Pre-Spring Fling – March 19, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting

City HallWhile we wait for the next Nor'Easter, here are a few things up for discussion this Monday. Sorry for the minimal comments, but I have to go to work.

Manager's Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the recommendation to reappointment Margaret Drury as a member of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board for a term of five years.

Former City Manager Bob Healy's inspired appointments that revitalized the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority in April 2012 continue to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Manager's Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-28, regarding Housing Choice Designation.

Cambridge continues to provide its share of new housing and then some. It will be great if this leads to some infrastructure funding under this new program. Now if we can only get all the other cities and towns in the area to do the same we might actually make a dent in the problem of actual affordable housing (as opposed to subsidized housing).

Manager's Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-25, regarding a timeline for the next Incentive Zoning Study.

The City will authorize a thoughtful Nexus Study which will be followed promptly by several city councillors stumbling over each other to be the one who demands the greatest increase in the linkage fee regardless of the recommendations in the study.

Order #1. City Council support of S. 2306, “An Act to promote and enhance civic engagement.”   Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon

Good idea worth supporting. The idea here is that “American history and civics education shall be taught as required subjects for the purpose of promoting civic service and a greater knowledge thereof, and of preparing students, morally and intellectually, for the duties of citizenship…” Take note that this refers to education so that students can develop well-informed points of view and make informed decisions. This should not be about training students to hold any predetermined point of view.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Election Commission regarding the possibility of instituting early voting in the 2019 municipal election.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern

While we all hope to have good voter turnout and an informed electorate in all elections, I'm not at all convinced that the key to either of these goals is expanding the number of days during which people can vote. With 34 precincts spread around the city and a 13 hour window during which people can vote, there really is no problem here that needs a solution and there is a significant cost associated with this proposal.

Order #5. City Council support of implementing protected bicycle infrastructure on the Longfellow Bridge.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone

I can only see this making sense if the width of the planned bicycle lanes are insufficient and result in slow-moving cyclists being too close to faster moving motor vehicles. The last diagram I saw had a 5.5 foot bicycle lane (plus an 8.5 foot wide sidewalk) toward Boston and a 6 foot bicycle lane (plus a 10 foot wide sidewalk) toward Cambridge. Those are good widths and installing barriers in the roadway could be problematic for emergency vehicles.

Order #6. City Council support of S.2302 "An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future."   Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux

Few would argue with the goals, but it would be helpful to hear about what costs are associated with this very long list of proposed requirements.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to work with all relevant City Departments to help facilitate the associated activities with the "Affordable Housing Week of Action."   Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Assistant City Manager for Community Development to apply for a federal Opportunity Zone designation on behalf of the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons

Order #9. City Council support of S.548 "Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017."   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux

All three of these Orders refer to "Affordable Housing". Though I certainly don't want to overstate this, the term "affordable housing" as a euphemism for "subsidized housing" has always irritated me. During Envision Cambridge meetings and elsewhere it has now become common for people to say things like "Capital A Affordable Housing" in order to clarify that they mean housing that receives some form of subsidy. Wouldn't it be better to just use plain English? If it's subsidized - either by government funds or by skewing rents in privately owned inclusionary housing - then it should be called Subsidized Housing. I was able to to afford my triple-decker and have provided housing at affordable rents for over 30 years to my tenants, yet this is never acknowledged as "affordable housing". At best, City bureaucrats will refer to it as "small a affordable housing".

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to sign off on any Host Community Agreement for the purposes of filing an application with the State for an adult use cannabis retail establishment within the City of Cambridge, provided that said Host Community Agreement includes the maximum allowable taxation and relevant provisions that are substantially similar to or the same as those under which current medical cannabis establishments operate in the City.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Simmons

I'm just glad I live on a street with an elementary school, two Montessori pre-schools, and a day-care center. That should keep the stoners at a tolerable level.

Order #11. That the Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee be and hereby is requested to schedule a meeting to discuss parking options for City and School employees who do not get jobs that come with parking.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

Considering the list of sponsors of this Order, I would have expected a mandate that these School employees ride their bikes to work or be required to buy Teslas.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to have a funding plan in place to develop and implement protective barriers for Fresh Pond for the FY2018-19 budget.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Toomey, Vice Mayor Devereux

I would like to see a more detailed rationale for this. Of course we all want to ensure the quality of our water supply (except Gary Mello), but the examples given in the Order are coastal locations that are vulnerable to storm surges. Any vulnerability of Fresh Pond would more likely come from sustained rain events and limitations to evacuating that stormwater primarily via the Alewife Brook and Mystic River.


Curbside Organics Collection

In 2009, the City set a goal to reduce residential trash disposal by 30% by 2020, and by 80% by 2050 . With that goal in mind, the City has committed to expanding the current curbside compost program to all residential buildings with 1 to 12 units beginning April 2018. This will increase the program from 5,200 households to 25,000 households (8,100 buildings).

The Curbside Compost Program will expand to all buildings with 1 to 12 units on April 2. Food scraps and compostables will be picked up weekly on the same day as trash and recycling. Residents with Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday trash collection will automatically receive information and materials starting on March 26. Weekly curbside collection begins citywide the first week in April.

By composting our food scraps, we can:

Cambridge Carnival International Community Forum
Our Vision for the Next 25 Years

Want to have a say in the future of Cambridge Carnival? Join us for a Cambridge Carnival International Community Forum – Our Vision for the Next 25 Years on Thursday, March 29, 2018 at the Cambridge Public Library - Central Square Branch, 45 Pearl Street, Central Square. This event is organized in collaboration with the Central Square Business Association. This is a FREE event. Refreshments available. Limited space, so please RSVP.

RSVP HERE: More details belowCarnival Logo

* Preserving our legacy-enhancing the programming
* Exploring a new venue and festival footprint
* Public safety
* Community collaboration
* Introducing the Cambridge Youth Steel Orchestra initiative

Thank you! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram @cambridgecarnival and Twitter at carnival02139

Carnival Forum Photos

Dear Community Stakeholder,

The Cambridge Carnival Committee in collaboration with the Central Square Business Association/Cultural District invite you to a free Community Forum on Thursday, March 29, 2018, 6:30-8:30pm at the Cambridge Public Library Central Square Branch, 45 Pearl Street, Cambridge, MA 02139. The theme for the forum is “Our Vision for the Next 25 Years.” Refreshments will be provided courtesy of Central Square Business Association/Cultural District. RSVP desired at due to limited space.

Cambridge Carnival International is a colorful and festive celebration rooted in African traditions. The festival, in its 26th year is considered a Cambridge Institution and it’s the largest festival in Cambridge. The festival is planned by the people for the people. A volunteer committee of residents, work year-round to plan this special and spectacular event for the Cambridge community that celebrates culture, diversity and community. The highlight of the festival is a grand costume parade accompanied by rich rhythmic musicality promoting all types of cultures. Participants can be seen as revelers masquerading through the streets in dazzling handmade costumes accompanied by steel drums, dancing to the beat of the Carnival. The festival is also an opportunity to enjoy international foods and purchase multicultural crafts from around the world.

As the Cambridge Carnival embarks on the next 25 years, we invite the Cambridge community and our stakeholders to be a part of shaping its future. We all want what is best for our community and our City – a fun, safe and successful Carnival. We can’t be successful unless we are all invested and in this together. We borrowed the words from our City Manager, Louis A. DePasquale that he shared at a recent community meeting that also applies to us – “while there will be challenges, by working together we will get there.” We hope you will join us on March 29th to help us get “there.”

Contact information: Cambridge Carnival International Inc. P.O. Box 390468, Cambridge, MA 02139, 617-492-2518;,, Facebook: @cambridgecarnivalinternational, Twitter: @Carnival02139, Instagram: @cambridgecarnival

Cambridge Public Library Director elected to American Library Association Executive Board

Maria McCauleyMar 8, 2018 - The Cambridge Public Library (CPL) is excited to announce that Director of Libraries, Dr. Maria McCauley, has been elected to the American Library Association's (ALA) Executive Board. The Board consists of the president, president-elect, immediate past president, treasurer, executive director, and eight members elected by Council from its membership for three-year terms.

The American Library Association is a nonprofit organization based in the United States that promotes libraries and library education internationally. It is the oldest and largest library association in the world. The Executive Board provides leadership and vision for ALA and its 58,000+ members.

"I'm honored by this new opportunity. ALA helped me to get my start working in this profession. Its professional development opportunities, including an ALA Spectrum Scholarship, have helped to prepare me for leadership roles." said McCauley. "ALA has enriched my life and I want to give back."

Elections took place at the Annual ALA Midwinter Conference in February 2018. The new members will officially join the Board in July 2018. For more information, please see the press release from ALA here.

Member Sought for Cambridge Police Review & Advisory Board

City SealMar 7, 2018 – City Manager Louis DePasquale is seeking Cambridge residents interested in serving on the Police Review & Advisory Board. Made up of volunteer members who serve five-year terms, the Board generally meets on the last Wednesday of the month at 6:00pm, except for July and August.

The Police Review & Advisory Board was established by City Ordinance in 1984 to:

The Board consists of five Cambridge residents who are representative of the City's racial, social and economic composition. Board Members must: possess a reputation for fairness, integrity and responsibility; have demonstrated an active interest in public affairs and service; and be a resident of the City of Cambridge. For more information about the Board, see its web page at

Board Members serve as volunteers without compensation and are responsible for: reviewing and evaluating completed investigations to make findings on the allegations contained in each complaint; identifying needs for changes to police department policies, procedures or training and reporting findings and recommended solutions to the Police Commissioner and the City Manager; and assisting in education and outreach to promote awareness and understanding of the Board and strengthen community-police relations.

A letter of interest and brief résumé can be submitted online at by Apr 6, 2018. Paper applications are also available in the City Manager’s Office, Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue.

Public Meeting on Stormwater Management Program
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Cambridge Department of Public Works is holding a public meeting to discuss the City’s efforts in the implementation of its Stormwater Management Program on Tues, Mar 27, from 6:00-7:00pm, Department of Public Works, Frazier Conference Room, 147 Hampshire Street.

City SealThe City developed its Stormwater Management Program based on the requirements established under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Phase II (NPDES Phase II) regulations in 2003 and revised it in 2006. In 2016 EPA released a new permit that will become effective July 1, 2018.

EPA’s NPDES Phase II Stormwater Management program provides a framework for improving the quality of stormwater discharges to waterways through the identification of six minimum control measures. The City’s Stormwater Program identifies stormwater management activities that address the NPDES Phase II program’s six minimum control measures, which are:

The City’s efforts over the past year and regulation changes under the new permit will be discussed.

For more information about the meeting or the NPDES Phase II Stormwater Management Program visit or contact Catherine Daly Woodbury, DPW Engineering Project Manager, at 617-349-4818 or

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to Expand, Upgrade Metro Boston Public Bike Share System Under Major New Sponsorship Agreement

Hubway Will Become Blue Bikes and Grow to 3,000 Bikes by End of 2019

Mar 7, 2018 – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (“Blue Cross”), the municipalities of Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and bike share operator Motivate International, Inc. today jointly announced a groundbreaking six-year partnership agreement that will build on the success of the Hubway system and greatly expand access to bike share in the metro region.

HubwayAs part of the sponsorship, the existing Hubway system will be rebranded as Blue Bikes, reflecting Blue Cross’ support for expanding and growing the bike share system with the municipalities. By the end of 2019, there will be 3,000 Blue Bikes on the streets — up from the 1,800 that exist today — and more than 100 new stations throughout the four municipalities. Blue Cross’ support will allow for upgrades to the system overall, with brand new bikes, new mobile app features and more valet service at busy stations. The transition to Blue Bikes will take place this spring, when the expansion begins.

As part of the partnership, Blue Bikes will continue to be a public transportation system, owned by the municipalities of Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville, and operated by Motivate. Bike share is an affordable transportation option, with full-priced annual memberships available for just $99 per year. The recently-launched income eligible program provides $5 monthly memberships and $50 annual memberships to individuals over the age of 16 who participate in various assistance programs.

“We’re delighted to partner with Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville on the Blue Bikes initiative,” said Andrew Dreyfus, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “Not only are we helping to expand bike share access to communities that have long been asking for the program, we’re also living up to our company’s commitment to healthy living and to environmental sustainability. Through this program, we hope to serve as a catalyst empowering our fellow citizens to live healthy, active lives.”

“The Hubway bike share program began in the City of Boston in 2011 and quickly became integral to our transportation system,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “More recently, we introduced bike share in East Boston and substantially expanded the program in Brighton, Roxbury and North Dorchester. I am delighted to welcome Blue Cross Blue Shield as a partner as we further develop our bike share program and I’d like to thank them for helping us to make this resource available to additional Boston residents in their own neighborhoods.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to enhance and expand our bike share system,” said Louis A. DePasquale, Cambridge City Manager. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has a long history of promoting healthy living, and their partnership will help us increase equity and accessibility to active transportation for community members across the Boston metro region.”

“We are delighted to have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts on board as the new title sponsor of the regional bike share program.” said Neil Wishinsky, Chair of Brookline Select Board. “Their mission to improve the health and wellness of the communities they serve makes them a natural partner to help us grow the system’s reach and to improve access to active transportation for all walks of life.”

“From the beginning, the Metro Boston area has been a great place for biking, and the addition of Blue Cross as a partner will allow us to truly take bike share to the next level,” said Motivate CEO Jay Walder. “This partnership is further proof that private-sector support is a sustainable way to grow bike share systems and deliver real value for communities.”

“Riding a bicycle is not only one of most cost-effective ways to get around an urban environment like Somerville, it also promotes one of our community’s core goals: healthy living,” said Mayor Joe Curtatone. “We’re proud and thankful that this partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will allow us to more than double the number of bike share stations here over the next two years and give more residents a better opportunity to travel throughout Somerville - and beyond - by bike.”

“The key impact of this groundbreaking sponsorship is to fulfill our long-time goal of extending the bike share system to every neighborhood in all four cities. We’re thrilled this goal is now in sight,” said Marc Draisen, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

Blue Cross is committed to helping Massachusetts residents lead healthy lives. In 2017, the company and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation contributed $10.5 million in financial grants and pro-bono volunteer service to over 500 nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth. The company believes that healthy people rely on a healthy planet and are focused on supporting solutions that improve air quality.


About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts ( is a community-focused, tax-paying, not–for–profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We're the trusted health plan for more than 25,000 Massachusetts employers and are committed to working with others in a spirit of shared responsibility to make quality health care affordable. Consistent with our corporate promise to always put our 2.8 million members first, we're rated among the nation's best health plans for member satisfaction and quality. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and LinkedIn.

About Motivate
Motivate is the largest operator of bike share systems in North America – operating in eight cities including several major urban centers. Working with cities, Motivate has helped bring the benefits of bike share to more urban residents and visitors. Learn more at

Cambridge Mayor Announces Launch of Immigrant Defense Fund

City SealMayor Marc C. McGovern announced the launch of the Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants, the product of a joint effort between the Mayor’s Office and the Cambridge Community Foundation.

With this announcement, Cambridge joins a growing list of cities who have established similar initiatives to protect the rights of their immigrant populations in response to the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies.

In a community letter released today, Mayor McGovern invoked Cambridge’s legacy as a Sanctuary City calling on the community to stand in support of their immigrant friends and neighbors. He denounced the recent surge of xenophobia emphasizing its devastating impact on families, “The current political climate…threatens to tear families apart through forced deportations, uproot young Dreamers, increase the vulnerability of victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse, and erode the very values of our democracy. Amid the alarmist anti-immigrant rhetoric sweeping our nation, it is now more important than ever that we stand firmly with our immigrant community and act on a local level to ensure their rights are protected.”

Manny Lusardi, Liaison for Immigrant Affairs, noted “A legal defense fund gives low-income immigrants a fighting chance to stay in the country they now call home. This is the first in many steps combating the hate and xenophobia coming out of the White House.”

The Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants will be administrated by the Cambridge Community Foundation which will distribute funding to eligible legal defense providers through a grant approval process. Funds will be used to help connect families to legal services, expand educational programming within communities, and increase access to legal representation, particularly for immigrants who are at risk of being deported and are not able to afford a lawyer.

More than $50,000 has already been pledged by local partners and individual donors. Information on the initiative can be found on the Cambridge Community Foundation website at

For more information about the Cambridge Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants, contact Mayor Marc McGovern at or Geeta Pradhan, President of the Cambridge Community Foundation, at

City of Cambridge, Google Partner to Host Small Business Summit
The Day-Long Event Will Include Seminars, Workshops, and Networking Opportunities for Local Small Business Owners

Cambridge Small Business SummitThe City of Cambridge announced today that it will partner with Google to host a Small Business Summit on Tues. April 10, 2018. The event will be held at Google’s offices in Kendall Square from 9:00am-5:00pm. The Summit is open to current small business owners and entrepreneurs interested in growing their small business.

The Summit offers small business owners insight, resources, and skills to make their businesses competitive in the retail, restaurant, professional and personal services market. The Summit’s programming reflects survey feedback from the Cambridge small business community and includes:

“The City of Cambridge is committed to providing support to small business owners in order to preserve and enhance the vibrancy of our commercial districts,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We are excited to partner with Google and other local organizations to provide tools and resources that will bolster our community.”

“We are delighted to expand our support of Cambridge small business owners through the Small Business Summit,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “In addition to the workshops and grants we offer on a regular basis, this Summit is an opportunity for local business owners to network with the greater Boston community and partner with some of the largest companies in the world. Our goal is to encourage small business growth in Cambridge.”

“The upcoming Small Business Summit provides Google with another opportunity to work with the City of Cambridge and meet our small business neighbors,” said Liz Schwab, Google Head of External Affairs, New England & PA. “Cambridge has proved itself to be fertile ground for business owners and entrepreneurs and we’re excited to have a chance to be a part of an impressive networking and educational event like this, where the curriculum is actually built directly by and for small business operators in the area based on their needs.”

The Small Business Summit is a free event, open to all small business owners in the Boston-metro region. Cambridge business owners are highly encouraged to attend. To register for the event, visit

Registration will be open until Friday, April 6, 2018.

Nominations Sought for Outstanding City of Cambridge Employee Awards

Mar 5, 2018 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking nominations for the 2018 Outstanding City Employee Awards program which recognizes employees for exemplary performance and contributions that go above and beyond job requirements.

City SealCambridge 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 11, 2018.

Criteria for determining outstanding performance include:

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 April 13, 2018 and can be submitted via the online form at 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

For more information, contact Maryellen Carvello at or 617-349-4300.

Check out the latest episodes of Cambridge InsideOut:

If you would like to be a guest (or co-host) one of these Tuesdays, let me know. - RW

Episode 295 (Mar 6, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: CRLS Boys Basketball, Mar 5 City Council meeting, rejection of proposed Tenant Right of First Refusal (a.k.a. Expansion of Eminent Domain to Residential Properties at Point of Sale)
Episode 296 (Mar 6, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Ward caucuses, The Reluctant Delegate, Democratic party politics, upcoming meetings
Episode 293 (Feb 27, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Feb 26 City Council meeting; new voting machines; Right of First Refusal; Bill Nobel; rent control.
Episode 294 (Feb 27, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Feb 26 City Council meeting; bridges at Alewife; Fishbook; connectivity; and the future of transportation.
Episode 291 (Feb 13, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Feb 12 City Council highlights - bike lanes, Inman Square redesign, Vision Zero, and more
Episode 292 (Feb 13, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Cambridge Historical Commission landmark designation reports, fate of the "Tenant Right of First Refusal" bill, and more
Episode 289 (Feb 6, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Feb 5 City Council meeting - Jerry's Pond, Central Square crosswalks, right of first refusal.
Episode 290 (Feb 6, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: proposed "Right of First Refusal" enabling legislation now at the State House
Episode 287 (Jan 30, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Jan 29 City Council meeting; electric vehicles; Mass Pike reconfiguration; committee appointments, and more
Episode 288 (Jan 30, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Central Square news and opportunities, and more
Episode 285 (Jan 23, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Transportation planning - Green Line Extension, Mass Pike realignment, and more
Episode 286 (Jan 23, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: The Womens March - one year later; new voting machines coming; Kroon Petition and "formula business" regulation; Central Square news and opportunities
Episode 283 (Jan 16, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Civic Nerdiness, City Council Rules and Committees
Episode 284 (Jan 16, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Cambridge history of garbage
Episode 281 (Jan 9, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Jan 8 City Council meeting highlights, supermarket closure, snow issues
Episode 282 (Jan 9, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Council committee appointments; discussion of the record of the 2016-2017 City Council
Episode 279 (Jan 2, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: 2018 Inaugurations of the Cambridge City Council and School Committee and the Election of Mayor Marc McGovern
Episode 280 (Jan 2, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Discussion of some of the more challenging priorities for the new 2018-2019 City Council
Episode 277 (Dec 19, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Dec 18 City Council recap, fond farewells
Episode 278 (Dec 19, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Harvard Square, Central Square, Catching Up on the Cambridge News
Episode 275 (Dec 12, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Dec 11 City Council recap, Hubway, looking back at 2017
Episode 276 (Dec 12, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Looking back at 2017, anticipating the next Council term
Episode 273 (Dec 5, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Dec 4 City Council recap, curbside compost collection coming
Episode 274 (Dec 5, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: more election-related facts
Episode 271 (Nov 28, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Election Data Binge - Part 1, final results, voter turnout, demographics
Episode 272 (Nov 28, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Election Data Binge - Part 2, fractional transfer, #2 votes, vacancy replacements
Episode 269 (Nov 14, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Post-Election Notes - Part 1
Episode 270 (Nov 14, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Post-Election Notes - Part 2
Episode 267 (Oct 31, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Pre-Election Notes
Episode 268 (Oct 31, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Pre-Election Notes

You're invited to one of the least democratic events imaginable

If you're a registered Democrat and live in Ward 6, perhaps you'd like to drop by the Ward Caucus this Sunday to elect delegates to the Democratic State Convention. It takes place this Sunday, March 4 in the main cafeteria of the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School. Doors open at 1:30pm. There will be a short speaking program during which you may have to suffer through speeches by some of this year's candidates for statewide office starting shortly after 2:00pm. You must be in line to register for the Caucus by no later than 2:30pm to be able to participate in the election of delegates. Any Democrat registered in Ward 6 as of the day of the caucus is eligible to participate in the caucus and to run for delegate or alternate. There will be 9 delegates and 4 alternates selected (subject to gender balance requirements). Candidates should be prepared to give a 1-2 minute speech about why they want to be delegate this year.

Now..... why do I call this one of the least democratic events imaginable? Caucuses are typically low turnout events where only the most inside of inside political players ever show up, and if you're part of an organized activist group you can rule the day (unless you're a nut-case Lyndon LaRouche supporter). This year's version of the LaRouche crowd are the Our Revolution disciples of Holier Than Thou Bernie Sanders, and they have been successfully packing these ward caucuses in order to maintain the fiction that they represent some kind of majority. In this case they want very much to control the Democratic State Convention in order to (a) give an edge to their gubernatorial candidate so that he can have the privilege of being defeated by Charlie Baker this November, and (b) they want to "unrig the system" that they think their most despised Hillary Clinton controls - by rigging it themselves.

I intend to go to this caucus on Sunday for two reasons: (1) I like to witness spectacles; and (2) somebody has to go to represent Ward 6 voters other than just the fist-in-the-air Left-of-Lenin activist crowd. I will not be sending out a mass email appeal asking normal human beings to show up for this, but I thought I should at least post a note here on the CCJ asking people to join me to either (a) witness just how undemocratic the Democratic Party can really be, or (b) have a good laugh watching the politically obsessed be politically obsessed. There's also a long shot that maybe some rational delegates might be chosen - but I won't hold my breath. However, if a few more regular Democrats show up maybe it might even happen.

See you at the Carnival! - RW

Update - The Reluctant Delegate

Sun, Mar 4 - I got elected today as a Ward 6 delegate to the Democratic State Convention. I really don't know how to feel about this. First, as I was leaving a neighborhood get-together just before the caucus, I mentioned that I was headed to the caucus and that I expected it to be a showdown between the "revolutionaries" and mainstream "lunch bucket" Democrats. One woman said that, after all, we're all Democrats. When I explained that there are some Democrats who only see the need to provide benefits and programs for people while others want to empower people to manage their own affairs, she asked, "Have you always voted for Republicans?"

This is the essential problem. Some Democrats really don't believe in empowerment or self-reliance or, for that matter, even freedom of choice, and if you express any inclination toward those ideals they think you're a Republican. For them it comes down to some doctrine or another coupled with a generally low estimate of the capacity of people to either be self-reliant or to maintain sound moral judgment. Morality must be legislated and people are to be "taken care of" like any good house pet incapable of taking care of itself. Of course this isn't only about political philosophy. It's just as much about the quest for raw political power, e.g. the "Our Revolution" crowd. Though the turnout was predictably low, it was clear that there was a Sanders-lovin' contingent there just dying to get their hands onto a few levers of power and influence.

So, after being drafted to run for one of the delegate positions, I was narrowly elected and, come early June, it appears that I will be heading to Worcester as a delegate to a state convention of party-diehards. (Actually every candidate was either narrowly elected or narrowly defeated.) Refreshingly, it wasn't just one contingent who pushed their candidate slate through in order to exclude all others - as happened in most of the other Cambridge wards. Our delegation will actually be split, and I suppose that's a good thing. I have never been to a party convention and have never had even the slightest interest in attending one, but so it goes. I'll do my best to seek out the moderates or, as some of the dumbest of the dumb call them, establishment liberals. You know, people who willingly chose Clinton over Sanders.

The most regrettable aspect to this turn of fate is that I will now likely get boatloads of political Spam from every candidate and interest group who wants to get some benefit out of this convention. What the hell have I gotten myself into? - RW

On the Agenda - March 5, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting

Here are the things sure to get a rise out of at least someone:

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the appropriate City personnel to determine why there continues to be significant audio and video difficulties during live internet broadcasts of City Council meetings, how these difficulties can be resolved. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Simmons as Amended.]

I have no idea what this was delayed or even debated last week. These live webcasts as well as the Cable TV broadcasts have always had problems no matter how many times they have been "fixed". That said, I'm not so sure that the best solution would be to host official proceedings on YouTube.

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with relevant City departments to create additional Safety Zones for safer streets. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Simmons as Amended.]

There are places where this makes sense and other places where it would be a pointless restriction. It makes a lot of sense in our pedestrian intensive major Squares and a few other places but, like the boy who cried "wolf", if you overplay your hand you run the risk of the restriction being generally ignored.

Charter Right #3. That the City Manager is requested to direct the City Solicitor to draft language for a home rule petition for a Cambridge Right of First Refusal Legislation. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Simmons.]

Carlone Smashes Capitalism!Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk, Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Carlone, submitting draft language on "AN ACT TO PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THE CITY OF CAMBRIDGE THROUGH A TENANT'S RIGHT TO PURCHASE".

This is the most incorrectly titled piece of legislation I have seen in a long time. It should more properly be titled "AN ACT TO EXPAND EMINENT DOMAIN AUTHORITY TO INCLUDE ALL RENTAL PROPERTY AT TIME OF SALE". Any city councillor who supports this as written doesn't deserve to ever be reelected. The same goes for any member of the state legislature who supports the proposed home rule legislation.

When you read through the details of this proposal it becomes clear that the most likely outcome will be that the "right of first refusal" will be directed to the City or one of its agents - especially in certain neighborhoods targeted for this treatment, and slowly but surely more and more rental properties will no longer be privately owned. If our elected officials actually want to do something useful, they should devise ways to encourage multi-family ownership by small landlords. This would do a lot to support housing affordability for middle-class residents and their tenants. This was the primary method of middle-class housing affordability in Cambridge for the last century.

Update: I was very pleased to see Carlone's pilfered Somerville proposal soundly defeated on a 2-7 vote with only Carlone and Zondervan in favor. Carlone, in particular, should reconsider his practice of using ghost writers for legislative proposals. The original order to have the City Solicitor draft the language also died on a 3-6 vote with Siddiqui joining these two on this misguided proposal.

Apparently (according to Zondervan) both Boston and Somerville are pushing this same approach to move as much privately owned rental property as possible into public ownership, and he was "embarrassed" that Cambridge would not be joining them. It doesn't surprise me that the Revolutionary Guard in Somerville (a.k.a. the current Board of Alderman) is pushing this. After all, revolutionaries tend to lose their credibility when not smashing capitalism or overthrowing something. I have to wonder if Boston is actually in favor of this. There are a lot of two-family and three-family buildings in Boston and a lot of owner-occupant small landlords who will not be pleased at this taking.

Resolution #1. Resolution on the closing of Ryles Jazz Club.   Councillor Toomey

When I first moved to Cambridge 40 years ago the first building I was ever in was a gymnasium at the corner of Harvard and Prospect Streets (now and office building) to play frisbee in February, and the second building was Ryles for beers afterwards. I hope that a similar use can continue in that space.

Resolution #5. Resolution on the death of William "Bill" Noble.   Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons

There was an obituary in the Feb 26, 2018 Boston Globe for Bill Noble - longtime tenant activist and one of the central figures at Cambridge City Council meetings during the rent control years in Cambridge. Present at most City Council meetings during many of those years were Michael Turk, Connie Thibaut, and Bill Noble from the Cambridge Tenants Union (CTU). There was a time when public comment at meetings happened whenever in the meeting a particular agenda item came up, so it was often necessary to stay through the end of the meeting if you wished to give public comment. The mainstays of the CTU were often there for the whole meeting. Some of the other regulars are quoted in the obituary. Bill Noble was also actively involved with the Riverside-Cambridgeport Community Corporation (RCCC - though everyone called it "R Triple C").

It was an interesting coincident that the obituary for Bill Noble was published the same day that many of the Small Property Owners Association (SPOA) from way back when were at the City Council meeting opposing what they see as a back-door attempt to impose similar controls on property that they successfully opposed nearly 25 years ago. It was almost like a virtual reunion - and a reminder of how Cambridge used to be an ongoing political war zone.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the Community Development Department to apply on behalf of the City of Cambridge for the Housing Choice Designation before the Apr 30, 2018 deadline.   Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon

At last week's City Council meeting, City Manager Louis DePasquale hinted at the possibility of some movement in the everlasting quest to build a new bridge over the railroad tracks west of the Alewife Brook Parkway that would connect the Alewife Triangle and the Alewife Quadrangle, but he gave no specifics. Everybody was intrigued about what he was driving at. [By the way, the only people who call it "The Quad" are people who attended prep school.]

I heard of one possible mechanism through which funding might be derived to build this bridge. The Governor recently created the "Housing Choice Initiative" which allows communities to apply to the state to be recognized and designated as a "Housing Choice Community." To qualify, you have to either show that you've produced a certain rate of new units or adopted certain best practices. Cambridge would be in that top tier for housing produced and would qualify. Communities that qualify would get an advantage in applying for discretionary state funding and exclusive access to a new capital fund called the "Local Capital Projects Fund", which will be funded by casino revenue. More information is available at:

Wouldn't it be great if a by-product of Cambridge encouraging new housing (rather than trying to block it) was a community benefit like this bridge, hopefully built in conjunction with a new commuter rail stop to support the new housing and jobs?

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor, Attorney General and District Attorney to investigate the possibility of Cambridge joining this national suit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.   Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Mallon

The Order sounds good, but I was intrigued by the fact that it has six co-sponsors. I think this is great, but I expect some ne'er-do-well will claim it's an open meeting law violation. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Assistant City Manager of Community Development, the Director of Communications and Community Relations, or any other relevant City department with the view in mind of producing a document that can be presented at the City Council Housing Committee to provide a better perspective on the City's current efforts to address the housing issues facing Cambridge.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui

Perhaps Councillor Carlone can just ask the Somerville Board of Alderman to send the information.

Order #6. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to provide the City Council with an Inman Square Reconstruction Project Timeline.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Kelley

This project is based on established Listen Zero principles, but I suppose the planners can at least pass on a calendar of non-negotiables.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the City’s plans for incorporating dock-less bikes into its urban mobility opportunities, to include licensing, contractual and liability issues; and that said report be transmitted to the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee for a public hearing on the issue of a dock-less bikeshare system.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Siddiqui

I had no idea that the City had any such plans but, then again, according to established Listen Zero principles, it's essential to push things like this through with as little discussion as possible.

Order #8. That the City Council, City Manager, and City Staff are requested to work as quickly as possible to enact the necessary laws and regulations, including zoning and licensing of retail cannabis establishments, in order to implement the state law in a manner that addresses the racial and economic injustices of the past.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

The gist of this Order is that anyone who is less than enthusiastic about the proliferation of marijuana (oh, excuse me - cannabis) is refusing to address the "racial and economic injustices of the past". The sponsors are intent on "ensuring equitable enforcement and reasonable availability of cannabis throughout the city." Well, I guess we all have our priorities. - Robert Winters


Longtime tenant activist Bill Nobel, 79

There is an obituary in the Feb 26, 2018 Boston Globe for Bill Noble - longtime tenant activist and one of the central figures at Cambridge City Council meetings during the rent control years in Cambridge. Present at most City Council meetings during many of those years were Michael Turk, Connie Thibaut, and Bill Noble from the Cambridge Tenants Union. There was a time when public comment at meetings happened whenever in the meeting a particular agenda item came up, so it was often necessary to stay through the end of the meeting if you wished to give public comment. Bill Noble was also actively involved with the Riverside-Cambridgeport Community Corporation (RCCC - though everyone called it "R Triple C").

Building Bridges

Feb 27 - At last night's City Council meeting, City Manager Louis DePasquale hinted at the possibility of some movement in the everlasting quest to build a new bridge over the railroad tracks west of the Alewife Brook Parkway that would connect the Alewife Triangle and the Alewife Quadrangle, but he gave no specifics. Everybody is intrigued about what he was driving at. [By the way, the only people who call it "The Quad" are people who attended prep school.]

I heard of one possible mechanism through which funding might be derived to build this bridge. The Governor recently created the "Housing Choice Initiative" which allows communities to apply to the state to be recognized and designated as a "Housing Choice Community." To qualify, you have to either show that you've produced a certain rate of new units or adopted certain best practices. Cambridge would be in that top tier for housing produced and would qualify. Communities that qualify would get an advantage in applying for discretionary state funding and exclusive access to a new capital fund called the "Local Capital Projects Fund", which will be funded by casino revenue. More information is available at:

Wouldn't it be great if a by-product of encouraging new housing (rather than trying to block it) was a community benefit like this bridge, hopefully built in conjunction with a new commuter rail stop to support the new housing and jobs? - RW

Bridging the Divide - Items of Interest on the Feb 26, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Here are some of the more interesting items on this week's agenda:

Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the City of Cambridge retaining its noteworthy distinction of being one of approximately 33 municipalities in the United States with AAA ratings from each of the nation’s three major credit rating agencies.

This has become an annual tradition, and it's still something we should celebrate.

Manager's Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a request for the City Council vote to approve the use of the new voting equipment and to discontinue the use of the existing voting equipment effective immediately.

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from Deputy City Clerk, Paula Crane, transmitting a report for a City Council public hearing held on Tues, Feb 20, 2018 for the purpose of the City Council and the public to view the new voting equipment purchased by the Election Commission.

We first used the current AccuVote machines for the Sept 1996 State Primary, and they were a huge improvement over the punchcard system we used prior to that. It was necessary then to have some custom programming done so that the same scanners could also be used for the municipal PR elections, and that will again have to take place with the new ImageCast machines. That's just for creating the ballot data text files. The election tabulation will continue to be done the same we've been doing it. In addition to firming up our system for our own sake, it's worth noting that with Ranked Choice Voting being advocated in Massachusetts and elsewhere (though not necessarily PR), what we do in Cambridge may be helpful down the road in other places.

Charter Right #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the Hovey & Markham Cottages as follows: 2A. Property located at 40 Cottage Street; and 2B. Property located at 44 Cottage Street.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, whether a building is landmark-worthy should depend only on the building and not on its owners or occupants.

Update: The City Council landmarked only one of the two properties (44 Cottage Street) and sent the other (40 Cottage Street) to Unfinished Business even though the landmarking only makes sense as the pair of buildings. Apparently, these councillors believe that landmarking is a function of whether they like the property owner or not (and whether they supported you politically).

Resolution #24. Congratulations and thanks to William B. "Bill" King on the occasion of his retirement.   Mayor McGovern

Suffice to say that I have great respect for all who voluntarily serve on City boards and commissions out of a sense of civic duty rather than single-issue advocacy. Bill King is one of those people who has consistently defined over many years what it means to be a great citizen.

Communications #7. Sundry e-mails received on support of the protected bike lanes, relative to Policy Order #4 of Feb 12, 2018 Council Meeting. Copies are on file for review in the City Clerk’s office.

I generally ignore all emails that are the product of a coordinated campaign with a list of "talking points", but I did happen to read one of these sundry emails that stated "You will see no slander in comments from the people who support the new infrastructure." I am reminded of the statement "Fortunately time takes care of old people for us" stated by one particular idiot who didn't appreciate the criticism by older people of the Cambridge Street configuration.

PS - Former Mayor Alice Wolf submitted a late communication at the previous meeting with specific objections to the current configuration of Cambridge Street and the suggestion that a better configuration should be found. The Cambridge Bicycle Committee was created from her initiative, so let's put to rest the claim that criticism of this configuration is a fringe phenomenon of "the anti-bike people".

Order #2. That the City Manager and the Mayor’s Office are requested to direct the new bicycle lane working group, once it has been convened, to hold a series of “listening sessions” at the senior buildings throughout Cambridge in order to ensure that our senior residents, who might otherwise be unable to attend the various hearings to weigh in on this issue, will have adequate opportunities to have their voices heard on an issue that could have an outsized impact upon them.   Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern

Wouldn't it be great if "Vision Zero" didn't always mean "Listen Zero" when it comes to public feedback and other points of view? I will try to be optimistic. Then again there's this:

Manager's Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-16, regarding a report on Inman Square construction.

Synopsis: The City is very interested in your ideas about the color of the sidewalk and what varieties of flowers should be planted in the vicinity of the planned reconfiguration of Inman Square that is not subject to any compromise, discussion, or alternative perspectives.

Order #5. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with relevant City departments to create additional Safety Zones for safer streets.   Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux

I agree with this Order, but not just in the situation of "proximity to land-uses serving vulnerable populations". Some streets warrant lower speed limits simply because there is fast-moving traffic directly adjacent to a narrow sidewalk, e.g. westbound on Putnam Ave. When Prospect St. used to have an additional lane with neither a buffer nor parking it was very dangerous, especially close to Central Square. On-street parking can, in fact, be very effective in traffic calming - even moreso when speed limits are reduced.

Blue Heron BridgeOrder #7. That the City Manager is requested to consult with City staff on the feasibility of initiating a formal transit study and action plan of the Alewife area in response to unanimous concerns of the Envision Alewife Working Group regarding the need for a pedestrian/bicycle/shuttle bridge from the Quadrangle area along Concord Avenue across the railroad tracks to the Triangle area on Cambridgepark Drive and a commuter rail stop which would be critical to create neighborhoods that are safe and healthy for residents and businesses.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone

It would be great if the City and our various government representatives could find a way to make this happen, but not in the absence of either a new commuter rail stop or shuttle service or both. It will be very difficult to sell this proposal simply as a pedestrian and bicycle amenity (as has often been done), so I'm glad to see this phrased as it is. Contained in this letter is also one point of view that there should be a grade crossing of the railroad tracks (or underpass or bridge) at the western end of Cambridgepark Drive. You'll never see a new grade crossing approved there, and an underpass is unrealistic. As for a bridge option, it's only realistic to imagine one new bridge over the tracks and (even though I may like it there) all the proposals I've seen in the last few decades don't have it that far west. The letter also suggests a pedestrian bridge over the Little River. Except for the usual difficulties associated with building anything near a waterway, that bridge would be relatively easy to build and inexpensive. See picture (Blue Heron Bridge over the Charles River between Newton and Watertown - Wikipedia).

Update: City Manager Louis DePasquale hinted at the possibility of some movement but gave no specifics. Everybody is intrigued about what he was driving at.

Order #17. That the City Manager is requested to direct the City Solicitor to draft language for a home rule petition for a Cambridge Right of First Refusal Legislation.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

It's curious that the authors of this Order chose not to specify what form of "Right of First Refusal bill" they want. There are good reasons why House Bill 3017 never made it out of committee. Do the authors simply want the City Solicitor to provide language that's the same as H.3017 or do they want a Home Rule Petition that is fundamentally different? It would be nice if the focus was primarily on providing options for long-term tenants rather than on creating a framework for ensuring that private property in select neighborhoods is transferred to public/quasi-public ownership.

Update: Councillor Simmons exercised her Charter Right on this vacuous Order. This Order brought out more people during Public Comment than everything else on the agenda.

Order #18. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department to develop a timeline for the next Incentive Zoning Nexus Study.   Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons

The current version of the Incentive Zoning provisions was ordained on Sept 28, 2015. That ordinance has the following provision: "The City shall initiate a reevaluation of the Housing Contribution Rate and any other aspect of these Incentive Zoning Provisions at an interval of no less than three (3) years from the time the rate was last amended by the City Council." That's what a nexus study is, so I suppose this Order is right on schedule. - Robert Winters


Alewife Plan from the "Fishbook" - April 1979
Alewife Plan from the "Fishbook" - April 1979

February and March Programs (and Beyond) at Fresh Pond Reservation

These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.

Seasonal Walkabout at Lusitania Wet meadow
Date: Friday, March 9th, 11:00am to 12:00pm
Place: Meets at the “Meeting Rocks” (where the meadow meets the perimeter road trail)
    Come out for a seasonal walkabout with Ranger Jean at the Lusitania Wet Meadow. We will monitor wildlife by sign, track or presence, and make note of weather, state of plants, condition of water and other abiotic resources. You can help chart the seasonal changes of some of our most active wildlife spots, or simply come to enjoy the walk. Come dressed to be outdoors for the hour. All knowledge levels welcome. We will be walking off-path. To RSVP, please contact Ranger Jean at (508) 562-7605 or email Heavy rain postpones to the following Friday.
Tree ID: Bark, Buds & Shape
Date: Saturday, March 10th, 1:00 to 3:00pm
Place: Meets at the “Meeting Rocks” (where the Lusitania meadow meets the perimeter road trail)
    The leaves are on their way! But how to know which tree is which without leaves to guide us? Fine-tune your skills with this fun program and workshop. Come dressed to be outdoors for the hour, feel free to bring your own hand-lens. All knowledge levels welcome. We will be walking off-path. To RSVP, please contact Ranger Jean at (508) 562-7605 or email
Animal Detectives: Raccoons
Date: Sunday, March 11th, 11:00am to 12:00pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    March’s spotlight is on the raccoon. Come see what it takes to be a raccoon as we explore what they do and how they act. This family program is best suited for kids between 4 and 12. Accompanying adult must be present, service dogs only please, and dress appropriately as this is an outdoor program. Groups please check-in with Ranger Tim at prior to Thursday, March 8th.
Welcome Spring Bird Walk
Date: Saturday, March 17th, 9:00 to 11:00am
Place: Meeting place given upon registration
    Spring is almost here, and the earliest migrating birds are arriving at Fresh Pond. Some will stay for the breeding season, others will rest and eat before continuing their northward journey. The new arrivals and our year-round residents soon will be busy building nests and defending territories. We may see a variety of migrating waterfowl on the ponds as well as songbirds in trees. Beginners are welcome! We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. To register and for our meeting place, email Catherine Pedemonti at
World Water Day: World Water Treatment
Date: Sunday, March 18th, 1:00 to 3:00pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Did you know that Cambridge has sister cities around the globe? World Water Day is Thursday, March 22nd and in honor of this we will look at how water is stored, treated and used in 5 of our sister cities across the planet. In this indoor program, we’ll perform a water test kit activity provided by the World Water Day organizers, learn about our sister cities, and finish with a brief tour of our water purification facility. Contact for more info, parking directions, or to secure a spot.
Weekly Walk for Health
Dates: Mondays, starting March 19th, 10:00 to 11:00am
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Start your week off right with a weekly fitness walk! Join us as we walk the perimeter of the pond (2.25 miles). Meet other park goers, get some exercise, and together notice what's happening on the Reservation. All ages and abilities are welcome! Feel free to contact Catherine Pedemonti at with any questions.
Fresh Air Walk: The Signs of Spring
Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 12:00 to 1:00pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    This casual walk, led by Ranger Tim, will encompass Fresh Pond and take an informal look at each month in nature. In honor of the vernal equinox, we’ll talk about how we can observe the signs of spring with all 5 senses on our way around the pond. Come alone or bring your co-workers! Rain or shine. Questions? Contact:
The Disciplines of Animal Tracking
Date: Sunday, March 25th, 10:30am to 12:00noon
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Ever wonder about the tracks you see? Animal tracking contains a lot more than just footprints. This guided walk will add depth to the aspects of arguably one of the oldest human traditions. Join Ranger Tim as we observe the hidden streets of Cambridge and read the stories written in the earth. Open to all audiences. Proper footwear encouraged, we will be walking off-path. Questions? Contact:
Monday Night Movie Series: When the Water Tap Runs Dry
Date: Monday, March 26th, 6:00 to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    What’s better than a free movie? Free popcorn! Water shortages are projected to be one of the greatest impacts of climate change. This documentary will go over how aspects of America’s water infrastructure are unprepared for extreme change in fresh water patterns. Stay afterward for an optional discussion. [Runtime: 40min. Rated: G] for more information.

Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or for any RSVPs or questions!

Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at to download a form.

Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants.

Upcoming Programs

A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:

Rhetorical Conflict - Safe Streets and Vision Zero: February 12, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting

BicycleThe battle for turf in the Rhetorical War continues this week with troops massing at the borders over the meaning of Vision Zero and Safe Streets. Continents could be sinking and frogs raining from the sky, but we'll once again get to witness the turf war over allocation of space on Cambridge roads (and sidewalks). Word has it that the Boston Cyclists Union has already rung the alarm and asked all troops to report for duty in the Sullivan Chamber on Monday to argue against "safe streets for all" if that might translate into giving up an inch of sand on the beachhead of segregated bike lanes. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition with the City hosting a Big Press Conference this past week announcing its Vision Zero Plan – basically reducing the speed limit to 20mph in the major Squares (a good thing) and creating a rhetorical framework to hush up anyone who questions future road reconfigurations. After all, you know, Vision Zero. If you don't like flexi-posts or traffic congestion or if you raise issues about road conditions in winter and safety considerations at intersections, surely you must be against traffic calming and in support of danger. Public Comment on Monday promises to be great (that is to say - bad) theater with about a 30 year age difference in opposing sides in the battle over the definition of safety.

Frankly, I'd rather talk about public transportation, but that would have far less drama. I was also unable to witness the presentation last week on the Battle of Inman Square that pitted tree huggers vs. bicycle segregationists (which actually pitted some people against themselves) in the elusive redesign of this crossroads.

Here's the menu of my personal favorite dishes being served up at this gathering:

Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the Lechmere National Bank building at 225/227 Cambridge Street.

Manager's Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the Hovey & Markham Cottages located at 40 and 44 Cottage Street.

Communications #3-10,12-17. Fourteen letters opposing historical landmark designation of 40 Cottage Street.

We are blessed with our most excellent Historical Commission who generate landmark designation reports (and other publications) that are incredibly good. These two reports are no exception. In a city with so many significant historic buildings it's not surprising that the Historical Commission is recommending landmark status in both of these reports. What makes this noteworthy are the communications - many of which were generated from the same template. Some of them even make reference to the "weaponization of the Historical Commission landmark study and designation process". Personally, I hope the homeowners of 40 Cottage Street will be allowed to renovate their home to the highest energy efficiency standards while maintaining as much historical integrity as possible. That said, either your building is landmark-worthy or it's not, and I'd say the report strongly suggests that this one is. It's true that various legal processes are routinely used in Cambridge to stall or block projects, but I guess it apparently does matter whose ox is gored. If you know the right people then it's called "weaponization", and otherwise it's called "neighborhood preservation". In any case, it will be good to hear more about how the Historical Commission balances preservation vs. modernization in a time when energy conservation and sustainability are prioritized.

Manager's Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of a Sustainable Materials Recovery grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in the amount of $38,800 to the Grant Fund Department of Public Works Other Ordinary Maintenance Account which will be used toward the purchase of food waste collection bins for the citywide curbside organics program.

The starting date is now less than two months away. Speaking as the man formerly known as "Compost Man", I'm eager to see how this plays out and what problems arise as this service is rolled out citywide. I'm also mindful of the fact that this is just as much a rediscovery of former best practices as it is of innovative new practices.

Manager's Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 17-111, regarding the feasibility of implementing neighborways.

In short, the report doesn't endorse using art to calm traffic. We had a good way of handling this when I was a kid growing up in Queens, New York. We painted bases and baselines on the street and played stickball. The message to drivers was abundantly clear and there was never an altercation. We would also chant "Car Car C-A-R" when a car was coming. Other streets had hockey goals in the street that had to be moved to allow cars to pass, but nobody ever complained. We never called these "neighborways." We just called them streets.

Manager's Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-01, regarding a report on possibility of a supermarket opening at 20 Sidney Street.

Perhaps nothing will come of this, but at least there's this: "Community Development Department (CDD) staff have reached out to real estate representatives at several grocery chains, including Market Basket, Aldi, Trader Joes, and bFresh to inform them about the opportunity and connect them to Forest City. Several grocery store representatives mentioned that they do not have plans to expand at this time, or that the space is too small for their traditional size requirements. Regardless, CDD staff has relayed the grocery store chains contact information to Forest City staff. Staff will continue to explore options and communicate with Forest City about possible tenants." In my view Aldi is the one that might work best at this site, but only if the rental agreement makes it economically feasible.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and the Cambridge Public Health Department regarding the current status of zoning language and public health regulations for the keeping of hens and food cultivation and proposed next steps to advance the Urban Agriculture initiative.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern

Perhaps we can just dispense with the supermarkets and just buy our milk and eggs from Farmer Jones down the street.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Department of Public Works to report back to the Council on the success of the Polystyrene Ordinance, including implementation, enforcement, and remaining concerns among the business community.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

When I was on the Recycling Advisory Committee (22 years, I believe) I often learned how some initiatives that were very appealing were actually counterproductive or, at best, a break-even proposition. For example, a "paper" drink cup is still lined with plastic, and when you take away the paper there is still a significant amount of plastic - perhaps more than in a "Styrofoam" cup. This Order asserts that expanded polystyrene (EPS), a.k.a. "Styrofoam", has been shown to leach harmful chemicals into food and beverages, but most reliable sources dispute that or note that any potential hazard is negligible. The real problem is that it's difficult to recycle economically and it doesn't really biodegrade.

Regarding the ban of plastic bags, except for the fact that the plastic gets caught in the machinery at the materials recovery facility (MRF), the environmental benefits of paper bags over plastic bags is not a slam dunk. Reusable bags, on the other hand, win the argument easily. That's why the Cambridge ordinance is best referred to as the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) Ordinance rather than as a plastic bag ban (which it isn't).

The jury is still out regarding the polystyrene ban. Some places now provide "compostable" plasticware, but recyclers aren't keen on it because it doesn't really biodegrade along with other organics except under very specialized conditions. Also, biodegradable plastic is often hard to distinguish from other plastic and this compromises the recyclability of all plastics. I suppose none of these details matter to city councillors as long as it makes them appear "environmental". I am, of course, interested to hear what DPW has to say about how the polystyrene ban has fared.

Order #4. That the City Manager and the Mayor’s Office are requested to establish a new working group consisting of a diverse set of stakeholders, including cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, small business owners, EMS/first responders, and City Officials to discuss the results of the protected bike lane pilot using clear evaluation criteria, and how best to construct a cohesive network in the future.   Councillor Mallon, Councillor Kelley, Mayor McGovern

This is simply the fulfillment of the Jan 25, 2017 memo from Iram Farooq (CDD), Owen O’Riordan (DPW), and Joseph E. Barr (Traffic). That memo states in regard to the Cambridge St. reconfiguration:

Evaluation Process
A critical part of the process will be evaluation of this corridor, both to make adjustments for future installations and to help stakeholders understand how this demonstration project is working. To provide adequate time for users to adjust to the changes, we expect the demonstration to last at least six months, after which we will make decisions about whether to retain the demonstration as a permanent improvement and whether any changes or tweaks are required based on the performance during the demonstration period.

While the exact details of the evaluation are still being determined and will be discussed as part of the community process, we expect to look at the following data both before and after implementation:

  • Parking use: occupancy and availability along both the main corridor and the adjacent side streets
  • Traffic volumes: motor vehicles and bicycles
  • Transit performance: stop dwell time, travel time, and ridership
  • Traffic compliance with parking and lane use: motor vehicles and bicycles
  • Speed
  • Crashes (acknowledging that it can be difficult to draw conclusions based on a limited period of time)
  • Ability to maintain bike path, in winter and for street cleaning.
  • Retail access: customer mode share survey
  • Retail success: sales tax receipts (if available) or other data

In other words, there was always supposed to be a evaluation of this Separated Bicycle Lane Demonstration. It's interesting that at least one city councillor seems unable to grasp this in saying, "The protected lanes are here to stay and this order may suggest to some they are not." There is little question that enhanced bicycle (and pedestrian and motor vehicle) safety is the rule of the day (because, you know, Vision Zero), but the question remains how best to achieve this. Furthermore, saying that an evaluation will be "data driven" is insufficient. For example, banning all motor vehicles would surely produce data showing a reduction in motor vehicle crashes, but that would not imply that the ban was good policy or that a better solution was not possible.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to create additional opportunities for the community to evaluate and understand the plan to redesign Inman Square and to provide input, including: walk-in clinics between now and the next community meeting and making more details available online including alternative designs considered but deemed unworkable, traffic simulations, and other relevant data or information.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

Perhaps nobody wants to hear this but there really are currently two feasible options available for Inman Square. One is the "current plan" to wipe out the trees in Vellucci Park, relocate some of that space to the north side, and move all bicyclists onto the sidewalks. The other is to keep Inman Square more or less as it is with its newly painted green stripes for bicycles and maybe with some tweaking of the signals, lane markings, and pedestrian phases. Do we have any safety data on how the intersection is working since the "temporary" changes were made last year?

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to report on progress and efforts made to date to provide greater access to internet services citywide for low income residents.   Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Simmons

Translation: Some advocates want municipal broadband whether or not there is the demonstrated need or demand, and the fact that Cambridge has a significant "free cash" position will be perpetually used to justify any required expenditures. I also wonder sometimes what fraction of people nowadays use only their phone to access anything online (and to, of course, post silly pictures).

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for an additional public hearing held on Jan 24, 2018 to discuss the Zoning Petition filed by Peter Kroon, et al, to amend Section 20.50 of the Zoning Ordinance in the " Harvard Square Overlay District" dated Sept 28, 2017.

This might win the all-time award for longest committee meeting leading nowhere. At least we now know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.


Participants Sought for Cambridge Works Transitional Jobs Program

City SealFeb 2, 2018 – Are you a Cambridge resident, age 18–35, without a college degree, looking for a full-time job? If so, Cambridge Works might be able to help if you’ve had difficulty finding jobs due to limited work experience, gaps in your work history, legal or personal issues.

Cambridge Works is the City’s free, transitional jobs program that provides participants receive:

Applications for the next program are currently being accepted. To find out more, contact: Michele Scott at 617-349-7741 or or Michael Merullo at 617-349-7743 or

Cambridge Releases Vision Zero Action Plan to Eliminate Transportation Fatalities
and Serious Injuries and Announces 20 MPH Safety Zones in the City’s Squares.

City to take data driven approach to identifying causes and evaluating solutions

City SealFeb 5, 2018 – The City of Cambridge is releasing its Vision Zero Action Plan at a public celebration at City Hall on Thurs, Feb 8, at 8:30am. Vision Zero, adopted by the Cambridge City Council in 2016, is an initiative to reduce and ultimately eliminate transportation fatalities and serious injuries, while at the same time creating safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all those who travel in Cambridge. The Action Plan serves as a blueprint for how Cambridge will achieve Vision Zero.

The Action Plan outlines specific short and long term goals that the City will undertake. These goals reflect the City’s commitment to:

In line with these goals, the City will be announcing the implementation of 20 MPH Safety Zones in the City Squares. Effective March 1, the speed limit in Central, Harvard, Inman, Kendall, and Porter Squares will be 20 MPH. Lowering speeds is one of the most effective tools to protect vulnerable road users and is fundamental to achieving Vision Zero, as slower speeds result in fewer and less severe crashes. In December of 2016, the City lowered the default speed limit to 25 MPH.

“Effective communication, collaboration, and public process are critical to successful initiatives, and these will be central themes that will guide our approach for Vision Zero,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “By coming together as a community, we will continue making it safe and easy for people of all ages and abilities to travel between work, school, shops, and other destinations, whether they choose to walk, bicycle, drive, or take transit. I look forward to working with the City Council and the entire community to enhance the safety of our city.”

“We know that lower speeds help save lives, and that pedestrians and cyclists are much more likely to survive a crash with a motor vehicle when speeds are below 20 MPH.” said Joseph Barr, Director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation. “Cambridge’s squares are the heart of our city, and we want to make sure that we support their economic vitality by making them safe for everyone who lives, works, and plays in Cambridge.”

The foundation for the Action Plan is data driven decision-making. The City will seek to identify the fundamental causes of traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities to come up with creative and implementable solutions to prevent those incidents, and to evaluate its successes and remaining challenges. The Vision Zero commitment reinforces a community-based focus on safety and the actions that can be collectively taken to create the safest possible transportation system—and the safest possible city.

Preliminary 2017 crash data from the Cambridge Police Department shows:

For additional information, visit CambridgeMA.GOV/VisionZero. The Vision Zero Action Plan and detailed maps of the Safety Zones will be available on February 8.

Evenings with Experts 2018
First Wednesday of each month, February through May 2018
7:00pm - 8:30pm
A free public lecture series presented by Grow Native Massachusetts at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138
For more information, visit us at, or call 781-790-8921.
CEUs Available for each lecture: APLD (1.5 credits); NOFA-AOLCP (1.5 credits)

February 7
The Beautiful Adaptations of Native Plants: Inviting the Wild into our Gardens
Dan Segal, Owner, The Plantsmen Nursery
Co-sponsored by the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation
Native plants have evolved a broad array of adaptations in the wild, yielding not only the ornamental features embraced in horticulture but many fascinating mechanisms for survival. Dan will take us beyond 'pretty' plant features to explore the origins of these adaptive traits, and the critical importance of regional variation. This insight helps us to select plants that are genuinely suited to our landscapes. He will also compare and contrast large-scale nursery production that favors the cloning of cultivars, with small-scale nursery propagation that favors seed-grown straight species. To know and source native plants effectively, understanding their propagation can be just as important as species selection.
Dan Segal has collected and propagated over 1,000 species of native plants in his three decades of work as a nurseryman, giving him great insight into the fascinating variety of adaptations that plants have evolved to survive. He is the owner of The Plantsmen Nursery near Ithaca, NY, which specializes in native plants, local seed collection, and natural landscaping. He founded the Ithaca Native Plant Symposium in 2009.
March 7
Lessons Learned when Field Botany Meets Design
Uli Lorimer, Curator of the Native Flora Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Co-sponsored by Mount Auburn Cemetery
Ecologically attuned designers are increasingly looking to nature for inspiration in the design of managed landscapes. But connecting field botany to horticulture is complex, and insights gained from observations in the wild don’t always translate directly into a cultivated garden. Uli will use the recently expanded native flora garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a cultivated pine barrens and coastal plain grassland, as a case study— sharing lessons learned along the way as the project evolved from a concept into a dynamic, living landscape. Good design allows for change and succession to occur, and flexibility in design intent is a valuable strategy because things do not always work out as planned.
Uli Lorimer has been the Curator of Native Flora at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Garden for over a decade. He was instrumental in the expansion of the Garden’s native plant collection, using only material sourced from the wild and grown from seed. As Field Chair at BBG, he coordinates fieldwork with regional botanists and leads botanical expeditions for naturalists and horticulturists.
April 4
Revealing a Sense of Place
Matthew Cunningham, Principal, Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design
Co-sponsored by the Boston Society of Landscape Architects
Seasonal New England is rich in its unique and dynamic ecological patterns. Join us, as Matthew explores how his observations of these natural systems have influenced his firm’s creation of contextual and native plant-centric projects that grasp the rhythms of everyday life. He will show us a variety of residential landscapes, large and small, that embrace our regional flora, utilize ecologically sustainable principles, and that build connections between interior and exterior spaces to strengthen our relationship with nature. Come be inspired by these beautiful, vibrant landscapes that enhance life for both their human and their wild residents.
Matthew Cunningham is a rising star in the world of landscape architecture. He is passionate about the landscapes of New England and is committed to excellent design with ecologically sustainable principles. A graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he worked at the renowned firm Reed Hilderbrand Associates before starting his own practice. Matthew was named “International Designer of the Year” by the APLD in 2017.
May 2
Evoking Nature: Form and Function on the High Line
Andi Pettis, Director of Horticulture, Friends of the High Line
The High Line in Manhattan was born of a city that is constantly reinventing itself. Built on a mile-and-a-half long elevated railroad, this dynamic landscape was inspired by the tenacity of plants in its industrial setting, and it uses a matrix of perennial and woody plants to evoke a natural landscape. Wildly successful and overwhelmingly popular, caring for this garden in the sky poses unique challenges. Andi will describe how her team uses traditional and innovative horticultural techniques, how they work to promote the park’s biodiversity and wildlife habitat, and how they foster an emotional connection to nature in this challenging urban environment.
As Director of Horticulture for the Friends of the High Line, Andi Pettis leads a world-class team of gardeners who care for this beloved elevated park in Manhattan. Andi’s horticulture career in New York City spans nearly two decades, including work in both private and public garden settings, park management, and teaching at the New York Botanic Garden.

New City Law Regulates Short Term Rentals
Registration with Inspectional Services Required by April 1, 2018

City SealJan 24, 2018 – The Cambridge City Council adopted a Short-Term Rental (STR) Ordinance (#1397) which goes in effect on April 1, 2018 and regulates the rental of property for transient housing (stays up to 30 days). Cambridge residents who meet eligibility requirements and wish to use their residential property for short-term rental must register with the city’s Inspectional Services Department by April 1, 2018.

Platforms such Airbnb®, Home Away™, and others have made the short-term rental of bedrooms or whole dwelling units a popular travel accommodation option, particularly in urban areas where hotel prices can be very high.

Research shows that Cambridge has hundreds of short-term rental units available. Just like other types of lodging houses and hotels, short-term rentals will also be required to comply with building code, life safety regulations, and health and hygiene standards. In order to qualify for a short-term rental certificate, the respective dwelling unit or bedroom must also be inspected by a city inspector. Additionally, the operator of a short-term rental must live in, or adjacent to the unit, as described in the new ordinance.

The city’s Inspectional Services will host informal drop-in sessions where residents can ask questions about the new Ordinance, eligibility requirements, the process of obtaining a Certificate of Registration, or check on the specific conditions of their dwelling unit.

The drop-in sessions will be held in the Lombardi Building, Basement Conference Room, 831 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge on the following dates::

For more information, visit

Featured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):

Cambridge teacher dies a month after being struck by car in Central Square (Feb 16, 2018)

COLUMN: Cambridge Education Association has shifted toward social justice unionism (Feb 14, 2018)

Unfavorable feedback on Cambridge Street bike lanes leads to formation of new working group (Feb 13, 2018)

City Council votes to support renters’ right of first refusal bill (Feb 7, 2018)Cambridge Chronicle

Jerry’s Pond back in spotlight as advocates push for cleanup of North Cambridge site (Feb 6, 2018)

City of Cambridge to release Vision Zero Action Plan (Feb 6, 2018)

To reduce fatalities, Cambridge lowers speed limit to 20 mph in all squares (Feb 5, 2018)

Cambridge could expand electric car charging in city neighborhoods (Feb 1, 2018)

Officials: Now is the time to go solar in Cambridge (June 30, 2018)

Even Cambridge’s top cop and fire chief have a Super Bowl bet (Jan 26, 2018)

Cambridge city council wants better enforcement of space-saver ban (Jan 24, 2018)

New city law to regulate short-term rentals (Jan 24, 2018)

CTA Construction completes Newtowne Court renovation (Jan 22, 2018)

5 things to know: Proposed Porter Square traffic pattern changes (Jan 22, 2018)

Thousands join Women’s March in Cambridge (Jan 21, 2018)
PHOTOS: 2018 Women’s March gathers on Cambridge Common

Cambridge arborist named Tree Warden of the Year (Jan 20, 2018)

City OKs affordable housing development in Porter Square (Jan 12, 2018)

Councilors push for affordable alternative once Star Market in Central Square closes (Jan 9, 2018)

Cambridge nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers’ altruism (Jan 8, 2018)

Cambridge recognized for advancing solar energy growth (Jan 5, 2018)

AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.
AMC Local WalksSun, Mar 4. Broadmoor Mass Audubon walk, Natick. 10:00am-Noon. Meet at the Visitors Center. Join us for a walk in this convenient (on Route 16), yet expansive wildlife retreat. Moderate pace, easy trails with some gentle hills and rocks. Bring water and snacks. No children or dogs. Severe weather cancels, if snow on the ground, we will snowshoe. Call Lisa if uncertain. Charge: $5 if not a Mass Audubon member, plus $1 if not an AMC member. L Lisa Fleischman, CL Mary Wisbach. AMC Local WalksSat, Mar 10. World's End Reservation, Hingham. 5 mile hike/snowshoe, 9:00am-noon. Bring snack/water. From Rte. 3 exit 14, take Rte. 228N 6.5 mi., L on Rte. 3A 1.0mi. to rotary, R on Summer St. 0.5 mi. to light, L on Martin's Lane to entr. $6 fee for non-members of the Trustees of Reservations. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.
AMC Local WalksSun, Mar 11. J Harry Rich State Forest, Groton. 1:00pm. This is a flat stroll along a scenic former bend of the Nashua River no longer in the main flow and popular with wildlife, parts of the active Nashua River, and thru typical New England woods. Meet at the entrance on Nod Road across from Common St., 42.63009N 71.57936W, about 2 hours, moderate pace. L Olin Lathrop. AMC Local WalksSun, Mar 11. Belmont and Audubon Conservation Lands, Belmont. It’s nearly spring and the sap is running. Slow-paced nature walk through Belmont conservation land fields and forests over to Habitat Audubon Sanctuary where we’ll talk about one of the sweetest signs of spring - maple sugaring. The walk will focus on plant ID and fun natural history. 1:00-4:00pm. Meet at Lone Pine Hill Conservation Land, Belmont, MA. ARRIVE EARLY. PARKING LIMITED. Steady rain or heavy snow cancels. L Boot Boutwell.
AMC Local WalksSun, Mar 18. Wunnegan Conservation Area, Boxford. 1:00pm-3:00pm. It is easy terrain, moderate pace, will last about 2 hours. Kids and dogs are welcome. Take exit 51 off Route 95 in Boxford and head WEST on Endicott Rd. Very soon make a right on Middleton Rd. Next take 3rd left on Moonpenny Drive and then first right on Crooked Pond Dr. There is a sign for Wunnegan with a small parking area about a mile down from your last intersection on the right. L Steve Davis. AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 1. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike around pond, 10:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.
AMC Local WalksSat, Apr 7. Castle Island, South Boston. Fast-paced seven-mile scenic walk along ocean to Castle Island, 10:00am-1:30pm. Bring lunch and water. Meet inside JFK/UMass Red Line T station, upper level gates (no nearby parking). Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias. AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 15. Groton Traverse. 1:00pm. This hike will feature an impressive variety of environments while traversing a large patchwork of open and conserved lands. We will see beaver ponds, eskers, drumlins, marshes, dry uplands, hemlock groves, open fields, pretty streams, and wide vistas from hilltops. We will meet at Williams Barn (42.6265N 71.5610W), leave some cars, carpool to the start, and end up back at Williams Barn. About 2 hours, moderate pace. L Olin Lathrop.
AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 29. Acton Arboretum, Acton. Slow-paced nature walk in search of a variety of early spring wild flowers and other signs of spring in the meadow, woods and bog of the Acton Arboretum. The walk will focus on plant ID and natural history. 1:00-4:00pm. From Concord rotary, take Rte 2 West 2.2 miles, Right on Taylor Road 0.7 miles to Arboretum on right. The Acton Arboretum is opposite #15 Taylor Rd. Arrive early, parking limited. Steady rain cancels. L Boot Boutwell. AMC Local WalksSun, May 20. Rocky Hill Sanctuary and adjoining woodlands, Groton. 1:00pm. This is a great area to hike around in, with a beautiful point on Long Pond, beaver marshes, a heron rookerie, and more. About 2 hours, moderate pace. No dogs. Meet at the Rocky Hill Sanctuary parking area off of Robin Hill Rd. in Groton, 42.5811N 71.5311W. L Olin Lathrop.
AMC Local WalksSun, May 20. Grassy Pond Conservation Land, Acton. Slow-paced nature walk through fields and forests to Grassy Pond and the bog boardwalk looking for spring wildflowers The walk will focus on plant ID and fun natural history. 1:00-4:00pm. Rte 2 to Exit 42 (Rte 27/Main St, Acton). Follow Rte 27 north for about 1 mile through Acton Center and turn left on Nagog Hill Rd. Go 1.1 miles. Parking lot on left just past small meadow. Co-listed under “Family Outings”. Registration Required. Steady rain or heavy snow cancels. L Boot Boutwell. AMC Local WalksSun, June 17. Horn Pond Conservation Land, Woburn. Slow-paced nature walk looking for late spring wildflowers. The walk will focus on plant ID and fun natural history. 1:00-4:00pm. From Rte 95/128 Exit 33A take Rte 3 South for 3 miles. Left on Pond St. 0.8 miles to parking lot on left. The parking area is opposite #48 Lake Ave, Woburn. Parking limited, arrive early. There is additional parking on Arlington Road on the east side of the pond. Steady rain cancels. L Boot Boutwell.

A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904

[original PDF]

Robert & Judy on Cambridge InsideOutCambridge InsideOut airs weekly every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm with producers/hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. We will have other guest hosts as well.

[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos of each]

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 295-296: Mar 6, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 293-294: Feb 27, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 291-292: Feb 13, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 289-290: Feb 6, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 287-288: Jan 30, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 285-286: Jan 23, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 283-284: Jan 16, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 281-282: Jan 9, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 279-280: Jan 2, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 277-278: Dec 19, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 275-276: Dec 12, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 273-274: Dec 5, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 271-272: Nov 28, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 269-270: Nov 14, 2017 (Post-Election Notes)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 267-268: Oct 31, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.

Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2013-2014 featured co-hosts Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2015-2017 features co-hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters.

MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989
By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990

MAPC Study: 435,000 new housing units needed by 2040

A new report is estimating that the greater Boston area will need another 435,000 new housing units by 2040 to lure new workers and accommodate an aging population. [Reports available here]

Note: When comparing the peak population of Cambridge back in the 1950s (over 120,000) to what it is today (perhaps 107,000) it's important to keep in mind that families were typically much larger then. It's also the case that what people find acceptable in terms of living space and amenities has changed dramatically over six decades. This translates into considerably more "units" of housing (and higher density) in Cambridge if the population should rise to levels close to what they were in days of yore.

Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

On the Agenda – March 5, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Mar 4, updated Mar 5 post meeting)

Bridging the Divide – Items of Interest on the Feb 26, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted Feb 25, updated Feb 26)

A look at the Brattle Street bikeway (Feb 16, 2018 by John Allen)

Rhetorical Conflict – Safe Streets and Vision Zero: February 12, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting (Feb 11, 2018)

2017 City Council Campaign Receipts, Expenditures, and $/Vote - FINAL REPORT (Feb 11, 2018)

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Feb 11, 2018)

2017 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports (as of Feb 6, 2018)

Coming up at the Feb 5, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Feb 5, 2018)

Featured Items on the Jan 29, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted Jan 29, 2018)

Cambridge School Committee 2017 Campaign Finance Summaries and $/Vote (revised Jan 26, 2018)

Choice Bits from the Jan 22, 2018 Cambridge City Council agenda (Jan 22, 2018)

Civic Nerdiness (Jan 14, 2018)

Cold Start – Jan 8, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting (and more) - posted Jan 7, 2018

The Shifting Demographic (Nov 23, 2017)

Age and Turnout: comparing the 2015 and 2017 Cambridge elections (Nov 4, 2017)

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2017 (Nov 4, 2017)

Cambridge City Council and School Committee Candidates – 2017 (posted July 24, 2017, updated July 31, 2017)

Not left, Felton (by John Allen, posted Sept 24, 2017)

Women Candidates in Cambridge Municipal Elections: 1941-2017 (Aug 14, 2017)

Number of candidates in Cambridge municipal elections: 1941-present (posted July 25, 2017)

Sheet of ice draws praise from bicycle advocates (posted Apr 20, 2017 by John Allen)

All the News That’s Printed to Fit – April 1, 2017 (the April Fools edition)

Black ice blindness (Feb 21, 2017 by John Allen)

Central Square is a Grandma (Dec 17, 2016)

The Municipal Situation in Cambridge (1904) – by Henry N. Wheeler (Nov 6, 2016)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – April 1, 2016 (April Fools Edition)

Sunday Morning Statistics – Who Voted in the Cambridge Presidential primary (by age) (posted Mar 20, 2016)

A Conversation with Tip O’Neill (1992) on Cambridge Inside Out (Jan 17, 2016)

Who Voted in the 2015 Cambridge Municipal Election? (Dec 6, 2015)

Flashback to March 1998 (Oct 12, 2015)

Who Votes in Cambridge? (July 9, 2015)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2015) - the April Fool's Day edition

Brian Murphy, 1964-2015 (Feb 5, 2015)

Age Distribution of Voters in Cambridge Elections: 2007-2014 (Jan 4, 2015)

MBTA Role in Cambridge Center Project – Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989 (Feb 13, 2014)

The Advent of PR in Cambridge (Nov 10, 2013)

Completing the Square (June 11, 2013)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes (June 8, 2013)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2013) - the April Fool's Day edition

On becoming a True Cantabrigian (Dec 29, 2012)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, Initial Years, 1963 to 1982 (July 12, 2012)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area – Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (Apr 5, 2012)

“Cycle track”: a sidewalk by another name (posted Aug 11, 2010, letter of Paul Schimek)

April Fools Day - 2017 (and here)

April Fool's Day - 2016 (and here)     April Fool's Day - 2015 (and here)     April Fool's Day - 2013 (and here)

The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998

Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)

Introduction: Memorandum from the Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 on its Final Recommendations
Full Report (reformatted in HTML) Goals
Public Places to Build Community Public Places elements
Retail, Cultural and Non-Profit Diversity Housing
Connecting People to the Square Foster a Sustainable Future for Central Square
Leverage Future Private and Public Investments Definition of Central Square Districts
Zoning Recommendations Transfer of Development Rights
Transportation Recommendations Location Specific Issues

The Neverending Study of Central Square

Aug 11, 2012 - While preparing to write a series of essays on Central Square, I put together the following list of Central Square studies culled from a variety of sources. I have originals for most of these. If you know of any others, please let me know. - Robert Winters

Feb 1980 - CDD report entitled "Central Square - Commercial Area Revitalization District

June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square

Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)

1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)

Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan

1989 - Draft Central Square Development Guidelines

May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"

Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!

Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)

May 1995 - Central Square Improvements Project, Master Plan Report

May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)

May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"

Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study

Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)

Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)

June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)

2009 - CDD Central Square Customer Intercept Survey Report

2011 - Central Square Market Profile

2011 - Red Ribbon Commission Study Report

2012 - Goody/Clancy report and recommendations

2013 - K2C2 Final Reports

K2C2 Final Reports Released

K2C2 areaThe final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.

Community Development Department

Kendall Square Central Square Planning Study (K2C2)

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.

FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee

City Council Rules 2018-2019 (adopted January 29, 2018)

City Council Rules 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect current Council committees)

City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)

City Council Committees (for the current term)

School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)

School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)

June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).

I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:

These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization and I'm tempted to say that some should be incorporated into the recently adopted City Council's Goals for FY2010 (adopted Feb 2, 2009). In fact, of the 22 current goals, the only one that comes close is: "An increased level of recruitment and opportunities for membership on boards and commissions." The current Council goals emphasize things like "fostering community" via block parties and such, though one has to wonder if the City should be promoting these activities or just getting out of the way so that people can foster community on their own. The goals also seem to put some emphasis on developing "successful nightlife campaigns" while mentioning nothing about promoting ordinary "daytime" economic activity that supports the everyday needs of residents.

One founding principle of the CCA that fell into disuse over the years is listed above as #3: To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs. Indeed, I can personally testify to the fact that in its dying years the only reason the CCA made endorsements at all was because the CCA-endorsed incumbents wanted the benefit of having an advertised CCA slate of candidates that would help secure their reelection. There was precious little effort to recruit new candidates or to support them. Today, the benefits of incumbency are greater than ever. The cost of political campaigns have become absurdly high and most of the incumbents now have (City paid) staff who are inevitably political appointees who directly or indirectly assist in the reelection efforts of their bosses. The deck is increasingly stacked against challengers. Furthermore, the salary and benefits for elected councillors are now so sweet that it is unlikely that any of them would ever want to move on to another job.

With this background in mind, I would like to encourage all Cambridge residents to help level the playing field by finding out about this year's challengers for seats on the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge School Committee. This is not meant as a dig against any particular incumbent as much as an appeal to support the challengers in what is a difficult and laudable effort. Please see the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the current list of expected candidates. Then use your own judgment - don't expect me or anyone else to do it for you.

Speaking of this year's municipal election, there are some activists who are now expending great effort to attack the City Manager and most of the current City Council. That is not nor has it ever been the intention of the Cambridge Civic Journal or its editor. Candidates are now being seduced by financial promises from one angry fellow with a Brattle Street address and a basketful of grudges. Former CCA Executive Board members from its darkest and most manipulative days are oozing up from the civic swamp trying to at last make good on their failed campaigns of the early 1990s to oust city manager Bob Healy.

It's entertaining to watch people who have primarily earned disrespect in their civic efforts try to capitalize on the recent Monteiro jury decision as a means of realizing their decades-old vendettas. Conveniently forgotten in their recent letters to Cambridge's "oldest weekly newspaper" are the many achievements of City Manager Bob Healy, the strong financial position of the City, and the recent 8-1 vote of confidence bestowed upon Mr. Healy in granting him a three year contract extension. Also missing in this testimony is the fact that virtually all affirmative action in the hiring of employees and department heads has taken place on Mr. Healy's watch. These letters also fail to divulge how long these writers have been carrying their jealousy and anger toward Mr. Healy for actually orchestrating progress in Cambridge while the best they could ever do is snipe from the sidelines. - Robert Winters

This Old Land of Cambridge - The true story of the geological history of Cambridge - by George Ehrenfried
Sadly, George passed away (Jan 5, 2010) at the age of 96. He led many a geology-themed hike with the AMC Local Walks/Hikes.

Selected City of Cambridge References:

Plan E Charter (Cambridge's city charter) Acts of 1921, Chapter 239 as amended (establishment of Cambridge Election Commission)

Mass. General Laws Chapter 54A (governing Cambridge's PR elections)

Pen Portraits of Prominent People - by Henry J. Mahoney Editor, Cambridge Sentinel - 1923

This book was published c. 1923 and features very witty one-page “pen portraits” (with photo) of prominent Cantabrigians of the day. I'll be adding names alphabetically as time permits. There are 182 portraits in the book.

It comes to mind that there may be some value in expanding these profiles to other prominent Cantabrigians who arrived on the scene after 1923, including prominent Cantabrigians of today. With this in mind, I extend the invitation to any and all who may wish to contribute their own “pen portraits” of Cambridge people. Contributions do not necessarily have to be in the style of Mr. Mahoney. Inclusion is, as always, subject to the erratic discretion of the editor.

Special thanks to Karen Welch for sending me the book. - RW

Political History of Cambridge in the 20th Century
written by Glenn Koocher, November 2004 -- edited by Robert Winters, July 2006
[An alternate edit of this essay will appear, along with many other valuable essays, in a
centennial volume to be published by the Cambridge Historical Society in 2007.

Which People's Republic
written by Bill Cunningham, 1999

Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for people who can give one to two hours per week to help students in the Cambridge Public Schools, grades K through 12. No experience necessary. Call 617-349-6794 or e-mail for more details.

Robert Winters
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
Philosophy of the CCJ Editor
The Cambridge Civic Journal is an independent newsletter of civic affairs in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published as a public service by Central Square Publications. All items are written by Robert Winters unless otherwise noted. [Of course, I do sometimes forget.]

Thoughts for these times:
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz

Subscribe to the Cambridge Civic Journal.
Specify in your message whether you wish to receive each new e-mail version or if you wish to be notified when the online versions are available at this web site. Under no circumstances will the subscription list be made available to any third party.

“The Number One thing I would emphasize is that journalists and bloggers would do well to see themselves as partners in the provision of information and that each can benefit greatly from the other. I’ve never seen this as a competition. It is especially true these days that local papers and young journalists are not very well-versed in the communities they serve. Much of the institutional memory has either died out or been bought out.” -- Robert Winters, mathematician and creator of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online publication about Cambridge, MA (

Jorkin: “Come, come, Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”

Fezziwig: “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business, Mr. Jorkin…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must.”

Scrooge: “I think I know what Mr. Fezziwig means, sir.”

Jorkin: “Oh, you hate progress and money, too, do you?”

Scrooge: “I don't hate them, sir, but perhaps the machines aren’t such a good thing for mankind, after all.”

Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"

the known universe

Welcome to the Peoples Republic