seem rather odd that the City is so enslaved and choked by its own technology that the IT Department is required when all that is needed is a simple annotation indicating how people voted. This is already done for some items voted by the City Council. – Robert Winters

March 5, 2012

Parks, Petitions, and Pickups – March 5, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Kendall Square — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:18 am

Parks, Petitions, and Pickups – Mar 5, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

The proposal introduced last week by Boston Properties (to reduce the rooftop garden on the Kendall Square garage in exchange for greatly extending the agreement to maintain the garden and landscaping additional open space in the Kendall Square MXD District) elicited a great deal of public comment (almost all opposed to reducing the size of the garden) and a renewed interest by city councillors in the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority that guides the development of the MXD District and much of the Kendall Square area. It was agreed that the matter should be tabled until March 19 so that some public process and additional conversations might take place. The relevant agenda item is this:

On The Table #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to a request from Boston Properties Limited Partnership ("Boston Properties") for the modification of two existing open space restriction covenants on buildings located at Four and Five Cambridge Center in connection with the creation of a new 47,000 square foot urban park and new open space restriction covenant for a net gain 28,853 square feet of public open space. [Placed on Table on motion of Councillor Toomey on Feb 27, 2011.]

One response is the following Order from Councillor Toomey that questions what constitutes open space in that area and whether the area to be landscaped as a "Dog and People Park" has not already been designated for other use.

Order #2. That the City Manager is request to report back to the City Council on what is designated open space within the MXD District in Kendall Square.   Councillor Toomey

Some of the discussion by councillors at last week’s meeting focused on the membership of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA). Though this Board is supposed to have an executive director and five members (four appointed by the City Manager subject to approval by the City Council, and one appointed by the governor), most of the seats have remained essentially or actually vacant for some time. The City Manager last week let it be known that he is now interviewing possible new appointees for this Board. It is not unreasonable to speculate that a renewed CRA could play a role in projects not only in the Kendall Square area but also elsewhere in Cambridge (as it has in the long past).

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to look into the feasibility of hiring an ombudsman to serve as a liaison and internal advocate for community members. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Decker on Order Number One of Feb 27, 2012.]

This was Councillors Cheung and vanBeuzekom’s Order last week – a good sentiment but perhaps not the best response to perceptions by some that the Community Development Department (CDD) is not working in the best interest of the residents of the city. As mentioned here last week, everyone at CDD should be and for the most part is already "a liason and internal advocate for community members".

Unfinished Business #3. A communication was received from D. Margaret Drury, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Seidel, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a hearing held on December 28, 2011 to consider an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance on the petition filed by Julia Bishop, et al. and re-filed by the City Council to amend Section 17.20 of the Zoning Ordinance – Regulations for Special District 2 located in North Cambridge along Linear Park.

It is expected that this Petition which was amended last week and which has been the focus of so much public testimony and organizing since last summer will be voted this week. The Law Department is expected to address issues of possible spot zoning prior to the Council vote on ordination.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Commissioner of Public Works with the intention of devising a plan for implementing curbside pick up for small businesses along existing curbside pick up routes and to report back to the City Council.   Councillor Toomey

There was a day not so long ago when the City picked up rubbish from many or most Cambridge businesses, but the policy has for some time been to shift this responsibility from the City to private vendors hired by the businesses or commercial building owners. This same policy has carried over to recycling services. Councillor Toomey’s well-intentioned Order should be understood in the larger context of all solid waste disposal by businesses. For example, if recycling services are provided at low or no cost to small businesses, then this would create a financial incentive for businesses to recycle as much as possible. [This has been the experience in cities and towns with "pay as you throw" systems in which residents can recycle at no cost but must pay by the bag or barrel for rubbish disposal.] This could substantially increase costs for the City. There certainly would be greater efficiency in using the same vehicles for both residential and commercial recycling, but contracts would have to be rewritten and volumes and costs estimated before considering a shift back toward the City providing these services.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to provide to the City Council the response to the Massachusetts Food Association’s letter as it relates to City Council Policy Order Number 10 regarding banning of plastic bag usage by Cambridge retailers.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

It will be interesting to see both the Massachusetts Food Association’s letter opposing such a ban as well as the City Manager’s response. Consumers should be routinely providing their own bags without government intervention, but whether they do or don’t it would still make more sense to have a common policy at all stores and not different policies in different cities and towns.

Finally, it must be noted that this will be the first City Council meeting since the retirement of City Clerk D. Margaret Drury. Interim City Clerk Donna Lopez was sworn in at last week’s meeting. The complete list of Cambridge Town Clerks and City Clerks going back to 1632 is posted at http://rwinters.com/clerks-managers.htm. – Robert Winters

February 26, 2012

To Halve and Halve Not – Feb 27, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Kendall Square,MBTA — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:28 pm

To Halve and Halve Not – Feb 27, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Now that Cambridge has a Mayor, all things are now possible – world peace, affordable space travel, and eternal life – just to name a few. Regarding more mundane affairs, perhaps Mayor Davis will set a new standard by appointing the City Council committees in record time. I hope so – I have a rocket to catch.

The Really Big Item on the agenda this week seems to be City Manager’s Agenda #1 – a recommendation that the City Council approve a plan submitted by Boston Properties to cut in half the rooftop garden that exists in Kendall Square between Cambridge Center Buildings Four and Five. If you haven’t yet visited that garden, you should. You can get to it via the Marriott. It’s an unexpected oasis nestled among the taller buildings in Kendall Square perhaps 70 feet above ground. Apparently the playful folks at Google want to connect their rented spaces in two adjacent buildings by constructing a connector that will consume half of the rooftop garden – the sunnier half, by the way. And wouldn’t you know it – if they can’t do this they’ll have to move and Cambridge will lose the jobs, the prestige, the taxes, and the firstborn males of its residents. Search engines will cease to function and the Charles River will turn to blood.

The proposal asks that the Ancient Covenants mandating the rooftop park be modified in exchange for landscaping a narrow, triangular piece of land at the bend of Binney Street abutting the railroad tracks for use as a "Dog and People Park". Methinks there’s room to negotiate for something better. It’s also a bit strange to have proposals like this come forward while the K2C2 (Kendall Square/Central Square) planning process involving the Goody/Clancy firm is ongoing. The Manager’s recommendation calls for diminution of process and a quick decision. The Council shouldn’t needlessly delay, but it’s doubtful that a few more weeks of consideration will cause Google to move to Ashtabula. [Read the full proposal (9.5MB)]

It’s an interesting juxtaposition that Manager’s Agenda #8 is also on the agenda. This is an appropriation of $1,000,000 received from Alexandria Real Estate (ARE) that will be used to enable the City to plan and design improvements at the Rogers Street Park and the Triangle Park while ascertaining the appropriate open space needs of eastern Cambridge.

Elsewhere on the agenda, Councillor Kelley filed for Reconsideration of his failed Feb 13 Order that asks the City Manager "to direct City staff to replace the words ‘approve’ and ‘disapprove’ with the words ‘support’ and ‘do not support’ or, as appropriate, by some other terms that will help clarify where relevant authority rests when considering curb cuts." The Order failed with only Councillors Kelley, Decker, and vanBeuzekom supporting it. Or maybe approving it. Never mind. This is also the subject of Charter Right #2 that would refer the matter to the Gov’t Operations & Rules Committee which may or may not ultimately approve or support it or possibly not approve or not support it.

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 12-23, regarding the continuation of the Longfellow Community School program and Longfellow Neighborhood Council.

The Manager proposes that starting this fall when the King/Amigos building closes for renovations that the Community School currently operating in the King/Amigos building will move to the Amigos Building (on Upton Street) where the majority of its program participants will attend school. The Community School operating in the Longfellow neighborhood will provide programming to the King School and neighborhood children in the Longfellow building. With the reopening of the Longfellow Building this summer, the program will be able to offer robust programming in the building for children who attend the King
School or come from the neighborhood. In addition, the Longfellow Community School will be able to continue to provide community programming for the Longfellow neighborhood. The City will contract with the Cambridge Community Center, located around the corner from the King School, to provide community support until the King School reopens. All in all, this seems like a good solution for each of the affected schools and neighborhoods.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to look into the feasibility of hiring an ombudsman to serve as a liaison and internal advocate for community members.   Councillor Cheung and Councillor vanBeuzekom

This brings to mind a time when the Cambridge Police Department had a separate Community Oriented Policing liasson. When Ronnie Watson took over as Police Commission one of the first things he did was to eliminate this position. His argument was that the entire department should be doing Community Oriented Policing as a matter of policy. This same argument can be made regarding the Community Development Department. Is the genesis of this Order the perception that CDD is not doing "community oriented" planning and development? Are existing staff not effectively mediating between the City’s need to grow the tax base, the needs of property owners/developers, and the needs of residents? If this is not the case, then hiring an additional "liaison and internal advocate for community members" will solve nothing. My personal experience with CDD has generally been very good, though I do sometimes feel that the economic development staff don’t understand the need to keep neighbors in the loop. Everyone at CDD should be acting as community liassons. Most of them already do.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to provide the City Council with a written annual report for the Parking and Transportation Demand Management (PTDM) Ordinance within four weeks time.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

The PTDM Ordinance was developed as a replacement for the Interim Parking Freeze that was part of a settlement over alleged violations of earlier agreements relating to the Clean Air Act. Quite a few consequences grew out of that settlement and subsequent ordinances – dedicated bike lanes, required traffic impact studies, mandatory PTDM plans for new developments, unregulated parking spaces transformed to metered or otherwise regulated parking, etc. These things have become almost a matter of religion without periodically assessing their need or impact. Things do change. When the price of gasoline exceeds $5 or more, things will change even more and the City’s ordinances should not remain stuck in time. Periodic reports, assessments, and possible modifications should be the rule and not the exception. Good Order, Minka.

Order #4. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to appoint a local MBTA Advisory Council of CDD staff and residents to meet regularly and assess MBTA funding, programming and service cuts and report back to the City Council.   Councillor Decker

This is another good Order, though it brings to mind a curiosity in the way City departments are currently structured. The Transporation Planning staff is now part of the Community Development Department (CDD), though one might wonder why it’s not part of the Traffic, Parking, & Transportation Department (TPT). In other cities, you might expect to see parks and open space planning integrated into the public works department, but in Cambridge it’s part of CDD. Community Schoools are staffed through the Human Services and not by the School Department. MBTA services affect Cambridge residents in many ways and it’s appropriate that there should be more than just ad hoc gatherings when a crisis arises. Whether this should be staffed by CDD or by the Transportation, Traffic & Parking Dept. is worth considering. The fact that CDD produced a great document regarding the proposed MBTA fare increases and service cuts for last week’s Special Meeting is a point in their favor, but I can’t help but think that we’d all benefit from having the focus of TPT shift away from tickets and fundraising toward a broader view of all transportation.

It must also be noted that this will be the last City Council meeting for retiring City Clerk D. Margaret Drury. She has been an invaluable asset to every city councillor with whom she has served since her appointment in 1992. – Robert Winters

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