Roadway cross-section

Plans unveiled for segregated lanes on major Cambridge thoroughfares.
City has long-term plan to install “protected lanes” for bikes, mopeds, cars, trucks, pedestrians, seniors, and hoverboards.

After hours of research, City transportation planners and the newly appointed Vision Zero Advisory Committee released preliminary plans for fully segregated lanes on several major Cambridge thoroughfares. “We must do this for the greater good,” said City Manager Louis DePasquale. “This will unfortunately require the removal of all trees along the city’s major thoroughfares and well as land takings needed in order to create sufficient (100 ft.) road width."

Not all city councillors were on board with the plan. Councillors Devereux and Mazen argued that the trees could be preserved by simply eliminating the lanes for motor vehicles. City Arborist David Lefcourt acknowledged that most trees would have to go as they might cast unsafe shadows on the cycle track, the child track, the senior track, and the hoverboard tracks.

One member of Cambridge’s Bicycle Committee summed it up best, saying “The whole concept of ‘sharing’ is an outdated vestige of the pre-millennial age.” Traffic Director Joseph Barr explained further, saying “Separation of the various modes will be achieved by building a wall, ... and the drivers are going to pay for it."

City Poised to Ordain new Inclusionary Shopping Ordinance

After nearly a year of proposals, counterproposals, and last minute amendments at the Ordinance Committee, the Cambridge City Council is expected to ordain the new Inclusionary Shopping Ordinance this Monday, April 3. All retail establishments will now be required to provide a minimum of 20% affordable goods at all retail locations in Cambridge.

A related ordinance is also on the verge of passage - the Inclusionary Drinking Ordinance. Barring any last-minute amendments or legal challenges, all bars will be required to have a mandatory minimum of 20% affordable beverages or risk losing their license. This must apply to all alcoholic beverage categories. Councillor McGovern wisely amended the original language after noticing that a drinking establishment could get away with selling nothing but cheap beer in order to meet the requirements of the ordinance. McGovern explained: "We had grave concerns that low-income drinkers would be forced to choose from a very limited menu. With the new language, they can now order any drink they like as long as they can prove income eligibility."

Additional initiatives to follow later this year include Inclusionary Driving, Inclusionary Sleeping, Inclusionary Dating, and Inclusionary Housing.

BYOTP Ordinance

Now that the Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) Ordinance has been in place for a year, progressive activists are now proposing the Bring Your Own Toilet Paper (BYOTP) Ordinance that would require residents to Bring Their Own Toilet Paper to all publicly accessible bathrooms in Cambridge (or pay a 10¢ per sheet fee). Representatives of the Sierra Club hailed the proposal as an idea whose time is now. They have also requested that the ordinance be expanded to include a ban on paper towels. “Surely it’s not so much to ask residents to bring a simple piece of cloth when travelling about the city,” said one of the Sierra Club representatives.

Privilege Checkpoints to be Established

As a convenience for guilt-ridden Cambridge residents, the City Council approved an appropriation to build and staff privilege checkpoints at various locations around the city. Volunteers from various advocacy groups will assist in taking confession, distributing sackcloth and ashes, and accepting cash donations. Turnstiles will be made available at all public rallies for those who simply want to "check their privilege" on the fly prior to repeating the chants of charismatic leaders.

Also planned are limits on critical thinking as it constitutes microaggression – which is now banned within City limits.

New SeeClickFix/Commonwealth Connects categories added to City menu

In addition to complaints about potholes, motor vehicles in bike lanes, and A-Frame sidewalk signs, City staff have agreed to add the following new categories to the popular SeeClickFix/Commonwealth Connect online tool:

Complaints about poor snow plowing by City contractors will no longer be accepted. The Department of Public Works (DPW) is instructing any resident besieged by snow plows to wait until spring when the problem will be resolved.

Bernie Sanders to Relocate to Cambridge in Preparation for the Revolution

Current Vermont Senator and cult figure Bernie Sanders announced at a rally on Friday, March 31 that he plans to purchase a 4th home - in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sanders explained that he wanted to establish residency in the "Peoples' Republic of Cambridge" in advance of the rumored relocation of the nation's capitol from Washington D.C. to Cambridge after The Revolution. “I’ve always been a capitolist,” joked Sanders.

Brattle Street residents are generally supportive of Sanders' long-term plans to establish a Venezuelan-style government here, but they do remain wary of the threat of redistribution of wealth as their estates could be nationalized to be used as affordable communes. Local Sanders acolytes are organizing a “Revolution Slate” for the municipal election that features a platform calling for the eventual transition of all rental apartments to “social ownership” and a steeply graduated City income tax.

Resistance News

Self-declared “Members of the Resistance” in Cambridge have establish an “underground railroad” for undocumented Cambridge residents who have been benefiting until now from the Sanctuary City policies adopted in Cambridge in 1985. Harboring these residents will now largely take place using the new habitable basement space made possible by the Barrett Petition that legalized accessory apartments in most parts of the city. Previously, only locations in Old Cambridge would have been available for this purpose.

Resistance fighters have been doing training exercises in local cafés. “Posting on social media is exhausting work,” said one bearded member of Our Revolution and former Occupant in Dewey Square. “The danger of tweeting in the wrong echo chamber simply cannot be overstated.”

Political Updates

Devereux SignCouncillor Jan Devereux announced that she will not be distributing bumper stickers for this year’s election “because I don’t wish to send the wrong message by affixing my name to a motor vehicle.” She will instead be promoting her campaign primarily via well-placed A-Frame signs on well-travelled city sidewalks. She has hired Jackson Place resident James Williamson to fabricate the signs, arrange for the locations, and transport and set up the signs at these locations. Said Williamson, “I’m just glad to have the work.”

New Candidates

The field of City Council candidates grew significantly larger this week when it was announced that the entire Foundations of Political Theory (Gov 10) class at Harvard University would be filing papers to seek City Council seats.

As the course description says: "Is democratic rule the uniquely just form of collective decision-making? What political institutions best express the democratic values of equality, deliberation, and participation? What are the moral responsibilities of citizens - whose representatives exercise political power in their name? Is democracy a human right?"

When informed that if elected they would have to actually take calls from constituents about mundane things like potholes, incorrectly pigmented sidewalk concrete, and crime, several of the new candidates responded by saying, "What? You're shitting me!"

Election Commission Executive Director Tanya Ford expressed concern that with hundreds of candidates on the ballot they might have to limit the number of rankings voters can express on the PR ballot. She was even more concerned about how to fit all the names on the ballot. One option being considered was using specially cut 8½" x 90" ballots, but it's unclear how this might work with the privacy sleeves. Ms. Ford also shuddered at the thought that a candidate might ask for a recount.

Neighborhood Associations to hold elections

Former Cambridge City Councillor and Mayor Alfred Vellucci often referred to officers and activists associated with various neighborhood associations as the "self-annointed, self-appointed.” In order to address perceptions that they are not reflective of the neighborhoods they claim to represent, several major Cambridge neighborhood associations have scheduled open elections for later this year in which any resident of the neighborhood can ask to be placed on the ballot after collecting the minimum 500 signatures. Existing board members would still retain veto power over unfavorable election outcomes.

Odd Rumblings on Dana Hill

Residents of Centre Street on Dana Hill in Mid-Cambridge have been complaining of late about mysterious rumbling sounds that occur at random times during the day and night. City geologists studying the matter have concluded that this portion of Mid-Cambridge is actually a long-dormant volcano that’s been worn down over millions of years but is still active. “It’s really only a matter of time before a significant eruption occurs,” said Chief Geologist Mike Etna. Cracks that have been developing in basement walls are apparently due to a relatively small lava dome that has been gradually building. It is expected that if ever the lava is released, hopefully not cataclysmically, it will flow gently down into the Riverside neighborhood.

Inman Square Restoration Petition

Following the lead of the recently successful Central Square Restoration Petition that could one day lead to the restoration of several floors of buildings cut down once upon a time for tax purposes, residents of Inman Square have now filed their own zoning petition designed to restore the former greatness of Inman Square. If fully implemented, the petitioners hope to bring back Rosie’s Bakery, Legal Seafood, and the Inman Square Men’s Bar. Of course the name of the bar will have to be changed to the Inman Square Men’s, Women’s, Lesbian’s, Gay’s, Bisexual’s, Transgender’s, Queer’s Plus Bar in keeping with modern standards of inclusivity.

A similar Alewife Restoration Petition seeks to bring back historic warehouses and brick and steel manufacturing to North Cambridge. Sponsors showed up wearing distinctive red hats for the filing of the petition at City Hall. Lead signer Charles Teague explained their goal in simple terms, saying "We're going to make North Cambridge great again."

Major New Residential Developments in the Pipeline

The Mass+Main project is about to rise in Lafayette Square. What’s next in the long-term plans for this developer? Alex Twining and his partners are seeking to develop thematically in other Cambridge neighborhoods using their distinctive alliterative style. Preliminary plans have been leaked showing the following future projects – each with its own related zoning petition: Pearl+Putnam; Mass+Meacham; Rindge+Reed; and Walden+Wood

Members of A Better Cambridge (ABC) endorsed the plans based on the sheer numbers of residents they could pack into the city limits. Members of the Cambridge Residents Alliance (CResA) argued that these sites would be better suited for either farmland or public housing. Several activists have filed a petition to rename various Cambridge streets so that no two streets beginning with the same letter will intersect anywhere in Cambridge. Consultants from the MIT Mathematics Department have been hired to determine the feasibility of the petition.

In an unrelated development, the long abandoned Vail Court property at Bishop Allen Drive and Temple Street will soon become the new home of the relocated Middlesex County Courthouse. The previous site of the courthouse in East Cambridge will be turned into a community garden.

City Board weighs in on the Living Wage

The City's Community Advisory Board on the Living Wage last week issued a report stressing the urgency of establishing a citywide minimum wage of $15 per hour. Though many Cambridge jobs have wages well in excess of this proposed minimum, some jobs such as cashiers, burger-flippers, baristas, house cleaners and child care workers currently earn considerably less than $15 per hour.

One profession often overlooked in this discussion is petty criminals and others who violate any of the Ten Commandments, a.k.a. "sinners". The report makes clear that even for this job category, the wages of sin should be $15 per hour.

Springing into April - Agenda items from the April 3, 2017 Cambridge City Council meeting

Impeach - The Honey DrippersThe BIG ITEM at this meeting is the ordination of the amendments to the City's Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. Then there's also the call for impeachment of the President. Here are some nuggets that caught my attention:

Manager's Agenda #1. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $5,250,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Extraordinary Expenditures account to facilitate the complete renovation of the building located at 859 Massachusetts Avenue.

I'm glad that this building is being rehabilitated for this purpose, but I am astonished at the size of the appropriation - apparently just for this one residential building. Is this what the costs are "to meet the requirements of the City’s Net Zero standards"?

Manager's Agenda #2. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $2,875,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Public Works Other Ordinary Maintenance account ($1,940,000) and to the Public Works Public Investment Fund ($935,000) to cover winter 2016-2017 snowstorm expenses associated with snow plowing contracts, salt, other material, repair costs and equipment.

I would like to request that the contract not be renewed for whoever was responsible for using the front of my and my neighbors' houses as a snow storage area for snow moved there from elsewhere. My only other complaint is that apparently the City's snow clearance guidelines no longer include plowing all the way to the curb on snow emergency routes even for relatively modest snow events. This led to cars being parked 3-5 feet from the curb on some of these streets. The result is a significantly narrowed roadway that is less safe for everyone. I could understand this being the case in an especially harsh winter (like two years ago) where there's just no place else to put the snow, but this should not have been the case for this relatively mild winter.

Manager's Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Betsy Allen as the new Director of Equity and Inclusion (formerly known as Director of Affirmative Action) for the City of Cambridge, effective Apr 10, 2017.

Manager's Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as a members of the Vision Zero Advisory Committee, effective Apr 3, 2017 for a term of two years: Nicholas Dard, Anne Kreider, Jennifer Quick, Peter Kuhlmann, Stephen Varrichio, Becca Wolfson, Nathanael Fillmore, Stacy Thompson, Richard Fries, Wendy Landman, Amy Flax, Sean Peirce, Jim Gascoigne, Michael Muehe, Diane Gray, Todd Robinson, Michele Trifiro and Steve Crossley

I hope this newly appointed advisory committee will focus on actual safety rather than recommending disruptive changes to roadways that are more political than practical and which primarily serve to marginalize cyclists (literally).

Manager's Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt with suggested modifications, the Zoning Petition to Amend Section 8.23 - Reconstruction of Nonconforming Structure or Use Following Fire, Explosion or Other Catastrophe.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 29, 2017 to discuss a proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment to strikeout Section 8.23 entitled “Non-conformity” and substitute in place thereof a new Section 8.23.

The modifications suggested by the Planning Board are sensible. The City Council may also wish to consider time extensions beyond the allowed time frame via special permit in case of extraordinary circumstances.

Update: The petition was amended by substitution using language recommended by the Planning Board, then passed to a 2nd Reading.

Manager's Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to amendments to Title 6 of the Municipal Code entitled "Animals" to include a new Chapter 6.20 entitled "Restrictions on the Sale of Animals in Pet Shops".

Very well, but where will you purchase mice and other live food for your pet snake or other animal?

Update: These amendments were referred to the Ordinance Committee.

Unfinished Business #7. An amendment to the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge in Inclusionary Housing, including the insertion of new definitions in Article 2.000 and the substitution of revised zoning text for the current text to Sections 11.200 through 11.206. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Apr 3, 2017. Planning board hearing held Dec 20, 2016. Petition expires Apr 4, 2017.

This should be all set based on the language that was passed to a 2nd Reading on March 20, and the vote will likely be unanimous unless there are some problematic last-minute amendments. It remains to be seen whether the 20% affordable mandate will be viable in the long term or if it only serves to exacerbate the gap between high income and low income residents. My greatest concern is that the current policies will eventually lead to a future where only very high income people can buy or rent unrestricted housing units and the only option for everyone else will be to file an application with a City housing agency to obtain housing.

Order #2. That the City Council call upon the United States House of Representatives to support a resolution authorizing and directing the House Committee on the Judiciary to investigate whether sufficient grounds exist for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, including but not limited to the violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause and the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Cheung

This will certainly bring the TV crews out. [ABCNews story] City Council Orders don't generally get titles, but perhaps this one could be called "An Order Calling for Hard Right Conservative VP Mike Pence to Assume the Presidency". Be careful what you wish for. I received an email appeal recently about this Order with the subject heading "Support Bold Action by the City Council". It would perhaps better be characterized as a symbolic action meant to achieve nothing more than the attention of ill-intentioned Congressmen, Senators, and the Executive Branch. What exactly that achieves is yet to be determined.

Update: This purely symbolic order passed on a 7-1-1 vote with Councillor Maher voting NO and Councillor Toomey voting PRESENT. The real question is which councillor gets the most quotes in the local press and the most face time on national TV.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 15, 2017 to discuss next steps on bike and transit safety in Cambridge.

Suffice to say that I am very concerned that for purely political reasons some Cambridge streets may soon look like a forest constructed of upright PVC pipe, marginalized cyclists, dangerously narrowed roadways, loss of parking in places where it's needed, and no net additional safety. I am often reminded of the fact that "skyways", i.e. elevated highways, were one touted as the be-all-end-all solution to traffic problems. Decades later many of these misguided visions are being dismantled as the wrong solution. - Robert Winters


Street cleaning and yard waste collection in Cambridge resumes on Monday, Apr 3, 2017.
Don't Get Towed!

Public Works mechanically sweeps each street in Cambridge once per month. Signs are posted on each residential street indicating the schedule. In order to ensure that streets are properly cleaned, cars must move off the side of the street being swept to avoid being ticketed and towed. [Schedule] Yard waste is not accepted in plastic bags by recycling or trash crews. Place yard waste in barrels marked with City-issued stickers facing the street, or in lawn refuse bags sold in most hardware stores. Barrels and bags must be set on the curb apart from the trash on your regular collection day. Do not staple or tape bags. Bundle small twigs and branches with string. [More information]

City of Cambridge Soliciting Membership Applications for Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Transit Advisory Commitees
Application deadline is Friday, April 21, 2017.

Bicycle Committee
This 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 road 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 City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway. For more information about the Cambridge Bicycle Program:; for questions about the committee: Cara Seiderman,, 617-349-4629.

Pedestrian Committee
This 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 6:00 – 8:00 pm at City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway (November and December meetings are on the third Thursday.) For more information about walking resources in Cambridge:; for questions about the committee: Cara Seiderman,, 617-349-4629.

Transit Advisory Committee
This committee advances an agenda for a robust public transportation system for those who live and/or work in Cambridge. The committee is composed of a cross section of stakeholders, which may include individuals representing businesses and large institutions; commuters; persons with disabilities; residents that are low income, elderly, youth, and students as well as transit advocates. The committee advises on city positions and policies regarding long term sustainable funding for transit by the Commonwealth, transit expansion, service planning, and service improvements. This committee generally meets on the first Wednesday of each month from 5:30 – 7:30pm. If you have questions or require more information, please call Tegin Teich Bennett at 617-349-4615 or email See the committee’s webpage for more information:

City SealAPPLY
Applications are sought by dedicated individuals who live or work in Cambridge. Members are expected to attend monthly meetings as well as review materials and engage in projects outside of regular meetings. Appointments are made by the City Manager and are for two years of service.

To apply, please prepare a cover letter indicating that you are interested in the Bicycle, Pedestrian, or Transit Advisory Committee, why you are interested in this topic area, any relevant knowledge and experience you have, and any specific issues you would like to contribute time to working on. Please be sure to include your mailing address, phone number, and email. Send to:
Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager
c/o Patricia Tuccinardi
Community Development Department
344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

Application deadline is Friday, April 21, 2017.

End of the March - Interesting Items on the March 27, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda

First Sign of SpringHere's my take on this week's agenda:

Manager's Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as a members of the Harvard Square Kiosk Working Group, effective Mar 27, 2017: Abra Berkowitz, Robyn Culbertson, Ankita Deshpande, Timothy Hyde, Janet Si-Ming Lee, Sarah Rosenkrantz, Daniel Andrew Schofield-Bodt, Kenneth Taylor, John DiGiovanni, Bertil JeanChronberg, Frank Kramer, Peter Kroon, Sohail Nasir, Abhishek Syal, Thomas Lucey and Mary Flynn

This is shaping up like a classic turf war and I hope these appointees can get beyond that. Personally, I would just like to see an active use for the Kiosk that's not all about the tourists - a place where the locals want to gather. My ideal would be something like Sullivan's at Castle Island in South Boston, but I don't suppose the Old Cambridge crowd could ever tolerate that much humanity.

Manager's Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the requirements of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) that the City Council adopt an order for the Statement of Interest Form to be submitted to MSBA no later than Apr 7, 2017 for the Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper School located at 197 Vassal Lane.

The Putnam Avenue School is done and the King Open and Cambridge Street Upper Schools are now under construction. This Statement of Interest concerns the next major renovation or replacement - the Tobin and Vassal Lane Upper School. Let's hope there's some state grant money available to help pay for the project.

Manager's Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a proposed ordinance related to the growth and maintenance of “Running Bamboo”.

Alternatively, we could import pandas. City officials are just so resistant to creative solutions.

Manager's Agenda #12. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Numbers 16-64 and 17-9, regarding trash and recycling pick up for small businesses.

"DPW is proposing to expand the municipal recycling pick-up program on a trial basis to small businesses beginning in the spring/summer of 2018. It is proposed that this program will be made available to all small businesses throughout the City on a once per week basis, and will help reduce the cost to businesses in eliminating the need for them to contract with outside vendors as well as enabling the City to further increase the quantity of material diverted from the waste stream in the City. Funds are included in the FY18 budget to initiate the program."

Manager's Agenda #14. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the transfer of $1,000,000 from the Water Fund Other Ordinary Maintenance account to the Public Investment Fund Water Extraordinary Expenditures account to fund the replacement of water meters and meter transmitter units (MTUs).

Contained in the message is the following piece of good news: "In October 2016, the Council approved an appropriation to use $3.6 million from the Water Fund’s Fund Balance to purchase water from the MWRA to ensure an adequate supply of water to meet the needs of the community. The severity of the drought has lessened and the usable capacity in our reservoir system has stabilized. The City has not had to use MWRA water since the beginning of December and has only expended $1.6 million."

Manager's Agenda #15. 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, 2017 and ending Mar 31, 2018.

According to the Manager's report, the average triple-decker uses about 122 CCF of water per year. My triple-decker apparently uses nearly twice that and we're generally pretty conscientious about water use. This past year I paid over $2850 and the report says the average for a triple-decker was $1590. Either something is amiss with the plumbing or the Manager's figures or my water meter is reading a lot higher than it should. Actually, I just checked my records and it appears that the higher readings coincide with when the new meter was installed. Time to call the Water Department, I guess.

Order #1. City Council go on record urging the Governor to resist reducing funding for The Ride.   Mayor Simmons

It's stunning just how backwards things are in this state and, in particular, the Boston Metropolitan Area when it comes to public transportation. I don't doubt that there are some efficiencies to be had with The Ride and other services, but this hardly seems the place to close a budget gap.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Acting Police Commissioner with a view toward piloting a Cambridge Police outpost located in Carl Barron Plaza, to be ready for operation by Summer 2017.   Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern

What should really happen is for the City and the MBTA and a Central Square property owner to create a multi-function site that can house a police substation, an MBTA facility for bus drivers and other personnel, an information center, a public bathroom, and maybe even a newsstand. That, of course, would take coordination, so I won't hold my breath.

Order #6. That the City of Cambridge opposes H.R. 482 and S. 103, and calls on its representatives in the House and Senate to vote against these bills, and to exert influence on other representatives to oppose these bills and support the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in all efforts to affirmatively further fair housing and collect data to assess the progress of fair housing initiatives and inclusiveness of its communities.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons

In addition to the many positive effects of the Fair Housing Act, there is also the unintended consequence that efforts to more equitably locate some social-service types of housing throughout the city have actually been hindered by this Act. There is no legal way to prevent the over-concentration of such facilities in a place like Central Square.

Order #7. That the City Council agenda be altered to create a section in the agenda between public comment and the City Manager’s agenda entitled “General Council Discussion,” where Councillors would be able to bring their colleagues up-to-date on projects in which they are engaged or ask for updates about projects that other Councillors are working on, even if these issues do not appear on the Council’s agenda or have never been the subject of formal City Council attention.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Devereux

In an ideal world, city councillors would actually be working on such projects collaboratively and in accordance with the Open Meeting Law via the various City Council subcommittees. If this were the case there would be no need to set aside a special time at City Council meetings to reveal what they've been doing out of public view.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 16, 2017 to discuss a zoning petition filed by Richard Harding, et al., to amend the Mass + Main Residential sub district and the Central Square Overlay District by amending Sections 20.307.8.1 (a) and (b) and 20.307.6.2 (a).

Even if someone has lingering objections to the Mass+Main project, this is an absurd way to go about expressing those objections long after that train left the station. - Robert Winters


Looking Ahead (revised March 24)

Possible City Council and School Committee candidates for 2017 (with age at time of election)
More at 2017 Cambridge Candidate Pages (under construction)

City Council Candidate Birthdate Age address Notes
Timothy J. Toomey 6/7/1953 64 88 6th St., 02141 incumbent, first elected in 1989, unclear if seeking reelection
E. Denise Simmons 10/2/1951 66 188 Harvard St. #4B, 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2001
Craig Kelley 9/18/1962 55 6 Saint Gerard Terr. #2, 02140 incumbent, first elected in 2005
Leland Cheung 2/11/1978 39 157 Garden St., 02138 incumbent, first elected in 2009
Dennis Carlone 5/7/1947 70 9 Washington St. #6, 02140 incumbent, first elected in 2013
Marc McGovern 12/21/1968 48 15 Pleasant St., 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2013
Nadeem Mazen 9/20/1983 34 720 Mass. Ave. #4, 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2013
Jan Devereux 5/13/1959 58 255 Lakeview Ave., 02138 incumbent, first elected in 2015
Dennis Benzan 1/25/1972 45 1 Pine St., 02139 served 2014-15, likely to seek reelection
Paul Toner 4/28/1966 51 24 Newman St., 02140 announced, registered with OCPF
Quinton Zondervan 9/15/1970 47 235 Cardinal Madeiros Ave., 02141 announced, registered with OCPF, actively fundraising
Alanna Marie Mallon 12/6/1970 46 3 Maple Ave., 02139 announced, registered with OCPF
Ronald Benjamin 1/5/1971 46 172 Cushing St., 02138 announced, registered with OCPF
Vatsady Sivongxay 2/20/1982 35 59 Kirkland St. #2, 02138 not announced, registered with OCPF, actively fundraising
Sean Tierney 3/10/1985 32 12 Prince St. #6, 02139 announced, registered with OCPF
Sam Gebru 11/20/1991 25 812 Memorial Dr., 02139 announced, registered with OCPF
Olivia D'Ambrosio 9/13/1983 34 270 3rd Street #305, 02142 not announced, registered with OCPF
Nathan Taylor Thompson 10/12/1985 32 31 Tremont Street $#3, 02139 not announced, registered with OCPF
Sumbul Siddiqui 2/10/1988 29 530 Windsor Street, 02141 not announced, registered with OCPF
Theodora Marie Skeadas 8/16/1990 27 988 Memorial Drive #185, 02138 not announced, registered with OCPF
Nadya Teresa Okamoto (new) 2/11/1998 19 Canaday Hall B44, 22 Harvard Yard, 02138 not announced, registered with OCPF
James Williamson 1/13/1951 66 1000 Jackson Pl., 02140 perennial candidate
Gary Mello 5/24/1953 64 324 Franklin St. #2, 02139 ran several times
Ilan Levy 11/1/1967 50 148 Spring St. 02141 ran in 2015, seems to be planning to do it again
Andrew King 4/17/1986 31 40 Essex St., 02139 conflicting reports on whether or not a candidate
Romaine Waite 6/7/1991 26 60 Lawn St. #5, 02138 not announced, but may try again
School Committee Candidate Birthdate Age address Notes
Fred Fantini 6/8/1949 68 4 Canal Park #203, 02141 incumbent, first elected in 1981
Richard Harding 10/16/1972 45 189 Windsor St. #1, 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2001,
speculation he may run for City Council
Patty Nolan 8/28/1957 60 184 Huron Ave., 02138 incumbent, first elected in 2005
Kathleen Kelly 3/8/1960 57 17 Marie Ave. #1, 02139 incumbent, first elected in 2013
Emily Dexter 3/16/1957 60 9 Fenno St., 02138 incumbent, first elected in 2015
Mannika Bowman 11/27/1979 37 134 Reed St., 02140 incumbent, first elected in 2015
Will MacArthur 5/24/1998 19 18 Shea Rd., 02140 definitely running for School Committee
Fran Albin Cronin 2/14/1952 65 1 Kimball Ln., 02140 speculation that she may seek reelection
Jake Crutchfield 3/31/1987 30 281 River St. #1, 01239 speculation that he may run again

March 24 - There are others who are likely to be candidates but who have not yet chosen to be identified as such. Please let me know of other candidates. Not all of the individuals listed above may wish to be identified as candidates, and I will be more than happy to remove those names or reclassify their status (unless I am absolutely certain they will be running!). Anyone who has filed papers with OCPF (Office of Campaign & Political Finance) is assumed to be running for City Council. - RW

Campaign Finance Summaries - City Council 2017
Candidate From To Start Receipts Expend Balance As Of
Benjamin, Ronald 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 9.00 0.00 0.00 9.00 16-Mar-17
Benzan, Dennis 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 2097.45 0.00 1510.62 586.83 16-Mar-17
Carlone, Dennis 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 17827.87 592.10 97.56 18322.41 17-Mar-17
Cheung, Leland 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 90880.32 0.00 5750.00 85130.32 3-Mar-17
D'Ambrosio, Olivia 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 122.75 5000.00 108.00 5014.75 17-Mar-17
Devereux, Jan 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 8715.10 6175.00 921.86 13968.24 16-Mar-17
Gebru, Sam 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 0.00 12998.00 10265.49 2732.51 16-Mar-17
Kelley, Craig 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 2231.84 76.84 267.00 2041.68 16-Mar-17
Levy, Ilan 1-Jan-17 1-Jan-17 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1-Jan-17
Mallon, Alanna 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 100.00 6625.00 17.54 6707.46 17-Mar-17
Mazen, Nadeem 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 13895.04 6296.05 6606.62 13584.47 17-Mar-17
McGovern, Marc 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 14966.66 4067.04 3846.29 15187.41 17-Mar-17
Mello, Gary 1-Jan-17 1-Jan-17 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1-Jan-17
Okamoto, Nadya Teresa 1-Jan-17 1-Jan-17 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1-Jan-17
Siddiqui, Sumbul 16-Feb-17 15-Mar-17 0.00 1271.00 0.00 1271.00 16-Mar-17
Simmons, Denise 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 10179.79 1662.30 3978.91 7863.18 16-Mar-17
Sivongxay, Vatsady 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 0.00 10935.64 364.47 10571.17 16-Mar-17
Skeadas, Theodora 1-Jan-17 1-Jan-17 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1-Jan-17
Thompson, N. Taylor 1-Mar-17 15-Mar-17 0.00 5.00 66.25 (61.25) 16-Mar-17
Tierney, Sean 1-Feb-17 15-Mar-17 0.00 4550.00 0.00 4550.00 16-Mar-17
Toner, Paul 16-Feb-17 15-Mar-17 0.00 3200.00 160.32 3039.68 17-Mar-17
Toomey, Tim 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 4069.67 3977.27 3343.10 4703.84 16-Mar-17
Waite, Romaine 1-Jan-17 1-Jan-17 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1-Jan-17
Williamson, James 1-Jan-17 1-Jan-17 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1-Jan-17
Zondervan, Quinton 1-Jan-17 15-Mar-17 3510.00 3340.29 3567.50 3282.79 16-Mar-17

Campaign Finance Reports - 2017 City Council

Springtime in Cambridge: Featured Mar 20, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Items

It's SpringHere's a sampler of items of potential interest at the March 20 Cambridge City Council meeting. Happy spring! (It'll be warm again before you know it.)

On the Table #5. That the City Manager is requested to establish the requirement that all appointments to the City's commissions, advisory committees, and task forces reflect the City's diversity and that the Civic Unity Committee is asked to sign off on all such appointments going forward. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Simmons on Order #8 of Feb 27, 2017. Tabled on a motion by Councillor Cheung on a voice vote of 8 members on Mar 6, 2017.]

Perhaps they'll settle this on Monday. As I've stated before, the goal is laudable but you cannot give veto power over City Manager appointments to a committee.

Unfinished Business #6. An amendment to the Municipal Code Ordinance that Title 8 entitled “Health and Safety” be amended in Chapter 8.28 entitled “Restriction on Youth Access to Tobacco Products and in Smoking in Workplaces and Public Places” by amending 8.28.050 entitled “ Definitions for Prohibition of Smoking in Workplaces” by adding a new definition. [The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Mar 20, 2017.]

I'm sure a few of the smoking risk denial crowd will be there to testify against this. They should take a walk on Berkshire St. beforehand.

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from the Friends of Observatory Hill Village, to establish the Observatory Hill Village Overlay District. (1000+ additional signatures for this zoning petition are on file in the City Clerk's Office.)

The language of the petition seems reasonable enough, but I'm always curious about what recent activities in an area lead to the decision to submit a petition for a change in the zoning. Are back yards being built over? Are new buildings being built that bear no relationship to the existing buildings. Just curious.

Applications & Petitions #3. A zoning petition has been received from Latoyea Hawkins Cockrill, et a., to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge to regulate short-term rental uses throughout the City.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 1, 2017 to draft language for short-term rental regulations to be forwarded to the Ordinance Committee.

These two have to be discussed together, and I wouldn't be surprised if this petition and the soon-to-be City Council petition on the same topic are processed concurrently. There has been some discussion on the neighborhood listservs that the Cockrill Petition is really being submitted by AirBnB to counter the proposal coming out of the City Council that would normalize short-term rentals but restrict it to owner-occupied properties. I expect there will be a lot of public comment on this one.

Communications #3. A communication was received from Peter Valentine, 37 Brookline Street, transmitting thanks for seeing the true totality of what he does, reducing complicated things to their simplest level.

In a strange way, I have to agree with Peter.

Resolution #2. Congratulations to the CRLS Boys Basketball Team on their Division 1 (North) Championship.   Councillor Toomey

Now we can add a 2nd straight State Championship to that. The CRLS Falcons won the championship game on Saturday night by a score of 70-43 over Franklin High School.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City departments on the feasibility of installing a hitting tunnel at Danehy Park for youth and high school sports.   Councillor Toomey

I've been badgering Kendall Square developers for years about putting a miniature golf course there. A batting cage would also be nice. Show us how Innovative you really are.

Order #5. Recognize the efforts of AIDS Action Cambridge, the SIFMA Now Coalition, and First Church in Cambridge to promote greater awareness about the ongoing opiate epidemic crisis, and their collective efforts to increase access to effective treatment throughout Cambridge.   Mayor Simmons

Further comment is unnecessary. This is important.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 14, 2017 to discuss the Retail Strategic Plan and similar issues related to the retail environment in Cambridge.

This report seems short on specifics, but apparently the process leading to a Retail Strategic Plan for Cambridge business districts still has a way to go. In any case, it's not always the City plans that govern the eventual outcomes. There are many hands stirring these pots and zoning alone cannot predetermine outcomes.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 25, 2017 to discuss the City’s Fiscal Year 2018 Operating and Capital Budget.

The Manager and staff provided the context, and the councillors provided the wish lists. Tune in early May for the Budget Hearings.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 28, 2017 to conduct an additional hearing to discuss a petition by the City Council to amend provisions of the Zoning Ordinance as it related to Inclusionary Housing, including the insertion of new definitions in Article 2.000 and the substitution of revised zoning text for the current text to Sections 11.200 through 11.206.

This is the meatiest item on the agenda. It is presumed that the petition will be passed to a 2nd Reading with the 20% net inclusionary housing mandate and other changes. The sticky point is whether the Council wants to jettison legal reasoning and retroactively impose the same requirements on Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) that have already received Special Permits. It may be politically popular to impose requirements that are certain to be challenged and likely to be invalidated by the courts but, hey, enjoy your Revolution. Then educate yourselves about long-term planning and financing of large-scale developments. - Robert Winters


Rabies Vaccination Clinic for Dogs Only
Saturday, April 1, 9-11am – $15/Dog
Cambridge Department of Public Works, 147 Hampshire St.
Dog Licenses for April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018 Available

Dog!Cambridge Animal Commission will be holding this Rabies Vaccination Clinic and also issuing 2017-18 Dog Licenses for period April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018. Cost is $10 (Spayed Female/Neutered Male), $30 (Un-Spayed Female/Un-Neutered Male). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Laws state that all dogs and cats over the age of 6 months must be vaccinated against rabies; some veterinarians will vaccinate at an earlier age.

City SealRabies has and will continue to be present in Cambridge and throughout the Commonwealth. The best thing you can do for your pet (dogs and cats) is to have it vaccinated and to teach your family and friends to avoid contact with wild animals. The basic rule is to “leave wildlife alone.”

Controlling your dog at all times is an excellent way to keep them protected. When you are outside with your dog, please obey the leash law. When you are in shared use areas in the city, always have your dog under control and within your sight (particularly at Fresh Pond). Regulations are posted in shared use areas and at designated dog parks in the city. Cat owners should keep their cats indoors; it’s a safe and controlled environment. For your pet’s safety at the Rabies Vaccination Clinic, dogs must be leashed at all times. You are still welcome to attend if your dog is up to date on its rabies vaccination and you just need a license. You will need a current rabies vaccination certificate and proof of spay or neuter if your dog has not been licensed in Cambridge before.

A vaccination clinic for cats has not been planned. If your cat needs to be vaccinated, there are clinics in the area that administer low cost programs for rabies vaccinations. For more information, please call the Cambridge Animal Commission Office at 617-349-4376. If we are not in the office when you call please leave a convenient time and number and we will return your call as soon as possible.

As always, the Cambridge Animal Commission would like to remind dog owners of the three L’s of dog ownership – License, Leash and Love your pet.

Cambridge Coalition Launches Solar Access Campaign

On the evening of Monday, March 13, a coalition of organizations and volunteer leaders came together to launch the Cambridge Solar Access Campaign - an initiative focused on expanding access to solar to residents across income and building type in the City. The volunteers that gathered on Monday gained practical tools and educational resources to build a grassroots outreach effort to support the development of low-income accessible solar projects in Cambridge.Solar Access Program

The Cambridge Solar Access coalition assembled in response to the DOE SunShot Solar in Your Community Challenge, and has been accepted as a participant. Coalition partners include Green Cambridge, Resonant Energy, Solstice, Sunwealth, neighborhood associations, houses of worship and engaged residents committed to creating an accessible solar program to meet the needs of Cambridge residents.

This program will work to encourage the rapid adoption of solar photovoltaics across rooftops in the Cambridge area, with a focus on serving low-to-moderate income residents and low-income serving non-profits. Specifically, the campaign will work to educate residents about the benefits of solar and the solar access program, an innovative solar model that removes barriers associated with conventional solar financing such as purchase or lease.

Steven Nutter, the Executive Director of Green Cambridge stated, “Our goal is to get a lot of solar installed, and to do it in a way that benefits the community and allows everyone to participate.” The coalition encourages interested residents to apply to participate as solar access hosts and help reach the campaign goal of 40 new solar projects in Cambridge by the end of 2017.

About the Partners
Green Cambridge works to create a more sustainable city and to protect the environment for the health and safety of all.
Resonant Energy is a community-based solar developer committed to 100% renewable energy for 100% of people.
Solstice is dedicated to helping every single household in America go solar.
Sunwealth is a pioneering solar investment firm that makes it easy to directly invest in solar projects and delivers meaningful returns and tangible impact to our community of investors.

City SealParticipants Sought for Cambridge Works Transitional Jobs Program

Mar 6, 2017 – Are you a Cambridge resident, age 18-35, without a college degree, looking for a full-time job? If so, Cambridge Works might be able to help if you’ve had difficulty finding jobs due to limited work experience, gaps in your work history, legal or personal issues.

Cambridge Works is a free, transitional jobs program where participants receive:

Applications for the next program are currently being accepted. To find out more, contact: Michele Scott at 617-349-7741 or or Michael Merullo at 617-349-7743 or

March in like a Lamb, now Lion, soon to be Lamb - March 6, 2017 City Council highlights

Lion or Lamb?This Monday's City Council meeting has a few interesting items on the agenda. Here's a sampler:

Reconsideration #1. Councillor Toomey filed Reconsideration of the vote taken at the City Council meeting of Feb 27, 2017 on Policy Order #7 stating that the City Council support the 10-citizen petition recently presented to the Cambridge Historical Commission, asking for a tiered designation system and other amendments to the Harvard Square Conservation District guidelines and possibly to its boundaries.

I'm curious what aspect of this proposal led to the request for Reconsideration.

Manager's Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a request to establish the Richard C. Rossi Housing Assistance Fund (the “Fund”), and that $35,641.46 in donations received be appropriated into this Fund.

This is a great initiative, and it's very appropriate that it be named for Rich Rossi who was a consistent supporter of housing for people of all incomes.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to establish the requirement that all appointments to the City's commissions, advisory committees, and task forces reflect the City's diversity and that the Civic Unity Committee is asked to sign off on all such appointments going forward. [Charter Right exercised by Mayor Simmons on Order #8 of Feb 27, 2017.]

As I stated last week, this Order is not lawful as stated. It would be better if it was rephrased to read: "That the City Manager is requested to establish the goal that the City's commissions, advisory committees, and task forces reflect the City's diversity." Even with that revision, this goal is probably not achievable in many cases due to the applicant pool and the nature of some of the commissions that are defined by advocacy for particular issues or constituencies.

Resolution #1. Celebrate Peter Valentine’s contributions to the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Mazen, Mayor Simmons

In Cambridge, we appreciate our "characters", especially when he's the "National Officer In Charge". By the way, according to the registered voter database, Peter Zak Valentine was born on Valentine's Day and also registered to vote in Cambridge on Valentine's Day.

Order #1. City Council support of the ACLU's call for Massachusetts to withdraw from the 287(g) program.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Mazen

The quoted page gives a list of all state or local law enforcement entities that have such agreements. In Massachusetts, the only such entities are the Bristol County Sheriff's Office, the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department, and the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.

Order #2. That the Ordinance Committee is requested to hold a hearing on the future of zoning in Alewife and to review previous zoning changes made to the area.   Councillor Cheung

A few specifics here would be helpful. A working committee of Envision Cambridge has been looking at this area for much of this past year and may be close to the point where some zoning recommendations may be possible. It is ironic, however, that there is a City Council subcommittee that has long-tern planning as part of its name yet focuses on anything but long-term planning. So it goes.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to report back on how the City can mitigate the impact of work to the conduit property in Watertown and how it will be managed in the future, what efforts can be made to preserve the two mature trees that were marked but not removed, and how to involve the Watertown Tree Warden and Watertown Town Council in ensuring that Cambridge’s right to protect its water conduit is carried out while also preserving harmonious relations with the residents of Watertown.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Kelley

This would be a good opportunity for Cambridge residents to educate themselves on how all of their basic necessities (water supply, sewerage, gas and electricity) are configured. I have long been amazed at how many people count themselves as environmental activists but know so very little about their relationship with their own local environment. How many Cambridge residents know where their water comes from, how it gets to the treatment plant, and how it is conveyed to water mains throughout the city?

Order #6. That the Ordinance Committee is requested to hold a public hearing on the draft language for short-term rentals.   Councillor Cheung

Hats off to Councillor Kelley and Wil Durbin for riding herd on this issue. I had no idea how many people are doing AirBnB and similar rentals in Cambridge until a Council committee hearing last year.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Craig A. Kelley, regarding Open Meeting Law Training.

This is a good idea from Councillor Kelley. Ideally, the State Legislature should review the current law to make sure that it is not imposing restrictions that were never intended and which serve no useful purpose. - Robert Winters


Check out the latest episodes of Cambridge InsideOut:

If you would like to be a guest (or co-host) one of these Tuesdays, let me know. - RW

Episode 215 (Mar 28, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics chosen from the Mar 27 Cambridge City Council meeting, including water rates, Harvard Square Kiosk, school construction costs, bamboo, recycling for small businesses, and Central Square.
Episode 216 (Mar 28, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: survey of the potential City Council and School Committee candidates in the 2017 Cambridge municipal election, and the Cambridge Candidate Pages.
Episode 213 (Mar 21, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: State Championship victory of the CRLS Boys Basketball team, some upcoming civic events, design review of MIT-Kendall projects, and a curious zoning petition that appeared at the Mon, Mar 20 City Council meeting regarding short-term rentals
Episode 214 (Mar 21, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: zoning and short-term rentals, changes to the Smoking Ordinance, and the proposed changes to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance that was passed to a 2nd Reading at the Mon, Mar 20 City Council meeting
Episode 211 (Mar 7, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Upcoming events, Police Commissioner search, new municipal election candidates
Episode 212 (Mar 7, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: items discussed and acted on at the Mar 6 City Council meeting
Episode 209 (Feb 28, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: School Committee member Kathleen Kelly - budget and more
Episode 210 (Feb 28, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: civic opportunities, Feb 27 City Council highlights
Episode 207 (Feb 21, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: effect of national politics on the Cambridge municipal elections, the current minibond sale, and the recent update by MIT about plans for the Volpe site
Episode 208 (Feb 21, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Roundtable meeting of School Committee/City Council, municipal election candidates, Feb 13 City Council highlights, Inclusionary Zoning and Planned Unit Developments (PUDs)
Episode 205 (Feb 7, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Patriots' win, events in DC, civic opportunities, partial recap of Feb 6 City Council meeting
Episode 206 (Feb 7, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Partial recap of Feb 6 City Council meeting, unfinished matters, roster of possible candidates for the 2017 Cambridge municipal election.
AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.
AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 2. Castle Island, South Boston. Fast-paced seven-mile scenic walk along ocean to Castle Island, 10:00am-1:30pm. Bring lunch and water. Meet inside JFK/UMass Red Line T station, upper level gates (no nearby parking). Storm cancels. No email after 3/31. No dogs; non-AMC members $1. L Beth Mosias. AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 9. Lynn Woods, Lynn. 5 miles, Leader's Choice. 9:00am-1:00pm. Bring lunch, H2O, and snacks. Dress for the elements. I-95/Route 128 to Walnut Street exit, 4 miles. From Route 1, Walnut Street exit, 2 miles. Turn left on Pennybrook Road to Western Gate parking lot. Cancel if rain. L Nelson Caraballo.
AMC Local WalksWed, Apr 12. Blue Hills Hike, Milton. Blue Hills - 5 mile brisk-paced hike along yellow triangle trail with rolling hills, 10:30am-1:30pm. Meet at Houghton's Pond parking lot. Bring lunch and water. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias. AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 23. Historic Middlesex Canal, North Billerica. Level 5-mi. walk along historic canal N to Chelmsford, 1:30-4:00pm. Meet at the Middlesex Canal Museum (opens at noon). From Rte. 95/128, take Rte. 3 N to exit 28, Treble Cove Rd., L towards N. Billerica 1.7 mi., L on Rte. 3A/129 0.7 mi., R on Lowell St. 0.7 mi. becomes Faulkner St., cross river at Faulkner Mills, R into pkg. lot opp. Joint w/Middlesex Canal Assoc. Info: L Robert Winters, Marlies Henderson.
AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 23. Acton Arboretum, Acton. Slow-paced nature walk in search of a variety of early spring wild flowers and other signs of spring. The walk will focus on plant ID and natural history. 9:00am-12:00pm. From Concord rotary, take Rte. 2 West 2.2 miles, Right on Taylor Road 0.7 miles to Arboretum on right. The Acton Arboretum is opposite #7 Taylor Rd. Arrive early, parking limited. Steady rain cancels. L Boot Boutwell. AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 23. Snake Hills, Groton. 1:00pm start. Snake Hills, Groton. We will traverse a large protected area that includes wetlands, upland forest, some hills, a rare true bog, and a surprise in the woods. Meet at the end of Indian Hill Rd (42.5850N 71.5539W). L Olin Lathrop.
AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 23. Breakheart Reservation, Saugus. Mod.-strenuous approx. 5-mi. hike, hills/rough terrain, 9:00am-2:00pm. Bring snacks/lunch/water. Meet at Northeast Metro School. From 95/128 exit 39 (Wakefield ), take North Ave. E 2.5mi. (becomes Nahant St.), R on Farm St., L on Hemlock St. to end. Cancels if rain. L Nelson Caraballo. AMC Local WalksWed, May 3. World's End Reservation, Hingham. 5 mile walk, 10:30am-1:30pm. 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. $6.00 parking fee for non-members of the Trustees of Reservations. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.
AMC Local WalksSun, May 7. Hale Reservation, Westwood. Easy walk, mostly woods, across a dam & thru a meadow, 1:00-3:00pm. From Rte. 95/128 exit 16B, take Rte. 109 W 1.2 mi., R on Dover Rd. 0.3 mi., R on Carby St. 0.6 mi. to Cat Rock pkg. lot. Rain cancels. L Jean Veigas. AMC Local WalksSat, May 13. Arlington's Great Meadows, Lexington. Slow-paced nature walk in search of a variety of spring wild flowers and other cool plants. The walk will focus on plant ID and natural history. 9:00am-12:00pm. Meet at the Playground behind and to the right of The Waldorf School, 739 Mass Ave, Lexington. Please park along Mass Ave in Lexington in the vicinity of the Waldorf School (739 Mass. Ave.). After you park, walk down the driveway on the right side of The Waldorf School to the playing fields and turn right. We will meet off to the side of the playground and basketball court. Steady rain cancels. L Boot Boutwell.
AMC Local WalksSun, May 14. 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. L Beth Mosias. AMC Local WalksSun, May 14. Lynn Woods, Lynn. Leader's Choice. 9am-1pm. Bring lunch/H2O/snacks. From Rte. 95/128 take Walnut St. exit, 4mi. From Rte.1, take Walnut St. exit, 2mi. Make L on Pennybrook Rd. to Western Gate pkg. lot. L Nelson Caraballo.

Evenings with Experts 2017

First Wednesday of each month, February through May 2017, 7:00pm-8:30pm
A free public lecture series presented by Grow Native Massachusetts at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138
For more information, visit us at, or call 781-790-8921.
CEUs Available for each lecture: APLD (1.5 credits); NOFA-AOLCP (4 credits)

April 5 - How Native Plant Cultivars Affect Pollinators
Annie White, Ecological Landscape Designer & Adjunct Professor, UVM
    Initiatives to address pollinator decline are widespread and native plants are the preferred choice for pollinator habitat restoration. The growing demand for natives, coupled with a longstanding desire of horticulturalists for enhanced bloom, color, or other characteristics, has led to the increased selection and breeding of native cultivars. Although these cultivars are typically marketed for their ecological benefits, until now there have been no scientific studies to support or refute these claims. So are native cultivars as valuable in pollinator habitat gardens as the true native species? Annie White will help answer this question by sharing the results of four years of field data. Her research is groundbreaking and remarkable.
    Annie White is the founder of Nectar Landscape Design Studio and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Vermont. She earned her MS in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her recent PhD in Plant & Soil Science from the University of Vermont was focused on this exceptional new research on native plant cultivars.

May 3 - The Challenge of a Public Native Plant Garden: Maintenance, Interpretation and Compromise
Michael Hagen, Curator of the Native Plant Garden at the New York Botanical Garden
    The New York Botanical Garden’s new Native Plant Garden opened in 2013. Designed by Oehme van Sweden, it includes a diversity of microclimates on 3.5 acres of varied terrain with a planting plan of almost 100,000 native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, ferns, and grasses. Curator Michael Hagen will explain how this garden is successfully maintained, and their criteria for what constitutes “native” in species selection and the use of cultivars. This very public landscape presents native plants in a contemporary style, with an emphasis on aesthetics over recreating habitat. Michael will share his observations about how the public perceives and responds to the value of this native plant palette, along with ideas for inspiring others to “go native.”
    Michael Hagen is Curator of both the Native Plant Garden and the Rock Garden at NYBG. He previously served as Staff Horticulturist for over 11 years at Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring, New York and was Garden Manager at Rocky Hills in Mt. Kisco, a preservation project of the Garden Conservancy.

Cambridge Civic/Political Review 2016

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.

Woodland Restoration Area Gardening
Dates: Tuesdays between 9:30am and 1pm
    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 if you would like to come, and for more information.
Fresh Pond Stewards: Wake Up and Weed!
Dates: Thursdays, 10am to 12noon
Place: Meets at the volunteer trailer in the front parking lot.
    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.
Fresh Pond Kids’ Walks
Dates: Fridays, 10 to 11am, except April 21st
Place: Meets at the gazebo at Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
    Join us for casual nature explorations, designed for young kids and their caretakers, and play in our urban wild! We might read stories, look out for birds and bugs, and make some crafts. Please come dressed ready for the weather (and in clothes that are OK to get dirty!). Please RSVP to Catherine Pedemonti at
Fresh Pond After-school Kids' Walks
Dates: Friday, April 14th & 28th , 3:30-4:30pm
Place: Meets at the gazebo at Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
    Join us for an after-school romp in our urban wilds! This program is intended for kids of all ages accompanied by their caretakers. Please come dressed for the weather and in clothes that are ok to get dirty. Please RSVP to Catherine Pedemonti at
Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility Tour
Date: Monday, April 10, 6 to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at the front door, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Find out how water that falls as rain in the suburbs 10 miles west of Cambridge is transported to Fresh Pond, and then tested, treated, and delivered to the City’s residents and businesses! You’ll have the chance to speak with water treatment staff, see the equipment in action, and check out our water quality lab. Advance notice is appreciated if coming with a large group. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Martine at (617) 349-6489 or
Migratory Bird Walk #1
Date: Saturday, April 15, 9 to 11am
Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    Among the migrating birds that are passing through at this time of year, we might see several species of waterfowl as well as songbirds, including a variety of warblers. In addition, many of our summer residents will have returned: tree swallows, catbirds, phoebes, vireos, orioles, grackles and red-winged blackbirds. Beginners are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. Led by Nancy Guppy. Register with Catherine Pedemonti at
Volunteer Adventures with Ranger Jean
Dates: Tuesday, April 18th, 9-11:30am and 1:30-4pm; Saturday, April 29th, 1-3:30pm
Place: Meets at Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Go behind the scenes to see what’s involved in maintaining Cambridge’s most heavily visited open space. Join volunteer groups in tasks such as spreading wood chips to help control erosion in heavily used sections of the Reservation, and weeding invasive plants to free up space for native plants to thrive. Please come prepared to be in the woods with close-toed shoes and long pants. Gloves and tools provided! No experience necessary. 14+. Please RSVP to in case of location change.
Seasonal Walkabout at Lusitania Meadow
Date: Friday, April 21st, 10:30 to 11:30am
Place: Meets at Maher parking lot, 650 Concord Ave.
    We will monitor wildlife by sign, track, or presence, and make note of weather, state of plants, condition of water and other abiotic resources. On these monthly walks, help chart the seasonal changes of some of our most active wildlife spots, or simply come and enjoy the walk. Come dressed to be outdoors for the hour. Attend one or the series and develop your ability to take in more of the reservation. No dogs please, except for service dogs. Extreme weather cancels. For more info or to RSVP, contact Ranger Jean at (508)-562-7605 or email
Migratory Bird Walk #2
Date: Sunday, April 23, 7:30 to 9:30am
Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    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
Pond Life Exploration at Black’s Nook
Date: Sunday, April 23, 10am-noon
Place: Meets at Maher parking lot, 650 Concord Ave.
    Discover the amazing diversity of plants and critters that make their home in and around the water at Fresh Pond Reservation! We will observe and record living things such as algae, aquatic plants, and macroinvertebrates, and contribute to our biodiversity inventory. Drop-ins and families welcome!
Invasive Plants Walkabout @ Fresh Pond with Ted Elliman
Date: Monday, May 8th, 6 to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at front door of Water Purification Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Curious about the seemingly innocuous plants you’ve observed volunteers removing from the Reservation during the summertime? Or are you suspicious of some strange new visitors popping up in your garden or climbing up your fences? Join Ted Elliman, botanist extraordinaire formerly of the New England Wildflower Society, for an evening walk around the Reservation, in which he will teach how to identify common invasive plants, why these invasive species pose such a danger to native plant and animal communities, and how to manage them for the health of our local ecosystems. Please RSVP to or (617) 349-6489.
Reflecting on Fresh Pond: Art, Prose, and Poetry Share
Date (rescheduled): Saturday, June 10, 2 to 4pm
Place: Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
    Fresh Pond Reservation means so much to so many of us. Whether your come here to hear the tinkle of ice against the shore, the call of returning birds or the squeal of children sledding in Kingsley Park, you may have been inspired to make a note in a journal, write a poem or song; or take a photo or make a drawing. We are calling people of ALL AGES and CREATIVE CAPACITIES to share your Reflections on Fresh Pond at an open mic. All mediums welcome – paint, print, a note scribbled on a napkin, photography, poems, a child’s drawing or performance of song or dance. Please RSVP to with a sentence or two describing your creative work(s). Start the sentence with “I was moved to make (my art) when I experienced (XXX) at Fresh Pond.” And go on from there. Come share your heartfelt experiences with others who are really touched when they walk the Pond and share the wonderment.

Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or for any RSVPs or questions!

Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at to download a form.

Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at 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:

Book Release - Building Old Cambridge by Susan E. Maycock and Charles M. Sullivan (published by MIT Press)

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



[original PDF]

Here's Something Worth Watching

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 of each]

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 215-216: Mar 28, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 213-214: Mar 21, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 211-212: Mar 7, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 209-210: Feb 28, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 207-208: Feb 21, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 205-206: Feb 7, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 203-204: Jan 31, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 201-202: Jan 24, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 199-200: Jan 17, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 197-198: Jan 10, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 195-196: Jan 3, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 193-194: Dec 27, 2016

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 2015-2016 featured 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

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.

Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

Nadya Okamoto Announces Candidacy for Cambridge City Council (Mar 29, 2017)

Quinton Zondervan announces candidacy for Cambridge City Council (Mar 27, 2017)

End of the March – Interesting Items on the March 27, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda (Mar 26, 2017)

Springtime in Cambridge: Featured Mar 20, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Items (Mar 19, 2017)

Cambridge Coalition Launches Solar Access Campaign (Mar 14, 2017)

Paul Toner Declares Candidacy for Cambridge City Council (Mar 10, 2017)

Sean Tierney Announces Candidacy for Cambridge City Council (Mar 9, 2017)

March in like a Lamb, now Lion, soon to be Lamb – March 6, 2017 City Council highlights (Mar 5, 2017)

Before the March – Items of Interest at the February 27, 2017 Cambridge City Council meeting (Feb 26, 2017)

Black ice blindness (Feb 21, 2017 by John Allen)

New Year at City Hall – Jan 9, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights (Jan 9, 2017)

Alanna Mallon Announces Run For Cambridge City Council (Jan 4, 2017)

Cambridge Civic/Political Review 2016 (Dec 28, 2016)

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! – December 2016 (updated Dec 21, 2016)

Closing Down an Unusual Year – Dec 19, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda Notes (Dec 19, 2016)

Central Square is a Grandma (Dec 17, 2016)

Participatory Budgeting Results Announced: December 14, 2016!

Speed Limit on Cambridge’s City-Owned Streets Being Reduced to 25 MPH (Dec 4, 2016)

Where did the Amanda Phillips crash happen? And why? (Dec 2, 2016 by John Allen)

A Peanut in Inman Square? (Dec 1, 2016 by John Allen)

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Dec 1, 2016)

David Maher selected as next President and CEO of Cambridge Chamber of Commerce – will not seek re-election to City Council (Nov 9, 2016)

The Municipal Situation in Cambridge (1904) – by Henry N. Wheeler (Nov 6, 2016)

Louis A. DePasquale Selected as Next Cambridge City Manager (Sept 29, 2016)

Floyd Freeman, Nov 7, 1915 – July 11, 2016, neighbor, friend, philosopher (July 16, 2016)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – April 1, 2016 (April Fools Edition)

Sunday Morning Statistics – Who Voted in the Cambridge Presidential primary (by age) (posted Mar 20, 2016)

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates (last updated Feb 20, 2015 - updated periodically)

Cambridge School Committee 2015 Campaign Finance Summaries (Feb 6, 2016)

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

Who Voted in the 2015 Cambridge Municipal Election? (Dec 6, 2015)

Final Official Election Results – Cambridge 2015 Municipal Election (Nov 13, 2015)

Flashback to March 1998 (Oct 12, 2015)

Who Votes in Cambridge? (July 9, 2015)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2015) - the April Fool's Day edition

Brian Murphy, 1964-2015 (Feb 5, 2015)

Age Distribution of Voters in Cambridge Elections: 2007-2014 (Jan 4, 2015)

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)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2013) - the April Fool's Day edition

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)

“Cycle track”: a sidewalk by another name (posted Aug 11, 2010, letter of Paul Schimek)

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

April 2, 2016 - Yet another fun April Fool's Day

April 2, 2015 - Another fun April Fool's Day

April 2, 2013 - Well, that was fun. Thanks to everyone for being such a sport on April Fool's Day.

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.


THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik (33½ minutes)

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

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

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

City Council Committees (for the current term)

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 for more details.

Oliver Wendell Holmes – Morning Exercises of December 28, 1880
As recorded in the book 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Cambridge (1881)

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 (

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

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