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
Living on a Budget (A Big Budget) - April 22, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting
As the councillors play their fiddles and cannabis outlets poke up through the ground like spring crocuses, the Manager will deliver the FY2020 Budget on Monday. One department appears to have vanished - Weights & Measures. The full budget details won't be available until the actual meeting, but the summaries are available now. [Year-by-year comparisons to be posted here shortly]
Here are some agenda items that piqued my interest (grouped as appropriate):
Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the FY2020 submitted budget and appropriation orders.
Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a memorandum regarding the School Department FY20 Budget. [At the Regular Meeting of Apr 2, 2019, the School Committee voted that the General Fund Budget of the Cambridge Public Schools be adopted in the sum of $201,770,255 for FY20.]
Manager's Agenda #2 through 9: The Annual Big Loan Orders (appropriation and authorization to borrow) for:
#2 - $800,000 to provide funds for various Schools for repairs to entrance doors, upgrade of energy management software, replacement of analog phone system with the voice over internet protocol (VOIP), and the replacement of an emergency generator.
#3 - $22,000,000 to provide funds for the construction of improvements at the Fire Station Headquarters Building located at 491 Broadway.
#4 - $4,000,000 to provide funds for the reconstruction of various City streets and sidewalks.
#5 - $20,500,000 to provide funds for various water pollution abatement projects, including construction of sewer separation, storm water management and combined sewer overflow reduction elimination improvements within the Alewife area.
#6 - $4,000,000 to provide design and construction of Eliot Street between JFK St. and Brattle St. which is a continuation of the Harvard Square Kiosk and Plaza and Surface Enhancement project.
#7 - $10,000,000 to provide funds for the construction of improvements at City Hall.
#8 - $3,000,000 to provide funds for the Municipal Facilities Improvement Plan.
#9 - $10,000,000 to provide funds for the design and reconstruction of the Tobin School building.
Manager's Agenda #13. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following person as a member of the Grand Junction Multiuse Path Design Project Working Group: Joseph Aiello, Rebecca Bowie, Christopher Cassa, Carlone Lowenthal, Bill McAvinney, Sarabrent McCoy, Miguel Perez-Luna, Jose-Luis Rojas, Dalila Salcedo, Katrina Sousa, Florence Toussaint, Jason Alves, Nicholas Dard, Tom Evans, Amy Flax, Kathryn Lachelt Brown, Tony Lechuga, Brad Pillen, Michelle Lower, Diana Prideaux-Brune, Robert Ricchi and John Sanzone.
Manager's Agenda #16. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-9, requesting that the City determine what facilities, parking changes, and other improvements to the pavement conditions are possible to make Cambridge’s stretch of Webster Avenue a complete street.
Manager's Agenda #17. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the City Council Zoning Petition to amend Section 4.22 "Accessory Apartments," following further staff review and improvements to petition language.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 2, 2019 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.
Manager's Agenda #18. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Numbers 18-144 regarding a report on eviction data, and 19-10, regarding a report sharing information to assist in analyzing displacement.
Communications & Reports #5. 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 Mar 19, 2019 meeting minutes.
Manager's Agenda #19. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-127, regarding draft zoning for urban farming; Awaiting Report Item Number 19-23, regarding allowing lodging houses in Residential A1, A2 and B Zoning Districts; and Awaiting Report Item Number 19-28, regarding a timetable for updating retail and small business components of the zoning table of uses.
Manager's Agenda #20. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-37, regarding the possibility of expanding the City of Boston's intergenerational housing pilot to Cambridge.
Manager's Agenda #21. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Central Square Business Improvement District (BID).
Applications & Petitions #2. A petition was filed by Kenneth S. Barron, 614 Massachusetts Avenue, et al property owners, pursuant to MGL Chapter 400, petitioning that a Business Improvement District (BID) be established for the Central Square Business Improvement District.
Communications & Reports #4. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from the Assessors Department, transmitting certification regarding the petition from Kenneth S. Barron, 614 Massachusetts Avenue, et al property owners, pursuant to MGL Chapter 40O, petitioning that a Business Improvement District (BID) be established for the Central Square Business Improvement District.
Charter Right #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a memorandum regarding the update on the search process to hire a new City Clerk to replace Donna Lopez when she retires.
Order #9. Appointment of Paula Crane as Interim City Clerk in the event that a City Clerk has not been named in time to begin service on June 1, 2019. Vice Mayor Devereux
Unfinished Business #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the proposed Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance. [ON OR AFTER APR 22, 2019 THE QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED] [Attachment A][Attachment B]
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 Apr 11, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code to add a new Chapter 5.50 entitled “Cannabis Business Permitting”.
Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Kelley, transmitting a memorandum regarding Cannabis Business Ordinance Follow Up Inquiry.
Communications & Reports #6. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Zondervan, transmitting a memorandum regarding proposed amendments to the Cannabis Business Ordinance.
Order #1. City Council support for H.692 extending voting rights to certain noncitizens. Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan
Order #5. City Council support of the EMPOWER Act (H.720/S.389: An Act ensuring municipal participation of the widest eligible range). Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan
Order #6. City Council support of H.78: A proposal for a legislative amendment to the constitution to provide for no excuse absentee voting. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to provide an update from Eversource and any other relevant City departments regarding the finance, health and safety, building design and the long-term electricity needs that was requested by the City Council before the construction of a substation on Fulkerson Street in East Cambridge. Councillor Toomey, Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui
Order #3. That the City Council go on record in opposition to the site owned by Eversource on Fulkerson Street to have a substation and that the City Manager be and herby is requested to urge Eversource to reconsider its acquisition of the property. Councillor Toomey, Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui
Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Kelley, transmitting a memorandum regarding CPSD, the Achievement Gap, and a Review of 8th Grade Math MCAS Results.
Comments and additional details to follow
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]
|Meeting Date||Project Address||Proposed Project||Developer/Contact|
|May 7, 2019||51 New Street||Marijuana Retailer||Binoj Pradhan|
|May 2, 2019||86 Kirkland St||Marijuana Retailer||Binoj Pradhan
|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
|AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.|
|Sat, Apr 20. Middlesex Fells, Malden. Difficult 5-mile hike on steep terrain with spectacular views from the High Fells Reservoir, Black Rock, and Pinnacle Rock, and including the hidden MIT Observatory site, 11:45am - 2:45pm. Bring lunch, water, poles, and hiking boots. Meet on Washington St. side of Oak Grove T sta. From Rte. 93 exit 32 in Medford take Rte. 60 E 1.2 mi., L on Highland Ave. 0.5 mi., R on Glenwood St. 0.6 mi., L on Wash. St. 0.1 mi., Park on street. Rain cancels. Leader: Marc Hurwitz||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.|
|Sat, Apr 20. 2nd Annual Earth Day Walk, Hemlock Gorge Reservation, Newton/Needham. Meet in the parking lot of 381 Elliot Street, Newton. Please arrive by 9:15am for a prompt 9:30am start. This year, in addition to partnering with the Boston Chapter Conservation Committee, the Southeastern Massachusetts Chapter will be leading along with us. Join us as we explore the geology and history of the Hemlock Gorge Reservation on a slow-paced, interpretive two-mile walk. Included in the trip will be the historic "Echo Bridge" (built in 1876), which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It's a sight (and with sounds) to behold! We'll cover all of the interior trails, as well as those along the Charles River, which created the Gorge over many thousands of years, visit three dams and see old mills still standing on the property. Wear sturdy walking/hiking shoes, and bring water, snacks, and rain gear if necessary. Dogs on leash only are O.K. Steady rain will cancel. Leaders: Ken Cohen, Joan Entwistle, Lisa Fleischman.|
|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, Apr 27. West Quincy Quarries & Granite Railway. 5.5-mile fast-paced hike to Granite Railway & quarries, some rock scrambling, bushwhacking and steep sections, 10:30am-2:30pm. Must bring lunch/water/hiking shoes. Meet at Shea Ice Rink, 651 Willard St., Quincy. From SE Expressway Exit 8 in Quincy, go south 0.6 miles on Willard St. Or from I-93/Route 128 Exit 6 in Braintree, go north 0.7 miles. Or for public transit take Bus 238 from Quincy Adams T station. Email if severe weather. Leader: Mike Tuohey|
|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.||Sat, May 4. Warner Trail, Wrentham. 9am-4pm. 10-mi. mod. hike from Wampum Corner to Crocker Pond. Bring lunch & water. We will spot cars before the hike. Meet at Crocker Pond Conservation Area on Myrtle St. (off Rt 1). Heavy rain cancels. Email Jim if uncertain. Leaders: Laura Cerier, Jim Goyea|
|Sat, May 11. Neponset River Greenway/Mattapan Sq/Milton Hill. 7.5-mile fast-paced walk along Neponset River to Mattapan Square on newly opened stretch of Neponset Greenway then to Hutchinson Field in Milton 9:30am-2:00pm. Must bring lunch, water and appropriate footwear. Meet at Hallet Street entrance to Pope John Paul II Park. From Route 93N, take exit 11 (11B from Route 93S) to Granite Avenue, north over Neponset River, immediate right on Hilltop Street, right under bridge into parking lot. E-mail if severe weather. Leader: Mike Tuohey||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 1. Warner Trail, Sharon. 9am-5pm. 13-mi. mod. hike from Edge Hill Rd. in Sharon to High Rock in Foxboro. Bring lunch & water. We will spot cars before the hike. Meet at High Rock Rd. Turn onto High Rock Rd (paved woods road) 100 yds S of MOM South Motorcycles, 1000 Washington St (Rt 1), Foxboro. Heavy rain cancels. Email Jim if uncertain. Leaders: Jim Goyea, Laura Cerier|
|Sun, 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||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.||Thurs, 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|
Apr 3, 2019 - New City Council candidates emerging from winter hibernation
The incumbents (assuming, for the moment that they all seek reelection) 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|
Several other candidates who ran in 2017 are expected to run again in 2019. They'll be added as confirmed.
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.
For What It's Worth - Select Items on the April 8, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda
These agenda items seem marginally interesting:
Manager's Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $1,280,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Library Extraordinary Expenditure account to support the creation of a new STEAM creativity zone, The Hive, at the Cambridge Public Library.
I have been a mathematics teacher for decades and currently have many future engineers in my MIT classroom, so of course I think this is a great step forward. On the other hand, I am also mindful that when computers became standard in households and we were supposedly entering a "paperless society", inkjet printers proliferated and more paper was wasted than ever before. On the other hand, digital media killed off much of print media - less paper I suppose, but overall maybe not the best thing. Right now, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) is all the rage (as it should be), but will STEAM initiatives actually accomplish the desired goals or will we just have another facility or program that's not well-utilized? It's all in the details and implementation. Is mathematics proficiency in the Cambridge Public Schools really where it should be? Will this initiative help? I sure hope so.
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Department of Human Services to develop a plan for implementation of a City-Wide Workforce Development Consortium. Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Simmons
The goal behind this order may well be the single most important goal expressed during the otherwise uninspired "Envision Cambridge" exercise. Matching people growing up in Cambridge to the economic opportunities all around us matters more than all the virtue-signaling, intrusive other initiatives that have been thrust to the forefront. Earning a good income will open more doors and provide economic security than anything else. This obviously requires people to be qualified for those jobs. See above. Wishful thinking is not empowerment.
Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City personnel to compile a full accounting of streets, schools, and public buildings that may be named in honor of those who have ties to the American slave trade, and to work towards renaming all of these streets, schools, and buildings as soon as possible. Councillor Simmons
I just want to know what the new names will be for Jefferson Park and Jefferson Street.
Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works to provide an update on the small business recycling program pilot indicating any recalibration or reconsideration of the proposed program that may be necessary and any plans for expansion. Councillor Toomey
Order #11. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works to provide an update on the feasibility study of expanding curbside composting program to small businesses and non-profits by the end of 2019. Councillor Toomey, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon
I will once again remind everyone that Councillor Toomey has the longest record for supporting recycling initiatives in the history of Cambridge, and he practices what he preaches.
Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to review whether the MBTA is out of compliance with the amended MBTA/BCIL settlement agreement through the delay in completion of the elevator replacement and concurrent hazardous condition of the stairwells related to Central Square. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon
Each major T Station should have a dedicated stationmaster who advocates for the needs of their respective stations. Instead, we get red-jacketed "ambassadors" who spend more time chatting with each other than assisting passengers. The problem with the MBTA is their own bureaucracy. Bureaucrats should try paying more attention to bricks and stairs and elevators and all the other things that passengers deal with every day. This is not rocket science.
Order #18. That the City Council go on record in support of the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW's demands for a fair contract now, with fair wages, benefits and a fair and neutral procedure for adjudicating workplace harassment and discrimination. Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey
I think some people have the mistaken perspective that being a graduate student is a career. Fairness yes, but in perspective. Get your degree and move on.
Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Co-Chair and Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Co-Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Mar 5, 2019 to continue discussions on the Affordable Housing Overlay District.
The juggernaut continues even as my respect for city councillors plummets. A bad proposal is still a bad proposal even if you believe "we have to do something." - Robert Winters
Check out the latest episodes of Cambridge InsideOut: Tuesdays, 5:30pm and 6:00pm on CCTV
If you would like to be a guest (or co-host) one of these Tuesdays, let me know. - RW
|Episode 391 (Apr 30, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topic: with guest co-host Patrick Barrett
|Episode 392 (Apr 30, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: with guest co-host Patrick Barrett
|Episode 389 (Apr 23, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topic: To be determined, but the FY2020 Budget will likely be prominently featured
|Episode 390 (Apr 23, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: To be determined, but the FY2020 Budget will likely be prominently featured
|No Show This Week (April 16)|
|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
|Episode 383 (Mar 26, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topic: In and Out of Town - The Old Middlesex Canal
|Episode 384 (Mar 26, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Middlesex Canal; Mar 25 City Council meeting; Plan E and Proportional Representation - proportional to what?
|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
These days I don't know whether to watch or simply look away as this City Council behaves in ways that sow the seeds of doubt in even the most ardent supporters of the Plan E Charter like me. As much as I believe in proportional representation (PR) and Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) I find myself asking the simple question: Proportional to what? I am seriously doubting if I have any representation at all, and there isn't all that much promise among the emerging new candidates, some of whom are just waiting to feed at the trough of the latest iteration of political action committees (PACs). I sincerely hope that some new candidates emerge who actually understand the ins and outs of Cambridge and who are not just ready to ride the latest round of hot button single issues. So far most of the new candidates look like they were printed on a 3D-printer at the Bernie Sanders clone factory.
Meanwhile, these agenda items stand out:
Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a recommendation from City Engineer Katherine Watkins, to eliminate and rename certain streets in the Northpoint/Cambridge Crossing area.
I have a mild fascination with the naming (and renaming) of streets. I like these recommendations, especially the theme represented by streets named for Harriet A. Jacobs and Gertrude Wright Morgan. For those who don't already know, there's a very strong theme in Cambridgeport based on the War of 1812. You can look it up.
Manager's Agenda #3. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $300,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Extraordinary Expenditures account which will support the expansion of the curbside organics program to 13+ unit households in FY20 and be used for the purchase of collection bins and outreach efforts.
It will surprise no one to learn that I'm happy to see this, but beyond organics collection there are some troubling realities in recycling these days. American investment in materials recovery (new technology, better processing facilities, and better end markets) has to increase now that we can no longer count on dumping our low quality recycled materials in places like China. Cambridge residents may also soon have to learn to be a bit more thoughtful in how they handle their recyclable waste. Ease of disposal is nice but quality markets for recyclable materials is nicer.
Manager's Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-61 regarding a report on commissioning a public art piece, statue or memorial that would commemorate the dedication of women in Cambridge to passing the Nineteenth Amendment.
I am very glad to see this moving along. Please give consideration to Central Square as a potentially ideal location for such public art.
Manager's Agenda #16. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-12, regarding a report on legality and constitutionality of the proposed "Cambridge Publicly Financed Municipal Election Program" and the "Cambridge Municipal Election People's Pledge", and Awaiting Report Item Number 18-136 regarding a report on submitting a proposal that candidates would agree to not accept donations from persons outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. [Legal Opinion]
Our City Solicitor really does her homework when researching these questions. Even if there is some merit in public financing of local campaigns (and I am not yet convinced), I have never known the proponents to consider all the consequences and potential problems associated with their proposals.
Manager's Agenda #17. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-01, regarding a report on the recently adopted regulations of the short-term rental revenue and the necessary steps to impose and access the revenue from the excise and community impact fees. [Legal Opinion] [Chart of Taxes]
I'll leave these to the wisdom of councillors or the lack thereof.
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 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” ON OR AFTER APR 8, 2019 THE QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED
I have no doubt that this will be ordained even though I seriously disagree with the concept of mandating road design by ordinance.
Resolution #3. Resolution on the death of retired Cambridge Police Officer Edward "Eddie" Burke. Councillor Toomey
One of the great things about living in Cambridge for a long time (even if you weren't born here) is that you get to know a lot of people in the Cambridge Police Department, the Cambridge Fire Department, and the Department of Public Works. This also means that you share in the heartbreak when people you've come to know pass away. My condolences go to Eddie's entire extended family.
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to work with the appropriate departments to provide more information and analysis as it relates to the 100% Affordable Housing Overlay District. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone
I am glad at least some city councillors are asking questions about this. I served on the Envision Cambridge Housing Working Group that supposedly recommended this proposal, and I asked many questions and raised many concerns about this from the first moment the proposal was presented. I attended every meeting and spoke at every one of them. I was resolutely ignored, and not because my concerns were off the mark. The outcome had been determined when the appointments were made and before the committee ever met.
Some things can be amended to make them better. Other things need to be discarded so that something better can be found. This entire concept should be discarded. Has anyone considered the possibility that Inclusionary Zoning was a pretty good idea and that maybe you should just be happy with that?
Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City personnel to ensure that the Housing Committee hearing scheduled for Apr 25, 2019 be televised and livestreamed, to ensure that as many people as possible will have the opportunity to view this hearing. Councillor Simmons
Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City personnel to ensure that the Housing Committee hearing scheduled for Apr 16, 2019 be televised and livestreamed. Councillor Simmons
These meetings have been little more than Bad Theater - more of a competition between mailing lists of those wishing to pack the meetings than anything substantive.
Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City, Department of Conservation and Recreation, and MassDOT staff, as well as with representatives of the communities through which the Minuteman Bikeway passes, to review infrastructure designs and investigate ways, to include speed limits, enforcement, striping, construction projects, signage and education efforts, to maximize safety for all users of these regional bike-related amenities. Councillor Kelley, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Toomey
This Order follows the recent head-on bicycle collision that fatally injured an Arlington man. Sure, put up signs and lay down paint and maybe bolt some plastic poles to the ground, but this still comes down to people learning to travel responsibly. This goes beyond hardware and regulations.
Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City departments to televise and record the Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee hearing scheduled for Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 4:00pm. Vice Mayor Devereux
The purpose of this public hearing is 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. As to the former, it may have a marginal benefit but it will likely come at a considerable cost. Furthermore, there's a chance it will somewhat bias the municipal election toward areas where early voting sites are located. As for lowering the voting age for municipal elections to 16 years old, my belief is that the minimum voting age should be the same across the entire Commonwealth and not vary from town to town. If you want to make the case for this, try to convince the state legislature to do it statewide or pursue other matters.
Order #12. That the City Council go on record in enthusiastic support of H.2865, “An Act to Establish a Net Zero Energy Stretch Code. Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone
Even if every single suggestion in such a revised code is a good idea, there is little doubt that the costs to anyone doing a renovation will be substantial. Perhaps a lot of people will choose to adhere to stricter standards because of the long-term savings, but I have never been a big fan of absolute mandates except for the purpose of safety. - Robert Winters
City of Cambridge Seeking Volunteers to Serve on Foundry Advisory Committee
Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking volunteers to serve on the Foundry Advisory Committee. The Committee is made up of community members who serve in an advisory capacity to the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA), to help ensure that the Foundry building’s (101 Rogers Street) redevelopment and ongoing operation remains consistent with the Vision and Objectives established in the Demonstration Plan.
This group provides regular updates to the City Manager and to the CRA Executive Director on proposed uses within the Foundry building, which is in the process of being redeveloped and operated consistent with the vision and objectives that grew out of an extensive community planning process. Once the building is redeveloped, the Committee will also review any proposals for significant capital changes to the building as they affect the Foundry’s objectives.
Meetings are held quarterly and are open to the public. The Committee provides annual updates to the CRA Board at regular Board meetings, which provides an additional forum for public input. Members of the Committee will be appointed by the City Manager to a term of 3 years.
The City Manager seeks individuals with demonstrated ability to work effectively on a team with diverse opinions to craft consensus recommendations. The Committee is intended to include experience and expertise in related topic areas, as well as representation from various neighborhoods within the city, and local non-profit and community organizations.
Additional information regarding the Foundry building is available on the project webpage: www.cambridgeredevelopment.org/foundry.
The deadline for submitting applications is Fri, Apr 26, 2019. Applications can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter and resume, or applicable experience, can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue.
For more information, contact the City Manager's Office at 617-349-4300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of Cambridge Seeking Members for Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Transit Advisory Committees
City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking persons interested in serving on the city’s Bicycle, Pedestrian or Transit Advisory Committees. Members are expected to attend monthly meetings as well as review materials and engage in projects outside of regular meetings. Below is more information on each of these committees.
The Bicycle Committee works to improve conditions for bicyclists in the City of Cambridge and promote bicycling as a means of transportation. Activities include: organizing and participating in public events such as biannual community bike rides; reviewing plans for street construction; commenting on proposed development projects; creating promotional materials to encourage bicycling in the city; and working with city departments on network planning. Committee members must be prepared to work on projects outside of standing meeting times. This committee generally meets on the second Wednesday of each month from 5:30-7:30pm at the City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, Cambridge. For more information about the Cambridge Bicycle Program, visit: CambridgeMA.Gov/bikes. For questions about the committee, contact Cara Seiderman, email@example.com, 617-349-4629.
The Pedestrian Committee works to promote walking and to help create a more comfortable, safe, and pleasant environment for walking in Cambridge. It advises on the design of roadway projects and policies related to traffic calming, traffic signals, and sidewalk design. It also identifies intersections and other locations where it is difficult to walk, makes suggestions about proposed development projects as they affect people on foot, and undertakes other activities to promote walking. Committee members must be prepared to work on projects outside of standing meeting times. This committee generally meets on the fourth Thursday of each month from 6-8pm at the City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, Cambridge. (Note: November and December meetings are on the third Thursday.) For more information about walking resources in Cambridge, visit: CambridgeMA.Gov/citysmart. For questions about the committee, contact Cara Seiderman, firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-349-4629.
Transit Advisory Committee
The Transit Advisory Committee advances an agenda for a robust public transit system for all who live, work, and visit Cambridge, including the transit services provided by the MBTA and EZRide, among others. The committee membership represents a cross-section of stakeholders, including: businesses and large institutions; commuters; persons with disabilities; neighborhood residents with low income; elderly, youth, and students; and transit advocates. The committee advises on city positions and policies on transit service planning, scheduling, infrastructure modernization, expansion and long-term sustainable funding for transit by the Commonwealth. This committee generally meets on the first Wednesday evening of each month from 5:30-7:30pm. For more information, contact Tegin Teich, email@example.com or 617-349-4615. Visit the committee’s webpage at: CambridgeMa.Gov/transitadvisorycommittee.
Applications are sought for a diverse group of dedicated individuals who are representatives of people who live and/or work in Cambridge. Members are expected to attend monthly meetings, review materials, and engage in projects outside of regular meetings. Appointments are made by the City Manager and are for two years of service. Applications to serve on any of these committees can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at www.cambridgema.gov/apply and selecting the respective committee(s) of interest. A cover letter and resume or applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline for submitting applications for above referenced boards is April 26, 2019.
March & April 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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to come, and for more information.
|Fresh Pond Stewards
Dates: 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.
|Migratory Bird Walk #2
Date: Saturday, April 27th, 8:00am to 10:00am
Place: Register for parking, meeting information, and for notice of cancellation due to weather.
Part of the thrill of birding is that every bird walk is unique and an opportunity for surprise sightings. We can only guess in advance what we might see and hear. At this time of year many of the birds at Fresh Pond are courting and claiming territories, so we will probably hear plenty of bird song. We welcome beginners, and we will lend you binoculars. Led by Nancy Guppy. Register with Catherine Pedemonti at email@example.com.
|2019 City Nature Challenge at Fresh Pond
Date: Saturday, April 27th, 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Place: Meets on-site at the Lusitania Meadow
We’re Getting Ready for the 2019 City Biodiversity Challenge! Between April 26th and 29th, many cities across the world will be competing to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people in the worldwide 2019 City Nature Challenge (CNC). In partnership with Earthwise Aware, we will help document the diversity of species at Fresh Pond’s Lusitania Meadow. To register for this 1-3pm window, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re also looking for groups of volunteers to help out! Contact Ranger Jean at (617) 349-4793.
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:
A Few Items of Interest - March 25, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda
It is getting more difficult every week to watch and listen to this City Council, but here are a few things that have at least some interest::
Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-114, regarding bicycle signage on Brattle Street.
The City's transportation planners acknowledged that they did at one point consider restoring the one-way section of Brattle Street to two-way operation at reduced speed, but they chose instead to go with only the segregated two-way bike lane. The problems associated with this configuration are many, especially at the Brattle Square end, and all the signage in the world will not cure them.
Manager's Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to recommendations for the block rates for water consumption and sewer use for the period beginning Apr 1, 2019 and ending Mar 31, 2020. [Manager's Letter] [Order]
Continuing the pattern of the last several years, there will be no increase in the water rate, but there will be a 7% increase in the sewer rate yielding an overall 5.2% increase in the water/sewer combined rate.
*All rates are per CcF. CcF is an abbreviation of 100 cubic feet. One CcF is approximately 750 gallons.
Charter Right #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]
Ripe for misinterpretation.
Applications & Petitions #2. A Zoning Petition has been received from Hemenway & Barnes LLP. on behalf of Verizon New England Inc., seeking to amend the Zoning Map to certain provisions of Article 20 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow the creation of a "Ware Street Innovation Space" Overlay District. Note that Ware Street is the only property affected by this petition.
This seems like a good idea for this seriously anomalous old telephone switching building on Ware Street, but it does seem odd that this change is being proposed via zoning petition rather than by seeking a variance. I expect we will again have to be tutored on what is and what is not considered "spot zoning".
Order #6. That a Roundtable meeting be scheduled for Tues, Apr 9, 2019, at 5:30pm in the Sullivan Chamber, City Hall, for the purpose of discussing the Affordable Housing Zoning Overlay proposal. Mayor McGovern
This aberrant "Overlay" proposal that would trash all expectations associated with zoning districts across the city continues like a runaway train. The whole concept is based on a perversion of zoning that says that certain parties may play by one set of rules while others must play by a different set of rules. Zoning is really all about managing expectations, and if this proposal passes all such expectations will change whenever a property changes hands. If you think that the maximum height and density in an area will shape what can be built, you will have to abandon that expectation and accept the fact that you will no longer have a right to even object. Furthermore, if you have issues with this proposal expect to have your reputation trashed as easy as ABC. There are good cases to be made for allowing some additional density where it makes sense, but those are not before this City Council.
Order #11. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City staff to examine the need and possibility of implementing the Pilot Displacement Preference program in Cambridge, especially when new housing is constructed in an existing neighborhood where displacement is occurring. Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui
There may be some worthwhile ideas embedded within, but the bottom line is that this City Council apparently doesn't believe that people can sort things out without their intervention, and that the composition of neighborhoods in Cambridge, Boston, and elsewhere should never change.
Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to double the annual funding (from the FY19 Adopted Budget) over the next 3 to 5 years to reach a combined total minimum of $30 million per year (plus any additional use of “Free Cash”) in the areas of Affordable housing construction, tree canopy, Preschool enrollment scholarships/space, Central Square revitalization and Cultural Arts District and the arts in general. Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui
Take note of the fact that part of the sales pitch for the "Overlay" proposal is that it would yield only modest changes based on available funding. In advertising this is known as the "soft sell". This Order asks that this funding be dramatically increased. Furthermore, there are also proposals pending for a Real Estate Transfer Tax that could potentially lead to even more dramatic increases. The "Overlay" proposal would permanently lock in place a mechanism by which privately-owned residential property will be transitioned to "social ownership" and a future where access to much of the city's housing will be done via application to the local government.
Deed restrictions on such housing translate into the fact that they pay only the bare legal minimum in real estate taxes, so that tax burden will be transferred to the remaining unregulated housing. The remedy for that may well be to significantly increase commercial development. I will be very surprised if any of the current group of councillors even discuss these long-term effects. They really should scrap the whole concept and start from scratch. - Robert Winters
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.
|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|
Featured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):
City renames streets to honor women’s suffrage (Apr 18, 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)
Top earners: Who earned the most in 2018? (Apr 8, 2019)
Proposed affordable housing district in Cambridge speaks to ‘the lost middle,’ official says (Apr 2, 2019)
[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)
[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 police deputy superintendents inducted into Hall of Fame (Mar 20, 2019)
[Stephen Ahern and Jack Albert]
Uproar over GLX cuts to Union Square station accessibility (Mar 19, 2019)
GUEST COLUMN: Why the zoning appeal on Vellucci Plaza matters (Mar 18, 2019 by John Pitkin)
GUEST COLUMN: Proposed zoning overlay in Cambridge is a major opportunity (Mar 20, 2019)
[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 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)
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
The Cambridge Civic Journal is an independent newsletter of civic affairs in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published as a public service by Central Square Publications. All items are written by Robert Winters unless otherwise noted. [Of course, I do sometimes forget.]
Thoughts for these times:
''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz
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“The Number One thing I would emphasize is that journalists and bloggers would do well to see themselves as partners in the provision of information and that each can benefit greatly from the other. I’ve never seen this as a competition. It is especially true these days that local papers and young journalists are not very well-versed in the communities they serve. Much of the institutional memory has either died out or been bought out.” -- Robert Winters, mathematician and creator of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online publication about Cambridge, MA (rwinters.com)
Jorkin: “Come, come, Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”
Fezziwig: “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business, Mr. Jorkin…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must.”
Scrooge: “I think I know what Mr. Fezziwig means, sir.”
Jorkin: “Oh, you hate progress and money, too, do you?”
Scrooge: “I don't hate them, sir, but perhaps the machines aren’t such a good thing for mankind, after all.”
Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"