Fire Up That Doobie - Cannabis, CPA Funding and the rest of the Sept 23, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting
Manager's Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to recommendations of the Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC) for FY2020.
It will be the maximum 80% to the Affordable Housing Trust, and the minimum 10% for Open Space Acquisition and 10% for Historic Preservation - non-negotiable, of course.
Manager's Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Section 22.20, which governs Green Building Requirements, and also applicable definitions contained in Article 2.000.
If I'm reading this correctly, it appears that the City is ditching the costly LEED certification process for "green" buildings in favor of an in-house process that achieves the same goals or better. It's also noteworthy that this proposal is for larger projects, so ordinary homeowners should not worry yet about the City monkey-wrenching with ordinary home improvements.
Manager's Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a petition to amend provisions in Article 5.000 and Article 22.000 pertaining to setback requirements and exterior building insulation.
This appears to be a reasonable minor proposal to allow additional building insulation that might previously have extended into yard setbacks. We're talking inches here, not feet.
Charter Right #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-56, regarding a report on the feasibility of constructing a quick-build complete streets project to provide separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square, from Sidney Street to Putnam Avenue.
Communications #22. A communication was received from Michael Monestime, Central Square Business Improvement District, and Nathanael Fillmore, Cambridge Bicycle Safety, expressing their joint support for building protected bicycle lanes on Massachusetts Avenue between Sidney Street and Putnam Avenue in the near future.
The velo-zealots will likely be out in force once again proving their inability to understand words like "reasonable" or "compromise" or anything relating to vehicles with more than two wheels.
Unfinished Business #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the proposed Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance. ON OR AFTER APR 22, 2019 THE QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 14, 2019 to continue discussions on a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code to create a Cannabis Business Permitting ordinance including amendments submitted at the July 30, 2019 Special City Council meeting.
Committee Report #3. A report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Sept 18, 2019 at 11:00am to discuss amendments to the proposed Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance.
They should just flip a few coins and approve something and move on. The Ordinance Committee apparently decided to go with the two-year moratorium to allow various "economic empowerment" applicants to have a head start before the medical dispensaries can also dip into the pot of Acapulco Gold. By the way, is there anyone who was not offended by the "Slave Amendment" postcard that was sent citywide by Richard Harding and his cannabis pals? I'm really starting to dislike everyone associated with this business.
Order #6. Alcoholic beverage permitting in large parks. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Kelley
As the Order says: "A better experience would be ensured for participants if a regulated, enclosed, and permitted beer garden could be located within a large park such as Danehy during a special event." Quite true, and Vice Mayor Devereux deserves a lot of credit for following up on this after this year's sizzling Jazz Festival that would be so much nicer if it can be moved back to a field of real grass with a permitted beer garden.
Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Department of Human Services and the Cambridge Public Library system to hire a social worker in the FY2021 budget for the Central Square Library branch. Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern
I suppose this might be a good thing, but I can't help but wonder if this is yet another way to enable bad behavior that continues to make Central Square, and the Library in particular, a hostile place for families. - Robert Winters
Cambridge Arts Open Studios 2019
Saturday, Sept 28, noon to 6pm and
Sunday, Sept 29, 11am to 5pm
The 11th annual Cambridge Arts Open Studios will be held on Sept 28 and 29, 2019. Each year about 150 artists showcase their creations in their homes, studios and group locations all across the city. Find painting, pottery, natural soaps, jewelry, refurbished furniture. Admission is free. All are welcome. cambridgema.gov/arts/programs/openstudios
Get a sneak peek at the Cambridge Arts Open Studios Preview Party on Thurs, Sept 26, 5:30–7:30pm. Hosted by the Cambridge Art Association, 25 Lowell St., Cambridge. Exhibition on view Thurs, Sept 26, to Sun, Sept 29.
Why do labor unions pour so much money into City Council campaign coffers?
Aug 15, updated Sept 23 - One thing I have always found puzzling is the amount of money donated to the campaign accounts of incumbent city councillors. I suppose this could be interpreted as financial support for those who have supported unions in their noble quest for better wages, benefits, and working conditions, but the fact is that all incumbents and challengers appear to share this sentiment. So perhaps it's something different. There is a longstanding pattern of labor representatives being recruited by some of the larger real estate developers to speak in favor of new development - supposedly because of the jobs involved, but that always struck me as too simplistic. Many of the people who control the funds of these political action committees are, to say the least, politically connected.
There's also the matter of political contributions from people tied to real estate development. This is always difficult to evaluate because of the simple fact that it's very difficult, if not impossible, to determine motive. There are people who have been generous charitable contributors for ages who also happen to own and/or develop Cambridge real estate. Are their contributions related to their real estate interests or not?
Of course, there's also the matter of whether or not contributions come from Cambridge residents. It's not always easy to draw conclusions from this - primarily because some candidates have family and friends scattered across the rest of the state and the country.
Here's a revised account of the (a) Cambridge contributions, (b) union contributions, (c) real estate contributions (as best as I could discern), and (d) total of union and real estate money contributed over this election cycle starting from Feb 1, 2018 through the latest data available (Sept 23, 2019; 7:29am) for all City Council candidates (notes: - receipts include loans from candidates to their campaigns; refunds deducted if clearly a refund):
The table has been relocated and will be regularly updated at:
Follow the Money – Cambridge City Council Campaign Receipts 2019
Featured Items on the Sept 16, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda
Here's my first pass at what I think is the interesting stuff. See below for snarky comments and enduring wisdom.
Manager's Agenda #12. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-56, regarding a report on the feasibility of constructing a quick-build complete streets project to provide separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square, from Sidney Street to Putnam Avenue.
Perhaps the most important statement in the report is this: "It is also important to note that the continued success of Central Square as a vibrant and livable community hub for business, culture, and government relies on a delicate balance of different activities that go beyond transportation. Any planning related to complete streets and reconfiguring Central Square for the benefit of street users of all ages and abilities must take into account a broad range of factors and stakeholders, to avoid taking any actions that would change that balance in a negative way. We want to ensure that as we contemplate changes that serve our City goals related to promoting sustainable transportation and improving access to community resources and economic opportunities, we do not inadvertently make it more difficult to achieve other goals that we have related to Central Square."
I fully expect the velo-zealots will demand that only their concerns should be addressed and that all others should just get on board. Hopefully reason will prevail and we won't have people boarding buses while cyclists weave through the line of passengers, or have every cyclist in town dialing up See-Click-Fix because somebody had to make a delivery and had no choice but to encroach on their turf.
Manager's Agenda #16. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-69, regarding a report on the timeline and process for the Net Zero Action Plan 5-Year Review.
We all want energy efficiency but I seriously hope that the mandates don't come crashing down on reasonable people living in older homes.
Manager's Agenda #17. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to proposed amendments to the New Street Overlay District Zoning Petition.
Unfinished Business #7. A communication was received from Anthony Wilson, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone Co-Chair and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on June 26, 2019 to discuss a petition received from Self Storage Group, LLC to amend the Zoning Ordinance by creating a New Street Overlay District. ON OR AFTER AUG 18, 2019 THE QUESTION COMES ON ORDINATION
Unfinished Business #12. A communication was received from Anthony I. Wilson, City Clerk, transmitting a memorandum from Vice Mayor Devereux, regarding proposed amendments to the New Street Overlay District zoning petition.
Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from City Clerk, Anthony I. Wilson, transmitting a memorandum from Adams and Rafferty, James J. Rafferty, P.C. regarding proposed Amendments and a related letter of Commitment for consideration by the City Council concerning the New Street Overlay Zoning Petition. The proposed Amendments consist of the addition of Sections 20.96.5 and Sections 20.96.6.
I have no particular opinion on this zoning petition, but it is worth noting that the Planning Board gave it a negative recommendation. The other thing worth noting is that it seems like standard operation procedure nowadays in Cambridge that no matter what the proposal you just promise to throw in a few "affordable housing" units and you're good to go. Maybe even a tree or two if you still need that extra vote.
On the Table #1. A communication was received from Anthony I. Wilson, City Clerk, transmitting Part 4 of the report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a reconvened public hearing held on Sept 3, 2019 to continue discussions on a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create an Affordable Housing Overlay District.
I hope we never have to suffer through this again but it would be naive to think this is how it will play out. The ABC zealots are already attacking "those wealthy anti-housing people" as part of their election strategy. I personally feel this matter was tabled last week primarily so that its supporters and potential supporters could weather the November election and then ram it through afterwards without fear. The fact is that it remains a shabbily crafted attempt to rewrite all of Cambridge housing policy so that policy-makers don't have to address the general issue of affordability of housing locally and regionally.
Unfinished Business #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the proposed Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance. ON OR AFTER APR 22, 2019 THE QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED
The Ordinance Committee hearing on this that was recessed in chaos will reconvene this Wednesday as they once again try to decide the winners in the "Who Wants to be a Millionnaire" sweepstakes.
Unfinished Business #8. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the License Commission and City Solicitor’s office to drop all charges against UpperWest and its owners, to reconsider UpperWest’s package store application, and to issue a public apology to UpperWest and its owners.
Councillor Zondervan may finally have his chance to express his undying love for some of the least likable people anywhere.
Unfinished Business #9. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to obtain a legal opinion from the City Solicitor regarding the License Commission's authority with regard to the issuance, denial, suspension or revocation of liquor licenses in the City of Cambridge.
Go ask Nancy. I think she'll know.
Unfinished Business #10. A Zoning Petition has been received from Ben LoVemere regarding that the City Council ordain the Zoning language set forth relative the Alewife Quadrangle Northwest Overlay District.
Unfinished Business #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board report with no positive or negative recommendations on the Alexandria Grand Junction Overlay District Zoning Petition.
Unfinished Business #13. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Police Commissioner, the Cambridge Carnival Committee, and the community to organize an alternative event to take place in Cambridge on the Carnival’s rain date, that will allow vendors to sell their products and potentially recover at least some of the costs.
While I think this is a good idea, the fact that violence has followed this Carnival is not something that can be ignored, and I seriously doubt if the organizers will be compensating the City for the additional police presence.
Applications & Petitions #2. A petition was received from Christopher Schmidt, regarding Upgrade Cambridge Municipal Broadband Petition.
Show me the books. Many of us would welcome additional options for Internet and TV service, but my greatest fear is that whatever technology is used to build such a network could become obsolete the day after it's put in place.
Order #7. That the City Council urge the MBTA to take whatever emergency measures are necessary to fast-track repairs to the elevators in the Central Square and Harvard Square MBTA stations, and to share these plans with the City Council in a timely manner. Councillor Simmons
You can add to this the work on the new entrance to City Hall Annex at 344 Broadway. It seems that the new construction standard is to do a week of work, walk away for three weeks, then rinse and repeat. Modest scale construction projects shouldn't take an eternity to complete. - Robert Winters
Check out the latest episodes of Cambridge InsideOut: Tuesdays, 5:30pm and 6:00pm on CCTV
If you would like to be a guest (or co-host) one of these Tuesdays, let me know. - RW
|Episode 417 (Sept 17, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Sept 16 Council meeting (Part 1) - Cannabis, First Street Garage, Lobbying via Direct Mail, zoning history, changing nature of the city, New Street zoning failure
|Episode 418 (Sept 17, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Sept 16 Council meeting (Part 2) - UpperWest pandering and Charter ignorance, evolution of License Commission practices, Municipal Broadband feasibility and shelf life, candidate forums and endorsements, CDD policy failures
|Episode 415 (Sept 10, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Sept 9 Council meeting (Part 1) - First Street Garage, Affordable Housing Overlay, and more
|Episode 416 (Sept 10, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Sept 9 Council meeting (Part 2) - First Street Garage, Affordable Housing Overlay, and more
|Episode 413 (Aug 13, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: Central Square (of course); Overlay continued; Courthouse politics; zoning for a purpose
|Episode 414 (Aug 13, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: Creative zoning for Squares and mixed use districts; thoughts on this year's municipal elections and lack of civic infrastructure
|Episode 411 (Aug 6, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Overlay juggernaut; targeting single-family homes for fun and politics; false attribution and zoning; lack of a coherent housing vision
|Episode 412 (Aug 6, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Cannabis Business Regulation and political patronage; electric vehicles, Eversource, and using surplus parking for charging; First Street Garage theatrics; municipal election candidates all set
|Episode 409 (July 16, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Candidate updates; emerging civic/political organizations; some history of downzoning, upzoning, and Concord-Alewife; road to a bridge at Alewife
|Episode 410 (July 16, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: East Cambridge Courthouse saga, political red herrings, and intellectual dishonesty; the need for a better plan for the greater Lechmere area; the joys of homeownership - drains and trees and broken things (and Eversource)
|Episode 407 (July 2, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: "Affordable Housing Overlay" at Planning Board & Ordinance Committee; Inclusionary Zoning; some housing history; CDD Housing Division as landlords
|Episode 408 (July 2, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Candidates pulling nomination papers; who is and is not running; School Committee toxicity; Open Archives highlights; Tom Magliozzi; hiding the state flag
|Episode 405 (June 25, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Picking winners in Inclusionary Housing, Cannabis permitting; micro-legislating; First Street Garage & innuendo
|Episode 406 (June 25, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Open Archives, Car Talk Plaza, City Dance Party; candidate updates; rooftop mechanicals, BarBQ; Arts Task Force, CMAC, EMF, and politics
|Episode 403 (June 18, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: City Clerk-Elect Anthony Wilson and a tribute to City Clerk Donna Lopez; Central Square Business Improvement District - where do we go from here?
|Episode 404 (June 18, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: Proposed Subsidized Housing Overlay; housing issues in general; regional housing perspective; Sullivan Courthouse
|Episode 401 (June 11, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Central Square Business Improvement District (BID) approved; evolving transportation.
|Episode 402 (June 11, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Candidate updates (before Patty Nolan announced), candidate requirements; big issues, candidate pages; zoning - infrastructure and obstruction, Eversource; echoes of the Parking Freeze
|Episode 399 (June 4, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: modifying the PR ballot, PR misconceptions, Ranked Choice Voting for Presidential primaries, Democratic realities, candidate updates, campaign finance, PR election strategizing
|Episode 400 (June 4, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Reefer Madness; Mapping Feminist Cambridge, Mapping Utopia, walking tours; Mark McCabe retirement; TNCs and the taxi industry, liquor licences, AirBnB; Zero Waste and the evolution of recycling
|Episode 397 (May 21, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: FY2020 Budget adoption; Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (CMAC) questions; Constellation Center future; Foundry; and the Cambridge Health Alliance
|Episode 398 (May 21, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Bike Ride; modifying the PR ballot; some PR election facts; curb cuts; Cambridge River Arts Festival; paradigm shifts and the achievement gap in the Cambridge Public Schools
|Episode 395 (May 14, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Devereux announcement to not seek reelection; election-related matters, modifying the ballot, new candidates; candy and cannabis and Central Square
|Episode 396 (May 14, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: School Committee controversies and dysfunction; wrapping up the budget; Transportation planning vs. "quick build" for Mass. Ave.; controversy for political gain; State seal controversy; civic opportunities
|Episode 393 (May 7, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Jane Jacobs and the virtue of standing in the way of "progress"; reconsidering the roadways; Cambridgeport churches; Outstanding City Employees
|Episode 394 (May 7, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Budget hearings; new candidates; new, old, good, bad, and dreadful zoning petitions
|Episode 391 (Apr 30, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: Affordable Housing Overlay proposal; broken zoning; the value of building market rate housing; luxury housing that isn't; virtue signalling and politics
|Episode 392 (Apr 30, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: Retail vacancies - right and wrong solutions; problematic zoning; amateur cannabis regulation; Freakonomics
Politics, Posturing, Preaching, or Practical Solutions? - Sept 9, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting
The City Council returns from vacation this week with a loaded agenda and more than a few hidden agendas. Perhaps the biggest deal is the hearing and presumably the vote on disposition of a portion of the parking spaces in the First Street Garage to support the proposed rehabilitation and reuse of the Courthouse Building on Thorndike Street. This has recently become politically superheated by State Misrepresentative Connolly and his Revolutionary Guard who, in Bernie-esque fashion, have promised the moon with no means to fulfill those promises. On the other hand, perhaps the necessary six votes may materialize to begin the asbestos remediation and reactivation of this building as well as revitalization of the First Street Garage and its retail corridor. Hope springs eternal.
The other big items are the reports from the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board on the "Affordable Housing Overlay" proposal, a.k.a. the "Abominable Hubris Overlay", to replace privately-owned residential property with higher density public housing, i.e. housing accessible only to people who apply through the City for this benefit. Any notion that this would be a temporary "emergency" policy was put to rest when proposals for a "sunset clause" were eliminated in the Ordinance Committee. So this would effectively become a policy to permanently prioritize higher density government-regulated housing over ordinary residential development at prevailing heights and densities.
Mayor Machiavelli has done all that he can to ram this through while attempting to seal off any means via which residents of the city can challenge plans by unelected bodies to inflict whatever they wish whenever and wherever they wish. There are already apparently three NO votes on this matter so it may all come down to whether one other councillor can be purchased by The Prince. The action item for this meeting would be to pass the matter to a 2nd Reading and put it in the queue for possible ordination on Sept 23, and there appears to be 5 votes to do that. Ordination will require 6 votes. One other possibility, should it be unclear whether the necessary two-thirds majority exists, is to allow the matter to expire and be re-filed so that it can be voted after the municipal election when there are fewer political asses on the line. A more appropriate course of action would be to take a huge step back and reconsider housing policy regionally and rationally, but I seriously doubt if this group of nine is up to that task. Regardless of the ultimate outcome it's fair to say that this one issue has served to realign civic and political lines in a way that will continue for years to come.
UPDATE: The vote was to table the Overlay so that it could expire without a negative vote. This will allow it to be "re-filed so that it can be voted after the municipal election when there are fewer political asses on the line."
They also punted on the the vote on disposition of a portion of the parking spaces in the First Street Garage. That discussion (and presumably the vote) will reconvene on Sept 18 at 3:00pm, but since the hearing was recessed there will be presumably no additional public comment. Hasn't it all been said by now anyway?
So here's the usual selection of featured items of interest:
Manager's Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board report with no positive or negative recommendations on the Alexandria Grand Junction Overlay District Zoning Petition.
Manager's Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the Affordable Housing Overlay Zoning Petition.
Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Anthony I. Wilson, City Clerk, transmitting Part 1 of the report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 1, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create an Affordable Housing Overlay District.
Committee Report #6. A communication was received from Anthony I. Wilson, City Clerk, transmitting Part 2 of the report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a reconvened public hearing held on Aug 8, 2019 to continue discussions on a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create an Affordable Housing Overlay District.
Committee Report #7. A communication was received from Anthony I. Wilson, City Clerk, transmitting Part 3 of the report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a reconvened public hearing held on Aug 13, 2019 to continue discussions on a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create an Affordable Housing Overlay District.
Committee Report #8. A communication was received from Anthony I. Wilson, City Clerk, transmitting Part 4 of the report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a reconvened public hearing held on Sept 3, 2019 to continue discussions on a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create an Affordable Housing Overlay District.
These are the items associated with the Abominable Overlay.
Manager's Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a recommendation from the Planning Board to approve the disposition of a leasehold interest in 420 parking spaces and approximately 9,000 square feet of ground floor retail in the First Street Garage.
Manager's Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the proposed disposition of a leasehold interest in the First Street Garage.
These are the items associated with the 6:30pm hearing: The City Council will hold a public hearing on the disposition of a leasehold interest in 420 parking spaces and approximately 9,000 square feet of ground floor retail (together the “Leasehold Interest”) in the First Street Garage, located at 55 First Street and owned by the City of Cambridge, to the developer Leggat McCall Properties, which was conditionally awarded the bid pursuant to G.L. Chapter 30B subject to the review and approval of the disposition of the Leasehold Interest by the City Council pursuant to the City’s Municipal Disposition Ordinance, Chapter 2.110 of the Cambridge Municipal Code (the “disposition Ordinance”). This hearing will be held pursuant to the Disposition Ordinance As part of the legal requirements for disposing of the Leasehold Interest.
Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the License Commission and City Solicitor’s office to drop all charges against UpperWest and its owners, to reconsider UpperWest’s package store application, and to issue a public apology to UpperWest and its owners.
As I said when this was introduced, "There is apparently no accounting for taste. If the City Council supports this Order, they belong in an asylum."
Charter Right #2. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to obtain a legal opinion from the City Solicitor regarding the License Commission's authority with regard to the issuance, denial, suspension or revocation of liquor licenses in the City of Cambridge.
The City Solicitor has answered this on multiple occasions. Pay attention, kids.
Applications & Petitions #1. A Zoning Petition has been received from Ben LoVemere regarding that the City Council ordain the Zoning language set forth relative the Alewife Quadrangle Northwest Overlay District.
Communications #1-193. That's a whole lotta letters - dominated by First Street Garage and the Abominable Overlay.
Order #5. That the City Manager, without delay to the current First Street Garage lease process, is requested to confer with all relevant City departments and public health officials to conduct City directed environmental testing on the Sullivan Courthouse building and water in basement, to determine the risk posed to the public, and provide a timeline of completion. Councillor Toomey, Councillor Mallon
Synopsis: County/State abandons building; long time passes; state offers site up for sale; Leggat McCall wins bid; long times passes while lawsuits play out; building decays; citizen takes it upon himself to gather and test a sample of loose asbestos; state misrepresentative tries to put himself center-stage as the mover and shaker that he so clearly is not; political supporters circle the wagons; nobody wins.
Order #10. That the Neighborhood and Long-Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee is requested to hold a public hearing to review the Envision Cambridge plan and recommendations. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan
Envision Cambridge..... yeah, I remember hearing about that once upon a time. Then the Community Development abandoned its purpose and rebranded itself as the AHO Sales Force.
Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City staff on the feasibility of allowing taxicabs to use dedicated bus lanes throughout the City while executing service for fare-paying passengers. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Simmons
Wow, a practical suggestion. Will wonders never cease?
Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Anthony I. Wilson, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Transportation & Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on June 24, 2019 to discuss the future electricity needs of the Kendall Square area and progress toward identifying an alternate, viable location for a new substation other than the proposed site on Fulkerson Street.
Committee Report #9. A communication was received from Anthony Wilson, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Transportation & Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 21, 2019 to discuss the future electricity needs of the Kendall Square area and progress toward identifying an alternate, viable location for a new substation other than the proposed site on Fulkerson Street.
I really hope some good resolution comes of this soon because it's becoming very boring and we are not about to turn off all the power just yet. - Robert Winters
Cambridge to Celebrate 19th Amendment Centennial with Event Series and Public Art Commission
Cambridge is celebrating the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment and recognizing the Cambridge women who fought tirelessly for women’s right to vote by commissioning a public art piece and hosting an event series. A working group led by the Chair of the Civic Unity Committee is planning three major events from September 2019 to August 2020. While each event will have a different focus, all events will recognize the contributions of underrepresented women and the continuing struggle for equality and enfranchisement.
The first event, Claiming Our Seats: A Kitchen Dialogue on Women's Voting Rights, will be held Wednesday, Sept. 25, from 6-8:30 p.m., at Cambridge Public Library Lecture Hall, 449 Broadway. Dr. Jennifer Guglielmo, Rev. Irene Monroe, and Dr. Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson will engage us in a reflective dialogue about women’s rights across the 20th and 21st centuries, moderated by Andrea Asuaje. Register via camb.ma/ClaimASeat.
At the direction of the City Council, City Manager Louis A. DePasquale has established the Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Committee to commission the public art. Working in collaboration, the Cambridge Arts Council released the Committee's Call to Artists: Request for Qualifications! Submissions are due September 30, 2019. Please review the RFQ and visit Cambridge Arts for additional information on how to apply.
With the support of city staff, the Committee will also set goals for the public art piece; work with the city to determine a location; conduct public outreach and review public input on the artist proposals and location; and lead the selection process from a group of finalists. The Committee plans to announce the selected proposal during the final Centennial celebration event in August 2020. For more information, visit CambridgeMA.gov/19thAmendmentCommittee.
Digital Equity Working Group Members Sought
City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking residents to fill two positions on the City Manager’s Digital Equity Working Group. This administrative working group will provide input and guidance to the City Manager and staff at key milestones during the City’s yearlong study of digital equity in the Cambridge. The working group will assist in creating a draft vision and set of goals to inform the City’s digital equity strategy. Additionally, the working group, based on the findings of the study and research of best practices and regional efforts, will help develop targeted strategies the City could take to address digital equity in Cambridge.
The working group will meet quarterly with the possibility of 3-4 additional meetings. The term of this working group is one year.
Applications to serve on the City Manager’s Digital Divide Working Group can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at www.cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter and resume or relevant experience or interest may be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline to submit an application is Friday, October 11, 2019.
Aug 15 - At last night's City Council Ordinance Committee meeting on cannabis business regulation, one supposedly well-informed and politically astute speaker asserted that there are about 5000 liquor licenses in Cambridge. The actual number is 284. [Twitter comments welcome]
Election Day is Tuesday, November 5, 2019. List of Candidates who pulled nomination papers
There will be 22 City Council candidates and 11 School Committee candidates.
Cambridge City Council and School Committee candidates: 1941 to 2019 (plain text) (PDF) - updated Aug 3, 2019
Thinking out loud about the November municipal election - RW
Sun, July 21, 2019 - Tis the season when I assemble the Cambridge Candidate Pages and keep track of who has pulled nomination papers and submitted signatures for the 2019 Cambridge City Council and School Committee elections. At some point the field will be set and attention will turn to who these candidates are and how voters should decide how to rank their preferred candidates or whether to rank certain candidates at all. Voters will be permitted to rank up to 15 candidates for the 9 City Council seats this year.
I have been thinking a lot about what criteria I would use (and would advise others to use) in choosing which candidates to support and how those candidates might be ranked. Here are a few thoughts (and I will likely add to these as time passes):
1) As is often the case, most candidates will agree on many issues, e.g. the need to promote energy efficiency and resilience to any future changes attributable to climate change. There is, however, often a stark difference between how political candidates address matters on which they agree. Some want to mandate change and remove choice. The better candidates want to encourage change and provide incentives. It's a big difference. It's something I will be evaluating very carefully. Some candidates think primarily in terms of bans and reducing options. Others believe in expanding choice and providing good alternatives from which to choose.
2) Everybody seems to agree that affordability in housing and other essentials is highly desirable - even if it is currently elusive for many. However, even as most candidates speak of how much they believe in affordable housing, they generally evade explaining what they really mean by that. The percentage of subsidized housing units in Cambridge is currently just shy of 15% - a fraction that is slightly lower than it was a few years ago but which has been relatively stable for many years (and which is among the highest in the state). Recent changes to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance require a flat 20% affordable requirement for all new developments over 10 units - a true mixed-income requirement. Meanwhile some councillors and candidates are pushing the "100% Affordable Housing Overlay" (AHO) proposal because "they believe in affordable housing". What they generally fail to mention is that the AHO is actually a mechanism for transferring privately-owned residential property into "social ownership" in perpetuity. That is, over time its goal is to steadily increase the percentage of housing units that are controlled by government and its agents. In addition, as a result of the permanent deed restrictions required of these developments, they become taxed at the bare legal minimum and thus shift the residential tax burden onto the remaining privately-owned residential properties (unless commercial development is promoted to make up the difference). I will ask candidates if they agree with the goal of having public and quasi-public housing grow at a rate faster than housing in general. I will also ask them if they believe this goal should be achieved by any means necessary even if this means having little or no review by City planners and no mechanism for public objection.
3) In promoting transportation other than single occupancy motor vehicles (whether this be walking, biking, scooters, riding a bus or some other means) I expect most candidates will say how much they support whatever they feel will score them the most votes. They will likely not adequately address the matter of how this affects other modes. Do candidates find significantly increased traffic congestion acceptable just as long as bicycling is encouraged? Do they support a range of bicycle safety enhancements or is a completely segregated bicycle facility the only alternative they find acceptable - even if this creates problems for other modes? Do they support transit and, if so, what specifically do they support? Candidates will often tell you how much they support something without ever addressing the collateral effects.
4) For School Committee candidates, what is more important to you - ensuring that the education of the children of the city prepares them for a good life and to be able to take advantage of the thriving local economy, or making sure that they align with your political and social world view? For what it's worth, I would prefer to have most Cambridge students develop strong mathematics and science skills. I am far less concerned about ensuring that they agree with my social and political views.
Fri, July 26:
5) Groups like A Better Cambridge (ABC) and the Cambridge Residents Alliance (CResA) and whatever other group emerges this year will at some point publicize a list of preferred candidates and tell you to "vote for the slate". Never forget that these slates are the personal recommendations of a handful of people who could likely fit around your kitchen table with room to spare. Think for yourself and be very suspicious of zealots and political operatives.
I expect to add to this list.
September 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.
|Fresh Air Walks
Dates: Tuesdays, 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
These casual walks, led by Ranger Tim, will encompass Fresh Pond and take an informal look at each week in nature, life, and the city. Come alone or bring your co-workers! Rain or shine. Questions? Contact: tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov
|Fresh Pond Stewards
Dates: Mondays 5:30 to 7:30 pm; Thursdays 10:00am to 12:00 noon
Place: Meets at the volunteer trailer near the front of the Water Treatment Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway.
Join our weed-warrior crew! We are Fresh Pond citizens dedicated to keeping invasive plants at bay for the benefit of wildlife, water and humans alike. No experience or long-term commitment necessary! All tools are provided; sturdy shoes, pants, long-sleeves and a water bottle are strongly recommended. Meets at the volunteer trailer in the lower parking lot. Contact tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov for more information.
|Woodland Restoration Area Gardening
Dates: Tuesdays between 9:30am and 1:00pm
Place: Meets at the Woodland Habitat (Northeast Sector)
Join other stewardship-minded volunteers in caretaking the native plant restoration area next to Lusitania Meadow, and learn about the diversity of native plant life! We seek dedicated participants who enjoy camaraderie and hard work that includes weeding, pruning, planting, watering new plantings, hauling wood chips and moving logs. Please email email@example.com if you would like to come, and for more information.
|Cycle to the Source 2019
Date: Sat, Sept 28, 8:30am to 4:00pm (Rain date is Sun, Sept 29)
Place: Meets at the Water Treatment Plant, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
Cycle to the Source is a 33-mile bike tour of the Cambridge Watershed. It is a chance to explore where your water comes from, how it is collected, and what steps are taken to ensure the city has clean drinking water. Led by Cambridge Water Department staff and guides from Urban Adventours, this event is free and open to the public but for safety reasons is for adults only. It will include stops at the upper reservoirs, dams, gatehouses, and the CWD field office. The ride starts and ends at the Walter J. Sullivan Purification Facility at 250 Fresh Pond Parkway, and explores the Cambridge watershed, which includes the lands and reservoirs in Lincoln, Lexington, Weston, and Waltham. Register at tiny.cc/cycletothesource or with aoconnell@Cambridgema.gov if you’d like to participate! All you need is a working bike, helmet, lunch, and water.
|Walter J Sullivan Water Purification Facility Tour
Date: Monday, October 7, 6:00 to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at the front door, Cambridge Water Dept., 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
Come learn how the Cambridge Water Department purifies drinking water for your tap after it’s conveyed from nearby Fresh Pond into our facility. You’ll have the chance to speak with water treatment staff, see the equipment in action and check out our water quality lab! For more information, contact Ranger Tim at (617) 349-6489 or tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov. Please call ahead if coming with a large group.
|Walter J Sullivan Water Purification Facility Tour
Date: Monday, November 4, 6:00 to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at the front door, Cambridge Water Dept., 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
Come learn how the Cambridge Water Department purifies drinking water for your tap after it’s conveyed from nearby Fresh Pond into our facility. You’ll have the chance to speak with water treatment staff, see the equipment in action and check out our water quality lab! For more information, contact Ranger Tim at (617) 349-6489 or tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov. Please call ahead if coming with a large group.
Interested in Volunteering? Get hands on and give back to the land! Contact Ranger Tim at tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov to find out more!
Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or firstname.lastname@example.org for any RSVPs or questions!
Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership is $10 and can be paid online or sent to 31 Mt. Pleasant St., Cambridge, MA 02138.
Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at http://friendsoffreshpond.org to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants.
|A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
|AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.|
|Sat, Sept 28. Literary Walk in Concord, MA. 10:00am-12:00pm Meet at Walden Pond parking area, at Thoreau cabin replica. Walk to Concord center via the Reflective Walk and the Thoreau-Emerson Amble. Bring a short, one minute, reading - quote or bio fact - of Emerson, Thoreau, Alcotts, Hawthorne. Stops for readings at Fairy Land Pond, Emerson, Alcott and Hawthorne houses. Optional lunch at Thoreau family homestead, now Colonial Inn, on Concord Green. Rain cancels. Leader: Jean Veigas. Email if interested in lunch reservations.||Sun, Sept 29. Mt. Wachusett, Princeton. 9 mi. hike. 10am-3pm. Hike starts at Wachusett Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary. 113 Goodnow Rd, Princeton. 4 dollar fee for non-Audubon members. Must come in from Rt. 62, Hubbardston Rd. IF YOU COME FROM GATE Rd YOU CANNOT GET TO LOCATION! Bring H2O, trail snacks, lunch, rain gear, winter hat, gloves. Get's VERY cold at top. Wear trail shoes/hiking boots. No sneakers on this hike please. Leader: Nelson Caraballo|
|Sat, Oct 5. Warner Trail Fall Hike, Wrentham. 9am-4pm. 10-mi. mod. hike from Wampum Corner, Wrentham to Diamond Hill, Cumberland, RI. Bring lunch and water. We will spot cars before the hike. We will meet at Diamond Hill State Park. I-95S to Route 295S Exit 11 in Cumberland, RI, then Route 114N for 3.7 miles to Diamond Hill State Park on the right opposite the Ice Cream Machine. Heavy rain cancels. Phone Laura if uncertain. L Laura Cerie, CL Jim Goyea||Sun, Oct 6. Explore Lexington's Whipple Hill. 2:00pm-4:00pm. Registration required. Whipple Hill is Lexington's largest conservation area with varied woods, ponds and hills. Our route will include a visit to neighboring Wright-Locke farm in Winchester. Rain cancels. Moderate/fast pace. About 4 miles. No dogs, please. Bring water and suitable footwear. If parking lot is full, park on nearby Berkshire Drive. L's cell day of hike 617-571-3740. L Thurman Smith.|
|Sat, Oct 12. Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, around scenic Ponkapoag Pond, with beautiful views of Great Blue Hill. Pleasant stroll across golf course, on maple tree walkway. Enjoy sit-down break, on the dock at AMC Camp. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at The Lodge Bar & Grill, in nearby Randolph, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Ponkapoag Golf Course parking lot. From Route 93/128, exit 2A, take Route 138 South for 0.7 mile. See Ponkapoag Golf Course parking lot on left. L Brian Connolly||Sat, Oct 12. Forest Bathing in the Middlesex Fells with Lisa Mediano. 8:30am-10:30am. Forest Bathing in the Middlesex Fells with Lisa Mediano, a Certified Forest Therapy Guide with the Association of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides and Programs “ANFT™”..... Heavy rain cancels. Limited to 10 participants. Cost is $20. To register send email to Lisa Fleischman: email@example.com who will answer any questions and provide instructions to register by Sat Oct 5 and directions.|
|Sun, Oct 13. The Throne, Groton. 1:00pm-3:00pm. Come hike thru one of the largest contiguous undeveloped parcels in the area, featuring upland forest, interspersed wetlands, and generally pretty woods. About 2 hours, moderate pace. Meet at the end of Rockwood Lane, 42.62968N 71.64003W. L Olin Lathrop.||Mon, Oct 14. Webb Memorial State Park and Great Hill Park, North Weymouth. Moderate pace 5 mile scenic walk with views of Grape Island, Slate Island, Quincy Bay, Fore River, Hingham Back River, Boston's Harbor and skyline. 9:30am-12:00pm. Bring snack + water. From MA-3A in N. Weymouth take Neck St. (0.6 mi.) continue on River St. (0.7 mi.) then left into Webb Memorial State Park 371 River St. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.|
|Sat, Oct 19. Plymouth Harbor. Brisk pace 7 mile walk 9:30am-2:00pm along Plymouth Harbor including Jennie's Grist Mill and Historic Monuments. Lunch stop on the walk back at Lobster Hut (counter service). From Route 3 South take exit 9 towards Kingston/N Plymouth then left on MA-3A S/ Main St. for 1.7 miles, turn left onto Cordage Park Circle then first right into parking area by the brick tower. We will meet at the Gazebo. Bring snack and water. Storm cancels. Leader: Beth Mosias||Sun, Oct 20. Historic Middlesex Canal, North Billerica. Level 5-mi. walk along historic canal N to Chelmsford, 1:30-4pm. Joint Middlesex Canal Association - Appalachian Mountain Club Fall Walk. Meet at 1:30pm at the Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitor Center at the Faulkner Mill at 71 Faulkner Street in North Billerica. The Museum and Visitor Center, including the bookstore, will open at 12 noon. The 2-2½ hour walk will cover part of the Merrimack branch of the canal in Billerica and Chelmsford, about 3 to 4 miles over generally level wooded terrain and streets. Sites to visit en route will include a guard lock, the anchor stone for the floating towpath that bridged the Concord River, and many stretches of watered canal. Info: www.middlesexcanal.org. L Robert Winters, Marlies Henderson.|
|Sat, Nov 2. 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. Leader: Beth Mosias||Sun, Nov 10. Boxford State Forest. Meet at 1:00pm in the parking lot on Middleton Rd. in Boxford, at the steel gate. Kids and dogs are welcome. If you come north on route 95, cross the Boxford line and take exit 51. At the end of the ramp, turn left on Endicott St. (if heading south turn right on Endicott St. Take first right on Middleton Rd and pass 3 streets on your left. Thereafter look for parking area with steel barrier fence on the left. Hike will be about 2 hours with a moderate pace and easy terrain. L Steve Davis|
|Sun, Nov 10. Kailey's Way to Crystal Spring, Groton. 1:00pm-3:00pm. Join us for this one-way traverse thru a exceptionally scenic area featuring beaver ponds, hemlock groves, upland forest, and the beautiful Crystal Spring. About 2 hours, moderate pace. Meet in the Gamlin Crystal Springs parking area on Old Dunstable Road, Groton, 42.63114N, 71.51027W. L Olin Lathrop.||Sat, Nov 16. Crane Beach, Ipswich. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, across scenic sand dunes, and along the ocean beach. Beautiful desert landscapes, include pitch pine forest, views of Essex Bay, and sea birds. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at Woodman's Seafood Restaurant, in nearby Essex, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Crane Beach parking lot. Parking Fee. From Route 128, exit 14 in Gloucester, take Route 133 West for 5 miles. Turn right on Northgate Road. Then, turn right on Argilla Road, follow to beach. L Brian Connolly|
|Sat, Nov 16. Glacial Features Walks, Sudbury. 9:30am-12:00pm. Registration Required. Limit 12 participants. Join glaciologist/geophysicist Bruce Porter for a walk through Gray Reservation/Haynes Meadow Reservation/Water District protection zone to explore the many features formed by the glacier that blanketed New England 10,000 yrs. ago. Kettles pit the plane and kame terraces rise abruptly to create beautiful vistas of the wetlands below. Be able to identify eskers, erratics, kames, and more on your next hike. Flat with one steep 50 foot section. Bring water. Severe weather cancels. Directions: Meet at the Curtis Middle School, 22 Pratts Mill Road, Sudbury. (lat/long is 42.380893, -71.432735) The parking lot is to the right of the school and behind it, just beyond the basketball courts. L Bruce Porter.||Sat, Nov 16. Cutler Park Reservation, Needham. 9-11am. Join us for a walk in this local gem, conveniently located directly off of Route 128. As you walk the trails, you will not believe that you are so close to the highway. Highlights include Kendrick Pond, views of the Charles River, and the boardwalk crossing a marshland. Easy trails, minor ups and downs, with some roots and rocks, moderate pace. Bring water and snacks. No children under 10 or dogs. Severe weather cancels. Call Lisa if you have questions. Leader: Lisa Fleischman; Co-Leader: Judith Watson|
|Thurs, Nov 28. Holiday Hike - Lynn Woods, Lynn. 5 miles, Leader's Choice. 9:00am-1:00pm. Bring lunch, H2O, and snacks. Dress for the elements. I-95/Route 128 to Walnut Street exit, 4 miles. From Route 1, Walnut Street exit, 2 miles. Turn left on Pennybrook Road to Western Gate parking lot. Cancel if rain. L Nelson Caraballo||
Fri, Nov 29. Blue Hills, Ponkapoag Pond. 5 mi. mod.-paced hike, 10:30am-1:30pm. Bring lunch+water. I-93/Rte. 128 exit 2A to Rte. 138S for 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course pkg lot on L. Storm cancels. Leader: Beth Mosias
Fri, Nov 29. Annual Ayer/Groton Hills walk. 10:00am-3:00pm. Get far away from shopping malls on Black Friday and join the longest continually running hike in the AMC. We'll explore the natural areas between the Nashua River and the Snake Hills. Exact route determined on the fly. Some bushwhacking possible. Around 7 mi, 5 hours. Bring warm clothes and lunch. Meet in in NW corner of the parking lot behind Nashoba Hospital on Groton Road in Ayer, 42.57878N 71.57399W. L Olin Lathrop.
Sun, Dec 15. Groton Town Forest to Fitch's Bridge. 1:00pm-3:00pm. We will start in the scenic Town Forest, with eskers, kettle holes, unusual bogs, hemlock groves, and more. Then we will use Groton's extensive trail system thru a string of conservation lands to end at Fitch's Bridge over the beautiful Nashua River. About 2 hours, moderate pace. Meet at Fitch's Bridge, 42.62549N 71.60886W. Park by either end, but note that cars can't cross. About 2 hours, moderate pace. L Olin Lathrop.
|Wed, Dec 25. Holiday Hike - Lynn Woods, Lynn. 5 miles, Leader's Choice. 9:00am-1:00pm. Bring lunch, H2O, and snacks. Dress for the elements. I-95/Route 128 to Walnut Street exit, 4 miles. From Route 1, Walnut Street exit, 2 miles. Turn left on Pennybrook Road to Western Gate parking lot. Cancel if rain. L Nelson Caraballo||
Wed, Dec 25. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 4-mi. hike/snowshoe around pond, 10:00am-12:15pm. Bring snack & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. No dogs. If no snow, bring traction device for boots. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias
Featured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record) - with some comments:
Cambridge fiscal 2019 annual report now available (Sept 10, 2019)
New mural at Central Square Library celebrates learning (Sept 10, 2019)
GUEST COLUMN: Exposing an inconvenient truth about the Sullivan Courthouse (Sept 6, 2019 by Loren Crowe)
LETTER: Leggat McCall’s plan is good for the neighborhood (Sept 3, 2019)
Who’s running, who’s not in Cambridge’s November election (Sept 3, 2019)
Changing of the guard at Cambridge Police (Sept 3, 2019)
PHOTOS: Historic Cambridge schools at a glance (Aug 23, 2019)
PHOTOS: Steve Buckley’s Old-Time Baseball Game in Cambridge (Aug 23, 2019)
LETTER: Right past mistakes by razing old courthouse (Aug 20, 2019)
When will Cambridge roll out electric scooters? (Aug 12, 2019)
GUEST COLUMN: Affordable Housing Overlay proposal not ready for prime time in Cambridge (Aug 6, 2019 by Patty Nolan)
Is there an end in sight to Massachusetts’ housing crisis? (July 26, 2019)
MAP: Cambridge makes way for boost in electric car use (July 25, 2019)
GUEST COLUMN: End partisan gerrymandering in Massachusetts (July 24, 2019 by Alex Harper)
National Trust grants $15K for St. Augustine restoration (July 24, 2019)
OPINION: No good alternatives to affordable housing overlay in Cambridge (July 23, 2019 by David E. Sullivan)
[Ed. Note: There are numerous misrepresentations of fact in this opinion piece. For example, it greatly understates the potential impacts on abutters - "some small risks: maybe a design not to some neighbor’s liking, or an unwelcome shadow on an abutter’s yard". In truth, some projects could cover almost the entire lot and completely block all direct sunlight in some locations. Any right to object would be taken away entirely. It is worth noting that the author of this piece was also the author of the 1980 Removal Permit Ordinance that gave the Rent Control Board the authority to issue or deny permits to owners seeking to remove apartments from rent control for any reason. (Ref.: Bill Cunningham's 2011 "while in reality" draft) It did not (nor could not) prevent the conversion of units to condominium status, and thus was born the "ordinanced condominiums" where a condo owner was not permitted to legally occupy the unit he owned. Removal permits were rarely issued. As a city councillor during the rent control era, the author advocated "social ownership" perhaps more than any other councillor. This really is at the heart of the proposed Overlay - a permanent mechanism for transferring private residential property into "social ownership". One other relevant fact overlooked by this opinion author – Cambridge already has more subsidized units now than at any time in its history - primarily due to Inclusionary Zoning. That is, one "good alternative" is to simply allow the recently updated Inclusionary Zoning to continue to add subsidized units in 20% proportion along with unregulated units.]
Lawmakers send $43.1 billion budget to Gov. Baker (July 22, 2019)
Memories of Cambridge residents who worked on Apollo 11 mission (July 19, 2019)
OPINION: A fatal flaw in the affordable housing zoning proposal (July 18, 2019 by Skip Schloming)
LETTER: Councilors should respect hard work of neighbors and support Sullivan plan (July 17, 2019 by Adriane Musgrave)
LETTER: What more needs to be done to prove Sullivan Courthouse plan must move forward? (July 17, 2019 by Joe Aiello)
MAYOR OP-ED: Clearing up misinformation regarding Sullivan Courthouse (July 16, 2019 by Marc McGovern)
GUEST COLUMN: No crystal ball for the Sullivan Courthouse (July 9, 2019 by Eileen Sommer)
GUEST COLUMN: Consult the 1,100 daily First Street parkers in Cambridge (July 1, 2019 by Abra Berkowitz)
Cambridge’s Rep. Connolly offers ‘housing for all’ package (June 21, 2019)
GUEST COLUMN: Housing for all in Cambridge, not at all cost (posted June 11, 2019 by Kelly Dolan, Doug Brown and Alison Field-Juma)
Cambridge unveils citywide plan outlining goals for next decade (May 29, 2019)
[This refers to the Envision Cambridge Final Report - a mix of old ideas, some new ideas, and an overemphasis on the Subsidized Housing Overlay proposal. A regional planning focus, infrastructure, and transportation planning (which was, arguably, the issue that led to the Envision process in the first place) unfortunately received minimal attention in the process, the report, or the recommendations.]
SET UP TO FAIL -- Housing crisis sparks debate over solutions in Massachusetts (May 28, 2019)
[Ed. Note: Most of the rhetoric in the Governor's "Housing Choice Initiative" centers on the expansion of public housing (specifically the "100% Affordable" housing units that would be developed with deed restrictions) and the reduction from a two-thirds majority for approval of any required zoning changes to a simple majority. My observation is that this would only further concentrate this kind of housing in places like Cambridge and Boston and would do little to produce such housing elsewhere. On the positive side, it could potentially lead to increased (market) housing development in the wider region that would provide more housing options and a concurrent cooling of demand in core cities like Cambridge and a leveling in rent levels, i.e. actual affordabiolity. It's a mixed bag. Many (perhaps most) of the proponents simply wish to expand public/quasi-public housing.]
GUEST COLUMN: Rent control in Cambridge -- why we need it now (May 22, 2019 by candidate Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler)
[Ed. Note: It would be an unstatement to say that this author is very uninformed about some the realities of rent control as it was practiced in Cambridge, especially in regard to his assertion that "Rent control doesn’t mean that rents can’t increase to cover improvements to the building...." Also, his statement that "Since (1994), rents have doubled according to the city of Cambridge’s recent Envision report" is somewhat vacuous since by all accounts rents were artificially low under rent control and it's been 25 years, i.e. a quarter century, since it ended. With that in mind, is the doubling of rents really that surprising? The real problem, one not addressed by the writer, is that many rents have increased far more than two-fold, and the existence of the more affordable units, e.g. basement apartments and apartments in other less-than ideal locations, have significantly dried up. Enacting rent control at this point would lock in high rents for those (like the author) who can afford it, almost certainly incentivize all landlords to increase rents the maximum amount permissible every year, and (most likely) curtail new housing production which ultimately is the only way that any long-term affordability will be achieved. So much of rent control was about populist politics, and that's pretty clearly what this candidate's letter represents.]
COLUMN Part 2: How would the affordable housing overlay affect Cambridge residents (May 21, 2019 by Councillor Alanna Mallon)
GUEST COLUMN: Addressing questions regarding affordable housing overlay in Cambridge (May 7, 2019 by Councillor Alanna Mallon)
[Ed. Note: There are numerous omissions of fact in these columns. First, the author emphasizes the notion that only "luxury" housing is now being developed. The truth is that "luxury" is more often a sales pitch than a reality. The cost between building "luxury housing" and "ordinary housing" is actually minimal. In a decade or so it will all be just "housing". Second, the author omits or de-emphasizes some of the most significant reasons for objection, e.g. the substantial decreases (and in some cases the complete elimination) of setbacks from property lines in addition to increased heights and densities. This is a fundamental endorsement of double standards - one standard for ordinary residents and another for agencies that are essentially building public housing (now primarily done via "nonprofit" developers rather than by agencies like the Cambridge Housing Authority). It should also be pointed out that permanent deed retrictions effectively lower the taxable value of these properties so that they pay little or no taxes - effectively shifting that burden onto unregulated residential properties and commercial properties. Perhaps the single most objectionable aspect to the proposal is that the public's right to object to a very problematic development is essentially eliminated. This goes even beyond the State's Chapter 40B projects where a developer seeking a comprehensive permit still has to negotiate to some degree with abutters who can appeal the permit. The author also suffers from the delusion that Cambridge is some kind of elite bubble within which all needs can be addressed - an island in a sea of nothingness. Housing has always been and will always be a regional matter. Smart people are transforming places like Everett and Malden and Quincy and other places into very attractive places to live - many of them on public transit lines. The notion that all housing and other needs can or should be addressed within an already very dense city is both naive and short-sighted. The percentage of subsidized houisng units in Cambridge stands now at approximately 15% (among the highest in the state) and the new 20% Inclusionary Zoning requirement will only cause this percentage to rise. Some of the subsidized housing advocacy groups (like ABC and CResA) would prefer to see a much higher percentage of subsidized housing units, but that's a public policy issue they can safely evade by giving an open-ended, permanant zoning advantage to subsidized housing developers without ever discussing actual targets.]
OPINION: Rent control in Cambridge - why it didn’t work then and won’t work now (May 15, 2019 by Denise Jillson)
[Ed. Note: My favorite observation in this letter: "However, bringing back a failed 50-year-old housing policy to address the lack of workforce housing is lazy and uninventive." Exactly.]
LETTERS: Read what Cambridge has to say about the Sullivan Courthouse project (May 15, 2019)
[Ed. Note: Suffice to say that any alternate proposal to change the use to exclusively "affordable housing" is a spectacular contradiction. When asbestos remediation and other costs are factored in this could result in dwelling units being built for close to $1 million per unit - money that could produce far more housing elsewhere at much lower cost. This proposal has already been fully adjudicated, and the only reason it is being popularized now is because of the self-serving populist political strategies of one very problematic state representative.]
Proposed affordable housing district in Cambridge speaks to ‘the lost middle,’ official says (Apr 2, 2019)
[Ed. Note: There are several misrepresentation of fact in the statements of public officials in this article.]
LETTER: Tearing Cambridge in two for affordable housing (Apr 2, 2019)
GUEST COLUMN: Demystifying Cambridge’s proposed Affordable Housing Overlay (Apr 1, 2019)
[Ed. Note: This is a propaganda piece was written by two Board members of A Better Cambridge (ABC), a subsidized housing advocacy group with an affiliated political action committee (PAC) promoting candidates in the 2019 municipal election.]
GUEST COLUMN: Proposed zoning overlay in Cambridge is a major opportunity (Mar 20, 2019)
[Ed. Note: This is a propaganda piece was written by two Board members of A Better Cambridge (ABC), a subsidized housing advocacy group with an affiliated political action committee (PAC) promoting candidates in the 2019 municipal election.]
Mar 27, 2019 – A few words on the "Overlay" proposal
Personally, this Overlay proposal obliterates over 35 years of what changes could be expected around where I live, and I don’t live in the upper crust part of town. The limiting factor has been the floor area ratio (FAR) – 1.0 for commercial and 0.75 for residential. I have always lived with the possibility that a higher building could appear next door, but that the footprint of the building would have to be smaller and additional setbacks would create a little breathing room between the buildings. That seemed like a reasonable expectation – one that I could easily live with.
During the time I have owned my triple-decker I negotiated with one neighbor so that a small extension would have a roof line that allowed light to continue to get to my first floor apartment. When the neighboring building changed hands and they wanted to add air conditioning units on the roof, I negotiated to ensure that they would be located far enough from my windows so that the added sound would be acceptable. These are the kinds of negotiations that happen when buildings are at or somewhat above the allowable density. Through it all I maintained very reasonable rents to all of my tenants since 1985.
If this Overlay proposal is approved, a new owner could build straight up to a height taller than my building with no setback whatsoever from the property line. Furthermore, the building could cover almost the entire lot yielding a density between 3 and 4 times what is allowed today. No sunlight whatsoever would get to my building. I would have no rights whatsoever to object.
Do I take this personally? Yes. If this were to happen I would likely look for another place to live after being here for over 40 years. So I’m looking now at the few potentially reasonable city councillors to step in and prevent this from happening. If adding to our already high percentage of subsidized housing units is your priority, you should really find a way to do this that doesn’t involve throwing me and others under the bus. – Robert Winters
|Cambridge Public Schools (official website)||Cambridge School Committee website|
|School Committee Meetings||School Committee Members & Subcommittees|
|The Unofficial Guide to School Choices for the Cambridge Kindergarten Lottery|
Percentage of Subsidized Housing Units (not including group quarters) - September 2017
|Community||Housing Units||Subsidized Units||%||Rank (of 351)||Notes|
|Cambridge||46,690||6,911||14.8%||11||~7,800 of 53,000 currently|
Note: It must be pointed out that the figures above only show subsidized units. In many cities and towns there are many "naturally occurring" affordable units, i.e. apartments that simply have affordable rents. In addition, some tenants live in unregulated apartments but pay reduced rent due to such mechanisms as Section 8 vouchers. The figures above should therefore be understood only as a baseline.
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.
THE MUNICIPAL SITUATION IN CAMBRIDGE
A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904
by Henry N. Wheeler, President of the League
preceded by a Program of the Work of the League for 1904
Cambridge 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 (and now audio too!) of each]
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 413-414: Aug 13, 2019 w/Patrick Barrett
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 403-404: June 18, 2019 w/Patrick Barrett
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 391-392: April 30, 2019 w/Patrick Barrett
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 2015-2018 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
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)
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
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
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 - 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)
2013 - K2C2 Final Reports
K2C2 Final Reports Released
The 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.
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 revised Council committees)
City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)
City Council Committees (for the current term)
School Committee Rules (Adopted January 1, 2018; Revised June 19, 2018)
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:
Purposes: This association is formed for the following purposes:
- 1. To promote businesslike, honest, and efficient conduct of local government, open to public scrutiny.
- 2. To induce residents to take an active interest in the affairs of the City of Cambridge.
- 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.
- 4. To assure that the best qualified persons are appointed to positions in the City government after consideration of all qualified candidates.
- 5. To promote among the citizens of Cambridge equitable distribution and benefit of public services and equal opportunity for economic security, education, and social advancement.
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:
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
Which People's Republic
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
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:
''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz
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“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 (rwinters.com)
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"