Cambridge City Council meeting - April 29, 2019 - AGENDA
CITY MANAGER'S AGENDA
1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as Constables With Power for a term of three years, effective Jan 1, 2019: David Power and Anthony Tuccinardi
Placed on File
2. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the transfer of funds of the HUD Planning Grant from the Grant Fund Human Service Programs Other Ordinary Maintenance account in the amount of $9,460.75 to the Grant Fund Human Service Programs Salary and Wages account which will cover salary costs for the Project Manager for the Coordinated Access Program.
Order Adopted 9-0
3. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of the Cambridge Food Pantry grant received from the Cambridge Health Alliance for $15,000 to the Grant Fund Human Services Other Ordinary Maintenance account which will be used to enter into a contract with CEOC to purchase nutritional foods to be distributed to eligible Cambridge residents through the Food Pantry Network.
Order Adopted 9-0
4. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of the Cambridge Public Health Department to the Moore Youth Center in the amount of $3,630 to the Grant Fund Human Services Salary and Wages account ($1,712) and to the Grant Fund Human Services Other Ordinary Maintenance account ($1,918), which will be used to continue the Teen Intern Program at the Moore Youth Center.
Order Adopted 9-0
5. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of the Low Income Heating Assistance Program grant in the amount of $126,943 funded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and administered in Massachusetts by the Commonwealth’s Department of Housing and Community Development to the Grant Fund Human Service Programs Salary and Wages account ($10,022), and to the Other Ordinary Maintenance account ($116,921), which will be used to operate the Low Income Heating Assistance Program.
Order Adopted 9-0
6. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $4,701,678 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the Grant Fund Human Services Salary and Wages account ($294,521), to the Other Ordinary Maintenance account ($4,399,994), and to the Grant Fund Human Services ($7,163), which will be used for contracted for permanent supportive housing units (PSH) for chronically homeless individuals and families, rapid rehousing for families, leasing assistance, and other services HUD determines are effective at reducing homelessness.
Order Adopted 9-0
7. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of a grant from the State Executive Office of Public Safety, Department of Fire Services for $187,500 to the Grant Fund Fire Extraordinary Expenditures account, which will be used to purchase 45-minute SCBA cylinders to provide longer lasting air supply to responders entering hazardous atmosphere; SCBA facepieces to provide a safe reliable air supply; thermal imaging cameras to detect exothermic reactions in hazardous materials; and to track releases of cryogenic gasses.
Order Adopted 9-0
8. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the transfer of $24,000 from the General Fund City Clerk Salary and Wages account to the General Fund City Clerk Other Ordinary Maintenance account to pay for costs associated with required legal advertising for legal notices, hearings and petitions through the end of the fiscal year.
Order Adopted 9-0
9. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-138, regarding speed limits and traffic calming measures.
Placed on File
10. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Council Order No. O-10 of Apr 22, 2019 regarding questions related to the draft Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance posed in Communication and Reports from Other City Officers No. 2 of Apr 22, 2019.
Referred to Unfinished Business #6
1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-127, regarding draft zoning for urban farming; Awaiting Report Item Number 19-23, regarding allowing lodging houses in Residential A1, A2 and B Zoning Districts; and Awaiting Report Item Number 19-28, regarding a timetable for updating retail and small business components of the zoning table of uses.
Placed on File
2. An application was received from Niall Hanley, requesting permission for a curb cut at the premises numbered 60 Porter Road; said petition has received approval from Inspectional Services, Traffic, Parking and Transportation, Historical Commission and Public Works. No response has been received from the neighborhood association.
Order Adopted (Zondervan - NO)
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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.
6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the proposed Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance. [On or after Apr 22, 2019 the question comes on passage to be ordained]
7. 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 Mar 27, 2019 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 section number (4.0) for purposes of determining the maximum ratio of floor area to lot area. [On or after Apr 22, 2019 the question comes on passage to be ordained]
8. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow $3,000,000 to provide funds for the Municipal Facilities Improvement Plan. [On or after May 6, 2019 the question comes on adoption]
9. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow $800,000 to provide funds for various Schools for repairs to entrance doors, upgrade of energy management software, replacement of analog phone system with the voice over internet protocol (VOIP), and the replacement of an emergency generator. [On or after May 6, 2019 the question comes on adoption]
10. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow $20,500,000 to provide funds for various water pollution abatement projects, including construction of sewer separation, storm water management and combined sewer overflow reduction elimination improvements within the Alewife area. [On or after May 6, 2019 the question comes on adoption]
11. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow $4,000,000 to provide funds for the reconstruction of various City streets and sidewalks. [On or after May 6, 2019 the question comes on adoption]
12. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow $10,000,000 to provide funds for the construction of improvements at City Hall. [On or after May 6, 2019 the question comes on adoption]
13. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow $22,000,000 to provide funds for the construction of improvements at the Fire Station Headquarters Building located at 491 Broadway. [On or after May 6, 2019 the question comes on adoption]
14. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow $4,000,000 to provide design and construction of Eliot Street between JFK St. and Brattle St. which is a continuation of the Harvard Square Kiosk and Plaza and Surface Enhancement project. [On or after May 6, 2019 the question comes on adoption]
15. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow $10,000,000 to provide funds for the design and reconstruction of the Tobin School building. If approved, this appropriation will be included in the City’s FY20 bond issue. [On or after May 6, 2019 the question comes on adoption]
16. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 2, 2019 to continue discussion on a petition filed by the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge in section 4.22 to allow for a special permit for the alteration of a single, two-family or accessory structure in existence as of January 2019 to provide one accessory apartment, if appropriate conditions are met. [On or after May 6, 2019 the question comes on adoption]
APPLICATIONS AND PETITIONS
1. An application was received from Jan Barry, requesting permission for a curb cut at the premises numbered 5 Jay Street; said petition has received approval from Inspectional Services, Traffic, Parking and Transportation, Historical Commission and Public Works. No response has been received from the neighborhood association.
2. A petition was received from Abra Berkowitz and IIan Levy, petitioning say NO to an Eversource Substation by the Kennedy-Longfellow School.
Referred to City Manager
3. An application was received from Women in Comedy Festival and Cambridge Arts Council are requesting permission for a temporary banner across JFK Street at Mount Auburn Street announcing the Women in Comedy Festival on Apr 30, 2019 thru May 6, 2019.
1. A communication was received from Nathanael Fillmore, regarding Webster Avenue.
2. A communication was received from Scott Kilcoyne, regarding Webster Avenue.
3. A communication was received from Ian Schneider, regarding Webster Street safe biking.
4. A communication was received from Geraldine Qinzio, 1 Earnhart Street, regarding First Street garage and Sullivan Courthouse.
5. A communication was received from Gavin Lund, regarding Webster Avenue.
6. A communication was received from Maria Elena, regarding NSTAR.
7. A communication was received from John Thomson, regarding Webster Avenue Bike Lane decision.
8. A communication was received from East Cambridge Planning Team Communication, regarding an intolerable State of Affairs: Fulkerson Street and First Street Municipal Garage.
9. A communication was received from Department of Public Utilities, transmitting year ended Dec 31, 2018 Condensed Financial Return for NSTAR Electric Company.
10. A communication was received from Department of Public Utilities, transmitting year ended Dec 31, 2018 Condensed Financial Return for NSTAR Gas Company.
11. A communication was received from Marcus Johnson-Smith, 701 Mt. Auburn Street, in support of the Social Equity Program Proposal and a two-year permitting prioritization permit exclusively for economic empowerment and social equity applicants.
12. A communication was received from Cathleen Higgins, 345 Norfolk Street, regarding Resolution #1 honoring the life and work of Cheryl-Ann Pizza-Zeoli.
13. A communication was received from Carol O’Hare, 172 Magazine Street, regarding City Manager’s Agenda #10 relating to the Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance.
14. A communication was received from Nichole Snow, President and Executive Director, Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, One Beacon Street, Boston relating to the Unfinished Business Item # 6 regarding the Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance.
15. A communication was received from Anna Rae, 45 Trowbridge Street, regarding Resolution #11 on the New Alliance.
16. A communication was received from Hasson Rashid, 820 Massachusetts Avenue, regarding issues dealing with homelessness.
17. A communication was received from Richard Harding, GSO Foundation and T. Moses, GSO, LLC regarding the Cambridge Social Equity Program Proposal.
18. A communication was received from Michael Latulippe, 190 Bridge Street, Salem regarding the Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance and opposition to the social equity proposal.
1. Resolution on the death of Cheryl-Ann Pizza-Zeoli. Councillor Simmons, Councillor Toomey, Mayor McGovern
2. Happy Birthday wishes to Artis Spears. Councillor Simmons
3. Happy Birthday wishes to Charlene Nelson. Councillor Simmons
4. Resolution on the death of Winston Jones. Councillor Simmons
5. Happy 1st Birthday wishes to Maxwell Rose. Councillor Simmons
6. Congratulations to Jefferson and Anna Smith on the birth of their son, Everett Rawlings Smith. Councillor Mallon
7. Congratulations to the Cambridge Housing Authority’s Workforce Program on the occasion of their Nineteenth Annual Work Force Senior Banquet on May 2, 2019. Councillor Toomey
8. Resolution on the death of Robert M. Coleman. Councillor Toomey
9. Resolution on the death of Francisco "Frank" Marques. Councillor Toomey
10. Congratulations to Aubrey Cole on the adoption of her rescue puppy, Leia. Councillor Mallon
11. Congratulations to New Alliance Gallery on their Re-opening. Councillor Zondervan
12. Resolution on the death of Frank J. Ferullo. Mayor McGovern
13. Congratulations to Network/La Red as it celebrates 30 years of providing such critical support services for LGBTQ survivors throughout Greater Boston. Councillor Simmons
14. Congratulations to Jimmy Tingle for his Guest Starring Role in "Veep." Councillor Simmons
15. Congratulations to XSurgical on the Grand Opening of its international headquarters at 701 Concord Avenue. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui
16. Congratulations to Janet Steinmayer on being named Lesley University's seventh president. Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern
17. Congratulating Nate Pardo in Silver Place Finish on American Ninja Warrior Junior. Mayor McGovern
1. That the Executive Assistant to the City Council confer with the Dedication Committee to consider the request from Councillor Toomey for a street dedication in honor of Maria, Herman and Augusto Andrade in the vicinity of Fifth Street and Spring Street. Councillor Toomey
2. City Council endorsement of Fossil Free Divest Harvard. Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux
Order Adopted as Amended
3. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the City staff to continue to work with the taxi industry and to work with the City Council on changes to the state law that would help the taxi industry and help the City manage the situation on the street. Vice Mayor Devereux
4. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the City Solicitor to prepare a legal opinion on the use of the 2018 state allotment funding from the TNC fees and whether these fees can be expected to help the taxi industry. Councillor Mallon
5. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to respond to the issues regarding the proposed Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance. Councillor Zondervan
1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 3, 2019 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 to amend the zoning map to add a new PUD-8 District Overlay.
Report Accepted, Placed on File
2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Transportation & Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 3, 2019 to discuss Applications and Petitions # 4 of Mar 4, 2019, submitted by the Cambridge Taxi Drivers Owners Association on whether additional regulations on Transit Network Companies (TNC) could be implemented in Cambridge.
Report Accepted, Placed on File; Orders #3 and #4 Adopted
3. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councilor E. Denise Simmons, Co-Chair and Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui Co-Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Mar 20, 2019 to discuss the Affordable Housing Overlay District.
Report Accepted, Placed on File
Mon, Apr 29
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Apr 30
12:00pm The Economic Development & University Relations Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a Cambridge vacant storefront registration ordinance. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Wed, May 1
9:00am Finance Committee hearing to discuss proposed FY20 City Budget. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
5:30pm The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a petition to amend the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.16 entitled “Noise Control” by deleting sections 16.081 through 16.081.7 to prohibit the use of leaf blowers in the City of Cambridge. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Mon, May 6
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, May 7
9:00am Finance Committee hearing to discuss proposed FY20 City Budget. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Wed, May 8
6:00pm Finance Committee hearing to discuss FY20 School Department Budget (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Thurs, May 9
9:00am Finance Committee hearing to discuss proposed FY20 City Budget (if necessary) (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Mon, May 13
4:00pm 2019 City of Cambridge Scholarship Awards Ceremony (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, May 14
10:30am The Human Services & Veterans Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the results of the City Manager’s Opioid Task Force Report and the recommendations that could be implemented to reduce the harmful effects of the opioid crisis in the City of Cambridge. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Mon, May 20
5:30pm City Council Meeting - Budget Adoption (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, May 21
1:00pm The Health and Environment Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the “City of Cambridge getting to Net Zero Action Plan: Fiscal year 2018 progress report” and to receive a general update on the Net Zero Action Plan. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Wed, May 22
12:00pm Civic Unity Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the Massachusetts Equal Pay Law that was enacted in 2018 - What employees, supervisors, and City Leadership should know, what are the best practices, and how metrics must be established to ensure compliance with this new law. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
2:00pm The Transportation and Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the Eversource site on Fulkerson Street and a potential expansion project at this site. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Tues, May 28
5:30pm The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing on a petition received from Verizon New England, Inc. to amend the zoning map of the City of Cambridge by creating a new Overlay Zoning district entitled “Ware Street Innovation Space Overlay District” encompassing 10 Ware Street and to amend article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance by creating a section entitled “Ware Street Innovation Space Overlay District”. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Wed, May 29
5:30pm The Health and Environment Committee will conduct a joint public hearing with the climate Resilience Task Force to receive an update on the task forces progress to date and to receive input and feedback. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Mon, June 3
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, June 10
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
6:30pm The City Council will conduct a public hearing to discuss the petition filed by Kenneth S. Barron, 614 Massachusetts Avenue, et al property owners, pursuant to MGL Chapter 40 section O petitioning that a Business Improvement District (BID) be established for the Central Square Business Improvement District. (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 Apr 29, 2019
ORDERED: That the Executive Assistant to the City Council confer with the Dedication Committee to consider the request from Councillor Toomey for a s street dedication in honor of Maria, Herman and Augusto Andrade in the vicinity of Fifth Street and Spring 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-2 Apr 29, 2019 Amended
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: The science is clear that anthropogenic climate change is a dangerous and imminent reality, with the latest IPCC report stating that we have only 11 years until global warming exceeds a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase above pre-industrial levels, which will bring severe consequences for our planet and for all of our communities; and
WHEREAS: Sea-level rise due to climate change is predicted to range from 11.4in to 79in in Massachusetts by 2100, which will induce harmful flooding, and the state continues to see new temperature and weather extremes. These increasingly palpable effects of climate change pose a threat to the lives, livelihoods, and critical infrastructure of the Cambridge community; and
WHEREAS: Climate change not only poses an existential threat to 21st-century life but also perpetuates injustice on a global scale, disproportionately impacting communities of color and poor communities here in Massachusetts and around the world; and
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge has shown a commitment to leadership on climate action, as evident by forming a Getting to Net Zero Task Force in 2013 and being on target to achieve a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations by 2020; now therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the City of Cambridge puts its full support behind the Fossil Free Divest Harvard campaign in its movement to divest Harvard’s nearly $40 billion endowment from the fossil fuel industry; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Council go on record endorsing the demands that Fossil Free Divest Harvard has put forward for Harvard Heat Week 2019: full disclosure of Harvard’s endowment holdings in the fossil fuel industry to create transparency; a commitment by Harvard for total divestment of the endowment from the fossil fuel industry to be made by Earth Day of 2020; the reinvestment of the endowment into environmentally sustainable, socially responsible, and community-managed funds; and the cessation of Harvard’s unsustainable and unethical international farmland acquisitions, under the guidance and supervision of affected communities; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Council call on Harvard University to uphold the principles of its Veritas motto, to take responsibility as an institution of higher education and as an institution with considerable societal influence, and to respond to the calls of the Harvard campus and broader Cambridge communities to show leadership on climate action by making its financial principles align with its ethical values through divestment; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward suitably engrossed copies of this resolution to Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow and Fossil Free Divest Harvard on behalf of the entire City Council.
O-3 Apr 29, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the City staff to continue to work with the taxi industry and to work with the City Council on changes to the state law that would help the taxi industry and help the City manage the situation on the street.
O-4 Apr 29, 2019
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the City Solicitor to prepare a legal opinion on the use of the 2018 state allotment funding from the TNC fees and whether these fees can be expended to help the taxi industry.
O-5 Apr 29, 2019
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to respond to the following issues regarding the proposed Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance:
TEXT OF COMMITTEE REPORTS
Committee Report #1
The Ordinance Committee, comprised of the entire membership of the City Council, held a public hearing on Apr 3, 2019 at 5:37pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was 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 to amend the zoning map to add a new PUD-8 District Overlay (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; Manager of Zoning and Development, CDD, Jeff Roberts; Arthur Goldberg, Deputy City Solicitor; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were Richard McKinnon, developer and consultant for the petitioner, l Layton Street; John Twohig and Sarah Lemke, New England Development; Stephen Karp, Trustee of CambridgeSide Galleria Associates Trust; David Manfredi and Brian Roessler, Elkus Manfredi Architectural Firm; Tim Sullivan and Jessica Caamano, Goulston and Storrs; William Doerr, 4 Canal Park; Ernest T. McLam and Alex Nunes from Elkus Manfredi; LeroyWard, 8 Marvin Place; Steven Bennett, 29 Cogswell Avenue; Arnold Williams, 375 Washington Street; Rafael Cabral, 375 Harvard Street; Jeff Martin, 10 Holworthy Street; Arianna Staples, 160 Putnam Avenue; Yoong Koo Byun, 4 Canal Park; Marlene Lundberg, 4 Canal Park; Frank Saviano, 4 Canal Park; Chris Correa, 19 Plymouth Street; Georgia Balafas, 28A Bigelow Street; David Borrus, 126 Harvey Street; Tom Joyce, 270 Third Street; David Nutter, 55 Bent Street; Katie Estes, 55 Bent Street; Heather Hoffman, 213 Hurley Street; Mike Doucette, Local 7; Frank Murray, 66 Winter Street; Don Violette, Pier 8; Matt Connolly, 13 Cornelius; Barbara Rubel, 21 Otis Street; Sharon Zimmerman, 99 Bishop Allen Drive; Anderson Lima, 566 Windsor Street; Lee Farris, 269 Norfolk Street; Rhonda Massie, 211 Charles Street; Peter Crowley, 88 Thorndike Street; Shervin Kanalian, 4 Canal Park; Ilan Levy, 148 Spring Street; and Charles Hinds.
Councillor Kelley 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 as petitioner, city staff, public comment and City Council will ask clarification questions and at the end of the hearing a conclusion may be made about what the next steps should be, to include keeping the matter in committee or sending it to the full Council with either a favorable or unfavorable recommendation.
Mr. McKinnon introduced the development, architect team and the legal team. He introduced the petitioner.
Mr. Karp, the petitioner, gave a presentation (ATTACHMENT B). He stated that there has been a lot of change since the opening day of the CambridgeSide Galleria in 1990. He gave a historical overview of the site. He stated that the original Lechmere that was located at 88 First Street. He stated that he built a temporary garage to keep Lechmere in business while this was built. He stated that multiple parcels were acquired to put the entire project together. He stated that in the l987 plan land was given to the City to construct the Charles Park and to complete the Lechmere Canal building and as part of the plan CambridgeSide Place was a continuation of Charles Street connecting the Charles River. This was all part of the accumulation of the parcels in the original plan. He added that the way people live, shop and work today has changed and CambridgeSide has to change. He stated that in 2017 Credit Suisse forecasted that one in every four malls will close by 2022. He noted that department sales are declining, and e-commerce retail sales are growing. He acknowledged that Assembly Row has had an impact on CambridgeSide. He stated that large square footage of retail is going dark. He stated that the third floor at CambridgeSide will be office. He stated that the retail sales did not keep up with the retail improvements made so change needs to be made to make a mixed-use complex to provide the traffic to make the retail vital. He stated that the goal is to remain valuable and vibrant neighbor to East Cambridge and the City. He stated that the retail core of over ninety tenants is supported and First Street and the Canal will be activated with retail and restaurants.
He spoke about the core of the mall and the anchor stores. He stated that the uses are being mixed to support the tenants and for those who live in the area. Pedestrian and bike safety will be promoted. The neighborhood connection will be maintained and strengthened. He spoke about the challenges. He stated that the first, second and third floor tenants need to be relocated while construction is ongoing. The anchor stores need to be replaced over a period of time.
Public access will be maintained to a safe, secure mall during construction and the underground garages will be open during construction. He noted that this is a construction nightmare. The retail on the third floor is being moved to First Street to activate the area. He stated that he is concerned about the operating costs and it is complicated. New leases with the tenants that are being moved need to be negotiated. The challenge is to keep the mall vibrant and to keep retail as a core.
John Twohig, New England Development, explained the zoning text and the change. This is complicated, and the charge given was to the goal and challenges were outline but now how do we get to this. A zoning change is needed to allow the mixed use and to deal with when Sears closed on Dec 9, 2018, which was a surprise phone call. He stated that this is 140,000 square feet of the mall. He stated that when you look at the economic graph and the future of the anchor stores, there is $120 billion worth of sales in 2017. The department store sales have gone from $60 billion to $40 billion in the same time frame. He spoke about developing a design that will fit the zoning and zoning that will work. He wanted to discuss the zoning and the design.
He spoke about the Community Development Department memo. He spoke about what is the new district and how do you get into the new district and utilize the zoning being presented and the process for the new zoning. He added that when the zoning is passed then a special permit is needed. He spoke about the PUD-8 and how it relates to the PUD-4. He stated how does the PUD-8 match the City’s goals. He explained where this district is; it is the core retail. The Sears building the upper parking garage, Lechmere, (Best Buy) and Macy. This is about 8 acres.
He stated that the petitioners want the core retail and restaurant experience to stay at CambridgeSide. So, the ground floor needs to maintain 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space so that this space is core to the essence of any development. Secondly this has to be a parcel of size. The parcel is 7.5 acres and will be approximate to and connected to public open space. He stated that CambridgeSide the center core and the Atrium has over 200,000 square feet of space that is open and available to the public. He spoke about the process. The City Council is being asked to adopt PUD-8 and the special permit application. The site is important and when asking for the special permit to be able to do what is being planned he wants to show the detail, architectural character, the massing and the importance of connectivity. He commented that thirty years ago housing was not a focal point as it is today and how this can be phased. He spoke about parking, loading and transportation. The upper parking garage is coming down but there will be 1,700 parking spaces maintained on the ground as part of the project and how will this all work and be shared parking and support what is being proposed to be built. He stated that the sustainable nature of the facility, resiliency and climate change has to be an important part of what is filed. He stated that fourth issue in the zoning spoke about the comparison of PUD-4 and PUD-8. He stated the allowed uses are the same. A reference to light industry was added as an opportunity for businesses. He stated that the floor area is 766,000 square feet; this is smaller than the original filing. A footnote was added to the chart that this excludes the existing parking garage. He stated that minimum residential was not in the PUD-4 and 20% of the net new development will be residential and 20% of this will be affordable. The minimum lot area is different and the maximum height under the old PUD-5 is 85 feet. He stated that this petition is proposing three levels of height as one steps back from the Canal. This would be 85 feet by the Canal and 135 feet stepping back and a maximum of 185 feet out to Land Boulevard. He spoke about how this meets the planning goal and why the City Council should support this petition. He explained that the planning studies were reviewed to make this a mixed-use development. A set of criteria was developed that any project brought forward needed to be mixed use, ground floor retail along First Street, neighborhood connections, high quality streets and a strong street edge, architectural nature and consistency, sustainability, Transportation Demand Management and improvement to pedestrian and bicycle transit. He spoke about developing programming for the open space. All these aspects need to be shown to the City Council to utilize the zoning. He stated they met with the Planning Board who had comments and there will be a follow up meeting with the Planning Board. He spoke about a zoning commitment letter and what it will include. He spoke about commitment to the arts, tree fund, seasonal farmers market, real programming on the Riverfront and to be able to provide educational and enrichment experience for Cambridge youth and senior.
David Manfredi, architect, stated that this is an extraordinary opportunity for urban design in the City of Cambridge. He stated that a single use block can be converted to multiple uses for liveliness, diversity, improvements to public realm and better connections through the block to the Canal and other important public spaces and the Riverfront. This will be an opportunity to break apart the super block. He stated that the goal is to active First Street in a way that activates uses that engage pedestrians in a regular consistent way. To achieve this the proposal is to demolish the upper garage and the middle of the block and the Lechmere. These will be demolished to the ground and leave the parking below grade and new buildings will be built on those sites which will have active uses on the ground floor. He stated that the Sears building will be converted to retail and commercial uses. The garage will be converted to retail at grade, residential and commercial use and the Lechmere building will be converted to retail and commercial uses. This is 750 feet of frontage along First Street and the spaces between the new buildings will mirror the rhythm that is on the west side of the street and the opposite side of the block will be walkable. He stated that with demolishing the two buildings the width of the sidewalks will be doubled to 20-22 feet in width. This will accommodate complete streets and cycle tracks. In the Sears building the proposal is to create a new gallery with retail on both sides and publicly accessible that will go directly into the food court and Canal Park. This will create a broader network of pedestrian spaces, pedestrian paths and create a sidewalk as part of the public realm. There will be trees along a landscape zone that will allow pedestrians to spill out onto the sidewalk. He spoke about all the new retail. There was a comparison of the street today and what the street can be. He stated that the lobbies are small so that the active uses be bigger. The sidewalks are wide and there is a real opportunity for street trees to grow to maturity. He stated that there are spaces between the buildings. Retail and restaurant run the 700 feet creating an opportunity to transform First Street, make a pedestrian connection between Kendall Square and Cambridge Crossing. He stated that in the broader context what is being proposed is three buildings and will be consistent in the design and architecture with the original intentions of the Riverfront Plan and buildings that have a strong base with a strong middle of brick or terra cotta and 125 square feet of residential above. There is a series of setback to the upper floors. He explained the plan for the site and the building heights. The Sears Building is 85 feet; middle building at 135 feet with commercial at the base and residential above; the Best Buy building at 165 feet on the corner and the Macy’s building is 185 feet. The greatest height is on Land Boulevard.
Councillor Zondervan asked what the plans for the Macy’s building are. Mr. Manfredi responded that the Macy’s building will be demolished to grade or one level above to maintain what is below grade and a new building there will have loading docks on the side of the building and a new entrance into the commercial space above and retail on the second floor with commercial above could be office. It is 185 feet tall. Mr. Karp said there are ramps to get into the garage and the hotel from this building on the back side. He spoke about the foundational issues while construction is on-going is time consuming and expensive. Councillor Zondervan asked about the three-building layout does the middle building have truck loading docks. Mr. Manfredi stated that this will load Sears and new Best Buy site. Councillor Zondervan expressed concerned with the cycle track and trucks going in and out. Mr. Manfredi this is the only curb cut on the 700-foot length of the block. Councillor Zondervan what is the plan for Best Buy. Mr. Karp the plan is to move Best Buy during construction.
Councillor Carlone asked about building heights of the area. The building heights include mechanical. He stated that the tallest building in East Cambridge is 120 feet. He asked what the assumption of the mechanical heights is. Mr. Manfredi drawing showing penthouse is 20 feet tall and other buildings are showing the penthouses at 20 feet for offices and if life sciences building will be 35 feet in height and the penthouse will be built to suit tenants. Councillor Carlone asked for an explanation of the rights of Sears and the Sonesta coordinated. Mr. Twohig stated that they never owned Sears; the building was owned by Sears. Sears sold the building to a company called Northwood and owns this space. An agreement was entered with Northwood about seven months ago so that it would become part of this development. He explained that this development was always permitted as one project. This building will be retail on the first floor.
He stated that they do not own underneath their building. There is a cooperation agreement about how it will be developed in the future. He stated that in all the buildings there is a reciprocal easement agreement (REA), which is private, and it is recorded. This will all function as one facility. Mr. Karp stated that there was parking lot that Sonesta parked on and he purchased the parking lot and there are spaces within the garage for the use of the Sonesta when there is an event. Councillor Carlone asked why the Sear building is not being setback. Mr. Manfredi responded because the parking garage and the Lechmere site are is being demolished to grade. The Sears building as proposed will be five stories, an addition of two stories on the existing building. The existing footprint remains. Councillor Carlone stated that theoretically it could be pushed back. He asked what the rational is for the increased square footage as proposed; the proposal is asking for 625,000 square feet on top of the existing building. The building is unique in a unique place. Mr. Karp responded that there are economic considerations to redevelop this parcel and keeping two levels of mall in place is an economic hardship because of the construction costs during the construction and the existing leases needed to be renegotiated to redevelop the project. A lot of costs need to be carried because this cannot be built altogether.
He stated that it is complicated to build a building and to keep the parking underground structurally sound while keeping retail in place. He originally wanted to build a two-level mall.
This is the only mall in America that goes from the Canal as an anchor to a park as an anchor.
He stated that living with the original criteria and trying not to change as much as we could and considering the difficulty in redeveloping something while keeping the core in business is a lot of additional cost. Councillor Carlone requested detail in a written document outlining the economic and hardship issues. He stated that that this is the criteria and the rational being presented. He hoped that the Planning Board had asked for this information.
Councillor Mallon spoke about parking. She stated that there are currently 2,500 spaces with all of the parking and 800 spaces are planned to be demolished leaving 1,700 spaces left. She asked about the parking study is it underway and when completed. Mr. Twohig stated that scope was presented to the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department although it is not common to do a parking study with a zoning petition. The petitioner felt that this was a critical nature to do the traffic study. The scope is being worked on. He noted the advantage of owning a facility for as long as it has been owned we can tell you for the last twenty years every day, every hour how many people parked and where they parked. He stated that parking criteria is being proposed that is consistent with what the City has determined for office, commercial and residential. He stated that based on the usage that the spaces left underground will be enough for the program being presented because retail is the largest generator of parking. The study is not ready yet and it will be presented. He stated that the ratio is consistent with what the City is finding. He stated that even in the busiest times there are 1,000 empty parking spaces.
Mr. McKinnon stated that the traffic study is planned to be completed before the City Council has to vote on the zoning petition. He stated that the City’s traffic formula has a cap on what is being asked for. He stated that the petitioner does not want to ask for more than the parking will support. He stated that free parking will be offered to residents during snow emergency.
Councillor Siddiqui spoke about the construction phases and asked how long this project will take. Mr. Karp spoke about the economy and the demand and one building will be built at time.
Councillor Siddiqui existing retail on First Street and the impact on existing businesses. Mr. Karp when constructing a mall and keeping retail going it is retail that stays.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked about how the open space will work and how will this help East Cambridge to connect better to the Riverfront. Mr. Manfredi the proposal is to create a connect through the Sears Building at grade from First Street through the building that will come out into the food court and out directly onto Canal Park. He stated that there will be an arcade. He stated that Part 2 is the opportunity to improve programming and enhance programming in the existing open spaces. The sidewalks will be ten feet wider and are proposing small pocket parks that separate the building footprints. Mr. Karp on either side of the Canal, underneath Land Boulevard will make a direct connection to the river. This is a plan that is being worked and will be presented to the City Council later. The street that connects the Canal to the park across to the river to another park. He noted that this was part of the original Masterplan and a criterion which was originally planned in the mall.
Councillor Zondervan how much net retail is being added or subtract from the current configuration of the mall including the third floor. Mr. Twohig is a rough number because all of this as part of the Chapter 91 license has to have public activation on the first level. There is 300,000 square feet of retail retained for the project. Mr. Karp stated that some tenants want to have two floors. The First Street retail but not first floor retail.
At this time Councillor Kelley requested City Staff to come forward.
Mr. Roberts stated that a staff memo was created (ATTACHMENT C) to summarize some of the main technical points of the petition and their effects and a summary of a planning history of this area. The Planning Board held its hearing on Mar 19, 2019 and the Planning Board opted to continue the hearing for a future date. No recommendations were made. The Planning Board had questions on how the additional height and development square footage were arrived at, more information on transportation on how the parking would work and the existing compares to the proposed plan. There was discussion about what the expectations were for laboratory and potential light industry uses and how they would be treated in relation to what is currently in the area. More information about the residential use allocation and how arrived at and there was discussion about the phasing and how the residential is phased in with the rest of the project. This is a consideration for PUD projects. He stated that affordable housing was also a topic of discussion and how the provision of retail would create opportunities for local businesses or more affordable retail space. There was discussion about how climate resilience would be a factor in this proposed development given that there is an existing large below grade garage.
Regarding the petition there was discussion to understand better how the structure of this proposal as a PUD overlay on top of PUD Overlay and keep clear which parts of the development fall under which parts of the zoning. The Planning Board asked for language clarification, open space and community benefits and additional information regarding what kinds of improvements might be considered.
Councillor Carlone stated that the existing height limit on the Cambridge side site is shown as 105 feet and it is 55-60 feet high. He asked that this be checked and change it. This has an impact on the proposed heights.
At 6:46pm Councillor Kelley opened public comment.
William Doerr, 4 Canal Park, stated that the CambridgeSide mall has been a great neighbor and revitalization of mall is a great clever idea for sustaining the mall and the area. He spoke about three general areas of needs. The first issue is height. He stated that PUD 4 was 85 feet and now these structures go from 85-185 feet and there is a need for a shadow study because the street is a north-south street. Residents are in three story structures to the left on the west side, the south side and on the east side and there is need for a shadow and obstructive view study. He noted that the structures will project upwards and residents in all directions may be impacted. On type of wall is being eliminated and is be replaced by another kind of wall. He stated that secondly there is a need for a comprehensive traffic study for Land Boulevard and O’Brien Highway and the First and Cambridge Street intersection. He stated last there is a need for a pedestrian study. The traffic at the two intersection previously noted are complex to navigate now and the increased traffic from cars and bikes and the relocation of the Lechmere Station warrants a comprehensive pedestrian study.
Leroy Ward, 8 Marvin Place, stated that he is in favor of project because it brings more housing to Cambridge and is a positive thing.
Steven Bennett, 29 Cogswell Avenue, spoke about incorporate arts into the project and to reach out to local artists. He has worked with CambridgeSide Galleria to develop multi-media art to engage people and make the mall a pleasant fun experience to go. This turned out to be a partnership. This art is being enjoyed. The security guards love the videos. He stated that the interest to work with local artist is strong and his experience working with this partnership and working with local artists in the community the experience will find an expanded present for artists will be a good thing.
Arnold Williams, 375 Washington Street, affiliated with Local 151, stated that this is a difficult task but achievable and will be productive to the neighborhood by being bicycle and pedestrian friendly and will provide more housing.
Rafael Cabral, 375 Harvard Street, stated that he is a first-year apprentice at Boston Local 7 and he is learning the trade. He stated that his family came to this country thirty-five years ago from the Dominican Republic and he explained to his grandfather about his participation in the union and what will be happening in his area and the Galleria mall. He stated that his grandfather stated it is about time. He stated that the developer did a good job and the project is beautiful. The community will benefit greatly from this project.
Jeff Martin, 10 Holworthy Street, stated that he is the Business Representative, President of Carpenters’ Local 328. He stated that he has been in construction working in Cambridge since 1982 and he had the pleasure of building the Galleria mall in 1990. He stated that this project needs to be supported to keep the vitality and vibrance in Cambridge. He stated that the facelift on First Street will be great to enhance retail and the restaurants. He stated that he is in full support of the project to balance out the new work and all of East Cambridge and to make the mall survive with more housing.
Marlene Lundberg, resident of Thomas Graves Landing, 4 Canal Park, passed a handout (ATTACHMENT D). She created a visual to show the impact of the proposed development on the skyline on north side of the Canal. She stated that the Canal Park area is beautiful, and the height of the proposed buildings will take away some of the skyline. She stated that the old Sullivan Court House and jail is an eyesore and she used this as an example of the height. The seventeenth story of the court house and if you draw a line across the page one gets an idea of what seventeen stories would be in the proposed additions. She noted that the only exception is that these buildings will be closer than the court house and will appear even larger.
Christopher Correa, 19 Plymouth Street, represented Carpenters’ local 328 in support of the petition. He stated that CambridgeSide has been a great neighbor to the community. He stated that bring things to First Street would be ideal. He added bring office space and residential will not hurt. The City can use more affordable housing in the area. He stated that if the building does not adapt to the times there will be another Meadow Glenn Mall or an Assembly Mall in our back yard.
Georgia Balafas, 28A Bigelow Street, stated that she grew up in Cambridge and lives in Central Square. She noted that change is inevitable. She stated that the Galleria Mall was the only place for lunch at her first job out of college. She stated that from 1998-2000 she saw what was there and sees what is there now and the City has changed a lot and this building will improve the City. She stated that she is in complete support of this project.
David Borrus, 126 Harvey Street, stated that he is representing Pile Drivers Local 56. He supported the proposal. He stated that he likes that this will widen First Street and create a more welcoming sidewalk view and that it increases the space between the buildings. He likes that the developer is working with the realities of the changes of the times and society. He stated we get housing, and the inclusion of light manufacturing and lab space will create jobs and a more welcoming design. He stated that at the Planning Board hearing he was impressed with the number of non-profit organizations that supported the project because of the contributions of New England Development to the City to programs that serve an underserved population with the least means and opportunity. He added that this developer has given back and is a role model of a good corporate citizens and this developer can be given changes to help the project go forward. He spoke about social economic gaps and the fact that Cambridge is an expensive place to live and there are not a lot of opportunities for many families. He stated that 50% of students receive subsidized school lunch. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT E).
Tom Joyce, 270 Third Street, stated that this mall has been successful and now is starting to falter and needs to be kept vital. He stated that Assembly Mall and Station Landing is the model for what the Galleria needs to become. He has concerns with potential labs in the Sears Building and the roof top mechanicals looks like a freight car was put on the top of building. The people in the residential building will be looking down on the roof top mechanicals of the Sears Building which seems to be problematic. He stated that towers are being seen at the corner of CambridgeSide Place and First Street and a much higher one at CambridgeSide and Land Boulevard. He asked why the 185 feet could not be 165-175 and spread the massing out for the full length of CambridgeSide Place which would lower the height overall while still giving the square footage. He stated that there is a lot of work to be done on the zoning and the design level and in the end, there can be something that works for everyone.
David Nutter, 55 Bent Street, stated that he represents Urban Spaces an abutter of CambridgeSide on First Street and expressed strong support of this petition. He stated that the success of the First Street corridor depends highly on the success of CambridgeSide. He stated that the proposed setbacks will have positive impact and open the street and increase the quality of the street level experience. The proposed direct connection from the main level of retail to First Street will help extend the first-floor retail to First Street. He stated that the CambridgeSide team have been great neighbors and have been responsive to any issues. He stated that he supports the CambridgeSide plans.
Heather Hoffman, 213 Hurley Street, spoke about being woken up by the pile drivers when the mall was first built. She stated that she is glad that attention is being paid to First Street and proposing better looking buildings. The mall has been a good neighbor. However, she stated that even good neighbors can ask for things that you might want to say no to. She thanked the petition for the model; it is helpful. This is illustrating how the neighborhood is being welled in and how the tall buildings keep marching to East Cambridge needs to be rethought because this is still a residential area. The noise with labs and that the City does not enforce the noise ordinance, and this is a serious consideration.
Mike Doucette, President of Iron Workers Local 7. He stated that he is hearing many good things such as affordable housing, First Street improvements are needed with NorthPoint around the corner, the Green Line Extension will tie all things together. There are long term job opportunities with this project. He supported the project.
Frank Murran, 66 Winter Street, stated that he works for Iron Workers Local 7. He spoke about hanging out at CambridgeSide and to go to the mall when the project is all new will be a good opportunity. He spoke about jobs for the community. He added that the Mall is a staple in neighborhood and needs to be renovated.
Matt Connolly, 13 Cornelius Way, stated that something needs to happen here because the retail market has changed and the development for First Street is a good thing, but he is concerned with the cost. He stated that this proposal is a zoning and design framework to meet our laws, goals and challenges. He stated that there is little in the petition with any specificity of what the community benefit is or what the developer is going to provide. He spoke about creating open space and the developer or its affiliate has historically contributed to or is committed to the creation of open space. He stated that he does not know what this mean. He stated that there are a series of proposals in the petition that make it very vague and unclear what the City Council would be approving in exchange for very clear 200 feet of height, 600,000 feet of space and a lot of development that is going to fundamentally change this neighborhood and will come at a cost to the neighborhood. He is glad this proposal is happening and going forward, but there needs to be real work done before this can be approved. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT F).
Barbara Rubel, 21 Otis Street, stated that she is an abutter and wants the mall to thrive. The neighborhood is not just a link between Kendall Square and Cambridge Crossing. It is a real neighborhood and the mall is part of it, but it needs to retain some of the neighborhood quality. She stated that she liked the plans but there is too much of it. The heights are excessive. She stated that she does not want labs in the Sears Building and the mechanicals are noisy. She wanted the area kept residential, commercial and retail. She spoke about parking and that the parking that remains will serve the project. She worries what this means for the larger neighborhood given the proposal to turning 420 parking spaces in the municipal garage over to a private developer. She stated that it is important for the City to review the traffic and parking issues in the whole neighborhood and not project by project.
Sharon Zimmerman, Executive Director Cambridge Camping, a 125-year-old Cambridge agency and provides programs for 500 urban youth from under-resourced circumstances. She stated that three years ago Paul Ryder called her to tell her that Cambridge Camping was chosen as the Cambridge beneficiary for CambridgeSide’s first half marathon event and she should expect a large donation. Since the planning began for the first marathon she has worked closely with Mr. DeVito and his staff on several community projects and events. This partnership has grown to benefit the community. She has learned that New England Development cares deeply about Cambridge and knows what it takes to make a community feel like a real community. They value diversity and treat people right and care about their customers, partners and those who participate in all the various events and resources that they bring to Cambridge. They care about those who have less, who struggle and do not have equal access to so many of the great things Cambridge has to offer. She stated that they have given over $50,000 to Cambridge Camping to help send low-income children to camp.
Anderson Lima, 566 Windsor Street, stated that he is 23 years old and was born and raised in Cambridge. He supported the project and is a union member.
Lee Farris, 269 Norfolk Street, stated that she was speaking for the Cambridge Residents Alliance. She thanked the developers for the presentation and the revisionist of First Street. She spoke about the ways that the developer feels that they are following the City’s plan but did not explain the ways that they do not follow the plans for the area. She stated that all the plans including ECAPs and K2 recommended shorter buildings near the East Cambridge residential neighborhood and better connections from the neighborhood to the river. She stated that this proposal does not substantially increase better connections to the river and it does wall off the neighborhood further from the river with the taller buildings. She likes the ground floor retail and the streetscape will be improved. She stated that she supports reallocating some of the square footage currently retail to residential but would rather see a higher proportion of residential square footage 40% like at Volpe or the MXD district because more housing is needed, and this will provide affordable housing. The opposite site of First Street is 65 feet high and she does not see the need for the additional height that the developer is asking for. She stated that labs use in the proximity of residential dwellings is not a good idea. She would like the City Council to revise the zoning to distinguish lab use from office use because they are different uses. She noted that the proposed mitigation is insufficient and wanted it more spelled out. She stated that there is no reason to allow the developer to almost double the square footage of the project and to more than double the height.
Rhonda Masse, 211 Charles Street, stated that she supports the re-envisioning and rebuilding the mall but does not like the height. She stated that 185 feet is boxing in the neighborhood. She stated that it would be good to change the housing, retail is having a hard time, but not enough attention is paid to parking. She spoke about giving away 420 parking spaces and eliminating some of the parking here. She stated get out of the mall, get out of your cars and walk around. She stated that the reason that the parking spaces are not used in garage is because people who park on the side streets are walking to the mall.
Peter Crawley, 88 Thorndike Street, stated that is good to live near the mall and that New England Development is a good corporate citizen. As a resident he does not understand the rational for granting a large public entitlement valued in the neighborhood at $90 to $100 million this level of square footage to a mature property that does not need a public subsidy. He stated that if the City wanted to encourage development in a blighted area of the City by offering zoning bonuses this makes sense, but East Cambridge is not starving for new development. He added that the First Street area in East Cambridge is limited infrastructure capacity including narrow streets, limited river crossings over to Boston for cars, pedestrians and bikes, overburdened street parking. He stated that as First Street is revitalized are four towers the best planning solution. He spoke about human scale buildings supported on the west side of First Street. The buildings built have stayed under the 85-foot height limit. He stated that the high towers on First Street will create a canyon effect. He wanted the developer to address the shadows. If the Sears tower, including the mechanicals, goes to 120 feet and the mid-block goes to 170 feet there will be a lot of shadows. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT G).
Shevin Kampala, 4 Canal Park, spoke about the issues of the height. He stated that the individuals in support of this project are either a construction worker, carpenter or have a stake in this project. The traffic is a big issue; there are narrow streets. By making First Street nicer you are destroying Canal Park, a place where people gather. He stated that there are tall buildings in North Point and many of those apartments are empty. He does see the need for the adding more buildings but not for destroying Canal Park to have a little nicer First Street. He commented that First Street is narrow. He spoke about the shadows; traffic and the height are excessive. There was reason for an 85-foot limit for the PUD 4. He stated that it is not right to change the whole neighborhood structure. He added that there is no view of the Canal with the tall buildings.
Ilan Levy, 148 Spring Street, stated that if there is one tower, a way to make it fit in better is to build more towers. This is what has been done in Kendall Square. This will be brought into the neighborhood and the Sullivan Court House will melt into the other big buildings and the neighborhood will disappear. He spoke about Eversource and 625,000 square feet Eversource near the Kennedy Longfellow School because there is no holistic planning. He stated that Gore Street was dug up because the City does not do planning and Eversource is on the site of the Kennedy Longfellow School. He suggested that the City start doing planning. He stated that the City Council does not feel offended that Eversource is next door to the Kennedy Longfellow School which housing our most vulnerable children, and nothing happens; there is total silence. He stated that the City gets 625,000 square feet for not planning. He wanted the City to do holistic planning and be reasonable. He stated that the City is asking New England Development to do a parking study when the City is doing a parking study at the same time. He asked how this redundancy is reasonable. Why should the same thing be paid for twice? There is a real problem with not planning.
Alan Green, 82 Fifth Street, read from a letter sent by the East Cambridge Planning Team letter as follows: “CambridgeSide/NED has been an outstanding neighbor and an integral part of East Cambridge for 30 years. We understand that the mall is facing challenges from the new retailing environment. However, we reject the PUD-8 zoning petition as written for the reasons mentioned herein but look forward to working with the highly respected New England Development team to develop a petition to meet the needs of NED and the East Cambridge neighborhood.” Mr. Green stated that speaking for himself and stated that he was at the presentation for the First Street Project given by Mr. Manfredi and thought the First Street plan was a nice plan. He stated that the problem he has is that this is too high and seems to be baked into a bigger picture of neglect for residents, foresight and poor planning at the urban level. He stated that the Lechmere Canal is one of the nicest places in East Cambridge and with the proposed building heights there will be shadows and the wind displacement is a concern. He stated that the only public benefit he sees is the opening on First Street that will give direct access to the mall. He wanted the retail on outside of First Street and offices on the inside. He stated that he is opposed to the lab space close to the neighborhood particularly in the Sears Building.
Chris Matthew, 26 Sixth Street, stated that he loves the Galleria and it is an asset in the neighborhood and needs to survive in the long run. He stated that this is a good project. He stated that 600,000 square feet of up zoning this is worth $100 million. The public benefits that mitigate the $100 million gift this can be created in thin air with up zoning; it does not exist today and will exist if the up zoning moves forward. He stated that he did not think that the public benefits are commensurate with the gift. He stated that First Street has never been considered as a street and not one of the planning studies done of East Cambridge over the last 20-30 years has looked at First Street. He added that First Street is about to be the main connector between Lechmere and Kendall which is the preeminent life sciences research hub on the planet. He stated that there will be a huge disaster on the other side of First Street with the First Street garage and the Sullivan Court House. He stated that someone needs to look at this area that includes urban design and economic development.
On a motion by Councillor Toomey public comment was closed at 7:41pm.
Councillor Toomey stated that this is the beginning of many hearings on this issue. The open space, heights, mitigation and lab space are the concerns. He stated that he is glad to see the access to the river. He spoke about the traffic impacts. He stated that Land Boulevard and Monsignor O’Brien is awful. He stated that as part of the mitigation from the canal behind the Museum of Science similar to the boardwalk that connects First Street to Fifth Street would be a good thing. He stated that open space is huge and behind the Sonesta is dead space; the trees are gone. He stated that as part of the mitigation he suggested planting trees and sprucing the area up. He wanted more public access to the Gatehouse Park and activity on this space. He spoke of an area where this no public access. Mr. Karp stated that along the canal you can go underneath Land Boulevard to get over to the Museum of Science. Councillor Toomey spoke about widening First Street and having outdoor seating for restaurants and bringing activity outside. He stated that this stretch is barren in front of the mall. He spoke about the concerns of the public on this petition and looks to having more discussion to make this a better project for all.
Mayor McGovern stated that this is a refreshing Ordinance Committee hearing in terms of conversation on the project. There is respect for the petitioner and reasonable concerns and questions have been raised and this will get this to a good place. This can be better. He thanked Mr. Karp for his commitment to the community. He would like to consider the housing component; it could be better and needs to do better on this. This helps the retail component. He stated that he shares the lab use concerns. He spoke about the financial picture; if height is lowered it impacts the finances of the project and labs taken out impacts the project and cutting density to create more green space impacts the project. The lack of affordable non-profit space is a concern and he wanted this looked at for the commercial space and that it is affordable. He stated that enlivening First Street and bringing retail down to the first floor, but the concern is the type of retail and creating smaller storefronts that are cheaper to rent and to work with the City’s Economic Development Department to support local minority owned businesses.
Councillor Zondervan suggested having shared space and a non-profit rate. It is a great project, but the concerns raised need to be considered. He wanted all buildings to be net zero, more housing and more affordable and consider making it all affordable. He stated that he wanted clarity on the pedestrian and bike improvements and has concern about the in and out trust movement. He stated that labs on First Street is not a good location, maybe on the Macy site. The heights are a challenge and the parking analysis is accurate and it will be shown that parking will continue to decline as the modes of transportation change. He spoke about valuation of $100 million for 625,000 square feet. This is $180 a foot and this is low. Mr. Karp stated that he was confused with the number and he stated that he would need to do some analysis and come back to the City Council to present the findings to evaluate the accuracy.
Vice Mayor Devereux appreciated New England Development being a good partner and all agreed that First Street needs help and a holistic end-to-end plan, that the mall business has changed and needs to be reformatted. She stated that the discussions will be around the bargain. She stated that these up-zonings seem to be the City Council entering bargains with various entities and it is becoming difficult for the City Council to know what the value is and what is being given up and what is received in exchange, the community benefits and the relative heights are issues for active negotiation. She stated that this does set a precedent, just ask and then this becomes a bargaining issue. She asked at what point is zoning just zoning; this is starting to feel like a bargaining trend. She stated that she looks at the whole amount of development on both PUDs, even though one site, and less that 10% of the total square footage would be housing and this amount is inadequate, and the housing needs to be increased. The existing open space is adequate and are being compromised by buildings with shadows or wind that make the existing open space less usable or desirable. She stated that the largest building is going on Land Boulevard and is a pedestrian nightmare and is unsafe. She stated that the bike and pedestrian connections are sending individuals over to McGrath Highway and Land Boulevard which are not safe. She stated that creating one segment of a bike path is not going to help. She has concerns with the remain retail and what it will be in terms of how affordable it will be. She stated that CambridgeSide Galleria is a neighborhood serving mall and this factor is appreciated by residents. She hopes this will stay this way and not become a mall such as Copley Square.
Councillor Carlone in fairness he stated that the arcade counts as open space. He stated that this became a condition that it be on access where it is and since there was not 20% open space this filled up the balance. He stated that Charles Park, most was owned by New England Development and the Sonesta and Rivercourt. He stated that Charles Park was a condition of the PUD. The orientation to the Canal Park was also a condition. The City was never happy with First Street and the rationale was that New England Development did something unique at the arcade. CambridgeSide Place that goes through Charles Street was not there, but it was condition. The rational to redesign this and make it stronger it is the amount necessary to substantiate this. He spoke about parking and the traffic study is needed. He stated that there will be 1,500 office/lab tenants and will not make a difference on the retail mall. A cycle track for 2 blocks and hell on wheels is questionable. He added that this is not part of the Bike Plan.
This building has been approved to be a mixed use building with office on the third floor. We need to understand how much retail there will be. Retail is being reduced and he wanted this broken down and wanted to see the retail numbers for First Street. He stated that if buildings will be setback he wanted the front of the Sears Building and all three pieces done in moderation. He asked how tall is enough. He stated that retail is an important entity and to give an up-zone the City Council needs more concrete information. He asked if the retail being subsidized by the lab/offices and will the retail costs be less. The Macy tower from Charles Park presentation was not seen by City Council and should be seen because it shows how large this is on the park. He spoke about the official guidelines talks about human scale architecture along public open space. He stated that concerns about labs, height and doubling the allowed height for the tallest building. There is a lot of questions about this petition. He appreciates the character of the buildings as presented. The East Cambridge Riverfront was to be sympathetic to the East Cambridge neighborhood.
Councillor Siddiqui stated that the housing is not enough she wanted to see more. She stated that the City is in a housing crisis and she wanted this cash cow associated with as much housing as possible. She added to the mitigation community and conference space for groups would be helpful. She spoke about affordable childcare space. She stated that what is missing from the Galleria is entertainment.
Councillor Mallon stated that she only goes to Assembly Row to go to the movies. She asked what the draw will be to bring people into the mall. There is consensus on what is liked about the plan. She stated that the height is the major issue. She stated that housing was 120 units and 20% of this is 24 and for families sized units it is less. She stated that for 625000 extra square feet to only get 20 units of affordable housing while there is a housing crisis is not enough and she urged the petitioners to go back to the drawing board on this. She supported shared office space and affordable non-profit and affordable offices space in general for startups. She added that upgrading the open space would be a community benefit. She is excited about revitalizing First Street, but it needs to be done in a thoughtful way.
Councillor Carlone stated that sales are down at Assembly Row. It is too early to discuss community benefits. He stated that East Cambridge plan had a public dock in front of Front Park.
Councillor Kelley moved to keep this in committee and the motion carried.
Councillor Kelley and Councillor Carlone thanked all those present for their attendance.
The following communications were received and made part of the report:
A communication and addendum received from Charles Hinds, President, East Cambridge Planning Team in opposition to the zoning petition and to put the public benefit into perspective (ATTACHMENTS H-1 and H-2).
A communication received from Jose Rose, Spring Street, in opposition to the New England Development up-zoning petition for CambridgeSide (ATTACHMENT I).
A communication received from Tony Laing, Owner, Shabu and Mein, 148 First Street, in support of the petition (ATTACHMENT J).
A communication received from Fabrizio Gentili, 72 Sciarappa Street, in favor of the zoning petition but expressing concerns of height, winds, shadows, traffic, lab space and a transportation study and suggestions for mitigation (ATTACHMENT K).
A communication received from Laura Mitas Cardoos, General Manager, Regatta Riverview Condominium Association, Inc., 8-12 Museum Way, in support of the petition (ATTACHMENT L).
A communication was received from Chris Chou, 6 Canal Park, in support of the petition (ATTACHMENT M).
The hearing adjourned at 8:18pm.
For the Committee,
Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair
Councillor Craig Kelley, Co-Chair
Committee Report #2
The Transportation & Public Utilities Committee held a public hearing on Apr 3, 2019, at 1:03pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss Applications and Petitions # 4 of Mar 4, 2019, submitted by the Cambridge Taxi Drivers Owners Association on whether additional regulations on Transit Network Companies (TNC) could be implemented in Cambridge (ATTACHMENT A).
Present at the hearing were Vice Mayor Devereux, Chair of the Committee; Councillor Carlone; Councillor Kelley; Councillor Mallon; Councillor Zondervan; Councillor Siddiqui; Mayor McGovern; City Manager Louis DePasquale; Deputy City Manager Lisa Peterson; Traffic, Parking and Transportation Director Joe Barr; Police Commissioner Branville Bard; Deputy Superintendent of Police Jack Albert; License Commission Chair Nicole Murati Ferrer; Nancy Glowa, City Solicitor; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were petitioners Nelson Hernandez, Mohannad Mallak and Baldwinder Gill, Cambridge Taxi Drivers and Owners Association; Kuldip Singh, 11 Florence Street; Piara Pabla, 34 Flint Street, Somerville; Gurdip Singh, 8 Albany Street, Woburn; Walid Nakhoul, 12 Tyler Avenue, Methuen; Mahmood, 162 Alewife Book Parkway; Dave Shirzay; Tarlchu Walhid; Dhan Patraz; Bassam Deeb; Simon Yasmine; Mouatussem Elawad, 205 Geneva Avenue, Dorchester; Jouk Blemur, 442 Appleton Street; Oles Berleus, 28 Cameron Avenue; Issam Dib, 3 Hawks Ridge; Gurdeep Pabla, 3 O’Connor Lane; Yahia Ali, 18 Pond Street; Pose Osark; Mark; Richard A. Joannephs; Rene Flerime, Cab # 44, 146 Glendale Avenue; Gesson GrandPierre; French Rene, Cab #241; Lue Guerre, Cab #235; Serge Dorcelus, Cab #90; Linda Garafolo; and Jenel Cherilus.
Vice Mayor Devereux convened the hearing and explained the purpose. She announced that the hearing was being audio and video recorded. She stated that there is an agenda (ATTACHMENT B).
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that receiving this petition was the impetus for holding this hearing, so that we can have a public conversation on where the taxi industry in Cambridge stands in 2019 and discuss the TNC regulations and fees that are being collected by the state, some of which can help Cambridge and some of which are reserved to help the taxi industry. Holding a public hearing will give the taxi owners and drivers an opportunity to update the City on their situation and to discuss with the City staff what options are available. She noted that this petition was triggered by a response to an Awaiting Report filed on Feb 11, 2019 (ATTACHMENT C). With competing demands for curb space for bike lanes, loading zones, truck deliveries, taxi stands and other needs, the City needs to rethink the allocation of curb space to meet its Vision Zero goals. The City needs to allow people to do pick-ups, drop-offs and deliveries in a safe, predictable manner. She stated that the City was working with the TNCs to designate pick-up and drop-off zones that would be integrated into their various mobile apps in an effort to manage where they stop so that they are not stopping in the middle of the street in Harvard Square or elsewhere blocking traffic. She stated that there have been changes to the state law and that it is now a violation to block a bike lane. A ticket is now given to the operator.
The City Council is reviewing the possibility of submitting a Home Rule petition to the State Legislature to increase the fine for blocking bike lanes and loading zones. She stated that there are impact fees from the 2016 state law pertaining to the TNCs, a portion of which is dedicated to helping the taxi industry, but she does not know if these fees have been paid out yet. She noted that the public has become more aware that the TNCs pose some externalities by increasing the number of vehicle miles traveled and congestion on the streets. It is good time to stand back to see what the City wants to see in the future. She spoke about Uber's recent initial public offering and the immediate drop in its stock price and the company’s uncertain path to profitability. She noted that this is an interesting moment in the transportation industry, with an anticipated rise in prices of TNCs and few taxis left to offer more stable, affordable rides if/when that happens. She wanted to give all an opportunity to share their perspective. Introductions were made. Vice Mayor Devereux invited the representatives from the Cambridge Taxi Drivers and Owners Association to come forward.
Mr. Hernandez, President, Cambridge Taxi Drivers and Owners Association, stated that taxis licensed by the City of Cambridge have served the residents and visitors of the City for many years. He stated that taxis have and continue to provide safe and efficient transportation based on metered fares set by the City of Cambridge. He stated that this is a regulated industry. He stated that the small medallion owners and drivers are facing financial disaster today. He stated that with the arrival of the TNCs the regulated taxi industry has begun to crumble due its inability to compete on an unlevel playing field shared by the taxi industry and the TNCs. He noted that today the taxi industry is in crisis. He spoke about the sharp drop in the value the medallions, which had sold for over $600,000 and are now at Auction for as low as of $13,000 with few buyers interested even at such a low price. He explained that many owners took out large loans to purchase medallions, and now some are losing their homes or are going bankrupt.
He stated that there are 257 licensed medallions in the City and only one-third are working. He stated that there are 180,000 TNCs registered in the Commonwealth and 70,000 are from out of state. He urged the City not to discount the importance of the rules regarding hiring and the regulations that were created years ago to address the congestion and the safety in the City. He stated that regulations should not be relaxed to allow an unlimited number of TNCs on City roads especially those without the appropriate markings on their vehicles and without commercial insurance. He stated that taxi stands are still needed for the remaining fleet, and the laws need to be enforced. He added that the industry needs support. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT D).
Balwinder Gill, 41 Malden Street, stated that in all the City squares, Uber and Lyft cars are seen lining up. He stated that a survey indicated that the traffic has been increased by 43% with the TNCs. He added that TNCs are affecting the lives and professions of the residents. He stated that TNC numbers need to be capped and controlled by the City. He stated that the population in New York City is over six million and New York only allows 80,000 TNC vehicles on the roads. In the Boston area, with a population of about one million, there are more than 180,000 TNCs on the roads. There is gridlock on the streets with TNCs. The vehicles should be marked for safety reasons. He spoke about incidents of women being kidnapped, raped or murdered by Uber drivers or men who posed as Uber drivers. Regulating the TNCs properly needs to be taken seriously. He stated that Cambridge medallion owners are facing extremely tough times and may disappear from the City in a year. He stated that taxi owners need financial help immediately and also need help through regulations. He asked the City to not allow the TNC vehicles to use the taxi stands.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked for comments from the License Commission. License Commission Chair Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that the law regulating TNCs is a state law and so it’s very hard for the City to meet some of the taxi owners demands. She stated that the number of TNC vehicles cannot be controlled by the City as in New York because the City does not have that authority from the Commonwealth. She explained that prior to enacting the state law, the License Commission attempted to fine TNC drivers for not using meters. This case was won but was overturned and now the City cannot do anything regarding TNCs until changes are made by the legislature. She stated that in terms of hackney licenses, the License Commission whittled down the rules from 63 pages to 13 pages in 2017 and eliminated archaic regulations that were limiting the medallion holders and the drivers. These rule changes were made to try to help taxis run their business in a better way, giving them flexibility to join TNCs if they wanted to, and to join apps that allow them to hail fares, such as CabFare. She stated that the ordinance is strict, and drivers are required to be able to read English. She stated that Cambridge has 257 currently issued medallions and 143 have been renewed. She stated that she has learned that 95 medallions are off the road, with more expected, but the License Commission will not know for sure until license renewals end next Friday (Apr 12). The cab stands are under the authority of Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department.
Mr. Barr of Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department distributed a Cambridge taxi stand map (ATTACHMENT E). The stands are located near or adjacent to hotels and in the Squares and are fairly geographically concentrated. These taxi stands are a street regulation that we implement. There is a huge demand for curb space in the City, and increased demand with more deliveries from online vendors as well as TNCs. They all compete for limited curb space. He stated that the traditional models for curb regulation and enforcement are not necessarily either legally or operationally able to keep up with the demand. He stated that the City is looking at how it can allocate its curb space in the future. It’s clear that for the foreseeable future there is a need for space for taxis at the curb that people are able to find easily. Having locations for taxis is an equity issue, given that TNCs are not serving everyone’s needs and accessible to all. He stated that recently his department has heard from the taxi industry that they need areas to stand that aren’t necessarily for immediate pickups but are places with room for more taxis to be parked while they are waiting for customers, as the industry has changed and there is more time spent waiting. Cambridge does not have for-hire vehicle waiting areas like NYC does. The City wants to work to continue to support the taxi industry. He stated that the TNCs have had an impact on the taxi industry. The City is trying to find the balance with curb space for all users, but he thinks it’s best to keep the taxi stands as we have them now. He spoke about $3 million that has been collected by Mass Development through the $.05 TNC surcharge intended to be aimed at helping the taxi, livery and vehicle-for-hire industry. The state has not spent what it has collected for that purpose yet. There is a role for the City Council and others to help lobby for that funding to be spent in a more effective way to help the taxi industry. He stated that MAPC is doing a study, but this does not immediately help the taxi industry to survive and recover.
Vice Mayor Devereux spoke about the article in The Globe, written by Scott Kirsner who follows the innovation economy. His article pointed out that of the $.20 fee that the state law requires be paid for each TNC ride, $.05 is earmarked to help the taxi industry, but none has been distributed because the first thing that Mass Development did was to commission a study from MAPC for $49,000, and it is unknown at what stage the study is at. Mr. Barr stated that he could find out more about the status of the study.
Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that when the License Commission changed the taxi regulations in 2017 they met with the stakeholders. One of the regulations they eliminated in this process was the “lapse rule,” which is the procedure for unused medallions. The License Commission stated that no new medallions would be issued, nor would they take away any lapsed medallions, because the medallion holders were trying to negotiate with banks to try to get those medallions back on the road. She stated that the renewal fees have also been waived in an attempt to help the taxi industry, though she knows it’s not a huge help in the grand scheme of things, but it’s one way they can help them. Vice Mayor Devereux stated that she noticed that the requirement that the taxi vehicle be no more than five years old was eliminated. Ms. Murati Ferrer explained that formerly once the vehicle was five years old it was considered “vintage,” and the driver needed special approval from the License Commission to keep the vehicle on the road. This requirement was eliminated. She further stated that in terms of the drivers’ driving history, there used to be a limit of four moving violations for each seven years and that was reduced to four moving violations per four years.
Deputy Police Superintendent Albert spoke about the frustrating behavior of the TNCs, which often are seen blocking bike lanes and streets. He stated that between the License Commission and Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and the State Legislature now there are tools to enforce bike lane obstructions with a citation to drivers. Before the state law changed, many of the drivers would just accept a parking ticket as the cost of doing business, because the expense was passed on to the TNC company. He stated that Cambridge traffic officers are now issuing citations to the driver in an attempt to deter drivers from blocking bike lanes. He stated that now drivers think twice about where they are parking their vehicle, because they know they may be cited. He stated that Commissioner Bard ensured that sufficient police personnel have been deployed to Central and Harvard Squares to make sure that the cab stands are kept clear of TNC vehicles.
Councillor Carlone asked Deputy Superintendent Albert how many staff are working the streets to enforce these issues. Deputy Superintendent Albert stated that most of the police officers have been trained in the new laws and policies, there is an officer assigned to the License Commission who works with the staff on any issue that comes their way. He stated that there are sufficient officers on the street to address the issues. Councillor Carlone asked how many police are in the traffic unit. Deputy Superintendent Albert stated that there are 21 officers in the traffic unit and two supervisors. Councillor Carlone asked whether 21 officers are the still the realistic number for addressing the issue. Deputy Superintendent Albert responded that it is a good number to be able to enforce the issue and gives them flexibility. Sometimes by the time the police arrive after receiving a report of a blocked bike lane, the vehicle is already gone. Oftentimes, an officer goes through Harvard Square or Central Square to clear the bike lanes and taxi stands, and once the officer has left, TNCs or people going into the small businesses circle back around and park there again. Commissioner Bard stated that the 21 officers and two supervisors represent a high watermark in staffing levels in recent years.
Councillor Mallon noted that these are two separate conversations. One is about curb allocation. She stated that the bigger conversation is about the havoc and the traffic congestion being created in the City by the TNC industry. This is creating a crisis for the taxi drivers and owners. These are families, and this is affecting their livelihood. She spoke about the $3.2 million of state funding that is not being immediately expended because they chose to conduct a study. She asked what the City has done with the $680,000 in fees that was directed for City use in 2018.
Mr. Barr stated that the 2017 funds, which were received in June of 2018, have been put toward the Inman Square intersection safely improvements project, which is viewed as addressing the impacts of TNCs on safety by creating protected bike lanes. He explained that the language in the state law earmarked funds for cities to address the impact on our transportation infrastructure from TNCs, whether that means additional wear and tear on roads, or stopping illegally in bike lanes. He stated that putting in separated bike lanes is viewed as an appropriate use of the funding. He stated that it is unknown what the funding for 2018 will be and it is possible that it may be a slightly higher allocation than in the prior year. It has not yet been determined how those funds will be expended. Councillor Mallon stated that theoretically we will find out in June what this amount is. She stated that there is a list that the taxi drivers and owners have requested the City’s help with and some of it has to do with funding. She stated that there are ways that the taxi industry can be financially supported, for instance with a universal citywide e-hailing application or a new logo for the exterior of the cabs, and these measures should be considered. Mr. Barr stated that he cannot interpret what the state law allows and would seek guidance from the City Solicitor on how the funding can and should be spent. He explained that there is no feedback from DPU on the City’s expenditure for last year. All municipalities that receives funding must submit a report by the end of the calendar year as to how the funding was spent. The information on what other cities and towns across the Commonwealth have used their funding for has not yet been released, but that would be good information to consider once it’s available.
Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that the City Manager has been meeting with the taxi owners on their list of requests. She stated that the City Solicitor is looking at ways to help the taxi industry regarding the $.10 per ride that goes to the City. She stated that regarding the app, in New York it is a pilot program and only 7% of the New York City fleet are using the app. She does not think it will be approved in MA and there are many hurdles with the app owner and tying the predicted fare price to the metered rate. She spoke about whether there is an app that can be tied to meters and approved by Massachusetts Weights and Measures that is being reviewed. She stated that there has been conversation with the drivers about what the logo would be and stated that that is doable. Councillor Mallon stated that she is glad that this is being worked on. She wanted the City Solicitor to provide report on what the funding can be used for. Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that the problem is not in developing the app; it is who would be implementing and maintaining the app that is the issue.
Mr. Hernandez stated that he is hearing that the 2017 funds were already spent on Inman Square. He asked how this is helping the taxi industry because there was a cab stand there before, which has now been replaced by metered parking. Vice Mayor Devereux spoke about the funds that went to Inman Square. She stated that it was her understanding that of the total $.20 per ride fee, $.10 went to the City, which is allowed to use it on improvements for safety, such as those described by Mr. Barr. She stated that $.05 per ride statewide is supposed to be directed to help the taxi industry and this funding is currently under study. City Solicitor Glowa stated that the statute clearly provides that these funds can be used by the state to support the taxi industry to support the taxi industry. As for the funding that the City has control over, the City Solicitor’s office is still looking into how the City can use it. She noted that even if the City could use the funding to support the taxi industry it would have to be for a public purpose and it would not be something that just could just provide funds or new cars to taxi owners. These are the issues that are still being reviewed. Mr. Hernandez asked if the 2017 funds were spent. Mr. Barr stated that the 2017 funds have been appropriated for the Inman Square project. It is based on the City’s understanding of the law and is fully in line with the expected use of the funds is. Mr. Hernandez expressed dismay that the money was spent on the City and not on the taxi industry.
Mr. Barr responded that the funding that the City receives is intended to address the impacts of the TNC industry on the City’s infrastructure. He stated that the $.05 that the Mass Development Finance Agency receives is specifically intended to address the impact of the TNC industry on the taxi and the broader for-hire vehicle industry. He stated that the City is looking into whether there are ways that the City’s funding can be used to support the taxi industry but the way that the law is written it is not the direct intent and may not be a potential allowable use of some of the funds. Mr. Hernandez stated that it seems to him the City can use the funding any way they want, as long as it is good for the City, and it does not matter what happens to the cab industry, because the TNCs are going to do whatever they want anyway and are creating traffic congestion all over the City. He stated that the taxis did not create this traffic and this funding is being used to fix the traffic for the City of Cambridge and not to help the taxi industry. He stated that the he believed the funding should be used in a different way.
Mayor McGovern spoke about the app and taxi stands. He stated that he often sees individuals getting into TNCs in front of the taxi stands with a taxi standing right there. He stated that this is about convenience; it is convenient to use an app and have the ride charged to your credit card and have the vehicle come get you wherever you are. He stated that because there are more TNCs on the road than taxis, the vehicle pick-up is quicker. He added that in other states, city cabs have apps advertised on the vehicles; clearly, it’s being done in other places and it works. This is the biggest issue to help taxis. You need to make it as convenient to use a taxi as it is to use a TNC. He stated that enforcement is tough with TNCs. Whether you like TNCs or not, they are incredibly convenient, and that’s why so many people use them. He commented that the taxi industry has a responsibility in this situation as well; the City cannot do everything for the taxi industry. The taxi industry has to make an investment in innovation for their survival.
Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that there is a CabFare app available for use in Cambridge. She stated that the License Commission brought in the medallion owners and the hailing app was introduced to the taxi industry. Information about CabFare was provided to the hotels in the city. This app can be used to hail a cab and pay for the ride, but currently there is not available an app that does what the Uber, Lyft and other TNC apps do, which is the price prediction (setting the fare at the time the TNC is summoned). Mayor McGovern stated that this needs to be publicized more, because he does not see the app or phone number advertised on the taxicabs. He asked whose job is it to promote this app — the City or the cab industry. Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that the License Commission did not make the app mandatory, so maybe that’s why the promotion is not as big as in other cities. She explained that when this was presented to the cab industry not all were on board with it. She stated that the feedback received by the License Commission from the taxi industry was that the License Commission had been so restrictive that they were not able to develop their own businesses, so the app was presented as an option, not an additional requirement. Mr. Hernandez stated that CabFare came in and did a promotion; it went in and out right away, because it was charge-based app and not a booking app. It will only be useful if it is a booking app, similar to the app used by the TNCs. He stated that the industry is looking into the Waave app, which is similar to Uber, but the industry needs to see if it can get it going in Cambridge and he wanted to see if this works. He added that CabFare does not work and is not being used here. They’re hoping to get a pilot started for Waave, which will give customers a flat rate based on time and distance, with up-front pricing. This is what the industry needs to compete. He stated that ten years ago there was a committee with taxi industry, police and hotels. This committee was trying to promote cabs, but in the past five or six years, this committee stopped meeting, which is why we’re here now seeing what we can do.
Councillor Zondervan spoke about an app advertised on all the Boston city cabs, Curb. He stated that he does not think that creating a good app is the problem here. He asked if existing taxis have joined TNCs. Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that taxis can operate as a TNC. Councillor Zondervan stated that the apps are available to taxi drivers and they can join them if they want, so that’s not the problem. One of the problems is that the TNCs are underpricing the taxi industry. He noted that this is an injustice, but its unfortunately how business disruption works, and the City cannot prevent this. He stated that to address the problem, the issue of pricing needs to be discussed. He suggested considering congestion pricing, which would also reduce the number of cars on the road. He wanted the City to think about doing this. He wanted to incentivize electric vehicles being used as taxis, and maybe there is a way to figure out a loan program or some other incentive program that would allow the taxi industry to take advantage of the state funding for EVs. He commented that the taxi industry needs to evolve in order to survive. He stated that TNCs are idling in parking spaces and enforcement needs to be deployed to stop this. He spoke about allowing the public to report violations via photographs taken with their phones; the photos would be reviewed by a police officer and a ticket issued, so we’re not as limited by the number of police enforcement we can put on the street.
Councillor Kelley spoke about the need for state approval requiring the TNC vehicles to be labeled. He stated that this could change the safety prognosis. Right now, the City has the authority to perform enforcement efforts. He cannot find parking violation data since 2017 and the data show that taxi stand enforcement has decreased dramatically since 2014. To be fair to taxis, enforcement of TNCs idling in parking spots waiting for fares can be done now.
Vice Mayor Devereux opened public comment at 1:59pm.
Kuldip Singh, 11 Florence Street, stated that he has been a driver for 24 years and got his first hackney license from the City of Cambridge. He spoke about how hard it is to make a living with all the TNC vehicles on the road. He noted that it has been stated that TNCs are more reliable and convenient. He stated that with this statement he feels that the City favors the TNCs too much. He commented that the TNCs have no regulations and taxis have many rules and regulations. He stated that taxi drivers must have a hackney license, attend hackney school and purchase medallions. He feels that taxis and medallions are not needed anymore. He stated let the TNC keep running as they are, but the City should then buy back all the medallions and let TNCs work. He said we can’t hang in between, following all the rules when TNCs have no rules. He stated that he can sign up today to be a TNC driver and drive today with his personal car and he does not need a medallion, a hackney license or $7,000 per year in insurance. The medallion value has plummeted to $13,000 from a previous average of $600,000. He stated that previously it was requested that the TNCs be banned from the hotels and nothing has been done about this. If the TNCs were banned, taxis could wait near the hotels and be available and the drivers could make a living.
Walid Nakhoul, 12 Tyler Avenue, Methuen, stated that he is the owner of Cambridge Checker Cab. He stated that he owns 24 medallions and put all his family’s investment into the company and now he is losing everything. The cab stands are not big enough to hold all the taxis that park at the stands, because they now are used so infrequently. There will be no room for the TNCs because the taxis cannot move. He agreed with the Mayor’s Office sign that climate change is real and asked what the City is doing about this with all the additional cars on the road idling. The City is allowing TNCs idling and polluting and he hopes that this statement about climate change is not just for political purposes. He spoke about the state allocation of the funds to the City. He stated that the state does not give money to the taxi industry. It is the City’s responsibility to help the taxi industry by allocating money to help. The state rules stipulate that TNCs cannot pick up within 50 feet of taxi stands and he does not know why they would be allowed to pick up passengers at the stands. The City is giving jobs to the TNC drivers and removing jobs for taxi drivers. He wanted permanent decals on Uber and Lyft vehicles, because it is dangerous for customers who might get in the wrong car.
Mahmood, 162 Alewife Brook Parkway, owner of one taxi, spoke about laws that should be enforced. He stated that the portraits around the Sullivan Chamber are people who supported the law. Chaos cannot be tolerated; everything is regulated and under the law. He stated that the state funding should not be donated to the City of Cambridge; the funding is being stolen from the people. He spoke about rules and regulations. He stated that the City is responsible for enforcing the laws. Dave Shirzay spoke about the TNCs. He asked who will guarantee the reduction in traffic. How can 180,000 TNC vehicles be accommodated in this area? He stated that the TNCs got their permission from the state. He stated that he cannot personally go talk to Governor Charlie Baker. He stated that the Governor would more likely listen to the Mayor and City Council. He stated that all the drivers here at the hearing are not being paid for their time here, because they are off the road. He spoke about the debt of the taxi drivers. He praised the work of the City staff. He stated that the TNCs can give their app to the taxi industry; this can be a solution. He suggested as another solution instead of a taxi plate the taxi drivers be given a livery plate so that it will lower the taxi drivers’ auto insurance.
Jock Blemur, 442 Upton Street, Cab 183, stated that the “fat lady is singing" for the taxi industry. He commented that there is no taxi industry anymore. He stated that he has received a letter from the lawyer representing the bank about surrendering their medallion. This action should have been done years ago. He stated that the taxi committee that he attended now does not exist. He stated that the state of the industry is unknown. The taxi drivers have no resources or no one to turn to. He stated that taxi drivers had taxi stands at MIT and at Cambridge Hospital, which have been removed. He stated that during graduation at MIT there is no taxi stand to pick up customers. He wanted to know if Cambridge intends to do something for the taxi industry because the taxis cannot compete with Uber and Lyft with their prices.
Mohannad Mallak spoke about the app and the $.10 fee. He stated that the industry is working on buying hybrid cars and most of the taxi drivers agreed to pay $3,500 and the City will come up with the rest including funding from the TNCs from the state. He stated that this will help the industry to stay in business and it is good for the environment. He stated that a national app is needed. He stated that the previous app went out of business in 2-3 days and it was not a booking app, so it did not meet the needs of customers. He stated that it was necessary to have an app that calculated the price up front. He stated that 60% of taxi business is from businesses in Cambridge, not residents. He stated that the most important thing for the TNCs is to put decals on the vehicles to identify vehicles that commit crimes. He stated that out of state TNC drivers come to MA and work weekends because they cannot work where they live.
OJQ, who drives cab 76, stated that he wanted to thank anyone who was involved in providing services to people and taxi drivers in Cambridge. He went to church recently and parked his vehicle and when he returned to his vehicle he was told not to park his car here again because he was too close to the crosswalk. The man who told him this said that the United States is a land of justice. He asked whether the Council believes the United States is truly a land of justice. It is frustrating to him when he waits in front of a hotel for hours and he is unable to work. He sees license plates from anywhere in the country being allowed to work, when he, as a resident of Massachusetts, cannot work. Is that part of the justice?
Jenel Cherilus, stated that this is a critical moment for the taxi industry. He stated that he has been an owner-operator in Cambridge for thirty years. He added that taxi owners are being forced out of business. It is a tough moment for drivers. He stated that the industry cannot compete with Uber because they have no expenses. He wanted to know what the City will do to help the taxi industry, and how they will help drivers with getting and paying for an app and publicizing it.
Donald Williams, owner of Cabs 233 and 97, said his father started in the taxi business in 1972 and raised his family from this business. Mr. Williams started in the business in 1982. He spoke about livery plates. The TNCs do not pay anything. His insurance bill is $13,000. He stated that he has $9.00 in his bank account. In the 1980s he used to be able to pay for his insurance by working one week. He noted that taxi drivers cannot afford their vehicles. He stated that the taxi industry survived the livery plates. He stated that Harvard University brought tour buses to take people to the airport at graduation time for $10. They went out of business because they couldn’t afford the plates and insurance. He stated that the industry cannot survive the TNCs with no relief. This is his livelihood. He stated that families and homes are being ruined. His father fought for the drivers and tried to always help them. He said what we have gone through is crazy.
Vice Mayor Devereux closed public comment at 2:33pm.
Mayor McGovern spoke about the drop in the value of medallions and asked whether the City can purchase the medallions back. City Solicitor Glowa stated that the City does not think they can buy medallions back directly, but the City is exploring other options to help the taxi industry and is in the process of reviewing those options. Mayor McGovern stated that government moves slowly and while the review and studying is going on, people are losing homes. He encouraged the City to move faster on solutions and figure out how to help them. He suggested developing a document about what the City has control over and what it does not. He stated that the City cannot legally stop the TNCs from coming into the City. He stated that the City needs to expend its energy on identifying and implementing what it can do.
Councillor Mallon stated that this is a heartbreaking conversation. She asked if the City can work with the Boston City Council on this because it is a regional issue. She added that it may be stronger if there were Home Rule legislation between the two municipalities to limit TNCs here. She noted that with 6 million people in New York there are only 80,000 TNC vehicles on the road and with 1 million in the greater Boston area there are 180,00 TNC vehicles on the road. She commented that if we had the same percentage as New York City there would be 1,000 vehicles. She asked if the existing Hackney Ordinance could be applied more creatively to require TNC vehicles to be examined and limit the number of TNC examinations per year. She stated that this has reached the level where she does not feel comfortable stating that this is a state level issue and there is nothing that Cambridge can do. There should be a way to get creative and she would like to see the City do it.
Mr. Barr stated that this is a state level regulation passed in 2016 which pretty much removed all local authority other than to enforce the traffic laws the same as for any vehicle. The existing state regulations are ineffective. He stated that the DPU expects the local authority to enforce whether a TNC driver has passed all the background checks and has insurance, but there is no way to communicate this information outside their own agencies, so there is no hope for the police to know whether the driver has insurance. He added that this is a terrible system. The focus should be on lobbying to improve the state TNC regulations. He stated that in the initial round of drafting TNC regulations, the TNCs lobbied for lax regulations and the industry was thought to be an unmitigated good thing. We have since learned that they are not an unmitigated good thing. This is not working the way it was thought it would. He agreed that partnering with Boston on this could be a good strategy.
Councillor Zondervan acknowledged all the emotions in the room and in the public comment and wished there were an easy way to help. He wanted to start with the enforcement of the law. He described a car crash he was involved in with an Uber driver who did not have insurance. He stated that Uber and Lyft vehicles are marked and it’s obvious they are operating in that fashion, and they can be pulled over to see their driver’s license and insurance are valid. He added that the drivers are not employees of Uber and Lyft. He spoke of enforcing the law by making sure that they have a license to operate a business in the City. Even if all the right things are done and the taxi industry is sustained a bit longer, in the future, the taxi industry and people driving for Uber and Lyft are all are facing automation challenges and we will be looking at cars that will drive themselves. Fewer people will be paid to do this work and the bigger picture needs to be reviewed as to how to ensure justice for working people in the City, state and in the country in the face of these technological and employment challenges.
Councillor Kelley stated he was frustrated to kick around ineffectively the idea of a Home Rule petition to deal with this problem. He stated that it is acknowledged that there is a challenge with TNCs and how they are regulated. The City Councillors are not experts in either transportation or drafting home rule petitions and this issue has had very little leadership from City staff and he does not know how this can be changed. He stated that the City needs to work hard to level the TNC playing field. City Manager DePasquale stated that the City has worked with the taxi drivers. There have been meetings with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, the License Commission, and the Law, Police, and Finance Departments. He stated that this is a problem that the City of Cambridge cannot solve on its own. The City can help, and they are committed to helping, however help from the legislature and the statehouse is what is most needed. He stated that the City is restricted under the law as to what the City can fund in this industry. He explained that there are limitations when it comes to how public funds are used. He stated that the City departments are following the lead of the City Council on this to do what they can to help the industry.
Mr. Hernandez asked whether there is extra funding for enforcement by the City for live parking and blocking bike lanes. He does not see officers doing enforcement but does see many officers on details. He asked if there is extra funding for enforcement to be done now. Vice Mayor Devereux stated that this can be discussed during the upcoming budget process and is certainly worth considering. Commissioner Bard stated that the City takes advantage of grant funding specifically designed for extra enforcement, and they regularly engage in extra enforcement. He explained that the idea that the police could stop a vehicle that displays an Uber or Lyft decal is false. The police need reasonable suspicion to stop any vehicle. Councillor Zondervan asked if a driver needs any type of a business license to operate an Uber or Lyft in Cambridge. Ms. Murati Ferrer responded that Uber and Lyft do not need a license to operate and the City cannot require a license. Councillor Zondervan stated that he would strongly question this with the state, because the drivers are either classified as employees or operating their own business, just as with any other industry. He stated that the City can’t pull them over for no reason, but they can certainly find opportunities to check on whether they have proper insurance as a commercial vehicle. Commissioner Bard stated that once a vehicle is stopped for another violation the police can check to make sure the driver has the requisite insurance, but not solely because they are operating as a Lyft or Uber driver.
Councillor Carlone noted everyone in the room is frustrated by this situation. At one time Airbnb rentals were not registered, but with state law changes they are now required to be registered. He suggested working with Somerville, Boston and Brookline (the core cities) to set up some rules that make sense and get better state regulation.
Mr. Gill asked what about the TNCs that drive from New York, New Hampshire and Connecticut to work here, because these vehicles may not have insurance. He asked if they can be checked. Commissioner Bard stated that the same rules apply to those vehicles, irrespective of which state license tag they have. If there is not reasonable suspicion, the vehicle cannot be stopped.
Mr. Hernandez suggested that language be included in the home rule that if a driver does not have a Massachusetts license plate, they cannot pick up a passenger in Massachusetts. Vice Mayor Devereux responded that hypothetically a home rule petition can state anything but whether this would gain any traction in the state legislature is another matter.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that this conversation has no closure. It is devastating to see an industry implode. This industry has independent owners who are small business people. There is no centralized entity that represents the entire taxi industry and brings all the different perspectives into one unified voice. She stated that in contrast, the TNCs are nationwide companies, heavily backed with venture capital money, and have been willing to lose money on discounted fares and promotions, to the detriment of the so-called taxi “industry.” The discounted fares will not last forever because the TNCs are losing money to gain market share. The TNCs will look different in the future than today. This is a fluid market. She spoke about serving the transportation needs of the City. She added that this is an industry intended to further mobility. This is one of many options people have before them, and if we want to have a viable industry that offers rides to people, the City will need to figure out something. The state law has left the City with its hands tied. She does not know what the best path is or the most effective strategy to convey these concerns to the state legislature. The City is working with the taxi industry and she wanted the taxi industry to continue having these regular meetings to work through these issues. She would like to see these meetings formalized, and she would like action to continue and not let these problems just drift. One concrete issue is that there is no longer a taxi stand near MIT. It may have been relocated during the South Massachusetts Avenue improvements. She stated that if there is a way to have a taxi presence at MIT again, it sounds like it would be helpful to the owners and drivers. She stated that an emphasis on enforcement of all cars in the City, whether TNCs, taxis or private vehicles is needed, as vehicles blocking bike lanes is a complaint that is heard every day.
At this time Vice Mayor Devereux submitted the following motion:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the City staff to continue to work with the taxi industry and to work with the City Council on changes to the state law that would help the taxi industry and help the City manage the situation on the street.
Councillor Mallon submitted the following motion:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the City Solicitor to prepare a legal opinion on the use of the 2018 state allotment funding from the TNC fees and whether these fees can be expended to help the taxi industry.
Councillor Carlone stated that if the state receives $.05 per trip and if there were over 6 million trips this equals $340,000, and the state agency, MAPC, is looking into how to spend this. He stated that the City Council could ask to be kept up to date on any studies that are being done by MAPC for Mass Development on how to allocate these funds. He stated that this funding may be able to be used in the research or development of a national app for the taxi industry in response to the need expressed today.
Councillor Zondervan suggested more regular meetings in the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee on this issue as a forum to keep the City Council updated on the progress. Vice Mayor Devereux agreed with this and suggested that after a report comes back on the previous motions the committee could come back together.
The question now came on the two motions - and on a voice vote of six members the motions - Carried.
Vice Mayor Devereux thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 3:03pm.
For the Committee,
Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair
Committee Report #3
The Housing Committee held a public hearing on Wed, Mar 20, 2019 at 5:03pm in the Sullivan Chamber to continue discussions on the Affordable Housing Overlay District.
Present at the hearing were Councillor Simmons, Co-Chair; Councillor Siddiqui, Co-Chair; Vice Mayor Devereux; Councillor Mallon; Councillor Toomey; Mayor McGovern; Councillor Carlone; Councillor Kelley; Councillor Zondervan; Louis DePasquale, City Manager; Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development; Jeff Roberts, Director of Zoning and Development; Chris Cotter, Housing Director; Cassie Arnaud, Housing Project Planner, Community Development Department (CDD); Nancy Glowa, City Solicitor; Neal Alpert; Sarah Stillman; and Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk.
Also present were Michael Johnston, Executive Director, Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA); Peter Daly, Executive Director, Homeowner’s Rehab, Inc. (HRI); William Tibbs, member of the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust; Susan Schlesinger, member of the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust; Bob Woodbury; Dona Brody; Stephen Kaiser; Ed Brody; Wendy Woodfield; Ellin Sarot; Francois Jean Gilles; Ilan Levy; J. Amphlett; A. Porter; O. Patterson; J. Koerner; G. Deford; Anthony Thomas; Stephen Erdman; Tanaya Srini; Aaron Kemp; Derek Kopon; Richard Klibaner; Trudi Goodman; Carol O’Hare; Peter Munkenbeck; Allan Sadun; Charles Franklin; Larry Bluestone; Alex Bob; Gail Charpentier; Alex Boccon-Gibod; Raymond Chicoye; Yemi Kibret; Edwidge L. Hercule; Tanaya Srini; Andrew Schutts; Kelly Dula; Tim Shaw; Elizabeth Gombosi; Fritz Donovan; Chris Makin; Peter Glick; Marilee Meyer; Nichola Williams; Alexandra Markiewicz; J. Starr; E. Pullman; Pebble Gifford; Scott Hannon; Skip Schloming; Nicolai Cauchy; James Zall; Jeff Baxendale; Doug Brown; H. Jackson; Carolyn Shipley; Susan Pittman Lowenthal; Christopher Scovile; Peter Ciurczak; Maura Pensak; Esther Hanig; Kenny Kimora; Matthew Feldman; Sammi Pradavan; Laura Martin; Richard Krushnic; Nels Frye; Dan Eisner; Randa Chattas; Robert Camacho; Adriane Musgrave; Nancy Alach; Burhan Azeem; Paul Rujzik; Natasha Cassamajor; Lauren Cerry; Charles Potove; Ken Kimura; Itsuko Yashiro; Eugenia Schra; Sara Mae Berman; Carol Weinhaus; Hollie Alzee; Justin Gee; Amar Buide; Regina Mouda; Tina Alu; Faye Duxovni; Marisa Prasse; Elena Romanova; Lisa Wexler; Carolyn Fuller; Bill McAvinney; David Sullivan; Arnetta Sheapard; Gamaleldin Mahamed; Rahal M. Farh; Peter L.; Sue Butler; Mary Jo Clark; Suzanne Shaw; Doug Brown; Garrett Quinn; Sean Hope; Phoebe Sinclaire; Curtis Mervin; Margaret Samp; Charles Hinds; Jessica Sheehan; Andrea Simpson; Alina Tomeh; Charles Korn; Craig Nicholson; Ellen Sarot; and Anthony Thomas; Aaron Kemp; Wendy Woodfield.
Councillor Simmons convened the hearing and read from prepared written Opening Remarks (ATTACHMENT A).
Councillor Siddiqui thanked all present for their attendance. She said that the discussion will entail very complex issues and there are many people who have brought up many questions. She noted that this hearing will be constructive for the Committee and staff to further determine how to move forward.
Public Comment began at 5:07pm.
Bob Woodbury, 133 River Street, read statement a prepared written statement in support of the 100% Affordable Housing Overlay District (ATTACHMENT B).
Dena Feldstein Brody, 661 Green Street, read from a prepared written statement asking the Housing committee to address the problems in the proposal before acting on it (ATTACHMENT C).
Steve Kaiser, 191 Hamilton Street, read from a statement of the East Cambridge Planning Team conclusion that asked the Housing Committee to abandon the overlay proposal, restart the process and develop new and more effective ways to create affordable housing. He said that he is in total agreement with that statement. He stated that he submitted to the City Council and City Manager a 17-page report (ATTTACHMENT D) attempting to analyze the affordable housing situation based on the information that he has currently. He said that there is not a final report of the Envision process, draft zoning or definition of what low income, moderate income or middle-income housing is. prepared written statement. He said that there is no financial analysis from the City and it is vital to have that information. He urged the City Manager take over this project and put out a financial analysis and start over again.
Ed Brody, 661 Green Street, read from a prepared written statement regarding the need for a thoughtful and unhurried process around this proposal (ATTACHMENT E). He stated that the City should be very careful to protect its investment from abuse, and support and fund mechanisms for doing so. He said that once residential abutters give up rights now provided by zoning, it would be likely impossible to recover protections once less restrictive as-of-right zoning is in place. He added that it is not clear whether a developer who declines to accept the recommendations of the Planning Board’s review would still be granted a permit if the as-of-right zoning parameters were followed. He said that it would be wise to have a thorough, publicly available, economic study of the subsidy program before implementation.
Wendy Woodfield, 395 Broadway, read from a prepared written statement asking the City Council to vote against the 100% Affordable Housing Overlay District as written because there are too many questions and details that need to be explained (ATTACHMENT F).
Ellen Sarot, 2 Mount Auburn Street, read from a prepared written statement (ATTACHMENT G). She stated that she lives in public housing and is aware of the need for it but should have more without destroying what exists and forcing out residents in order to build new affordable housing. She said that this overlay will hurt Cambridge in many ways.
Ilan Levy, 148 Spring Street, stated that no one that is either for or against this overlay is against affordable housing or people in need of being helped. He said that the proposal does not meet the ambitions that we are trying to achieve. He stated that when the master planning process was started, in the Policy Order was the idea to come out with a comprehensive plan that would include affordable housing, not to have affordable housing as the centerpiece of the outcome without addressing all of the traffic, parking and major issues that are constantly affecting residents. Hs said that he is concerned that we are just talking about affordable housing when what we really need is an equitable solution so that people that live in affordable housing can actually find affordable food. He asked if this has been considered. He asked if the City has planned for the supply of affordability to be available to those residents. He said that he feels that we have not. He said that he heard recently that during a school presentation, they were told that with a 5% increase in the population in the City, the schools would be at full capacity.
Anthony Thomas, 348 Franklin Street, read from a prepared written statement regarding his support of the proposed 100% Affordable Housing Overlay (ATTACHMENT H).
Stephen Erdman, 240 Charles Street and Tanaya Srini, 440 Massachusetts Avenue, read a prepared written statement on behalf of the members of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT who are in full support of the proposed 100% affordable zoning overlay (ATTACHMENT I).
Aaron Kemp stated that he has lived and worked in Cambridge for the past ten years. He stated that he has concerns about the plan that would make housing in Cambridge less affordable for some people. He read from a prepared written statement (ATTACHMENT J).
Derek Kopon, Wright Street, read from a prepared written statement read from a prepared written statement regarding his opposition to the proposed overlay district (ATTAHMENT K).
Richard Klibaner, 54 Western Avenue, stated that he has lived and worked in Cambridge for over 30 years and he has watched the City struggle to provide enough affordable housing, particularly with the end of rent control. He said that the City has become less economically diverse over the years. He stated his support for the 100% affordable housing proposal which he feels is well-crafted and detailed. He asked the Housing Committee to approve this proposal expeditiously.
Trudi Goodman, 1221 Cambridge Street, stated that she supports the Affordable Housing Overlay District, but she would like something added to it. She said that it does not go far enough. She said that clearly, we need housing all across the city. She said she does not see anything about the responsibility of owners and landlords to maintain their buildings. She said that her building is still not being maintained. She said that developers need to be held accountable on who manages a building and how it is maintained.
Carol O’Hare, 172 Magazine Street, stated that she would like more information and less marketing. She said that Mass + Main spent two years on their rezoning effort on one lot in Central Square. She asked the Committee to compare that rezoning with this fast-track effort which will end in the summer when no one is around. She said that she is concerned about the process and the minimal, basic, fundamental information that people have. She said that all are in favor of affordable housing but the effort to educate the public has been pathetic. She asked what the practical effect is in eliminating FAR. She said that we should have comparisons of FAR caps. She said that she would like some graphic examples of 80-foot buildings next to 3-story buildings. She questioned if the Fire Department will have comments about setbacks. She submitted prepared remarks (ATTACHMENT L).
Peter Munkenbeck, 33 Sparks Street, stated that he is a consultant only to non-profits that build affordable housing, mostly in Boston. He said that he is the Board Chair of Just-A-Start. He said that all staff at JAS are volunteers. He said that there is no staff compensation that bears any relation to how much housing they do or do not have the opportunity to build. Regarding this evening’s comments, JAS’s position and his position is strongly in favor of the Affordable Housing Overlay as written. He said that the proposal would be better if changed in the following way. He said that it is important in affordable housing to build up social capital which is done by connecting with your neighbors and having a full range of incomes available in a given building is a good way to build social capital. He said that the other critical tool is that we must have the opportunity for cross subsidy within an expensive building. He said that the City does a great job of making all affordable housing buildings work, but they could do more if some portion of a given building could have market rate housing within.
Allan Sadun, 17 Pleasant Place, read from a prepared written statement regarding his support for the affordable housing overlay (ATTACHMENT M).
Charles Franklin, 162 Hampshire Street, read from a prepared written statement regarding his creation of an affordable overlay which combined the existing zones into eight affordable zones that span the city (ATTACHMENT N).
Larry Bluestone, 18 Centre Street, read from a prepared written statement in support of the proposed 100% Affordable Housing Overlay (ATTACHMENT O).
Alex Bob, 16 Eustis Street, read from a prepared written statement expressing his strong support for the Affordable Housing Overlay zoning (ATTACHMENT P).
Gail Charpentier, 19 Murdock Street, stated that she does not have all the statistics. She stated her appreciation to the City for the outreach to educate people about the process. She stated that she is against this overlay. She said that not enough study has been done about the livability that this proposal presents. She said that no studies have been conducted on the effect of light, motor vehicle traffic, pollution or the tree canopy.
Alex Boccon-Gibod, 471 Memorial Drive, read from a prepared written statement regarding his support for the Affordable Housing Overlay District (ATTACHMENT Q). He said that his main criticism of this proposal is that the overlay does not go far enough and that it should be part of a multi-set plan to address affordability in the long-term.
Raymond Chicoye, CEOC, stated that he has worked for CEOC for over 18 years. He said that their biggest challenge is housing. He said that many are forced to move out of the city and away from family members living in Cambridge. He said that they must commute long distances from their Cambridge employment base. He said that he stands on behalf of the Haitian Action Group who strongly supports the Affordable Housing Overlay. He submitted a petition to the Committee on behalf of people who support the efforts to expand the availability of affording housing in Cambridge through the use of an Affordable Housing Overlay and an addition $20 million dollars in City funding (ATTACHMENT R).
Yemi Kibret, CEOC community advocate, stated her support for the Affordable Housing Overlay District. She said that she lives in affordable housing and she supports this proposal. She said that she is speaking on behalf of some residents from Fresh Pond who are in support of this proposal.
Tim Shaw, 147 Mount Auburn Street, read from a prepared written statement in opposition to the proposal (ATTACHMENT S).
Elizabeth Gombosi, 42 Irving Street, read from a prepared written statement in opposition to this proposal (ATTACHMENT T).
Fritz Donovan, 42 Irving Street, stated that no one is opposed to affordable housing and the vast majority of Cambridge residents are equally in favor. He asked why the vast majority of neighborhood groups in Cambridge are upset about the 100% affordable overlay. He said that the culprit is the process. He said that Cambridge has 50% more affordable housing than the statewide goal and existing Cambridge ordinances require double the statewide goal. He said that this has been claimed an affordable housing crisis so the developer’s primary role in shaping the current 100% overlay recommendations to the best advantages of the developers. He said that citizens are being presented with the results that have changed drastically and numerable times. He said that the details of the proposal before the committee was brand new just a day or two before the previous meeting of Mar 5, 2019. He said the issues are far too complex. He said that this will essentially throw out almost a century of zoning control and totally eliminate the Planning Board’s approval that Cambridge citizens depend on.
Chris Mackin, JFK Street, read from a prepared written statement in opposition to the proposal because of the core assumptions the present plan makes about how to govern (ATTACHMENT U).
Peter Glick, 6 Donnell Street, stated that the real problem is that developers don’t think about the City’s problems the way that the City Council should. He stated that the developers think about their problems and their solutions. He said that it is the City Council’s goal to maximize the number of people we can protect from increasing rents. He said that the developer’s goal is to think about how to maximize revenues by building more homes. He said that $500,000-$550,000 per unit is the developer’s estimate of the cost under this plan. He said that is not an affordable price tag. He said that it means that the number of people that can be helped is severely limited. He said that the other cost that the developer never get around to mentioning is the cost of displacement. He said that the affordable housing is most likely to take land that is currently sitting underneath triple-deckers that are occupied by people well below the 80% median in Cambridge. He said that we will displace lower-income people to build luxury priced units for lower income people. He said that it makes zero sense.
Marilee Meyer, 10 Dana Street, read from a prepared written statement regarding her opposition to this overlay which will have unintended consequences (ATTACHMENT V).
Nicola Williams, 8 Brewer Street, stated the need for a comprehensive housing strategy that works for all Cambridge residents. She said that this proposal is a good start but it is not good enough. She said that she is in favor of more affordable housing, housing that is affordable to all Cambridge residents. She said that she is in favor of resident input in buildings that affect their neighborhoods. She said that she is in favor of increasing taxes so that there is more affordability in the City. She said that she is in favor of transparency and clarity. She said that she is in favor of a thoughtful process.
Susan Schlesinger, 34 Glenwood Avenue, stated that in a recent survey, affordable housing continues to be the #1 issue that people in Cambridge are concerned about. She said that there is a real gap between being for affordable housing and causing affordable housing to happen. She said that two City Council terms ago, the City Council stepped up and changed the incentive zoning which requires commercial developers to pitch in for affordable housing. She said that the last City Council term, the City Council reoriented the inclusionary housing which involved residential developers contributing to affordable housing. She said that the Affordable Housing Overlay has been discussed over the past 3-4 years among those active in affordable housing. She said that we are losing the battle with affordable housing and we are losing our neighbors. She said that the City needs more units of affordable housing.
Alexandra Markiewicz, 6 Laurel Street, read from a prepared written statement in support of the Affordable Housing Overlay District (ATTACHMENT W).
Scott Hannon, 632 Massachusetts Avenue, stated his support for the Affordable Housing Overlay District. He said that his son feeds the homeless people in Cambridge. He said that the City of Cambridge needs to step up. He said that we are worried about trees when people are suffering and dying on the streets. He said that there are veterans who do not have enough food. He said that it is time for action and to stop talking about this. He said that the meetings must stop and the City must begin to act.
Skip Schloming, 102 Inman Street, Vice President of the Small Property Owners Association, stated that the damning feature of this proposal is that it gives zoning relief only to tax funded, non-profit, affordable housing groups. He said that the housing that they build is not affordable, it is very high cost to build. He said that it is housing built or rehabbed to the latest code standards and done by employees in higher rented offices compared to small owners who are the most efficient way to go. He said that the problem with the affordable housing groups is that they can provide very little housing. He said that the $20 million from the City would produce about 200 units, but that is only to build them. He said that they must be sustained in maintenance and repairs for another $500,000 for thirty years.
Nicolai Cauchy, 387 Huron Avenue, stated that he has six short points. He said that risk of displacement of middle class in order to achieve more affordable housing is something that will be considered. He said that from an ecological level, putting a concrete block instead of tall trees impacts the quality of the air we breathe. He said that this is an important part of our biodiversity. He said that with respect to West Cambridge where he lives, there are single level shops and many tall trees is remaining a green area between Alewife and Kendall which should not be completely disregarded. He said that building higher structures does cause environmental problems including the heat island effect. He said that the single level small businesses on Huron and Concord Avenues are an important part of the fabric of the neighborhood. He said that this is important to retain. He submitted written comments (ATTACHMENT X).
James Zall, 203 Pemberton Street, read from a prepared written statement regarding his support for the Affordable Housing Overlay District (ATTACHMENT Y).
Doug Brown, 35 Standish Street, stated that since 2014, Cambridge has lost 13% of its two and three-family rental units, over 700 units across the city. He said that these naturally occurring affordable housing or NOAH units are the life bread of Cambridge’s unsubsidized middle-income residents. He said that there are more NOAH units than exist than the CHA’s entire inventory. He said that they are fast becoming extinct. He said that on his street, they have lost 13 units of moderately-priced family size housing in older buildings in the last two years. He said that his neighborhood is being rapidly shredded by the market. He said that this illustrates that we are relying on the free market to fix our housing affordability crisis which can be a misplaced hope. He said that he has done the zoning math for numerous properties and in every case, the zoning overlay represents at least a four-fold increase in building size over what is currently permitted. He stated that the way in which this proposal is constructed, it will put a bullseye on every older home in the city (ATTACHMENT Z).
Carolyn Shipley, 15 Laurel Street, stated that she has heard from developers, architects, and zoning specialists, and they all say that this Affordable Housing Overlay District will not bring more affordable units than our current zoning. She said that it is unfortunate that so much time and energy has gone into this. She said that she heard that it will not be financially and economically feasible unless they can build tall and dense and that is a problem. She said that as a landscaper, she finds that recommended open space not at all conducive to growing anything green. She submitted prepared written testimony (ATTACHMENT AA).
Susan Pittman Lowenthal, 385 Huron Avenue, read from a prepared written statement in opposition to the reject this “easy so0lution” as the cure for income disparity and provision of affordable housing (ATTACHMENT BB)
Christopher Scovile, 28 Chatham Street, read from a prepared written statement voicing his support for the Affordable Housing Overlay District (ATTACHMENT CC).
Peter Ciurczak, 720 Massachusetts Avenue, read from a prepared written statement in support of the Affordable Housing Overlay District (ATTACHMENT DD).
Maura Pensak, 346 Concord Avenue, read from a prepared statement in support of the Affordable Housing Overlay District (ATTACHMENT EE).
Ken Kimora, 364 Huron Avenue, stated that he is a small business owner on Huron Avenue. He said that although he supports the idea of affordable housing, he believes that the zoning overlay will have detrimental impacts on the various neighborhoods. He said that Huron Village includes a very special and unique retail neighborhood comprised of a number of independently owned boutique stores. He said that he is confident that the overlay will drastically change the character and quality of the retail neighborhood.
Laura Martin, 248 Summer Street, Somerville, stated her support for the Affordable Housing Overlay District. She said that Just-A-Start’s mission is to provide housing security and economic stability for low- and moderate-income individuals in Cambridge. She said that she can speak to the difficulty to build new affordable housing units in Cambridge. She said that Just-A-Start has tried to build new units on many corridors in Cambridge and has been unable to compete with market rate developers. She said that the overlay will help the City to build the affordable housing that is needed.
Nels Frye, Shanghai, stated that Cambridge’s tiniest Sister City is part of Beijing. He said that 500 thousand people live there in 7 square miles so the density is four times Cambridge. He said that local governments guide the market and make necessary interventions when needed so there is a full range of rents. He said that ample housing is available. He said without Cambridge, we are following the restrictive zoning of a thousand suburbs in America. He said that Cambridge must do what is necessary to stay economically competitive.
Mike Johnston, CHA, 2 Lily Pond Way, Halifax, stated that the CHA strongly supports the Affordable Housing Overlay District. He submitted a prepared written statement (ATTACHMENT FF).
Dan Eisner, 6 Bristol Street, read something from a piece that Elizabeth Warren recently wrote. He said that Ms. Warren’s criticism of exclusionary zoning restrictions that limit housing opportunities across the country also applies to Cambridge. He said that the City can be a leader in easing the stifling rules that were created to benefit the privileged few. He said that some have voice concern that by allowing larger buildings, the physical character of their neighborhood will suffer. He said that this argument baffles him. He said that overlay will not solve all of Cambridge’s housing woes but it will make it easier to build affordable housing and to help make Cambridge a more dynamic and welcoming city.
Randa Ghattas, 88 School Street, spoke in support of the Affordable Housing Overlay District. She said that if we care about equity, diversity and sustainability, this proposal should be supported.
Robert Camacho, Corporal Burns Road, stated that the Affordable Housing Overlay is a one size fits all solution. He said that it does not take into regard the different types of neighborhoods in the city. He said that he is curious to know the City Council’s reaction to the fact that this is not a Cambridge only problem. He noted that it is a regional problem and all cities and towns need more housing. He said that no matter how much is put up, it will never be enough. He stated that this impinges on the rights of property owners to object to whatever is being built in the lot next to theirs.
Adrianne Musgrave, 48 Haskell Street, stated her support for the Affordable Housing Overlay. She said that it requires a huge amount of funding that is needed for the city. She said that this is the right proposal at the right time. She said that if not passed this term, the City will miss out on a future of more affordable housing in the city. She said that it takes several years to put something in place, so it must be done now.
Nancy Alach, Concord Avenue, spoke from a prepared written statement in strong support of the Affordable Housing Overlay District proposal (ATTACHMENT GG).
Burhan Azeem, 471 Memorial Drive, stated that in 1845, Ireland was going through a famine and 1 million people died and many millions fled with nothing. He said that they came to Boston and Cambridge. He said that in a span of a few decades, we went from 250,000 people to 1 million people. He said that Cambridge welcomed them into the community. He said that the city should be ashamed of itself that we are fighting over the building of 60 units per year. He said that this is a humble proposal and it should be passed.
Lauren Curry, 3 Concord Avenue, JAS, stated that she is in favor of Affordable Housing Overlay District as a solution to the affordable housing problem. She said that that it will create new opportunities in new neighborhoods to build sizes and types of housing that was not possible before. She said that it is a matter of justice. She stated that this is a way to correct the exclusion and open our city to a new kind of future.
Charles Teague, 23 Edmunds Street, stated that he supports the East Cambridge Planning Team’s rejection of the Affordable Housing Overlay District. He stated that the essential issue is MIT’s growth and lack of supplying growth for graduate student housing and displacing longtime residents. He said that there are other things that address the true problem of blowing up the communities. He said that this is just moving the people that MIT has pushed out of their homes and putting them somewhere else and breaking up communities.
Eugenia Schra, 259 Washington Street, read from a prepared written statement in support of the Affordable Housing Overlay District (ATTACHMENT HH).
Sara Mae Berman, 23 Fayette Street, stated that she sees this overlay as a pro-developer plan. She said that Cambridge is one of the densest cities of its size in the United States. She said that the densification that this provides will deprive neighborhoods of their character. She said that we should not try to overlay one system in the city. She said that the loss of open space and tree canopy is already targeted by the Tree Committee. She said that the maintenance of affordable housing is an issue because it must be maintained properly. She asked about the definition of affordable housing. She asked about the criteria to qualify for affordable housing. She said all neighborhoods should not look the same. She submitted a written communication (ATTACHMENT II).
Carol Weinhaus, 271 Concord Avenue, stated that she strongly opposes this proposal because no studies have been done on the impact of a citywide up zoning on water bills, property taxes, traffic and parking, local businesses, utilities, trees, public transportation and other issues. She said that this proposal should be an election issue with City Councillors clearly stating their position. She feels that this is being rushed through before the next election.
Tina Alu, 113 1/2 Pleasant Street, read from a prepared written statement in support of the Affordable Housing Overlay (ATTACHMENT JJ).
Faye Duxovni, 36 Lee Street, stated that her support for the Affordable Housing Overlay. She said that this overlay will allow more people to live in the city. She stated that denser is good.
Lisa Wexler, 30 Churchill Avenue, stated that she has submitted a petition supporting the Affordable Housing Overlay (ATTACHMENT KK). She said that she grew up in North Cambridge and ten years ago her circumstances changed. She said that 7 years ago she was placed in a CHA facility. She said that she is appalled at the developers that build without any responsibility to build affordable housing. She said that she has some concerns in terms of density but there must be a middle ground. She stated that she would love to see a needs assessment for people who need assistance.
Carolyn Fuller, 12 Douglass Street, stated that she is a proud member of A Better Cambridge. She stated that she is in support of the Affordable Housing Overlay. She said that she is welcoming 280 new neighbors in her back yard because it reduces our carbon footprint to have more people living near public transit. She is asking that fears be put aside.
William McAvinney, 12 Douglass Street, stated that it is about what type of city we want to live in. He stated that this is a modest proposal. He said that he would like to see a proposal that would address the entire waiting list for low income housing. He said that this proposal addresses the imbalance between market rate developers and affordable housing developers. He said that not having a place to live is more damaging than having a building that is slightly taller next door.
David Sullivan, North Cambridge, stated that he supports the Affordable Housing Overlay and the additional $20 million in city funding on affordable housing. In response to one argument that he heard, he pointed out that the main beneficiaries will be non-profit developers such as HRI, JAS, and the CHA. He said for more detail on this, he referred to the communication by Larry Shield. He said that we need this to maintain the existing pace of affordable housing in the city.
Sue Butler, 14 Clinton Street, stated that she supports expanding the required affordable housing and she has a lot of questions about this particular plan. She said that one of the lovely things about Cambridge is its historic feel. She said that the idea of creating anonymous blocks is horrifying to her. She asked for reconsideration of this proposal. She stated that we must take care of the middle-income people.
Garrett Quinn, Harding Street, stated that as a homeowner, he thanked the opponents of this overlay who has done tremendous work to help raise his property values. He said that without the hard work of the NIMBYs on the City Council and in the crowd fighting every development, his home would have never tripled in value over eight years.
Suzanne Shah, 46 Clarendon Avenue, spoke in favor of the Affordable Housing Overlay and the additional $20 million for affordable housing in the budget. She said that she wants to live in Cambridge for many reasons and has raised her children in the city. She disagreed with those who talked about density reducing the quality of life in the city. She said that Cambridge has great parks, schools, library, and access to public transportation. She said that we must make Cambridge a welcoming place and stated her strong support for the overlay proposal.
Sean Hope, 22 Fairmont Avenue, stated his support for the Affordable Housing Overlay District and the additional $20 million appropriation for affordable housing. He said that he was part of the Envision process and he has studied the overlay in depth and he is in support of the overlay as well as the draft language presented. He supports the overlay for selfish reasons. He said that he wants to live in the city and raise his children in a city that has social and economic diversity. He wants to live in a city that values people over the additional height of a building. He said that he wants a City Council that uses its legislative authority to draft bold, innovative and forward-thinking zoning that encourages the future we want and not just protect the neighborhood norms and the status quo.
Phoebe Sinclaire stated that she works at 20 Sacramento Street. She stated that conversations about affordable housing lead to polarization. She said that the staff at her work cannot live in or near Cambridge. She said that this has an impact on staffing. She said that she supports the neighborhood council meetings and at one particular meeting, the affordable housing interest at that meeting was enormous. She said that this is part of the struggle that she sees around this issue.
Margaret Samp, 24 Inman Street, stated that tonight is an example of the value of community input. She said that the by right nature of the Affordable Housing Overlay District negates future community input. She stated that this is food for thought.
Chuck Hinds, ECPT, spoke on behalf as President. He stated that the ECPT does not support this proposal in the way that it is written. He stated that there is a need to develop more affordable housing. He said that many longtime neighbors have been displaced due to rising rents and condo conversions. He said that they have lost neighbors to developers giving them offers they cannot refuse for their property. He said that the public process has been paced too fast. He said that rights being taken away from abutters is unconscionable. He said that this proposal will take away the power of the Planning Board. He said that the City depends on the Planning Board to help design good buildings. He said that this proposal only serves people at the median income level or 80% of the median. He said that it leaves out the most vulnerable, including seniors and low-income residents.
Jessica Sheehan, 99 Norfolk Street, stated her strong support for the Affordable Housing Overlay because it will help to hang on to more of the diversity that Cambridge currently has. She said that she lived in a four-plex which she shares with three roommates. She said that they are multi-ethnic, multi-faith and multi-lingual household. She said that her street is home to larger apartment complexes, a senior living facility, a school, a park, a church and single-family homes. She said that overlay is modest and would not turn other neighborhoods into Central Square.
Charles Korn, 6 Austen Park, stated that affordable housing is a big deal and we must get it right. He submitted a prepared written statement in opposition to this proposal (ATTACHMENT MM).
Craig Nicholson, JAS, stated that this overlay is a key tool to compete in the market. He said that it allows affordable housing developers to compete. He said that he had three projects over the last 1.5 years that he was not able to acquire because of a market rate developer.
Public Comment ended at 7:32pm.
Councillors Simmons stated that the next hearing of the Housing Committee will take place on Mar 28, 2019. She noted that Public Comment will be heard at this hearing. She noted that the City Council Roundtable scheduled for Apr 9, 2019 will be televised but will not include Public Comment.
NOTE: The City Clerk’s office received sundry communications regarding the Affordable Housing Overlay and are attached as that have been made part of the record for the hearing (LL-1 through LL-60).
Councillor Siddiqui and Councillor Simmons thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 7:34pm.
For the Committee,
Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Co-Chair
Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Co-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
18-38. 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
18-66. 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
18-87. 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
18-93. 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
18-108. 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
18-119. 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
18-123. Report on ensuring funding for our municipal media services.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern (O-9) from 11/19/2018
18-129. 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
18-134. 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
18-137. Report on reviewing the FCC Regulations on Small Cell Technology.
Vice Mayor Devereux (O-18) 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. See Mgr #9
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
18-141. Report on safe way to bring power to the curb and across sidewalks to power electric vehicles.
Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan (O-2) from 12/17/2018
18-143. Report on requiring a business entity's beneficial ownership and residential real estate beneficial ownership transactions be disclosed in all Cambridge real estate transactions.
Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan (O-4) from 12/10/2018
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
19-7. 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
19-11. 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
19-13. 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
19-18. 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
19-20. 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
19-25. 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
19-29. Report on providing data on speed and vehicle counts on Garden Street between Concord Avenue and Linnaean Street and identify potential measures to improve its pedestrian and bicycle safety.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone (O-2) from 3/4/2019
19-32. 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 (O-4) from 3/18/2019
19-33. Report on 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 (O-9) from 3/18/2019
19-34. Report 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 (O-10) from 3/18/2019
19-35. Report on the status of any micro-mobility pilot programs or partnerships in Cambridge.
Councillor Kelley (O-12) from 3/18/2019
19-36. 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.
Vice Mayor Devereux (O-17) from 3/18/2019
19-37. Report on moving a Transit Benefit Ordinance proposal to an action plan.
Vice Mayor Devereux (O-18) from 3/18/2019
19-38. Report on designating a staff member in the Economic Development Division as an "arts liaison."
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern (O-2) from 3/25/2019
19-39. Report on creating a dedicated comprehensive "arts friendly" licensing web page.
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern (O-3) from 3/25/2019
19-40. Report on providing accessibility to the deaf community by hiring American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and using apps such as Language Line Solutions to communicate with the deaf community in their first language.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Toomey (O-5) from 3/25/2019
19-41. Report on how Cambridge enforces moped registration requirements and the enforcement numbers.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Toomey (O-6) from 4/1/2019
19-42. Report on plans this construction season to install sidewalk markings that appropriately indicate what types of mobility devices are allowed on which sidewalks.
Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone (O-7) from 4/1/2019
19-43. Report on the types of vendor reporting programs that the City uses and how they are used as well as the ability to modify these programs given the constraints of relevant state and federal laws and similar limitations.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Siddiqui (O-8) from 4/1/2019
19-44. Report on installing more metered parking spots in business districts that do not currently have any.
Councillor Toomey (O-1) from 4/8/2019
19-45. Report on compiling a full accounting of streets, schools, and public buildings that may be named in honor of those who have ties to the American slave trade, and to work towards renaming all of these streets, schools, and buildings.
Councillor Simmons (O-4) from 4/8/2019
19-46. Report on reviewing whether the MBTA is out of compliance with the amended MBTA/BCIL settlement agreement through the delay in completion of the elevator replacement and concurrent hazardous condition of the stairwells related to Central Square.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon (O-9) from 4/8/2019
19-47. Report on increasing traffic monitoring resources at the intersection of Prospect and Broadway, especially during morning rush hour.
Councillor Mallon (O-12) from 4/8/2019
19-48. Report on working with the MBTA to do whatever is necessary to alleviate the Green Street bus idling and unhealthy situation.
Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux (O-14) from 4/8/2019
19-49. Report on recommending restrictions on signage specific to retail establishments that sell e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.
Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey (O-15) from 4/8/2019
19-50. Report on clarifying the policy around future installation of new LED street lights and replacement of failed 4000K LED street lights with warmer alternatives 3000K or less.
Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone (O-17) from 4/8/2019
19-51. Report on determining whether an all-way stop sign, a raised intersection or other safety improvements would be helpful at the Garden/Field/Alpine intersection.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern (O-7) from 4/22/2019
19-52. Report on solutions to Rindge Avenue area waste disposal and rodent concerns.
Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone (O-11) from 4/1/2019