City Council Chooses a City Clerk

June 17 - The City Council voted unanimously to choose Anthony Ivan Wilson as the next Cambridge City Clerk, pending contract negotiations.
[The City Clerks and City Managers of Cambridge]


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 403 (June 18, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio] with guest 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] with guest 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: Transportation planning vs. "quick build" for Mass. Ave.; budget matters; cannabis continued; 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] with guest 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] with guest Patrick Barrett
Topics: Retail vacancies - right and wrong solutions; problematic zoning; amateur cannabis regulation; Freakonomics
Episode 389 (Apr 23, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: FY2020 Budget; Central Square Business Improvement District (BID) petition filed; cities reshaping themselves
Episode 390 (Apr 23, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Webster Ave. bike alternatives; Eversource substation and misperceptions of risk; Courthouse opportunistic politics; cannabis proliferation; no-excuse absentee voting, lowering voting age, and non-citizen voting
Episode 387 (Apr 9, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topic: Red Sox Home Opener; Destination Watertown; Livable Cambridge forum; Courthouse & other political opportunism; candidate updates; cycling safety ordinance; Beware of Zealots; the Wisdom of Kelley
Episode 388 (Apr 9, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Graduate student realities, unionization; adjunct faculty exploitation; university relations; workforce development; STEM/STEAM initiatives; trades; rocket ships and science and mathematics
Episode 385 (Apr 2, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topic: The Subsidized Housing Overlay proposal; political misrepresentation
Episode 386 (Apr 2, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Municipal candidates; rent control and tenant displacement; upcoming events; a word on applying to serve on City Boards & Commissions; political uprisings/opportunism in East Cambridge

At the Wed, June 12 Special City Council meeting, the City Council convened and immediately voted to go into Executive Session. After this they reconvened in open session and voted the following single Order. They adjourned immediately after the vote.

TEXT OF ORDERS
O-1     June 12, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
ORDERED: That the following 4 named individuals be forwarded to the full City Council to be interviewed for consideration for the position of City Clerk at the special meeting of June 17, 2019 at 2:30pm.

Anthony Ivan Wilson [currently Springfield City Clerk; previously Springfield Associate City Solicitor]

Jeanne M. Survell [currently Pepperell Town Clerk; previously Sterling Assistant Town Clerk]

Niko Vangjeli [currently Worcester Assistant City Clerk]

Timothy Phelan [currently Chief Legal Counsel and Vice-President of Client Services, UTCA, INC; 18 year City of Lynn Councilor at Large; 8 yr. President; 5 yr. VP; 4 year member of Lynn School Committee]

City Clerk Interviews; Squares and X's and Ovals - June 17, 2019 at the Cambridge City Council

The City Council will be interviewing the 4 finalists for Cambridge City Clerk at a Special meeting starting at 2:30pm. From the Call of the Meeting: "The purpose of the meeting is to hold public interviews· for the four finalists for the position of City Clerk. The candidates are: Timothy Phelan, Jeanne M. Survell, Niko Vangjeli and Anthony Ivan Wilson ..... This special meeting may be adjourned prior to the commencement of the regular City Council meeting at 5:30. The regular City Council meeting of June 17, 2019 at 5:30pm will open with public comment and the public may comment on the City Clerk candidates among other matters on the agenda pursuant to the Rules of the City Council as amended. Following the conclusion of public comment, the City Council may recess to Executive Session to conduct a strategy session in preparation for contract negotiations with one or more City Clerk candidates. If a vote on the hiring of a City Clerk takes place, such vote would be taken in open session." [The City Clerks and City Managers of Cambridge]

Update - The City Council voted unanimously to choose Anthony Ivan Wilson as the next Cambridge City Clerk, pending contract negotiations.
[The City Clerks and City Managers of Cambridge]

When the Regular Meeting commences at 5:30pm the rest of the agenda will be relatively light, but here are a few notable items:

Order #1. City Council support of S.2213, An Act Relative to Gender Identity on Massachusetts Identification.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons

Tic Tac ToeOne curious consequence of this period of gender redefinition is that rather than introducing the alphabet soup of gender alternatives (actually it's just X in addition to M and F), the Secretary of State's Office apparently will no longer include the gender field in the registered voter database provided to candidates and others. It won't be nearly as easy to do gender-targeted campaign mailings (though I suppose you can still sort by first name and make some assumptions). The Cambridge Election Commission recently voted to adopt this deletion.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City staff and report back to the City Council in greater detail as to why the construction cost estimates for the Inman Square redesign project were so inaccurately low, what steps are being taken to ensure that the project will not lead to further cost estimate overruns, how such inaccurate cost estimates will be avoided for all projects in the future and interim steps that are being taken to ensure maximum safety in this area.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Simmons

The initial estimate was under $3 million which grew to $6 million when approved by the City Council. The successful bid came in at $7.9 million. I would still like some evidence that the desired benefits were not achieved or achievable with the simple addition of the green painted bike lanes now passing through Inman Square.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City staff and Eversource personnel to determine why the signals at Broadway and Elliott, which add an element of confusion to this intersection, were installed without Eversource’s being able to connect them to the grid in a more responsive manner.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Toomey, Mayor McGovern

As a resident of Broadway who had underground electric service until it failed and was never restored (temporary connections have been in place for nearly 5 years now - in my case an electric line screwed into a live tree and draped over a branch), this situation resonates with me. Convincing Eversource to maintain its existing assets remains an uphill battle. Apparently even the City of Cambridge shares this frustration. Last week a new zoning petition appeared that would allow the granting of a Special Permit for any new development project "only if it finds that the utility impacts of the project would not be significant". The problem is not so much what impacts a new project might have (since only then does Eversource carry out any upgrades), but rather in how Eversource maintains (or fails to maintain) its existing assets.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from former City Clerk, Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public hearing held on May 28, 2019 to receive an update on the Election Commission’s discussion of potential changes to the ballots used for Municipal Elections that would limit voters to marking only up to 15 candidates.

The Election Commission unanimously approved this very modest change which greatly simplifies the ballot design with little or no effect on the election results in any round of the PR election tally. - Robert Winters

Comments?

June 11, 2019 - Patty Nolan has announced her candidacy for Cambridge City Council.

June 11, 2019 - New City Council candidates emerging (originally posted May 7)

Eight incumbents (assuming nobody else exits) are likely to seek reelection and will be joined by a number of challengers. Here's the list so far:

Name Address (Nov 2018) Birth Year Notes
Adriane Musgrave 48 Haskell St., 02140 1985 ran in 2017
Charles Franklin 162 Hampshire St. #1R, 02139 1992 filed March 5
Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler 19 Trowbridge St #6, 02138 1992 filed March 11
Nicola Williams 8 Brewer St. #5, 02138 1963 filed March 12
Ben Simon 67 Bishop Allen Dr. #2, 02139 1984 filed April 2
Burhan Azeem 471 Memorial Drive, 02139 (MIT) 1997 filed May 7
Gregg J. Moree 25 Fairfield St., 02140 1957 declared June 11, ran in 2017
Patty Nolan 184 Huron Ave., 02138 1957 declared June 11

Several other candidates who ran in 2017 may run again in 2019. They'll be added as confirmed.

Nomination papers will be available from the Cambridge Election Commission beginning Monday, July 1.

Candidates must submit a minimum of 50 valid signatures no later than Wednesday, July 31 at 5:00pm.

Candidates may not submit more than 100 signatures.

Cambridge Candidate Pages (updated as new candidates are identified)

2019 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports
You can sort the table by any field or open the full spreadsheet which will be frequently updated.

PS (May 14): There is also at least one new School Committee candidate – Ayesha Wilson, 15 Concord Ave., 02138; Birth Year 1982.
June 11 - Patty Nolan's decision to run for City Council means there will be at least one new School Committee member next term.

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

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

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

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

Here are a few other notable items for this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Committee Reports #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, former City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 1, 2019 to discuss a petition to amend the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.16 entitled “Noise Control” by deleting sections 8.16.081-8.16.087 to prohibit the use of leaf blowers.

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

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

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

Comments?

Celebrate Fresh Pond Day Saturday, June 15

Fresh Pond sunsetJoin the Cambridge Water Department at its annual Fresh Pond Day on Saturday, June 15, from 11am–3pm, to celebrate Fresh Pond Reservation. Fresh Pond Reservation is truly Cambridge's green gem - an urban wild that protects Fresh Pond, Cambridge's in-city drinking water reservoir. Fresh Pond Day serves as an annual community tribute to this unique Reservation that is a vital natural resource, an invaluable sanctuary for wildlife, and a beloved recreational escape in the city. This event is free and open to all; all dogs must be leashed.

Fresh Pond Day events will be at and around the Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway, Cambridge. Use of public transit and bicycles to get to the event is strongly encouraged. Bus routes 72, 74, 75, 78; & Alewife T are all nearby. Visitors arriving by car are asked to park at the Tobin School on 197 Vassal Lane.

Fresh Pond Day 2018Events Schedule
11:00am-2:00pm   Learn to Stilt Walk
11:00am-3:00pm   Open House of the Water Treatment Plant
11:00am-2:15pm   Live Music from Allston Rock Records
2:30pm-3:00pm   Global Water Dance Performance
11:00am-3:00pm   Free bike tune-ups and bike rodeo; learn about pond life animals with Nature Knowledge for Kids; Junior Ranger badge activities; learn how to fix a leak

Peruse our community tables to learn more from various city departments and local organizations involved in sustainability and outdoor recreation.

Please note that rain or extreme weather cancels this event. For more information, visit www.cambridgema.gov/freshpondday or contact Ranger Tim at 617-349-6489, tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov.


Future of First Street Garage Community Meeting, June 19

The City of Cambridge is holding a community meeting on Wednesday, June 19 at 6:30pm at the Kennedy-Longfellow School, 158 Spring St., Cambridge to provide the community with an update on the status of the proposed disposition of a leasehold interest in 420 unassigned parking spaces and approximately 9,000 square feet of ground floor area intended for retail use in the City-owned First Street Garage property located at 55 First Street.City Seal

The meeting will include a summary of the LMP GP Holdings LLC’s disposition proposal received by the city and an update on the First Street Area Parking Planning Study commissioned by the city’s Director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation in connection with the proposed disposition. The city is seeking the public's input on the proposed leasehold disposition of 420 unassigned parking spaces and approximately 9,000 square feet of ground floor retail space in the First Street Garage.

You can learn more or sign-up for email updates about the First Street Garage at CambridgeMA.gov/FirstStreetGarage.

Following the June 19 community meeting, public hearings will be conducted at the Planning Board and City Council in accordance with the provisions of the city’s disposition ordinance, Chapter 2.110 of the Cambridge Municipal Code. A City Council vote will be required in order to approve of the proposed disposition of the leasehold interest. State law (G. L. Chapter 30B) also requires that when public land or property is disposed of, proposals must be solicited from interested buyers prior to selecting a buyer. The city issued a Request for Proposals pertaining to the proposed leasehold interest, and conditionally awarded the proposed leasehold interest to LMP GP Holdings LLC subject to the process that must be conducted pursuant to the disposition ordinance and the vote of the City Council on the proposed disposition.

For additional information, please contact Lee Gianetti, Director of Communications, at 617-349-3317 or lgianetti@cambridgema.gov.

Dealing the Dope - June 3, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting

Reefer MadnessIt's possible that the City Council might at this meeting settle on the final patronage rules for which "social equity" or "economic empowerment" applicants get preference in opening up marijuana outlets in Cambridge. The Acapulco Gold Rush is definitely in full swing with all sorts of applicants trying to get in on the ground floor of this lucrative cash business. So maybe they'll finalize the Special Rules for Special People at this meeting or perhaps that will come later this month. In any case, here a few things on the agenda that might interest me:

Manager's Agenda #3. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the transfer of $2,000 from the General Fund Reserves Other Ordinary Maintenance Account to the General Fund Women’s Commission Department Other Ordinary Maintenance which will be used to cover the cost of the first phase of the Mapping Feminist Cambridge Project which will focus on Inman Square.

I participated in a "Women's History Tour of Cambridge" walk in August 2017 hosted by the Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women. [Info] You can download a PDF for several different walks: Area IVCambridgeportRiverside and CambridgeportMid-Cambridge.

On a related note, Tim Devin from Somerville has been leading a series of walks on the topic of Mapping Utopia - a history of some of the counter-cultural activities that went on in and around Cambridge around the 1960s. He has another one coming up on July 13 starting in Inman Square. On a previous walk I was finally able to learn many of the details of the Trout Fishing in America school that was on Prospect Street at one time.

Manager's Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Numbers 19-33 and 19-34, regarding bicycle count data.

It's difficult to draw too many conclusions from this graphical data due to such factors as weather and construction, but my sense is that although bicycle use in Cambridge rapidly grew over the last 15 years there does seem to be some leveling off - not surprising when you factor in New England weather and various convenience factors. This data doesn't really show it but I would say that Councillor Kelley's frequent comments on the growth of other (non-bicycle) mobility devices are now starting to ring out loud and clear.

Communications from Peter Valentine:
#2: requesting that the City Council send a letter to President Donald Trump that at this delicate time of elections on serious matters that he not start a war with Iran.
#3: regarding the birth of the immortality of the United States of America.
#5: regarding his support for the death penalty for killing a police officer.
#6: regarding using the City Hall building for all of the people and not just for one groups' concerns.
#12: regarding immortality.

Peter has apparently been very busy lately.

Resolution #2. Retirement of Mark McCabe from the Animal Commission.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Kelley

Alas, one more outstanding City employee who became a good friend is taking leave for new adventures. I will really miss seeing Mark around my neighborhood!


Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor, Inspectional Services Department and the Community Development Department to determine whether it is possible to reduce or eliminate Building Permit Fees for 100% affordable housing development projects, through an exemption or other means and investigate what types of real estate tax abatements are possible for 100% affordable housing moving forward.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone, Mayor McGovern

Order #6. That the City Manager work with the Community Development Department to set up a series of informational and interactive Affordable Housing Overlay workshops in a variety of neighborhoods to give residents the chance to foster a productive and informational dialogue with City staff.   Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councilor E. Denise Simmons, and Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui, Co-Chairs of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Apr 16, 2019 to continue discussion on the Affordable Housing Overlay District.

The juggernaut toward replacing private residential property with "social housing" continues. I'm sure the potential beneficiaries of the proposed double standards will be busing in lots of supporters to pack the upcoming Planning Board and Ordinance Committee meetings. I find Order #3 especially amusing. If the authors did a little research they'd learn that once deed restrictions are established on a residential property the taxable value of the property plummets. In many cases these properties produce only the legal minimum in real estate taxes. Every such deed restriction shifts the residential tax burden further onto the remaining privately-owned residential properties (unless the City presses for additional commercial development to make up the difference).


Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to work with the local taxi industry and other interested parties to prepare a Home Rule Petition for the City Council to submit to the State Legislature that would address Cambridge-specific issues and give the City Council the ability to ensure TNCs operate in a safe and responsible manner.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons

Note: The proposed Home Rule Petition comes from the Cambridge Taxi Drivers Owner Association. Is this about safety or protectionism for the taxi medallion owners?


Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the timeline and process for the creation of a stakeholder group to conduct the Cambridge Net Zero Action Plan review, as well as any other details on the process by which the quinquennial review will be conducted in 2020.   Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux

Order #9. Request for Draft Language Related to the Net Zero Action Plan.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Vice Mayor Devereux

My sense is that if you need some building work done and you don't want to pay enormously more for that work, you may want to get that work done sooner than later even if you have every intention of increasing your energy efficiency. Unless there are generous grant programs coming to cover some of the costs, new requirements may well cost you a small fortune. Your elected officials don't trust you to exercise good judgment.


Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Department of Public Works, the Community Development Department, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation on the feasibility of implementing suggested restoration projects in the area surrounding Jerry’s Pond, in order to make the Pond more accessible and inviting to the community.   Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

Actual restoration of Jerry's Pond as an aesthetic or recreational resource is highly unlikely, but at least they could dress up the surrounding area. Don't expect it to be accessible any time soon.

Order #11. That the City Manager hereby is requested to direct the Community Development Department to obtain data from Eversource on electrical demand projections by year until at least 2030, including a breakdown of commercial vs residential demand growth, as well as a ten year historical look back.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone

So what happens if, as I suspect, Eversource comes back with accurate projections that electrical demand will continue to increase significantly, especially if people choose to migrate away from fossil fuels? Will everyone then embrace the need for more power capacity and additional substations?

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux and Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Co-Chairs of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on Apr 23, 2019 to discuss the Zero Waste Master Plan and ways to reduce single use plastics in Cambridge.

The recycling landscape is ever-changing with or without bans of bags or straws or plastics or anything else. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Right.


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

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 9, 2019 to continue discussion on a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code by adding a new Chapter 5.50 entitled “Cannabis Business Permitting” Ordinance.

So, are they ready to pick the winners in the Acapulco Gold Invitational Tournament? It's remarkable how politically connected some of the applicants are. When it comes to making money, some things never change. - Robert Winters

Comments?

Cambridge Open Archives

Dive into the tangled history of Cambridge politics and social activism at 7 local archives from June 24-28, 2019.

Archivists at each site will share treasures from their collections - photographs, art, posters, letters - that tell complex and unique stories about dynamic politicians and dedicated activists; fights over highways and development schemes; a strong mayor vs. Plan E.

See what an archive is, find out what archivists do all day, and see how you can use these resources to learn more about your family and community.

This year's participating archives:

MIT Museum

The Cambridge Room at the Cambridge Public Library

Harvard Semitic Museum

Harvard Art Museums Archives

Cambridge Historical Commission

Cambridge Historical Society

Mount Auburn Cemetery

REGISTRATION OPENS MAY 31

Info here: http://www.cambridgema.gov/openarchives

This event is free but registration is required.

Questions? 617-349-4070 or chcarchives@cambridgema.gov

June 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
Woodland Restoration Area Gardening
Dates: Tuesdays (April to December) 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 friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com if you would like to come, and for more information.
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.
Pollinator Survey at Fresh Pond
Dates: Tuesday June 25, 1 to 3pm
Place: Meets at the Lusitania Meadow entrance across from Wheeler St. on Concord Ave.
    This is an opportunity to be a citizen scientist and connect with nature. In partnership with Earthwise Aware, help us observe and collect information about what pollinators visit our meadows. We then feed our findings into global databases that help track species richness, population abundance, and phenophases. This will also help us develop a virtual guide to the insects of Fresh Pond, and you can be a part of it! We’ll be meeting on-site at the entrance to Lusitania from Concord Ave. and please RSVP to citizenscience@earthwiseaware.org for communication about what to wear, bring, and if there is any change in plan due to weather.
Seasonal Walkabout at Lusitania Wet Meadow
Date: Friday, June 14, 11am to 12 noon
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 jrogers@cambridgeMA.gov. Heavy rain postpones to the following Friday.
FRESH POND DAY 2019!
Date: Saturday, June 15, 11am to 3pm
Meeting Place: Cambridge Water Department 250 Fresh Pond Parkway Parking at 197 Vassal Lane, Cambridge MA (Tobin School)
    Fresh Pond Reservation is truly Cambridge's green gem - an urban wild that protects Fresh Pond, Cambridge's in-city drinking water reservoir. Fresh Pond Day is the Cambridge Water Department's annual tribute to this unique Reservation that is a vital natural resource, an invaluable sanctuary for wildlife, and a beloved recreational escape in the City. So, let's give Fresh Pond the celebration, jubilation and love it deserves; join in the festivities! Attendees will enjoy live wildlife presentations, live music and dancers, facepainting, truck climb-aboards, tours, and more.
    Free and open to all, activities will take place around the Water Treatment Facility – at Kingsley Park, and the two parking lots. For those arriving by car, please plan on parking at the Tobin School. There are plenty of green transit options: the bikeway, bus routes 72, 74, 75 & 78; and Alewife T Station is 1 mile away. On-leash dogs are welcome. Please note that rain cancels this event. For more information or if you’d like to get involved, please email tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov, call (617)-349-6489.
Summer Solstice Bird Walk
Date: Friday, June 21, 6 to 8pm
Place: Register for parking, meeting information, and for notice of cancellation due to weather.
    If you can’t bear to get up at dawn to look at birds, this evening walk is for you! Just as people take advantage of the longest days of the year to continue their outdoor activities, so do birds: They spend the extra hours of daylight foraging for food for their hungry babies. Led by Nancy Guppy. Beginning birders are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. Register with Catherine Pedemonti at friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com.
Night (Insect) Life at Fresh Pond
Date: Saturday, June 29, 8 to 10pm
Place: Meets at the Lusitania Meadow entrance across from Wheeler St. on Concord Ave.
    Take part in this Earthwise Aware citizen science event with a knowledgeable project entomologist. The Lusitania Meadow is full of life and is regularly surveyed during daylight hours. This is a chance to collect meaningful scientific data and learn about the nocturnal insect life that inhabits our urban reservoir. This program meets on-site at the entrance to Lusitania from Concord Ave. RSVP is required to citizenscience@earthwiseaware.org for communication about what to wear, bring, and if there is any change in plan due to weather.

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 fpr@cambridgema.gov 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.

Upcoming Programs

A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
http://www.friendsoffreshpond.org/calendar2014/photopages2014cal/jan14/p01-13-14chipnorton.htm
AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.
AMC Local WalksSat, June 15. Boston's Back Bay Fens. Museums, educational and cultural institution; explore the Rose Garden, Victory Gardens and Japanese Garden. From 10:00am-2:00pm. Meet at corner of Huntington Ave. & Museum Rd. (Museum stop on Green Line "E"). Bring lunch & water. No dogs. New members welcome. Heavy rain cancels. L Sharon Marshall AMC Local WalksSat, June 15. Middlesex Fells Multi-Pond Hike, Medford. Fast-paced and somewhat hilly 7-mile hike to 7 separate ponds as well as ledges with scenic views, 9:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch, water, sturdy boots. Meet at DCR Flynn Rink on Woodland Rd. From Rte. 93 exit 33 in Medford, take Fellsway West (Rte. 28) N 0.5 mi., R on Elm St. 0.5 mi., L at rotary to rink on L. Bus 99 from Wellington T sta. Rain cancels. Leader: Marc Hurwitz
AMC Local WalksSun, June 16. Wollaston Beach, Quincy. Fast-paced 7-mi walk along Wollaston Beach, Marina Bay, 9:00am-noon. Bring snack/water. From SE Expwy, exit 8 (Quincy), take Furnace Brook Pkwy. 2.8mi, L onto Quincy Shore Dr. L at first light into lot. Storm cancels. Leader: Beth Mosias AMC Local WalksSun, June 16. Stony Brook South, Lincoln. 2½ hr. hike through woods and along a chain of ponds and streams and a few gentle hills. 10:00am-12:30pm. Option for lunch in Lincoln afterwards. Rain cancels. Park in lot on north side of Rte. 117 (just west of 563 North Ave. - Weston's name for Rte. 117 - and 0.5 miles west of Lincoln Street, Weston). Rte. 117 changes name and enters Lincoln just west of turn-off. Leader: Joel Snider
AMC Local WalksSat, June 22. Walden Pond, Concord. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, across grassy meadows and through hemlock forest, to scenic Walden Pond. Visit a cove, once inhabited by Henry Thoreau. Enjoy sit-down break, on the shore of Walden. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at China Ruby Restaurant, in nearby Maynard, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Lincoln Train Station commuter parking lot. From Route 2, take Route 126 South for 2 miles. Turn left on Codman Road, follow to end. Turn left, see Train Station on left. Leader: Brian Connolly AMC Local WalksSun, June 23. Groton Hills. 1:00pm. Come explore this large chunk of conservation land with varied topography, including beaver ponds, meadows, upland, and eskers. About 2 hours, moderate pace. Meet at the trailhead in the northeast end of a parking are on Chicopee Row roughly across from Fertiledale Drive, 42.6324N 71.5472W. L Olin Lathrop.
AMC Local WalksThurs, July 4. World's End Reservation, Hingham. Scenic 5-mi. walk, 8:30-11:30am. Bring snack/water. From Rte.3A rotary in Hingham, take Summer St. 0.5mi. to light, L on Martin's Lane to entr. $8.00 per person fee for non-members of the Trustees of Reservations. Avoid Rte.228 due to holiday event road closures. Storm cancels. No e-mail after 7/3. Leader: Beth Mosias AMC Local WalksSat, July 20. Walden Pond, Concord. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, across grassy meadows and through hemlock forest, to scenic Walden Pond. Visit a cove, once inhabited by Henry Thoreau. Enjoy sit-down break, on the shore of Walden. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at China Ruby Restaurant, in nearby Maynard, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Lincoln Train Station commuter parking lot. From Route 2, take Route 126 South for 2 miles. Turn left on Codman Road, follow to end. Turn left, see Train Station on left. Leader: Brian Connolly
AMC Local WalksSat, July 27. Walk from Revere Beach to Copley Square, Boston. This 12+ mile walk (with shorter options) has it all - ocean, marsh, beach, harbor, river, and ethnic and downtown neighborhoods. It starts with a visit to the annual Sand Sculpting Contest, passes through East Boston including a lunch stop, the Boston Waterfront, the edges of Charlestown and Cambridge, the Boston Esplanade and the Commonwealth Mall, ending at the Boston Marathon finish line. Enjoy a summer day of walking, and celebrate completion of the route at the Solis Irish pub. This walk has become an annual tradition and is a joint venture with FreeWalkers. Meet at 8:30am at the Wonderland Station (MBTA Blue Line) on the upper level plaza that overlooks Revere Beach. Leaders: Nancy Cahn, Fran Price. AMC Local WalksSun, Aug 4. Castle Island, South Boston. 7:30-9:30am. Beat the heat and bugs on a scenic early morning walk at Castle Island with a couple of loops around the "sugar bowl" followed by breakfast at Sullivan's (counter service). From I-93 take exit 15 Columbia Rd. and turn right on Columbia Rd. At the traffic circle take the 2nd exit onto William J Day Blvd. and follow 2 miles to end and park in the lot at Sullivan's, 2080 William J Day Blvd. Storm cancels. Leader: Beth Mosias

City of Cambridge - Ten Year Sewer and Drain Infrastructure Plan [Info page]

City of Cambridge - Five Year Sidewalk and Street Reconstruction Plan


City Dance Party, Friday, June 28 7-11pm

Mass Ave. will be Closed to Traffic but Open for Dancing!

Join thousands of Cambridge residents and visitors who will gather on Massachusetts Avenue in front of Cambridge City Hall (795 Massachusetts Ave.) for the city’s annual Dance Party Friday, June 28, from 7-11pm. This event is free and open to the public. Take MBTA Red Line to Central Square and a short walk to City Hall!

The annual dance extravaganza with DJ spun music is a special opportunity for the entire Cambridge community to celebrate summer. After dark, colorful lights will be launched, adding to the magic of the evening.

Originally conceived in 1996 as part of the 150th anniversary celebration of Cambridge, the Dance Party returns each year attracting young and old to join in the festivities! The event is free and open to the public.

TRAFFIC IMPACTS: Massachusetts Avenue will be closed to traffic, from Prospect St. to Lee St. from approximately 6pm – Midnight. MBTA #1 Bus Line will reroute between Central Square and Harvard Square from approximately 6pm – Midnight and there will be no stop at City Hall.

For more information, contact Maryellen Carvello at 617-349-4301 or mcarvello@cambridgema.gov.

City Dance Party - photo by Kyle Klein


Featured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record) - with some comments:

Cambridge ChronicleIf you would like to subscribe or pick up a free paper copy at various sites, I encourage you to do so. It really is The Paper of Record.

Cambridge councilors look into limiting election donors seeking benefit from City (posted June 11, 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 officials propose cleaning up area around Jerry’s Pond (posted June 4, 2019)

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.]

River Arts Festival to be held in Central Square (May 24, 2019)

‘Growing in the city:’ Green Cambridge returns to work at neighborhood farm (May 23, 2019)

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.]

Several Cambridge councilors object to fiscal 2020 school budget (May 21, 2019)

Somerville Hospital considering converting ED to urgent care clinic (May 20, 2019)

Independent review says no excessive force used in 2018 arrest of Harvard student in Cambridge (May 17, 2019)

Can Cambridge Council remove state flag from its chambers? (May 17, 2019)

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.]

Cambridge’s Vice Mayor Jan Devereux announces she will not seek reelection (May 14, 2019)

‘The heart of Cambridge:’ Eighteen of city’s oldest small businesses honored (May 14, 2019)

MAP: Here are 18 of Cambridge’s oldest businesses (May 9, 2019)

LETTER: Not too late to reconsider Vellucci Plaza plans in Cambridge (May 14, 2019 by Jonathan Harris)

Cambridge to consider ban on single-use plastic items (May 14, 2019)

Mount Auburn Cemetery abuzz after Bedford resident creates bee sanctuary (May 12, 2019)

Cambridge Democrats to elect delegates for convention (May 8, 2019)

GUEST COLUMN: Approval of Cambridge school budget was a mistake (May 7, 2019 by Leslie Brunetta)

Cambridge aims to reduce trash by 30% in 2020 as part of ‘Zero Waste Master Plan’ (May 7, 2019)

Election commissioners to discuss municipal ballot design (May 3, 2019)

Citizen scientists observe natural world at Mt. Auburn Cemetery (Apr 30, 2019)

Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler announces candidacy for city council (Apr 29, 2019)

SET UP TO FAIL -- Housing crisis makes traffic worse in Massachusetts (Apr 29, 2019)

2020 Cambridge budget plan addresses affordable housing, schools, sewers and streets (Apr 23, 2019)

Cambridge Emergency Communications recognizes dispatchers (Apr 23, 2019)

Early risers blossom at Mount Auburn Cemetery (Apr 19, 2019)

City renames streets to honor women’s suffrage (Apr 18, 2019)

Cambridge police say Naloxone is making a difference in overdose rates (Apr 17, 2019)

Study examines changes to Cambridge’s Port neighborhood (Apr 16, 2019)

DCR kicks off Memorial Drive project in Cambridge (Apr 15, 2019)

Cambridge will require separated bike lanes (Apr 10, 2019)

Cambridge resident marks 50th anniversary of her first Boston Marathon win (Apr 9, 2019)

Top earners: Who earned the most in 2018? (Apr 8, 2019)

Cambridge suffragists to be honored, thanks to push from young resident (Apr 3, 2019)

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: Instead of affordable overlay, raise real estate taxes (Mar 19, 2019)

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.]

Cambridge offers glimpse of possible affordable housing future (Mar 8, 2019)


Passing the Buck - May 20, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Buck and DoeMove along people - nothing to see here. Well, maybe that hidden state flag. The FY2020 Budget is expected to be approved at this meeting after some fiddling and diddling over some late budget-related communications touching on who gets to be artistic at CMAC (Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center).

The pickings are slim this week:

Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, in response to requests for additional information made by the City Council Finance Committee during hearings on the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) City Budget.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Finance Committee, for public hearings held on May 1, 2019 and May 7, 2019 relative to the General Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2020 and recommending adoption of the General Fund Budget in the amount of $638,060,155.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Finance Committee, for public hearing held on May 7, 2019 relative to the Water Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2020 and recommending adoption of the Water Fund Budget in the amount of $12,833,295.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Finance Committee, for public hearing held on May 7, 2019 relative to the Public Investment Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2020 and recommending adoption of the Public Investment Fund Budget in the amount of $26,796,725.

First, expect all sorts of mutual congratulatory statements - it's all part of the ritual and it happens every year. There may be some back and forth over the additional information, especially regarding CMAC, but after that expect all bucks to be passed.

Manager's Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-93, regarding Parcel C (Constellation Center) in Kendall Square.

It's hard to say whether there will be any push-back on this. Perhaps there will be some questions raised regarding the tax-exempt status of Parcel C for approximately 16 years during which the taxable value of all neighboring properties soared. It's likely now all just water under the bridge, but it does raise some questions.

Applications & Petitions #1. A re-filing of a zoning petition has been received from Joseph T. Maguire of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. transmitting a proposed revised amendment to the zoning ordinance by creating the Grand Junction Pathway Overlay District.

It's hard to say whether or not this proposal will fare better than the previous one given the increasingly hostile political context of the area when factoring in the controversies surrounding the nearby Eversource site and other proposals in East Cambridge. It should be possible for reasonable people to assess this proposal independent of these other matters.

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councilor E. Denise Simmons, Co-Chair and Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Co-Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Mar 28, 2019 to discuss Affordable Housing Overlay District.

The juggernaut continues. It's remarkable just how comfortable some people have become with double standards.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Mallon, transmitting notes for the meeting of the Mayor's Arts Task Force held on May 9, 2019.

Most of the ideas floated seem all well and good, but I am a bit skeptical about the idea of having a "City-owned arts facility, akin to the EMF building." There is often a fundamental conflict between governmental control and artistic freedom, and the result can often be mediocrity. There is also the problem of political patronage in deciding which artists should be granted money, jobs, and status. This report suggests that "the Task Force could continue on and become an adjudicator based on an equity rubric." This Task Force was appointed by the Mayor, by the way.

There is one suggestion contained in the meeting notes that reflects something I have been emphasizing for several years: "The Baptist church as an arts and culture space". The truth is that there are quite a few older church buildings in the neighborhoods abutting Central Square that would benefit from partnering with various charitable uses, including arts-related functions. Indeed, I have to wonder whether the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority has considered such possibilities as it discusses rescuing the building at 99 Bishop Allen Drive in order to preseve affordable space for the various nonprofit entities now housed there. Dwindling congregations, deferred maintenance, and charitable activities strongly suggest possible mutual solutions. - Robert Winters

Comments?


May 14 - Announcement from Vice Mayor Devereux

Jan DevereuxIt’s May in an odd year and political engines are warming up across Cambridge. But you won’t hear any noise coming from my campaign bike because I will not be joining the race this year.

My decision not to seek re-election for a third term on the City Council is personal, not political. I am very proud of my policy work and my record, and of the positive contributions I've made to civic engagement and civil discourse.

But I have found it difficult, if not impossible, to strike a healthy, sustainable work-life balance, and I need to step back and reclaim time and space for my family, my friends and myself. I appreciate all the kind words, support, expertise and mentoring people have offered me over the course of my political journey, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow through public service.

There are still seven months left in this term, and I look forward to continuing to serve as Vice Mayor without also having to juggle campaigning. There’s still plenty left on the Council’s docket and more is sure to be added between now and the end of the year.

Onward!
Jan


Recycle Your Mattress for Free!

City SealThe City of Cambridge has partnered with UTEC, a nonprofit organization serving proven-risk young adults, to provide free weekly curbside mattress and box spring recycling services. Approximately 100 tons of mattresses are trashed in Cambridge each year, taking up a massive amount of space in landfills compared to other waste. This initiative will support the city’s goals of reducing waste and is launched in accordance to guidelines from the City’s Zero Waste Master Plan.

“This program will build upon our current waste diversion programs,” said Commissioner Owen O’Riordan, Department of Public Works. “By scheduling a pickup, you can divert mattresses from clogging landfills, while helping an outstanding social enterprise. UTEC will pick up, deconstruct, and recycle mattresses. The textiles and foam will be recycled into new carpeting or padding. The steel will be melted and recycled into a new steel product.”

The Mattress Recycling Program is partially funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. This is a free service to Cambridge residents, but advanced scheduling is required. For more information, visit CambridgeMA.gov/Mattress. To schedule a pick up, visit https://utec-mattress.org/schedule/.

Note: Mattress Recycling is one of three social enterprises that offer paid work experience as part of UTEC’s intensive programming for young adults. UTEC is dedicated to helping young adults ages 17-25 overcome the very real challenges of poverty, gang involvement, unemployment, and cultural barriers that are pervasive in our communities. When these young adults succeed, the community sees the greatest positive impact on public safety, public health and economic development. To learn more about UTEC’s mission and its social enterprises, visit www.UTECinc.org.


Magazine Beach: Shoreline Restoration and PM Patio Work Begin,
Planning for Parkway Improvements, Education, Cleanups & More

Phase II-1 Will Be Starting SoonMagazine Beach path
Bids are in and in the next weeks DCR will sign a contract to improve the shoreline and Powder Magazine surround. The goal of this work is to replace invasive plants with native ones; to add trees, seating and a dry shoreline path; and to expand the patio and terrace, making it a better site for its future community tenant. $55,000 of community contributions will go towards these improvements, along with many City and State dollars. Thank you, all!

Thank You, Volunteers!
Many thanks to the CRLS’s Charles River Cleanup Project for gathering fallen branches and sticks into piles along the park’s paths and to DCR for whisking them away. With high winds, dead wood is falling, including two mature trees in the grove on Feb. 25. Many thanks also to Boston College High and Riverside Boat House for cutting down some of the shoreline’s willow hedges before the red-winged blackbirds nest there. And thanks, CRC, for loaning the tools. As part of Phase II-1, we’ll be opening up some river views.

Third Grade Charles River Curriculum Rolls Out at Park
In late April, start watching for schools groups at the park. They will be learning by observing about the river habitat—the plants and animals that live there—and they will be collecting data about river herring needs at different stages in their life cycles. The herring will be appearing soon, too.

UMass Amherst Landscape Architecture Students Design Magazine Beach
Three UMass students are focusing on the park this spring as their senior capstone project. April 29, they’ll present their designs. We’re eager to see the fruits of their studies!

Coming Soon…
*Magazine Beach Summer Events 2019 Kick-Off Friday, June 21 and the Veterans Memorial Pool Opens Saturday, June 22. Summer is just ahead! More about our programs here in the next month.

Magazine Beach Updates is brought to you by the Magazine Beach Partners, a 501c3. We work with the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to make Magazine Beach a more welcoming and vibrant park, connecting its community and stewarding its natural grounds. We advocate for the park; we raise money for park improvements; and we organize events and cleanups with partners the Charles River Watershed Association, Charles River Conservancy, the Riverside Boat Club, and so many others! It won’t happen without you, so please join in our efforts and like us on Facebook, too.


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


Acapulco Gold Rush
You wanted cannabis? Welcome to the future of Cambridge retail.

List of scheduled "community meetings" for proposed marijuana retailers [Full Schedule w/contact info here]
Apr 25 - The list keeps growing every day. Apr 30 - More listings! May 2 - Even more listings!

Meeting Date Project Address Proposed Project Developer/Contact
May 13, 2019 1674 Mass. Ave. (Evergood Market) Marijuana Retailer Sanctuary Medicinals
May 13, 2019 110 Fawcett Street Marijuana Retailer * Bert Vining, J.D., Revolutionary Clinics
May 10, 2019 1908 Mass. Ave. Marijuana Retailer Porter Square Remedies LLC; Water J. Sullivan, Jr.
May 9, 2019 1686 Mass. Ave. (Stereo Jack's) Marijuana Retailer Arish Halani
May 7, 2019 51 New Street Marijuana Retailer Binoj Pradhan, PH Organics LLC
May 2, 2019 86 Kirkland St Marijuana Retailer  Binoj Pradhan, PH Organics LLC
Apr 30, 2019 1001 Mass. Ave. Marijuana Retailer * Sean D. Hope
Apr 29, 2019 31 Church Street Marijuana Retailer Leah Samura
Apr 26, 2019 567 Mass. Ave. Marijuana Retailer Timothy Flaherty
Apr 25, 2019 580 Mass. Ave. Marijuana Retailer Sean D. Hope
Apr 24, 2019 541 Mass. Ave. Marijuana Retailer * Bert Vining, J.D.
Apr 12, 2019 36 JFK Street Marijuana Retailer Adam F Braillard, Prince Lobel Tye LLP
Feb 7, 2019 701-703B Mt. Auburn St Marijuana Retailer  Michael Pires, KG Collective, LLC
Dec 20, 2018 231 Third Street Marijuana Dispensary Michael Drayer
Nov 7, 2018 1001 Mass. Ave. Marijuana Retailer  Sean D. Hope
Oct 5, 2018 259-261 Cambridge St Marijuana Dispensary Life Essence, Inc., Walter J. Sullivan, Jr.
Sept 27, 2018 200 Msgr O'Brien Hwy Marijuana Dispensary Ascend Mass, LLC
Aug 27, 2018 98 Winthrop Street Marijuana Retailer * Healthy Pharms, Inc., Paul Overgaag
July 16, 2018 541 Mass. Ave. Marijuana Dispensary Bert Vining, VP, Revolutionary Clinics
June 15 & 28, 2017 1385 Cambridge St Marijuana Dispensary Commonwealth Alternative Care
Nov 30, 2016 98 Winthrop Street Marijuana Dispensary Healthy Pharms, Inc., Paul Overgaag
Oct 26, 2016 110 Fawcett Street Marijuana Dispensary CAS Foundation, Inc., Bert Vining

* - Registered Marijuana Dispensary proposing to expand to Marijuana Retailer


Books on Cambridge History

Feb 10, 2019 - I'm cleaning up some old email today and found something I wrote a couple of years ago in response to a question about books on Cambridge history. Perhaps you'll find it useful. - RW

It's hard to say where to begin. There was a tradition of Cambridge history-writing in the 19th century that was largely lost during most of the 20th Century. The tradition seems to be having something of a 21st Century revival. Some of my favorites (and I've picked up many of these on eBay) are:

Lucius Paige's History of Cambridge (1877) - you can also read this on the web, e.g. https://archive.org/details/historyofcambrid00paigiala
I mention this one first because it is so often referenced in later histories.

The Cambridge of Eighteen Hundred and Ninety Six (a 50th Anniversary compilation published in 1896 commemorating the transition of Cambridge from Town to City in 1846)
This has a lot of good history in it. I have loaner copies available.

Survey of Architectural History of Cambridge, Volumes 1-5, by the Cambridge Historical Commission
These you can still pick up on eBay and they're at the Cambridge Public Library. I have multiple copies of each volume as loaners.
Volume 1 was originally published in 1967, but a 1989 update is practically a whole other book.

A City's Life and Times, Cambridge in the Twentieth Century, various authors, published by the Cambridge Historical Society, 2007.

Building Old Cambridge, by Susan Maycock and Charles Sullivan of the Cambridge Historical Commission, recently published and available (no sales tax!) at the Cambridge Historical Commission office as well as local bookstores (with sales tax).
This volume started out, I believe, as a successor volume to Volume 4 of the Survey of Architectural History of Cambridge (Old Cambridge), but it grew into something far more comprehensive.

There are at least, I believe, 5 oral history volumes put together by Sarah Boyer and the Cambridge Historical Commission. I believe they may all still be available for purchase at the CHC office, but some are also available at bookstores (and at the Library).

Cambridge on the Charles, by Alan Seaburg, Thomas Dahill, and Carol Rose, published by Anne Minerva Press. Alan and Thomas are friends and fellow Board members with the Middlesex Canal Association (I'm also the webmaster).

There are lots of other miscellaneous books that I really love, including Ten No License Years in Cambridge, published in 1898, that provides great insight into the temperance movement in Cambridge and the roots of the "good government" movement in the 20th Century. It's available in the Cambridge Room of the Main Library.

The books by Tip O'Neill all have some interesting bits and pieces about Cambridge in the 20th Century.

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

Tues, Oct 30, 2018 -- Today's Homework Assignment:
Please identify which policies, if any, from Cambridge's Growth Policy Document should be changed.
[To the best of my knowledge, these important policies have never been part of the discussion among the current Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee or its various Working Groups. Indeed, some of the current recommendations growing from the Envision Cambridge process clearly contradict some of these current policies. - RW]

Cambridge Growth Policy - Toward a Sustainable Future
1993, updated 2007
[Full Document - with graphics and narratives]


Percentage of Subsidized Housing Units (not including group quarters) - September 2017
(source)

Community Housing Units Subsidized Units % Rank (of 351) Notes
Statewide 2,692,186 262,223 9.7% - -
Chelsea 12,592 2,434 19.3% 3  
Boston 269,482 51,283 19.0% 4  
Bedford 5,322 972 18.3% 5  
Cambridge 46,690 6,911 14.8% 11 ~7,800 of 53,000 currently
Burlington 9,627 1,283 13.3% 17  
Andover 12,324 1,637 13.3% 18  
Needham 11,047 1,397 12.6% 25  
Lowell 41,308 5,180 12.5% 26  
Canton 8,710 1,090 12.5% 28  
Lynn 35,701 4,435 12.4% 29  
Concord 6,852 804 11.7% 34  
Lexington 11,946 1,321 11.1% 47  
Lincoln 2,153 238 11.1% 48  
Dedham 10,115 1,104 10.9% 49  
Westwood 5,389 576 10.7% 55  
Randolph 11,980 1,280 10.7% 56  
Framingham 27,443 2,871 10.5% 59  
Natick 14,052 1,458 10.4% 61  
Wilmington 7,788 799 10.3% 64  
Malden 25,122 2,542 10.1% 65  
Braintree 14,260 1,382 9.7% 70  
Somerville 33,632 3,250 9.7% 73 statewide average
Quincy 42,547 4,096 9.6% 75  
Brookline 26,201 2,454 9.4% 78  
Woburn 16,237 1,419 8.7% 86  
Revere 21,956 1,780 8.1% 102  
Melrose 11,714 932 8.0% 104  
Winthrop 8,253 638 7.7% 111  
Newton 32,346 2,425 7.5% 115  
Waltham 24,805 1,834 7.4% 120  
Medford 23,968 1,694 7.1% 133  
Watertown 15,521 1,072 6.9% 136  
Saugus 10,754 732 6.8% 139  
Everett 16,691 1,061 6.4% 150  
Wellesley 9,090 573 6.3% 152  
Arlington 19,881 1,121 5.6% 163  
Stoneham 9,399 495 5.3% 176  
Wayland 4,957 254 5.1% 181  
Milton 9,641 481 5.0% 187  
Weston 3,952 167 4.2% 207  
Belmont 10,117 365 3.6% 231  
Winchester 7,920 244 3.1% 244  

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.

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.


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
[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 (and now audio too!) of each]

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 403-404: June 18, 2019 with Patrick Barrett

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 401-402: June 11, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 399-400: June 4, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 397-398: May 21, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 395-396: May 14, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 393-394: May 7, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 391-392: April 30, 2019 (w/Patrick Barrett)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 389-390: April 23, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 387-388: April 9, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 385-386: April 2, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 383-384: March 26, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 381-382: March 19, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 379-380: March 12, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 377-378: March 5, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 375-376: Feb 26, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 373-374: Feb 19, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 371-372: Feb 5, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 369-370: Jan 29, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 367-368: Jan 15, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 365-366: Jan 8, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 363-364: Dec 18, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 361-362: Dec 11, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 359-360: Dec 4, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 357-358: Nov 27, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 355-356: Nov 20, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 353-354: Nov 13, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 351-352: Nov 6, 2018 (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

Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

Items of Interest on the June 10, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted June 9, 2019)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – June 6, 2019 (posted June 6, 2019)

2019 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports (posted Dec 25, 2018; updated June 3, 2019)

Dealing the Dope – June 3, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted June 2, 2019)

Passing the Buck – May 20, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted May 20, 2019)

More Monday Madness – May 6, 2019 Cambridge City Council Curiosities (posted May 6, 2019)

Amateur Hour – Items of interest at the April 29, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Apr 28, 2019)

Living on a Budget (A Big Budget) – April 22, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Apr 22, 2019)

For What It’s Worth – Select Items on the April 8, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted Apr 8, 2019)

Preview – April 1, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Mar 31, 2019)

Street Cleaning, Yard Waste Pickup, Hazardous Waste Collection, Rabies, and some really cool Watertown history (Mar 31, 2019)

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Mar 31, 2019)

A Few Items of Interest – March 25, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted Mar 25, 2019)

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

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

Coming Attractions – March 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Mar 4, 2019)

Not So Great Expectations – Feb 25, 2019 City Council Agenda (posted Feb 24, 2019)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – Jan 21, 2019

Cambridge School Committee 2017 Campaign Finance Summaries and $/Vote (updated Dec 15, 2018)

Distribution of Cambridge voters by age: Nov 2012 – Nov 2018 (posted Nov 22, 2018)

Cambridge Growth Policy – Toward a Sustainable Future (posted Oct 31, 2018)

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Confirmed in Cambridge (posted Aug 24, 2018)

Tight spot on Huron Avenue (posted Aug 14, 2018 by John Allen)

The Marcia Deihl bicycling fatality (posted Mar 14, 2018 by John Allen)

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

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

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

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)

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)

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
Comments?

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 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)

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 csv@cpsd.us for more details.


 
Robert Winters
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
 
Philosophy of the CCJ Editor
 
faces
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 (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"



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