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 381 (Mar 19, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Candidate update and some PR notes; counting bikes, proposed Cycling Safety Ordinance; the misuse of surveys; and Better Buses?
|Episode 382 (Mar 19, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Plan E and the City Auditor; nominations for Outstanding City Employee awards; Faux Retail; Cambridgeside Galeria Re-Envisioned
|Episode 379 (Mar 12, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Fresh Pond/Mt. Auburn walk invitation; Housing Overlay proposal and Housing Committee meeting
|Episode 380 (Mar 12, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: New City Council candidates; national politics; PR election realities; Zero Waste Plan; upcoming events
|Episode 377 (Mar 5, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Housing - Overlay proposal and background, Envision, condo conversion, and rent control; municipal election topics; defining Central Square
|Episode 378 (Mar 5, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Condos continued; task forces; River Street; AAA bond ratings; new Council candidates; national politics
|Episode 375 (Feb 26, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Tree Removal Moratorium vote and politics; proposal for a total ban on all leaf blowers
|Episode 376 (Feb 26, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Trucks & Free Speech; proposed MBTA fare increase, tradeoffs, Uber/Lyft; The Return of Lodging Houses?; home ownership & responsibility; acoustic music licensing
|Episode 373 (Feb 19, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Putnam Ave. fire; death of Paula Sharaga; Feb 11 City Council meeting; infrastructure
|Episode 374 (Feb 19, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Infrastructure; Tree Ordinance & proposed Moratorium; Robert's Rules & The Joy of Walking Out
|Episode 371 (Feb 5, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Patriots; Trees, continued; Eversource & Infrastructure; Assessing Upzoning; 20mph speed limit sign deluge
|Episode 372 (Feb 5, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Cannabis tax; Al Vellucci; Young'uns and Commissions; Board of Fun
|Episode 369 (Jan 29, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Proposed moratorium on tree removals; Jan 28 City Council meeting
|Episode 370 (Jan 29, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Bottled water; value of upzoning; publicl funding for municipal elections (again); Jan 29 City Council meeting
|Episode 367 (Jan 15, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Jan 14 City Council meeting; Notable Retirements, Envision Cambridge, aging water infrastructure, and more.
|Episode 368 (Jan 15, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: How Big is Too Big?; table-setting for the election year.
|Episode 365 (Jan 8, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: History; Political Trichotomy; Trees; Infrastructure & Inundation
|Episode 366 (Jan 8, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Significant passings; arts funding and earmarking; proposed Home Rule petition for a real estate transfer tax; and more
|Episode 363 (Dec 18, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: One Way Zoning; Housing Choice Initiative; Suburban Zoning and Subsidized Housing
|Episode 364 (Dec 18, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Housing, continued; Cannabis Retail Ordained; City Clerk Donna Lopez to retire in May; Plan E in Lowell
City of Cambridge Health & Human Services Job Fair – March 27
The City of Cambridge Office of Workforce Development, is sponsoring a Health & Human Services Job Fair on Wed, Mar 27, from 11am-1pm, at the Central Square Library, 45 Pearl Street in Cambridge.
This will be a great opportunity for job seekers to connect with employers such as Boston Children’s Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, City of Cambridge DHSP Youth Programs, Community Resources for Justice, Fenway Health/AIDS Action Committee, Franciscan Children’s Hospital, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, Mount Auburn Hospital, Nurtury, Perkins School for the Blind, Spaulding Hospital/Cambridge, and Vinfen.
Those who plan to attend should remember to research companies and job opportunities before the job fair and to apply for appropriate positions online.
The Office of Workforce Development is part of the City's Department of Human Services Program. For more information, contact Josh Foley at 617-349-6259 or email@example.com.
Pre-Spring Fling - Select Items from the March 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda
Here's my first pass at what seems comment-worthy:
Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the bi-annual City of Cambridge Resident Telephone Survey for 2018. [Manager's message] [aggregate responses] [longer report]
The wording of the questions and the meaning of the choices can have a tremendous effect on surveys such as this. For example, if the question "What do you think is the single most important issue facing the City of Cambridge today—the one that affects you and your family the most?" simply lists one option as "Affordable housing/housing", then it's not at all surprising that this will be the overwhelming first choice. However, does this mean access to subsidized housing or, more likely, does this mean that most renters feel that their rent is higher than they would like it to be and that most buyers feel that purchase costs are much higher than they would like it to be? This is an important distinction because this survey may be used to justify only the expansion of subsidized housing without addressing what most people actually meant by their response in the survey.
Order #2. Reappointment of James Monagle as City Auditor. Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux
Good choice. Do it.
Bikes, Buses, Scooters & other Transportation:
Manager's Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-142, regarding a report on efforts to educate cyclists about riding safety and sharing the road especially at intersections.
Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant staff about updating the bike data count chart, along with other data tables and charts, in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan to reflect 2016 and 2018 data. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan
Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant staff to report to the City Council on how the data collected from the Broadway Eco-Display is used to inform the City’s transportation planning efforts and to address the possibility of installing additional Eco-Display counters at the highest trafficked bicycle locations to provide more comprehensive information about bike use and other vehicles such as scooters. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan
Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to confer with City Staff and report back to the City Council on the status of any micro-mobility pilot programs or partnerships in Cambridge. Councillor Kelley
I'll be interested in seeing the requested data (with appropriate documentation to support its validity). I have come to believe that when you start factoring in such things as weather, the need to run multiple errands, electric vehicles and micro-cars, TNCs, and various micro-mobility options, as well as age/condition, we may conclude that Cambridge is not actually located in The Netherlands and that the choice of bicycle transportation may have a natural upper limit no matter how many flex-posts you bolt to the road.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 26, 2019 to discuss the MBTA’s Better Bus Project report as it relates to proposed changes to bus lines and service throughout Cambridge.
If Better Bus means little more than Cutting Corners then there's not a whole lot to like here. I do, however, think that folding the CT1 into the #1 Bus with more frequent service is a good idea, but only if they can finally solve the problem of Bus Bunching.
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 Feb 27, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Title Twelve entitled “Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places” by adding a new Chapter 12.22 entitled “Cycling Safety Ordinance”.
The key question I would have asked is whether or not this proposal unnecessary restricts the ability of the City Manager and City Departments from using good judgment and appropriate discretion in deciding how future road projects should proceed. As near as I can tell, everything that was and is on the table came from just one lobbying group. Then again, that seems to be the way this City Council operates.
Order #5. Thanks to Mayor McGovern and all members of the Harm Reduction Commission and the Cambridge Opioid Working Group for their leadership and service and that a Human Services and Veterans Committee hold a future hearing to receive an update on the recommendations in these reports and on efforts in Cambridge to address substance use disorder and the opioid crisis. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon
Prelude to the Mayor enabling a "safe injection site" to be located inevitably in Central Square to supplement the existing Needle Exchange and other sites enabling IV drug users to flock to Central Square. Wouldn't it be great if we instead concentrated on things that helped to attract families with children to Central Square?
Order #8. City Council endorsement of the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon
This Order seems to be setting up for the case to be made that current Cambridge zoning is too restrictive and must be changed to allow for significantly increased density. Note the sponsors. It is curious how the extremely strict zoning restrictions of the suburbs and exurbs are somehow being invoked to make the case that Cambridge, with one of the highest population densities and highest proportions of subsidized housing in Massachusetts, is somehow comparable to Weston. Mendacity seems to be the new official language of Cambridge.
Order #13. City Council support for fully funding the Section 8 Housing Choice Tenant-Based Voucher Program. Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone
Good idea and more to the point than what is otherwise being discussed these days.
Order #14. That the City Manager direct the appropriate City staff to examine the need and possibility of neighborhood preference in Cambridge in the short and long-terms. Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan
Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Siddiqui, transmitting the submission of the Mayor's Blue-Ribbon Task Force on Tenant Displacement Feb 24, 2018 meeting minutes.
Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Zondervan, transmitting a memorandum regarding "Affordable Housing Overlay Initial Thoughts".
I'll be adding more than just my "initial thoughts" on this soon. This juggernaut really needs to be stopped and reconsidered.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 13, 2019 to receive an update on the progress to date on the retail strategy plan and vacant storefront initiative.
Faux Retail is apparently The Future. - RW
Update: Councillor Toomey exercised his Charter Right to delay all of the City Manager's Agenda until the next Council meeting (March 25). The only other consequential thing in the meeting was the back-and-forth posturing of Councillors Zondervan, Siddiqui, Mallon, Carlone, Devereux, and McGovern over Councillor Zondervan's "initial thoughts" memo on the Public Housing Expansion Initiative, a.k.a. the "Affordable Housing Overlay". Vice Mayor Devereux handled herself rather well. Councillor Mallon argued in favor having her own Maple Ave. be a preferred site for new Public Housing. Councillors Kelley, Simmons, and Toomey wisely remained silent.
This may be the best case yet for the need for Ranked Choice Voting:
Correia remains Fall River mayor in election stunner (Boston Globe, March 13, 2019)
Correia was simultaneously thrown out of office by a majoprity of voters in a recall election, and elected back to the same office in a 35% plurality vote in a field of five candidates seeking to become the new Mayor (including Corriea). This is just plain perverse.
Zero Waste Master Plan Draft open for comment
For more than a year, the City has been developing a Zero Waste Master Plan. The City is seeking your feedback on the Draft Plan and the six Appendices. Visit CambridgeMA.Gov/ZWMP to review and submit comments until March 15, 2019. The final Zero Waste Master Plan will be made public by April 4.
Feb 28 - The City of Cambridge has embarked on a path to Zero Waste to build upon its current waste management system and programs. The development of a Zero Waste Master Plan (ZWMP) and strategy is intended to assist with achieving the City’s goals of reducing waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The public is invited to review a draft version of this plan and send comments through March 15, 2019, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The recommendations developed for the ZWMP will help support the Department of Public Works’ (DPW) guiding principles of providing high-quality public services, protecting and supporting the health of employees and the public, and managing costs and reducing trash. Learn more about how the City's 25,000 tons of trash, recycling and composting is sorted - what's landfilled, incinerated, recycled and composted - in Appendix 1 of the Zero Waste Master Plan.
The Zero Waste Master Plan (ZWMP) will guide the City in:
• Meeting trash reduction goals of 30% reduction by 2020 and 80% reduction by 2050 from 2008 waste levels.
• Maintaining high quality public services to manage waste disposal
• Maximize operational efficiency
• Protecting employee health and safety
• Evaluating costs for managing waste
• Exploring the impact of waste reduction on GHG emission goals
The ZWMP will also coordinate with the efforts of the citywide comprehensive plan, Envision Cambridge.
For more information, visit CambridgeMA.gov/zerowastemasterplan.
Upcoming Waste Events
Fri. 3/15: Last day to comment on Draft Zero Waste Master Plan.
Mon. 3/25: MassRecycle Summit, Sheraton Hotel Framingham.
Thurs. 4/4: New recycling program begins--TBA in March.
Sat. 4/6: Hazardous Waste Day for Cambridge residents, near 125 Munroe St.
Sat 5/18: Fix-It Clinic at Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway.
All Cambridge Dog Licenses Expire March 31, 2019
State law requires that all dogs over 6 months have a current dog license. The dog license period in Cambridge, MA runs from April 1 of the current year until March 31 of the following year.
Cambridge residents can apply for or renew their dog’s license online or download the paper application to renew via mail or in person, following instructions on the respective form.
In order to obtain a dog license, you will need:
- A rabies vaccination certificate with an expiration date or copy of medical records with rabies expiration date;
- Proof of spay or neuter (if not shown before), actual surgery certificate or if noted on Rabies/Medical History;
- FEES: Spayed Female/Neutered Male ($10); Un-Spayed Female/Un-Neutered Male ($30)
- If licensing by mail, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope;
- Please make check or money order payable to City of Cambridge, or payments can also be made in cash. Credit cards are not accepted in the office, but can be used for online renewals.
The Cambridge Animal Commission is located at 344 Broadway and its hours of operation are: Monday - Friday, 8:30am-7pm.
For more information, please contact Cambridge Animal Commission at 617-349-4076 or email@example.com.
City of Cambridge Announces Inman Square Loyalty Program
The Program Encourages Patrons to Support Local Inman Square Businesses During Construction
The Cambridge Community Development Department will launch the Inman Square Loyalty Program on Friday, March 1. The Loyalty Program is designed to encourage Cambridge residents, employees, and visitors to continue supporting local businesses in the Inman Square business district during the Inman Square Intersection Improvements Project construction period. Those who participate in the Inman Square Loyalty Program will be entered in a monthly raffle.
To participate in the Inman Square Loyalty Program:
- Pick up an Inman Square Loyalty Card at participating Inman Square businesses.
- Make six purchases at participating businesses each month and get your Loyalty Card stamped after each transaction.
- Return your completed Loyalty Card to drop boxes located throughout Inman Square.
The Community Development Department will select two winners at the end of each month through a raffle drawing. Winners will receive a $50.00 gift certificate to an Inman Square business of their choice. Customers are limited to submitting one completed Loyalty Card per month.
“Our local businesses are an important part of our community and I am pleased that we are piloting this new program to help encourage residents and visitors to continue patronizing businesses during the upcoming construction project,” said Louis DePasquale, City Manager. “I appreciate the close collaboration between our City departments and the local business community to make this pilot a reality.”
“The pilot Inman Square Loyalty Program is part of our efforts to mitigate City construction-related impacts for local businesses,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “Inman Square is a vibrant part of Cambridge’s retail economy, and the program encourages people to continue enjoying its diverse dining and shopping options during construction.”
The Community Development Department, Department of Public Works, and City Manager’s Office are collaborating with the East Cambridge Business Association, the Inman Square Neighborhood Association, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, and Cambridge Local First to provide additional resources and programming that will support local businesses during the Inman Square Intersection Improvements Project.
“Supporting small business owners becomes even more important when they face construction projects,” said Jason Alves, Director of East Cambridge Business Association. “The Inman Square Loyalty Program will help remind people of the positive impact they can have on their community each and every time they make a decision to spend their dollars locally. It will be great to see the community get behind our businesses and win some prizes that will further support those impacted.”
To learn more about upcoming events and resources related to Inman Square construction mitigation efforts, visit cambridgema.gov/ShopInman.
Cambridge Awarded AAA Ratings
Nations three major credit rating agencies affirm City’s status for 20th year
March 4, 2019 – The City of Cambridge has retained its noteworthy distinction of being one of approximately 33 municipalities in the U.S. to earn AAA ratings from each of the nation's three major credit rating agencies. Each year since 1999, the city has received these ratings from Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings.
“I want to acknowledge the City Council’s leadership for adopting and maintaining sound fiscal policies, and city department heads and staff for their commitment to prudently managing their budgets and programs,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “One of the many factors contributing to the city receiving these ratings is our strong and dedicated team.”
The AAA ratings are in conjunction with the city's sale of $90.6 million in General Obligation bonds. These sales will finance capital projects such as King Open and Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex, sewer reconstruction, street and sidewalk reconstruction, and other municipal and school building design and renovations.
Over the last 20 years, the AAA rating has enabled the city to finance a variety of major capital projects at very favorable rates that, in turn, result in savings to taxpayers.
As the city undertakes a significant increase in debt issuance over the next few years to fund it's school rebuilding program, the AAA rating will play a significant role in enabling the city to secure the most favorable interest rates. This is especially important as the city embarks on funding its third school project (Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools) with an estimated cost of $250 million. Overall, including the Tobin School project, the city is projected to spend a total of $505 million for the three school projects. In addition, the bonding schedule includes significant obligations for renovations to Fire Headquarters and other city buildings.
“We take a long-term approach to our fiscal planning, and our fiscal strategies and management practices have real impacts on Cambridge taxpayers,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We’ve built significant reserves, which in part serve as the city’s insurance policy, and our financial success is only possible because of the collaboration that occurs between the City Council and the city administration.”
Below are excerpts from the Rating Agencies reports. (Download Full Reports)
Moody’s Investors Service
Cambridge, Massachusetts (Aaa stable) benefits from a sizeable and diverse tax base that continues to grow significantly year over year. The city's economy is driven largely by the presence of Harvard University (Aaa stable) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, Aaa stable) and the impressive research and development sector. The city's financial position is strong with very healthy liquidity and reserves that are maintained by strong fiscal management. Both the debt burden and long term liabilities for pension and OPEB are conservatively managed and will remain manageable over the near term.
Credit strengths cited include:
- Large and diverse tax base anchored by institutional presences and robust commercial sector;
- Healthy financial position guided by formal policies;
- Strong fiscal management;
- Ample operating flexibility with excess levy capacity under Proposition 2½; and
- Expected to fully fund pension liability by 2026
The city's 'AAA' GO bond rating and Issuer Default Rating (IDR) reflect Fitch Ratings’ expectation for Cambridge to maintain a high level of financial flexibility through economic cycles, consistent with a history of strong operating performance and budget controls. The ratings further reflect the city's wealthy and growing property tax base, moderate expenditure growth and its demonstrated ability to reduce expenditures during economic downturns.
Fitch expects long-term liabilities to remain low based on the city's manageable capital needs, rapid principal amortization, continued growth in economic resources and a practice of fully funding actuarially determined pension contributions.
Standard & Poor’s Corporation
The rating reflects our opinion of Cambridge's extremely strong property tax base that continues to grow within the Boston metropolitan statistical area (MSA), supporting continued positive budgetary performance that has led to improved reserves. The city has a favorable debt profile with the ability to absorb additional debt plans.
Key factors cited include management's:
- Conservative revenue and expenditure assumptions in the budgeting process that focus on five years of historical information;
- Quarterly reports on budget-to-actual results and investments to the city's finance and investment committees, respectively;
- Long-term financial plan with credible assumptions;
- Five-year capital plan with identified funding sources, which it is expanding to include a municipal-facilities-improvement plan;
- Robust debt and investment policy it reviews at least annually to demonstrate adherence; and
- Reserve policy that requires maintaining a minimum 15% of expenditures.
Nominations Sought for Outstanding City of Cambridge Employee Awards
March 8, 2019 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking nominations for the 2019 Outstanding City Employee Awards program which recognizes employees for exemplary performance and contributions that go above and beyond job requirements.
Cambridge city government is made up of dedicated employees who strive to provide a high level of quality services to all its citizens. The annual awards ceremony provides a special opportunity to give extra recognition to a few exemplary individuals who will be recognized at a special awards ceremony on Friday, May 10, 2019.
The Outstanding City Employee Awards are designed to recognize contributions that are above and beyond job requirements. Criteria for determining outstanding performance include:
- Demonstrated strong leadership and a high level of commitment to the city and its residents.
- Demonstrated outstanding customer service to the public and/or fellow employees.
- Developed an innovative or creative solution to a problem.
- Made superior contribution to the success of a project, completing work on time and within budget.
- Donated significant time to activities that benefit the Cambridge community. Encouraged and valued community involvement.
- Demonstrated an exceptional ability to work in a multicultural organization.
- Consistently contributed to better city operations.
All City employees are eligible for nomination. Anyone who lives or works in Cambridge may nominate one or more city employees for recognition. Individuals are not limited as to how many employees s/he chooses to nominate, but must submit a separate Nomination Form or letter for each employee. An employee may not nominate her or his own supervisor or department head for recognition.
Nominations are due by Friday, April 12, 2019 and can be submitted online. Alternatively, a signed nomination letter may also be submitted in person to the Personnel Department, Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue, 3rd Floor, via fax to 617-349-4312, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming Attractions - March 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting
Here's a quick look at some of the more interesting agenda items.
Manager's Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a recommendation from the Planning Board to adopt following further staff review and improvements to the petition language, the City Council Zoning Petition to Amend Section 4.22 "Accessory Apartments."
Manager's Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a recommendation from the Planning Board to not adopt the Petition to rezone the parcel at 234 Monsignor O'Brien Highway from Residential C-1 to Business A.
Manager's Agenda #12. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a recommendation from the Planning Board to not adopt the Stormwater Separation from Flat Roofs Zoning Petition.
One thumb up, two thumbs down.
Manager's Agenda #13. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the City of Cambridge has retained its noteworthy distinction of being one of approximately 33 municipalities in the United States with AAA ratings from each of the nation’s three major credit rating agencies. [Moody's] [S&P Global] [Fitch]
This has become an annual tradition. It comes with other annual traditions - activists expressing dismay at Cambridge's fiscal position and elected officials using it to argue that more "free cash" should be poured into their favorite pet projects.
This bill is comprised of common sense measures: a) requiring rear lights on bikes; b) mandating that motor vehicle operators MUST give a wide berth to vulnerable users (like bikes and pedestrians) when passing; c) minimizing "blind spots" for motor vehicles; d) requiring guards on trucks to minimize the likelihood of someone going under the wheels; e) reducing speed limits to 25mph on state highways in thickly settled areas and business districts. I'm not sure if the requirement of safe passing distance applies to bikes passing pedestrians, but it should.
Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the Assessor’s Office to provide Up-To-Date Condo Conversion Data. Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern
I am interested in this information, but most of those horses left the barn a while ago. Multi-family homes on the scale of two-family and triple-deckers were the single most effective affordable housing mechanism in Cambridge for most of the last century. As the condo craze swept through some people were able to get a piece of the action, but the mechanism for a working class family to house themselves and provide housing at affordable rents to cover the mortgage is now just a minor (but still important) part of the Cambridge housing picture. If limits on condominium conversion were ever to have happened it should have happened 20 years ago.
Order #8. City Council support of H1850: An act ensuring safe patient access to emergency care and H1346: An act removing the liability cap for malpractice resulting in serious injury or death. Councillor Mallon, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui
I'm all for H1850: An act ensuring safe patient access to emergency care. As for the other bill, there are good reasons for liability caps, and no amount of money will ever bring back someone who has died.
Committee Report #1. 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 Jan 30, 2019 to discuss a petition filed by Joseph T. Maguire, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. to amend the Zoning Ordinance by creating the Grand Junction Pathway Overlay District adjacent to the Grand Junction Railroad right-of-way between Binney and Cambridge Streets.
Based on the report, this petition may not float. The matter remains in committee.
Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Mallon, transmitting notes of the meeting on Feb 7, 2019 of the Mayor's Arts Task Force. [Full Report]
The text of the report is reproduced here purely for informational purposes. However, I continue to ponder the question of what constitutes acting affirmatively on behalf of a constituency and just plain old political patronage. Should artists and musicians be provided advantages not available to other constituencies who are also struggling to live and work in and around Cambridge? - Robert Winters
March Programs (and Beyond) at Fresh Pond Reservation
These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.
|Fresh Air Walks
Dates: Tuesdays in March, 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
|How You Can Help Climate and Wildlife Scientists
Date: Monday, March 25, 6 to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at the Water Treatment Plant (front door) 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
Climate Change Science & Biodiversity Science need you and the information you can collect. And the good news is that you can easily and really make a difference! This is a crash course about participative science (a.k.a. citizen science), that is the active public involvement in scientific research. In this class, we introduce you to what citizen science is, why it is needed, where it is needed, how you can help (individually or joining some of our local projects including at the Fresh Pond Reservoir), and some of the tools to help. Join us. It's fun & exciting. Let's make a difference together! For any question, contact Claire at email@example.com. Learn about Earthwise Aware at https://www.earthwiseaware.org/
|The Vernal Equinox: The Signs of Spring Walk
Date: Monday, March 18, 6 to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station (under the clock tower), 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
To much of the wild world, the vernal equinox marks the start of the new year. Kick away your feelings of winter and walk with Ranger Tim as we explore about how we can observe the signs of spring with all five senses on our way through the reservation. For questions or more information contact: tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov
|"Welcome Spring" Bird Walk
Date: Sunday, March 31, 8 to 10am
Place: Register for parking and meeting information, and for notice of cancellation due to weather
Spring is here, and migrating birds are arriving at Fresh Pond. Some will stay for the breeding season, others will rest and eat before continuing their northward journey. The new arrivals and our year-round residents soon will be busy building nests and defending territories. We may see a variety of migrating waterfowl on the ponds as well as songbirds in trees. Beginners are welcome! We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. To register, for important parking information, and for notice of cancellation due to weather, email Catherine Pedemonti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Spring in the City: One Bee, Two Bee, Red Bee, Blue Bee!
Date: Monday, April 1, 6 to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at the Water Treatment Plant (front door), 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
Once upon a springtime, apples were flowers and bees helped turn them into the sweet fruits that you love to pick and eat. But which bees? There are over 200 species in New England and they’re wonderfully diverse in size, color, and behavior. In this talk, Nick Dorian, a second-year PhD student at Tufts, will teach you all about our native bees, with a focus on the spring-emerging bees you’ll be able to find in Cambridge. You’ll learn about basic bee biology, why our native bees are such efficient pollinators, and how you can provide flowers and shelter to make a difference in the life of a bee.
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 email@example.com for any RSVPs or questions!
Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership is $10 and can be paid online or sent to 31 Mt. Pleasant St., Cambridge, MA 02138.
Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at http://friendsoffreshpond.org to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants.
|A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
Not So Great Expectations - Feb 25, 2019 City Council Agenda
Perhaps the biggest draw for this meeting will be the anticipated vote on a proposed moratorium on property owners removing any tree above a certain diameter without City permission and an onerous fine. Though I understand there may be some amendments, the current proposal would allow the removal of only "dead, diseased, or dangerous" trees. The background motivation is that some Big Developers removed some trees, so therefore every small property owner must be penalized or prevented from making difficult choices about how to manage their property. I'm still hoping that some wisdom may emerge from this hopelessly politicized travesty, but I expect to be disappointed. I suppose I should start getting used to it because this group of nine city councillors may continue to disappoint as the year progresses as they set the stage for the November municipal election. The script is basically to declare an emergency and then use it to justify loss of freedom and flexibility. Sound familiar? Here are the relevant items:
Unfinished Business #5. 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 Jan 9, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.66 entitled “Tree Protection” to amend section 8.66.40 entitled “Applicability” and by adding a new section 8.66.055 entitled “Procedure for other projects.” THE QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER FEB 18, 2019.
Committee Report #1. 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 Feb 14, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal code to amend Chapter 8.66 entitled “Tree Protection”: in section 8.66.055 entitled “Procedure for Other Significant Tree Removals”.
Manager's Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-105, regarding the feasibility of placing a condition in the public bidding documents prohibiting municipal contractors from displaying any signage other than company makers and contact information on vehicles. [City Solicitor's Response]
If you recall, this requested legal analysis stems from that rather shallow reaction by some city councillors some months ago to a construction vehicle that carried a political message not to their liking. The City Solicitor's response confirms what everyone surely must have known when this Order was filed. Free speech may not always be what you want to hear, but it is protected. That's what has long been Great about America.
Manager's Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $600,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Executive Department Extraordinary Expenditures, to be used for shoreline and landscape improvements at Magazine Beach.
This continues to be one of the most refreshing collaborations in recent memory between local residents, their City and State government, and the Mass. Dept. of Conservation & Recreation (DCR). There will, of course, be hundreds of pages of gibberish filed by our local "Goose Guy" accusing all parties of every sort of malfeasance. Free speech, you know.
Applications & Petitions #4. A Zoning Petition has been received from the residents of the City of Cambridge requesting that the City Council amend Chapter 8.16 "Noise Control" of the Cambridge Municipal Code. [They are proposing an outright ban on leaf blowers.]
I suppose regulating leaf blowers just wasn't enough for some people. It's got to be a ban. There is a Cambridge subculture that really must be modeling their behavior on Boston's old Watch & Ward Society. Will books be next on the list of Things to be Banned? I'm already expecting to have the future Climate Police one day impound by gas-fired boiler and the internal combustion engine from my VW Bus. Please don't tell them that I also eat meat.
Resolution #5. Resolution on the death of Paula Sharaga. Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone
I knew Paula and considered her one of the most likable politically active people I have met in years. I don't have the words to say just how much of a tragedy this was and how much of a shock it was to hear the news of her death while she was bicycling in the Fenway area.
Resolution #7. Appreciation for Red Mitchell. Councillor Simmons
I want to join with Councillor Simmons in this appreciation. Red is a wonderful guy and a scholar of history. He and I will have to one day soon take a trip down to the Adams Homestead in Quincy, MA to indulge our shared interests.
Order #1. City Council opposition to MBTA Fare Increase Proposal. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon
I was looking for the clause in this Order with suggestions for other funding mechanisms for the MBTA. I'll keep looking. I'm sure it's in there somewhere.
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department on a process for establishing a formal, thorough review of the City’s Affordable Home Ownership programs, incorporating a plan for obtaining and analyzing substantial quantitative data inclusive of all types of units. Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey
I suppose the requested information may prove interesting, but the whole concept strikes me as somewhat artificial. If you don't really have the freedom to do with your property as you see fit (within the bounds of applicable zoning), is it really yours?
Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City department to discuss the feasibility of allowing small businesses to host live acoustic music performances without a license, and if feasible, present the City Council with a proposal to allow such performances. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern
The requirement of a license simply gives the City (and abutters) some recourse in the event that problems or abuses arise. Perhaps a better idea would be to establish a very simple and very inexpensive (maybe even free) licensing procedure for acoustic music performances. Maybe even have it be an over-the-counter transaction where you simply pick up the list of expectations with the license and we simply trust that they'll be followed.
Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and any other relevant City departments to amend the Zoning Ordinance “Table of Uses” to allow for lodging houses in Residential A1, A2, and B Zoning Districts and to determine what tax incentives could be utilized to assist in the conversion of single-family/multi-family houses into lodging houses. Councillor Toomey, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern
I think this could be a good thing that might provide some housing opportunities. The truth is that some people in these districts have been taking in boarders for ages. No whistle, no foul. I don't see the harm even if the whole building is given over to such a use - as long as a resident manager is required to live in the building and keep an eye on things. This idea is a lot better than some other proposals currently being considered, e.g. the "Affordable Housing Overlay".
Order #9. City Council support of retirement fund fossil fuel divestment bill. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone
There is something unsettling about city councillors dictating conditions on how public employees' pension money should be invested. I can certainly understand the City Council appealing to a retirement board to factor in the potentially negative consequences of their investment choices, but instructing them where they can and cannot invest those funds is a bit of an overreach. How would the City Council feel if the Retirement Board made recommendations about City Council salary and benefits?
Order #10. That the City Manager provide the City Council with information that is offered to limited equity condominium owners regarding the ability to recoup extraordinary repair and maintenance costs, the procedure that is in place to inform purchasers of existing or possible construction and maintenance issues that may result in higher-than expected condo fees, and the possibility of allowing roommates to cover unexpected expenses. Councillor Kelley, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey
In an ideal world, limited equity condominium arrangements should be independent of City agencies. The fact that this Order is being filed only highlights the shortcomings of having the City play an oversized role in the affairs of such buildings. If questions of "the ability of owners of limited equity condominiums to recoup extraordinary repair and maintenance costs" even have to be asked, then maybe the real question should be about the sustainability of this kind of housing model. The order also asks about "the possibility of allowing limited equity owners to have roommates to allow them to cover these sorts of unexpected expenses". If you don't have the right to take in roommates to help cover your expenses, then you don't really own anything. This is more like "pretend ownership".
Order #13. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Economic Development Department on expediting zoning based on the 2015 Commercial Land Use Classification Study and exploring the feasibility of hiring more zoning planners. Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone
I still fail to see why this has taken so long. When we reach the point where a City Council order is filed suggesting how a City department should be managed and how many people should be hired, then something has gone terribly wrong. I haven't seen any City Council orders lately offering managerial advice to the Department of Public Works or the Department of Human Service Programs.
Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to provide the City Council with information regarding accessory dwelling units. Councillor Carlone, Councillor Siddiqui
Committee Report #3. 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 Feb 5, 2019 to discuss the petition filed by the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinances in Section 4.22 to allow for a special permit for the alteration of a single, two-family or accessory structure in existence as of January 2019.
I think there are definitely more opportunities out there for accessory dwelling units as a good way to provide housing and flexibility. The recent hearing on this topic seemed to produce more questions than answers. This Order is an attempt to address some of the questions raised. - Robert Winters
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.
Coming up soon on the Cambridge Civic Front:
Wed, Mar 20
3:30pm Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Design Review Meeting (Police Station, 125 Sixth St., First Floor Community Room)
Schematic Design Proposal of 325 Main Street, Phase Two of the MXD Infill Development Concept Plan, Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan
4:00pm The City Council's Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the implications of identity theft and cybercrime on local residents and businesses to include Cambridge Police Departmental responses to these events and possible proactive measures to help people protect against such crimes. (Ackermann Room)
5:00pm The City Council's Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on the Affordable Housing Overlay District. This meeting will be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board Meeting (Police Station, 125 Sixth St., First Floor Community Room)
5:30pm School Committee Buildings and Grounds Sub-Committee meeting (School Committee Conference Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)
The purpose of this meeting is to start discussions and identify issues related to custodial services and permitting issues as well as district enrollment projections. It is anticipated that this meeting will end no later than 6:30pm.
Thurs, Mar 21
5:30pm Climate Resilience Zoning Task Force Walking Tour of Alewife (meet at Alewife T headhouse west of Russell Field)
Mon, Mar 25
4:30pm School Committee Special Education and Student Supports Subcommittee meeting (Attles Meeting Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)
The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the District’s reading curriculum, Fundations, Multi-Tiered Student Supports, and reading interventions, including Reading Recovery. It is anticipated that this meeting will end no later than 6:30pm.
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Mar 26
10:00am The City Council's Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a proposed change to City Council Rule 39 entitled “Rules of Travel” to be amended to be entitled “Rules of Travel and Other Council related expenditures”. (Sophie Anastos Room)
1:00pm The City Council's Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss Cambridge’s Memorial Tree Program and ways to revitalize the program in order to increase participation citywide. (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, Mar 27
3:00pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a zoning petition filed by Melissa and Christopher Grippo et al to amend the Zoning Ordinance by adding at the end of section 5.30.11 a sentence that reads; not with standing the foregoing, in Industry B District, a hotel use (Section 4.31.2) shall be governed by the second number (4.0) for purposes of determining the maximum ratio of floor area to lot area. This meeting will be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
3:00pm School Committee Curriculum and Achievement Sub-Committee meeting (School Committee Conference Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)
The purpose of this meeting is to create a uniformed, standardized way of ensuring that all students are transitioning from grade to grade with the necessary skills to begin the following school year at grade level. It is anticipated that this meeting will last no longer than 5:00pm.
5:30pm Cambridge Election Commission meeting (1st Floor Meeting Room, 51 Inman St.)
5:30pm Voter Registration Challenge Hearing
5:35pm Election Commission Meeting
Thurs, Mar 28
5:00pm The City Council's Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on the Affordable Housing Overlay District. This meeting will be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Apr 1
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Apr 2
2:00pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussion on a petition filed by the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge in section 4.22 to allow for a special permit for the alteration of a single, two-family or accessory structure in existence as of January 2019 to provide one accessory apartment, if appropriate conditions are met. (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, Apr 3
1:00pm The City Council's Transportation & Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss Applications and Petition #4 of March 4, 2019 submitted by the Cambridge Taxi Drivers Owners Association on whether additional regulation on Transit Network Companies (TNC) could be implemented in Cambridge. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the zoning petition filed by Stephen R. Karp, Trustee of Cambridge Side Galleria Trust to add a new Section 13.100 to Article 13 and amend the zoning map to add a new PUD-8 District Overlay. This meeting will be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
7:00-8:30pm Evenings with Experts - More than Just the Buzz: Finding Real Solutions to Native Pollinator Declines (Cambridge Main Public Library)
Presenter: Robert Gegear, Assistant Professor of Biology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. For almost two decades, pollinators have been declining in abundance, species richness, and geographic distribution at an unprecedented rate worldwide. While media attention has focused largely on the domesticated European honeybee, the decline of our native species poses a significant threat to global biodiversity due to the keystone role that pollinators play in terrestrial ecosystems. Biologist Robert Gegear will explain the beautifully complex interactions between plant species and the insects that pollinate them— intricate ecological systems that we humans are only beginning to understand. Join us to learn how Dr. Gegear’s research on pollination ‘networks’ can help develop truly effective conservation and restoration strategies, and come away with scientifically informed and practical actions you can take to support these vital insects.
Dr. Robert Gegear is the founder of the Bee-cology Project, an initiative that uses citizen science to collect much-needed ecological data on native pollinator species and pollinator habitat.
Thurs, Apr 4
5:30pm Climate Resilience Zoning Task Force meeting (Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave.)
Sat, Apr 6
9:00am-1:00pm Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Day (Volpe Transportation Center - near 125 Munroe St.)
Mon, Apr 8
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Apr 9
1:30pm The City Council's Government Operation and Rules Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the logistics and feasibility of implementing early voting in City Elections and to discuss the possibility of pursuing a Home Rule petition to lower the voting age to City elections to 16 years old. (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, Apr 10
8:00-9:30am Recycling Advisory Committee (RAC) Meeting (Sullivan Chamber, City Hall)
5:30pm Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board Meeting (Police Station, 125 Sixth St., First Floor Community Room)
Thurs, Apr 11
5:30pm Mayor's Arts Task Force meeting (Dance Complex, 536 Mass. Ave.)
Mon, Apr 22
5:30pm City Council meeting - Budget submission (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Apr 23
5:30pm Mayor's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Tenant Displacement meeting (Sullivan Chamber, City Hall)
Mon, Apr 29
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
|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|
Feb 23 - Which potential 2019 City Council election campaign accounts have been active this year? (Updated)
[Not all of those listed will actually be candidates in 2019 and there may be others not listed here. You decide.]
2019 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports - The Usual Suspects - You can sort the table by any field or open the full spreadsheet
Cambridge Community Electricity Program to Fund Development of Local Solar Project, Provide Savings to Consumers
The City’s new contract with Direct Energy will increase local renewable energy production and provide lower electricity rates than Eversource Basic Service.
The Cambridge Community Electricity Program is launching a new model for using the City’s electricity aggregation to directly create more local renewable electricity. Effective January 15, 2019, the program will collect a small amount of money, $0.002/kWh, from all participants as part of their regular electricity bill, which will be used to fund a new local solar project. Once built, the solar project will provide green electricity to everyone enrolled in the Cambridge Community Electricity Program.
The new program model is made possible through a 24-month electricity supply contract with Direct Energy. This contract offers new program prices that are fixed from January 2019 through January 2021. Participants in the Standard Green option will receive greener electricity than available through Eversource Basic Service by supporting the new local solar project. The Standard Green price will change to 11.12 cents/kWh, which is lower than Eversource’s January 2019 through June 2019 residential price of 13.704 cents/kWh.
The previous 100% Green option is now the new and improved 100% Green Plus option, which current 100% Green participants will be automatically enrolled in. 100% Green Plus participants will continue to receive 100% renewable electricity through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) from existing renewable energy projects in New England and will receive additional solar electricity from the local solar project. The 100% Green Plus price will be 11.94 cents/kWh, also less than Eversource’s winter 2019 Basic Service price. Any Cambridge resident or business can opt into 100% Green Plus at any time.
“This innovative model for our Community Electricity Program supports Cambridge’s local economy and furthers our renewable energy goals without having a negative impact on personal finances,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We are proud to continue pioneering programs that lower the carbon footprint of our community in cost-effective ways.”
Beginning in February 2019, Direct Energy will replace Agera Energy as the supplier listed on Eversource electricity bills. Participants will continue to receive and pay one bill from Eversource, which will be responsible for delivering electricity to Cambridge and for addressing power outages. Those who are eligible for discounts from Eversource will continue to receive the same benefits. Those with solar panels on their property will continue to receive net metering credits, which will be calculated based on the Eversource Basic Service rate, not on the program rate.
Savings cannot be guaranteed for future Eversource rate periods because Eversource’s prices change every 6 months for residential and small business customers and every 3 months for large business customers. Program participation is not required; participants can opt out of the program at any time with no penalty or fee and return to Eversource Basic Service.
All active accounts will be automatically enrolled in the new contract with Direct Energy unless participants choose to opt out. New Eversource electricity accounts in Cambridge will also be automatically enrolled in the program.
To switch between Standard Green or 100% Green Plus enrollment options or to opt out of the program, call Direct Energy at 1-866-968-8065. Cambridge residents and businesses currently enrolled with the Cambridge Community Electricity Program do not need to take any action to continue their enrollment as part of this new program model.
Additional information is available on the program website at www.masspowerchoice.com/cambridge. Questions or comments can be directed to Cambridge Community Electricity program consultants at 1-844-379-9934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Launched in July 2017, the Cambridge Community Electricity Program is an electricity aggregation, which uses the bulk purchasing power of the entire community to negotiate a price and increase the amount of renewable energy in the City’s electricity supply. The City uses a competitive bidding process to choose an electricity supplier for residents and businesses and to secure the best price possible for the community while advancing the City’s sustainability goals.
Featured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):
Cambridge earns AAA rating for 20th straight year (Mar 6, 2019)
East Cambridge Planning Team to hold annual elections (Mar 4, 2019)
Cambridge community invited to vote for design finalists (Mar 1, 2019)
Cambridge councillors pass tree removal moratorium (Feb 27, 2019)
GUEST COLUMN: Boston’s Urban Four must lead the state’s micro-mobility revolution (Craig Kelley, Feb 27, 2019)
Ranked-choice voting could change Massachusetts elections (Feb 25, 2019)
Housing crisis fuels homelessness in Cambridge, statewide (Feb 20, 2019)
A breakdown of 40B affordable housing (Feb 13, 2019)
Cambridge Community Center launches anniversary fund (Feb 11, 2019)
MBTA proposes 6.3 percent fare hike (Jan 28, 2019)
Should students have a say on policy? (Jan 28, 2019)
Cambridge eliminates fees for street performers (Jan 15, 2019)
Cambridge City Council passes CCOPS law (Dec 26, 2018)
CPA fund lacks cash in Massachusetts (Dec 18, 2018)
FCC rule could gut funding for Cambridge community TV (Nov 30, 2018)
Two arrested, one injured after shootout in Cambridge (updated Nov 29, 2018)
Cambridge residents asked to vote on budgeting (Nov 21, 2018)
Yard waste collection to continue through Dec 14 (Nov 16, 2018)
Baker open to fee hike to boost state CPA match (Nov 16, 2018)
Cambridge Police Department welcomes 10 new officers (Nov 13, 2018)
Cambridge cyclist killed by dump truck (Nov 9, 2018)
Resident parking permits for 2019 available (Oct 26, 2018)
Global market complicates local recycling, frustrates residents (Sept 17, 2018)
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]
Percentage of Subsidized Housing Units (not including group quarters) - September 2017
|Community||Housing Units||Subsidized Units||%||Rank (of 351)||Notes|
|Cambridge||46,690||6,911||14.8%||11||~7,800 of 53,000 currently|
Note: It must be pointed out that the figures above only show subsidized units. In many cities and towns there are many "naturally occurring" affordable units, i.e. apartments that simply have affordable rents. In addition, some tenants live in unregulated apartments but pay reduced rent due to such mechanisms as Section 8 vouchers. The figures above should therefore be understood only as a baseline.
A new report is estimating that the greater Boston area will need another 435,000 new housing units by 2040 to lure new workers and accommodate an aging population. [Reports available here]
Note: When comparing the peak population of Cambridge back in the 1950s (over 120,000) to what it is today (perhaps 107,000) it's important to keep in mind that families were typically much larger then. It's also the case that what people find acceptable in terms of living space and amenities has changed dramatically over six decades. This translates into considerably more "units" of housing (and higher density) in Cambridge if the population should rise to levels close to what they were in days of yore.
|AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.|
|Sat, Mar 16. World's End Reservation, Hingham. 5 mile hike/snowshoe, 9:00am-noon. Bring snack/water. From Rte. 3 exit 14, take Rte. 228N 6.5 mi., L on Rte. 3A 1.0mi. to rotary, R on Summer St. 0.5 mi. to light, L on Martin's Lane to entr. $8 fee for non-members of the Trustees of Reservations. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.||Sun, Mar 17. Fresh Pond and Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge. Walk around Fresh Pond and wander through Mount Auburn Cemetery in scenic Cambridge, MA. Meet at 10:30am at the intersection of Aberdeen Avenue and Huron Avenue. On-street parking is plentiful and Resident Permit Parking is not in effect on Sundays. Total distance should be approx. 4-5 miles. Rain cancels. Leader: Robert Winters|
|Sat, Mar 23. 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. L Brian Connolly.||Sat, Apr 13. Castle Island, South Boston. Fast-paced seven-mile scenic walk along ocean to Castle Island, 10:00am-1:30pm. Bring lunch and water. Meet inside JFK/UMass Red Line T station, upper level gates (no nearby parking). Storm cancels. Leader: Beth Mosias|
|Sun, Apr 14. Rocky Hill Sanctuary and adjoining woodlands, Groton. 1:00pm. This is a great area to hike around in, with a beautiful point on Long Pond, beaver marshes, a heron rookerie, and more. About 2 hours, moderate pace. No dogs. Meet at the Rocky Hill Sanctuary parking area on Cardinal Lane in Groton, 42.5811N 71.5311W. L Olin Lathrop.||Sat, Apr 20. Crane Beach, Ipswich. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, across scenic sand dunes, and along the ocean beach. Beautiful desert landscapes, include pitch pine forest, views of Essex Bay, and sea birds. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at Woodman's Seafood Restaurant, in nearby Essex, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Crane Beach parking lot. Parking Fee. From Route 128, exit 14 in Gloucester, take Route 133 West for 5 miles. Turn right on Northgate Road. Then, turn right on Argilla Road, follow to beach. L Brian Connolly.|
|Sun, Apr 21. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike around pond, 10:30am-1:30pm. Bring lunch & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. Storm cancels. Leader: Beth Mosias||Sat, May 4. Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 4 mile walk, around scenic Ponkapoag Pond, with visit to AMC Camp. Pleasant stroll across golf course, on maple tree walkway. Enjoy sit-down break, on the dock at AMC Camp. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at The Lodge Bar & Grill, in nearby Randolph, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Ponkapoag Golf Course parking lot. From Route 93/128, exit 2A, take Route 138 South for 0.7 mile. See Ponkapoag Golf Course parking lot on left. L Brian Connolly.|
|Sun, May 12. Blue Hills Hike, Milton. Blue Hills - 5 mile brisk-paced hike along yellow triangle trail with rolling hills, 9:00am-noon. Meet at Houghton's Pond parking lot. From Rte. 93/128 exit 3 (Houghtons/Ponkapoag), go N 0.5 mi. to stop sign, R on Hillside St. 0.2 mi. to Houghtons Pond lot on R. Bring lunch and water. Storm cancels. Leader: Beth Mosias||Sat, May 18. Crane Beach, Ipswich. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, across scenic sand dunes, and along the ocean beach. Beautiful desert landscapes, include pitch pine forest, views of Essex Bay, and sea birds. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at Woodman's Seafood Restaurant, in nearby Essex, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Crane Beach parking lot. Parking Fee. From Route 128, exit 14 in Gloucester, take Route 133 West for 5 miles. Turn right on Northgate Road. Then, turn right on Argilla Road, follow to beach. L Brian Connolly.|
|Sun, May 19. The General Field and Surrenden Farms, Groton. 1:00pm. Come see this unusual conservation area with large open-field habitat and great views to the south and west. We'll also duck into woods for a bit and stroll along the beautiful Nashua River with conservation land on both sides. About 2 hours, moderate pace. Meet at the parking area at the top of the General Field, 42.5871N 71.5858W. L Olin Lathrop.||Mon, May 27. Blue Hills, Ponkapoag Pond. 4 mi. mod.-paced hike, 10:30am-1:30pm. Bring lunch+water. I-93/Rte. 128 exit 2A to Rte. 138S for 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course pkg lot on L. Storm cancels. Leader: Beth Mosias|
|Sat, 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||Sun, 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.|
THE MUNICIPAL SITUATION IN CAMBRIDGE
A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904
BY HENRY N. WHEELER, PRESIDENT OF THE LEAGUE
PRECEDED BY A PROGRAM OF THE WORK OF THE LEAGUE FOR 1904
Cambridge InsideOut airs weekly every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm with producers/hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. We will have other guest hosts as well.
[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos (and now audio too!) of each]
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 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
The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998
Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)
The Neverending Study of Central Square
Aug 11, 2012 - While preparing to write a series of essays on Central Square, I put together the following list of Central Square studies culled from a variety of sources. I have originals for most of these. If you know of any others, please let me know. - Robert Winters
June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square
Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)
1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)
Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan
May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"
Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!
Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)
May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)
May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"
Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study
Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)
Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)
June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)
2013 - K2C2 Final Reports
K2C2 Final Reports Released
The final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.
FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee
City Council Rules 2018-2019 (adopted January 29, 2018)
City Council Rules 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect revised Council committees)
City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)
City Council Committees (for the current term)
School Committee Rules (Adopted January 1, 2018; Revised June 19, 2018)
June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).
I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:
Purposes: This association is formed for the following purposes:
- 1. To promote businesslike, honest, and efficient conduct of local government, open to public scrutiny.
- 2. To induce residents to take an active interest in the affairs of the City of Cambridge.
- 3. To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs.
- 4. To assure that the best qualified persons are appointed to positions in the City government after consideration of all qualified candidates.
- 5. To promote among the citizens of Cambridge equitable distribution and benefit of public services and equal opportunity for economic security, education, and social advancement.
These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization and I'm tempted to say that some should be incorporated into the recently adopted City Council's Goals for FY2010 (adopted Feb 2, 2009). In fact, of the 22 current goals, the only one that comes close is: "An increased level of recruitment and opportunities for membership on boards and commissions." The current Council goals emphasize things like "fostering community" via block parties and such, though one has to wonder if the City should be promoting these activities or just getting out of the way so that people can foster community on their own. The goals also seem to put some emphasis on developing "successful nightlife campaigns" while mentioning nothing about promoting ordinary "daytime" economic activity that supports the everyday needs of residents.
One founding principle of the CCA that fell into disuse over the years is listed above as #3: To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs. Indeed, I can personally testify to the fact that in its dying years the only reason the CCA made endorsements at all was because the CCA-endorsed incumbents wanted the benefit of having an advertised CCA slate of candidates that would help secure their reelection. There was precious little effort to recruit new candidates or to support them. Today, the benefits of incumbency are greater than ever. The cost of political campaigns have become absurdly high and most of the incumbents now have (City paid) staff who are inevitably political appointees who directly or indirectly assist in the reelection efforts of their bosses. The deck is increasingly stacked against challengers. Furthermore, the salary and benefits for elected councillors are now so sweet that it is unlikely that any of them would ever want to move on to another job.
With this background in mind, I would like to encourage all Cambridge residents to help level the playing field by finding out about this year's challengers for seats on the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge School Committee. This is not meant as a dig against any particular incumbent as much as an appeal to support the challengers in what is a difficult and laudable effort. Please see the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the current list of expected candidates. Then use your own judgment - don't expect me or anyone else to do it for you.
Speaking of this year's municipal election, there are some activists who are now expending great effort to attack the City Manager and most of the current City Council. That is not nor has it ever been the intention of the Cambridge Civic Journal or its editor. Candidates are now being seduced by financial promises from one angry fellow with a Brattle Street address and a basketful of grudges. Former CCA Executive Board members from its darkest and most manipulative days are oozing up from the civic swamp trying to at last make good on their failed campaigns of the early 1990s to oust city manager Bob Healy.
It's entertaining to watch people who have primarily earned disrespect in their civic efforts try to capitalize on the recent Monteiro jury decision as a means of realizing their decades-old vendettas. Conveniently forgotten in their recent letters to Cambridge's "oldest weekly newspaper" are the many achievements of City Manager Bob Healy, the strong financial position of the City, and the recent 8-1 vote of confidence bestowed upon Mr. Healy in granting him a three year contract extension. Also missing in this testimony is the fact that virtually all affirmative action in the hiring of employees and department heads has taken place on Mr. Healy's watch. These letters also fail to divulge how long these writers have been carrying their jealousy and anger toward Mr. Healy for actually orchestrating progress in Cambridge while the best they could ever do is snipe from the sidelines. - Robert Winters
This Old Land of Cambridge - The true story of the geological history of Cambridge - by George Ehrenfried
Sadly, George passed away (Jan 5, 2010) at the age of 96. He led many a geology-themed hike with the AMC Local Walks/Hikes.
Selected City of Cambridge References:
Mass. General Laws Chapter 54A (governing Cambridge's PR elections)
Pen Portraits of Prominent People - by Henry J. Mahoney Editor, Cambridge Sentinel - 1923
This book was published c. 1923 and features very witty one-page “pen portraits” (with photo) of prominent Cantabrigians of the day. I'll be adding names alphabetically as time permits. There are 182 portraits in the book.
It comes to mind that there may be some value in expanding these profiles to other prominent Cantabrigians who arrived on the scene after 1923, including prominent Cantabrigians of today. With this in mind, I extend the invitation to any and all who may wish to contribute their own “pen portraits” of Cambridge people. Contributions do not necessarily have to be in the style of Mr. Mahoney. Inclusion is, as always, subject to the erratic discretion of the editor.
Special thanks to Karen Welch for sending me the book. - RW
Political History of Cambridge in the 20th Century
Which People's Republic
Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for people who can give one to two hours per week to help students in the Cambridge Public Schools, grades K through 12. No experience necessary. Call 617-349-6794 or e-mail email@example.com for more details.
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
The Cambridge Civic Journal is an independent newsletter of civic affairs in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published as a public service by Central Square Publications. All items are written by Robert Winters unless otherwise noted. [Of course, I do sometimes forget.]
Thoughts for these times:
''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz
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“The Number One thing I would emphasize is that journalists and bloggers would do well to see themselves as partners in the provision of information and that each can benefit greatly from the other. I’ve never seen this as a competition. It is especially true these days that local papers and young journalists are not very well-versed in the communities they serve. Much of the institutional memory has either died out or been bought out.” -- Robert Winters, mathematician and creator of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online publication about Cambridge, MA (rwinters.com)
Jorkin: “Come, come, Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”
Fezziwig: “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business, Mr. Jorkin…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must.”
Scrooge: “I think I know what Mr. Fezziwig means, sir.”
Jorkin: “Oh, you hate progress and money, too, do you?”
Scrooge: “I don't hate them, sir, but perhaps the machines aren’t such a good thing for mankind, after all.”
Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"