Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 20, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 381-382: March 19, 2019

Episode 381 – Cambridge InsideOut: Mar 19, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Mar 19, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Candidate update and some PR notes; counting bikes, proposed Cycling Safety Ordinance; the misuse of surveys; and Better Buses? Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 382 – Cambridge InsideOut: Mar 19, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Mar 19, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Plan E and the City Auditor; nominations for Outstanding City Employee awards; Faux Retail; Cambridgeside Galeria Re-Envisioned. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

March 18, 2019

Pre-Spring Fling – Select Items from the March 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Pre-Spring Fling – Select Items from the March 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

City HallHere’s my first pass at what seems comment-worthy:

Manager’s Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the bi-annual City of Cambridge Resident Telephone Survey for 2018. [Manager’s message] [aggregate responses] [longer report]

The wording of the questions and the meaning of the choices can have a tremendous effect on surveys such as this. For example, if the question "What do you think is the single most important issue facing the City of Cambridge today—the one that affects you and your family the most?" simply lists one option as "Affordable housing/housing", then it’s not at all surprising that this will be the overwhelming first choice. However, does this mean access to subsidized housing or, more likely, does this mean that most renters feel that their rent is higher than they would like it to be and that most buyers feel that purchase costs are much higher than they would like it to be? This is an important distinction because this survey may be used to justify only the expansion of subsidized housing without addressing what most people actually meant by their response in the survey.

Order #2. Reappointment of James Monagle as City Auditor.   Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux

Good choice. Do it.


Bikes, Buses, Scooters & other Transportation:

Manager’s Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-142, regarding a report on efforts to educate cyclists about riding safety and sharing the road especially at intersections.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant staff about updating the bike data count chart, along with other data tables and charts, in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan to reflect 2016 and 2018 data.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant staff to report to the City Council on how the data collected from the Broadway Eco-Display is used to inform the City’s transportation planning efforts and to address the possibility of installing additional Eco-Display counters at the highest trafficked bicycle locations to provide more comprehensive information about bike use and other vehicles such as scooters.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to confer with City Staff and report back to the City Council on the status of any micro-mobility pilot programs or partnerships in Cambridge.   Councillor Kelley

I’ll be interested in seeing the requested data (with appropriate documentation to support its validity). I have come to believe that when you start factoring in such things as weather, the need to run multiple errands, electric vehicles and micro-cars, TNCs, and various micro-mobility options, as well as age/condition, we may conclude that Cambridge is not actually located in The Netherlands and that the choice of bicycle transportation may have a natural upper limit no matter how many flex-posts you bolt to the road.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 26, 2019 to discuss the MBTA’s Better Bus Project report as it relates to proposed changes to bus lines and service throughout Cambridge.

If Better Bus means little more than Cutting Corners then there’s not a whole lot to like here. I do, however, think that folding the CT1 into the #1 Bus with more frequent service is a good idea, but only if they can finally solve the problem of Bus Bunching.

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 27, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Title Twelve entitled “Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places” by adding a new Chapter 12.22 entitled “Cycling Safety Ordinance”.

The key question I would have asked is whether or not this proposal unnecessary restricts the ability of the City Manager and City Departments from using good judgment and appropriate discretion in deciding how future road projects should proceed. As near as I can tell, everything that was and is on the table came from just one lobbying group. Then again, that seems to be the way this City Council operates.


Order #5. Thanks to Mayor McGovern and all members of the Harm Reduction Commission and the Cambridge Opioid Working Group for their leadership and service and that a Human Services and Veterans Committee hold a future hearing to receive an update on the recommendations in these reports and on efforts in Cambridge to address substance use disorder and the opioid crisis.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon

Prelude to the Mayor enabling a "safe injection site" to be located inevitably in Central Square to supplement the existing Needle Exchange and other sites enabling IV drug users to flock to Central Square. Wouldn’t it be great if we instead concentrated on things that helped to attract families with children to Central Square?


Housing-Related:

Order #8. City Council endorsement of the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon

This Order seems to be setting up for the case to be made that current Cambridge zoning is too restrictive and must be changed to allow for significantly increased density. Note the sponsors. It is curious how the extremely strict zoning restrictions of the suburbs and exurbs are somehow being invoked to make the case that Cambridge, with one of the highest population densities and highest proportions of subsidized housing in Massachusetts, is somehow comparable to Weston. Mendacity seems to be the new official language of Cambridge.

Order #13. City Council support for fully funding the Section 8 Housing Choice Tenant-Based Voucher Program.   Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone

Good idea and more to the point than what is otherwise being discussed these days.

Order #14. That the City Manager direct the appropriate City staff to examine the need and possibility of neighborhood preference in Cambridge in the short and long-terms.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Siddiqui, transmitting the submission of the Mayor’s Blue-Ribbon Task Force on Tenant Displacement Feb 24, 2018 meeting minutes.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Zondervan, transmitting a memorandum regarding "Affordable Housing Overlay Initial Thoughts".

I’ll be adding more than just my "initial thoughts" on this soon. This juggernaut really needs to be stopped and reconsidered.


Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 13, 2019 to receive an update on the progress to date on the retail strategy plan and vacant storefront initiative.

Faux Retail is apparently The Future. – RW

Update: Councillor Toomey exercised his Charter Right to delay all of the City Manager’s Agenda until the next Council meeting (March 25). The only other consequential thing in the meeting was the back-and-forth posturing of Councillors Zondervan, Siddiqui, Mallon, Carlone, Devereux, and McGovern over Councillor Zondervan’s "initial thoughts" memo on the Public Housing Expansion Initiative, a.k.a. the "Affordable Housing Overlay". Vice Mayor Devereux handled herself rather well. Councillor Mallon argued in favor having her own Maple Ave. be a preferred site for new Public Housing. Councillors Kelley, Simmons, and Toomey wisely remained silent.

March 10, 2019

AAA Inman Zero Waste Outstanding Dogs – Catching Up on the Cambridge News (March 10, 2019)

Zero Wast CambridgeZero Waste Master Plan Draft open for comment

For more than a year, the City has been developing a Zero Waste Master Plan. The City is seeking your feedback on the Draft Plan and the six Appendices. Visit CambridgeMA.Gov/ZWMP to review and submit comments until March 15, 2019. The final Zero Waste Master Plan will be made public by April 4.

Feb 28 – The City of Cambridge has embarked on a path to Zero Waste to build upon its current waste management system and programs. The development of a Zero Waste Master Plan (ZWMP) and strategy is intended to assist with achieving the City’s goals of reducing waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The public is invited to review a draft version of this plan and send comments through March 15, 2019, to recycle@cambridgema.gov.

The recommendations developed for the ZWMP will help support the Department of Public Works’ (DPW) guiding principles of providing high-quality public services, protecting and supporting the health of employees and the public, and managing costs and reducing trash. Learn more about how the City’s 25,000 tons of trash, recycling and composting is sorted – what’s landfilled, incinerated, recycled and composted – in Appendix 1 of the Zero Waste Master Plan.

The Zero Waste Master Plan (ZWMP) will guide the City in:
• Meeting trash reduction goals of 30% reduction by 2020 and 80% reduction by 2050 from 2008 waste levels.
• Maintaining high quality public services to manage waste disposal
• Maximize operational efficiency
• Protecting employee health and safety
• Evaluating costs for managing waste
• Exploring the impact of waste reduction on GHG emission goals

The ZWMP will also coordinate with the efforts of the citywide comprehensive plan, Envision Cambridge.

For more information, visit CambridgeMA.gov/zerowastemasterplan.

Upcoming Waste Events
Fri. 3/15: Last day to comment on Draft Zero Waste Master Plan.
Mon. 3/25: MassRecycle Summit, Sheraton Hotel Framingham.
Thurs. 4/4: New recycling program begins–TBA in March.
Sat. 4/6: Hazardous Waste Day for Cambridge residents, near 125 Munroe St.
Sat 5/18: Fix-It Clinic at Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway.


All Cambridge Dog Licenses Expire March 31, 2019

Dog LicenseState law requires that all dogs over 6 months have a current dog license. The dog license period in Cambridge, MA runs from April 1 of the current year until March 31 of the following year.

Cambridge residents can apply for or renew their dog’s license online or download the paper application to renew via mail or in person, following instructions on the respective form.

In order to obtain a dog license, you will need:

  • A rabies vaccination certificate with an expiration date or copy of medical records with rabies expiration date;
  • Proof of spay or neuter (if not shown before), actual surgery certificate or if noted on Rabies/Medical History;
  • FEES: Spayed Female/Neutered Male ($10); Un-Spayed Female/Un-Neutered Male ($30)
  • If licensing by mail, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope;
  • Please make check or money order payable to City of Cambridge, or payments can also be made in cash. Credit cards are not accepted in the office, but can be used for online renewals.

The Cambridge Animal Commission is located at 344 Broadway and its hours of operation are: Monday – Friday, 8:30am-7pm.

For more information, please contact Cambridge Animal Commission at 617-349-4076 or animalcommission@cambridgema.gov.


City of Cambridge Announces Inman Square Loyalty Program
The Program Encourages Patrons to Support Local Inman Square Businesses During Construction

The Cambridge Community Development Department will launch the Inman Square Loyalty Program on Friday, March 1. The Loyalty Program is designed to encourage Cambridge residents, employees, and visitors to continue supporting local businesses in the Inman Square business district during the Inman Square Intersection Improvements Project construction period. Those who participate in the Inman Square Loyalty Program will be entered in a monthly raffle.

To participate in the Inman Square Loyalty Program:

  • Pick up an Inman Square Loyalty Card at participating Inman Square businesses.
  • Make six purchases at participating businesses each month and get your Loyalty Card stamped after each transaction.
  • Return your completed Loyalty Card to drop boxes located throughout Inman Square.

The Community Development Department will select two winners at the end of each month through a raffle drawing. Winners will receive a $50.00 gift certificate to an Inman Square business of their choice. Customers are limited to submitting one completed Loyalty Card per month.

“Our local businesses are an important part of our community and I am pleased that we are piloting this new program to help encourage residents and visitors to continue patronizing businesses during the upcoming construction project,” said Louis DePasquale, City Manager. “I appreciate the close collaboration between our City departments and the local business community to make this pilot a reality.”

“The pilot Inman Square Loyalty Program is part of our efforts to mitigate City construction-related impacts for local businesses,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “Inman Square is a vibrant part of Cambridge’s retail economy, and the program encourages people to continue enjoying its diverse dining and shopping options during construction.”

The Community Development Department, Department of Public Works, and City Manager’s Office are collaborating with the East Cambridge Business Association, the Inman Square Neighborhood Association, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, and Cambridge Local First to provide additional resources and programming that will support local businesses during the Inman Square Intersection Improvements Project.

“Supporting small business owners becomes even more important when they face construction projects,” said Jason Alves, Director of East Cambridge Business Association. “The Inman Square Loyalty Program will help remind people of the positive impact they can have on their community each and every time they make a decision to spend their dollars locally. It will be great to see the community get behind our businesses and win some prizes that will further support those impacted.”Inman Square Intersection

To learn more about upcoming events and resources related to Inman Square construction mitigation efforts, visit cambridgema.gov/ShopInman.

Project Update

Residents, and business owners and staff are invited to stop by a Coffee Talk to meet with City staff and contractors and ask questions related to current and upcoming construction in Inman Square.

Thursday, March 14th
9:00am-10:30am

Olé Restaurant
11 Springfield St.

Additional Coffee Talks will be held monthly throughout the project at different times and locations to accommodate as many interested neighbors as possible.

If you have questions or concerns about the Inman Square project, you may contact Kate Riley, DPW Community Relations Manager at (617) 349-4870 or kriley@cambridgema.gov. More information about the project in general, as well as the December 2018 Construction Update newsletter can be found at www.cambridgema.gov/InmanSquare.


FoundryCalling all Cambridge Neighbors!
Cambridge FOUNDRY

In 2021, a new center for the arts and STEM will open at 101 Rogers Street. The Foundry building is a historic building reuse project that will allow the Cambridge community to enjoy performances, be creative and make things, and attend workshops to learn new skills.

Join the Foundry Consortium at Abigail’s Restaurant over coffee and scones for our first discussion about what you would like to see happening at the Foundry.

Saturday, March 16, 2019
10:00am–12:00pm
Abigail’s Restaurant
291 Third Street
Cambridge, MA 02142

Please RSVP by Friday, March 15, 2019. If you know someone who would be interested in joining us, please forward this email or download our flyer.


Cambridge Awarded AAA Ratings
Nations three major credit rating agencies affirm City’s status for 20th year

March 4, 2019 – The City of Cambridge has retained its noteworthy distinction of being one of approximately 33 municipalities in the U.S. to earn AAA ratings from each of the nation’s three major credit rating agencies. Each year since 1999, the city has received these ratings from Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

“I want to acknowledge the City Council’s leadership for adopting and maintaining sound fiscal policies, and city department heads and staff for their commitment to prudently managing their budgets and programs,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “One of the many factors contributing to the city receiving these ratings is our strong and dedicated team.”

The AAA ratings are in conjunction with the city’s sale of $90.6 million in General Obligation bonds. These sales will finance capital projects such as King Open and Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex, sewer reconstruction, street and sidewalk reconstruction, and other municipal and school building design and renovations.

Over the last 20 years, the AAA rating has enabled the city to finance a variety of major capital projects at very favorable rates that, in turn, result in savings to taxpayers.

As the city undertakes a significant increase in debt issuance over the next few years to fund it’s school rebuilding program, the AAA rating will play a significant role in enabling the city to secure the most favorable interest rates. This is especially important as the city embarks on funding its third school project (Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools) with an estimated cost of $250 million. Overall, including the Tobin School project, the city is projected to spend a total of $505 million for the three school projects. In addition, the bonding schedule includes significant obligations for renovations to Fire Headquarters and other city buildings.

“We take a long-term approach to our fiscal planning, and our fiscal strategies and management practices have real impacts on Cambridge taxpayers,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We’ve built significant reserves, which in part serve as the city’s insurance policy, and our financial success is only possible because of the collaboration that occurs between the City Council and the city administration.”

Below are excerpts from the Rating Agencies reports. (Download Full Reports)

Moody’s Investors Service
Cambridge, Massachusetts (Aaa stable) benefits from a sizeable and diverse tax base that continues to grow significantly year over year. The city’s economy is driven largely by the presence of Harvard University (Aaa stable) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, Aaa stable) and the impressive research and development sector. The city’s financial position is strong with very healthy liquidity and reserves that are maintained by strong fiscal management. Both the debt burden and long term liabilities for pension and OPEB are conservatively managed and will remain manageable over the near term.

Credit strengths cited include:

  • Large and diverse tax base anchored by institutional presences and robust commercial sector;
  • Healthy financial position guided by formal policies;
  • Strong fiscal management;
  • Ample operating flexibility with excess levy capacity under Proposition 2½; and
  • Expected to fully fund pension liability by 2026

Fitch Ratings
The city’s ‘AAA’ GO bond rating and Issuer Default Rating (IDR) reflect Fitch Ratings’ expectation for Cambridge to maintain a high level of financial flexibility through economic cycles, consistent with a history of strong operating performance and budget controls. The ratings further reflect the city’s wealthy and growing property tax base, moderate expenditure growth and its demonstrated ability to reduce expenditures during economic downturns.

Fitch expects long-term liabilities to remain low based on the city’s manageable capital needs, rapid principal amortization, continued growth in economic resources and a practice of fully funding actuarially determined pension contributions.

Standard & Poor’s Corporation
The rating reflects our opinion of Cambridge’s extremely strong property tax base that continues to grow within the Boston metropolitan statistical area (MSA), supporting continued positive budgetary performance that has led to improved reserves. The city has a favorable debt profile with the ability to absorb additional debt plans.

Key factors cited include management’s:

  • Conservative revenue and expenditure assumptions in the budgeting process that focus on five years of historical information;
  • Quarterly reports on budget-to-actual results and investments to the city’s finance and investment committees, respectively;
  • Long-term financial plan with credible assumptions;
  • Five-year capital plan with identified funding sources, which it is expanding to include a municipal-facilities-improvement plan;
  • Robust debt and investment policy it reviews at least annually to demonstrate adherence; and
  • Reserve policy that requires maintaining a minimum 15% of expenditures.

Nominations Sought for Outstanding City of Cambridge Employee Awards

March 8, 2019 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking nominations for the 2019 Outstanding City Employee Awards program which recognizes employees for exemplary performance and contributions that go above and beyond job requirements.

Cambridge city government is made up of dedicated employees who strive to provide a high level of quality services to all its citizens. The annual awards ceremony provides a special opportunity to give extra recognition to a few exemplary individuals who will be recognized at a special awards ceremony on Friday, May 10, 2019.

The Outstanding City Employee Awards are designed to recognize contributions that are above and beyond job requirements. Criteria for determining outstanding performance include:

  • Demonstrated strong leadership and a high level of commitment to the city and its residents.
  • Demonstrated outstanding customer service to the public and/or fellow employees.
  • Developed an innovative or creative solution to a problem.
  • Made superior contribution to the success of a project, completing work on time and within budget.
  • Donated significant time to activities that benefit the Cambridge community. Encouraged and valued community involvement.
  • Demonstrated an exceptional ability to work in a multicultural organization.
  • Consistently contributed to better city operations.

All City employees are eligible for nomination. Anyone who lives or works in Cambridge may nominate one or more city employees for recognition. Individuals are not limited as to how many employees s/he chooses to nominate, but must submit a separate Nomination Form or letter for each employee. An employee may not nominate her or his own supervisor or department head for recognition.

Nominations are due by Friday, April 12, 2019 and can be submitted online. Alternatively, a signed nomination letter may also be submitted in person to the Personnel Department, Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue, 3rd Floor, via fax to 617-349-4312, or email to mcarvello@cambridgema.gov.

For more information, see this story in the news section of the city’s website, CambridgeMA.gov, or contact Maryellen Carvello at mcarvello@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4300.

March 5, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 377-378: March 5, 2019

Episode 377 – Cambridge InsideOut: Mar 5, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Mar 5, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Housing – Overlay proposal and background, Envision, condo conversion, and rent control; municipal election topics; defining Central Square; task forces; River Street. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 378 – Cambridge InsideOut: Mar 5, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Mar 5, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Condos continued; task forces; River Street; defining Central Square; AAA bond ratings; new Council candidates; national politics. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

December 5, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 359-360: Dec 4, 2018

Episode 359 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 4, 2018 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 4, 2018 at 5:30pm. Topics: Publicly funded municipal election campaigns and PR elections; refranchising of Cable TV and the future. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 360 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 4, 2018 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 4, 2018 at 6:00pm. Topics: Early days of Cable TV, Grand Junction updates, Davis Sq. changes, flat roof zoning, accessory dwelling unit zoning, City housing policy = social ownership. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

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]

October 29, 2018

A First Look at the Oct 29, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

A First Look at the Oct 29, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

City HallHere’s my first pass at the interesting stuff up for discussion at this week’s meeting:

Manager’s Agenda #10. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $67,179.02 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Department Extraordinary Expenditures Account to support additional tree plantings in the Gore Street Neighborhood.

What is notable is that the street tree that was lost has been appraised at $67,179.02. I’d love to learn more about how that figure was derived. Especially the two cents.

Charter Right #1. That the Chairs of the Ordinance Committee schedule a hearing on Tree Protections and the Chairs of the Health & Environment Committee schedule public hearings on Tree Protections and the preliminary results from the Ordinance Committee hearing.

There are good ways and bad ways to do this. As a side note, I heard that the tulip tree on Cambridge Street that was at the center of a controversy almost two decades ago (with at least one person chaining herself to the tree) was removed recently due to internal rot. Some have suggested that this may have been helped along, but in any case the tulip tree is no more.

Charter Right #2. The City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the Community Development Department to provide a written timeline of what specific steps must take place in order to take a final vote on the Affordable Housing Overlay legislation.

Communications #6. Sundry communications received relating to opposition of City Envision proposal.

My sense is that very few people know much about the proposed Subsidized Housing Overlay proposal and its provisions to permit neighboring properties to be redeveloped as subsidized housing as of right a) at densities up to four times what is allowed under current zoning, b) with minimal setback requirements, c) and with no objections permitted. The proposal is a severe departure from the Growth Policy Document that has been successfully applied for nearly 25 years. The Overlay proposal was panned at the Planning Board for many reasons. It does nothing to address the housing affordability problem as most people understand it, i.e. the difficulty most people have in finding an affordable place to own or rent without being forced to apply to a government agency for housing.

Communications #3. A communication was received from Charles Hinds, President East Cambridge Planning Team, regarding the disposition process of the First St. Garage.

The First Street parking garage is there largely because it served the needs of the Courthouse. The primary reason it has been underutilized (hence the available surplus of parking) is because the Courthouse has been closed for some time. Sure, some things have changed in the interim and perhaps in an ideal world the Courthouse building would be scaled down more than is proposed, but courts have ruled that the re-purposing of the Courthouse building may proceed as planned.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on offering early voting in City Council and School Committee elections.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui

As much as I want everyone to vote (I’m one of the only 116 Cambridge voters who has voted in every citywide Cambridge election since 1997), I really don’t see how the substantial increased cost of this proposal is justifiable. Unlike state and federal elections, the Commonwealth won’t be picking up the tab. It really is very simple to vote in municipal elections on Election Day and absentee voting could simply be expanded to achieve the same goal.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to provide an update on any current discussions or plans for extending the Alewife Greenway Bike Path from Alewife to Sherman Street.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

This is a great idea. In fact, if the path switched over to the north side of the tracks at Sherman Street, you could extend it all the way to Porter Square with the added treat that you could pass under Walden Street through the old cattle pass.

Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to confer with City staff and report back to the City Council on the status of the Cambridge Street Bicycle Safety Demonstration Project and on any efforts to assess how successful the project has been and what lessons the City may learn from the project that may help inform street allocation and design decisions elsewhere.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to confer with City staff and report back to the City Council on opportunities and plans to increase signage or other communication efforts to help ensure that all users of Brattle Street between Eliot and Mason Streets understand the cyclists may be using Brattle Street in the opposite direction of prevailing motor vehicle traffic.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux

Order #19. That the City Manager is requested to include protected bicycle infrastructure along the entire length of River Street as part of the FY20 River Street Redesign project.   Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

All of these are covered under the City’s "Listen Zero" policy regarding bicycle accommodation. There were and still are better ways to re-envision traffic flow on Cambridge Street, and Brattle Street should have been made into a two-way "slow street" from Mason St. to Eliot St. connecting to Mt. Auburn St. As for River Street, there is no way on earth that safer bicycle accommodation won’t be a central part of the plan, and this is one location where traffic calming and some separation of cyclists from traffic (including drivers just off the Pike who have not yet mentally slowed down) is completely justified.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair and Councillor Quinton Y. Zondervan, Co-Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on Sept 27, 2018 to discuss stormwater management best practices and get an update on how Cambridge will be impacted by the EPA’s new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, which took effect on July 1, 2018.

I’m highlighting this report simply because I think that every Cambridge citizen should learn more about the "hidden city" under their feet, i.e. the infrastructure that we depend on every day. We should have regular citizen seminars on this.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair and Councillor Quinton Y. Zondervan, Co-Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on Oct 9, 2018 to was to receive an update on progress towards Zero Waste goals and to discuss successes and challenges of the citywide composting and recycling programs to date.

Two words – Recycle Right. If you want to ensure the economic viability of recycling you have to be mindful of the eventual end markets. Recycling is a lot more than throwing things into a blue (or green) container.

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 2, 2018 to discuss a petition filed by the City Council to amend the zoning ordinances in Articles 2.000, 4.000, 6.000 and 11.000 and to establish provisions for Cannabis Uses.

I really hope the City Council reconsiders the proposal to allow pot shops to open as of right in all of the City’s BA-1 zones [base zoning map]. These include many of our small "mom ‘n pop" mixed residential/commercial zones. [Full disclosure – I live in a BA-1 zone, but I’m directly across the street from a school and have a day care and two Montessori schools as neighbors, so I’m within the buffer zone.] This is fundamentally different than allowing pot shops along a BA corridor like North Mass. Ave. [BA-2] or Cambridge Street east of Inman Square [BA], though I’ll leave it to residents along those corridors to chime in for themselves. The Western Ave. corridor is primarily BA-3. A proposed Order in this committee report calls for allowing adult use (recreational) pot shops as a use as of right in all BA-1, BA-2 and BA-3 districts. Another proposed Order would reduce the buffer zone around schools and other youth facilities from 500 ft. to 300 ft.

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Mallon, transmitting notes for the first meeting of the Mayor’s Arts Task Force.

This meeting was mainly just introductions, but it’s worth keeping an eye on where this Task Force is headed. – Robert Winters

June 24, 2018

Pre-Vacation Convocation – Highlights from the June 25, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:49 pm

Pre-Vacation Convocation – Highlights from the June 25, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Peoples Republic of CambridgeThese tasty morsels are available for you to digest in the last regular meeting before the summer recess.

Manager’s Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 17-33, regarding a report on supporting a goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2035.

Manager’s Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-42, regarding Autonomous Vehicles testing.

These are included primarily for information. By the way, the prediction is that if and when autonomous vehicles become commonplace there will be considerably more vehicles on the roads at any given time, and tailgating will be the norm because, you know, sensors. There is also some concern that the use of public transportation may drop considerably.

Manager’s Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-48, regarding a request for yield to Pedestrians signage in bike lanes.

Nothing special here except for the funny line: "We do not recommend installing post mounted signs, as they will add additional sign clutter to the roadside environment…" Nothing says clutter more than zig-zagging lines of upright PVC posts bolted to the roadway – and there’s more coming – and it’s not debatable.

Manager’s Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-59, regarding a report on collecting data from the Human Rights Commission on housing-related activities including number of housing related investigations, number of housing-related cases successfully mediated, relationships with regional housing-related organizations and successes and challenges of the Cambridge Fair Housing Ordinance.

Manager’s Agenda #12. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to proposed amendments to the two following ordinances: Chapter 2.76 of the Cambridge Municipal Code (the "Human Rights Ordinance) and proposed amendments to Chapter 14.04 of the Cambridge Municipal Code (the "Fair Housing Ordinance).

Again, mainly for information. It is curious to see just how much effort is required to change the word "gender" to the phrase "gender identity". Whatever.

Manager’s Agenda #13. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a revised draft of the proposed Surveillance Technology Ordinance.

I drove down to MIT and then Harvard and then back home earlier today. I was probably recorded dozens of times along the way, and I will miraculously still sleep well tonight. By the way, I tip my hat to the various people who have surveillance cameras on the homes and businesses. They were really helpful in the Cambridge Police Department being able to quickly identify and arrest people involved in recent shootings in The Port and the Wellington-Harrington neighborhoods.

Applications & Petitions #4. A zoning petition has been received from the Pizzuto Family Limited Partnership Cambridge Zoning Ordinance 20.900 and Zoning Map by added section entitled New Street Overlay District.

The Nakagawa-Brown petition was getting lonely. Now there are two zoning petitions in the queue.

Order #1. That the City Council refer proposed changes to Cambridge Zoning Article 5.000.Rainwater & Flat Roof Zoning to the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board for hearing and report.   Councillor Kelley, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Zondervan

Make that three.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department, the Community Development Department, and any other relevant departments to conduct a much more thorough process of community engagement and outreach – particularly in regards to the senior community – prior to the establishment of any new bicycle lanes in the area of South Massachusetts Avenue.   Councillor Simmons

This is a nice sentiment, but we have already learned that none of this is negotiable and reasonable alternatives won’t be considered.

Order #4. That the zoning amendment to section 4.22 of the zoning code, with strikeouts and highlighting to identify proposed changes for discussion, be forwarded to the Planning Board and the Ordinance Committee for their review as a zoning solution to the challenges posed by current zoning constraints regarding accessory dwelling units.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan

Make that four.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Deputy City Manager for the Department of Human Service Programs and the Director of the Office of Workforce Development to establish and implement a dynamic new initiative that will seek to place Port residents (ages 18 and over) on paths to jobs with family-sustaining wages.   Councillor Simmons

This is perhaps the single most intelligent policy order I’ve seen all year. It may also be the most difficult to implement, but it’s worth it.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to ensure the new zoning regulations and table of land use, licensing and permitting process, Host Community Agreements, and Economic Development Department programming reflect best equity practices and ensure Cambridge residents benefit from the cannabis industry.   Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Mallon

I suppose we’ll have to just disagree on whether we should "ensure that people from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana law enforcement are included in the new legal marijuana industry" or just try to make sure there’s a level playing field.

Order #11. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the Community Development Department to include a Job Linkage fee to the list of topics being evaluated in the upcoming Incentive Zoning Nexus Study.   Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons

I can certainly understand prioritizing job creation using funds derived from the Incentive Zoning Linkage Fee, and how the next round of revision of those fees might rise with this goal in mind, but creating a separate fee seems unnecessary, overly restrictive, and legally questionable.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on June 7, 2018 to discuss amendments to the Street Performers Ordinance in section 12.16.170 in the Municipal Code. [June 26, 2017 message from City Manager] [Proposed Amendments] [Proposed Amendments with Kelley revisions]

Again – for information purposes. It seems like a lot of people have forgotten the context that led to the creation of the Street Performers Ordinance and why the buskers themselves were supportive of it at the time it was ordained. There really was a lot of competition among the performers at the time over location and volume, and this was a relatively benign way to regulate that competition.

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Kelley, transmitting memorandum regarding "Cannabis Use Equity".

Miraculously, people always seem to find a way to a solution. Is the suggestion here to set aside parts of public parks as "high zones"? If smoking pot in the street becomes legal I certainly hope the City Council and the Cambridge Police will look kindly on me walking down the avenue with a pint of Guinness.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Vice Mayor Devereux , transmitting a memorandum regarding Policy Order #72 dated Mar 19, 2018 that the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Election Commission regarding the possibility of instituting early voting in the 2019 municipal election and what actions would be required by the City Council to do so.

As much as I want to see more people opting to vote in municipal elections, I’m still unsure what problem this proposal is trying to solve. It’s very easy to vote in municipal elections, there’s rarely a line, and absentee voting is as easy as 1-2-3 (or as many rankings as you please).

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Kelley, transmitting a memorandum regarding Cybersecurity.

This is yet another interesting piece of work from Councillor Kelley and his assistant Mark Gutierrez. – Robert Winters

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