Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

December 10, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 439-440: December 10, 2019

Episode 439 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 10, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 10, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Impeachment; recycling. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 440 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 10, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 10, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Surveillance Ordinance and Surveillance Use Policy; Karp Petition up next week; Incentive Zoning and the latest Nexus Report and recommendations; Inclusionary Zoning. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

December 9, 2019

Ordaining the Remnants of the 2018-2019 Council – Bits ‘n Pieces from the Dec 9, 2019 City Council Agenda

Ordaining the Remnants of the 2018-2019 Council – Bits ‘n Pieces from the Dec 9, 2019 City Council Agenda

Puzzle PiecesWe’re down to the last few meetings before the new Council is inaugurated on January 6 ["The city council, elected as aforesaid, shall meet at ten o’clock in the forenoon of the first Monday of January following the regular municipal election, and the members of the city council shall severally make oath, before the city clerk … to perform faithfully the duties of their respective offices…. Thereupon the city council shall, by a majority vote of all the members elected, elect a mayor and a vice-chairman from its own members…."]

Until that little bit of biennial drama occurs, here are some things that are either interesting or up for discussion and/or action this week:

Manager’s Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the EMF and Metropolitan Ice Co. buildings at 116 Brookline and 112 Pacific Streets. [Cover letter] [Landmark Report] [Landmark Order]

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the George E. Bridges House at 74 Oxford Street/43 Wendell Street. [Cover letter] [Landmark Report] [Landmark Order]

Though I think we’re starting to get to the point where some pretty ordinary buildings are seen as historical, I always love reading the well-researched landmark studies from the Cambridge Historical Commission. These are no exception.


Manager’s Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Surveillance Use Policy and related documents.

Committee Report #4. A report from Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 3, 2019 to discuss an amendment to the Surveillance Ordinance.

No comment. I fear I’m being watched by the Fusion Center ghoulies.


Manager’s Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the Alexandria Grand Junction Overlay District Zoning Petition.

Manager’s Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt with modifications, the Harvard Square Overlay District Zoning Petition.

Manager’s Agenda #12. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a communication from the Planning Board with no recommendation on the Shared Mobility Zoning Petition.

The Council could pass all three to a 2nd Reading, or two to a 3rd Reading, or one to a 6th Reading. Or something.


Manager’s Agenda #13. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to zoning language as requested by the Ordinance committee in connection with the CambridgeSide PUD-8 Zoning Petition.

Unfinished Business #6. A revised Petition has been received from Stephen R. Karp, Trustee of Cambridge Side Galeria Associates trust to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by adding a new Section 13.100 to Article 13.00 of the Zoning Ordinance and to amend the Zoning Map to add a new PUD-8 District overlay that certain area (which includes parcels and portions of ways and streets) labeled as "PUD-8 district". [PASSED TO SECOND READING ON NOV 26, 2019, TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER DEC 16, 2019]

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from City Clerk Anthony I. Wilson, transmitting a communication from John Twohig, Representative for Cambridgeside Galleria Associates Trust regarding the revised Commitment Letter for Proposed PUD-8 District. [Commitment Letter] [red-lined version]

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from City Clerk Anthony I. Wilson, transmitting a communication from Councillor Kelley regarding Cambridgeside.

As I’ve said before, I hope the City Council passes some form of this thing so that the area can get a shot in the arm, but I find this whole "Let’s Make a Deal" aspect of how zoning petitions are approved lately to be very problematic. Rezoning is becoming less about good planning and more about generating revenue and goodies.


Manager’s Agenda #14. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to supplemental information in response to an Ordinance Committee request on the Green Buildings Requirements Zoning Petition.

Unfinished Business #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Section 22.20, which governs Green Building Requirements, and also applicable definitions contained in Article 2.000. [PASSED TO SECOND READING ON NOV 18, 2019, TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER DEC 9, 2019]

This should breeze through unanimously.


Manager’s Agenda #15. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-21, regarding a report on Affordable Homeownership Programs.

Manager’s Agenda #16. A communication transmitted from City Manager Louis A. DePasquale and Assistant City Manager Community Development Iram Farooq, relative to the Incentive Zoning Nexus and Jobs Linkage Study.

Interesting reading.


Unfinished Business #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to proposed amendments to the following ordinance: and proposed amendments to Chapter 14.04 of the Cambridge Municipal Code (the “Fair Housing Ordinance”). Fair Housing (passed to a 2nd reading) [HOME RULE LEGISLATION – RECEIVED PROPOSAL TO BE ORDAINED]

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Anthony Wilson transmitting Chapter 118 of the Acts of 2019; "AN ACT FURTHER REGULATING THE FAIR HOUSING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF CAMBRIDGE".

Alas, one of the lingering Home Rule petitions actually came home for ordination.


Unfinished Business #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Article 5.000 and Article 22.000 pertaining to setback requirements and exterior building insulation. [PASSED TO SECOND READING ON NOV 18, 2019, TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER DEC 9, 2019]

This should also breeze through unanimously.


Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to provide updated data on enforcement of the city’s short term rental regulations, including (but not limited to) the number of units that have registered with the city, the number of applications that have been rejected, the number of inspections that have been undertaken by the Inspectional Services Department, and the total number of units listed on various short term rental websites including Airbnb.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor Devereux

Committee Report #1. A report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair and Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on Nov 12, 2019 at 5pm to discuss the findings of the Urban Forest Master Plan task force.

Now can I manage the problematic trees on my property without a court order or a punitive fine? I promise I’ll plant more and let the others flourish.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Co-Chair and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 23, 2019 to discuss tracking of the City’s emissions and identifying key indicators that would give a sense of where the City is going.

Committee Report #3. A report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 26, 2019 to discuss an amendment to article 19 of the zoning ordinance.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Co-Chair and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair of the Neighborhood and Long-Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 13, 2019 to discuss the final Envision Report.

Communications & Reports #4. A communication was received from City Clerk, Anthony I. Wilson, transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Mallon, regarding the Tobin Montessori/VLUS building proposals.

These are interesting, but I’ll withhold comment on these last few items.

….. and, of course, 99 Items Awaiting Report.

Let ’em all expire and start fresh. Perhaps for the next City Council term the City Council and City Manager should establish a cap on how many items are allowed to languish on the Awaiting Report pile.

December 12, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 361-362: Dec 11, 2018

Episode 361 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 11, 2018 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 11, 2018 at 5:30pm. Topics: New Central Square Police Substation; Central Square BID update; Surveillance Ordinance; Revised Street Performer Ordinance; 1899 Ordinances. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 362 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 11, 2018 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 11, 2018 at 6:00pm. Topics: City Hall landscaping; Late Order on “Act to Promote Housing Choices”, oddity of asymmetric rules for passing zoning ordinances, political consequences; Airplane Noise. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

December 9, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 20, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 355-356: Nov 20, 2018

Episode 355 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 20, 2018 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 20, 2018 at 5:30pm. Topics: Thanksgiving memories; Nov 19 City Council meeting highlights – First Street Garage saga, Surveillance Ordinance, Street Performers Ordinance. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 356 – Cambridge InsideOut: Nov 20, 2018 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Nov 20, 2018 at 6:00pm. Topics: Nov 19 City Council meeting highlights – Street Performers Ordinance, Climate-related committee appointments, bicycle safety (asp. the Craigie Bridge & Museum Way). Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

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