Cambridge City Council meeting - March 18, 2019 - AGENDA
CITY MANAGER'S AGENDA
1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the bi-annual City of Cambridge Resident Telephone Survey for 2018.
2. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a supplemental appropriation of $2,600,000 from Free Cash to the Public Works Other Ordinary Maintenance account to fund snowstorm related expenses associated with snow plowing and snow removal contracts, salt, other materials, repair costs.
3. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $400,000 from Free Cash to the Public Works Public Investment Fund Extraordinary Expenditures account to fund snowstorm related road repairs.
4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-86, regarding a report on replacing failed 4000K LED streetlights.
5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-142, regarding a report on efforts to educate cyclists about riding safety and sharing the road especially at intersections.
1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to proposed amendments to the following ordinance: and proposed amendments to Chapter 14.04 of the Cambridge Municipal Code (the "Fair Housing Ordinance"). Fair Housing (passed to a 2nd reading) AWAITING HOME RULE LEGISLATION-BEFORE PROPOSAL CAN BE ORDAINED
2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-108, regarding a report on offering early voting in City Council and School Committee Elections. PENDING RESPONSE FROM LEGISLATURE
3. An application was received from Citizens Bank, requesting permission for a 1 illuminated projecting sign and 7 awnings at the premises numbered 822 Somerville Avenue, approval has been received from Inspectional Services, Department of Public Works, Community Development Department and no abutter response.
APPLICATIONS AND PETITIONS
1. An application was received from Cambridge Public Health Department requesting permission for a temporary banner across the public way located Massachusetts Avenue in Front of City Hall announcing "Congratulations to the Cambridge Public Health Department on Achieving National Accreditation" from Mar 25-Apr 1, 2019.
2. An application was received from Patrick Conte, requesting permission for a curb cut at the premises numbered 50 Rogers Street; said petition has received approval from Inspectional Services, Traffic, Parking and Transportation, Historical Commission and Public Works. Response has been received from the neighborhood association.
1. A communication was received from Peter Valentine, regarding.
2. A communication was received from Robert J. La Tremouille, regarding tree protections.
3. A communication was received from Kathy Roberts, 321 Huron Avenue, regarding tree massacre at Fresh Pond.
4. A communication was received from Robert J. La Tremouille, regarding latest Riverfront Vote.
1. Congratulations to Superintendent Stephen Ahern and Superintendent Jack Albert of the Cambridge Police Department for being selected into the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative’s inaugural Meta-Leadership Project Hall of Fame. Mayor McGovern
2. Speedy Recovery wishes to Jeff Walker. Councillor Simmons
3. Resolution on the death of Asa Brebner. Vice Mayor Devereux
4. Congratulations to Valery Lyman on her Breaking Ground exhibit. Vice Mayor Devereux
5. Resolution on the death of Colita P. Harris. Councillor Simmons
6. Happy Birthday wishes to Moses Moore. Councillor Simmons
7. Resolution on the death of James Edward Washington. Councillor Simmons
8. Resolution on the death of Gregory M. Aufiero. Councillor Toomey
9. Congratulations to author Jen Deaderick on the Publication of "She the People." Councillor Siddiqui
10. Congratulations to Cambridge Brewing Company on celebrating their 30th anniversary. Councillor Toomey
1. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and the Department of Public Works to review design or signage changes to improve safety at the intersection of Third Street and Spring Street. Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey
2. Reappointment of James Monagle as City Auditor. Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux
3. That the City Council go on record urging MassDOT to revisit and review plans for the forthcoming Union Square Station in Somerville with a view toward making the station more accessible to those with mobility impairments. Councillor Simmons
4. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Department of Public Works to report on the number of fines for failure to clear sidewalks issued from the winter of 2014-15 through the winter of 2018-19. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley
5. Thanks to Mayor McGovern and all members of the Harm Reduction Commission and the Cambridge Opioid Working Group for their leadership and service and that a Human Services and Veterans Committee hold a future hearing to receive an update on the recommendations in these reports and on efforts in Cambridge to address substance use disorder and the opioid crisis. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon
6. City Council support in urging the members of the Massachusetts Delegation to Washington to vote in favor of The Paycheck Fairness Act. Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon
7. That the Dedication Committee consider a request from Councillor Toomey for a street corner dedication in honor of Daniel Crowley Jr. and Verina Crowley in the vicinity of Rindge Avenue and Clay Street. Councillor Toomey
8. City Council endorsement of the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon
9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant staff about updating the bike data count chart, along with other data tables and charts, in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan to reflect 2016 and 2018 data. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan
10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant staff to report to the City Council on how the data collected from the Broadway Eco-Display is used to inform the City’s transportation planning efforts and to address the possibility of installing additional Eco-Display counters at the highest trafficked bicycle locations to provide more comprehensive information about bike use and other vehicles such as scooters. Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan
11. That the Executive Assistant to the City Council confer with the Dedication Committee to consider the request from Councillor Kelley for a street corner dedication in honor of Angel Fetene at the corner of Sacramento Street and Oxford Street, or a similar location near the Baldwin School. Councillor Kelley
12. That the City Manager is requested to confer with City Staff and report back to the City Council on the status of any micro-mobility pilot programs or partnerships in Cambridge. Councillor Kelley
13. City Council support for fully funding the Section 8 Housing Choice Tenant-Based Voucher Program. Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone
14. That the City Manager direct the appropriate City staff to examine the need and possibility of neighborhood preference in Cambridge in the short and long-terms. Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan
15. That the City Council go on record in enthusiastic support of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R.1384). Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone
1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 13, 2019 to receive an update on the progress to date on the retail strategy plan and vacant storefront initiative.
2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 26, 2019 to discuss the MBTA’s Better Bus Project report as it relates to proposed changes to bus lines and service throughout Cambridge.
3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 6, 2019 to discuss how Transit Benefit Ordinances are being used in other cities to further sustainable transportation goals, and whether Cambridge could benefit from implementing a Transit Benefit Ordinance.
4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 27, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Title Twelve entitled “Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places” by adding a new Chapter 12.22 entitled “Cycling Safety Ordinance”.
5. 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 Feb 27, 2019 to review unsolved and/or ongoing homicide and other investigations in Cambridge, to include “cold” case work and limitations, legal or tactical, on sharing relevant information with the general public.
COMMUNICATIONS AND REPORTS FROM OTHER CITY OFFICERS
1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Siddiqui, transmitting the submission of the Mayor's Blue-Ribbon Task Force on Tenant Displacement Feb 24, 2018 meeting minutes.
2. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Zondervan, transmitting a memorandum regarding "Affordable Housing Overlay Initial Thoughts".
Mon, Mar 18
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, Mar 20
4:00pm The Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the implications of identity theft and cybercrime on local residents and businesses to include Cambridge Police Departmental responses to these events and possible proactive measures to help people protect against such crimes. (Ackermann Room)
5:00pm The Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on the Affordable Housing Overlay District. THIS HEARING WILL BE TELEVISED. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Mar 25
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Mar 26
10:00am The Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a proposed change to City Council Rule 39 entitled “Rules of Travel” to be amended to be entitled “Rules of Travel and Other Council related expenditures”. (Sophie Room)
1:00pm The Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss Cambridge’s Memorial Tree Program and ways to revitalize the program in order to increase participation citywide. (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, Mar 27
3:00pm The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a zoning petition filed by Melissa and Christopher Grippo et al to amend the Zoning Ordinance by adding at the end of section 5.30.11 a sentence that reads; notwithstanding the foregoing, in Industry B District, a hotel use (Section 4.31.2) shall be governed by the second number (4.0) for purposes of determining the maximum ratio of floor area to lot area. THIS HEARING WILL BE TELEVISED. (Sullivan Chamber)
Thurs, Mar 28
5:00pm The Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on the Affordable Housing Overlay District. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Apr 1
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Apr 2
2:00pm The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussion on a petition filed by the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge in section 4.22 to allow for a special permit for the alteration of a single, two-family or accessory structure in existence as of January 2019 to provide one accessory apartment, if appropriate conditions are met. (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, Apr 3
1:00pm The Transportation & Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss Applications and Petition #4 of Mar 4 submitted by the Cambridge Taxi Drivers Owners Association on whether additional regulation on Transit Network Companies (TNC) could be implemented in Cambridge. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the zoning petition filed by Stephen R. Karp, Trustee of Cambridge Side Galleria Trust to add a new Section 13.100 to Article 13 and amend the zoning map to add a new PUD-8 District Overlay. THIS HEARING WILL BE TELEVISED. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Apr 8
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Apr 9
1:30pm The Government Operation and Rules Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the logistics and feasibility of implementing early voting in City Elections and to discuss the possibility of pursuing a Home Rule petition to lower the voting age to City elections to 16 years old. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Apr 22
5:30pm City Council Meeting - Budget Submission (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Apr 29
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, May 1
9:00am Finance Committee hearing to discuss proposed FY20 City Budget. THIS HEARING WILL BE TELEVISED. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, May 6
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, May 7
9:00am Finance Committee hearing to discuss proposed FY20 City Budget. THIS HEARING WILL BE TELEVISED. (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, May 8
6:00pm Finance Committee hearing to discuss FY20 School Department Budget. THIS HEARING WILL BE TELEVISED. (Sullivan Chamber)
Thurs, May 9
9:00am Finance Committee hearing to discuss proposed FY20 City Budget (if necessary). THIS HEARING WILL BE TELEVISED. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, May 13
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, May 20
5:30pm City Council Meeting - Budget Adoption (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, June 3
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, June 10
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, June 17
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, June 24
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, July 29
5:30pm Special City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
TEXT OF ORDERS
O-1 Mar 18, 2019
WHEREAS: Residents and employees in the vicinity of Third Street and Spring Street have repeatedly voiced their concerns for the safety of that intersection, noting the seeming frequency of vehicular crashes here; and
WHEREAS: From January 2016 to December 2018, there were at least 25 reported crashes at the intersection, averaging during that time period one crash every 44 days; and
WHEREAS: The majority of these crashes were recorded as angle collisions types, and 60 percent occurred on a weekday during evening rush hours between 4:00pm and 8:00pm; and
WHEREAS: Many pedestrians walk in the area to conduct business at the courthouse or access the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and the Department of Public Works to review design or signage changes to improve safety at the intersection of Third Street and Spring Street; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council on this matter.
O-2 Mar 18, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
ORDERED: That the City Council reappoint James Monagle as City Auditor for a term beginning June 1, 2019 and expiring on May 31, 2022.
O-3 Mar 18, 2019
WHEREAS: Work continues on the long-awaited Green Line Extension station in Union Square in Somerville, which the City of Cambridge has pledged millions in funding in order to help improve public transportation in and around the City, yet numerous residents in Cambridge have been voicing concerns about the station’s accessibility; and
WHEREAS: With the GLX project running over budget and construction of Somerville’s Union Square station in danger of being halted in 2015, MassDot planners were compelled to make difficult cuts and scale back their designs to the station to reduce costs; and
WHEREAS: Some of these cost-cutting measures included the deletion of stairs and elevators, and while ramps have been added in their place, some Cambridge residents nevertheless state that the new design will make accessibility difficult for those with mobility impairments and are urging GLX planners to revisit the station’s designs with a view to improving accessibility for those coming to the station from Cambridge; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Council go on record urging MassDOT to revisit and review plans for the forthcoming Union Square Station in Somerville with a view toward making the station more accessible to those with mobility impairments; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward suitably engrossed copies of this resolution to John Dalton, Program Manager of the MBTA Green Line Extension, and to Governor Charles D. Baker, on behalf of the entire City Council.
O-4 Mar 18, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: Municipal Ordinance 12.16.110 makes it the responsibility of private property owners or the occupants of said property to clear snow and ice from the public sidewalks and any crosswalks bordering their property in a timely manner (within 6 hours after the formation of ice, and within 12 hours after the end of snowfall during the day, or by 1pm for snow that fell overnight); and
WHEREAS: Failure to clear snow and ice promptly is subject to a $50 per day fine; and
WHEREAS: Following every snow event, there are numerous reports of icy and un-shoveled sidewalks submitted through Commonwealth Connect, and many instances of uncleared and dangerous sidewalks that are not reported through the app but are issued fines by DPW staff; and
WHEREAS: In some cases the same property owners are “repeat offenders”; and
WHEREAS: The City offers exemptions and help to qualifying low-income seniors and persons with disabilities who may be unable to properly clear the sidewalks around their property; and
WHEREAS: Some cities have begun prioritizing pedestrian mobility during winter by: 1) making snow removal on sidewalks the responsibility of the City to do on behalf of all residents, and 2) clearing sidewalks before streets, during and after a snow event; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to consult with the Department of Public Works to report on the number of fines for failure to clear sidewalks issued from the winter of 2014-15 through the winter of 2018-19 (5 years), using the data available on the Open Data Portal and on Commonwealth Connect (if available for that year), showing the locations where reports were submitted and fines were issued each winter, and indicating which property owners received multiple fines annually, and any trends indicated by the data and the use of Commonwealth Connect to help making reporting and tracking violations easier; and be it further
ORDERED: That the report be used as the basis for discussion in a future meeting of the Public Safety Committee on what enforcement policies, incentives and targeted outreach programs the City can employ to improve compliance so that snow clearance violations become extremely rare in future winters.
O-5 Mar 18, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: The Massachusetts Harm Reduction Commission, appointed by Governor Baker to review and make recommendations regarding harm reduction opportunities to address substance use disorder, recently completed its work and released a final report; and
WHEREAS: The Cambridge Opioid Working Group, appointed by City Manager DePasquale to review disease surveillance data, identify best practices about opioid-related prevention, intervention, and treatment activities, as well as share information about the chronic nature of addiction, has also recently released its final report; and
WHEREAS: The Commission and the Working Group’s reports provide immediate and longer-term action steps and essential guides to best practices to help communities address these grave and widespread issues; and
WHEREAS: As a member of and major contributor to both groups, Mayor Marc C. McGovern has played a significant role in these achievements in furthering the discussion on addiction and on the opioid crisis and overdose epidemic; now therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the City Council go on record expressing its gratitude to Mayor McGovern and all members of the Harm Reduction Commission and the Cambridge Opioid Working Group for their leadership and service; and be it further
ORDERED: That the Human Services and Veterans Committee hold a future hearing to receive an update on the recommendations in these reports and on efforts in Cambridge to address substance use disorder and the opioid crisis.
O-6 Mar 18, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge continues to promote the need for protections and assurances that people throughout our community, whether working in the public or the private sector, are given equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities for advancement, regardless of race, creed, color, ethnicity, or orientation; and
WHEREAS: The United States Congress is currently scheduled to debate and vote upon The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 819 and H.R. 1869) on Mar 25, 2019, and this legislation would add procedural protections to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act across the country; now therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the City Council go on record urging the members of the Massachusetts Delegation to Washington to vote in favor of The Paycheck Fairness Act; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward suitably engrossed copies of this resolution to the members of the Massachusetts Delegation to Washington on behalf of the entire City Council.
O-7 Mar 18, 2019
ORDERED: That the Executive Assistant to the City Council confer with the Dedication Committee to consider the request from Councillor Toomey for a street corner dedication in honor of Daniel Crowley Jr. and Verina Crowley in the vicinity of Rindge Avenue and Clay Street; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward this order to the Dedication Committee for their review and approval.
O-8 Mar 18, 2019
WHEREAS: Senator Elizabeth Warren reintroduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, a bicameral bill aimed at confronting America’s housing crisis and endorsed by members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, including Senator Edward Markey, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Joe Kennedy III; and
WHEREAS: An independent report from Moody’s Analytics stated that the “Lack of housing is pushing up house prices and rents, making it even more difficult for low- and middle-income households to find a place to live;” that the production of affordable housing is especially falling behind demand, and as a result rents could increase by 4% annually; and that “Stiff zoning restrictions, higher permitting costs, and other regulations are significantly driving up building costs, particularly in urban areas where the shortage of affordable housing is especially acute;” and
WHEREAS: The American Housing and Economic Mobility Act calls for the creation of 3.2 million new housing units to control the cost of renting or buying a home, which Moody’s predicts “will have the added benefit of improving housing affordability, particularly for affordable rental homes,” and reduce rent costs each year and by as much as 10% over 10 years; and
WHEREAS: Noting that Federal housing policy systematically discriminated against Black families seeking to buy homes, thereby draining minority communities of wealth, the legislation would provide down payment grants to first-time homebuyers living in formerly redlined or officially segregated areas; and
WHEREAS: Finding that “local land use rules can significant increase construction costs, making it unattractive to build housing for anyone but the richest Americans,” the legislation offers $10 billion in grants that local governments can use for public improvement projects if they “reform land use rules that restrict production of new affordable housing;” and
WHEREAS: The legislation also would also hold financial institutions accountable for providing access to credit for all Americans, strengthen anti-discrimination laws, and improve the housing voucher programs; and
WHEREAS: The legislation has been endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the NAACP, the National Coalition for the Homeless, the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, the National Rural Housing Coalition, and the Mayors of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Salem, and many other organizations; now therefore be it
RESOLVED: That in recognition of the factors that contributed to the national and local housing crisis and disparate neighborhood opportunity—restrictive state and local zoning rules, funding shortages in affordable housing production, and the legacy of government-backed discrimination—the City Council endorses the bicameral American Housing and Economic Mobility Act; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward a suitably engrossed copy of this resolution to the Honorable Senator Elizabeth Warren of Cambridge and the entire Congressional delegation from Massachusetts on behalf of the entire City Council.
O-9 Mar 18, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: The City has collected bike count data either annually or biennially since 2002; and
WHEREAS: This data is valuable and helps the City plan appropriately and allocate resources properly for both bike and other modes of transportation; and
WHEREAS: Data from the Eco-Display counter, positioned on Broadway in Kendall Square, is one of the busiest biking locations in the City and riding activity is roughly flat since its installation in 2015, and data from the City’s traditional bike count measures show a dramatic rise in bicycling between 2002 and 2012, a significant drop in 2014 and roughly an equal rise in 2016, as calculated by a City Council aide, indicating that those bike counts may also reflect relatively flat bike use growth; and
WHEREAS: The Community Development Department has not made public the bike count data from either 2016 or 2018 in the same format as previous bike counts are presented in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant staff about updating the bike data count chart, along with other data tables and charts, in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan to reflect 2016 and 2018 data and to report back to the City Council on this issue.
O-10 Mar 18, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: The City launched an Eco-Counter Eco-Display device, formerly called the Eco-Totem, in June of 2015 on Broadway to count bicycle trips; and
WHEREAS: The Eco-Display is an effective data capturing tool and a valuable addition to our traditional bike counting measures that provides both real-time continuous data with roughly 95% accuracy and access to proprietary data analysis tools; and
WHEREAS: As of 2016, the City had 20 bike-counting locations where date-specific data was collected for the City’s annual bike counts; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant staff to report to the City Council on how the data collected from the Broadway Eco-Display is used to inform the City’s transportation planning efforts; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant staff and report back to the Council on the possibility of installing additional Eco-Display counters at the highest trafficked bicycle locations to provide more comprehensive information about bike use and, possibly, other vehicles such as scooters that Eco-Counters can currently measure or may be able to measure in the future.
O-11 Mar 18, 2019
WHEREAS: Angel Fetene, beloved daughter, sister, friend, resident of Cambridge and student at the Maria L. Baldwin School, touched, and indeed still touches, the lives of family, friends, caregivers, and teachers; and
WHEREAS: Angel was a constant and consistent source of inspiration to all who came into contact with her and wherever she went she would brighten up the room with her beautiful smile, cheerful spirit, and positive affect; and
WHEREAS: Angel tirelessly, fearlessly, and bravely waged a battle with cancer; and
WHEREAS: Despite her struggles, set-backs, and, ultimately, her loss to this horrible disease, she never once wavered in her care and concern for others; and
WHEREAS: Angel Fetene lives on in her positive impact on those who were blessed to have known this remarkable young lady, who taught, and continues to teach us all how to remain positive and optimistic in even the most dire of circumstances; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the Executive Assistant to the City Council confer with the Dedication Committee to consider the request from Councillor Kelley for a street corner dedication in honor of Angel Fetene at the corner of Sacramento Street and Oxford Street, or a similar location near the Baldwin School; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward this order to the Dedication Committee for their review and approval.
O-12 Mar 18, 2019
WHEREAS: The town of Brookline approved a pilot program for shared, dock-less scooters with a scheduled launch date of April 1st; and
WHEREAS: Cambridge should be at the forefront of micro-mobility and new technology and successful adaption of Cambridge’s streets, sidewalks, and other public and private areas to these new platforms is crucial to addressing local and regional congestion problems and unlocking new ways of thinking about development, housing, transportation, public space, and more; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with City staff and report back to the City Council on the status of any similar micro-mobility pilot programs or partnerships in Cambridge.
O-13 Mar 18, 2019
WHEREAS: Shelter is a fundamental human right; and
WHEREAS: There is a continuing housing affordability crisis in the City of Cambridge, exacerbating resident displacement, destabilizing communities, disrupting children’s educations, threatening the stability of Cambridge schools, undermining the health and vitality of our neighborhoods, and jeopardizing the diversity that Cantabrigians cherish; and
WHEREAS: Cambridge has a severely limited supply of affordable housing options for persons with modest incomes, as evidenced by the long mobile voucher wait list at CHA which exceeds 10,800 as of March 2019, as well as the City’s 2016 Housing Profile which indicates that the city’s affordable housing stock has actually decreased as a percentage of total housing stock over the last few decades while market rental prices have sharply risen; and
WHEREAS: Current Federal funding levels for the Section 8 Housing Choice Tenant-Based Voucher Program are sorely insufficient to support all of the individuals and families in need in Massachusetts, as evidenced by the fact that the Massachusetts Centralized Waiting List exceeds 20,000 people as of January 2019; and
WHEREAS: The creation of a universal voucher program would create more opportunities for Cantabrigians to find housing and would dramatically improve the lives of millions of Americans by providing them with affordable housing, thereby allowing them to invest in food, education, job training, and savings for themselves and their families; now therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the City Council go on record urging our elected representatives in both houses of Congress to sponsor an amendment to the 2019 Federal Budget that would fully fund the Section 8 Housing Choice Tenant-Based Voucher Program so that every person in need of shelter in the United States of America shall be housed; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward suitably engrossed copies of this resolution to Cambridge’s entire Congressional Delegation, as well as HUD Secretary Ben Carson, on behalf of the entire City Council.
O-14 Mar 18, 2019
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge has neighborhoods with people from many backgrounds, and said residents are facing displacement despite the city’s efforts to provide stable, affordable housing; and
WHEREAS: The preservation of neighborhood character, and prevention of displacement, are stated goals of the Envision process; and
WHEREAS: Most new housing, both affordable and inclusionary (up to 20% affordable), is being built in the emerging post-industrial districts of Alewife’s Triangle and Quadrangle, and North Point, which lack Cambridge’s traditional social infrastructure (institutional meeting places, elementary schools, libraries, etc.); and
WHEREAS: Studies show that being displaced from one’s home and especially one’s neighborhood have dramatic impacts on a resident’s quality of life and even life expectancy; and
WHEREAS: The City of Boston created a pilot program in 2015 entitled the “Diversity Preservation Policy” that gives “preference for existing neighborhood residents for up to 50 percent in projects located in non-segregated geographies with high rates of displacement or households at high risk of displacement.”; and
WHEREAS: Boston continues this pilot on a building-by-building basis after the 2017 pilot deadline; and
WHEREAS: This pilot program does not apply to Federally funded HUD programs and addresses housing discrimination by requiring the designated neighborhood radius contain no more than 60 percent of any one race; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the appropriate City staff to examine the need and possibility of neighborhood preference in Cambridge in the short and long-terms, especially when new housing is constructed in an existing neighborhood where displacement is occurring and present the findings to the City Council.
Diversity Preservation Policy (aka Pilot Displacement Preference)
The goal of the policy is to stabilize neighborhoods and minimize displacement by providing a preference for existing neighborhood residents for up to 50% of the units in projects located in non-segregated geographies with high rates of displacement or households at high risk of displacement. The pilot preference will only be for initial rent up or sale of units. The Pilot Preference will run until the end of 2017. We will evaluate the impact of the policy after each completed project. The policy will not be applied to Federally-funded projects prior to obtaining HUD approval to do so.
Eligible geographic target area for the displacement preference varies depending on number of units in the subject housing development.
· <20 units = within 1/4 mile buffer
· 20-50 units = within 1/2 mile buffer
· 50+ units = within 3/4 mile buffer
If the resulting target area has a population comprised of 60% or more of any single racial or ethnic category, the target may be expanded or the percentage of units subject to the preference may be reduced to ensure that access for persons of color is not hampered.
DND will submit the demographics, including the racial and ethnic composition, tenure characteristics and rent burden data, of each geographic target area to Fair Housing & Equity for review.
Eligible Neighborhoods (High risk for displacement)
Target areas with more than 30% of its households with a severe rent burden (paying over 50% of their household income for rent).
Household Eligibility Criteria for Displacement Preference
Household living within the target geographic area and at least one of the following criteria:
1) Rent-Burdened Households not already living in a subsidized housing unit Rent Burdened: Household income under 30% of AMI paying more than 30% of income for rent or household income over 30% but under 60% of AMI paying more than 50% of income for rent. Includes Section 8 voucher holder in unsubsidized unit paying more than 30% of Income for rent (tenant paying amount of rent over FMR)
2) Elderly homeowners (62+) with household income under 80% of AMI (preference for rental housing only)
3) Renters with a disability and household income under 100% of AMI
4) Renter household with household income under 80% of AMI with school age children in a Boston school
O-15 Mar 18, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: Quality, therapeutic healthcare is a fundamental human right; and
WHEREAS: The United States of America spends far more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation, yet nearly 30 million Americans remain uninsured, at least 40 million more cannot afford the costs of their co-pays & deductibles, and a 2009 study found that 45,000 people die annually in the US due to a lack of coverage; and
WHEREAS: Despite spending nearly 18% of gross domestic product on healthcare, the US has worse health outcomes compared with other industrialized nations, including higher maternal and infant mortality rates, a lower overall life expectancy, and staggering rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other largely preventable deaths; and
WHEREAS: An estimated one-quarter to one-third of total healthcare spending in the US is on administrative costs, including generating bills and collecting payments, and one study found as much as 80% of the billing-related costs in the US are due to additional complexities caused by the multiplicity of payers in our current system; and
WHEREAS: Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has resulted in substantial increases in coverage since it passed in 2010, the 14 states not participating in ACA-authorized Medicaid expansion perpetuate non-coverage for low-income individuals; and
WHEREAS: Too many Americans are forced to choose between paying rent and paying for lifesaving medical treatments, or are only one medical crisis away from bankruptcy, and per capita pharmaceutical spending is nearly twice as high in the US as it is in Canada; and
WHEREAS: The Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R.1384), introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (DWA- 7) with 106 cosponsors including both members of Cambridge’s delegation, would address this crisis by improving and expanding Medicare to create guaranteed access to healthcare with comprehensive benefits for everyone in the United States; and
WHEREAS: The legislation would transition the US healthcare system to a single-payer, Medicare for All system over a two-year period, improving efficiency, completely eliminating private insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket costs, and allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, as most countries do, further reducing consumer costs; and
WHEREAS: The legislation would give patients complete freedom to choose their doctors, hospitals, and other providers, without having to worry about whether a provider is “in-network”, while completely covering all primary care, hospital and outpatient services, dental, vision, audiology, women’s reproductive health services, maternity and newborn care, long-term services and supports, prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse treatment, laboratory and diagnostic services, ambulatory services, and more; and
WHEREAS: The legislation would completely preserve funding for the Veterans Administration and Indian Health Services, ensuring that veterans and indigenous peoples continue to receive the targeted, effective service they deserve while expanding the range of providers and services available to these populations; now therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the City Council go on record in enthusiastic support of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R.1384), in thanking Cambridge’s Congressional delegation for their support, and in urging the US House of Representatives to pass the legislation; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward suitably engrossed copies of this resolution to Cambridge’s congressional delegation and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on behalf of the entire City Council.
TEXT OF COMMITTEE REPORTS
Committee Report #1
The Economic Development and University Relations Committee held a public hearing on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 12:00pm in the Sullivan Chamber to receive an update on the progress to date on the retail strategy plan and vacant storefront initiative.
Present at the hearing were Councillor Siddiqui, Chair of the Committee; Councillor Carlone; Councillor Mallon; Councillor Simmons; Councillor Zondervan; Mayor McGovern; Lisa Hemmerle, Economic Development Director; Pardis Saffari, Senior Economic Development Manager; Jeff Roberts, Director of Zoning and Development, Community Development Department; Liz Walker; Matt McLaughlin; and Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk.
Also present were Adriane Musgrave, Executive Director, Cambridge Local First; Michael Monestime, Executive Director, Central Square Business Association; Jason Alves, Executive Director, East Cambridge Business Association; David Maher, President and CEO; Nancy Donahue, Government Affairs, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce; and Ruth Ryals.
Councillor Siddiqui convened the hearing and stated that the hearing was being audio and visually recorded. She read from prepared Opening Remarks (ATTACHMENT A). She gave an overview of the agenda for the hearing (ATTACHMENT B).
Lisa Hemmerle stated that Economic Development Division (EDD) has been able to finish another district assessment for Inman Square with plans for Porter Square in fiscal 2020. She noted that this has been helpful for the small business community. She said that a Construction Mitigation Pilot was instituted in Inman Square to help small businesses manage ongoing construction projects. She explained that a small business dashboard has been created. She noted that there has been additional revenue added to the FY19 small business challenge grant program. She highlighted National Small Business Week in May and noted that there will be events every day of that week. She was excited to add that the that the Food Truck pilot program has become a full-blown program. Ms. Hemmerle introduced Pardis Saffari and Jeff Roberts to discuss land use.
Ms. Saffari explained that this hearing is a great opportunity to provide an update on the retail land use initiative. She noted that she and Mr. Roberts will present an overview of the PowerPoint presentation (ATTACHMENT C).
Councillor Zondervan asked Mr. Roberts if he could give a sense of how specific the City must be and why in terms of different types of retail. He asked Mr. Roberts if the City’s Zoning Ordinance needs to distinguish between a bookstore and a music shop and if so, why. Mr. Roberts responded that the way that they break down uses within the retail section of the ordinance, it does not separate book stores from music stores. He explained that it breaks apart different uses where the nature of what is going on is different. He said that a retail store is different from a restaurant which is in turn different from a theater which is different from a funeral home. He said that is where the differences come into play. He explained that the one area where it is a little tricky is where there is food, food-related uses, service uses, which are broken down more specifically. He said that there is a separate category for restaurants that serve alcohol versus those that do not. He said that they are both regulated the same. He said that food related uses are broken down more specifically. He said that the rationale for this type of breakdown has to do with traffic and transportation impacts. He said that for each of these uses, the parking requirements and use regulations are somewhat different.
Councillor Zondervan asked if theoretically it would be possible to change this so that businesses are being regulated based on those specific constraints that Mr. Roberts mentioned. He said that a lot of the other constraints are already regulated. He asked if it would be possible to achieve the same goal without restricting it by business type and instead by how many people are actually going to frequent the business.
Mr. Roberts responded that in theory, yes, but in practice it is difficult because zoning works in broad strokes, so it deals with the bigger picture issues of what kinds of uses are allowed. He said that if we were trying to get more specific about the number of people who were frequenting an establishment rather than the size of the establishment, it is difficult to make those determinations while in the process of permitting a use or granting a Certificate of Occupancy for that use. He said that it is difficult when there are performance standards that determine whether a particular use is allowed or not. He said that it is hard to regulate because this information is not known in advance.
As it relates to commercial activity on residential lots, Councillor Siddiqui said that she thinks about home-based businesses and the reality that there are small businesses operating from homes which is not delineated in the City’s zoning. She said that web based or tech companies or even small scale yoga studios play an important role in the local economy and perhaps they could be added to the zoning. Mr. Roberts said that the Zoning Ordinance does have provisions for customary home occupations. He said that a home office of a doctor or professional is allowed in the Zoning Ordinance.
Councillor Siddiqui stated that this does not count as the full range or breadth. Mr. Roberts said that they could provide information about the current rules for home occupations and look into amending these requirements.
Councillor Mallon said that in the 2015 classification of land uses study she did not see anything on the issue of live entertainment and allowing live entertainment or commercial recreation through licensing instead of zoning to allow for a greater provision of cultural activities and entertainment. She asked if this is something that CDD is thinking about. Mr. Roberts said that this question relates to #5 on the list where they talk about entertainment uses. He said that entertainment uses are among the uses that tend to be more heavily restricted in the Zoning Ordinance. He said that you could look at it as an issue of how to define and classify those uses but fundamentally it is a question of how strictly the City wants to regulate them. He said that is a policy question for the City Council. He noted that there may be some areas where the City could further clarify or add nuance to the definitions of those kind of uses. He said that if there are other areas where there can be an allowance for more temporary entertainment or entertainment that is not at the same kind of intensity as a nightclub, CDD can think about ways to create those definitions. Councillor Mallon said that she and Vice Mayor Devereux have been talking about acoustic music and how that is licensed. She said that CDD did a great job in covering major points in the 2015 study, but she is curious around timeline and when this will come to fruition. She said that it would be great to fast track this work. Councillor Siddiqui added that the study discussed approaches about how to implement a timeline. Mr. Roberts said the study talked about a targeted approach to say what are some specific improvements that could be implemented and that would not require a more comprehensive change to the Zoning Code which would take a lot longer. In terms of timelines, CDD has a set of zoning projects that they are working on including updates to the green building requirements, affordable housing in response to previous Policy Orders and retail land use in addition to the ongoing process of looking at climate change resilience and zoning standards to address the work that has been done so far. He said that in addition, they have four zoning petitions that are under consideration including accessory apartments, Alexandria Grand Junction Overlay proposal, as well as two newer zoning petitions that are under review. He said that it is a busy year and between the amount of items and the complication of working on projects like this that is not a perfectly linear process, it requires much more thinking through complicated issues. He said that some of these might have easy solutions that can be identified but some are more complicated and require more thought as to how to address them from a zoning and legal standpoint. He said that it is difficult to set a specific timeline, but this is among the projects that they are actively working on this year. He said that it is his hope that CDD will have something that will come before the City Council in the middle of the year. He said that it is difficult to give a definite timeline.
Councillor Siddiqui said that it seems like a capacity issue. She noted that it is clear that this work has been a goal of the City Council for many years. She said that the worry is that many of the businesses have been waiting and there are lost opportunities. She said that this is a top priority and we must talk to the City Manager about more capacity as it has been four years since the study.
Councillor Carlone questioned if there are reports or summaries on the outreach to the business associations and the feedback that has been received. Ms. Saffari said that the summaries are the bullet points in today’s presentation, but they can make the summary available on line. Councillor Carlone said that it would be interesting to see how each district differs and what the priorities are. He asked if it would be helpful to have neighborhood surveys to find out what the neighborhood needs as a use. Ms. Saffari responded that the commercial district assessment does provide that information. She said that intercept studies have been conducted for all the major districts and that information is posted on line.
She said that with the district assessments, they are combining data with additional data to provide a more robust picture of the districts.
Councillor Carlone said that on the specific issues heard they relate to neighborhood objection with some uses with noise, traffic, and parking he would add the word exhaust such as wood fire, and smoke which has impacted people in his neighborhood for a while. He said that the barbeque restaurant at One Kendall Square works because houses are far away from that location. He said that it is excellent to relax some requirements. He asked if criteria will be listed as general criteria would be helpful for the Planning Board and the Board of Zoning Appeals. Mr. Roberts explained the difference between Special Permits and variances. He said that the process is similar but one thing that does not change between the two is the timing. He said that in terms of the outcomes, a variance is generally assumed to not be granted unless there is a compelling reason specific to that site that justifies granting it. He said that a Special Permit is like the opposite, it is assumed that it would be granted unless there is a compelling reason specific to that site why it would not be granted. He said that a Special Permit does rely on having the zoning requirements be clear but also having some criteria in place stating the instances under which the Board that is granting the Special Permit might consider not granting it. These could include issues of nuisance and noise. There are currently general Special Permit criteria. He said that Special Permits are subject to a set of general criteria that essentially says that Special Permits will normally be granted unless there is a factor specific to the site why it should not be granted. Councillor Carlone said that he would like to see more proactive reactions that are being discussed.
Councillor Zondervan said that he believes that the City should be as least restrictive as possible. He urged CDD to help him understand how to do that and if it could be restructured to be more about the size of the business as opposed to the type of the business. As it relates to parking, he said that his preference is that the City eliminate all car storage requirements. He asked what kind of current parking requirements could be eliminated without expecting major negative consequences. Mr. Roberts responded that the #1 BZA request for new businesses is a Special Permit to waive parking. He said that what ends up happening from a practical point of view is that we don’t want people tearing away parts of buildings to add off-street parking spaces. He said that in many of those cases, it is not practical to provide the parking spaces that are required. He said that it is difficult for the City to say that we don’t want you to make significant alterations to a building to provide parking, but we will create a disincentive by making you have to go to the BZA. He said that the BZA tends to grant those Special Permits for exactly that reason. He said that any instance where you are creating a new business in an existing space where it would be impractical to create new parking, it makes a lot of sense not to require it. He said that other situations would need to be thought about more carefully. He said that if you are building a new building that has retail uses in it, is that a situation where you would or would not want to waive parking.
He said that it might depend on the characteristics of the use. He said that this would be a situation where there would be a lot more questions to answer. He said that where there is an existing building and where the general planning objectives would not encourage the creation of new parking spaces because it would be damaging to the existing built environment. Councillor Zondervan asked how quickly this could be changed. Mr. Roberts said that it would not be that difficult, but they must figure out the right approach and any unintended consequences. He noted that it will still take time for the technical aspect.
Adriane Musgrave said that Cambridge Local First appreciates this work. She said that local business owners work hard to get up and running and there are significant roadblocks although there have been good partnerships. She said that Cambridge is leading the way and there are not a lot of cities who are trying to wrangle with 50-year old zoning. She said that she is pleased that home-based businesses were discussed. She said that this will create a lot of opportunities for local entrepreneurs. She said that they are happy to learn about the temporary use zoning given that it is a way for people to dabble in entrepreneurship. She said that one of the other impediments around zoning is the advising that a local business owner would receive. She would like to see the change of the advising that is given to local business owners to give detailed information about the process moving forward. She said that another impediment around zoning is that given the changing nature of retail in particular, she would like to hear the thoughts around non-retail use for ground floor spaces.
Mr. Roberts said that part of the goal of this effort is to address the issue of making it clear to businesses from the start of the process what category they fall into and the permitting process from a zoning standpoint moving forward. He said that fundamentally, when someone proposes something it must be looked at in terms of what is in the Zoning Ordinance. He said that it makes sense if there is a change that helps to resolve some of the ambiguity of how retail uses are defined. He said that there may be some information that gets provided that will help to provide more advice and explanation to go along with the text of the ordinance itself.
Councillor Mallon said that updating the zoning will make a huge difference but up until the time that this happens, offering advice earlier in the process would help business owners understand and feel confident that they are going through a process they can handle. She said that moving the advice to earlier in the process would help a lot during the interim phase.
Ms. Hemmerle said that small businesses can reach out to the EDD division for assistance in the process. She noted that EDD can offer a variety of technical assistance. She noted that Ms. Saffari will work with City departments to smooth out the process which is part of the catharsis of the land use table. As it relates to non-retail uses on the ground floor, Ms. Hemmerle said that the City is not a big fan of having non-retail uses at ground level unless it is an active use. She said that banks and daycares are not the most active uses, however, they need to be at street level. She said that the good news for Cambridge is that there is a lot of pressure for retail in general that we are not seeing as many non-retail uses on the ground floor. She said that this is part of the vacant storefront discussion as well.
Councillor Siddiqui asked if the online permitting has been updated. Ms. Saffari responded in the affirmative.
Jason Alves said that zoning in the Table of Uses is one level of authority that can say who goes into what space. He asked what are the other departments that chime in once the uses are allowed and what kind of regulatory role can they play. He said that on Cambridge Street, someone got a license for live entertainment but then the License Commission was able to dictate what that meant for them. He said once some of the uses are allowed, are there other departments that can have a say over/manage what happens. He asked if there is there any way to look at relaxing regulations in C-1. Mr. Roberts said that the License Commission has jurisdiction over licensing, noting that this is a separate process. He said that by making things more permissive in zoning, it means that more businesses can make it to the licensing step, but it does not control what kinds of limitations the License Commission might put on it.
Mr. Roberts said that in terms of other codes that are applicable at the state level, all of those would continue to apply as they are not superseded by zoning. Mr. Roberts said that CDD has spent time looking at the flexibility of what is allowable in certain districts. He said that in the past, he has heard a lot of pushback to that idea because neighborhoods have not embraced this idea. He explained that people feel that the variance process affords the neighborhood a level of control to prevent undesirable circumstances. He said that it does continue to be a topic of discussion.
Jason Aves said that one of the recommendations is exempting new parking requirements for any new retail use up to 10,000 square feet in an existing building, changing it from the small business exemption of up to four spaces. He said that 10,000 seems high. He said that if this goes from a small business exemption, how does it determine what a small business is versus jumping to a 10,000 square foot business. He asked who this relief ends up benefitting. Mr. Roberts said that this is one of the difficulties about this study. He said that the reality is that depending on the type of business, the size range can vary quite a bit. He said that with 10,000 square feet, it is a bit of an arbitrary number but for uses that are less than 10,000 square feet, it would include very small businesses but many also include restaurants. He said that a supermarket or a big box store will be much larger than 10,000 square feet. Ms. Saffari said when they were researching different types of craft manufacturing and other larger users, they were at 10,000 square feet or less. Mr. Alves asked what would be a small business that would be able to qualify to get the small business exemption. Mr. Roberts said that the exemption applies to any non-residential use that requires 4 parking spaces or less.
David Maher stated that Nancy Donohue, Governments Affairs, Chamber of Commerce, and he just met with the Retailers Association of Massachusetts who represents 4,000 retailers statewide. He said that that Cambridge is not the only community struggling with these issues. He said that it is a country-wide issue. He said that they heard that the biggest impediment to new retailers opening in communities are the regulations. He said that finding ways to ease the regulations will help new retailers. He said that when people come and look for advice, they don’t know where to begin. He said that the first response to a new business owner should not be to go get a lawyer. He said the need to go back and look at parking regulations and things beyond the license process to open a business.
Councillor Siddiqui opened the hearing to Public Comment at 1:22pm.
Ruth Ryals said that there are two concerns in the Porter Square area. She said that the neighbors have one set of concerns when a business wants something on Massachusetts Avenue and the other is the businesses, or lack thereof, and empty storefronts on Massachusetts Avenue. She said that one concern is addressing the Table of Uses. She said that they would like to see the possibility of things such as commercial kitchens. She would like to see the provision for meeting space in some of the larger storefronts. She said that if acoustic music is allowed, she does not see the reason for not allowing 4 or 5 musicians. She said that this is about the noise level. She talked about a previous wood fire issue that was experienced by the neighborhood. She said that someone could have looked at the idea that this might not be the best location for such a restaurant.
Public comment closed at 1:25pm.
Ms. Hemmerle gave an update on the vacant storefront design contest. She said that they received over 430 submissions from as far away as California. She said that the youngest applicant was 4-years old and the oldest applicant was 90 years old. She said that the internal panel will meet to discuss the submissions and they will also a People’s Choice Survey so that people can vote online or at 344 Broadway.
Pardis said that the EDD used a GIS storymap to provide a vacant storefront database. She said that it is currently available to the public and will be on CDD’s website. She explained that this is a visual guide to go with the paper version that will be updated on a quarterly basis. Ms. Hemmerle gave a summary of ground floor retail vacancies. Councillor Siddiqui noted the importance of easily obtaining information about site specific causes and district level causes for vacancies. Ms. Hemmerle explained that most of the information is available on the vacant storefront database. She noted that she will send the breakout to Councillor Siddiqui.
Mayor McGovern noted that it would be beneficial to include a way for people to see the breakout as well. He talked about the 2+ year vacancies and said that for some owners of a space, you will not get their attention until you hit them in the pocketbook. Councillor Siddiqui said that she agrees with Mayor McGovern. She said that in September, the consensus was that many are in favor of looking at these institutional investors that are leaving their storefront vacant. She said that this is a capacity issue. Lisa Hemmerle noted the importance of City Council guidance on some of the policy issues. Councillor Siddiqui noted she would be scheduling a future hearing on the topic.
Councillor Mallon said that when she thinks about assessing levies or fines on vacant property owners, it is important to make a distinction between institutional investors versus a mom and pop shop. She said that Washington, D.C. has a good program as it relates to vacant storefronts and delineation of ownership. As it relates to the GIS mapping, Councillor Mallon asked if the website offered district and zoning information which would be very beneficial. She said that knowledge is power in terms of starting off on the right foot. Ms. Saffari said that the zoning district could be added. Councillor Mallon said that it would be helpful to have a system similar to Bostonzoningcheck.com.
Councillor Carlone asserted that he is in favor of fines. He said that frontage should be the guide. He said that he went to the vacant storefront initiative website and he was not able to find the map.
Councillor Zondervan asked if the database is downloadable. Ms. Saffari responded that it is a PDF. Councillor Zondervan commented that it would be ideal if this information was in spreadsheet format.
Ruth Ryals said that there is a period of time when someone buys a commercial property and the lease has run out and tenants are made to leave. She said that Wok and Roll is a good example. She said that when there is a change in ownership, the City should be able to help negotiate that an existing business can stay in that location or help to find another place that the business could relocate. She noted that there is a role for the City to help keep businesses in the neighborhood.
Councillor Siddiqui asked about Small Business Week in May. She said that she has been thinking about legacy businesses and celebrating those businesses. She said that she would love to see the schedule and to think about ways to honor the legacy businesses in the city. Pardis Saffari gave an overview of National Small Business Week events such as permitting assistance, panels, open houses in Huron Village and pedestrian walks to encourage people to get to know their business owners.
Adriane Musgrave said Cambridge Local First cares about legacy businesses and they have talked about ways to celebrate these businesses. She said that Ms. Saffari has a great list.
Councillor Siddiqui thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 1:58pm.
For the Committee,
Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair
Committee Report #2
The Transportation & Public Utilities Committee held a public hearing on Feb 26, 2019, at 2:05pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the MBTA’s Better Bus Project report as it relates to proposed changes to bus lines and service throughout Cambridge.
Present at the hearing were Vice Mayor Devereux, Chair of the Committee; Councillor Carlone; Councillor Kelley; Councillor Mallon; Councillor Zondervan; Councillor Siddiqui; Assistant City Manager for Community Development Iram Farooq; Environmental and Transportation Director, CDD, Susanne Rasmussen; Transportation and Environmental Planner, CDD, Tegin Teich; Transportation, Traffic and Parking Director, Joe Barr; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were Stephen Kaiser, 191 Hamilton Street; Saul Tannenbaum, 16 Cottage Street; James Williamson, 1000 Jackson Place; and Heather Hoffman, 213 Hurley Street.
Vice Mayor Devereux convened the hearing and explained the purpose. An agenda was distributed (ATTACHMENT A). She stated that the MBTA has undertaken a look at a ‘cost neutral’ approach for these schedule changes and has planned improvements for some segments of some bus routes. Introductions were made.
Ms. Rasmussen stated that the MBTA is holding an official public hearing on the proposal, scheduled at CRLS from 6-8 PM on the same evening as this committee’s hearing.
Ms. Teich gave a presentation (ATTACHMENT B). She stated that the information in the presentation came from the MBTA. She spoke about the timeline. Last year there was a public process to identify opportunities for interim improvements. Currently, the MBTA is in Round 2 of the public engagement process. Last year there was a multi-year investment strategy plan presented for fiscal year 2020. There would be more buses and drivers needed to handle increased frequency, but additional buses are not provided for in this set of cost-neutral changes.
She added that more priority will be provided for transportation in the future service planning. Mass DOT in Phase 2 is proposing selecting a network redesign consultant. She stated that there are four changes in Cambridge with a proposed implementation date of Sept 1, 2019 that will impact riders.
The Cambridge routes that will be impacted are:
Routes 1/CT1 Harvard/Central to Dudley/Boston Medical Center via Massachusetts Avenue;
Route 64 Central to Oak Square, Brighton
Routes 70/70A Central to Waltham
Routes 72/74/75 Harvard to Aberdeen/Belmont Center.
Ms. Teich highlighted changes to the individual routes.
CTI route: CT1 will be eliminated on the east/southern side of Boston Medical Center campus. There will be a better coordination of the route and it will be combined into the Route 1 from Harvard to Dudley. She explained the changes from Harvard Square to Dudley via Massachusetts Avenue. The proposal will eliminate the two stops on the current Johnson Gate and Quincy Street loop in Harvard Square. Instead of looping around Harvard Yard, after the Holyoke Gate stop buses would turn left onto Dunster Street and make another left onto Mount Auburn Street to loop back toward Central Square. She spoke about the resulting reduced travel time for riders between Harvard, Central, Dudley and Harrison Avenue. The buses would come more frequently. The currently frequency is 10 minutes at peak and it will be reduced to 8 minutes. With the elimination of two stops, some riders would have to walk further to get the bus at the Holyoke Gate stop, though. She stated that all changes need to be put into the MBTA scheduling system and some benefits may not be as currently described in the proposals.
Councillor Zondervan asked if there are any routes with conditional stops. Ms. Teich responded in the negative. Ms. Rasmussen noted that this is a significant loop and would be hard to build into the route. This will provide better coordination for buses. She stated that the drawback is the walk time from the Boston Medical Center, which is up to a 6-minute walk. Councillor Zondervan asked why it is good to add a 6-minute walk to eliminate 3-minutes of a ride. Ms. Teich responded that the MBTA looks at the benefit to the total load of ridership versus the effects on those who are walking. She added that more detail is needed about who is getting on and off the buses at the intersection of Dunster Street, which is a heavily traveled area.
Councillor Zondervan questioned the benefit. Ms. Teich stated that the assessment may vary on the route time.
Vice Mayor Devereux noted that with the cost neutral framework of these changes, it seems the MBTA was accounting for the greatest good, as opposed to the benefit of all riders and the future planned monetary investment could overcome some of these concerns.
Route 64: Route 64 goes to and from Oak Square in Brighton and Cambridge. This service currently extends into Kendall Square at peak times. The proposal is always to run the route into Kendall Square and to potentially shift service to Main Street instead of Prospect Street and Broadway. There has been a lot of demand for a one-seat ride to Kendall Square all day from Brighton. Off-peak and weekend service to University Park would be eliminated, though Route 70 would provide alternate service to many of those riders. Ms. Teich spoke about the drawbacks. No resources are being added to this route; the frequency will be worse, and longer walk times will result. She commented that additional evaluations would need to be performed to address the impacts of moving service off Prospect and Broadway.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked if the planned re-construction of River Street will have an impact. Ms. Teich stated that it will impact Route 70/70A, but that it is hard to determine at this point what those impacts will be.
Route 70/70A: This route goes from Central Square to Waltham. It is a heavily traveled route. She stated that the intent is to combine the resources of two routes and truncate route 70A at Waltham Center. This impacts Waltham riders who are served by the North Waltham loop and use bus stops on Lexington Street. She stated that the benefit is a more consistent, better coordinated route and the drawbacks are a 15-minute transfer wait time for some customers in Waltham between the new Route 70 and new Route 70A.
Route 72/74/75 Harvard to Aberdeen/Belmont Center
Route 74: The loop on Bright Road and Blanchard Road will be eliminated. This will affect three stops, but two are served by the 75. The stated benefit is a better coordinated route and improved frequency. Routes 74 and 78 provide parallel service to Blanchard Road. This could better coordinate routes 74/78 so frequency may be improved for riders along those routes.
Route 72 will become a peak-only service, and riders will have to instead use the 75 route at offpeak times, which does not serve Aberdeen Avenue. At all times, the 75 will be re-routed to use Huron Avenue (the same route taken by the 72) instead of Concord Avenue and Fresh Pond Parkway. There are no stops on Fresh Pond Parkway, and there is typically heavy traffic that slows down buses. Stops on Concord Avenue from Huron Avenue to Fresh Pond Parkway would no longer receive Route 75 service but would still have Routes 74 and 78 service. She highlighted the benefits to the combined 72/75 route as it retains the stop used for high school students, a 2-minute faster ride on route 75 and better frequency. The drawbacks are that there is up to a 7-minute walk for former Route 72 riders to get to the Route 75 during off-peak hours, an 8-minute walk for Route 74 and a 4-minute worse frequency for stops on Concord Avenue between the Sozio Rotary and Huron Avenue.
Councillor Carlone asked if all the extra walking times listed are the maximum. Ms. Teich responded in the affirmative.
Ms. Teich spoke about next steps. There are a few public hearings being held on the proposals. The official public comment period for the MBTA Better Bus Project proposals closes on Mar 13, 2019.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that it is hard to fully understand the impacts without having information about the full route schedules. She added that it doesn’t make sense that public comments will have to be given without seeing the schedules. Ms. Teich stated that the equity analysis evaluated whether there is a disproportionate burden on a vulnerable community. It looks at the wait times for the vulnerable populations versus the non-vulnerable populations.
Councillor Zondervan asked whether the City owns the bus stops. Ms. Teich responded that the City owns the streets and sidewalks. Mr. Barr stated that the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department posts the bus stop signs. Councillor Zondervan asked when changes are made does the MBTA come back to the City to change the route. Mr. Barr stated if they are moving a bus stop it is more of a negotiation between the City and the MBTA.
Councillor Zondervan commented that this is an old school way of doing business and asked why phones and on demand rides cannot be used to create a more flexible transit system. Ms. Teich stated that shuttle partnership pilots have been tried in the past by companies such as Bridj, which is no longer operating. Ms. Rasmussen stated that there are challenges with operating on demand service. Once it gets beyond 3-4 passengers, sharing the ride is much more challenging.
Mr. Barr noted that there has been an attempt to match people and create a flexible service, but in terms of significant replacement of MBTA’s buses, there has not been a benefit.
Councillor Zondervan stated that this is being done on static data. If there is high demand on a certain route for a certain time, there could be more flexibility on the route by adding another bus. He spoke about school buses and that Route 72 is an important route for the high school. Ms. Teich stated that there’s no indication from the MBTA that there is an interest in serving more of our high school transportation needs.
Councillor Mallon spoke about the school trips and how this will affect students going to the high school. She asked what outreach is being done with the School Department and how they are planning for these changes. She noted that a 7-8-minute walk time is a long time to be out in the cold during winter. Ms. Teich noted that there has been a conversation about Route 68 not getting students to school on time. The Better Bus Project outreach to the School Department was supplemented by the City with additional informational outreach to get feedback.
Councillor Mallon stated that now that these recommendations are real and immediate, the School Administration and parents need to get involved, as it affects the students and there could be academic implications from students missing the bus. She has concerns with the #72 bus route changing. Ms. Teich spoke about getting more specific feedback from the schools.
Councillor Mallon stated that the bunching of buses is her concern for the Route 1. She asked whether this proposal will address bunching. Ms. Teich stated that bunching happens for several reasons. The Route 1 and CT1 are scheduled at the same time and the new route changes will be based on the run times. There will still be congestion on the way but some of this will be address with this change to the 1/CT1. This change attempts to improve the reliability.
Councillor Carlone asked to what extent Ms. Teich and the other City Transportation Staff think that these proposals respond to Cambridge’s needs. Ms. Teich outlined all the coordination and work between the City and the MBTA. The changes do not address all the needs of the City, in part because they have been constrained by the fact that this is a cost-neutral process. Councillor Carlone asked what are the concerns that are not met. Ms. Teich stated that new routing is needed from Somerville to Kendall Square. There is also an increased ridership in Kendall Square that needs to be met without a decrease in frequency. Councillor Carlone stated the western Concord Avenue (the Alewife Quad) area is developing rapidly. The zoning there will likely mean there will be more offices and more traffic. He asked whether there is the capability to meet this demand. Ms. Teich stated that there will be a slight improvement, but she foresees the need for a connection to Alewife. Ms. Rasmussen stated that the Harvard Square to the Quad route is being promoted as service needs to grow as the area develops. She spoke about a signal priority that would give buses priority through the corridor. As well as buses getting priority in and out of Alewife station. Councillor Carlone commented that the MBTA is twenty years behind reality.
Councillor Kelley asked how much control the City has over the sidewalks; a 15-minute layover in Waltham will encourage car use, so we need alternatives to cars. He spoke about testing out a new mode of transportation in Kendall Square, and adding the conversation around micro-mobility to this discussion about buses. Ms. Teich spoke about what the City can do to improve transit. One type of improvement that’s under the City’s control are bus priority lanes. The MBTA has provided funding and implemented changes. Less operational aspects to the T. The Waltham transfer time sounds significant, but she does not know enough about the specifics to suggest an alternative. Ms. Rasmussen noted that there should be micro-mobility service between Central Square and Kendall Square. She stated that Bluebikes are being used throughout the City and are used at an especially high rate between Central and Kendall. She stated that a scooter pilot program is being worked on, to be rolled out after there is a regulatory change in Massachusetts.
Councillor Zondervan asked if there are any thoughts of running the City’s own bus service. Ms. Rasmussen stated that an analysis was performed in the past for the City operating a shuttle service. The analysis found that it would be too costly for a City-owned shuttle to run with frequency on high traffic routes. It would be better to invest more in the MBTA than to go off on our own to operate buses. Councillor Zondervan suggested experimenting to see whether a low frequency bus route could still have a benefit. If it’s a success, it could then attract more funding and frequency could be increased. He spoke about the new bus priority lanes on South Massachusetts Avenue and whether there is yet any data on the impact on Route 1 from this change. Mr. Barr stated that it is too early; there should be data later in the year. He is eager to see the data. Ms. Teich stated that priority bus lanes are also in use on Mt. Auburn Street. There are early positive results, but better data is needed.
At 3:15pm Vice Mayor Devereux opened the hearing to public comment.
Stephen Kaiser, 191 Hamilton Street spoke about the format of the handout, and how it was difficult to see in his black and white copy. He stated that the handout was informative but not formatted well for the readers. He added that the Presentation is incomplete; it is supposed to be about the Better Bus Project and does not address certain routes. He spoke about bunching caused by bad bus dispatching. He stated that Route 1 was the biggest money maker for the MBTA in the past; but it is not now. He stated that the MBTA cannot manage buses. He stated that the 350 bus is on schedule until it gets to Alewife and cannot get into the station. He noted that the MBTA does not want to discuss bunching, and this is an important issue that needs to be considered. He stated that there would be a 50% increase in frequency of use if buses ran on time. He expressed his opinion that the MBTA is not open to new ideas.
Saul Tannenbaum, 16 Cottage Street, stated he is a member of the Transit Advisory Committee but was not speaking for the committee. He stated that the MBTA has not released a bus plan for over a decade. Kendall Square was smaller then, and the Seaport District was not in existence twenty years ago and has also grown immensely in the last decade. The cost-neutral aspect impacts the effectiveness of these proposals. He stated that the MBTA has no spare buses. All buses are in use. If there is more demand, there are no extra buses to help address the demand. Bus service is dying in congestion and it is not being addressed. This process will be implemented in September 2019 and the fares will increase in July. He asked why the additional revenue from the fare increase is not being put back into the system. There is another planning process by Mass DOT to redesign the system. This is just a mess. He stated that he rides Routes 1 and CTI. The City has had project proposals for bus tracking in Central Square that have not been implemented. He stated that knowing when a bus will arrive leads to better usage.
James Williamson, 1000 Jackson Place, stated that the River Street reconstruction hearing is scheduled at the same time as the MBTA hearing being held tonight, and this is an unfortunate conflict. He asked how the City proceeds from here and how all the views are coordinated among staff, City Council and MBTA. How do we advocate for the most needed changes? How can any goals truly be achieved without adding resources? He stated that he takes the Route 1 from Harvard Yard and he has a bad leg; it would be a long walk through the yard to get to the stop on the other side at Holyoke Gate. He would not like to lose the Johnson Gate stop in exchange for the perceived benefit of turning down Dunster Street. The Route 1 stop was moved back because of bike lanes and has been slowed between Sidney Street and Mass Avenue because of the construction of protected bike lanes. He stated that the CT1 does not make the same stops as the Route 1. If the CT1 is eliminated, are all CT1 stops being added to the Route 1? He stated that better service is needed on the Route 47. He urged that the Route 68 service be extended until the library closes at 9pm.
Heather Hoffman, 213 Hurley Street, stated that the T lies about arrival times. The Better Bus Project does not serve her area. She wanted bus routes for East Cambridge advocated for. The bus routes were eliminated for East Cambridge and no one is advocating now for East Cambridge. She added that East Cambridge is losing service as the Green Line is extended, which doesn’t make sense.
Vice Mayor Devereux closed public comment.
Vice Mayor Devereux spoke about the public’s low expectations of what the MBTA can do to improve and urged the staff to ask for what Cambridge wants. She encouraged the staff to let the MBTA know that this is not getting Cambridge what it wants. She stated that tonight’s MBTA meeting also conflicts with the City Council’s roundtable meeting tonight, and there will be no way to provide feedback in person. She stated that the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization is conducting a survey to seek public feedback on the status of public transit and general mobility from seniors and persons with disabilities. She spoke about the equity issues on bus service. She asked if Harvard University has provided feedback on the changes. Ms. Teich stated that there is a representative from Harvard University on the Transit Committee, but she does not know their position with respect to these changes. Additional comments needed for the CT1/1 and if this proposal is acceptable then there will be a detailed conversation on this. Vice Mayor Devereux stated that it would be good to know Harvard University’s position on this. She stated that the Concord Avenue corridor projections are unrealistic. There are 40,000-50,000 cars that go through the rotaries at Concord Avenue and Fresh Pond Parkway daily and this will only increase. With that increase, the delays will grow. She stated that she has concerns with the proposed changes to Route 72 and agrees with Mr. Attanucci’s comments in his memo (ATTACHMENT C). This change will encourage more car usage in West Cambridge. She asked what outcomes from this hearing would be helpful to the staff.
Ms. Rasmussen stated that it would be helpful to have specific concerns to relay to the MBTA. The ridership specifics still need to be analyzed in additional to the operational changes.
Councillor Carlone reinforced that the staff should discuss what they feel needs to be addressed.
Vice Mayor Devereux wanted to be told what the staff hears from the MBTA hearing being held tonight. When a stop is suddenly eliminated, the general public will state that they did not know about this beforehand. The Route 72 in its current configuration knits through the commercial corridors (Harvard Square, Observatory Hill, Huron Village, the Star Market shopping center).
Councillor Carlone asked if station stops are reduced, will the City have to prioritize bus shelters, so people have a place to wait. Ms. Teich spoke about the bus shelters. She explained that if a sidewalk is not wide enough, it limits the installation of a bus shelter. She also stated that once they are installed, shelters need to be maintained. Councillor Carlone wanted to see a list of where shelters can be installed, where they cannot, and why not.
Councillor Mallon asked whether the coming multi-year investment strategy will layer on more bus routes. Ms. Teich stated that what was presented yesterday was that they would invest in adding additional drivers. Mr. Barr spoke about challenges of where buses are stored when not in use and for service. Ms. Rasmussen stated that the financial circumstance of the MBTA is dire and there needs to be additional resources raised for the MBTA to get the system the City wants. She stated that there is no funding for an expansion of service. Councillor Mallon stated that there should be objections to the Route 72/74/75 proposal and to take a hard stance on this. She asked the staff to tell the City Council what they need in order to raise those objections.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked what the benefit is to add additional drivers without additional buses. Ms. Teich this would address dropped trips. Mr. Barr stated that there is frequency decline when bus routes and drivers are taken from Cambridge routes.
Councillor Zondervan wanted the City to think beyond these constraints and look for ways to increase revenue for transit.
A communication was received from John P. Attanucci, Research Associate, MIT and attached as (ATTACHMENT C).
A communication was received from Jean Leventhal, Huron Village, transmitting comments on the proposed changes to the Route 72/75 (ATTACHMENT D).
Vice Mayor Devereux thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 4pm.
For the Committee,
Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair
Committee Report #3
The Transportation & Public Utilities Committee held a public hearing on Mar 6, 2019 at 1:03pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss how Transit Benefit Ordinances are being used in other cities to further sustainable transportation goals, and whether Cambridge could benefit from implementing a Transit Benefit Ordinance.
Present at the hearing were Vice Mayor Devereux, Chair of the Committee; Councillor Carlone; Councillor Mallon; Councillor Siddiqui; Councillor Kelley; Councillor Zondervan; Director of Transportation and Environmental Planning, CDD, Susanne Rasmussen; PTDM Officer, CDD, Stephanie Groll; Sustainability Planner, CDD, Jennifer Lawrence; Director of Traffic, Parking and Transportation, Joseph Barr; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were Jason Pavluchuk, Policy Director, Coalition for Smarter Transportation; Melissa Zampitella, TransAction Associates; Peggy LaPaglia, 295 Devonshire Street, Boston, representing the Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589; Michael Moriarty, Enterprise, 248 Mishawum Road, Woburn; Jacqueline Maille, Inside Sales Manager, Edenred Commuter Benefits Solutions, 265 Winter Street, Waltham; Stephen Kaiser, 191 Hamilton Street; Peter Valentine, 37 Brookline Street; Saul Tannenbaum, 16 Cottage Street; John Attanucci, 608 Huron Avenue; Jim Gascoigne, 77 Gray Street, Arlington; and J. Grant Hauber, Managing Director, Hauber Global Advisors, 321 Walnut Street, Newtonville, MA.
Vice Mayor Devereux convened the hearing and explained the purpose. This is an opportunity to learn about Transit Benefit Ordinances and discuss next steps. Cambridge has been focused on identifying and implementing wide-ranging strategies to encourage sustainable transportation. Cambridge residents and workers have high access to transit, but how can the City encourage higher usage. She spoke about trends that make it harder to reach the City’s VMT (vehicle miles traveled) reduction goals. TNC’s have added more cars to the road, instead of decreasing VMT and encouraging sharing. She spoke about the need to work with the taxi industry and TNC’s to determine how they can be used to reduce congestion. She spoke about the proposed MBTA fare increase, and the fact that when fares go up, ridership goes down. Perhaps a Transit Benefit Ordinance could be effective in maintaining transit affordability for employees, so ridership won’t be as impacted. She introduced Mr. Pavluchuk from the Coalition for Smarter Transportation who will discuss the Transit Benefit Ordinance. She stated that Transit Benefit Ordinances have been put in place in a number of other cities. Cambridge will be one of the smaller communities to use this ordinance and could be the first in Massachusetts.
Mr. Pavluchuk gave a presentation (ATTACHMENT A) on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Transportation and provided written information about a transportation fringe benefit ordinance (ATTACHMENT B). He emphasized that technical innovation, when used properly, can reduce congestion. He stated that state funding for transportation is not forthcoming. He stated that the goal is to educate policy makers and the general public to better understand the woes of congestion are rooted in policy. Cambridge is a leader in the active transportation and transportation demand management space. Given the City’s current leadership in this field, the Transit Benefit Ordinance will fit in well in Cambridge. He stated that the Boston was recently named the most congested region. He spoke about lost time spent in traffic. Up to 164 hours per person are lost stuck in traffic per year. Not only does this result in lost family time and worker productivity, it touches all areas of the economy, including increased prices for food, due to congestion impacts on food transport. He stated that transit benefits are a way for employers to provide a tax deferred benefit to employees. The tax savings for employers may be extensive. This is a way for employees to use up to $265 per month of pre-tax earnings for transportation.
He spoke about the ease of administering a transit benefit for employers. The MBTA offers its own program, Perq, for administering transportation fringe benefits. He spoke about what is covered under a Transit Benefit Ordinance. It includes both public transit and vanpools. He noted that commuter rails do not serve everyone, so it’s important to be able to offer vanpools as an alternative for those outside rail service zones. He stated that these ordinances work at the end of the day. He spoke about a Transit Center study that found that 18% of commuters changed their commute method when a transportation benefit is offered. This degree of mode shift is typically unheard of. San Francisco was the first city to implement an ordinance, nearly a decade ago. The ordinance in San Francisco removed 44,000 vehicles per day from the road. In San Francisco, there was already a high exposure to TB programs before the ordinance; 45% of employees had transit benefits provided in one form or another. A big change in behavior was not expected to result from the ordinance, but the mode shift percentage was much larger than assumed. This policy had a huge effect on increasing commuter transit ridership and on decreasing emissions. It started as a pilot program and was reauthorized with the support of all the chambers of commerce in the city. Employers have a large savings because they do not have to pay the 7.65% payroll tax. He spoke about the parking expenses employers face, and the fact that this is a way to reduce employee parking and reduce those expenses. He stated that the average employer savings is $243 per employee. He stated that the ordinances that have passed in New York, Washington, DC and San Francisco were supported by the business community.
This is an ordinance that does not hurt and has a savings to employers. He spoke about the ordinance helping those who do not have access to transit. This will help build in transit for working individuals. This is a gateway for employers involved in employee transit and there is a reduction in vehicles used. The worst hazard to the environment is single occupancy vehicles. He compared the ordinance for other communities. The reasons that the ordinance was begun are varied. He stated that there has not been opposition to the ordinance where it has been implemented. However, he stated that community engagement is needed beforehand. He spoke about the size of employers to who must comply with the ordinance could be as low as 20 employees, but in some cities, it is only applicable to larger companies; each community is different. He spoke about how part-time, seasonal workers are handled under the ordinance, and the need to follow current rules and regulations in place. He stated that enforcement is key and needs to be realistic and fair. He stated that New York has a whistleblower enforcement mechanism. A hotline is available to report employers with more than the required number of employees who do not provide a transit benefit. The hotline is publicized widely. Fines can be paid to a transit fund to help reinvest in transit. He spoke about effective dates and building in buffer times for employers to comply with the ordinance before enforcement begins.
Councillor Carlone stated that the cities referred to are bigger than Cambridge, and so the figures would be a bit lower. He asked if Cambridge needed state approval to introduce this ordinance.
Mr. Pavluchuk stated that he did not have a firm answer. He stated that Boston is considering a Transit Benefit Ordinance and action in Cambridge could kickstart the process of getting one passed there or in Massachusetts generally. This is an unfunded mandate and there is an administrative cost for employers. Councillor Carlone asked if the Coalition for Smarter Transportation is a non-profit organization. Mr. Pavluchuk responded in the affirmative; it is a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization and has applied to become a 501(c)(3). Councillor Carlone asked Mr. Pavluchuk if he is willing to share other example ordinances. Mr. Pavluchuk stated that they are on his website, in the “Tools” section. His organization’s goal is to disperse as much information as possible.
Councillor Mallon spoke about the recently added ordinances in Seattle, New York and Los Angeles. She asked if a Transit Benefit Ordinance could be incorporated as an addition within the current Parking and Transportation Demand Management (PTDM) ordinance. Ms. Rasmussen noted that the PTDM applies to businesses who create or reduce parking and have authority to do so through the ordinance. She stated that the Vehicle Trip Ordinance might be more appropriate for a possible amendment to add a Transit Benefit Ordinance. Councillor Mallon stated that it would be great to have a report on the businesses who already offer a transit benefit in Cambridge and whether their own payroll administers the benefit or the MBTA does.
Ms. Groll stated that the PTDM and Special Permit projects the City monitors have an average of about a 40% SOV use rate. These PTDM and Special Permit projects cover abound 40% of the Cambridge workforce. The City requires a pre-tax transit benefit as a standard feature for large PTDM projects and many Special Permit projects. She noted that this is a requirement that is in place for all new projects. She stated that there are 82 projects of which 40 are required to offer a pre-tax MBTA pass via a payroll deduction or to sell MBTA passes on site. She noted that there are five companies that voluntarily offer a pre-tax MBTA pass via a payroll deduction. This represents 6% of the 82 projects offering a transportation benefit program that are not required to do so. She stated that of those required to offer a pre-tax payroll deduction this represents 44,000 employees in 188 companies. There is priority and reduced rate parking for vanpools. If companies work with the MBTA Perq program, it is seamless, and the Charlie cards are reloaded automatically. She stated that regarding a proposed Transit Benefit Ordinance it has not been contemplated and research would need to be done. She spoke about focus groups and feedback from employers. She added that the drawback is the cost of administration. The business community feels that there are many requirements put on them and this would be one more. Enforcement would be difficult and additional staff may be required. She suggested the City could offer incentives to comply rather than punishment.
Councillor Kelley asked to clarify that the employer’s average savings per employee was $243 per year. Mr. Pavluchuk confirmed and stated that there is also an annual employee savings of $1000 for each employee. Councillor Kelley asked why motorists and transit riders should be reimbursed and not cyclists. Mr. Pavluchuk stated that bicyclists could be reimbursed a certain amount per mile, and any ordinance could be expanded to cover people on bikes. The bike benefit was part of a Federal tax reform bill this year and it was poorly worded. Tax incentives were removed for employers and employers could offer tax incentives to employees. Employers can write off tax incentives to employees. Councillor Kelley wanted the definition changed from bicycle to include anything on wheels other than a car. He asked whether TNC’s could be added to this in some specified way, since the T stops running late at night. Mr. Pavluchuk stated that under federal law there is a loophole because commuter vanpools require just 6 riders. Under federal law, Uber and Lyft can provide late night services under the transit benefit if the vehicle carries at least 6 passengers. Most vehicles max out at 4 passengers, but there are some exceptions. He stated that he is not supportive of opening the door fully to TNC’s for the transit benefit. Councillor Kelley emphasized that vanpools will not work for late riders and we need to acknowledge that the users will have specific needs. Even if a commuter rides transit one way, and takes a TNC or other alternative home, this is helping eliminate a SOV from the road, and is better than nothing. Mr. Pavluchuk suggested using licensed MBTA drivers operating a smaller vehicle in the late-night hours and covering a larger location, similar to The Ride. Vice Mayor Devereux suggested that taxicabs and their drivers be included as a supplement to late night vanpooling or transit.
Councillor Zondervan stated that the state bill does include bike share. He asked about what is being done for part-time employees with Transit Benefit Ordinances and their 1099 forms. Mr. Pavluchuk stated that under federal law, independent contractors are not required to be provided the transit benefit. This would not be on a pre-tax basis.
Councillor Mallon asked whether there was opposition to the ordinance in San Francisco and asked about suggestions for community outreach. Mr. Pavluchuk suggested working with Chamber of Commerce and local businesses as this discussion begins. He added that the Transit Benefit Ordinance can build on what already exists here.
At 2:02pm Vice Mayor Devereux opened public comment.
Peggy LaPaglia, Vice President of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 589, known as the Boston Carmen’s Union. The union supports the Transit Benefit Ordinance for the Boston region, as it would lead to more commonwealth residents taking public transportation. Boston ridership has decreased and the MBTA is increasing fares, which will lead ridership to drop more. She stated that Local 589 stated that a decrease in the fare will increase the ridership. Under federal IRS code, a transit benefit can be provided to employees. Riders cannot afford the fee to ride the MBTA, especially as it increases even more. The tax benefit is a win-win for all. She hopes this could help achieve parity between transit and parking benefits. She stated that a Transit Benefit Ordinance is good public policy. Her comments are attached (ATTACHMENT C).
Michael Moriarty, Enterprise, stated that he oversees the Enterprise vanpool program in the Northeast. The vehicles are driven by one of the members of the vanpool and are for commuters who live at least 10 miles away. He stated that Enterprise provides the vehicle and maintenance and offers a full turnkey service. This is the sixth largest vanpool program in the nation. There are about 100 vans operating in the Boston area. This area is trending toward a higher percentage of people who used to drive SOV’s trying commuting with vanpool. He stated unlike other areas, the MBTA and the Commonwealth don’t have formal vanpool program in place, making it more expensive. Enterprise is working with partners at Mass DOT to push for return of the vanpool subsidy. He stated that the most successful use of the vans is to federal sites because they are fully subsidized by the Federal Transportation Incentive Program. He spoke about the Transit Benefit Ordinance as an effective tool to reduce the cost of transportation. He stated that a Transit Benefit Ordinance is one way to bring down cost of transit and vanpooling by as much as 33%. His comments are attached (ATTACHMENT D).
Jacqui Maille, Edenred Commuter Benefits Solutions, stated that her company is the leader in offering this pre-tax benefit nationwide. She described the pre-tax funds and subsidies for employees. She stated that her role is to get this program up and running for the employers and make it as easy as possible to implement and run. Edenred is also the firm that runs the MBTA Perq benefit. Edenred is based locally, in Waltham. She stated that this is an easy benefit to administer. Employees contact their company and passes are mailed to employees. Employers need to ensure the accuracy of the employee’s name and address and current employment status. Edenred provides a payroll report to the employer. On commuterbenefits.com there is a formula for the savings. She stated that where a benefit is offered, ridership is increased. Her comments are attached (ATTACHMENT E).
Stephen Kaiser, 191 Hamilton Street, noted that those cities operating Transit Benefit Ordinances are all suffering with a poor transit system. In terms of sustainability of the MBTA, the goal is good to get motorists out of their cars onto transit. The system is suffering from overcrowding. He stated that trains run on time evenly spaced would improve ridership. He stated that actual counts are less because they are not run on time. He wanted this included in the Ordinance for Cambridge. He preferred the state run MBTA. He stated that a City ordinance on transit he would have the City staff have the authority and to direct City staff to do planning for transportation to alleviate bunching and the Grand Junction Path.
John Antonucci, Transit Lab, MIT, stated his support for the Transit Benefit Ordinance. The transit pass costs about $80 here (note: the price will go up this summer) and the savings to employers and employees is much less than what was cited; it is one-third less. The cost of an MBTA pass is not as high as transit passes in other cities, and even if an employee needs a commuter rail pass, it won’t be as expensive as in these other cities. He noted that the cost savings won’t be quite as dramatic here, but that he didn’t doubt there would still be a benefit in Cambridge. He stated that Cambridge and Boston are ahead of average in terms of the number of employees already covered by transit benefit. The transit pass has a history in this area. Regarding mode share, he urged the City to look at the PTDM Ordinance and upgrade the ordinance and to look at a wider range of transportation benefits in the ordinance, not just a transit benefit. Require employers who provide subsidized parking to provide that subsidy in an equal amount to all employees who don’t park, in other words, those who take transit or bike. Kendall Square has the two largest employers and one provides free parking and a transit benefit and the other provides no free parking. He stated that at the employer with no free parking, 30% of employees drive SOV’s, whereas at the employer with free parking and transit, it’s 63% SOV’s. He spoke about equity.
Jim Gascogne, Charles River TMA, 77 Gray Street, Arlington, suggested leveling the playing field as much as we can and task all businesses with doing the bare minimum to encourage sustainable transport for employees. He stated that there are good impacts from the PTDM and wonders how those measures can be rolled out to all employees in Cambridge. He stated that free parking has bad impacts, he admits he drives too much because he has free parking. Cambridge has great economic growth and employers want to retain the best employees. This ordinance will help businesses recruit and retain employees.
Saul Tannenbaum, 18 Cottage Street, stated that he is a member of Transit Advisory Committee but was not speaking for the TAC. He stated that many employees have offered transit benefits. The ordinance should be passed, and it is the right thing to do to get the remaining employers on board. The more comprehensive and necessary change may be to look at and modify the PTDM ordinance. He spoke about equity regarding transit benefits. When there is a new building built there is a transit benefit negotiated for the first year and then it is dropped. Employee and tax focus benefits are for higher paid employees. He stated that 1099 employees and lower paid employees must also be considered for transit benefits. Who would benefit the most should be considered, and that is the equity piece of this issue. He urged taking parking minimums for developments out of the Zoning Code.
Grant Hauber, Hauber Global Advisors, stated that a Transit Benefit Ordinance should be implemented. He also spoke about a real need to implement congestion pricing for the region. He spoke about the need for a Home Rule petition and that Cambridge’s public good is its space and how it controls its space. Parking spaces are a tax because the space is being used by others. This will push more toward transit benefits. Cambridge is unique because of the influx of development to use this process.
Peter Valentine, 37 Brookline Street, spoke about gravity and an orderly way. He lets gravity decide and gravity says “Yes” to this idea.
At 2:36pm Vice Mayor Devereux closed public comment.
Councillor Zondervan agreed with the idea of congestion pricing and to begin charging TNC’s a surcharge on using the City’s space. It could be a surcharge on the TNC’s own pre-existing congestion pricing.
Councillor Kelley liked the idea of revisiting and expanding the PTDM Ordinance. He is, however, struck by the fact that there is difficulty with increasing the price for Cambridge resident parking stickers, and is frustrated that prices do not reward those who live in the City without cars. He doesn’t know how realistic it is for the city to tackle congestion pricing. Encouraging people toward transit will have an impact.
At this time Vice Mayor Devereux made the following motion:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to provide the City Council with a preliminary opinion on whether Cambridge can adopt a Transit Benefit Ordinance without the need for a Home Rule Petition.
The motion carried on a voice vote of five members.
At this time Vice Mayor Devereux made the following motion:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the Assistant City Manager for Community Development to provide the City Council with a recap report on how the Parking and Transportation Demand Management Ordinance is being used anecdotally, what the participation rates and trends are, and how it’s administered.
The motion carried on a voice vote of five members.
At this time Vice Mayor Devereux made the following motion:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer the Assistant City Manager for Community Development to instruct the Transit Advisory Committee to report back on moving a Transit Benefit Ordinance proposal to an action plan.
The motion carried on a voice vote of five members.
Ms. Rasmussen spoke about the feedback and stated that this will not be a short-term turn around.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that Cambridge is and will continue to be a leader in encouraging sustainable transportation, and momentum is building. This is not an all-encompassing solution, but it is a relatively easy measure that could have a real impact. Passing an ordinance like this in Cambridge would be an important action.
The following communication was received from Charlie Ticotsky, Policy Director, Transportation for Massachusetts, urging that the tax code should be used to encourage people to use public transportation (ATTACHMENT F).
Vice Mayor Devereux thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 2:45pm.
For the Committee,
Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair
Committee Report #4
The Ordinance Committee, comprised of the entire membership of the City Council, held a public hearing on Feb 27, 2019 at 5:34pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Title Twelve entitled “Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places” by adding a new Chapter 12.22 entitled “Cycling Safety Ordinance” (ATTACHMENT A).
Present at the hearing were: Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Committee; Vice Mayor Devereux; Councillor Mallon; Mayor McGovern; Councillor Siddiqui; Councillor Toomey; Councillor Zondervan; Louis DePasquale, City Manager; Lisa Peterson, Deputy City Manager; Commissioner of Public Works, Owen O’Riordan; Police Commissioner Branville Bard; Lieutenant Frederic Riley, Traffic Enforcement Unit, Police Department; Director of Transportation and Environmental Planning, CDD, Susanne Rasmussen; Cara Seiderman, Transportation Program Manager, CDD; Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Joseph Barr; City Solicitor Nancy Glowa; Will Durbin, Chief of Staff for Mayor McGovern; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were: Sam Feigenbaum and Ruthann Rudel, Cambridge Bike Safety; George Schneeloch, 81 School Street, Somerville; Mark Boswell, 105 Walden Street; Randy Stern, 12 Kenwood Street; Kimberley Hunt, 18 10 Wendell Street; John Pitkin, 18 Fayette Street; Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, 19 Trowbridge Street; Gavin Lund, 166 Charles Street; Annie Tuan, 129 Franklin Street; Yurij Lojko, 18 Lawrence Street, Medford; Eric Garrick, 6C Chester Street; Ted Feldman, 48 Gorham Street, Somerville; Itamar Turner-Traunig, 139 Oxford Street; Janie Katz-Christy, 166A Elm Street; Beth Wilson, Somerville; Nate Filmore, 13 Marcella Street and Ann Dinoto, Arlington.
Councillor Carlone convened the hearing and stated the purpose. He announced that the hearing was being audio and video recorded. He outlined the format of the hearing: petitioners, City staff, clarification questions by the City Council, public comment and then recommendations and next steps.
Mayor McGovern made introductory remarks. He thanked all those involved with the drafting of the Cycling Safety Ordinance. He thanked all who attended City Council meetings, speaking to make the streets safer, greener and healthier for all, including cyclists and pedestrians. He stated that he hoped that this ordinance will set expectations for use of the street spaces and how infrastructure work will occur. He noted that the ordinance establishes predictability for businesses and neighborhoods and insures that the installation of permanent bike lanes is part of a thoughtful process that considers the whole streetscape. He spoke about the benefits of the Western Avenue infrastructure improvements. He stated that Cambridge is capable of creating streets that work for all modes of transportation. He stated that the City has been discussing making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists for a long time and there has been no shortage of research, studies and public comment, rallies and meetings, but there are still too many injuries and fatalities on the streets. He commented that he never wants to attend another “ghost bike” memorial again. He added that talk and process alone will not create the network of safe bike infrastructure that is needed. He stated that the drafting of this ordinance was a team effort and represents reasonable compromise on both sides to bring Cambridge to a necessary place.
At this time Mr. Durbin introduced Cambridge Bike Safety volunteers Mr. Feigenbaum and Ruthann Rudel. Mr. Durbin stated that Cambridge Bicycle Safety will go over the purpose and goals. He stated that he will present the ordinance text. He stated that the City departments will discuss the process and implementation. He proceeded with the Presentation (ATTACHMENT B).
Ruthann Rudel discussed Cambridge Bike Safety’s purpose and goals. She added that Cambridge enacted many bike infrastructure improvements, such as Vision Zero, the Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance, Growth Policy Document, the Climate Protection Plan and zoning changes. She stated that the City Council has goals for Healthy Community and the Environment and improving public safety. She stated that making it possible to bike safely in Cambridge is consistent with all of those policies.
She stated that redesigning roads to create safe space for cyclists is difficult to achieve; it is controversial to reallocate road space. She noted that this ordinance is intended to address some of the obstacles. She spoke about cycling accidents that have occurred trying to cycle around the City. She stated that Cambridge’s data show that first responders are called to a crash involving a bike and motor vehicle once every three days. She spoke about the different levels of experience of cyclists and that the road needs to be made safer for cyclists to accommodate the different levels of experience. She stated that 60% of residents were interested in cycling, but are concerned about safety, and 81% preferred protected bike lanes as a way to move around the City. She stated that some active bicyclists are enthusiastic about protected bike lanes and some aren’t. The protected bike lanes are built to make cycling comfortable for all ages and experience levels to get around the City safely. This is how there will be a sustainable mode shift.
She stated that the quick-build protected bike lane on Cambridge Street received a one-year report of data and bike crashes were reduced from 5 to 2. No pedestrian crashes were reported. Motor vehicle speed was reduced from 31 to 25 MPH. She also highlighted the benefits of the installation of the Western Avenue Cycle track. She stated that 40% of common crashes in Cambridge involve dooring and would be prevented by protected bike lanes.
Mr. Feigenbaum stated that the data for the Cambridge and Western Avenue bike lanes indicates that speed has been reduced. This is significant regarding whether a cyclist will survive from a crash with a motor vehicle. He added that an individual hit by a car traveling 40 MPH is more likely to die than a car traveling 20 MPH. He stated that with a network of protected bike lanes there will be less of a “Wild West” mentality on the roads. Cyclists will behave more predictively because cyclists have a full network of reserved space. This relieves stress for all users. This also promotes transportation equity by reducing greenhouse gas and promotes good health.
Mr. Durbin spoke about the purpose statement from the ordinance. He spoke about the legislative background of the ordinance. Language was finalized in November and December and then introduced to the City Council. He reviewed the definitions. He stated that improvements do not include repairs to City streets. He stated that there are only two requirements. The first is when improvements are made to a City-owned street. Under the City’s Street and Sidewalk Reconstruction Plan, the City Manager shall ensure improvements comply with the Cambridge Bicycle Plan or any superseding plan. If improvements are made to a segment of a separated network, a permanent separated bike lane with adequate directionality shall be installed along the segment. He added that there are two exceptions under Requirements B. He spoke about how the ordinance will be made effective and highlighted rare circumstances.
At this time City Staff gave a presentation (ATTACHMENT C). DPW Commissioner O’Riordan gave a brief background of the Five-Year Sidewalk and Street Reconstruction Plan. This is included in the proposed ordinance, as it contains streets and sidewalks that the City anticipates repairing in five years. He stated that the program has been in place since 2007. He stated that the FY 2018 map shows the projected improvements to streets and large utility projects. The five-year plan promotes the Complete Streets philosophy and Vision Zero. He stated that Complete Streets are designed to be accessible for everyone. He stated that by the City Council adopted Complete Streets and Vision Zero, and since 2016 there has been more State funding received by the City. He stated that other policies and plans such as the Pedestrian Plan, Bike Plan, Transit Plan, Climate Change Plan, and Urban Forest are all developing plans for the streets. He stated that the Vehicle Trip Ordinance and Cambridge Growth Policy promote livability and improved air quality by reducing gas emissions. He spoke about ways to improve mobility. He stated that a Traffic Calming Program has been enacted for twenty years.
The core goal of the Five-Year Plan was to look at accessibility across the City. He spoke about sidewalks and streets being more welcoming to all. He explained what the City looks at in terms the sidewalks being accessible. He explained the criteria taken into consideration when doing sidewalk reconstruction. He stated that the Bike Plan contains a framework for providing accessibility for Complete Streets across the City. He spoke about accessibility for people using public transit. He stated that the City infrastructure is improved to provide a more efficient and better experience for those who use public transit. He spoke about street trees and the City is considering more ways to plant trees in the public right of way to provide mitigation for urban heat island impact. He stated that the Five-Year Plan will be updated this year.
Ms. Suzanne Rasmussen spoke about the 2015 Bike Plan (ATTACHMENT D), which is the starting point for the ordinance. She stated that the Bike Plan will be updated.
Ms. Cara Seiderman stated that the Bike Plan was published in 2015 and the overall vision is for the City to have a Street Network that accommodates cycling as a mode of transportation for those of all ages and ability. She added that there are many other elements needed to support cycling in the Bike Plan, including bike parking, expanding the Bluebikes program and cycling classes. The Bike Plan is available online. She noted that the data is continually being reviewed to analyze volume, crashes and determine when more immediate action is needed. She explained the importance of bike comfort and safety for cyclists. Examples were provided to explain the bicycle level of comfort. There was map outlining the bicycle level of comfort. She spoke about what a separated bike lane would look like and that there are many ways to create a separated bike lane. The existing and planned network were reviewed with the major destinations and a network of streets that connected the major destinations together with a comfort level of the streets to determine what the best locations for separated bike lanes. She stated that the ordinance focuses on the purple on the map which are the more major street corridors. She stated that the full network contains all the elements. She stated that there will be a technical update in the revised Bike Plan and adding items to the toolbox and adding Vision Zero into the Bike Plan. There will be a feasibility assessment to add new sections to the Bike Plan update and an implementation plan. This will take about 18 months with a robust community process.
Ms. Rasmussen stated that there are exemptions in the ordinance. She spoke about physical features of the street that would prevent a protected bike facility to be installed, the usage of street and the financial constraints.
Councillor Toomey noted that the cycling safety ordinance does not include mandatory helmet requirements and proper lights on bikes at night. He questioned why was this omitted. Ms. Seiderman responded that there is a state and City law requiring lights at night. The City provides lights for free at all City events and advocacy groups help install lights on bikes. Bluebikes have built in lights. State law mandates the use of helmets for those 16 years of age and under. She added that these facilities are safer because they prevent crashes and a helmet will not prevent a crash. She stated that this is to prevent crashes from happening at all.
Councillor Toomey stated that he wanted the Police Department to provide information on how many citations were issued for bikes without lights at night.
Councillor Kelley stated that more can be done than this ordinance. He expressed concern with the exceptions regarding physical features of the street, usage of the street and financial constraints. He stated that the ordinance seems constrained. He doesn’t want the ordinance to make things worse for cyclists creating unsafe conditions. He asked if the City has the authority not to follow this ordinance from a financial implication that would make it worse for cyclists.
Ms. Rasmussen stated that if the City Manager determined that this was not feasible it would be documented in a public report explaining why this was detrimental from the usage of the street perspective. Councillor Kelley stated that in 12.22.040 (B) he wanted to know that there is discretion for safety in the ordinance. Ms. Rasmussen stated that safety is paramount in all City street designs.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked if this will be part of the upcoming 18-month study to look at where these three exceptions can arise. Ms. Rasmussen stated that this is intended to last into the future. Ms. Seiderman stated physical features are easier to identify and less likely to change.
She spoke about looking at the corridors and looking at the barriers. Mr. Feigenbaum stated that the compromise was to keep the exceptions definition open ended to give the City Manager adequate discretion when needed. She added that the rare circumstances language is to keep the exception truly a rarity and not becoming a standard operating procedure. Mr. Durbin stated that this was to tie the Cambridge Bike Plan and the Five-Year Construction Plan together.
Councillor Zondervan stated that Hampshire Street’s vision plan included separated bike lanes, but they could not be installed without removing significant amounts of car storage. He asked if Hampshire Street were updated under the ordinance would separate bike lanes be installed. Ms. Rasmussen stated that these decisions are not being made now. She stated that in the future the demand for parking will decrease because of the use of autonomous vehicles that do not need to park along the street. She added that this is about looking at the network and connecting all the destinations and this has been the process to lay out the network. Councillor Zondervan commented that if the ordinance is in place the decision to add protected bike lanes on Hampshire Street will be made when the street is up for reconstruction. Ms. Rasmussen stated that the determination will be made at the time when the street is up for reconstruction.
Councillor Mallon compared the Bike Plan, the Five-Year Construction Plan and the bike network with key destinations and stated that it was helpful to see them all together. There is another map with what the existing network looks like. The Bike Plan will look at technical analysis and in 2020 when the Bike Plan is updated there will be an updated network plan that will take the place of the existing one. Ms. Seiderman stated that some of the things are in place now. Councillor Mallon asked will any construction for 2019-2020 have bike lanes. Mr. Barr stated that on the non-capital side there is intention to pursue the quick build strategy for bike lanes that will be used outside of the context of this ordinance and the Five-Year Plan.
Councillor Mallon stated there are still quick builds planned before the Bike Plan is updated. Mr. Barr responded in the affirmative and the 5 Year Plan is the ultimate way to get this done.
Mr. Feigenbaum stated that Cambridge Bike Safety sees this ordinance as a long-term plan.
Councillor Mallon stated that she is happy to support the ordinance and the plans until the Bike Plan is updated.
Councillor Siddiqui asked for a point of clarification regarding the financial constraints and for this be explained. Ms. Rasmussen stated there are situations where it would be beyond typical reconstruction costs. She explained that if it were physically impossible to widen a street to install a separated facility, or it would require the City to take private land by eminent domain, which would be too costly are examples of such constraints. Councillor Siddiqui asked if the feasibility study would look at this. Ms. Rasmussen stated that the feasibility will be looking at this.
Mayor McGovern noted that this has taken collaboration on both sides. He stated that the exceptions are there because the City needs the exceptions. He stated that this is an ordinance about infrastructure. He stated that cyclists and motorists do not always follow the rules, and this is a behavioral issue. This is a commitment to build out the network.
Councillor Carlone opened public comment at 6: 45pm.
George Schneelock, 81 School Street, Somerville, stated that Allison Donovan died in Somerville. He asked for faster implementation of Vision Zero measures in Somerville. He stated that signatures were submitted to Somerville and the next day Paula Sharaga died in Boston. This fatality pushed Boston to bring up safety issues. He stated that safety issues should be addressed and not require advocacy. He supported the ordinance and rapid implementation is needed to build the separate lanes. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT E).
Mark Boswell, 105 Walden Street, spoke about supporting the ordinance as effective motivation to build out the network and would stand along with the Vehicle Trip Ordinance and ADA compliance. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT F).
Randy Stern, 12 Kenwood Street, member of the Cambridge Bike Committee, stated he strongly supported the ordinance. This will empower the City staff around bike infrastructure and noted that every implementation is a tradeoff and facilities will be built. He stated that if this ordinance were in place there would be protected bike lanes on Huron Avenue.
Kimberly Hunt, 10 Wendell Street, stated her support for the ordinance for permanent protected bike lanes. She explained why she bikes. She stated that she is disabled and has cerebral palsy and has difficulty walking. She relies on public transit and her bike to get around. She stated that for her cycling is the best way to get around and allows her freedom. She stated that her commute along a protected route is the best part of her day. She spoke about her boyfriend who does not bike because of his fear of getting hit by a car. This ordinance will provide mobility and protected bike lanes will increase biking. She stated that protected bike lanes are the solution to get people out of their cars. She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT G).
Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, 19 Trowbridge Street, stated that he is in favor of the ordinance. He spoke about the high cost of bike lights and helmets. He stated that issuing citations will not increase light and helmet use and will increase costs for low income residents, the majority of whom are black and brown residents. He spoke of an accident he had on his bike on Mt. Auburn Street. He stated that the 2014 plan had protected bike lanes for Mt. Auburn Street but has not occurred. He stated that adding protected bike lanes on Mt. Auburn Street will be an improvement. He spoke about multiple deaths for cyclists. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT H).
Gavin Lund, 166 Charles Street, stated his support for the ordinance and is encouraged by the dialogue. He appreciates the comments made by Mayor McGovern regarding behavior versus infrastructure.
Annie Tuan, 129 Franklin Street, stated that she is in favor of the cycling safety ordinance. She shared a story of someone who does not bike. The woman will not ride a bike on City streets because it is too scary. She added that building protected bike lanes will allow her friend to bike.
Yurok Loke, 18 Lawrence Street, Medford stated that he bikes to Cambridge every day where he works. He stated that about 8 months ago he had an accident with an 18-wheeler and spent time in the hospital. He spoke about the recent fatal death in Somerville. He noted that trucks in the Boston area killed 8-13 cyclists over the last five years. He urged adding off road bike paths and for the city to be creative. He spoke about maintaining off road bike paths.
Eric Garnick, 6C Chester Street, stated that he has been cycling in Cambridge since 1970 and acknowledged the improvements. He stated that horseback riding is more dangerous than cycling. He stated that perception is a significant aspect of the issue. He spoke about the speeding on a one-lane side street, Orchid Street.
Ted Feldman, 48 Gorham Street, Somerville, stated that he is a member of the Somerville Bicycle Advisory Committee. He stated that this is a good first step in the right direction for safety infrastructure. This is an environmental and equity issues. He stated that data shows that installing protected bike lanes reduces the stress of riders. He spoke about working with Somerville on improvements to Webster Avenue, which unfortunately is not part of the street improvement plan for Cambridge. He asked Cambridge to reconsider improvements to the Cambridge portion of Webster Avenue. The plan needs to be expanded and the data analyzed.
Itamar Turner-Turing, 130 Oxford Street, supported the ordinance and stated that the key issue is implementation. He stated that motorists will need more time to find parking and be upset about the bike lanes. He stated that biking is a low-income transportation and one year of biking is about what a motorist spends on their car for a month.
Janie Katz-Christie, 166A Elm Street, runs Green Streets Initiative, a multi-modal monthly day of awareness about health and sustainable ways to get around. She stated that there are 4,000-5,000 participants per year. She stated that her organization promotes all types of car-light transportation. She stated that she goes out of her way to travel on protective bike lanes. She stated that cyclists have a right to be in the “lane”. The law has not been clarified as to who belongs in the lane. It is unfair to be killed riding a bike.
Becca Wolfson, Director, Boston Cyclist Union, 114 School Street, Somerville stated that she bikes from Somerville to Roxbury every day. She stated that this ordinance will be a great step forward. She stated that no one wishes there were more cars on the road. She applauded the work and stated that this could unlock more resources and provide efficiency in City government. She wanted the implementation of the ordinance paired with proper maintenance and robust counting data. She added a connected network is important and wanted streets added in as soon as possible in the network.
Nate Fillmore, 13 Marcella Street, applauded the work of all the City Council, City Manager and the City staff that have worked on this.
Ann Dinoto, Arlington stated that she has ridden her bike for 15 years but stopped after seeing three bike fatalities. She stated that the she is afraid to leave her house because of the fatalities that she has witnessed and for fear for her safety.
At 7:21pm Councillor Carlone closed public hearing.
Mayor McGovern wanted to move this forward with a favorable recommendation Vice Mayor Devereux agreed and thanked all who worked on this. She stated that this is a long-term plan and marks a landmark of shifting attitude and having more protected facilities the momentum will grow. Cambridge is known for seeing the world differently and seeing inequities and trying to address them.
Councillor Zondervan supported the ordinance passage and implementation.
Councillor Siddiqui commended the Vice Mayor Devereux for her advocacy on this.
Councillor Kelley supports this but wanted a more discussion on safety for biking. He looks forward to being part of the discussion.
Councillor Carlone stated that this is a basic part of urban design and he wanted planted medians instead of stripped asphalt areas separating cars from bikes. He thanked all who worked on this.
At this time Mayor McGovern moved that this be forwarded to the full City Council with a favorable recommendation. The motion carried on vote of six members.
The following communication were received on this matter:
A communication was received from Ryan Frazer, 24 Copley Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT I).
A communication was received from Madeleine Daepp, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, MIT, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT J).
A communication was received from Bence Becky in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT K).
A communication was received from Vivid Siri, Allston Street, urging the City Council to pass the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT L).
A communication was received from Kirti Magudia in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT M).
A communication was received from Adriane Musgrave, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT N).
A communication was received from Nate Sharpe, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT O).
A communication was received from Ben Sobel, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT P).
A communication was received from Cindy Bishop, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT Q).
A communication was received from Adam Beerman, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT R).
A communication was received from Christopher Cassa, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT S).
A communication was received from Herb Wagner, 163 Brattle Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT T).
A communication was received from Jason Rosenman, 346 Harvard Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT U).
A communication was received from Jeffrey Finkelstein, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT V).
A communication was received from Caroline Jaffa, 28 Ellsworth Avenue, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT W).
A communication was received from Ann Cason-Snow, 24 Marley Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT X).
A communication was received from Jesse Boudart, 108 Elm Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT Y).
A communication was received from Alexander Frieden, 4 Lake Street, Somerville, urging the City Council to vote on the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT Z).
A communication was received from Joan Hill, 18 Banks Street, urging the input into the Cycling Safety Ordinance of the disabled and senior population (ATTACHMENT AA).
A communication was received from Dien Ho, 395 Broadway, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT BB).
A communication was received from Catherine Melnikow, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT CC).
A communication was received from Julian Astbury, 92 Wendell Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT DD).
Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 7:29pm.
For the Committee,
Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair
Councillor Craig Kelley, Co-Chair
Committee Report #5
The Public Safety Committee held a public hearing on Feb 27, 2019 at 2:04pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was to review unsolved and/or ongoing homicide and other investigations in Cambridge, to include “cold” case work and limitations, legal or tactical, on sharing relevant information with the general public.
Present at the hearing were Councillor Kelley, Chair of the Committee; Vice Mayor Devereux; Councillor Siddiqui; Councillor Simmons; Police Commissioner Branville Bard; Deputy Superintendent of Police Leonard DiPietro; Superintendent of Police Steven DeMarco; Executive Director Peace Commission and the Police Review Board Brian Corr; City Solicitor Nancy Glowa; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
No one appeared from the public.
Councillor Kelley convened the hearing and explained the purpose. He noted that the hearing is being privately recorded. He stated the impetus of the hearing was the incident at Danehy Park, Ms. Holmes and a sense that some cases are stalling and there is concern about communication around those investigations. He wanted a better understanding of this.
Commissioner Bard stated that in solving cold cases the police acknowledge that it is important to give the family closure. He read an e-mail dated 11/29/19 from Deputy Superintendent O’Connor asking police personnel if they were interested in working on cold cases. He said that that District Attorney, who controls much of the file access for homicide cases, was supportive of a cold case unit. He cited the National Institute of Justice’s definition of a cold case, which is when leads have been exhausted and is not dependent on time. He stated cold cases do not stop the police from investigating. There is no statute of limitations on murder so they never officially close. He spoke about solvability factor on other cases and how as leads are exhausted, police move on to other investigations even if previous ones are open because there is no more work to do on them until new information or opportunities arise like a vehicle VIN number from one event that may be relevant to a past crime. He stated bikes and skateboard do not have serial numbers and it is difficult to find out who the owner is should stolen property be found as part of some other event. He stated 74% of murder cases have been solved by the police and that the 2010 clearance rate for murders was 65% nationally. He cited the statistics. 10 of 62 murders in Cambridge are still open, including 7 that are not currently being worked on due to age and solvability. Councillor Kelley questioned the ten murders open and ten unsolved. Commissioner Bard explained that cases open but not worked on are considered unsolved. Councillor Kelley asked were officers assigned to the Holmes Case. Superintendent DeMarco spoke about evidence and that this comes to the police from the community and then to the state. The DA is in charge of any death investigation. They are the community lead and must vet information before CPD makes it public. He stated DNA, eyewitness or grand jury witness or other information that comes forward helps to solve the investigation and ongoing investigations will get more focus as this type of information is developed. He stated that if the right information was received this can be solved. Commissioner Bard stated that the police need the cooperation of DA office, but the Department can run any case it wants. People may, for example, be more willing to speak about a crime later on. Outside DNA and pictures, eyewitnesses are the key.
Ms. Holmes case is not closed, and the cold case unit, when formed, will give the old cases the same attention that current cases are given. He stated that eyewitnesses do not want to come forward and testify. Superintendent DeMarco noted that grand jury investigations are crucial to keep information forthcoming, but the DA decides if they happen.
Councillor Siddiqui asked is there a line of information for families with the DA for the family. Commissioner Bard responded that all the information is from the DA who must vet everything, but the police can provide information and outreach to families.
Councillor Kelley asked does every homicide have a grand jury. Superintendent DeMarco replied it is up to the DA to open a grand jury investigation. Commissioner Bard explained that this is on a case by case basis whether there is grand jury and is determined by DA.
Superintendent DeMarco stated that CPD’s goal is to provide the highest quality of service to victims and families regardless of the outcome. He stated that the most important thing is to provide resources for the families, witnesses and victims. Arrests and convictions are only part of that. The system does not want to provide more harm. This is not just about solving crimes; but to connect witnesses and victims to resources and make sure their voices are heard.
Commissioner Bard commented that a victim centric approach is used.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked of the seventeen unsolved cases how many predate 2005.
Commissioner Bard responded seven. Deputy Superintendent DiPietro stated that there are seventeen unsolved since 1995.
Councillor Kelley asked does property crime just go away; is there a time frame. Commissioner Bard stated that there is no definite time frame, but a lot of property crimes do go unsolved. If there is more information that becomes available, the police will investigate. Superintendent DeMarco noted that it depends on what entity takes over the instance. He stated that the Gardner Museum theft is a federal investigation and the relevant statute of limitations may differ given the jurisdiction in charge. Commissioner Bard commented that a museum theft takes a high level of skill versus the theft of a bike. He stated that this is it is all on a case by case basis. He stated that there was multi-jurisdictional theft in Newton and Cambridge property was recovered which is an indication that crimes may be linked and even solved despite the statute of limitations for one of the crimes having expired.
Councillor Simmons spoke of Charlene Holmes case and asked who is handling this. She wanted information on language, skills and the method of approach to the family of Ms. Holmes who feels that nothing is behind done on this crime. Commissioner Bard stated that this needs fresh eyes looking at this case. Fresh eyes on a cold case can be useful. He spoke about constant communication and how sometimes providing an update with no real new information just opens old wounds. Councillor Simmons asked what the City Council should say to these families.
Commissioner Bard suggested that if Councilors are contacted about such cases, they can urge the family to reach out to police and to provide any new information to help reach closure.
Councillor Kelley spoke about the communication on the Danehy Park incident. What can people be expected to be told. Commissioner Bard responded that people should expect to be told as much as they can be told without jeopardizing the investigation or the safety of the public or witnesses. He spoke about information that is known and unknown and how clearly saying “We don’t know” is not an unfair answer. Councillor Kelley spoke about information that the public could not be told. Commissioner Bard stated that the information was unknown by police and the tests have come back regarding the murder weapon. Councillor Kelley stated that if the answer is unknown that should be the response, but the public were told that this is part of the investigation which, arguably, indicated that the police or the DA did, in fact, know but were unwilling to say. He stated that was fine but the communication that something is unknown rather than cannot be shared should be very clear. Commissioner Bard stated that his job is make the community know what occurred and bring the person who did the crime to justice. Vice Mayor Devereux stated that language can be a crucial part of the investigation and this is an example of miscommunication. Councillor Kelley spoke about this being a level of clarity. It was the DA who stated that this is the subject of the investigation.
Councillor Kelley stated that deaths involved that are accidental or intentional is this the DA jurisdiction. Commissioner Bard stated that all communications must go through the DA per state statute. He stated that the incidents can be investigated in conjunction with the DA because they are the lead authority. Councillor Kelley asked for major assaults where death can occur it is the same case. Commissioner Bard said that other than probable or actual death, CPD is in charge of investigations.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked has the cold case unit been created. Commissioner Bard stated that this will be created in a few months. The email got 63 responses. This unit will have two detectives that will work on cold cases. They will receive specific training for this job.
Councillor Kelley asked if there will be communication from the Police Department that they are working on the specific cases. Commissioner Bard responded in the negative because they want to find new leads. Councillor Kelley stated how do we communication that people are not being forgotten. Superintendent DeMarco explained that anniversaries are acknowledged, and the police look for any unique evidence on the anniversary of an event and check in with families and loved ones on the anniversaries to see if there is new information. He stated that confidential sources are looked for and cultivated. He also stated that social media and Bridgstat is also used.
Councillor Kelley the woman who died on Cambridge Street from a communication standpoint it happened and that was it. Commissioner Bard stated that the DA and the Cambridge Police Department understand all that happened in this case; it is not a homicide. Not all death investigations are homicide investigations, but the DA is still in charge. Councillor Kelley asked if there are important leads will this be communicated to the public. Commissioner Bard stated that if there is new information that arises, they will communicate appropriately with the public but will not issue updates just for the sake of issuing updates. The press is used by asking that if anyone was in area at such a time and saw anything, could they please contact the Cambridge Police Department. Councillor Kelley noted that unless there is something new to chase there will be no communication. Commissioner Bard responded that anniversaries are leveraged and if there are any more information, please contact the Cambridge Police Department. He further stated that the Public Information Officer at the Police Department gets the information out to the general public. Commissioner Bard stated that unsolved deaths are acknowledged on social media.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that there are expectations that crimes are constantly being worked on and often solved as happens on a 60-minute CSI-type show. Commissioner Bard stated that these expectations are the CSI perspectives and do not reflect real life which is rarely that simple.
Councillor Simmons spoke about media gratification. This sets up an unrealistic exception in the world of reality.
Councillor Simmons stated that because Councilors are involved in the community on the anniversary date she urged the Cambridge Police Department to let the City Council know that this is going to happen because the families contact the City Council and people ask Councilors questions about the status of these cases. Commissioner Bard stated that when the cold case unit is formed the City Council will be notified.
Councillor Kelley opened public comment. No one appeared and public comment was closed.
Councillor Kelley thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 2:51pm.
For the Committee,
Councillor Craig Kelley, Chair
AWAITING REPORT LIST
16-26. Report on the possibility of the City Council implementing a zoning change, on the permitting of all new restaurants where a wood-fired oven is used as a significant method of food preparation. On a communication from Councillor Kelley requesting that this matter be forwarded to the 2018-2019 Legislative Session.
Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Kelley (O-5) from 4/4/2016
16-42. Report on plans for the former Riverside Community Health Center on Western Avenue, including transfer of ownership of the building to the City and the process for determining future usage. On a communication from Councillor Kelley requesting that this matter be forwarded to the 2018-2019 Legislative Session.
Vice Mayor McGovern (O-1) from 5/2/2016
16-83. Report on drafting possible legislation and other recommendations for interim actions to identify and address the public health impacts of any commercial wood-fired ovens. On a communication from Councillor Kelley requesting that this matter be forwarded to the 2018-2019 Legislative Session.
Mayor Simmons (Calendar Item #4) from 10/31/2016
16-101. Report on the potential of building below market rental housing on City-owned parking lots along Bishop Allen Drive. On a communication from Councillor McGovern requesting that this matter be forwarded to the 2018-2019 Legislative Session.
Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons (O-4) from 12/12/2016
16-108. Report on whether people displaced and qualify for Emergency Status who are using Section 8 in other cities or towns can retain their resident preference for the purpose of Inclusionary Housing. On a communication from Councillor Kelley requesting that this matter be forwarded to the 2018-2019 Legislative Session.
Mayor Simmons, Councillor Toomey (O-4) from 12/19/2016
17-22. Report on the potential growth of next-generation wireless technology in the City, to include: the expected footprint of citywide coverage from just one company and what market competition might produce; the integration of public and private infrastructure to support the network; what local standards the City might hope to maintain relative to aesthetics and safety; and how this new technology fits into our Broadband access plans. On a communication from Councillor Kelley requesting that this matter be forwarded to the 2018-2019 Legislative Session.
Councillor Cheung, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Kelley (O-14) from 2/27/2017
17-87. Report on a schedule for resubmitting a revised draft of the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance that incorporates clearer wording and/or more clearly explains each section in less technical jargon and is more coherent in its entirety, with the goal of seeing such an Ordinance adopted by the end of this City Council term. On a communication from Councillor Kelley and Councillor Devereux requesting that this matter be forwarded to the 2018-2019 Legislative Session.
Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux (O-8) from 9/18/2017
18-6. Report on information regarding electronic device usage by City-elected officials.
Councillor Toomey (O-7) from 1/22/2018
18-15. Report on any other relevant City Department to gain a sense of who is purchasing buildings in Cambridge.
Councillor Simmons (O-3) from 2/5/2018
18-21. Report on the feasibility of initiating a formal transit study and action plan of the Alewife area in response to unanimous concerns of the Envision Alewife Working Group.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Siddiqui (O-7) from 2/26/2018
18-37. Report on the possibility of accepting the City of Boston's invitation to join their intergenerational housing pilot program.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Toomey (O-1) from 3/26/2018
18-38. Report on inventory of all City-owned vacant buildings and lots and the City's plans for them, if any.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui (O-2) from 3/26/2018
18-44. Report on ensuring an additional commitment of $20 million from the City’s budget is devoted over the next five years toward the City’s efforts to preserve and create affordable housing units.
Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui (O-6) from 4/23/2018
18-53. Report on an updated schedule for resubmitting a revised draft of the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance that incorporates suggestions from the Light Cambridge Committee by June 11, 2018.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone (O-1) from 5/14/2018
18-60. Report on a small business parking pilot that would allow temporary on-street employee parking during typical daytime operating hours.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons (Calendar Item #1) from 5/14/2018
18-61. Report on commissioning a public art piece, statue, or memorial that would commemorate the dedication of women in Cambridge to passing the Nineteenth Amendment.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui (O-5) from 6/4/2018
18-65. Report on working with the Mayor’s Summer Youth Program and other appropriate City departments to organize a Town Hall Meeting for Cambridge youth.
Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern (O-5) from 6/18/2018
18-66. Report on establishing a Young Adult Civic Unity Committee to be modeled after the Citizen Civic Unity Committee and to recruit applicants from all across the community and across all socio-economic backgrounds.
Councillor Simmons (O-7) from 6/18/2018
18-68. Report on determining the permitting and legality issues of Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing in the City of Cambridge.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Zondervan (O-11) from 6/18/2018
18-73. Report on establishing and implementing a dynamic new initiative that will seek to place Port residents (ages 18 and over) on paths to jobs with family-sustaining wages.
Councillor Simmons (O-6) from 6/25/2018
18-83. Report on an action plan to work with the City’s Community-Based Organizations to create a network of summertime evening programming to reduce the threat of violence in the City’s public spaces in 2019 and beyond.
Councillor Simmons, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Mallon (O-9) from 7/30/2018
18-85. Report on the feasibility of appointing an advisory committee to work through resiliency elements raised during the Envision process and through the Brown petition.
Councillor Toomey (O-13) from 7/30/2018
18-86. Report on the feasibility of adopting a policy of replacing any failed 4000K LED streetlights with warmer alternatives as opportunities arise, and offering shielding/filtering upon request from nearby residents whenever possible. See Mgr #4
Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux (O-14) from 7/30/2018
18-87. Report on the navigational editing capabilities of the City of Cambridge.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Mallon, Vice Mayor Devereux (O-16) from 7/30/2018
18-90. Report on the feasibility of establishing a crosswalk at the intersection of Soden Street and Western Avenue.
Councillor Simmons (Calendar Item #3) from 9/24/2018
18-91. Report on drafting a plan that shall allow the Mayor’s Annual Harvard Senior Luncheon to be held regardless of the weather conditions.
Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui (Calendar Item #4) from 9/24/2018
18-93. Report on the sale of The Constellation Center's Parcel C in Kendall Square.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Toomey (Calendar Item #7) from 9/24/2018
18-96. Report on how the City views internet-based platforms as opportunities for outreach and communication and what sort of guidelines have been, or are being, developed to help everyone understand how the City’s various departments do or do not utilize these communication resources and how any communications on these platforms are managed so that the messaging and information is kept up-to-date.
Councillor Kelley (Calendar Item #10) from 9/24/2018
18-100. Report on taking all possible immediate actions to preserve and restore Linear Park.
Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Kelley (O-3) from 9/24/2018
18-107. Report on prioritizing the Public Safety outreach measures in the FY20 budget.
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons (O-5) from 10/15/2018
18-108. Report on offering early voting in City Council and School Committee Elections.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui (O-1) from 10/29/2018
18-114. Report on opportunities and plans to increase signage or other communication efforts to help ensure that all users of Brattle Street between Eliot and Mason Streets understand the cyclists may be using Brattle Street in the opposite direction of prevailing motor vehicle traffic.
Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux (O-14) from 10/29/2018
18-115. Report on the current status of the Surveillance Technology Ordinance and a date the City Council can expect an updated version of the proposed Ordinance.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone (O-16) from 10/29/2018
18-119. Report on evaluating the existing capacity of fire stations in the Kendall Square area and whether a new fire station is needed, and if so, determining the feasibility of locating a plot of land for this use.
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey (O-2) from 11/5/2018
18-122. Report on the possibility of posting a "no trucks" sign on Hancock Street.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui (O-3) from 11/19/2018
18-123. Report on ensuring funding for our municipal media services.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern (O-9) from 11/19/2018
18-127. Report on providing a timeline when the City Council can expect to receive the draft zoning and public health regulations for urban farming.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Zondervan (O-1) from 11/26/2018
18-129. Report on conducting a comprehensive, independent planning, and parking study of the neighborhood and use of the First Street Garage within 6months.
Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone (Calendar Item #1) from 11/19/2018
18-130. Report on working with the Chair of the Civic Unity Committee, the Director of the Cambridge Library, the Director of 22-CityView, the Director of the Women’s Commission, and any other appropriate City personnel to begin planning for a public discussion in recognition of 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage.
Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Vice Mayor Devereux (O-3) from 12/3/2018
18-132. Report on the negative traffic impact regarding the Davis Square Neighborhood Plan.
Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux (O-5) from 12/3/2018
18-133. Report on raising the fines for blocking both loading zones and bike lanes to a comparable rate to Boston for the 2020 fiscal year.
Councillor Mallon, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley (O-9) from 12/3/2018
18-134. Report on creating a more inclusive city website, including an Open Meeting Portal registration form that does not require the use of gendered pronouns, salutations or titles.
Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon (O-11) from 12/3/2018
18-136. Report back on submitting a proposal that candidates would agree to not accept donations from person outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Councillor Toomey (O-15) from 12/3/2018
18-138. Report on Improving Pedestrian Safety and all relevant traffic calming measures to reduce speeding, implementing different paving surfaces, narrowing traffic lanes, installing pedestrian crossing placards affixed to the ground and adding raised intersections.
Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan (O-1) from 12/10/2018
18-139. Report on the possibility of planting a substantial-sized tree at the corner of Inman Street and Massachusetts Avenue, directly on the front lawn of City Hall.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan (O-2) from 12/10/2018
18-140. Table of Uses
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui (O-1) from 12/17/2018
18-141. Safe way to bring power across sidewalks.
Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan (O-2) from 12/17/2018
18-142. Targeting advertising efforts to education cyclists. See Mgr #5
Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Toomey (O-3) from 12/17/2018
18-143. Business entity's beneficial ownership.
Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan (O-4) from 12/10/2018
18-144. Process for obtaining and analyzing Eviction data.
Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Carlone (O-6) from 12/17/2018
19-1. Report on the recently adopted regulations of the short-term rental revenue and the necessary steps to impose and access the revenue from the excise and community impact fees.
Mayor McGovern (O-4) from 1/7/2019
19-2. Report on allocating a percentage of hotel/motel tax revenue and adult use cannabis tax revenue to the arts in the FY20 budget.
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern (O-5) from 1/7/2019
19-3. Report on establishing a Central Square Improvement Fund and allocate no less than 25% of funds generated to the arts.
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern (O-6) from 1/7/2019
19-4. Report on the City's 1% for arts ordinance, which projects have met the threshold and which have fallen short, and whether it can be adjusted to account for ensuring that all mediums and disciplines of art, including live performance art, receive funding.
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons (O-7) from 1/7/2019
19-5. Report on how to provide public representation to the major project Selection Committees.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone (O-14) from 1/7/2019
19-6. Report on outlining how a prolonged Federal Government shut-down may impact the people of Cambridge.
Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Siddiqui (O-1) from 1/14/2019
19-7. Report on Boston’s Electric Vehicle Charging Station Home Rule Petition and propose similar language for the City Council to consider.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone (O-2) from 1/14/2019
19-9. Report on determining what facilities, parking changes, and other improvements to the pavement conditions are possible to make Cambridge’s stretch of Webster Avenue a Complete Street.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui (O-4) from 1/14/2019
19-10. Report on establishing a system of information-sharing and/ or alternative method for making available that data which may be of beneficial use to the City in analyzing displacement.
Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Carlone (O-6) from 1/14/2019
19-11. Report on the feasibility of eliminating the use of plastic water bottles at City and School events.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Mallon (O-4) from 1/28/2019
19-12. Report on the legality and constitutionality of the proposed “Cambridge Publicly Financed Municipal Election Program” and the “Cambridge Municipal Election People’s Pledge.”
Councillor Toomey, Councillor Kelley (O-8) from 1/28/2019
19-13. Report on conferring with Eversource and the appropriate City departments to undertake a series of studies and analyses related to finance, health and safety, building design, and long-term electricity needs before the construction of a substation in East Cambridge.
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Toomey (O-3) from 2/4/2019
19-14. Report on conducting inventories of both local arts organizations and private foundations that may support them.
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern (O-4) from 2/4/2019
19-15. Report on the possibility of setting up an assistance fund/program to help low-income and/or elderly/disabled residents manage bed bug infestations.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan (O-9) from 2/4/2019
19-16. Report on the “Super Sunday” road race that was held on Feb 3, 2019 and if the proper procedures were followed in issuing permits and when/if the neighbors were notified.
Councillor Toomey (O-13) from 2/4/2019
19-17. Report on an update of the status of efforts by MIT's International Center for Air Transportation and MassPort's Community Advisory Committee to study, assess and address noise issues associated with flights in and out of Logan Airport.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Zondervan (Calendar Item #1) from 1/7/2019
19-18. Report on sharing regular project updates from the GSA and MITIMCO on the new Volpe Center.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan (O-13) from 1/7/2019
19-19. Report on the empty tree wells in the Port area and establish a plan for replenishing these throughout the spring season and determine where additional "smart" trash receptacles can be placed throughout the Port.
Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Kelley (O-5) from 2/11/2019
19-20. Report on seeking additional funding for affordable housing concerns.
Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern (O-6) from 2/11/2019
19-21. Report on the process for establishing a formal, thorough review of the City’s Affordable Home Ownership programs, incorporating a plan for obtaining and analyzing substantial quantitative data inclusive of all types of units.
Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey (O-3) from 2/25/2019
19-22. Report on the feasibility of allowing small businesses to host live acoustic music performances without a license, and if feasible, present the City Council with a proposal to allow such performances.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern (O-5) from 2/25/2019
19-23. Report on amending the Zoning Ordinance “Table of Uses” to allow for lodging houses in Residential A1, A2, and B Zoning Districts and to determine what tax incentives could be utilized to assist in the conversion of single-family/multi-family houses into lodging houses.
Councillor Toomey, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern (O-7) from 2/25/2019
19-24. Report on plans to make the pedestrian crossing of Massachusetts Avenue at Day Street more predictably safe for pedestrians.
Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Toomey, Mayor McGovern (O-8) from 2/25/2019
19-25. Report on information that is offered to limited equity condominium owners regarding the ability to recoup extraordinary repair and maintenance costs, the procedure that is in place to inform purchasers of existing or possible construction and maintenance issues that may result in higher-than expected condo fees, and the possibility of allowing roommates to cover unexpected expenses.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey (O-10) from 2/25/2019
19-26. Report on communicating directly with the Volpe Center about the possibility of having their staff help the City set up a Micro-Mobility Pilot program in the Kendall Square area.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan (O-11) from 2/25/2019
19-27. Report on providing an update on the Firehouse improvements allocation.
Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Toomey (O-12) from 2/25/2019
19-28. Report on expediting zoning based on the 2015 Commercial Land Use Classification Study and exploring the feasibility of hiring more zoning planners.
Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone (O-13) from 2/25/2019