David WeinsteinJan 16, 2020 - As expected, David Weinstein was elected at the Jan 16 Vacancy Recount to the Cambridge School Committee seat vacated by Emily Dexter (who was elected in the November 2019 municipal election but decided not to serve the term to which she was elected).

Dexter Vacancy Recount (Jan 16, 2020) - David Weinstein elected

2020 School Committee Vacancy Recount

City SealJan 9, 2020 – A vacancy has been created in the School Committee due to the decision of Emily Dexter to not serve as a member of the School Committee for the term beginning January 6, 2020. Pursuant to the Cambridge Charter and Massachusetts General Law Chapter 54A, the Cambridge Election Commission will hold a Vacancy Recount to fill the seat.

This “Vacancy Recount” of Emily Dexter’s ballots will be held on Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 5:30pm in the Election Commission office, 51 Inman Street (1st Floor), Cambridge, Mass. Tanya L. Ford-Crump, the Election Commission Executive Director, has been designated as the Director of the Count for this purpose.

Eligible candidates will be invited to attend and are entitled to appoint two witnesses and two alternative witnesses provided that written notice of the names and addresses of the appointees signed by such candidate is filed with the Election Commission no later than 24 hours before this Vacancy Recount.

Related: Cancel Culture Makes Everything Look Worse Than It Is (Meghan Daum)

The 20,000 Club - Total #1 Votes Cast for Candidate (1941 - 2019)

Walter Sullivan 61066  (All City Council)
Alfred E. Vellucci 53443 (18401 School Committee + 35042 City Council)
James F. Fitzgerald 53244 (52635 School Committee + 609 City Council)
Alfred B. Fantini 50135 (All School Committee)
Edward Crane 44551 (All City Council)
Francis Duehay 42731 (14292 School Committee + 28439 City Council)
Joseph E. Maynard  33260 (31000 School Committee + 2260 City Council)
Alice K. Wolf 33004 (16,007 School Committee + 16,997 City Council)
Timothy J. Toomey 32774 (6913 School Committee + 25861 City Council)
E. Denise Simmons 28516 (12927 School Committee + 15589 City Council)
John D. Lynch 27685 (All City Council)
David P. Maher 26394 (14864 School Committee + 11530 City Council)
Thomas W. Danehy 25934 (All City Council)
Pearl K. Wise 25734 (17378 School Committee + 8356 City Council)
Henrietta Davis 24984 (11480 School Committee + 13504 City Council)
Daniel J. Clinton 22855 (8059 School Committee + 14796 City Council)
Barbara Ackermann 22546 (10566 School Committee + 11980 City Council)
David A. Wylie 22232 (12504 School Committee + 9728 City Council)
Joseph A. DeGuglielmo 20732 (All City Council)
Kenneth E. Reeves 20172 (All City Council)
Gustave M. Solomons 20085 (19236 School Committee + 849 City Council)
Patricia M. Nolan 20000 (18315 School Committee + 1685 City Council)

Cambridge Water Board Member Sought

City SealJan 17, 2020 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking a Cambridge resident to fill a vacancy on the Cambridge Water Board.

The Cambridge Water Board is a five-member board appointed by the City Manager that acts in an advisory role to the Managing Director of the Cambridge Water Department. Members typically assist in developing, modifying and approving policy related to Water-department owned land and land use.

The board generally meets on the second Tuesday of the month, from 5-6:30pm, at the Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway, Cambridge.

Applications to serve on this committee 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 should 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 application deadline is February 15, 2020.

It's Opening Day - Jan 13, 2020 Cambridge City Council meeting

City HallThe is the first regular City Council meeting of the 2020-21 term. The mayoral vote at the Jan 6 Inauguration was a single take, and newly minted Mayor Siddiqui broke the record for fastest City Council committee appointments. Here are a few items on the agenda of some interest.

Unfinished Business #4. Amendment to Chapter 8.12 of the Municipal Ordinances of the City of Cambridge. [Passed to a Second Reading on Dec 16, 2019 To Be Ordained on or after Dec 29, 2019]

This is the proposed municipal ordinance that would ban mobile fueling operations throughout Cambridge, i.e. where a vehicle shows up where you are and fills your gas tank for you. As I said when this was first introduced as a zoning amendment last October: "Yet more evidence of the lazy ass, 'call the servants' times that we now live in. If pumping your own gas at the filling station is so burdensome that you must use a phone app to have the 'little people' show up to do it for you, then maybe it's time to reconsider your life choices."

Applications & Petitions #1. A Zoning Petition has been received from Christopher Schmidt, regarding an amendment to Section 2.000 of the Zoning Ordinance.

This is a simple and sensible proposal that would amend the definition of "family" in the Zoning Ordinance to remove restrictions on unrelated family members. Specifically, it would simply say: "Family. One or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit."

The current definition is this:

Family. One or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit; provided that a group of four or more persons who are not within the second degree of kinship shall not be deemed to constitute a family.

Notwithstanding the definition in the preceding paragraph, a family shall be deemed to include four or more persons not within the second degree of kinship occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single, nonprofit housekeeping unit, if said occupants are handicapped persons as defined in Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the “Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988.” Such unrelated individuals shall have the right to occupy a dwelling unit in the same manner and to the same extent as any family in the first paragraph of this definition.

It's unknown when the last time the current definition was ever enforced, and households consisting of several unrelated persons are very common in Cambridge and the region. The only potential downside of this simplification might be that an apartment specifically designated as "family housing" may become just another roommate situation.

Resolution #2. Resolution on the death of Carol Cerf.   Councillor Simmons

Resolution #5. Resolution on the death of Susan Noonan-Forster.   Councillor Toomey

Resolution #9. Resolution on the death of Thomas F. Courtney.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Simmons, Councillor McGovern

I knew Carol Cerf from the CCA Board over 25 years ago and would often run into her on her bicycle for years after that. She was one of the more kind and generous people I met in local politics over the years. There was a moment of silence at the Jan 6 School Committee Inauguration noting the death of Susan Noonan-Forster. Thomas F. Courtney, among many other notable distinctions, was the father of our most beloved Deputy City Clerk Paula Crane.

Order #4. TPO Extension PO.   Councillor Zondervan

The cryptic summary refers to a proposed extension of the Tree Protection Ordinance, i.e. Moratorium, from the current expiration date of March 11, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The Order also encourages that more permanent language be soon established based on recommendations of the Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force. I can only hope that some flexibility is written into the more permanent ordinance to allow reasonable homeowners to do reasonable things without exorbitant cost, but recent trends tend to be the opposite.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, transmitting information from the Jan 7, 2020 Regular Meeting of the School Committee.

It's good to see intermural communication like this from the Mayor to the City Council regarding School Committee matters.

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, announcing the formal 2020-2021 appointments to the City Council Committees.

This has to be a new record for fastest City Council committee appointments. It usually takes weeks and Mayor Siddiqui had it done in three days. - Robert Winters


City Council subcommittees for 2020-2021

Committee Members
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Carlone (Co-Chair), McGovern (Co-Chair), Mallon, Nolan, Siddiqui, Simmons, Sobrinho-Wheeler, Toomey, Zondervan
(committee of the whole - mayor ex-officio, quorum 3)
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Carlone (Co-Chair), Simmons (Co-Chair), Mallon, McGovern, Nolan, Siddiqui, Sobrinho-Wheeler, Toomey, Zondervan
(committee of the whole - mayor ex-officio, quorum 3)
Government Operations, Rules, and Claims
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Simmons (Chair), McGovern, Sobrinho-Wheeler, Toomey, Zondervan
(5 members, quorum 2)
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Simmons (Co-Chair), Sobrinho-Wheeler (Co-Chair), Mallon, McGovern, Zondervan
(5 members, quorum 2)
Economic Development and University Relations
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Mallon (Chair), Nolan, Sobrinho-Wheeler, Toomey, Zondervan
(5 members, quorum 2)
Human Services & Veterans
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
McGovern (Chair), Mallon, Nolan, Simmons, Toomey
(5 members, quorum 2)
Health & Environment
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Zondervan (Chair), Carlone, McGovern, Nolan, Sobrinho-Wheeler
(5 members, quorum 2)
Neighborhood and Long Term Planning,
Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Nolan (Chair), Carlone, Mallon, McGovern, Zondervan
(5 members, quorum 2)
Transportation & Public Utilities
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Sobrinho-Wheeler (Chair), Mallon, Nolan, Toomey, Zondervan
(5 members, quorum 2)
Civic Unity
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Simmons (Chair), Carlone, Mallon, Nolan, Toomey
(5 members, quorum 2)
Public Safety
(0 meetings, 0 scheduled)
Zondervan (Chair), Carlone, Mallon, McGovern, Sobrinho-Wheeler
(5 members, quorum 2)

The Mayor shall serve as ex-officio member of all committees of the City Council.

Evenings with Experts 2020

First Wednesday of each month, February through May 2020
7:00pm - 8:30pm

A free public lecture series presented by Grow Native Massachusetts. [Flyer]

Thank you to our community partners — Cambridge Public Library, Mount Auburn Cemetery and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects — for their support of this series.

Continuing education credits will be available.

For more information, visit us at https://grownativemass.org/Our-Programs/evenings-experts, or call 781-790-8921.

February 5
Nature’s Best Hope
**Special Location** Harvard University Science Center, Hall B, 1 Oxford St., Cambridge
Doug Tallamy, Professor of Entomology and Wildlife Biology, University of Delaware
Recent headlines about global insect declines, the impending extinction of one million species worldwide, and three billion fewer birds in North America are a bleak reality check about how ineffective our current landscape designs have been at sustaining the plants and animals that sustain us. Such losses are not an option if we wish to continue our present-day standard of living on Planet Earth. The good news is that none of this is inevitable. Doug Tallamy will discuss simple steps that each of us can — and must take — to reverse declining biodiversity and to explain why we, ourselves, are nature’s best hope.

Doug Tallamy is the nationally acclaimed author of Bringing Nature Home, and the co-author of The Living Landscape. In 2013, he was awarded the Garden Club of America’s Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation Education. His newest book, Nature’s Best Hope, is being released the day before this event, and copies may be purchased at the lecture.


March 4
Climate Change, Conservation, and the Role of Native Plant Horticulture
Jesse Bellemare, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Smith College
Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge
As our world warms, the distributions of many native plant species are shifting with the climate. But not all species will keep pace with modern climate change, and some could face extinction. This poses a dilemma— what role should we take in helping native plant populations migrate? How do we balance our instinct for preservation with the risk of a relocated plant species disrupting the ecology of its new region? Jesse Bellemare will explore these questions in the context of the constant evolution of plant ranges over time, and the current insights we can gain from native plant horticulture.

Jesse Bellemare’s research focuses on the ecology and biogeography of forest plants in the eastern United States. He has authored numerous scientific articles about the impacts of climate change, invasive insects, and land-use history on plant populations. He is currently the president of the New England Botanical Club.


April 1
Designing with Plant Communities
Dan Jaffe, Horticulturist, Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary
Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge
All too often, during the design process, we think of plants on an individual or species basis. Yet in the landscape, plants are constantly interacting with one another in intricate ways. What happens if we create planting plans focused on complete systems rather than collections of individuals? Join us to learn how to create healthy, resilient plant communities that are beautiful and ecologically vibrant. Dan Jaffe will discuss how to select and combine the right species for specific site conditions, and how this community-oriented approach can be applied to plantings of all sizes.

Dan Jaffe is passionate about ecological horticulture, and enhancing the wildlife value of every landscape. Prior to joining Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary, he was the senior plant propagator at Garden in the Woods. He is the co-author of Native Plants for New England Gardens, which features his captivating photographs.


May 6
Native Bees: Our Pollination Powerhouses
Heather Holm, Author, Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide
Native bees are the most important and effective pollinators for our flowering plants. Although they play a crucial role in sustaining biodiversity, they are poorly understood and under threat from human activity. Heather Holm will teach us how to recognize common bee genera, and enlighten us about their fascinating life cycles, nesting habitat, and foraging needs. Come learn more about the mutualistic relationships that they have with native plants— a powerful reminder that the salvation of one is inextricably linked to the proper stewardship of the other.

Heather Holm is an expert on pollinators whose first book, Pollinators of Native Plants, brought her national attention. She is a sought-after speaker who is passionate about educating audiences. Her recent book, Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide, won the 2018 American Horticultural Society Book Award.

AMC Local Walks/Hikes
AMC Local WalksMon, Jan 20. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike/snowshoe around pond, 10:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. If no snow, bring traction device for boots. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.
AMC Local WalksMon, Feb 17. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike/snowshoe around pond, 10:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. If no snow, bring traction device for boots. Storm cancels. Leader: Beth Mosias AMC Local WalksSat, Mar 14. 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. Leader: Beth Mosias

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 445 (Jan 14, 2020, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: New year, new City Council; Jan 13 Council meeting, Tree Removal Moratorium extension debated; practical vs. ideological; committee appointments; City Manager contract and budget growth
Episode 446 (Jan 14, 2020, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Schmidt Petition, definition of "family" in zoning, rooming houses; rent control vs. helping people; What's Next? chasing a crisis vs. promoting a good idea; Will this be a confiscatory Council?; incentives vs. mandates
Episode 443 (Jan 7, 2020, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: City Council and School Committee Inaugurations; Election of Mayor, Vice-Chair of City Council; School Committee & Cancel Culture; City Manager Contract on the horizon; Liberalism vs. Radicalism; Freakonomics in affordable housing, small business, and the Achievement Gap; money doesn't solve everything
Episode 444 (Jan 7, 2020, 6:00pm) [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: City Council priorities; return of Subsidized Housing Overlay proposal or alternatives; tenant protections and condo regulation; protection vs. control; zoning & development in Central Square, near Union Sq./Green Line Extension; Alewife possibilities, including multiple bridges
Episode 441 (Dec 17, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: On Elections & Vacancies; The Departure of Councillors Craig Kelley & Jan Devereux; Karp Petition and East Cambridge development, Contract Zoning a.k.a. "Let's Make A Deal"; Mall Tales and Mini-Retail
Episode 442 (Dec 17, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio] w/Patrick Barrett
Topics: Harvard Square Zoning Petition - how zoning might help retail.; Form-Based Zoning - Citywide Somerville Rezoning; Finding the "Sweet Spot" in zoning density
Episode 439 (Dec 10, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Impeachment; recycling
Episode 440 (Dec 10, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Surveillance Ordinance and Surveillance Use Policy; Karp Petition up next week; Incentive Zoning and the latest Nexus Report and recommendations; Inclusionary Zoning
Episode 437 (Dec 3, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Analysis of voters by age, turnout, possible causes; cost of a campaign, effectiveness
Episode 438 (Dec 3, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Karp Petition ordination pending; Universal Pre-K, Tobin School renovation/relocation; participatory budgeting

It's Mayor Siddiqui

Jan 6, 2020 - The newly inaugurated 2020-21 Cambridge City Council today unanimously elected Sumbul Siddiqui as Mayor for the 2020-21 City Council term. They also elected Alanna Mallon as Vice Chair of the City Council (traditionally referred to as Vice Mayor).

The Mayors of Cambridge

PS - For what it's worth, the short-staffed School Committee later in the day chose Manikka Bowman as its Vice Chair whose primary responsibility will be to appoint any subcommittees and their respective Chairs.

Thurs, Jan 16

5:30pm   Election Commission Meeting - Vacancy Recount for School Committee seat vacated by Emily Dexter  (1st Floor Meeting Room, 51 Inman St.)

The Eve of Inauguration

City HallSun, Jan 5 - It's the Eve of Inauguration of the 2020-21 City Council (10:00am start, City Hall) and School Committee (6:00pm start, Cambridge Public Library, Lecture Hall, 449 Broadway). Upon inauguration of the City Council, they will proceed directly to the Election of the Mayor (and then the Vice Chair should a Mayor actually be elected). There has been the usual chatter among residents (as well as some posturing of incumbents meant to suggest who might have disproportionate influence in the process) but other than the logic of those with high vote totals deserving an advantage in the selection, I have no specific information on how the vote will go. Often the person who is seen as delivering the decisive vote is rewarded by being elected Vice Mayor or getting choice committee assignments. I have attended these inaugurations every two years for a very long time and have generally found the mayoral maneuvering to be interesting, especially in trying to decipher which favors are granted to whom in exchange for votes. It would so much more interesting if there were actual horses being traded.

Whoever does end up with the five votes to become Mayor will then have the distinct privilege of becoming the 7th voting member and Chair of the School Committee. If the tone and focus of the upcoming School Committee is even remotely similar to the outgoing one, a prison sentence might be preferable to being Mayor. Perhaps with mostly new members things will be different. A Mayor who is capable of resolving differences rather than exacerbating them will help. Time will tell.

One City Council Committee appointment (by whomever ends up as Mayor) will be Chair of the Government Operations, Rules, and Claims Committee. We are now entering the final year of the contract with City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. The process of deciding whether to extend that contract or to seek a new City Manager has traditionally been shepherded by the Chair of Government Operations, though any route to five votes would be completely consistent with the Plan E Charter under which the Manager "shall hold office during the pleasure of the city council". As to the timing, the current contract states: "If the City intends to continue Mr. DePasquale's employment beyond January 8, 2021, it shall give written notice to Mr. DePasquale on or before September 14, 2020, and initiate negotiations for a successor employment contract, which contract, if agreed to, shall become effective January 9, 2021. Absent agreement on a successor employment contract, this Agreement shall terminate on January 8, 2021." - Robert Winters

PS - At this time it appears to still be the case that Emily Dexter may not accept her election to the School Committee. If this does prove to be the case, her replacement will be officially determined later this month. I sincerely hope that this situation is somehow reversed, that the will of the voters is respected, and that a "teachable moment" is somehow recovered. There is an opportunity here for a new Mayor to actually show real leadership. Or not. - RW

City Councillors-Elect: Dennis Carlone, Alanna Mallon, Marc McGovern, Patty Nolan, Sumbul Siddiqui, Denise Simmons, Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, Tim Toomey, Quinton Zondervan

School Committee Members-Elect: Mannika Bowman, Emily Dexter, Alfred Fantini, Jose Luis Rojas Villarreal, Rachel Weinstein, Ayesha Wilson


Members Sought for Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeal

City SealJan 6, 2020 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeal (BZA). Board of Zoning Appeal members must be residents of the City of Cambridge; and women, minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Made up of five members and up to seven associate members, the Board of Zoning Appeal reviews applications for special permits and applications for variances from the terms of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance, in accordance with G.L. c.40A and the Zoning Ordinance. The BZA also hears and decides appeals of orders and determinations made by the Commissioner of the Inspectional Services Department pursuant to G.L. c.40A, §8 and the Zoning Ordinance. Additionally, the BZA reviews applications for comprehensive permits, pursuant to G.L. c.40B. In evaluating applications and petitions, the Board conducts public hearings and votes on the application or petition’s conformance with the provisions of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance.

The Board of Zoning Appeal meets twice each month on Thursday evenings for approximately 3-4 hours. The Board of Zoning Appeal is subject to the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, G.L. c.30A, §§18-25, and all deliberations of the Board occur at public meetings. The meetings are also audio recorded and may be video recorded. As part of their time commitment, Board members are expected to review application and petition materials prior to each meeting. Materials may include development plans, impact studies, narrative descriptions, provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, information from city departments, written comments from the public, and other documents.

Ideal candidates would possess the ability to participate in a collaborative process, work with other Board members to consider diverse ideas, apply the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance to the facts presented in applications and petitions, and reach a decision. Members should also have strong attentiveness and listening skills. While there is no requirement for a technical background, interest and understanding of development, architecture, urban design, and zoning is desirable.

Individuals interested in being considered should apply by using the city’s online application system at cambridgema.gov/apply and finding “Board of Zoning Appeal” in the list of Current Vacancies. A cover letter and résumé or summary of 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 Mass. Ave. The deadline for submitting applications is Jan 31, 2020.

Members Sought for Temporary Net Zero Action Plan Task Force

City SealJan 6, 2020 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking members to serve on a temporary Net Zero Action Plan Task Force that will contribute to the comprehensive review of the Cambridge Net Zero Action Plan to phase out greenhouse gas emissions from buildings throughout the community. The Net Zero Action Plan, CambridgeMA.gov/net zero, was adopted by the Cambridge City Council in June 2015.

The review process for the new Task Force, which will meet once a month from February through June 2020, will include evaluation of the program impact to data; consideration of options to adjust the Net Zero Action Plan Framework; and adoption of an updated framework that reflects current climate science, policy, technology, and equity considerations. The Task Force will provide feedback and input to each of the project elements and represent essential stakeholder interests in the implementation of the updated Net Zero Action Plan.

Applicants with subject-matter experience in a field that would help to inform a robust and equitable Net Zero Action Plan update are encouraged to apply. This includes applicants with technical expertise in building design, construction, and operation, and energy efficiency and renewable energy technology and policy as it applies to buildings. It also includes applicants who represent community interests related to buildings and greenhouse gas emissions, underserved communities, health and safety, and local climate change advocacy groups. Representatives from city departments, neighboring municipalities, and state agencies are expected to serve on the committee in an advisory capacity.

Applications to serve on this committee 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 should be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave. The application deadline is Jan 24, 2020.

Cambridge Human Services Commission Vacancies

City SealDec 12, 2019 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking Cambridge residents interested in volunteering to serve on the nine-member Human Services Commission.

The Commission advises the City Manager and the Assistant City Manager for Human Services on human services policy issues, needs assessment, and funding allocations. With the Department of Human Service Programs, the Commission also promotes activities that enhance the quality of life for Cambridge residents. Over the years, the Commission has responded to local needs by recommending Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for a wide range of programs offered by the City and community agencies.

The Commission usually meets with the Assistant City Manager for Human Services on the second Thursday of each month from 5:30-7:30pm, at the Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave. Commission members serve without compensation. For more information, contact Mike Payack at 617-349-6208 or mpayack@cambridgema.gov.

Applications to serve on this committee 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 must be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave. The application deadline is Fri, Jan 17, 2020.

January Programs (and Beyond) at Fresh Pond Reservation

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

Fresh Air Walks
Dates: Tuesdays, 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    These casual walks, led by Ranger Tim, will encompass Fresh Pond and take an informal look at each week in nature, life, and the city. Come alone or bring your co-workers! Rain or shine. Questions? Contact: tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov
Fresh Pond Owl Prowl #2
Date: Sunday, January 19th, 3:00pm to 5:00pm
Place: Meets inside Water Treatment Plant (front door), 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Have you ever heard an owl before? After learning all about owls inside, we’ll embark on a dusk walk to look and listen for the signs of owls. We will explore their role in the ecosystem as well as in human culture. This is a general audience program open to all knowledge levels. Owls are beautiful and majestic, but also wild; there is no guarantee of a sighting. Space is limited and RSVP to tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov is required. Service dogs only, please.

Interested in Volunteering? Get hands on and give back to the land! Contact Ranger Tim at tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov to find out more!

Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or fpr@cambridgema.gov for any RSVPs or questions!

Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership is $10 and can be paid online or sent to 31 Mt. Pleasant St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

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

Upcoming Programs

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

One more look at the 2019 ballots.......

Alternate Measures of Popularity - 2019 City Council Election

Alternate Measures of Popularity - 2019 School Committee Election
(based on number of ballots with candidate ranked)

Dec 15 - Perhaps it's time to just ignore election results and the will of Cambridge voters. I just heard that Emily Dexter does not intend to serve the third term to which she was just elected. Elections apparently don't matter any more. - RW

Instant Runoff School Committee Vice-Chair
As a purely academic exercise I worked out how things would play out if the actual ballots were used to determine the Vice-Chair of the School Committee via an Instant Runoff election (excluding all other candidates not elected to the School Committee). The winner would be Emily Dexter with Manikka Bowman as the runner-up. Here's the transfer report.

PS - I seriously hope that Emily Dexter reconsiders and takes the oath of office on January 6 as the voters of Cambridge directed in the November election.

That's All Folks! - Featured Items on the Dec 16, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

That's All Folks!The last meeting of the 2018-2019 Cambridge City Council takes place this Monday (thanks to the cancellation of the remaining two meetings). This will also mark the final meeting for both Vice Mayor Jan Devereux (served 2 terms, first elected 2015) and Councillor Craig Kelley (served 7 terms, first elected 2005). With the exit of two of the most reasonable members of the City Council we may well be heading toward the Wild Card Council for 2020-2021 where the only real question will be "how far left?"

Here are a few items on this final meeting agenda worthy of note:

Unfinished Business #5. A revised Petition has been received from Stephen R. Karp, Trustee of Cambridge Side Galeria Associates trust to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by adding a new Section 13.100 to Article 13.00 of the Zoning Ordinance and to amend the Zoning Map to add a new PUD-8 District overlay that certain area (which includes parcels and portions of ways and streets) labeled as "PUD-8 district". [Passed to a 2nd Reading on Nov 26, 2019 to be Ordained on or after Dec 16, 2019]

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Anthony I. Wilson, Esq. transmitting a communication from John E. Twohig, Executive Vice President of New England Development, regarding the proposed CambridgeSide PUD-8 District. [Cover letter] [Redline_CambridgeSide 2.0 - PUD-8 Zoning Text (12.11.19 edits)] [CambridgeSide 2.0 - PUD-8 Zoning Text (12.11.19)]

I'll say it one last time before the Council either ordains this on Monday or punts: I hope the City Council passes some form of this thing so that the area can get a shot in the arm, but I find this whole "Let's Make a Deal" aspect of how zoning petitions are approved lately to be very problematic. Rezoning is becoming less about good planning and more about generating revenue and goodies.

Order #1. Zoning Amendment Articles 2.00 and 4.32 regarding opposition to permitting on-demand mobile fueling services to operate in Cambridge.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan

This was introduced on Oct 21, 2019 and I can't see any difference between that petition (which expires Mar 9, 2020) and this supposedly amended petition.

Order #3. That section 11.202(b) of Article 11.000, entitled SPECIAL REGULATIONS, of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge, be amended the table as follows: Jan 28, 2020 (Annual Adjustment) $19.10 per square foot.   Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone, Mayor McGovern

This was discussed at the Dec 9 meeting - an itsy bitsy zoning amendment that changes a dollar amount. Let the hearings begin!

Order #5. That all items pending before the City Council and not acted upon by the end of the 2018-2019 Legislative Session be placed in the files of the City Clerk, without prejudice provided that those proposed ordinances which have been passed to a second reading, advertised and listed on the Calendar under "Unfinished Business" during the 2018-2019 City Council term, along with any other pending matters on the Calendar listed as "Unfinished Business," shall be forwarded to the next City Council and further provided that any items pending in committee may, at the discretion of the committee, be forwarded to the next City Council.   Mayor McGovern

..... and, of course, 97 Items Awaiting Report. There are 6 responses, so we'll apparently end the term at 91 items awaiting report. Some will be carried over to either languish in Managerial Purgatory or maybe see the light of day.

I repeat - let 'em all expire and start fresh. Perhaps for the next City Council term the City Council and City Manager should establish a cap on how many items are allowed to languish on the Awaiting Report pile.

Order #6. That the City Manager instruct the City Solicitor to provide and update on the previous two orders requesting draft legislation for a Real Estate Transfer Fee Home Rule petition   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui

Though this will likely only affect the relatively large real estate transactions, I expect the next City Council will have as a primary goal to separate as much money from property owners - large and small - as they can legally justify. And when that runs out they'll just change the laws for more.

Order #7. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the CPSD Superintendent to ensure that the CPSD budget is enough to meet the educational needs of all children in Cambridge rather than a formulaic increase over past CPSD budgets.   Councillor Kelley

I would have thought the statement contained in this Order would have been the rule all along.

Order #8. Continued Anti-Bias Training in 2020 and beyond.   Councillor Simmons


Order #9. Removing Sackler family name from Harvard University Museum.   Mayor McGovern

I pass by a portrait of David Koch every day at MIT. It has never bothered me. Should we obliterate the family name of everyone whose business interests include some things we don't like even if they have contributed tremendously toward other things that we do appreciate? Cancel Culture is insanity.

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from Councillor E. Denise Simmons regarding an "End of Term Report from the Housing Committee".

That little matter of tearing the civic fabric to shreds didn't appear in this report.

Communications & Reports #3. A communication was received from Vice Mayor Devereux.

A classy exit message from a classy lady (even on those occasions when we have disagreed). - Robert Winters


Cambridge Launches Online Open Data Training Guide
New Tool Aims to Empower the Public

City SealDec 10, 2019 – The City of Cambridge has released a new interactive Open Data User Guide aimed at teaching residents and other public stakeholders how to effectively leverage Cambridge’s Open Data Portal. The user guide was built by the city using an innovative and easy-to-use software that will help create interactive, online trainings for internal and external stakeholders.

“Over the past few years, we have made substantial progress in using data to be more transparent, efficient, and innovative.” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “Our Open Data Portal has become an essential tool for employees and the public to understand the city and has also enabled us to better support the wellbeing of Cambridge residents and stakeholders. This new training module will allow even more residents to engage with city data.”

“Public engagement is an important part of Cambridge’s open data efforts. By providing residents with easy-to-access, interactive instructions for using our Open Data Portal, we increase the number of data users helping us to be more innovative and efficient,” said Josh Wolff, Data Analytics & Open Data Program Manager.

The guide teaches users how to find, explore, filter, analyze, and visualize Cambridge’s municipal open datasets. After completing the training, users will be able to use the Open Data Portal to create line graphs, pie charts, and bar charts to analyze 311 service requests and other important municipal information. The user guide also links residents with other sources of municipal data and with more advanced instructions for creating open data applications.

“Cambridge’s Information Technology Department invests in training resources like this Open Data User Guide because we are dedicated to ensuring that our residents and our employees have the knowledge and skills necessary to make use of Cambridge’s online applications and other technology offerings,” said Eric Belford, Assistant Director of Information Technology.

Cambridge Open Data is free public data published by City of Cambridge departments. Open data creates transparency into city operations, enables residents to contribute to civic innovation, and provides local businesses with important data on the local economy. The datasets on the Cambridge Open Data Portal can be explored, downloaded, analyzed, or visualized with graphs, charts, and maps.

The interactive training is available on the Cambridge Open Data User Guide webpage, CambridgeMA.gov/OpenDataGuide.

For more information, contact Josh Wolff, Data Analytics & Open Data Program Manager at jwolff@cambridgema.gov.

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

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

Crowd turns out in support of Cambridge reps' rent control bills (Jan 15, 2020)

Cambridge bans use of face surveillance technology (Jan 14, 2020)

Central Square developer looks to build 29 micro-studios in Cambridge (Jan 14, 2020)

After 14 years on Cambridge City Council, Kelley to launch consulting firm (Jan 13, 2020)

GUEST COLUMN: Inequity is real, time for actionable steps (Jan 13, 2020 by Anthony Galluccio)

Cambridge Public Library launches STEAM Academy (Jan 7, 2020)

GUEST COLUMN: Finding solutions to eradicate the ‘Apartheid Gap’ in Cambridge (Jan 7, 2020 by Tony Clark)

Cambridge Councillor Siddiqui becomes state’s first Muslim mayor (Jan 7, 2020)

Investigators call for public’s help on anniversary of Cambridge homicide (Jan 2, 2020)

Cambridge hopes to address arts crisis through collaboration (Dec 26, 2019)

Cambridge’s Transitional Jobs Program benefits residents (Dec 23, 2019)

Cambridge’s first universal playground coming to Danehy Park (Dec 20, 2019)

Cambridge announces Participatory Budgeting winners (Dec 19, 2019)

Reentry initiative launched at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction (Dec 19, 2019)

Flowers by Sal celebrates 50 years in Cambridge (Dec 18, 2019)

Council approves CambridgeSide redevelopment (Dec 17, 2019)

Dexter opts out of third term on Cambridge School Committee (Dec 15, 2019)
Apparently elections no longer matter. If some people don't like what you say or your failure to grovel, they'll just run you out of town. No election required.

Principals, school leaders call for Dexter’s resignation from Cambridge School Committee (Dec 14, 2019)
This is one of the most insane things I have ever seen in Cambridge. This is mob mentality and it sets a horrible precedent.

Superintendent Salim: ‘Fractures within our community have been laid bare’ (Dec 13, 2019)

Public pushes for rejection of ‘appalling’ N-word report (Dec 11, 2019)

GUEST COLUMN: Addressing errors, moving forward (Dec 10, 2019 by Emily Dexter)

COLUMN: Review of Dexter’s N-word use misses mark (Dec 9, 2019 by Manikka Bowman)

Cambridge pays $175K in interest while Vail Court seizure fought (Dec 11, 2019)

What you need to know about the CambridgeSide Galleria project (Dec 6, 2019)

Manager: Universal pre-K in Cambridge could cost $20M-plus annually (Dec 3, 2019)

Diversity on force helps Cambridge police break down language barriers (Dec 3, 2019)

In today's New York Times (Dec 3):
U.S. students fare poorly against global peers

American teenagers’ performance in reading and math remains stagnant, according to the latest results of an international exam, despite decades of effort — and billions of dollars spent — to raise standards.

The results of the test, the Program for International Student Assessment, were announced today. They showed that about a fifth of American 15-year-olds last year hadn’t mastered the reading skills expected of a 10-year-old.

Education experts disagree about why American students struggle and why a string of national reform efforts, including No Child Left Behind and the Common Core, has produced uneven results.

The details: About 600,000 15-year-olds from around the world took the test, which is given every three years. Students from Canada, China, Estonia, Finland, Ireland and Singapore were among those who outperformed their U.S. counterparts.

    -- Yeah, but at least they're all "woke" 'n stuff. - RW

Nov 15, 2019 Update: Final Official Election Results are in. The winners are the same as in the Unofficial Results.

Final Official 2019 City Council Election Results (PDF)
Order of Election: Sumbul Siddiqui, Denise Simmons, Patty Nolan, Quinton Zondervan, Marc McGovern, Alanna Mallon, Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, Dennis Carlone, Tim Toomey [incumbent Craig Kelley has been defeated]

Final Official 2019 School Committee Results (PDF)
Order of Election: Mannika Bowman, Emily Dexter, Alfred Fantini, Ayesha Wilson, Rachel Weinstein, Jose Luis Rojas Villarreal

Distribution of #1 Votes by Ward & Precinct - 2019 City Council Election (PDF)

Distribution of #1 Votes by Ward & Precinct - 2019 School Committee Election (PDF)

City Council 2019 - #2 Vote Distributions [Full Distributions]

School Committee 2019 #2 Vote Distributions

Who would replace each of the elected city councillors and School Committee members should a vacancy occur? Replacements are determined from the ballots used to elect each councillor or School Committee member. I ran the tabulation software with the 2019 ballot data and here's what I found:

City Council Member     Replacement
Carlone Kelley
Mallon Musgrave
McGovern Musgrave
Nolan Kelley
Siddiqui Musgrave
Simmons Kelley
Sobrinho-Wheeler Azeem
Toomey Kelley
Zondervan Williams
School Committee Member     Replacement
Bowman Dawson
Dexter D. Weinstein
Fantini Allen
Rojas Villarreal Kadete
R. Weinstein D. Weinstein
Wilson Dawson

Instant Runoff Mayor
As a purely academic exercise I also like to see how things would play out if the actual ballots were used to determine the Mayor via an Instant Runoff election (excluding all other candidates not elected to the City Council). The winner would be Sumbul Siddiqui with Patty Nolan as the runner-up. Here's the transfer report.

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

City of Cambridge - Five Year Sidewalk and Street Reconstruction Plan

Cambridge Public Schools (official website) Cambridge School Committee website
School Committee Meetings School Committee Members & Subcommittees
The Unofficial Guide to School Choices for the Cambridge Kindergarten Lottery

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

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

Note: It must be pointed out that the figures above only show subsidized units. In many cities and towns there are many "naturally occurring" affordable units, i.e. apartments that simply have affordable rents. In addition, some tenants live in unregulated apartments but pay reduced rent due to such mechanisms as Section 8 vouchers. The figures above should therefore be understood only as a baseline.

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

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

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

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

by Henry N. Wheeler, President of the League
preceded by a Program of the Work of the League for 1904
[original PDF]

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

[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos (and now audio too!)]

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 443-444: Jan 7, 2020 w/Patrick Barrett

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 441-442: Dec 17, 2019 w/Patrick Barrett

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 439-440: Dec 10, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 437-438: Dec 3, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 435-436: Nov 26, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 433-434: Nov 19, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 431-432: Nov 12, 2019 w/Patrick Barrett

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 429-430: Oct 29, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 427-428: Oct 22, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 425-426: Oct 15, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 423-424: Oct 8, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 421-422: Oct 1, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 419-420: Sept 24, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 417-418: Sept 17, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 415-416: Sept 10, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 413-414: Aug 13, 2019 w/Patrick Barrett

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

Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2013-2014 featured co-hosts Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2015-2019 features co-hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters.

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

Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

The Eve of Inauguration (posted Jan 5, 2020)

2019 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports (posted Dec 25, 2018; updated Jan 3, 2020)

Follow the Money – Cambridge City Council Campaign Receipts 2019 (posted Sept 22, 2019, updated regularly)

That’s All Folks! – Featured Items on the Dec 16, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted Dec 15, 2019)

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (updated Dec 15, 2019)

Ordaining the Remnants of the 2018-2019 Council – Bits ‘n Pieces from the Dec 9, 2019 City Council Agenda (posted Dec 9, 2019)

Demographic Mixed Bag – November 2019 Cambridge municipal election (posted Nov 28, 2019)

Turkey Trot – Nov 25, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Nov 24, 2019)

Lame Duck Walking – November 18, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Nov 18, 2019)

The Last Thing on their Minds – Nov 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Nov 4, 2019)

Index of all candidates in Cambridge, MA municipal elections – 1941-2019 (posted Aug 3, 2019)

Cambridge City Council and School Committee Candidates – 2019 (posted July 1, 2019 and final update on Aug 1, 2019)

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

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

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

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

Completing the Square (June 11, 2013)

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

On becoming a True Cantabrigian (Dec 29, 2012)

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

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

April Fools Day - 2017 (and here)     April Fool's Day - 2016 (and here)

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

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

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

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

The Neverending Study of Central Square

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan

1989 - Draft Central Square Development Guidelines

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

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

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

May 1995 - Central Square Improvements Project, Master Plan Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

2009 - CDD Central Square Customer Intercept Survey Report

2011 - Central Square Market Profile

2011 - Red Ribbon Commission Study Report

2012 - Goody/Clancy report and recommendations

2013 - K2C2 Final Reports

K2C2 Final Reports Released

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

Community Development Department

Kendall Square Central Square Planning Study (K2C2)

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

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

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

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

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

City Council Goals - FY2018 (current, adopted Oct 16, 2017)

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

City Council Committees (for the current term)

School Committee Rules (Adopted January 1, 2018; Revised June 19, 2018)

School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)    School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selected City of Cambridge References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which People's Republic
written by Bill Cunningham, 1999

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"

the known universe

Welcome to the Peoples Republic