Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

August 13, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 413-414: Aug 13, 2019

Episode 413 – Cambridge InsideOut: Aug 13, 2019 (Part 1) – w/Patrick Barrett

This episode was broadcast on Aug 13, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Central Square (of course); Overlay continued; Courthouse politics; zoning for a purpose. Hosts: Robert Winters, Patrick Barrett [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 414 – Cambridge InsideOut: Aug 13, 2019 (Part 2) – w/Patrick Barrett

This episode was broadcast on Aug 13, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Creative zoning for Squares and mixed use districts; thoughts on this year’s municipal elections and lack of civic infrastructure. Hosts: Robert Winters, Patrick Barrett [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

August 7, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 411-412: Aug 6, 2019

Episode 411 – Cambridge InsideOut: Aug 6, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Aug 6, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Overlay juggernaut; targeting single-family homes for fun and politics; false attribution and zoning; lack of a coherent housing vision. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 412 – Cambridge InsideOut: Aug 6, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Aug 6, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Cannabis Business Regulation and political patronage; electric vehicles, Eversource, and using surplus parking for charging; First Street Garage theatrics; municipal election candidates all set. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

July 30, 2019

Midsummer Madness – Featured Items on the July 30, 2019 City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:53 pm

Midsummer Madness – Featured Items on the Tues, July 30, 2019 City Council Agenda

Here’s my first pass at the more interesting stuff.City Hall

On Electric Vehicles and Electric Infrastructure

Manager’s Agenda #22. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Numbers 19-13, 19-71 and 19-78, regarding Eversource substation expansion, energy projections and overall update on process.

Manager’s Agenda #23. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-59, regarding exploring a pilot for Level 1 (110V) EV and micromobility charging stations on street light poles throughout the city.

Manager’s Agenda #24. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-07, regarding a report on Boston’s electric vehicle charging station home rule petition and proposed similar language for City Council consideration. [Solicitor opinion] [Home Rule Petition] [Proposed Order]

Manager’s Agenda #25. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-141, regarding a report on safe way to bring power to the curb and across sidewalks to power electric vehicles.

I find these developments interesting in the sense that we’re seeing the future incrementally unfold. It is, however, worth noting that any decrease in the use of fossil fuels for vehicles or in buildings inevitably will lead to greater demand for electricity – at least in the near term, hence the relevance of the expansion of substations, etc. The likelihood that solar panels and rooftop wind turbines will take up the slack is more fantasy than reality.


On Picking Winners in the Cannabis Sweepstakes

Unfinished Business #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the proposed Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance. [Draft Ordinance] [Advertised Draft Ordinance] [Zondervan memo] [Kelley Memo]

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Co-Chair and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on June 27, 2019 was to continue discussions on a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code to add a new Chapter 5.50 entitled “Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance.”

The Council will pass something very soon, but I continue to marvel at the degree to which some councillors are trying to pick the winners. Affirmative action is great, but there comes a point where this becomes simple political patronage.


On Preferential Treatment for Certain Developers in Perpetuity

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Co-Chair and Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Co-Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on June 4, 2019 to discuss the proposed 100% Affordable Housing Overlay as it relates to the tree canopy, open space, green space and stormwater management.

Committee Report #7. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Co-Chair and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on July 2, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create a city-wide Affordable Housing Overlay District (AHOD).

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Carlone, regarding the general public my comments and questions, and zoning recommendations for the proposed Affordable Housing Overlay submitted on Apr 25, 2019.

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Mallon and Mayor McGovern regarding Amendments to the Affordable Housing Overlay.

Regardless how one feels about this Overlay business, it is very clear that this proposal should properly be viewed as an emergency measure and that there should be a sunset clause after which it goes away unless it is freshly reauthorized at some point – perhaps 3-5 years from now. That said, each iteration of this dreadful proposal moves further toward making it permanent, i.e. a permanent mechanism for converting privately-owned residential property into public or quasi-publicly owned residential property. Sunset is being replaced with "review" which means precisely nothing. Apparently, the current group of nine councillors seems hell-bent on literally turning Cambridge into the Peoples Republic of Cambridge where the notion of private property is met with nothing but disdain. Zoning should be about predictability and consistency so that when properties change hands there can be reasonable expectations. This proposal replaces consistency with chaos.

This proposal should not pass, but if it does I hope that nobody ranks any of its supporters anywhere on their City Council ballot. This includes some people who I have considered friends, but they will not even get an honorable mention on my ballot if they vote in favor of this travesty. There may be other proposals that are worthy of support, but they are not currently before this City Council. Zoning regulations should not be authored by the beneficiaries of preferential zoning.


Everything Else

Manager’s Agenda #32. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-60, regarding small business parking pilot.

The City Solicitor’s opinion regarding how such a program could jeopardize Resident Parking is quite interesting.

Applications & Petitions #10. 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".

The proposal could help to make this area much more vital and inviting than it is today. This re-filed version reduces some of the heights of the prior proposal with added community benefits. It will be interesting to see how this fares and if the City administration is capable of weaving this together with other developments in the area into a unified whole.

Order #6. City Council opposition to any proposal that would increase allowable semi-truck weight or trailer length without the ability to regulate such at the municipal level.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

As a resident of one of the "corridors" that some councillors seem to use so frequently as political fodder, I am very interested in lessening the impact of the larger tractor-trailers that inevitably seem to find their way onto streets like mine. Whatever happened to the notion that local delivery vehicles should be used for local deliveries?

Order #7. That the Government Operations/Rules and Claims Committee be and hereby is requested to coordinate with relevant representatives from the Attorney General’s office and the City Manager’s office to hold a meeting, to include City staff, to review Open Meeting Law requirements for elected and appointed City officials.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan

Pardon my iconoclasm, but as long as there is plenty of disclosure and sufficient notice and a very public discussion for at least a week or two prior to an important vote, I have no issue with elected officials hashing out some details out of public view.

Order #11. That the Government Operations/Rules and Claims Committee is requested to coordinate with relevant staff to hold a meeting to discuss the feasibility of adding a private attorney budget item to the City Council budget.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux

This request has been made and rejected countless times, and it should be rejected again. What would be better (and simpler) is to establish a protocol where the City Council can request that the Law Department work directly with the City Council or its committees on specific matters where it may be warranted. The last thing we need is to have a City Council attorney and the Law Department doing battle. Bear in mind that even though the City Manager has a contract, he still serves "at the pleasure of the City Council."

Order #16. That the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Committee is requested to hold a hearing to review City policy on sidewalk surface treatments, with the goal of clearly establishing that where sidewalks are or traditionally were made of brick, the sidewalks should remain or become brick, when feasible after sidewalk work.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux

This has long been the established policy of the City when it comes to sidewalk replacement. Has this changed?

Order #17. That the proposed zoning amendments to Articles 2.00 and 4.32 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance to permit Shared Mobility be referred to the Ordinance Committee for further review.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Mallon

Oh boy, another zoning petition.

Order #21. That the Amendment to Chapter 2.128 Surveillance Ordinance Technology be forwarded to the Public Safety Committee for a hearing.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Siddiqui

It’s one thing to oppose the use of facial recognition software for combing through images solely for the purpose of (correctly or incorrectly) identifying "bad guys" in the absence of a specific crime, but there are some very good reasons for using it after a crime has been committed in helping to identify a potential culprit. I would make the same comment regarding the use of surveillance cameras.

Order #25. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the License Commission and City Solicitor’s office to drop all charges against UpperWest and its owners, to reconsider UpperWest’s package store application, and to issue a public apology to UpperWest and its owners.   Councillor Zondervan

There is apparently no accounting for taste. If the City Council supports this Order, they belong in an asylum.

Committee Report #9. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councilor E. Denise Simmons, Co-Chair and Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui Co-Chair, of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on June 25, 2019 to discuss the Affordable Housing Trust’s recommendations for the City’s Inclusionary Housing Program’s preferences on selecting residents for available units.

I am all for preferential treatment for long-time Cambridge residents and those for whom relocation isn’t a reasonable option, e.g. seniors or parents with young children. That said, we seem to be moving steadily toward an environment where the government is becoming the primary landlord and where benefits are more likely to go to those who are connected.

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Mallon, transmitting the final report of the Mayor’s Arts Task Force.

Most of the report is a reprinting of meeting minutes, but the introductory part does emphasize some guiding principles and some action items. The study of arts in Cambridge has continued as long as the study of Central Square. It is never clear where either will ultimately lead but it is still worth raising the questions. – Robert Winters

July 2, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 407-408: July 2, 2019

Episode 407 – Cambridge InsideOut: July 2, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on July 2, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: “Affordable Housing Overlay” at Planning Board & Ordinance Committee; Inclusionary Zoning; some housing history; CDD Housing Division as landlords. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 408 – Cambridge InsideOut: July 2, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on June July 2, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Candidates pulling nomination papers; who is and is not running; School Committee toxicity; Open Archives highlights; Tom Magliozzi; hiding the state flag. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

June 23, 2019

Anxiously Waiting for Summer Recess – and Nomination Papers – June 24, 2019 at the Cambridge City Council

Filed under: 2019 election,Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:22 pm

Anxiously Waiting for Summer Recess – and Nomination Papers – June 24, 2019 at the Cambridge City Council

Dance Party (photo cropped from Press Release)This will be the last meeting until the Midsummer Meeting in late July. Committee meetings will continue here and there. Dance Party at City Hall this Friday. Candidates can pick up nomination papers for the municipal election starting next Monday (July 1). Here’s my first pass at the tastier items on the meeting menu:

Manager’s Agenda #10. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $150,000 from excess FY19 parking fund revenue to the Public Investment Traffic and Parking Department Extraordinary Expenditures account, to establish 20 Mile Per Hour (MPH) Safety Zones on primarily local access streets across the City.

Sooner or later the argument will be made that 15mph is even safer. And so on. In truth, 20mph makes a lot of sense of some streets, but there are plenty of other streets where 20mph or even 25mph feels like an unnecessary crawl. Then again, with traffic congestion worse (by design), it’s all academic since you might rarely break 20mph anyway.

Manager’s Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a recommendation from the Planning Board not to adopt the New Street Overlay District Zoning Petition.

That’s two strikes. They apparently tried to sweeten the petition this time by including some subsidized housing in the mix, i.e. Let’s Make A Deal. This doesn’t have the votes to pass. Will there be a third attempt?


Unfinished Business #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the proposed Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance. [ON OR AFTER APR 22, 2019 THE QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED]

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from Interim City Clerk Paula M. Crane from Councillor Zondervan, transmitting a memorandum regarding Establishing the Equitable Regulation of the Cannabis Industry in the City of Cambridge.

The cannabis train keeps on rolling (slowly) along. The voters approved it but the really wacky part of this is the way some councillors are trying to microscopically tailor the language of the Permitting Ordinance in order to effectively select who will get the greatest advantage in obtaining a permit to operate a cannabis retail store and even how much shelf space will be allocated to what products.


Communications #2. A communication was received from Gregg Moree, 25 Fairfield Street, regarding several issues he needs the Cambridge Police Department’s help rectifying.

If ever there was something in writing that should disqualify a City Council candidate, perhaps this is it. I won’t bother to link to the text. This man is an embarrassment.

Resolution #1. Resolution on the death of Professor Ifeanyi Menkiti.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Kelley

I remember riding the MIT-Wellesley Exchange Bus with Professor Menkiti when I worked at Wellesley College. Farewell, sir.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and the City Solicitor to draft a zoning amendment that will count a portion of a new or substantially renovated building’s rooftop mechanicals (excluding solar installations) toward its allowed height and/or FAR.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan

This isn’t the first time this matter has been addressed. There was the Citywide Rezoning Petition (Sept 2000) that considered issues of bulk and height related to rooftop mechanical equipment (among other things). There was also a zoning petition on this topic introduced in August 2003 and ordained Nov 3, 2003. This followed the Rooftop Mechanicals Task Force Recommendations of June 2003 which also looked at visual and acoustic issues. This new proposal appears to be primarily about height and density and the fact that some of these installations today are much larger than in days of yore.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor and the City Hall building staff to identify a suitable location other than the Sullivan Chamber where the state flag may be displayed in compliance with state law.   Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan

We may soon need a "trigger alert" read at the start of every City Council meeting so that nobody is offended or traumatized by symbols or fabric or furniture or floor coverings. This Order actually symbolizes the distracted priorities of some councillors.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department, Assessor’s Office, and the City Solicitor’s Office on developing a Vacant Storefront Registration Policy.   Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

Collecting data and developing a database of such vacancies may be useful information, but the real question comes down to how that information will be used. There was a previous Order a couple of years ago that would have taxed such properties into oblivion. A far more thoughtful approach would be to provide incentives and guidance to get most of these properties back into active use – the carrot, not the stick.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to explain how Newport Construction was selected to work on the Inman Square redesign despite the serious allegations pending against them in Somerville.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone

Apparently the chosen contractor cut some trees down in Somerville. In the case of Inman Square, the City beat them to it.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Department of Finance and Department of Human Services to explore options for incorporating additional line items in the FY20 Budget to allocate supplemental funds for legal aid services, housing stabilization and tenant education and organizing to prevent displacement and address its ramifications on Cambridge residents and families.   Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon

These are basically all good ideas aimed at addressing things at a scale that actually matters, i.e. helping individuals rather than a wholesale policy change such as the proposed "100% Affordable Housing Overlay District" that seeks to move privately-owned residential property into public and quasi-public hands by allowing some select property developers to operate under radically different rules than other property owners.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Interim City Clerk Paula M. Crane transmitting a communication from Councillor Mallon, transmitting notes for the meeting of the ninth and last meeting of the Mayor’s Arts Task.  [Links to all Task Force reports]

While the intention of this Task Force is laudable, some of the comments and recommendations of its members cross way over into the political, i.e. echoes of the Sanders campaign and the Occupy phenomenon of a few years back. Former and new City Council candidates have not hesitated to shower fellow Task Force members with self-serving stump speeches. I’m sure some good actions will grow out of this Task Force and a place like Central Square will be better for it, but I hope that delivering personal or political benefits to outspoken Task Force members should not be among the benefits. It’s right and proper that we should take a step back every few years and reconsider the various arts initiatives and institutions supported by the City to make sure they are delivering best outcomes for all the residents of the city. However, this really shouldn’t be driven by the discontinuation of one person’s arrangement with the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (CMAC) or the loss of a rehearsal space in the old EMF building in Cambridgeport. – Robert Winters

June 12, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 401-402: June 11, 2019

Episode 401 – Cambridge InsideOut: June 11, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on June 11, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: Central Square Business Improvement District (BID) approved; evolving transportation. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 402 – Cambridge InsideOut: June 11, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on June 11, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Candidate updates (before Patty Nolan announced), candidate requirements; big issues, candidate pages; zoning – infrastructure and obstruction, Eversource; echoes of the Parking Freeze. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

June 9, 2019

Items of Interest on the June 10, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Items of Interest on the June 10, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

City Hall 2019This is something of a table-setting month – clearing out some lingering business and refocusing on some matters that are sure to be wedge issues in the municipal election – housing, bikes, campaign contributions, neighborhood flash-points. Resolving the details of the "Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance" will apparently continue at least through July and perhaps longer.

Perhaps the most significant piece of business is this 6:30pm hearing:
6:30pm   The City Council will conduct a public hearing to discuss the petition filed by Kenneth S. Barron, 614 Massachusetts Avenue, et al property owners, pursuant to MGL Chapter 40 section O petitioning that a Business Improvement District (BID) be established for the Central Square Business Improvement District.

It is likely that a vote will be taken at this meeting to establish the Business Improvement District. It seems to have broad support and may even get a unanimous vote.

Here are a few other notable items for this week:

Manager’s Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as a members of the Future of Mobility Implementation Blueprint Technical Advisory Group. The Advisory Group is expected to meet up to six times between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020: Yonah Freemark, David Keith, Steven Miller, Kathryn Carlson, Melissa Chan, Christopher Tassone, Roy Russell, Raymond Hayhurst, Ruth Allen, Jane Gould, David Block-Schachter, Zef Vataj, Will Dickson, Stephen Russell, James Cater, Bruce Kaplan, Megan Aki, Ilya Sinelnikov, Cambridge Housing Authority Rep (TBD). [Future of Mobility RFP]

This process is worth watching in that it is both necessary and potentially over-reaching. For some years now the City has been carrying out the goals of the Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance by promoting transportation modes (and infrastructure) as alternatives to motor vehicles. Independently, things like ride-hail services (like Uber and Lyft) and electric scooters have appeared and grown in popularity. Also, there are a lot more electric vehicles now on the road and how to charge them is a growing concern, especially for those without parking on premises. Autonomous (driverless) vehicles may be the next wave. This "Future of Mobility" process is apparently supposed to gaze into the crystal ball and make predictions and plans for how all these pieces can fit coherently together. Recommendations growing from this process might not all be about how to accommodate these new modes – they might also lead to restrictions on existing modes. In recent years there has been a trend of City plans being developed, blessed by compliant advisory committees, and then waved through by a City Council which rarely spends time considering any potential negative consequences of the latest "progressive" policy. Indeed, the RFP makes quite clear that this is not to be a "visioning exercise" by the advisory group, but rather a source of feedback for a process in which City staff has already stated very specifically in the RFP the models from which the hired consultant must work. The end product is likely to be at least as much about regulation and restriction as it will be about accommodation.

Manager’s Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-15, regarding a report on who is purchasing buildings in Cambridge.

This is interesting information – though it’s not so easy to peer behind the curtain and identify what parties make up some of the LLCs (limited liability corporations), e.g. Invesco for several properties in the Alewife Quadrangle, or what the plans are for some of these properties. It’s also not clear what the City Council will do or even could do with this information.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $50,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Executive Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account to support the cable television license renewal process.

Here we go again. The United States Congress thoroughly gutted the ability of municipalities to negotiate much of anything in local Cable TV franchises. We will once again be hearing about PEG (public access, educational, and governmental) since these are the only things that can be discussed. What really makes this whole process rather pathetic is that much of the revenue generated by these franchises now comes from Internet access and there is no legal requirement that any of that revenue should support the PEG needs.


Charter Right #3. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to work with the local taxi industry and other interested parties to prepare a Home Rule Petition for the City Council to submit to the State Legislature that would address Cambridge-specific issues and give the City Council the ability to ensure TNCs operate in a safe and responsible manner.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, the Community Development Department, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and other regional partners such as the Central Transportation Planning Staff to explore the feasibility of partnering with a local research institution to conduct a study that determines how many ride-hail vehicles are on the roads during both on and off-peak times and their impacts on congestion and safety.   Councillor Mallon, Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux

Perhaps the "Future of Mobility" consultants will have something to say about this, but my sense is that the proposal for a Home Rule Petition is likely more about protection of taxi medallion owners than it is about safety. As for the Order asking to bring in an army of traffic counters, I encourage anyone standing on a street corner or waiting for a bus to count the percentage of Uber/Lyft vehicles passing by at various times throughout the day. [Hint: It’s a lot.]


Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to establish a working committee to review the monuments, memorials, and markers throughout Cambridge to determine whether any of these commemorate those who were linked to the slave trade or engaged in other similarly shameful acts and to determine which individuals should be newly recognized with a monument, memorial, or marker.   Councillor Simmons

I just hope that there is a distinction made between those whose sole claim to fame was infamous (like rebel generals) vs. those who did great things but who engaged in bad practices that happened to be legal at the time. Erasing history is not the same as learning from it.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to meet with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, the Department of Public Works, and the property owners and management of the Fresh Pond Mall to identify additional traffic-calming and safety features and to discuss with the mall owner the potential for creating a formal street connection between Terminal Road and New Street.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone

This is a long overdue conversation. Greater connectivity with enhanced safety would be a good thing in this entire area (especially if only those of us who live here know the secret connections).


Order #6. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the appropriate departments to televise and record the City Clerk interview meeting on June 17, 2019, starting at 2:30pm in the Sullivan Chamber.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Interim City Clerk Paula M. Crane, transmitting memorandum from Vice Mayor Devereux regarding a special public meeting for the City Clerk interviews.

The City Clerk position is one of only three for which the City Council is the appointing authority under the Plan E Charter. The other two are the City Manager and the City Auditor. I have no idea who has applied for the position or who the four finalists are, but I really hope the person hired is someone who really understands the city deeply and who can also be an asset to the City Council. The truth is that the City Clerk prepares City Council agendas very much like a playwright where the actors (the councillors) can freely improvise within the script. Also, the Council-related duties are only a fraction of the many essential responsibilities of the City Clerk’s Office.


Order #8. That the proposed Special Permit Criteria amendments to Article 19 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance (as attached) be referred to the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board for hearing and report.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone

Committee Reports #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, former City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Transportation & Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on May 22, 2019 to discuss with Eversource any plans it has for meeting the anticipated electricity needs of Cambridge businesses and residents by expanding capacity on land it owns throughout the City, with a focus on sites in East Cambridge (Kendall Square and Fulkerson Street).

It would appear that this zoning proposal and the Eversource matter on Fulkerson Street are inextricably linked. It’s a bit disturbing when zoning is used as a reactionary tool. Perhaps a better approach would be to require (with appropriate enabling legislation, if necessary) that all major utilities provide short- and long-term infrastructure improvement plans that address such things as capacity, maintenance of the existing infrastructure, and planning for emerging needs such as local solar generation and charging locations for electric vehicles (just to name a few). Conflating this with zoning seems a bit wrong-headed. It’s reminiscent of how the Parking Freeze was used to block commercial development – even environmentally sound commercial development – under the guise of environmental protection.


Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to draft for discussion several ordinances to reduce or prohibit campaign donations from donors seeking to enter into a contract, seeking approval for a special permit or up-zoning, seeking to acquire real estate from the city, or seeking financial assistance from the city.   Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

It’s an election year. Some version of this proposal happens like clockwork every two years. The only thing that makes it interesting this year is how much money is now coming from people with a financial interest in the "100% Affordable Housing" Overlay proposal that would potentially deliver properties to various "non-profit" housing developers by allowing them to do things that others can only dream of. Any candidate-endorsing organization that receives contributions from these sources (and yes, I do mean ABC specifically) should be subject to the same restrictions as individual candidates. All of this is likely academic since the November election will likely be a memory by the time any action is taken on this proposal, if ever – so it’s really just posturing at this point.

Committee Reports #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, former 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 May 1, 2019 to discuss a petition to amend the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.16 entitled “Noise Control” by deleting sections 8.16.081-8.16.087 to prohibit the use of leaf blowers.

My proposal: Enact a Total Ban on Leaf Blowers only after loud sound systems in motor vehicles are banned. But seriously, don’t you think we put far too much effort into banning things? When did Cambridge give up on making an effort to convince people to use better practices? Sometimes we really do seem to be The Village of Control Freaks.

Committee Reports #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, former City Clerk transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Co-Chair and Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Co-Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on May 21, 2019 to discuss the “City of Cambridge getting to Net Zero Action Plan: Fiscal year 2018 progress report” and to receive a general update on the Net Zero Action Plan.

I really hope that "Getting to Net Zero" doesn’t translate into a $3,000 repair in a residential building costing $30,000 or more in order to meet any new requirements. – Robert Winters

May 21, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 397-398: May 21, 2019

Episode 397 – Cambridge InsideOut: May 21, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on May 21, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: FY2020 Budget adoption; Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (CMAC) questions; Constellation Center future; Foundry; and the Cambridge Health Alliance. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 398 – Cambridge InsideOut: May 21, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on May 21, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Bike Ride; modifying the PR ballot; some PR election facts; curb cuts; Cambridge River Arts Festival; paradigm shifts and the achievement gap in the Cambridge Public Schools. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

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