Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

February 17, 2020

Special Tues, Feb 18, 2020, 3:00pm City Council Meeting to discuss the Harvard Square Overlay Zoning Petition

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Harvard Square — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 9:34 am

Special Tues, Feb 18, 2020, 3:00pm City Council Meeting to discuss the Harvard Square Overlay Zoning Petition

City HallThe petition expires March 10, 2020. I suppose they could let it expire and go through the process again, but it seems like the inclination is to get some amended version of this petition ordained earlier than later. The March 9 City Council meeting has been cancelled, and the petition must be passed to a 2nd Reading at this Special Meeting in order to allow time (14 days) for the legally required advertisement of the petition prior to a vote on ordination. [Zoning FAQ] Assuming the advertisement appears on Thurs, Feb 20 this means that the earliest date the petition could be voted would be Thurs, March 5 (certainly not before March 3), so this petition could not be ordained at the March 2 meeting, and another Special Meeting would have to be scheduled prior to the March 10 expiration date. Hence this Special City Council Meeting and possibly another. – RW

COMMITTEE REPORTS
1. Report of the Ordinance Committee – Committee Meeting – Dec 11, 2019 5:30pm
Regarding the Harvard Square Zoning Petition
Present: Carlone, Devereux, Kelley, Mallon, McGovern, Simmons, Siddiqui, Zondervan

2. Report of the Ordinance Committee – Committee Meeting – Jan 30, 2020 5:30pm
Regarding the reconvened hearing regarding the Harvard Square Zoning Petition
Present: Carlone, Mallon, McGovern, Siddiqui, Sobrinho-Wheeler, Zondervan, Simmons (late), Toomey (late)

3. Motion to amend the petition by the substitution with the language as recommended by the Ordinance Committee on January 30, 2020.

4. A Zoning Petition has been received from Suzanne P. Blier regarding Harvard Square Zoning Petition.

• Petition Text
• CDD Memo – November 14, 2019
• Planning Board Presentation – November 19, 2019
• Planning Board Recommendation
• Supplemental Information from CDD Staff

January 15, 2020

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 445-446: Jan 14, 2020

Episode 445 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 14, 2020 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 14, 2020 at 5:30pm. Topics: New year, new City Council; Jan 13 Council meeting, Tree Removal Moratorium extension debated; practical vs. ideological; committee appointments; City Manager contract and budget growth. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 446 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 14, 2020 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 14, 2020 at 6:00pm. Topics: Schmidt Petition, definition of “family” in zoning, rooming houses; rent control vs. helping people; What’s Next? chasing a crisis vs. promoting a good idea; Will this be a confiscatory Council?; incentives vs. mandates. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

January 13, 2020

It’s Opening Day – Jan 13, 2020 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 2:14 pm

It’s Opening Day – Jan 13, 2020 Cambridge City Council meeting

City HallThis is the first regular City Council meeting of the 2020-21 term. The mayoral vote at the Jan 6 Inauguration was a single take, and newly minted Mayor Siddiqui broke the record for fastest City Council committee appointments. Here are a few items on the agenda of some interest.

Unfinished Business #4. Amendment to Chapter 8.12 of the Municipal Ordinances of the City of Cambridge. [Passed to a Second Reading on Dec 16, 2019 To Be Ordained on or after Dec 29, 2019]

This is the proposed municipal ordinance that would ban mobile fueling operations throughout Cambridge, i.e. where a vehicle shows up where you are and fills your gas tank for you. As I said when this was first introduced as a zoning amendment last October: "Yet more evidence of the lazy ass, ‘call the servants’ times that we now live in. If pumping your own gas at the filling station is so burdensome that you must use a phone app to have the ‘little people’ show up to do it for you, then maybe it’s time to reconsider your life choices."

Applications & Petitions #1. A Zoning Petition has been received from Christopher Schmidt, regarding an amendment to Section 2.000 of the Zoning Ordinance.

This is a simple and sensible proposal that would amend the definition of "family" in the Zoning Ordinance to remove restrictions on unrelated family members. Specifically, it would simply say: "Family. One or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit."

The current definition is this:

Family. One or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit; provided that a group of four or more persons who are not within the second degree of kinship shall not be deemed to constitute a family.

Notwithstanding the definition in the preceding paragraph, a family shall be deemed to include four or more persons not within the second degree of kinship occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single, nonprofit housekeeping unit, if said occupants are handicapped persons as defined in Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the “Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988.” Such unrelated individuals shall have the right to occupy a dwelling unit in the same manner and to the same extent as any family in the first paragraph of this definition.

It’s unknown when the last time the current definition was ever enforced, and households consisting of several unrelated persons are very common in Cambridge and the region. The only potential downside of this simplification might be that an apartment specifically designated as "family housing" may become just another roommate situation.

Resolution #2. Resolution on the death of Carol Cerf.   Councillor Simmons

Resolution #5. Resolution on the death of Susan Noonan-Forster.   Councillor Toomey

Resolution #9. Resolution on the death of Thomas F. Courtney.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Simmons, Councillor McGovern

I knew Carol Cerf from the CCA Board over 25 years ago and would often run into her on her bicycle for years after that. She was one of the more kind and generous people I met in local politics over the years. There was a moment of silence at the Jan 6 School Committee Inauguration noting the death of Susan Noonan-Forster. Thomas F. Courtney, among many other notable distinctions, was the father of our most beloved Deputy City Clerk Paula Crane.

Order #4. TPO Extension PO.   Councillor Zondervan

The cryptic summary refers to a proposed extension of the Tree Protection Ordinance, i.e. Moratorium, from the current expiration date of March 11, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The Order also encourages that more permanent language be soon established based on recommendations of the Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force. I can only hope that some flexibility is written into the more permanent ordinance to allow reasonable homeowners to do reasonable things without exorbitant cost, but recent trends tend to be the opposite.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, transmitting information from the Jan 7, 2020 Regular Meeting of the School Committee.

It’s good to see intermural communication like this from the Mayor to the City Council regarding School Committee matters.

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, announcing the formal 2020-2021 appointments to the City Council Committees.

This has to be a new record for fastest City Council committee appointments. It usually takes weeks and Mayor Siddiqui had it done in three days. – Robert Winters

January 8, 2020

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 443-444: Jan 7, 2020

Episode 443 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 7, 2020 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 7, 2020 at 5:30pm. Topics: City Council and School Committee Inaugurations; Election of Mayor, Vice-Chair of City Council; School Committee & Cancel Culture; City Manager Contract on the horizon; Liberalism vs. Radicalism; Freakonomics in affordable housing, small business, and the Achievement Gap; money doesn’t solve everything. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 444 – Cambridge InsideOut: Jan 7, 2020 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Jan 7, 2020 at 6:00pm. Topics: City Council priorities; return of Subsidized Housing Overlay proposal or alternatives; tenant protections and condo regulation; protection vs. control; zoning & development in Central Square, near Union Sq./Green Line Extension; Alewife possibilities, including multiple bridges. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

December 17, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 441-442: December 17, 2019

Episode 441 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 17, 2019 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 17, 2019 at 5:30pm. Topics: On Elections & Vacancies; The Departure of Councillors Craig Kelley & Jan Devereux; Karp Petition and East Cambridge development, Contract Zoning a.k.a. “Let’s Make A Deal”; Mall Tales and Mini-Retail. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]


Episode 442 – Cambridge InsideOut: Dec 17, 2019 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 17, 2019 at 6:00pm. Topics: Harvard Square Zoning Petition – how zoning might help retail.; Form-Based Zoning – Citywide Somerville Rezoning; Finding the “Sweet Spot” in zoning density. Hosts: Patrick Barrett, Robert Winters [On YouTube] [audio]

[Materials used in these episodes]

December 15, 2019

That’s All Folks! – Featured Items on the Dec 16, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

That’s All Folks! – Featured Items on the Dec 16, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

That's All Folks!The last meeting of the 2018-2019 Cambridge City Council takes place this Monday (thanks to the cancellation of the remaining two meetings). This will also mark the final meeting for both Vice Mayor Jan Devereux (served 2 terms, first elected 2015) and Councillor Craig Kelley (served 7 terms, first elected 2005). With the exit of two of the most reasonable members of the City Council we may well be heading toward the Wild Card Council for 2020-2021 where the only real question will be "how far left?"

Here are a few items on this final meeting agenda worthy of note:

Unfinished Business #5. 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 a 2nd Reading on Nov 26, 2019 to be Ordained on or after Dec 16, 2019]

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Anthony I. Wilson, Esq. transmitting a communication from John E. Twohig, Executive Vice President of New England Development, regarding the proposed CambridgeSide PUD-8 District. [Cover letter] [Redline_CambridgeSide 2.0 – PUD-8 Zoning Text (12.11.19 edits)] [CambridgeSide 2.0 – PUD-8 Zoning Text (12.11.19)]

I’ll say it one last time before the Council either ordains this on Monday or punts: 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.


Order #1. Zoning Amendment Articles 2.00 and 4.32 regarding opposition to permitting on-demand mobile fueling services to operate in Cambridge.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan

This was introduced on Oct 21, 2019 and I can’t see any difference between that petition (which expires Mar 9, 2020) and this supposedly amended petition.

Order #3. That section 11.202(b) of Article 11.000, entitled SPECIAL REGULATIONS, of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge, be amended the table as follows: Jan 28, 2020 (Annual Adjustment) $19.10 per square foot.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone, Mayor McGovern

This was discussed at the Dec 9 meeting – an itsy bitsy zoning amendment that changes a dollar amount. Let the hearings begin!


Order #5. That all items pending before the City Council and not acted upon by the end of the 2018-2019 Legislative Session be placed in the files of the City Clerk, without prejudice provided that those proposed ordinances which have been passed to a second reading, advertised and listed on the Calendar under "Unfinished Business" during the 2018-2019 City Council term, along with any other pending matters on the Calendar listed as "Unfinished Business," shall be forwarded to the next City Council and further provided that any items pending in committee may, at the discretion of the committee, be forwarded to the next City Council.   Mayor McGovern

….. and, of course, 97 Items Awaiting Report. There are 6 responses, so we’ll apparently end the term at 91 items awaiting report. Some will be carried over to either languish in Managerial Purgatory or maybe see the light of day.

I repeat – 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.


Order #6. That the City Manager instruct the City Solicitor to provide and update on the previous two orders requesting draft legislation for a Real Estate Transfer Fee Home Rule petition   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

Though this will likely only affect the relatively large real estate transactions, I expect the next City Council will have as a primary goal to separate as much money from property owners – large and small – as they can legally justify. And when that runs out they’ll just change the laws for more.


Order #7. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the CPSD Superintendent to ensure that the CPSD budget is enough to meet the educational needs of all children in Cambridge rather than a formulaic increase over past CPSD budgets.   Councillor Kelley

I would have thought the statement contained in this Order would have been the rule all along.

Order #8. Continued Anti-Bias Training in 2020 and beyond.   Councillor Simmons

Nevermind.

Order #9. Removing Sackler family name from Harvard University Museum.   Mayor McGovern

I pass by a portrait of David Koch every day at MIT. It has never bothered me. Should we obliterate the family name of everyone whose business interests include some things we don’t like even if they have contributed tremendously toward other things that we do appreciate? Cancel Culture is insanity.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Councillor E. Denise Simmons regarding an "End of Term Report from the Housing Committee".

That little matter of tearing the civic fabric to shreds didn’t appear in this report.

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from Vice Mayor Devereux.

A classy exit message from a classy lady (even on those occasions when we have disagreed). – Robert Winters

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.

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