Cambridge City Council meeting - June 10, 2019 - AGENDA
CITY MANAGER'S AGENDA
1. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the transfer of unexpended bond proceeds borrowed to pay the costs of the Kennedy Longfellow Roof Replacement project which came under budget $1,819,787.72.
Order Adopted 9-0
June 10, 2019
To the Honorable, the City Council:
Please find attached an order requesting the transfer of unexpended bond proceeds borrowed to pay the costs of the Kennedy Longfellow Roof Replacement project which came under budget $1,819,787.72. Therefore, the funds are available to transfer to another capital project of similar use. A transfer to utilize the funds for the King Open and Cambridge Street Upper School and Community Complex (KOCSCC) project would allow us to reduce future borrowing needs for the KOCSCC project.
Very truly yours, Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager
Agenda Item Number 1 June 10, 2019
ORDERED: That in accordance with Chapter 44, Section 20 of the General Laws, the unexpended balance of funds originally appropriated and borrowed to pay costs of the project set forth below, which amount is no longer needed to complete the project for which it was initially borrowed and for which no further financial liabilities remain, is hereby appropriated by this Council to pay additional costs of King Open and Cambridge Street Upper School and Community Complex Project, including the payment of any and all costs incidental and related thereto, and to reduce the amount previously authorized by an order of the City Council passed June 1, 2015 for such purpose by a like amount:
Original Project and Amount Originally Authorized; Kennedy Longfellow Roof ($4,200,000)
Date of Original Project Authorization: 06/01/2015
Date of Bond Issue with Unexpended Proceeds: 03/08/2017
Unexpended Proceeds to be Transferred: $1,819,787.72
2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appointment of the following persons as a members of the Future of Mobility Implementation Blueprint Technical Advisory Group. The Advisory Group is expected to meet up to six times between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020: Yonah Freemark, David Keith, Steven Miller, Kathryn Carlson, Melissa Chan, Christopher Tassone, Roy Russell, Raymond Hayhurst, Ruth Allen, Jane Gould, David Block-Schachter, Zef Vataj, Will Dickson, Stephen Russell, James Cater, Bruce Kaplan, Megan Aki, Ilya Sinelnikov, Cambridge Housing Authority Rep (TBD). [Future of Mobility RFP]
Placed on File
June 10, 2019
To the Honorable, the City Council:
I am hereby transmitting notification of the appointment of the following members of the Future of Mobility Implementation Blueprint Technical Advisory Group. The Advisory Group is expected to meet up to six times between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020:
Yonah Freemark, (Central Square)
Yonah Freemark is an MIT doctoral student in city planning and a member of the Urban Mobility Lab.
David Keith, (Neighborhood Nine)
David Keith is an MIT Sloan School faculty member who focuses on the future of mobility.
Steven Miller, (Cambridgeport)
Steve Miller is a founding Director of Livable Streets Alliance.
Kathryn Carlson, (East Cambridge)
Kathryn Carlson is the Director of Transportation for A Better City.
Melissa Chan, (The Port)
Melissa Chan is the Co-founder and CEO of Camberline Technologies.
Christopher Tassone, (Riverside)
Christopher Tassone is the Director of Strategic Transportation Initiatives at Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Roy Russell, (Cambridgeport)
Roy Russell is the Founding Chief Technology Officer of Zipcar, GoLoco, Buzzcar, and Veniam.
Raymond Hayhurst, (Agassiz)
Raymond Hayhurst is AECOM's Complete Streets Technical Lead in New England.
Ruth Allen, (Neighborhood Nine)
Ruth Allen is a small business owner and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce.
Jane Gould, (Kendall Sq)
Jane Gould is an academic expert on transportation demand and telecom trends.
David Block-Schachter, (Wellington-Harrington)
David Block-Schachter is the Chief Business Officer at Transit App, and is formerly the MBTA's Chief Technology Officer and Director of Research, as well as Chief Technology Officer at Bridj.
Zef Vataj, (Agassiz)
Zef Vataj is a co-founder of the micromobility company, BeeScoot.
Institutional and Organization Representatives
Will Dickson, Automotive Representative
Will Dickson is an engineer at General Motors.
Stephen Russell, Department of Energy Representative
Stephen Russell has experience in fleet management and alternative fuels and technologies at the Department of Energy Clean Cities Program.
James Cater, Eversource Representative
James Cater is the manager of Eversource's electric vehicle program.
Bruce Kaplan, MA Central Transportation Planning Staff Representative
Bruce Kaplan is the Chief Transportation Planner for the Central Transportation Planning Staff Office.
Megan Aki, Metropolitan Area Planning Council Representative
Megan Aki is a Clean Energy Analyst at MAPC.
Ilya Sinelnikov, Micromobility Company Representative
Ilya Sinelnikov is a product lead at Superpedestrian.
TBD, Cambridge Housing Authority Representative
Very truly yours, Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager
3. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of a grant of $5,000.00 from the Tufts University Tisch College Voices for Youth program to the Grant Fund Community Development Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account to support the City’s efforts related to the Glocal Challenge contest for Cambridge High School students.
Order Adopted 9-0
4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-15, regarding a report on who is purchasing buildings in Cambridge.
Referred Back to City Manager - Simmons
June 10, 2019
To the Honorable, the City Council:
Please find attached a response to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-15, regarding a report on who is purchasing buildings in Cambridge, received from Assessor Andrew Johnson.
Very truly yours, Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager
TO: Louis DePasquale, City Manager
FROM: Andrew Johnson, Assessor
SUBJECT: Policy Order- POR 2018 #25 of Feb 5, 2018 - Who is Purchasing Buildings in Cambridge
DATE: June 4, 2019
In response to the above-referenced Policy Order, the Assessing Office has compiled the following information with respect to the largest purchases of real estate in Cambridge in 2018 and the first four months of 2019.
• The table below shows those purchases in descending order of sales price.
|Map Lot||Parcel Location||Deeded Owner||Sale Date||Sale Price||Parent Company|
|121-94||1030 MASSACHUSETTS AVE||CAMBRIDGE 1030 MASS AVE, LLC||4/12/2019||$ 128 Million||Bain Capital|
|267.4-176||165 CAMBRIDGEPARK DR||CAMBRIDGE GF DEAL LP||3/23/2018||$ 127.5 Million||Sherman & Sterling LLP|
|9-61||25-27 LAND BLVD||CAMBRIDGE, LLC||2/1/2018||$ 81.75 Million||Junson Capital|
|Multiple Lots||Mooney St & Smith Pl||CCF ASVF||8/1/2018||$ 77.8 Million||Cabot, Cabot & Forbes|
|267F-301||591 CONCORD AVE||10 FAWCETT INVESTORS, LLC||9/12/2018||$ 59.65 Million||Invesco|
|14-46||585 THIRD ST||BMR-THIRD LLC||8/29/2018||$ 50.5 Million||Biomed|
|267.4-307||10 WILSON RD||QUAD 10 WILSON ROAD, LLC||4/19/2018||$ 27.32 Million||Invesco|
|168-64||52 BRATTLE ST||RENMORE, LLC||1/11/2019||$ 24 Million||Renmore|
|Multiple Lots||Wilson Rd and Smith Pl||QUAD 40 SMITH PLACE, LLC||4/19/2018||$ 21.9 Million||Invesco|
|27-99||255 BENT ST||COMMUNITY CHARTER SCHOOL OF CAMBRIDGE||4/11/2018||$ 18.95 Million||Community Charter School of Cambridge|
The sales table shows that significant purchases and investment are being made throughout Cambridge, as is reflected in the Top Sales table above with sales with three in the Kendall area, two in Harvard Square area and five in Alewife area.
5. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $50,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Executive Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account to support the cable television license renewal process.
Order Adopted 9-0
June 10, 2019
To the Honorable, the City Council:
I am hereby requesting that the appropriation of $50,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Executive Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account to support the cable television license renewal process.
This appropriation is in addition to $120,000 which was appropriated in December 2018 for this purpose. The City issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a consultant to provide a range of specialized services to support the cable television license renewal process. The bids for the project came back higher than anticipated.
The services in the contract include: a plan for license renewal and strategies to implement the plan; a technical evaluation of the cable system in the City; evaluation of past performance of Comcast, to include a review of its license fee payments; Ascertainment of community cable-related needs and interests; assist in drafting a renewal license agreement; and to participate in preparation for informal or formal license renewal process.
The City has a cable television license agreement with Comcast that commenced on July 1, 2011 and which will expire on June 30, 2021. Since Massachusetts law limits the term of a license, the City must periodically review and renew its license or licenses. The licensing renewal process has been established under federal law, and is supplemented by Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable regulations.
Very truly yours, Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager
6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-134, regarding a gender neutral City website.
Placed on File
June 10, 2019
To the Honorable, the City Council:
In response to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-134, which requested a 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, please be advised that City staff has been working with Granicus, the vendor that provides the City’s Open Meeting Portal and Boards+ application, to remove their mandatory system-wide requirement that a gender-based salutation be selected during the registration process. In April 2019, the Granicus support team notified the City that they would be making our requested change and we have since confirmed that the change has been completed.
Members of the public who create a log-in account for the City’s Open Meeting Portal or the Boards+ application are no longer required to fill out a salutation. Additionally, all online application forms for boards and commissions do not require the gender field to be completed.
Very truly yours, Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager
7. Transmitting communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $95,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Law Department Other Ordinary Maintenance account to be used to cover unanticipated increases in costs relating to outside counsel legal services, stenographers and court reporters, constable services, consultants and experts, as well as filing fees and related costs in matters pending in courts and/or administrative bodies.
Order Adopted 9-0
8. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-100, regarding a report on Linear Path preservation and restoration.
Placed on File
9. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Numbers 19-63 and 19-68, regarding a report on Eversource Gas' Contractor Feeney Brothers and coordination of gas infrastructure Improvements with the Inman Square Project.
Placed on File
1. An application was received from East Boston Savings Bank, requesting permission for one internal illuminating projecting sign and four awnings at the premises numbered 1739 Massachusetts Avenue approval has been received from Inspectional Services, Department of Public Works, Community Development Department and abutter.
Placed on Unfinished Business - Carlone
2. An application was received from City of Cambridge Community Development Department requesting permission for 25 twenty five temporary banner along Hampshire Street and Cambridge Street announcing I Love Inman Square from Spring of 2019 thru Fall of 2023.
Order Adopted 7-2
3. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to work with the local taxi industry and other interested parties to prepare a Home Rule Petition for the City Council to submit to the State Legislature that would address Cambridge-specific issues and give the City Council the ability to ensure TNCs operate in a safe and responsible manner.
4. 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]
5. 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]
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]
APPLICATIONS AND PETITIONS
1. An application was received from Sean Hope, requesting permission for a curb cut at the premises numbered 2 Chetwynd 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 associations.
2. An application was received from Ashley Jimenez, requesting permission for a projecting sign at the premises numbered 1326 Massachusetts Avenue approval has been received from Inspectional Services, Department of Public Works, Community Development Department and abutter.
1. A communication was received from Nicolai Cauchy, regarding opposing the proposed re-zoning overlay.
2. A communication was received from Alex Hershey, 53 Standish Street, regarding resolution on environmental justice bills.
3. A communication was received from Peter Valentine, regarding dealing with the vastness.
4. A communication was received from Carol O'Hare, 172 Magazine Street, regarding Affordable Housing Overlay.
5. A communication was received from Mashichique Earl S. M. Burley, Sovereign Hereditary Ponca Chief and U.S. Treaty Holder, Ponca Tribe of Indians, regarding Massachusetts Flag Removal Article.
6. A communication was received from Ann Stewart, 31 Wheeler Street, regarding Policy Order - Jerry's Pond.
7. A communication was received from Fran A. Cronin, 1 Kimball Lane, regarding the redevelopment of the Sullivan Court House.
8. A communication was received from Nicholas DeGirolamo, regarding Cambridge Side Zoning.
9. A communication was received from Michael Beaudry, 2 Earhart Street, regarding the CambridgeSide Zoning.
10. A communication was received from Suzanne Preston Blier, President, Harvard Square Neighborhood Association, regarding support of the Affordable Housing Overlay (Policy Order 3 & 6).
11. A communication was received from Carol O'Hare, 172 Magazine Street, regarding Information/Interactive AHO Neighborhood Summer Workshops.
12. A communication was received from Hasson Rashid, 820 Massachusetts Avenue, relating to Policy Order #3.
13. A communication was received from Elie Yarden, 143 Pleasant Street, transmitting information about burning the gas, the “bridge fuel” myth.
14. A communication was received from Mr. Hunjab, 207 Magazine Street, transmitting information about inspections of TNCs.
15. A communication was received from Peter DiMuro, Executive Artistic Director, Dance Complex, in support of the BID for Central Square.
16. A communication was received from George Metzger, 90 Antrim Street, HMFH Architects, regarding the importance of the BID for Central Square and the goal of making Central Square welcoming, clean and a safe place for all.
17. A communication was received from Emie Michaud Weinstock, 36 Coolidge Hill Road, regarding the BID for Central Square and noting that Central Square represents some of the best parts of Cambridge.
18. A communication was received from Nate Fillmore in support of the BID for Central Square.
19. Sundry communications received in support of the petition to establish the Central Square Business Improvement District.
20. Sundry communications received in support of Policy Order #8 to file a zoning petition to amend Article 19.
21. A communication was received from Carol O’Hare, 172 Magazine Street regarding the Awaiting Report Item as Agenda Item #9 regarding a report on Eversource Gas’ Contractor Feeney Brothers and coordination of gas infrastructure improvements with the Inman Square project.
22. A communication was received from Mary Silber in opposition to the banners for Inman Square.
23. A communication was received from Sheli Wortis, 106 Berkshire Street, in support of Policy Order #10.
24. Sundry communications in support of Policy Order #9.
25. Sundry communications in support of Policy Orders #8 and #9.
26. A communication was received from Josh Hartshorne in support of Policy Orders #7, #9 and #10.
1. Retirement of Robert Wilbur, Jr. from the Department of Public Works. Mayor McGovern
2. Congratulations to the award recipients of the Boy Scouts of America's 36th Annual Good Scout Luncheon. Councillor Toomey
3. Congratulations to CIC for 20 years of experimenting boldly and for its important contributions to the economic and civic vitality of the City of Cambridge. Councillor Kelley
4. Greetings to the leadership of the community of San José Las Flores and congratulations on its impressive accomplishments in economic and social growth of the last thirty-three years. Mayor McGovern
1. That the City Manager is requested to direct the Police Commissioner and any other pertinent City staff to review safety issues at City buildings and provide the City Council with relevant recommendations designed to maximize the safety of municipal employees and members of the public while ensuring that City buildings and services remain open and accessible to all. Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Kelley
2. City Council support of H.R. 2148: BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, and in encouraging both the City of Cambridge and all employers doing business in Cambridge to embrace the principles put forth in this legislation. Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon
3. That the City Manager is requested to establish a working committee to review the monuments, memorials, and markers throughout Cambridge to determine whether any of these commemorate those who were linked to the slave trade or engaged in other similarly shameful acts and to determine which individuals should be newly recognized with a monument, memorial, or marker. Councillor Simmons
4. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, the Community Development Department, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and other regional partners such as the Central Transportation Planning Staff to explore the feasibility of partnering with a local research institution to conduct a study that determines how many ride-hail vehicles are on the roads during both on and off-peak times and their impacts on congestion and safety. Councillor Mallon, Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux
5. That the City Manager is requested to meet with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, the Department of Public Works, and the property owners and management of the Fresh Pond Mall to identify additional traffic-calming and safety features and to discuss with the mall owner the potential for creating a formal street connection between Terminal Road and New Street. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone
6. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the appropriate departments to televise and record the City Clerk interview meeting on June 17, 2019, starting at 2:30pm in the Sullivan Chamber. Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone
7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff and representatives of both Harvard University and the Harvard Square Business Association to determine a suitable, publicly available and recognizable space to install more bike racks adjacent to the Smith Center. Councillor Kelley
8. That the proposed Special Permit Criteria amendments to Article 19 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance (as attached) be referred to the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board for hearing and report. Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone
9. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to draft for discussion several ordinances to reduce or prohibit campaign donations from donors seeking to enter into a contract, seeking approval for a special permit or up-zoning, seeking to acquire real estate from the city, or seeking financial assistance from the city. Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan
Order Adopted as Amended
10. City Council opposition to the proposed regulatory changes by the Department of Energy Resources, and in support of promoting truly renewable energy sources including solar, wind, geothermal and small hydro. Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux
11. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to provide an update on Policy Order #3 of February 4, 2019, requesting an environmental impact study of the health and safety impacts of locating a large substation adjacent to a residential neighborhood and elementary school, and other information relating to the size and rendering of the substation. Vice Mayor Devereux
12. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to convene a working group including members of the MIT community, members of the Kennedy-Longfellow community, property owners in Kendall Square, City Staff and representatives from Eversource to discuss the possibility of an alternate site for the Fulkerson Street substation. Vice Mayor Devereux
13. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the City Solicitor to work with the License Commission, Public Works Department, Human Services and the Water Department to form a stakeholder group to consider ways to improve the existing noise ordinance and improve its enforcement and to consider banning the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Cambridge no later than 2025. Councillor Zondervan
14. That the City Council allow for public comment regarding the improvement plan submitted with the petition, dated April 16, 2019, for the organization of the Central Square Business Improvement District, and the effect this proposed Business Improvement District will have on property owners, tenants and others within the proposed District. Councillor Mallon
15. That the City Council determines the petition to establish the Central Square Business Improvement District satisfies the purposes and establishment criteria set forth in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40O, including obtaining the signatures of the owners. Councillor Mallon
16. That the City Council vote to declare the Central Square Business Improvement District organized, having the following boundaries and service area. Councillor Mallon
1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, former City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Transportation & Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on May 22, 2019 to discuss with Eversource any plans it has for meeting the anticipated electricity needs of Cambridge businesses and residents by expanding capacity on land it owns throughout the City, with a focus on sites in East Cambridge (Kendall Square and Fulkerson Street).
Report Accepted, Placed on File; Orders #11 and #12 Adopted
2. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 30, 2019 to discuss a Cambridge vacant storefront registration ordinance.
Report Accepted, Placed on File
3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, former 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 May 1, 2019 to discuss a petition to amend the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.16 entitled “Noise Control” by deleting sections 8.16.081-8.16.087 to prohibit the use of leaf blowers.
Report Accepted, Placed on File; Order #13 Adopted
4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, former City Clerk transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Co-Chair and Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Co-Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on May 21, 2019 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.
Report Accepted, Placed on File
COMMUNICATIONS AND REPORTS FROM OTHER CITY OFFICERS
1. A communication was received from Interim City Clerk Paula M. Crane transmitting a memorandum from Iram Farooq, Assistance City Manager for Community Development, providing additional information regarding the application for banners in Inman Square and their duration.
Referred to Calendar #1
2. A communication was received from Interim City Clerk Paula M. Crane, transmitting memorandum from Vice Mayor Devereux regarding a special public meeting for the City Clerk interviews.
Placed on Unfinished Business - Devereux
June 6, 2019
To my colleagues:
I would like to update you on progress toward hiring a new City Clerk.
Over the past several weeks the interview committee conducted two rounds of interviews with a range of qualified applicants for the position and has selected four finalists to invite back for the full City Council’s consideration.
The City Council will hold a special public meeting for the clerk interviews on Mon, June 17, 2019, starting at 2:30pm in the Sullivan Chamber. I have requested that the interview meeting be televised and recorded. The candidates’ names and resumes will become public when the agenda for the June 17 interview meeting is posted on Thursday, June 13. The committee also asked each of the finalists to write a personal statement (500-700 words) to describe their qualifications and interest in the position, and their statements will be posted with the agenda.
On June 17 the Council will interview the candidates one at a time. Every candidate will be asked the same set of questions with follow-ups as needed. Councillors may send suggestions for questions to Personnel Director Sheila Keady Rawson by Friday, June 14 at 11am. Sheila will synthesize our questions into the final list. Each Councillor will be assigned one question to ask to all candidates.
Following the interviews, we will convene our regular Monday meeting as usual and open public comment. If they wish, members of the public may comment on what they heard in the clerk candidate interviews along with other items on the regular meeting agenda.
After the public comment period the Council will recess to executive session to deliberate on the clerk candidates, and then return to the Sullivan Chamber to publicly vote on our choice for a new City Clerk.
I thank the other members of the interview committee (Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone, Personnel Director Sheila Keady Rawson, Executive Assistant to the City Council Naomie Stephen and City Solicitor Nancy Glowa) for the significant time and careful thought they have contributed to this process thus far.
Jan Devereux, Vice Mayor
3. A communication was received from Interim City Clerk Paula M. Crane transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Siddiqui, submitting the Mayor's Blue-Ribbon Task Force on Tenant Displacement May 21, 2019 meeting minutes.
Placed on File
4. A communication was received from Interim City Clerk Paula M. Crane transmitting a memorandum from Vice Mayor Devereux, regarding a briefing to the City Council on the ad hoc interview committee’s work on the City Clerk search, a special City Council meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at 12:30pm to receive a report and to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations for the hiring of a City Clerk.
Placed on File
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)
Wed, June 19
2:00pm The Human Services and 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, June 24
5:30pm City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, June 26
3:30pm The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a petition received from Self Storage Group, LLC to amend the Zoning Ordinance by creating a New Street Overlay District. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Thurs, June 27
3:30pm The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code to add a new Chapter 5.50 entitled “Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance.” (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Tues, July 2
5:30pm The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create an Affordable Housing Overlay District. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Thurs, July 11
5:30pm The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the refiled petition from Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. to amend the Zoning Ordinance in Article 20 to add at the end thereof the creation of a Grand Junction Pathway Overlay District. (Sullivan Chamber - televised)
Mon, July 29
5:30pm Special City Council Meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
TEXT OF ORDERS
O-1 June 10, 2019
WHEREAS: The entire nation was sickened following news of the May 31, 2019 workplace shooting in which an individual opened fire on his colleagues in a Virginia Beach municipal building, killing twelve people; and
WHEREAS: Municipal buildings across the country are, by design, meant to be open and accessible to the public at large so that official city business, for everything from applying for marriage licenses, to applying for work permits, to paying tax bills, can be conducted – yet in an increasingly turbulent era, that openness must also be balanced with measures designed to ensure the safety of municipal employees and all who enter these buildings; and
WHEREAS: In the wake of the recent horrific incident that took place in Virginia Beach, the City of Cambridge must be proactive and deliberate in assessing any safety vulnerabilities in its municipal buildings and operations, and it must take reasonable steps to better provide for the safety of municipal employees and the members of the public; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the Police Commissioner and any other pertinent City staff to review safety issues at City buildings and provide the City Council with relevant recommendations designed to maximize the safety of municipal employees and members of the public while ensuring that City buildings and services remain open and accessible to all, and to report back to the City Council on this matter in a timely manner.
O-2 June 10, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: On Apr 9, 2019, Representative Ayanna Pressley and Representative Katherine Clark introduced H.R. 2148: BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, which is designed to increase transparency, accountability, and protect against incidents of harassment and discrimination in the workplace; and
WHEREAS: This legislation, which is an acronym for “Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace,” is designed to, in the words of its sponsors, “…take critical steps to ensure that businesses have more resources to prevent harassment, workers are supported when they seek accountability and justice, and those who think they can get away with assault or harassment on the job [will] get a clear message [that] time is up;” and
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge, being a progressive community in which people continually strive to show respect for one another in all public spheres, and in which employers are continually encouraged to take measures to create positive, supportive work environments, should wholeheartedly embrace the spirit behind this legislation, and encourage the adoption of its recommendations both in our municipal workforce and in all businesses located here; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Council go on record in strong support of H.R. 2148: BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, and in encouraging both the City of Cambridge and all employers doing business in Cambridge to embrace the principles put forth in this legislation; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward suitably engrossed copies of this legislation to Representative Pressley and Representative Clark on behalf of the entire City Council.
O-3 June 10, 2019
WHEREAS: On Apr 8, 2019, the City Council passed a policy order asking the City Manager to direct the appropriate City personnel to compile a full accounting of streets, schools, and public buildings that may be named in honor of those who have ties to the American slave trade with a view toward renaming these; and
WHEREAS: The intent behind this endeavor is not to erase the sometimes complicated history of our city – certainly, we must acknowledge that even some of our country’s most celebrated historical figures engaged in acts that would surely earn them condemnation in contemporary society – but to force us to more honestly confront our history and the questions of whom we choose to celebrate, how we understand the fullness of their lives and their actions, and whether there are other, lesser-known but no-less-important figures we ought to be lifting up and celebrating in the ongoing desire to more fully understand our city’s history; and
WHEREAS: With this concept in mind, the City should review the various monuments, memorials, and markers throughout our community to determine whether any of these honor those who were involved in the slave trade or other similarly reprehensible acts, and whether they should be replaced with monuments and memorials of women, people of color, and those from other marginalized communities who have, to this point, been underrepresented in their contributions to the history of this great city; and
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge would be wise to review and borrow from the template that New York City has recently established for their own, similar efforts to review, assess, and update their own monuments, memorials, and markers; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to establish a working committee to review the monuments, memorials, and markers throughout Cambridge to determine whether any of these commemorate those who were linked to the slave trade or engaged in other similarly shameful acts, to determine which individuals – particularly women, people of color, and those from other historically marginalized communities – should be newly recognized with a monument, memorial, or marker, and to report back to the City Council on this matter in a timely manner.
O-4 June 10, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: The City of San Francisco has recently completed a study of the impact of ride-hail services, like Uber and Lyft, on traffic congestion and commute time; and
WHEREAS: The results of the study revealed that the presence of these ride-hailing services increased traffic delays by 40 percent; and
WHEREAS: A recent study also found that Boston has the worst rush hour traffic in the nation, and data released by the Massachusetts Department of Utilities (DPU) in 2017 showed that over 6 million ride-hail trips originated in Cambridge, with a yearly average of 64 ride-hail trips per person; and
WHEREAS: Uber and Lyft are not transparent about their data, and refused to comply with San Francisco’s request for a count of how many ride-hail cars were on the roads; and
WHEREAS: Understanding what percentage of our total traffic comes from ride-hail alone in the City of Cambridge will help inform other areas of policymaking such as curb allocation, traffic and parking studies, and strategies to reduce congestion; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, the Community Development Department, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and other regional partners such as the Central Transportation Planning Staff to explore the feasibility of partnering with a local research institution to conduct a study that determines how many ride-hail vehicles are on the roads during both on and off-peak times and their impacts on congestion and safety; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and Metropolitan Area Planning Council to determine the feasibility of partnering with other municipalities who may be interested in collecting this data, and how such a study may be funded; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council in a timely manner.
O-5 June 10, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: The entrance to the Fresh Pond Mall parking lot from New Street is an access point used daily by many people in cars, on foot and on bicycles; and
WHEREAS: In addition to providing access to the businesses within the mall, this entrance and the adjoining portion of the parking lot function as an unregulated corridor for individuals traveling to and from Alewife Brook Parkway and Terminal Road and destinations on New Street, including Danehy Park; and
WHEREAS: The current conditions in the lot compromise pedestrian and bicyclist safety by failing to clearly separate where vehicles should travel and where to expect pedestrians and cyclists moving safely; and
WHEREAS: A future connection between Terminal Road and Wheeler Street is planned and potentially could be extended through the mall parking lot to connect to New Street, which is clearly a desire line that people travel now without the benefit of any guidance or a formal route; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to meet with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, the Department of Public Works, and the property owners and management of the Fresh Pond Mall to identify additional traffic-calming and safety features, as well as to discuss with the mall owner the potential for creating a formal street connection between Terminal Road and New Street; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back on progress to the City Council on this matter as soon as possible.
O-6 June 10, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: The City Council will hold a special public meeting to interview finalist candidates for the position of City Clerk on Mon, June 17, 2019, before the regular City Council meeting begins; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the appropriate departments to televise and record the City Clerk interview meeting on June 17, 2019, starting at 2:30pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
O-7 June 10, 2019
WHEREAS: Harvard Square has a number of popular locations that are central to its vitality, most of which have ready and visible access to bike racks; and
WHEREAS: The area around the newly renovated and very popular Smith Center has no meaningful amount of such bike racks, leaving cyclists in the awkward position of either not securely locking the bicycles as they visit the Smith Center, or searching for some other distant bike rack or of not visiting the Smith Center or other nearby amenities; and
WHEREAS: The City has a policy of encouraging cycling as an alternative to using cars to move around Cambridge, but such an alternative is more challenging when parking a bicycle, or, in the future, some other Micromobility device, is so challenging; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with relevant City staff and representatives of both Harvard University and the Harvard Square Business Association to determine a suitable, publicly available and recognizable space to install more bike racks adjacent to the Smith Center; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council on this issue.
O-8 June 10, 2019
ORDERED: That the proposed amendments to Article 19 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance (as attached) be referred to the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board for hearing and report.
Proposed Amendments to Article 19 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance
With the alarming news that Eversource has reached maximum capacity in Cambridge for its electrical infrastructure and is moving ahead with transfer station expansions at Alewife and Putnam Ave, as well as planning a new transfer station in East Cambridge, at Fulkerson St., it’s becoming glaringly obvious that our planning and approval processes for large developments in the city do not fully account for the utility infrastructure needs of additional buildings. Upon reviewing the zoning code we determined that the following changes may begin to address this concern, and so we put them forward as a proposal for consideration by the council.
ADD TO Section 19.24: This section outlines the application procedures for large projects, which require a Project Review Special Permit. It lists requirements such as a parking study, a tree study, sewer and water infrastructure narratives, and a noise mitigation narrative. So it seems relevant and appropriate to add requirements to this section around electrical service infrastructure and gas service infrastructure narratives, which is what we have proposed below.
ADD TO Section 19.25.2: Add a “project specific urban design overview” requirement. This requires a project specific urban design analysis and set of recommendations that are presented to the planning board and the public.
ADD Section 19.25.3: Utility Impact Findings. This section requires the planning board to grant the permit only if it finds that the utility impacts of the project would not be significant.
We further recommend that if these provisions are adopted, the application form be changed via regulation to add the following requirements:
Electricity Service Infrastructure Narrative Project Review Special Permit (19.20) (certified by Electrical Dept.)
Gas Service Infrastructure Narrative Project Review Special Permit (19.20) D (certified by Dept. of Public Works)
ADD to Section 19.24:
Electric Service Infrastructure Narrative. The application shall include a report by the applicant detailing the anticipated impact of the project on the city's electricity infrastructure and supply. It shall indicate the likely improvements to infrastructure necessary to accommodate the identified impacts. Where such determinations cannot be made at the time of application, the report shall indicate what investigations must be undertaken by the applicant to make such determination, their anticipated costs, and the schedule for their completion. The applicant shall provide certification that this report has been submitted to the Electrical Department and the Electric Utility (Eversource).
Gas Service Infrastructure Narrative. The application shall include a report by the applicant detailing the anticipated impact of the project on the city's methane gas delivery infrastructure and supply. It shall indicate the likely improvements to infrastructure necessary to accommodate the identified impacts. Where such determinations cannot be made at the time of application, the report shall indicate what investigations must be undertaken by the applicant to make such determination, their anticipated costs, and the schedule for their completion. The applicant shall provide certification that this report has been submitted to the Public Works Department and the Gas Utility (Eversource).
EDIT Section 19.25.2:
Urban Design Findings. The Planning Board shall grant the special permit only if it finds that the project is consistent with the urban design objectives of the city as set forth in Section 19.30. In making that determination the Board may be guided by or make reference to urban design guidelines or planning reports that may have been developed for specific areas of the city, or in their absence, there shall be prepared a project specific urban design overview that will be presented to the Planning Board and the public at the appropriate hearing(s). They shall apply the standards herein contained in a reasonable manner to nonprofit religious and educational organizations in light of the special circumstances applicable to nonprofit religious and educational activities.
ADD Section 19.25.3:
Utility Impact Findings. The Planning Board shall grant the special permit only if it finds that the project would not cause undue adverse impacts on the residents and the environment by requiring extensive additional utility infrastructure to be added to the city, including electrical, gas, sewer, stormwater and any other utility service.
O-9 June 10, 2019 Amended
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: The perceived influence of money in politics leads to public mistrust of government on a federal, state and local level; and
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge is considering several major developments seeking special exemption to the zoning code, and many such developers regularly contribute to political campaigns, creating a perceived conflict of interest, whether real or imagined; and
WHEREAS: Many applicants for city contracts do not reside in Cambridge and their sole interest in city government is related to the contracts they seek, yet still contribute to political campaigns; and
WHEREAS: The City of Los Angeles recently unanimously approved drafting legislation to ban contributions from developers and others doing business with the city or seeking approval on certain projects; and
WHEREAS: The State of New Jersey enacted “pay to play” laws limiting political contributions made by business entities that are party to or are attempting to obtain contracts with New Jersey government entities; and
WHEREAS: The Cambridge City Council deliberated numerous times on the importance of campaign finance laws with no meaningful legislation adopted; and
WHEREAS: The Cambridge City Charter gives the City Council strong influence over development, and campaign donations from applicants give the perception, whether real or imagined, of favoritism; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to
draft for discussion several ordinances provide guidance on the legality of an ordinance to reduce or prohibit campaign donations from donors seeking to enter into a contract, seeking approval for a special permit or up-zoning, seeking to acquire real estate from the city, or seeking financial assistance from the city; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to refer said draft languages to the Ordinance Committee for deliberation and discussion.
ORDERED: That this issue be referred to Government Operations Rules and Claims Committee.
O-10 June 10, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
WHEREAS: It has come to the attention of the City Council that the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) under Governor Charlie Baker has proposed regulations that would increase subsidies to incineration of trash and of biomass energy sources in both Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) classes (I & II) of the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS); and
WHEREAS: These proposed regulations would make it easier for energy producers to create RECs from burning trash and biomass, which can be sold on the market to consumers looking to purchase electricity generated from 100% renewable sources, including the city of Cambridge and Cambridge residents; and
WHEREAS: The RPS was adopted to ensure that a chttps://commonwealthmagazine.org/opinion/get-ready-for-another-biomass-battle/ertain percentage of energy sold in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would come from truly renewable sources; and
WHEREAS: The incineration of municipal trash is an expensive, polluting, inefficient source of electricity and should not be considered a renewable resource for the purposes of the RPS because it has many negative impacts, including the annual production of nearly 750,000 tons of toxic ash in the Commonwealth, raising significant public health concerns, especially considering Massachusetts cities and towns already have the highest rates of asthma in the nation; and
WHEREAS: Trees and forests are a precious resource, important protectors against the impacts of climate change, and among the most effective forms of carbon sequestration on the planet, and in most cases, burning wood harvested by cutting down trees in forests should not be considered a renewable source for producing electricity; and
WHEREAS: Both the burning of trash and the burning of trees for producing electricity inevitably cause disproportionately adverse impacts on lower income and disadvantaged communities, as wood and trash burning power plants are more likely to be sited in those communities (environmental injustice); and
WHEREAS: The Massachusetts RPS is currently set to increase at 2% a year, which is not sufficient given the latest United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and diluting the small progress we have made by allowing more non-renewable energy sources to qualify under the RPS is counterproductive to our climate goals; now therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the City Council go on record in opposition to the proposed regulatory changes by the Department of Energy Resources, and in support of promoting truly renewable energy sources including solar, wind, geothermal and small hydro; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward suitably engrossed copies of this resolution to DOER Commissioner Judith Judson as well as Governor Baker on behalf of the entire City Council.
O-11 June 10, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to provide an update on Policy Order #3 of February 4, 2019, requesting an environmental impact study of the health and safety impacts of locating a large substation adjacent to a residential neighborhood and elementary school, and other information relating to the size and rendering of the substation, and also to provide an update on Policy Order #2 of April 22, 2019, requesting the City Solicitor to provide information on what legal authority the City has to determine the siting of these substations.
O-12 June 10, 2019
VICE MAYOR DEVEREUX
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to convene a working group including members of the MIT community, members of the Kennedy-Longfellow community, property owners in Kendall Square, City Staff and representatives from Eversource to discuss the possibility of an alternate site for the Fulkerson Street substation; and be it further
ORDERED: That the working group report back to the City Council no later than the end of September 2019.
O-13 June 10, 2019
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the City Solicitor to work with the License Commission, Public Works Department, Human Services and the Water Department to form a stakeholder group to consider ways to improve the existing noise ordinance and improve its enforcement and to consider banning the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Cambridge no later than 2025.
O-14 June 10, 2019
ORDERED: That the City Council allow for public comment regarding the improvement plan submitted with the petition, dated April 16, 2019, for the organization of the Central Square Business Improvement District, and the effect this proposed Business Improvement District will have on property owners, tenants and others within the proposed District.
O-15 June 10, 2019
ORDERED: That the City Council determines the petition to establish the Central Square Business Improvement District satisfies the purposes and establishment criteria set forth in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40O, including obtaining the signatures of the owners of at least fifty-one percenter of the assessed valuation of all real property within the proposed District and sixty percent of the real property owners within the proposed District, delineating the boundaries of the proposed District and creating an improvement plan identifying the supplemental services and programs to be provided in the District.
O-16 June 10, 2019
ORDERED: That the City Council vote to declare the Central Square Business Improvement District organized, having the following boundaries and service area:
“Beginning at the intersection of Bishop Allen Drive and 7 Temple Street, then running northwest on Bishop Allen Drive to the property line of 12 Inman Street and from there running southwest and then northwest around that parcel to Inman Street, and then crossing Inman Street and running along the northwest property line of 795 Massachusetts Avenue (City Hall) to Bigelow Street, turning along Bigelow Street to the north property line of 3 Bigelow, then running northwest and then southwest along the property line of 3 Bigelow and 831 Mass Avenue to Massachusetts Avenue, and across Massachusetts Avenue and continuing southwest along Sellers Street to Green Street, then turning southeast along Green Street to Pleasant Street, then turning southwest along Pleasant Street to Franklin Street, then turning southeast along Franklin Street to Pearl Street, then turning northeast along Pearl Street to Green Street, then turning southeast along Green Street to Landsdowne Street, then running southwest along Landsdowne Street to Cross Street, then turning southeast along Cross Street, then turning northeast through 254 Massachusetts Avenue parcel to Massachusetts Avenue, then crossing Massachusetts Avenue to Windsor Street, then continuing north along Windsor Street to Main Street, then running west along Main Street to Bishop Richard Allen Drive, then running northwest along Bishop Richard Allen Drive to the point of beginning. Except as otherwise indicated in the petition, where a boundary line is described as following a street or highway, such boundary shall be construed as following the center of such a street or highway. Any tax parcel wholly or partially within the boundaries described shall be deemed to be located within the above described BID District. Notwithstanding the foregoing: (i) all owneroccupied residential tax parcels situated within the above-defined geographic area shall be deemed to be located outside the BID District; and (ii) all one (1) to four (4) family residential properties and all residential condominium units situated within the above-defined geographic area shall be deemed to be owner-occupied residential tax parcels.”
TEXT OF COMMITTEE REPORTS
Committee Report #1
The Transportation and Public Utilities Committee held a public hearing on May 22, 2019, at 2:03pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss with Eversource any plans it has for meeting the anticipated electricity needs of Cambridge businesses and residents by expanding capacity on land it owns throughout the City, with a focus on sites in East Cambridge (Kendall Square and Fulkerson Street).
Present at the hearing were Vice Mayor Devereux, Chair of the Committee; Councillor Carlone; Councillor Mallon; Councillor Zondervan; Mayor McGovern; Councillor Toomey; City Manager Louis DePasquale; David Kale, Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs; Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development; Steve Lenkauskas, City Electrician; Owen O’Riordan, Commissioner of Public Works; Kathy Watkins, City Engineer; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were Bill Zamparelli, Community Relations and Economic Development Representative, Eversource; Todd Lanham, Siting and Construction Services, Eversource; Joe Mayall, Engineer, Fulkerson Street Project Manager, Eversource; Chris Detwiller, Senior Real Estate Specialist, Eversource Energy; Rich Zbikowski, Assistant Planner for Eastern Massachusetts North, Eversource; John Zicho; and Sean Shortell, Eversource; Chris Addis, Legislative Aide for Rep. Mike Connolly; Steve Kaiser, 191 Hamilton Street; Jim Gray, 2 Michael Way; Alan Greene, 82 Fifth Street; Matt Connolly, 13 Cornelius Way; Heather Hoffman, 213 Hurley Street; Abra Berkowitz, 632 Massachusetts Avenue; Dirk Henschel, 157 Pleasant Street; Lee Farris, 269 Norfolk Street; and Melissa Lower and Joseph McGuire, Alexandria Real Estate.
Vice Mayor Devereux convened the hearing and explained the purpose. She stated that the hearing was being audio and video recorded. An agenda was distributed. (ATTACHMENT A).
She stated that there has been a great deal of public debate about the proposed substation on Fulkerson Street which is adjacent to a public park and in a residential area. A number of years ago, there was a plan for this site to have a residential use, and this became the expectation of the people in the neighborhood. The news that the site may instead be used for an electricity substation has caused concern in the neighborhood. She stated that on May 16, 2019, Eversource had a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for another project, the expansion of an existing substation on Putnam Avenue, adjacent to residential buildings. There was long and detailed discussion at the BZA and the case was continued to Sept 12, 2019. She stated that in this hearing she hopes to discuss the Fulkerson Street site and the needs associated with the Kendall Square and East Cambridge area, and also hopes to touch upon what the City and Eversource are doing together to plan for the electricity needs of the entire City moving forward. She commented that Alewife and parts of Cambridgeport around MIT are developing quickly and this increase in capacity might not be a one-time need. She stated that she feels everyone in the city needs to be better informed about how decisions are made.
Mr. Zamparelli introduced the Eversource team and turned the meeting over to Todd Lanham, Siting and Construction Services, Eversource.
Mr. Lanham stated that he works for the outreach team. He and his team did outreach for the Putnam Avenue project. He submitted a PowerPoint Presentation (ATTACHMENT B). He gave a general overview of the electricity system and how it works. He stated that power is generated in some type of facility (solar, wind, fossil fuels, natural gas) and then connects into the system, often called the grid. He stated that transmission lines can be either above or below ground. He stated that substations are located between the transmission lines and the distribution lines, which take the electricity to customers. At the substation, energy is converted to a lower wattage, usable by residents and businesses. Cambridge is growing, and it is driving up energy consumption. Eversource has noticed that the new demand for electricity is driven by a mix of office, residential and retail development. Demand for energy is rapidly increasing, and it’s necessary to meet the needs of the residents and businesses in the developments that are being planned and built. He explained that there are currently thirty-four projects either permitted or under construction in the East Cambridge area. This is the area with the largest growth. He stated that between 2014 and 2017, the projects placed into service added about 49 megawatts of electricity load. He stated that between 2018 and 2019, Eversource is projecting that about an additional 21 megawatts of service were added. He stated that there will be more demand coming online, so Eversource estimates it will have to meet the energy demand of about 100 additional megawatts over the next decade. He stated that all the development in Cambridge has driven up the energy needs and will continue to do so. He stated that Eversource is trying to plan for the increasing need for load capacity. He explained that Eversource system planners regularly assess the electric system and develop plans to meet the growing demand. He stated that Eversource’s job as a regulated utility is to continue to provide safe and reliable power via the distribution center. He stated that in order to do this, Eversource has to provide immediate relief for infrastructure in the Cambridge area so that it will avoid burdens on the system equipment, enhance the realizability of the distribution system and accommodate future growth. He stated that if nothing is done, in the summertime, when usage rates are higher, the existing infrastructure could become overloaded. Eversource would have no other recourse but to shed or disconnect customers to prevent system overload. Capacity in the system is nearing its peak now, so Eversource has to plan for additional infrastructure to address the needs.
Mr. Lanham turned over the presentation to Joe Mayall, Project Manager for the Fulkerson Street project. He explained why a Fulkerson Street substation is needed. He spoke about the four major existing substations in Cambridge. The North Cambridge substation will not serve the level of need that Eversource is trying to provide and it is too far away from the needed service area. For similar reasons, the Prospect Street substation will also not support the need. The East Cambridge lot has maximized everything available to it and cannot add more capacity. At Putnam Avenue there are two vacant land masses and Eversource is trying to install a fourth transformer there to help address the load growth. He stated that Eversource is before Cambridge’s BZA to get approval to do so. He stated that on the other side of the land mass there are two easements that restrict Eversource from further development. He stated that at Putnam Avenue, the original design has been modified based on community feedback. The BZA hearing has been continued until September, which delays the planning process. This transformer needs to be in service for the 2020 summer load. He stated that from a construction and planning standpoint, Eversource is monitoring whether there could be a load risk for 2020. If it is determined that there is an imminent load risk for 2020, a mitigation and contingency plan will be created within the next two months in case the Putnam Avenue project does not get approved and move forward in time.
Mr. Mayall highlighted the load pocket that the Fulkerson Street site seeks to address. He stated that this substation is intended to address the major upcoming load concern for the City of Cambridge. He indicated the circle on slide 6 of the presentation and noted that this area is where Eversource has focused its search for the site. He spoke about the site search criteria, including the need to have a site that can accommodate a minimum 40,000 square feet of development. He stated that competition for available land is extremely difficult in the area, and that most developers can build a project faster than Eversource can build a substation site. He spoke about why the Fulkerson Street site was selected. He stated that the real estate search began in late 2013 and there was no property available in 2014. In 2015 there were 15 sites, which were narrowed down to 8 sites. In the end, Eversource ended up at the Fulkerson Street site. The site was purchased in 2016 and closed on in 2017. At this point Eversource held community meetings. Because of the community concerns, Eversource began another real estate search and found there was no appropriate property available. He noted that Fulkerson Street is not an ideal site for Eversource and they hear the concerns of the community and would like to find another site, but there is nothing available with a willing seller. He stated that when we talk about what Eversource is trying to do with Fulkerson, it is not just the site on Fulkerson Street, it is an energy distribution project. The majority of the project is located in Cambridge, but the project spills over into Boston, as well, because Eversource’s lines must leave the site and connect to the electric grid in various directions, to Prospect Street, to the Kendall Square area, over the Charles River. He stated that he wants to get to the distribution system connection for Cambridge. In conclusion Eversource is going to continue to investigate viable options for the Fulkerson Street substation. He stated that the community has been heard that they do not want this substation. He stated that he is looking at other types of equipment to make the building smaller. The size of the building is still be evaluated. He spoke about the steps that Eversource is taking looking at different configurations, height and depth are being reviewed. He stated that with feedback from the community Eversource has gone back to the engineers and are asking what else can be done. At Putnam a mitigation plan will be developed. The Putnam substation is being developed hoping the BZA is granted because it is the best option at this time.
Councillor Toomey spoke about his disappointment on how the sale transaction took place. He stated that in June 2016 there was a Purchase and Sale Agreement for 135 Fulkerson Street signed with 135 Cambridge LLC. He asked who is 135 Cambridge LLC? Chris Detwiller, Senior Real Estate Specialist, Eversource Energy, stated that 135 Cambridge LLC is the entity that had the property under agreement with the current owner and the entity that was permitting at that point was Cabot, Cabot and Forbes. Councillor Toomey asked if this was true, even though Cabot, Cabot and Forbes did not own the property at the time because it was under a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Scarborough. Mr. Detwiller stated that this is correct. Councillor Toomey questioned the fact that even though Cabot, Cabot and Forbes did not own the property they could sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement with another entity. Mr. Detwiller explained that a Purchase and Sale Agreement could give them control contingent on a variety of different things. This is technically called near site control and per their agreement they had the right to purchase this under certain site conditions. Councillor Toomey stated that he does not understand how a Purchase and Sale Agreement could be signed with someone who does not own the property. He stated that the sequence of events that occurred seems to be that Scarborough sold the property for $6 million and two hours later Cabot, Cabot and Forbes sold the property for $12 million. Councillor Toomey stated that this does not look like something that is acceptable; and this has a foul odor to him. Mr. Detwiller stated that when Eversource entered their Purchase and Sale Agreement, it was contingent on their acquisition of the property. He stated that Cabot, Cabot and Forbes had a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Scarborough. The Eversource Purchase and Sale Agreement with Cabot, Cabot and Forbes was contingent on their first closing on their acquisition. He stated that this is how it was structured. Councillor Toomey stated that it seems Scarborough was cheated out of $6 million. He spoke about the trustworthiness of Eversource going forward and needing more transparency to establish trust. Mr. Detwiller stated that these agreements are confidential, and he could not share this information.
Councillor Zondervan asked about the statement on slide two, indicating that electricity use is driven by a mix of office, residential and retail development. He requested that this be clarified. He stated that he did not think that residential use is increasing, and retail is in fact shrinking. He stated that, however, tons of office developments are being built in Kendall and that is what is driving this demand, yet Eversource is proposing to install a substation in a residential area to service this demand. Mr. Lanham stated that there is a mix in types of development. He added that the thirty-four projects did include a lot of commercial development. This demand is not equally spread and is predominantly from commercial development. Councillor Zondervan wanted to see the exact breakdown of the types of development. He stated that the load of commercial development is over 60%. He stated that on slide three exponential growth is being shown. Councillor Zondervan spoke about the City’s trying to deal with climate change, reduce emissions, and Eversource’s plan is to continue to increase the amount of electricity that is being used in the City and most will continue to come from fossil fuel. Eversource is proposing the only way to deal with this is to add more capacity, as opposed to reducing or managing the demand. He asked why Eversource is not promoting installing batteries or installing solar to bring down the load demand that is being projected. Mr. Mayall stated that in August 2018, Eversource was at 98% of its peak, and if the limit is exceeded, capacity needs to be built. He stated he concurred with comments about batteries and conserving energy. He stated that Eversource is the #1 utility for conservation in the United States. The residents of the Commonwealth can go to Mass Save and obtain conservation means and methods. He spoke about Eversource’s efforts to develop renewable sources of energy. Councillor Zondervan asked why these technologies aren’t being brought to Cambridge and why there isn’t more promotion of solar on-site storage and micro-grids here. He stated that there are a lot of other ways to deal with this demand growth that is being projected rather than bringing in more supply coming from fossil fuels. He stated that it is not acceptable and has to be done differently. Councillor Zondervan stated that on slide six the preferred area for the substation is shown, and if Fulkerson is not the ideal location, which is the ideal location? He stated that from his point of view, the Volpe site and MIT’s power station are within the circle. He did not understand why the solution to this problem is limited to doing complicated real estate transactions as opposed to working with the big developers, such as Alexandria and MIT, that are causing all this demand growth that Eversource needs to satisfy. He commented that Eversource needs to be working with the big developers to put this infrastructure on their property, not in residential neighborhoods.
Councillor Carlone noted that the in-house team of Eversource in 2014 recognized that there was a problem, and that Eversource needed to plan for the increased capacity. He asked whether the 98% capacity level mention is citywide. Mr. Mayall responded yes, this is citywide. When did the City know of the increased need? Rich Zbikowski, Assistant Planner for Eastern Massachusetts North, Eversource, stated that the load growth pattern occurring in the East Cambridge area was noticed in 2013. In October 2014, the need to increase the capacity at Prospect Street was discussed with the City. He stated that Eversource’s approach to system planning is to maximize the use of the existing infrastructure before ever adding a new substation. The first look is to transfer the load to an existing substation by either changing the system configuration or adding new lines. These options were determined not to be appropriate for the amount of load that would be coming on line and the substation capacity amounts at the respective sites were insufficient to handle the additional increases. He added that there is no doubt that this increase in demand is related to commercial development. The various real estate opportunities in the Kendall Square area were reviewed after realizing that the existing substations could not handle the additional demand. He stated that the first thing that Eversource tries to do is to mitigate the amount of demand through encouraging conservation, but this is not going to reduce the demands of the office buildings to zero. He stated that it would be lucky to reduce demand by 10-20%. He stated that there is a substantial amount of load coming on that far exceeds the capability of the East Cambridge substation. Looking forward to 2020, a loss of one transformer in East Cambridge means the other two transformers could overload and Eversource would have to disconnect customers. He stated that this is intolerable for Eversource and this is why other solutions have been proposed.
Councillor Carlone stated that it is hard to believe that Eversource is in a five-year window and now the City and Eversource is panicking. He stated that the timing is upsetting. He stated that the City just negotiated with MIT two years ago for the Volpe zoning, and the City requested a lot. He commented that the logical location for a new substation would be by the railroad tracks on MIT land. He noted that while in negotiations with MIT, the City Council was never aware of this situation and the needs for additional capacity. What are the specifics for the Fulkerson Street site in question? He stated that there have been rumors that the substation would be as high as 80 feet. He asked what the plans are. Mr. Zbikowski stated that Eversource is trying to evaluate approaches that are more appropriately sized for this general area and the designs are under investigation and have not been fully developed or vetted internally. Councillor Carlone stated this is critical for the community to understand the minimum and maximum size for the structures.
Mayor McGovern stated that he understands the reality that the City is in. If these conversations began in 2014, the City Council did not know about it until the Fulkerson Street sale became public and this is unacceptable. He wanted the City Council to be better informed about these conversations moving forward. He stated that the City Council are negotiating with developers now for special permits, still without fully understanding the impacts of development on energy. He understands that it is difficult to find land in Cambridge. He stated that Kendall Square is becoming a neighborhood. He stated that he does not favor putting this substation near a school in a dense neighborhood.
Councillor Mallon stated that Volpe was a missed opportunity and had the City Council known about Eversource’s needs, they would have negotiated differently. She stated that Policy Order #3 was submitted on Feb 4, 2019 (ATTACHMENT C) asking about the height of the substation, because it is a huge concern to residents. She further stated that the City Council deserves an answer. She stated that she is sure that internal modeling has been done extensively, since Eversource has owned this property for many years. She asked Mr. Mayall to answer yes or no, is this structure going to be 80 feet or higher. Mr. Mayall stated that he cannot give an honest answer; the substation is still in conceptual design mode, and based on the input received from the community, the design has been torn apart and there are different configurations. The new configurations could change the heights. He added that Eversource is looking at different types of equipment that will change everything. The engineers are putting the designs back together. He does not have a height range to give to the City Council. Councillor Mallon stated that it is not fair to the community to have this conversation without having an idea of how big this building can be. She again asked him to answer yes or no to whether the building could be 80 feet tall. Mr. Mayall stated that he does not know. Councillor Mallon stated that she does not know why this hearing is being held, in that case. This is what the community wants to know. She is disappointed.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that at the East Cambridge Planning Team meeting someone from the Eversource team stated that the building could be designed to look like whatever the neighborhood wants. What do substations in other communities look like, and are there substations near schools in other communities? In Alewife, the substation looks like exposed coils, which is obviously not ideal. Soon, 520 units of housing will be built directly abutting the Alewife/North Cambridge site. What are the future plans for this substation site? How much design control does Eversource have for a given substation? Mr. Mayall noted that typically when substations are built, the facades are designed to blend into the appearance of the surrounding area. He did not know if there is a substation near a school elsewhere. He could do some research and get back to the City Council. Vice Mayor Devereux stated that on page eight, both incoming and outgoing power flows are represented. She asked whether this requires more digging than usual, if the Fulkerson Street location is far from where the power needs to be delivered. This location does not seem to be ideal from a siting standpoint. It is close to the residential neighborhood and at the far end of the circle indicating the concentration of power needs, which are centered near the MIT area. The buildings between Volpe and Main Street are all clustered in the same area, but nowhere in the permit negotiations did the City Council hear about this development potentially putting a strain on the power grid. She stated that if this is where the power needs to be delivered, Fulkerson Street is quite far, meaning there will be a lot of digging and significant disruption to the community. Where would a more practical location be for a substation? Mr. Zbikowski stated that they are hoping to find any property approximately one acre in size within the zone indicated on page six. He stated that the closer the site is to the load pocket, the easier it is to interconnect to the distribution infrastructure, which would reduce the amount of digging in the street. He stated that the load pocket is indeed in the MIT, Alexandria and Volpe area. Vice Mayor Devereux expressed concern about the full impact of this project and whether it will add to impacts from other infrastructure projects planned by the City. She noted that there is a need to coordinate and communicate about these projects to lessen the impact on community members.
Vice Mayor Devereux opened public comment at 3:10pm.
Stephen Kaiser, 191 Hamilton Street, asked who is doing the planning here? He noted that the energy planning numbers have been provided by Eversource but where are the City’s numbers on infrastructure and energy? He stated that he looked at the Envision Cambridge Final Report and the only thing that he could find was the statement about what the City can do to create an energy report but no evidence that this was done. He commented that the City had an obligation to do an energy infrastructure study and it was not done. He stated that this indicates that Eversource is not the guilty party here. He noted that the City should have done the planning. He asked who will pay for the design and construction of new transformers and substations? He stated that the developers should pay for it because they are the parties who have proposed all the new development and caused the added demand on the system. He added that Eversource is responding to the market, and if Eversource does not respond it will have to have black outs or brown outs. He stated that Eversource did not create this problem; development and the additional energy needs created this situation. He stated that the City is looking at 140 megawatts of additional growth in energy. He commented that this is tremendous. He suggested going to Alewife to see if extra capacity can be used there. He stated that Alewife has 30 megawatts of capacity, which could help some today, but he did not believe an energy study was done for Alewife. He did not know what additional load energy use in the Quadrangle development will place on the whole system. Again, he stated that the City is short on planning. He proposed 3 plans. He stated that Plan A is the best version of the current proposal of what Eversource can do for both Putnam Avenue and Kendall Square sites. These sites are linked. He stated that Plan B is what happens if a one-acre parcel cannot be found in Kendall Square. Then all the load would fall on Putnam Avenue. He spoke about how much energy conservation it would take to make this work. Plan C is to get one acre of land from MIT. He noted that MIT has not done energy planning either. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT D).
Jim Gray, 2 Michael Way, stated that he lives near Fulkerson Street. He stated that he is a trained educator and he sees this as a jigsaw puzzle problem that is solvable. He stated that in his work at the MIT Media Lab, individuals take a step back from a problem and zoom back into the true necessities. He stated that with the right people in the room from different constituencies, the long-term sustainability issues in the City can be addressed, and the City can start planning for 40-50 years from now. He stated that he will get together with the various constituencies from engineering, environmental science, City residents, City administration, business development representatives and students to work on this. He stated that we all need to learn how to do this better for subsequent planning decisions.
Alan Greene, 82 Fifth Street, said the sale of the site in question is viewed as nefarious by the East Cambridge neighborhood. He stated that he is opposed to an Eversource substation located near a park and an elementary school or located in East Cambridge to serve Kendall Square. He offered two alternative solutions. The first is to remove one acre of projected development from the Volpe site and install the substation in this location. The second would be to identify one acre of MIT property within the city and locate the substation there. He stated that walking by the river he noticed that Killian Court is completely empty and suggested locating the substation at Killian Court. He displayed a picture of Killian Court (ATTACHMENT E). He submitted a petition started by Ilan Levy and Abra Berkowitz in opposition to the substation (ATTACHMENT F). He submitted a letter from Ilan Levy who could not attend the hearing (ATTACHMENT G).
Matthew Connolly, 13 Cornelius Way, stated that there is something wrong with this process. He stated that the Community Outreach Department at Eversource waited six years before reaching out to the community. He noted that Eversource stated a specific need for an acre of land for a substation site, but they cannot provide the community with the estimated height of the building. He stated that the reason for this is that Eversource does not want to tell the community about the height of the building because they do not want the opposition to organize. He commented that Eversource could have reached out to the community at any point over the last six years, but they waited. He further noted that there were opportunities to work together on this matter and Eversource chose not to, seemingly on purpose. He stated that as a resident that lives near this site he will not accept anything Eversource tells him. He stated that the Feb 4, 2019 Policy Order asked for an independent study and he would like to know where this study stands. He stated that the City needs its own experts to evaluate this. He noted that Eversource says it needs to find a site that can accommodate 40,000 square feet, with 80 feet of height, but he wants to hear this from someone independent who knows that this is true. He spoke about the fact that Eversource cannot find a willing seller or host for the property. He stated that the City needs to find willing hosts. He stated that there are four zoning proposals currently on the table in the City from major developers. He stated that the City Council has the obligation to bring the developers to the table. He suggested not approving any increase in megawatts until there is a solution to this problem. He stated that the developers caused the problem and they need to fix it.
Heather Hoffman, 213 Hurley Street, stated that the real story has not been told about how Eversource acquired ownership of the site. She wanted to know who the real parties of interest in this transaction were. If the City was double-crossed, those parties should never get a permit to do anything in this City ever again, but on the other hand, if people are being accused unfairly, they should not be treated as such. She stated that Robert Winters went to Envision meetings and brought up energy planning and was told that the City was not discussing it. She stated that this is malpractice. She stated that she assumed that these instructions came from those who hired the consultant and determined the scope of work. She stated that residents should know why this planning has not been done. She added that this planning is sorely needed and not doing it is a disservice to all. She stated that at the East Cambridge Planning Team meeting, Eversource, seemingly out of sheer helplessness, stated that it did not occur to them to go discuss energy infrastructure siting with the developers in the area.
Abra Berkowitz, 632 Massachusetts Avenue, stated that more meetings need to occur, and the public needs the information requested. She stated that she wanted to know what this energy would be used for, as she is speculating that much would be for lab and office uses, and she wanted more specific projections. She wanted to have some idea of the concepts being considered, the models and renderings that have been created, that the public does not have access to. She spoke about whether it’s possible the Fulkerson Street substation could be 80 feet tall and noted that the fact that this question cannot be answered indicates that it is a possibility. She stated that substations are not safe and spoke about substation explosions and the contaminants released. She spoke about an explosion in Queens, New York and noted that the public does not hear about the aftermath. She spoke about a “blue glow” and the fact that nearby cars were damaged. She stated that when one car was tested for a particular contaminant it was discovered that the level was above what is acceptable. She asked what if the damaged cars where children on a playing field, classrooms or individuals out with their dogs. This is about a dense neighborhood where people live. She highlighted other substation explosions that have occurred in other states.
Dirk Herschel, 157 Pleasant Street, is a resident abutting the Putnam Avenue proposed substation enhancement. He spoke about the residents’ concerns about health, safety and noise hazards. He stated that residents live close to the distribution line which exposes residents to 16 times the intensity of fields that have been linked to Leukemia. He stated that the noise would move 30 feet closer to his building. He noted that residents are immediately impacted by this. He stated that the overall concept that Cambridge development expanding power stations in residential areas to support commercial development is mind-boggling. He stated that at the BZA none of the alternative options were mentioned such as the one acre of land from MIT so there are solutions. He stated that Eversource has been disingenuous with the residents and are threatening brownouts. He acknowledged that there are other alternatives. He urged the City Council to do something about this.
Alysha Hearn, 165 Pleasant Street, stated that at every meeting with Eversource the residents learn more. No one wants children to be at risk. She stated that in her condo there are many families with children. It is unknown what the health risks could be.
Lee Farris, 269 Norfolk Street, stated that she is disappointed with the lack of planning on behalf of the City. The February 2019 Policy Order asked for an independent study to be done and she hopes that the City Council follow up on this. She wanted to know if the City is doing this independent study and when the results are expected. She stated that at the East Cambridge Planning Team meeting there was unanimous resolution that the position of the East Cambridge Planning Team was that there should be no more up-zoning permitted until a good solution to the electrical power problem is established. She supports this position.
Kelly Sherman, 71 Fulkerson Street, stated that the health concerns were her priority when she learned about this proposal. She stated that she is disappointed that the City has reached this place regarding the City’s planning efforts. She wanted an independent study done as soon as possible to make up for significantly lost time. She asked about the criteria of one acre of land and how was this size determined. What are the alternative approaches for energy needs? She asked about the need for one very large site versus smaller multiple sites.
Vice Mayor Devereux closed public comment at 3:36pm.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked if staff wanted to respond.
Ms. Farooq wanted to touch on the question of planning and who the City is thinking about energy needs in its planning. She stated that Envision Cambridge did not include detailed work on energy because the work that the City is doing already falls under the purview of the Net Zero Action Plan. She stated that the work that the City is able to do consists of efforts such as addressing low carbon energy supply. There is a study that will look at ways to green the energy supply system and the bulk will happen through the grid. The Low Carbon Energy Supply Strategy study has been completed and engagement will be initiated with potential stakeholders in Alewife and in the Kendall Square area in the summer and fall regarding specific areas where there may be opportunities. She stated that there are provisions in the zoning to encourage this usage rather than just using the grid. She stated that there is a misunderstanding that the City has the capability of doing an energy study and has chosen not to do it. She stated that the supply side from the grid is the most that the City could do because there isn’t this capacity in-house, the City could hire a consultant and come up with forecasting for energy for the build out analysis. She explained that the City would not have all the information about the network that Eversource has. She stated that ultimately this work needs to be done by Eversource. She stated that the other reason that the City did not focus on energy use related to the build out numbers is that through Envision there was no proposal or recommendations for additional commercial development. The City was relying on the K2C2 Study to discuss commercial development which was concluded in 2014-2015 time horizon. She stated that time the City did have a conversation with Eversource and what the build out projects would be from there. At that time the City was looking out to 2030 projections. The buildout information was shared with Eversource.
Kathy Watkins stated that in K2C2 the City pushed Eversource to think more broadly about the build out. She stated that this is the first time that the City has had this detailed information from Eversource about the projections and what they mean versus dealing more on an individual basis with the City. She stated that the City has worked with Eversource on the distribution. The City has been pushing for the distribution and supply side be part of the conversations. The City has worked with Eversource looking at the five-year plan, upcoming construction projects, opportunities to provide connections to and from the Kendall Square/East Cambridge area, looking at the Grand Junction and River Street and the alternatives to provide to have the infrastructure done in the least disruptive way as possible.
Commissioner O’Riordan stated that the City has success working with Eversource on coordinating projects such as Western Avenue and the Harvard tunnel. He spoke about in the future minimizing disruption in the City and a need to develop long-range plans and to continue to work together to minimize disruption and maximize the benefit to the community.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that she had extended an invitation to attend the hearing to every major property owner in Kendall Square, including MITIMCo, Alexandria, Biomed Realty, Leggatt McCall and New England Development, as well as to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority. Only Alexandria sent representatives.
Councillor Carlone stated that because of strategy of using existing roadway or the Grand Junction for a connection Eversource wants this close to the connections and Fulkerson Street is. He suggested taking out the energy needs around Prospect Street as it meets Somerville, the center point is along the railroad right of way, south of Main Street. He stated that ever developer will come to the City for a Special Permit and part of the evaluation will be for Public Works and the Electrical Department evaluation of whether this makes sense and will not without this facility. There will be some moderated need and cannot be changed overnight. He stated that he will go to MIT to negotiate a piece of land to satisfy all the needs. The City has eminent domain rights and he assumes that a public utility has these same rights. Mr. Zbikowski said Eversource does have eminent domain rights, but taking property by eminent domain has never been done in Eastern Massachusetts. He explained that it can only go for transmission orientation and may possibly cover the substation, but he is not sure how this plays with the distribution lines. Councillor Carlone asked Eversource to look into eminent domain for the substation for the next meeting. This has given a clear direction of what everyone must work toward.
Councillor Zondervan stated that he is outraged; this is unacceptable. He stated that with the latest IBCC report, the Health and Environment Committee heard from the Community Development Department recently, in its hearing on Net Zero Action Plan, that the City needs to consider a 45% reduction in emissions over the next 10 years from the 2010 baseline. He noted that this is an enormous amount of emissions reduction that the City must contemplate. He stated that there is no way the City can do this without Eversource and especially not if we are continuously adding more fossil fuel-based infrastructure. Yet, this is what Eversource is proposing. He stated that he is prepared to demand that there be no more Special Permits until this is resolved. The City needs to have zero increase in grid power emissions in Cambridge. He stated that there is no reason to add to the consumption of the grid in Cambridge. He has achieved a 50% reduction at his house. He stated that the buildings are lite up at night for no one; this needs to stop. He stated that significant investments need to be made in demand reduction, renewable energy and battery storage. He stated that this is where the effort needs to go and not in satisfying additional anticipated demand by building more power stations. He stated that it is not okay to do this anymore; the future with climate change is going to be horrible. He asked if there are conduits along the routes. Mr. Zbikowski responded that this will be new infrastructure connected to the new substation. He stated that there are no existing conduits at this location. He stated that Eversource tried for their other points of connection and there are conduits at that location. He stated that at this present site Eversource has to buildout in certain directions as indicated. Ms. Watkins stated that Eversource needs to get from the substation to Prospect Street. Councillor Zondervan said this further underscores the insanity.
Commissioner O’Riordan stated that it is important that the City did the Low Carbon Energy Supply Strategy study and if the City wants to move away from fossil fuels the need to strengthen the grid exists, and this is a conversation that the City has begun with Eversource. He stated that the City needs to use renewable energy sources, but also needs a supply system that is greater than what exists today, in order to provide for this in the community and abandon fossil fuel use. He stated that the City is not at a point to abandon or reduce the extent to which the grid provides energy into the community. Councillor Zondervan stated that he is not suggestion abandoning anything in progress or reducing the amount of electricity use we currently have, but the City cannot be increasing it. He stated that this can be achieved by local production and storage and the City needs to go in this direction. This substation needs to be in Kendall Square. He suggested putting the substation across from police station at the Verizon parking lot site.
Councillor Toomey asked how do we move forward? He stated that the proposed Fulkerson Street location or any other residential site for a substation is unacceptable. He stated that there have been several Policy Orders on this subject. Policy Order #2 of Apr 22, 2019 (ATTACHMENT H) asked the City Solicitor to provide information on what legal authority the City has to determine the siting of these substations. He stated that trust and communication is important, and in his opinion, this did not happen in the beginning of the process.
Councillor Mallon stated that the Verizon site mentioned by Councillor Zondervan is no better as it is across the street from the Cambridge Community Charter School of Cambridge. She spoke about the independent study requested via the February Policy Order, which requested an environmental impact study for the health and safety impacts for locating a substation adjacent to a residential neighborhood and near an elementary school. She asked if this process has been started. Vice Mayor Devereux stated that the City Council has not received a response about this study.
Ms. Farooq stated that the Policy Order was given to Eversource for them to embark on this study. She stated that the City Manager did forward this Policy Order to Eversource. There was to a report back to the City Council. Councillor Mallon stated that no report has been received by the City Council. Mr. Zamparelli stated that he will take this off-line and discuss this, as he is not familiar with the details of the Policy Order. He will work to get the answer. Councillor Mallon wanted information on where Eversource is in this process and a timeline for a response to the Policy Order.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that communications were received by members of the public, and will be made part of this report as follows:
A communication from Jose Rose, 72 Spring Street, in opposition to Eversource’s plan to place a substation on Fulkerson Street (ATTACHMENT I).
A communication from Sam Murphy in opposition to Eversource’s plan to place a substation on Fulkerson Street (ATTACHMENT J).
A communication from Jeanne Koopman, 248 River Street, in opposition to Eversource’s plan to place a substation adjacent to the Kennedy-Longfellow School (ATTACHMENT K).
A communication from Rhonda Massie, 211 Charles Street, expressing concerns for the location of a substation in the community (ATTACHMENT L).
A communication from Helene O’Brien, 244 Brattle Street, in opposition to Eversource’s plans to place a substation on Fulkerson Street (ATTACHMENT M).
A communication from John Paul, 90 Spring Street, in opposition to Eversource’s plan to place a substation adjacent to the Kennedy-Longfellow School (ATTACHMENT N).
A communication from Bonnie Steyer, in opposition to Eversource’s plan to place a substation adjacent to the Kennedy-Longfellow School (ATTACHMENT O).
A communication from Tim Trapp, 377-379 Putnam Avenue, requesting that the City use a citywide master planning process with Eversource (ATTACHMENT P).
A communication from School Committee member Fred Fantini transmitting notification that the School Committee voted to oppose the Eversource plan to place a substation adjacent to the Kennedy-Longfellow School (ATTACHMENT Q).
A communication from Gretchen Kronenberg in opposition to Eversource’s plan for the substation located on Putnam Avenue (ATTACHMENT R).
A communication from Susan Johansson requesting that no substation be located near the Kennedy-Longfellow School (ATTACHMENT S).
Vice Mayor Devereux suggested that a working group would be helpful, as suggested by Mr. Gray. She commented that it is unknown if City staff will participate in this working group. She discussed a motion to formally convene a working group with a timeline.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that this is complex and there are different stakeholders who need to be in the same room, including property owners. If the City is trying to help Eversource identify a site, then the property owners who control the sites that will eventually be served by the energy supply from that site need to be at the table. She wanted to convene a working group and suggested that a place to start would be to confer with Mr. Gray, who has offered to assemble individuals who are knowledgeable from the MIT community. She stated that it was a great idea to have the Kennedy-Longfellow School represented. She wanted the City staff involved in this as well, and Eversource.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that she hears what Councillor Carlone and Councillor Zondervan are suggesting about withholding or pausing discussions about future up-zoning petitions or Special Permits until this is resolved. She asked if CambridgeSide’s proposed re-zoning and new development is included in Eversource’s projected needs. Mr. Zbikowski responded in the negative. She stated that the City Council cannot continue to discuss up-zoning petitions while this electricity capacity problem exists. She stated that this is an immediate problem that needs to be resolved.
Vice Mayor Devereux made the following motions:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to provide an update on Policy Order # 3 of Feb 4, 2019, requesting an environmental impact study of the health and safety impacts of locating a large substation adjacent to a residential neighborhood and elementary school, and other information relating to the size and rendering of the substation, and also to provide an update on Policy Order # 2 of Apr 22, 2019, requesting the City Solicitor to provide information on what legal authority the City has to determine the siting of these substations.
The motion carried on a voice vote of four members.
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to convene a working group including members of the MIT community, members of the Kennedy-Longfellow community, property owners in Kendall Square, City Staff and representatives from Eversource to discuss the possibility of an alternate site for the Fulkerson Street substation; and be it further
ORDERED: That the working group report back to the City Council no later than the end of September 2019.
The motion carried on a voice vote of four members.
Councillor Carlone asked for a statement from Eversource that without a substation there are potential problems.
Ms. Farooq stated that the Council is not the special permit granting authority and that the Planning Board must grant a Special Permit unless there is legitimate and clear rationale for not doing so. Denying a special permit for other reasons could be subject to appeal. She stated that it will be extremely challenging for the Planning Board to be in the position of not granting Special Permits during this consideration. She spoke about the amount of electricity being used. She stated that as the City gets buildings to move to Net Zero one of the mechanisms is to switch them off of natural gas and more towards electricity. She stated that the trend for more load on the electrical system is likely as the City gets buildings to be greener. She spoke about considering the long term, multi-decade horizon, and whatever working group is considering this ought to be really considering that the load may in fact be larger but that there will be less need for natural gas. She spoke about these sites being repurposed and should be part of the conversation and that the time horizon of consideration be multi-decade. Mr. Zbikowski stated that this is a second follow up group because for the first group this is a precipice on top of the panic that was discussed. He stated that the electric demand is going to have to go up and the question is how far does this major substation go. There will be major demand seen between 8:30am-8:30pm and if the City gets to Net Zero but it is difficult to get back to Net Zero. There may be a need on this first substation to have one group and then another working group. Vice Mayor Devereux noted that there is gas works on Third Street in Kendall Square, which is potentially moving to allow another development but may not be needed in 10-15 years.
Councillor Carlone agreed with Ms. Farooq about the Planning Board operation but if a project is going to lead to brownouts without a definitive plan this is a no-go and a Special Permit cannot be granted. Public Works needs to state that they are there energy-wise or something is wrong with the Special Permit process if there is no electricity capacity for a project. If built it may not get an occupancy permit. He stated that the point is to put pressure on the big landowners to move on this.
Councillor Zondervan moved the motion that the City Manager not grant any further Special Permits until this has been resolved. No action was taken on this motion.
Vice Mayor Devereux noted that the Planning Board cannot legally deny a Special Permit but can continue the case. Ms. Farooq stated that the developers could be requested to go to Eversource and get a letter stating that power will be provided to this site under the current capacity. She added that beyond this there is no legitimate grounds for the Planning Board to continue to extend the application. She explained that permits are extended because the Planning Board requests for a modification of the design. She stated that the Planning Board cannot enforce an extension; the extension has to be granted by the applicant otherwise it is a constructive grant of the permit.
Councillor Zondervan stated that he will be submitting a separate Policy Order asking that the Planning Board not issue these Special Permits. He stated that the Planning Board has the authority to do so otherwise why is there a Special Permit process. He stated again that there is no reason to be increasing grid electrical consumption. Electricity can be generated locally to offset the increased electrical demand that is being produced and put storage on site, do micro grids, demand management and turn off the lights. He stated that it is not acceptable to increase the amount of grid energy that is being consumed when that energy rate now is 14% renewable; it is not acceptable.
Vice Mayor Devereux commented that she does not know if there are any Special Permits in the pipeline between now and September. She stated that in the best of all possible worlds a new site will be found and this problem will be solved between now and September and will not need to go to extreme measures of doing this.
Vice Mayor Devereux thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 4:27pm.
For the Committee,
Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Chair
Committee Report #2
The Economic Development and University Relations Committee held a public hearing on Tues, Apr 30, 2019 at 12:00pm in the Sullivan Chamber to discuss a Cambridge vacant storefront registration ordinance.
Present at the hearing were Councillor Siddiqui, Chair of the Committee; Councillor Mallon; Councillor Zondervan; Councillor Simmons; Councillor Carlone; Vice Mayor Devereux; Lisa Peterson, Deputy City Manager; Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development; Lisa Hemmerle, Economic Development Director; Pardis Saffari, Senior Economic Development Specialist; Bonnie-May Shantz, Economic Development Specialist, Economic Development Department (EDD), Community Development Department (CDD); Arthur Goldberg, Deputy City Solicitor; Andrew Johnson, Deputy Director, Assessor’s Office; Sarah Stillman; and Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk.
Also present were David Maher, President and CEO, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce; Jason Alves, Executive Director, East Cambridge Business Association (ECBA); Michael Monestime, Executive Director, Central Square Business Association (CSBA); Denise Jillson, Executive Director, Harvard Square Business Association; Alana Olson; Nicola Williams; John Hawkinson; and Lee Farris.
Committee members Councillor Kelley and Councillor Toomey were both absent.
Councillor Siddiqui convened the hearing and introductions were made. She read from a prepared written Opening Statement (ATTACHMENT A). She gave an overview of the agenda for the hearing (ATTACHMENT B). Councillor Siddiqui introduced Lisa Hemmerle.
Ms. Hemmerle said that the Economic Development Department would like to talk about the vacant storefront as an activation strategy. She gave an overview of the PowerPoint presentation titled Vacant Storefront Activation (ATTACHMENT C).
Pardis Saffari then outlined the information from the handout titled April 2019 Cambridge Ground Floor Vacancy Database (ATTACHMENT D) and the events that will take place in Cambridge for the celebration of National Small Business Week (ATTACHMENT E).
Councillor Siddiqui thanked Ms. Hemmerle for the presentation.
Councillor Siddiqui said that she would like to start the conversation around the specific issues heard from the property owners that she has been meeting with. She asked about the outreach to some of these owners. Ms. Saffari stated that there has been difficulty in getting in touch with some property owners, especially those where the building is in a trust. She stated that some of the larger property owners may have a local leasing agent. She noted that the structure of a property has much to do with how EDD has been able to communicate with an owner. She noted that some owners are responding but explained that people tend to be willing to engage based on what is happening in the space.
Councillor Zondervan asked if EDD is looking at high rents as well as the average rents because he continues to hear about excessive rents in Harvard Square. Ms. Saffari responded that Harvard Square does have higher rents ranging from $100-$180 per square foot while $46.65 is the average rate citywide. Councillor Zondervan asked if it is possible to have a sense of the asking rent in the database. Ms. Saffari advised that EDD will try to update the rents in the different districts within the database.
Councillor Zondervan said that he noticed that there are a lot of vacancies with 4 or more years. He said that his sense is that those are the problem situations that the City should be most concerned about. He asked for any thoughts or strategies to address these properties. Ms. Hemmerle responded that the issue that they run into is that even if the owners of the vacant properties are fined the maximum amount, it will not move the larger property owners unless they want to move and activate. She noted that a fine can be imposed but that does not mean that a large property owner will do what they are asked. Councillor Zondervan said that he appreciates the challenge facing EDD. He asked if there has been any thought as to what may impact the long-term vacancies other than charging a fine. Ms. Hemmerle commented that they have been unable to find anything that can be done legally to move those types of property owners. She said that what EDD can work with smaller property owners to activate vacant spaces which will make a difference.
Councillor Zondervan asked if the City could fine or regulate based on an excessive amount of rent being charged. Mr. Goldberg responded that the $300 is a general limit imposed by state law, therefore the City does not have the discretion to increase that amount. Ms. Hemmerle said that this is a private transaction and the City cannot legally get involved in a private transaction.
Councillor Simmons said that she sees that we are looking at a fine-based structure toward people who chronically have empty retail spaces. She suggested the possibility of a program that assists a small entrepreneur who would qualify within some criteria and could not afford a high rent. She talked that when 10 Magazine was first organized, the ground floor retail was deliberately kept affordable so local vendors and retailers would be able to move in. She said that the rent was greatly suppressed. She said that there are certain retail styles that do not generate activity. She said that she would love to hear from the small business associations.
Councillor Siddiqui said that there is a proposal at the state level to give tax breaks to businesses that move into a vacant storefront. She said that businesses would receive up to a $10,000 in tax credits from the States’ Economic Development Incentive Program if the municipality agrees to give it an award. She noted that those details are being worked out.
Vice Mayor Devereux said that this is a frustrating conversation, but she does appreciate the information on the database. She said that as it relates to how these spaces became vacant, many circumstances are self-inflicted wherein the owner has displaced a viable tenant without having someone lined up. She said that there are numerous developments that still have not leased. She said that there are other new developments coming online that she has been told were permitted with ground floor space deliberately zoned for small, affordable stores. She said that she wants to ensure that CDD is keeping the pressure on developers who have received Special Permits and zoning changes with the agreement that there would be ground floor retail. She said that they should not be let off the hook. She said that it is distressing to be in Harvard Square these days. She said that she is sorry to say that the landlords are greedy. She said that in terms of activation, the building wrap is not really active, although it does make the street slightly more attractive. She asked under what conditions the $300 per day fine would be imposed. She said that if they were in Tier C and were obligated to submit a quarterly marketing report and they did not do that, would that mean they had to pay the fine? Ms. Hemmerle responded that this was one of the trigger points that they were suggesting. She said that if an owner does not activate their space and provide CDD with a regularly updated marketing report to show that they are making an effort, the fining system would be triggered. She said that we at the EDD need to update what those parameters are. She said that engaging and matchmaking with property owners and entrepreneurs would be good. She said that Boston is doing matchmaking sessions with vacant storefronts and entrepreneurs. She said that the EDD will attend this session and learn some best practices.
Arthur Goldberg said that a fine would be any requirement set out in the ordinance. He said that if there is a violation of that, a fine could be imposed. He said that if there is a reporting requirement that is not met, a fine could be imposed. Vice Mayor Devereux asked if an ordinance can set the outer limit at which you could leave a property vacant. She asked if this is something that can be regulated through an ordinance. Mr. Goldberg said that he would want to look at that, but he believes that there are other communities that do have ordinances that set a time limit. He said that he assumes that they have looked at that question and determined that they could do it. Vice Mayor Devereux said that would be helpful. As it relates to the matchmaking session, Vice Mayor Devereux asked if it is possible to set up a publicly available registry of businesses that have been displaced, the amount of footage that they are looking for, etc. to connect the two? She said that the City should encourage property owners to look at that registry to aid in the conversation. Ms. Saffari stated that if the business owner is open to have EDD publicly list it, it would be something to consider. She said that EDD does do work behind the scenes to match sites with people.
Councillor Siddiqui said that sometimes there are tax advantages to not renting a space. She said that there are other elements at play and there are some who will not respond. She said that a fine may not mean much of anything to some, but if we do nothing, the alternative is a continuation of the status quo.
Councillor Mallon said that business associations have valuable insight. She said that she looks forward to Ms. Denise Jillson speaking about rent in Harvard Square. In terms of Central Square and the Central Square Restoration petition and the increased FAR, the reason why this was done was partially so that the ground floor tenants would be able to pay less money and it would be an incentive for ground floor tenants. She said that the property owners should be able to provide lower rents on ground floor. She questioned whether this could be done in a Special Permit process. She said that she wants to be creative in how the City incentivizes FAR bumps for a lower rate on the ground floor. Ms. Farooq said that they investigated this question a few years ago and what they found was that the government entity does not have the ability to tell people what rents they can charge but the City does have the ability, when providing a zoning incentive, is to say what the parameters of the space must be. For instance, if they created a set that if we are not counting innovation space as FAR, and we are counting it as partially 50% of its actual square footage as the official GFA that goes to FAR, then what are the parameters that it must meet. She said that it had things such as what the size of the space ought to be, the fact that it must have short-term leases, that there must be common facilities. She said that CDD may be able to define what we are thinking of such as encouraging micro retail to make it affordable for people, we may be able to create directives around what that is if you are going to get FAR incentive. She said that in Kendall Square, the exempt square footage on the ground floor must be smaller than a certain square footage for each retail space. She said that there must be individual entrances, so it does not feel like a mall. She said that it limits the frontage so that the bulk of the particular use is behind something that is more active on the street front. She said that these kinds of physical parameters we can have but the City is not able to intervene in the financial transaction that people are having.
Councillor Mallon said that in the case of Mass + Main, the physical parameters that were set out are going to deliver the smaller retail that will have a smaller amount of rent. Ms. Farooq said that they will have smaller spaces although we do not have control over the rent. She said that due to the smaller square footage, it will be cheaper for someone to rent.
Councillor Mallon said that small businesses are feeling a lot of retail pressure and pressure from the City as it relates to ordinances and bans. She said that if the City Council does decide to go with a “stick approach,” she would encourage a per day sliding scale. She said that she and Councillor Siddiqui had proposed a Policy Order to have the Assessing Department look into decreased taxes for property owners that provide a below market rent. Mr. Johnson responded that this is not allowed by state law. He said that the City can only provide discounts for affordable housing. Anything else that is not exempt we have to provide full and fair cash value. Councillor Mallon stated that she last heard from the former Director of Assessing that he was looking up something with the Department of Revenue and the City Council has not received anything back pertaining to this issue. Mr. Johnston said that it is possible that Mr. Reardon was looking at something that would be a change at the state level. He said that under current regulations, the City cannot do this. Councillor Mallon said that she would like to hear back from the Assessing Department on this issue. She said that in the presentation, Ms. Saffari said that retail spaces can be stuck within the city process for up to a year and we don’t want to look at them as targets for potential fines. She asked what the biggest holdup is this process. She said that the City should work to decrease this holdup. Ms. Saffari said that the processes can be with the City, Planning Board or Board of Zoning Appeal level. She said that this process is not on the City processes but the lease negotiation or the buildout. She noted that all may play a role. Councillor Mallon encouraged fast tracking of the Table of Land Uses which would help.
Councillor Siddiqui said that her goal is not to hurt small businesses further. She said that when looking at ownership breakdown, the City cannot regulate based on property ownership, but it can regulate on length of vacancy and there can be a balance. She said that there are properties that are mostly owned by real estate investment trusts that have been vacant for years and that is a problem. She said that there is a lot of nuance and she does not want the mom and pop shops to be punished. She noted a clear distinction. Councillor Mallon agreed with Councillor Siddiqui that the mom and pops do not get hit unnecessarily hard for something such as a store not being ADA compliant. She said that everyone we would come to look at cannot make the necessarily adjustments and then also get hit with a fine every day. Councillor Siddiqui noted this topic of ADA compliance is a separate issue for the City to take on.
Councillor Carlone said that he finds the list of vacancies very informative and helpful. He said that the presentation was useful but does raise questions on specific issues. He said that a blight to a neighborhood is very hard to define. He said that the former Evergood Market site is blank visually, but the lack of a grocery store is a bigger blight. He said that the owner refuses to upgrade the space before a tenant moves in. He said that it is more than a blight, it is almost an insult. He said that people cannot believe that this space is still empty. He said that it does affect other businesses and it does have an impact on the quality of the neighborhood. He said that defining blight is very different and very personal. He said that it is important to find out what each neighborhood needs, and we need to promote those needs. He said that it would be helpful for a property owner to place a sign in a property where a lease is in the process. He said that he would add Pre-K to the topic of retail activation. He said that this is animation. He said that the bigger spaces are more critical than the smaller spaces. Councillor Carlone asked how or what we are proposing is different than Arlington. He stated that housing and office developers do not know retail. He asked if the City can bring in a retail consultant to talk about what is possible. He asked if there can be 20% affordable retail if we can give that retail floor up as a bonus. He said that the mom and pop shops would have that opportunity, even if only a short-term lease. Councillor Carlone noted his agreement with Ms. Farooq on size and short-term leases but if it is a Special Permit bonus, he believes that we can go further. He said that this is a great beginning, but it does raise further questions.
Vice Mayor Devereux said that it is not about hurting small businesses. The “stick” is for landlords. She said that she has heard that pop-ups would not re-start the clock. She talked about the Hidden Sweet space in Harvard Square-yes, they had the Lululemon in there for 6 months as a pop-up, but this should not be listed as a less-than-6-month vacancy, it should be listed as a 4+ year vacancy. Also, Vice Mayor Devereux said she did not see what used to be the Riverside Health building on Western Avenue listed. She asked who owns that property. Ms. Peterson responded that the City has entered into a long-term lease with the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) for that property. She said that currently this site is zoned for health services. She noted that the City owns the building, but the CHA has control currently.
Jason Alves stated that EDD did good job outlining concerns. He said that when going through some of the East Cambridge Business Association vacancies, he is not sure that any of them would be able to be fined because they would be able to show enough effort on getting the sites vacated. He said that he does not know how fining would solve the problem. He said that blight is a problem and he understands the difficulty when trying to define the term blight. He said that there may be rules within the City that could be enforced. He said that he is unsure if there are fines attached to existing regulations. It would be good to know if there are city regulations that the city could enforce instead of layering on a new regulation. He asked if the City is following up on Special Permit regulations to push people in the right direction. He said that the business association do not just let spaces sit vacant. He said that they do reach out to the property owners, but it is hard to make people do the right thing. He said that giving EDD the tools to approach some of these people would be helpful. He questioned how often property owners that have retail on the ground floor actually file for abatements. He said that there could be a better effort to reach out to landlords who are being good with the goal of helping them file for an abatement. He said that there are people making a living building a business without that advantage and he questioned what message is being sent.
Councillor Siddiqui said that to be clear, we do not want an automatic fine. We want to incentivize landlords to do something. Fines are not the goal. She noted the need for clear guidelines.
Michael Monestime stated that overall there is a small vacancy rate across the city. He noted that there are 7 listed in Central Square. Of those 7, he said that 5 are either in contract or in the process of coming on line so there are truly only 2 vacancies. He said that we should not allow for dead space in any of the business districts for a long length of time. He said that he does not know if fines are the right mechanism as they are a reactive approach. He asked who will enforce and issue violations. He asked if people will have the opportunity to counter that violation if they are doing something to fill the space. He said that the City has great programs that support small businesses. He asked if there could be a tenant improvement fund that could help businesses build out space. He noted that the cost to build out a space can be up to $200.00 per square foot. Mr. Monestime said that he is favor of activation. He said that popups are good. He added that EDD did a great job putting the presentation together, but he is hearing that finding a loan will not solve the problem.
David Maher stated that this issue is surely not unique to Cambridge. He said that the rates in other communities are far greater than in Cambridge. He stated that if you operate a restaurant or bar in Cambridge, the City has current database with up to date information. He said that this is where you should be looking. He said that we should look at an ordinance that stated that if you have a retail establishment, there must be a manager of record. He explained that every time a manager of a bar or restaurant leaves their position, the new manager information must be updated. He said that the City is not without fault on a lot of these issues. He said that the City is a landlord on First Street and the City is on the egregious side of the issue. He said that sometimes you must be self-reflective. He said that the restaurant that was in that space has not been there is more than a dozen years. He said that if it is a national brand or a big organization, they can wait to build out over a twelve-month period. He said that if you are a small business, you cannot wait that long. He said that the City needs to look at some type of expedited permitting process for small businesses. He said that the national statistics around small businesses, says that there is a high failure rate. He said that there are also landlords that have not collected from businesses that are in in establishments that may not have paid rent for 2+ years. He said that sometimes businesses are not successful because it is a bad business or difficult to operate. He stated that there are definitely issues and times when we must go in with a stick and it does have a detrimental effect on other businesses. He said that the issue of rents and how much they are is such a complicated issue. He said that landlords are reluctant to start lowering rents when they have people paying higher rents. He said that this is probably happening in Harvard Square. He said that the City must think of ways to support small businesses and promote the shopping districts. He said that it is time to look at the City stepping up with financial resources and allowing the business districts to support local businesses. He stated the need to look at ways to do more financial partnering. He said that retail has changed and will continue to change.
Denise Jillson stated that the Harvard Square Business Associated pays attention to the occupancy rate. She said that Harvard Square occupancy rate is somewhere between 95%-97%. She said that two of the longstanding vacancies are 10 Church Street and JFK Street, which are both the same owner. She said that currently the occupancy rate is 90% (and vacancy rate is at 10%). This is the lowest in 13 years since she has been Director of the Harvard Square Business Association. She said that in the past six months, they have lost businesses for a variety of reasons. She said that retail is struggling in a way that it has never struggled before. She noted online sales, regional competition, and Amazon as examples. Ms. Jillson said we cannot compete with Assembly Row, and what Boston is doing. She said that this is a problem that is bigger than rents; we need a broader strategy. She said that rents are determined based on location, size and other factors. She said that there is lower foot traffic in Harvard Square. She said that Harvard Square is an authentic place and there is not a cohesive theme such as Assembly Row or the Seaport District. She said that it is important to look at a much larger picture. She said that of the 17 vacancies, 2 are being redeveloped, 2 are leased, 8 are actively leasing, 2 are former tenants that under lease that have about 18 months to go on a lease and have they have decided that it was less expensive for them to pay a monthly rent than it was to keep the business going in a manner which they were losing money. She said that the problem is far more complex. She said that when looking at 10 Church Street, this vacancy is going on 7 years since the AMC Theater left. She said that the impact on Church Street has been real and that should never be allowed. She said that location and size matter. What is on the street on a daily basis matters. She said that she is not discouraging the idea of a fine, but we need to be very careful, and look at other things as well.
Councillor Zondervan said that Mr. Maher stated that the nature of retail has changed, and it makes it challenging. He said that the City needs to look at long-term vacancies, but we need to dig deeper and think about what kind of economy and retail we are trying to build and attract. He would like to think about this in the context of the other challenges that the City faces, including climate change which impacts what we should be doing as opposed to what we have been doing. He said that we should think about the role of efficiency because part of what is killing us is the constant drive to be more efficient. He said that online retail is doing well because it is efficient.
Councillor Carlone said that the comments of the Business Associations were on target. He said that retail always changes. He stated that Cambridge is a dense city so walk in retail will survive in places such as Harvard, Inman and Central Squares. He said that there are complex issues and we need an overall strategy for each individual square. He said that we need an overall urban design strategy that will reinforce a walkable city. He said that urban design is implementation and finding a commonality. Regarding fines, Councillor Carlone said that $300 an owner per day seems crazy when thinking about a 20-foot storefront versus a movie theater. He said that if we are not going to fine for the worst of conditions, what are we going to do? He does think that we must get the City more involved with managing their own spaces.
Mr. Alves stated that the Business Associations understand that the intention is not to add fines, but to solve the problem. He said that it is important to understand why the business community is leery of new fees. He said that there are layers upon layers of fees that most people do not realize is part of doing business in Cambridge. He said that it would be great to understand how those fees compare to other cities and towns. He said that an expedited permitting process saves money for businesses. He said when thinking about locating a business in Cambridge or Somerville, two persons told him that Somerville picks up business trash for free and in Cambridge there is a fee and Somerville has a small business parking permit while Cambridge does not. He said that these are barriers to opening a business in Cambridge. He said that other real fees are license commission fees. He questioned if Cambridge should be on par with the fees in Somerville or more competitive to by charging less to entice new businesses. He spoke about the patio fee that was put in place a couple of years ago. He said that private patios have been in the City forever so why is it more expensive to have a private patio? He said that business owners pay more in taxes and they get less services. He said that he recently learned that businesses pay an inspector for their alarms and sprinkler systems and then the City requires the businesses to have the City do these inspections as well at an additional cost.
Councillor Siddiqui opened the hearing to Public Comment at 1:32pm.
Alana Olsen, Senior Director of Strategic Programs for the Kendall Square Association, stated that she has not had a chance to meet her colleagues that are leading this work. She said that she is grateful for the boots on the ground work that is done every day. She said that she appreciates the presentation by CDD and the report that was shared in advance of the hearing. She said that some obvious things to her is the low vacancy rate in Cambridge. She said that we have heard about best practices and how the City can help to turning challenges into opportunities. She encouraged everyone to think about what it is that we are trying to incentivize. She said that Kendall Square is developing very quickly and one of the things that they push for is developing relationships with builders and developers so that they can bring the kinds of retail and the boutique atmosphere retail into Kendall Square. She said that there is some need for basic services in Kendall Square such as grocery store. She said that it would be a missed opportunity to incentivize developers to only attract AAA credit-rated, major businesses that operate from 9:00am to 5:00pm. She said that she is looking forward to engaging in this work.
Nicola Williams acknowledged Ms. Hemmerle and team for really listening to the businesses. She stated that this will help local and independent businesses. She said that concerns that she has are the escalating rents, diversity of businesses and the people that own them, and access given the net worth of African Americans in the greater Boston area. She said that any types of incentives would be good. She agrees that we need overall strategy for each square. As it relates to the approach of fees versus fines, she said that she believes in the carrot versus the stick approach. She suggested the possibility of looking at a percentage of the value of the property that could be a more equitable and fair process. She said that the business districts do need support and resources for beautification. She said that if the Affordable Housing Overlay District passes, she is concerned about a strategy around 20% affordable retail, we will be hurting and displacing some businesses. She said that incentivizing is a great opportunity.
John Hawkinson stated that he did not look closely at the database. He said that the length of vacancy field serves to understate the problem because it is limited. He said that it should give the exact length of time as CDD knows it. He said that the location field should be in a way that lets you join it with GIS data so you can easily make maps. He said that for many properties, the actual owner is not the beneficial owner. He said if the City knows who the beneficial owner is, it should state it. He said that the database should list the square or neighborhood. As it relates to the legal approach, he said that he thinks that the City has not been aggressive and chooses defensive solutions. He said that the City needs to take legal battles and go to court. Regarding the BZA permitting efficiency, he said that you wait one month for a transcript and then another month to write the decision. He said that decisions could be written overnight for simple cases.
Lee Farris, 269 Norfolk Street, stated her support for the basic concept of activating vacant storefronts. She said that when thinking about pop-ups that the City has tried hosting such as the booths and tables on a pop-up basis in different parts of Central Square, she wondered if there could be a roster of businesses that would like to be included every time there is a storefront vacant for more than a certain amount of time. She said that if she had a small business or was a visitor to such a small business, she would like that better than trying to figure out if the fair is on today or just every Saturday for a certain amount of time. She said that there may be a way to easily activate at a low cost to help businesses get to the next level. She encouraged the idea of affordability in retail. She said that long ago she proposed that the City consider trying to do some kind of equivalent of limited equity condos for small businesses where the City would hold the underlying lease and a small business could buy such a limited equity ownership and then it would go back to the City when it goes out of business.
Councillor Siddiqui closed Public Comment at 1:46pm.
Councillor Mallon stated her support about an overall strategy for each square. She said that in Harvard Square, the Office of Tourism could help to drive traffic and figure out how to get people there. She said that this is yet to be determined in Inman Square and East Cambridge. She said that we must think about each square as a different microcosm. She said that Kendall Square is a totally different animal than the rest. She stated the need for a larger conversation regarding some of the topics brought up today such as expediting the permit process, etc.
Councillor Carlone said that when we are focusing on retail and squares and connector streets, we must think about what the neighborhoods are without that. He said that we are really talking about is quality of living and the quality of the neighborhood. He said that it is really about the big picture, especially the residential areas adjacent to each of the squares. He said that he totally agrees that the City must invest more.
Vice Mayor Devereux said that as it relates to information that the City can collect as part of the permitting process, she assumes that ISD has the information of a contact person when they give a business license or permit. She questioned how this information can be updates and how can we ask for more information so that it is on record as well as some process for notification to the City when there is a change in ownership. She said that she appreciates the comments regarding a more robust database. She said that the Affordable Housing Overlay District is something that the City Council will have to be very deliberative with when looking at how an overlay project will interact within a local business district or a main commercial district. She said that the City must take a proactive stance in determining what it wants to see there and making sure that it is there because it cannot be left to chance.
Ms. Jillson stated that she does not want anyone to think that Harvard Square is not optimistic about what is going on in Harvard Square. She said that there will be more closings that will pose challenges as well as possibly 9 major construction projects in the square. She said that during that period when Harvard Square is under construction, they will also be looking at zoning and change of use because retail is changing. She said that they are going to have an opportunity for new and exciting things. She said that she is grateful for the conversation and looking forward to the next couple of years. She said that she spoke recently at a luncheon of the Cambridge Mothers Club and several women said that they would not go into Harvard Square for the next couple of years but Ms. Jillson’s reply is that this is not the answer. She said that what is needed is that people go to Harvard Square every single day.
Councillor Siddiqui asked City staff to talk about National Small Business Week. Ms. Saffari gave an overview of events taking place.
Ms. Saffari also gave an update on the vacant storefront design contest. She noted that 4 storefronts are participating in putting up designs which will be in place in the next 2-3 weeks.
Councillor Siddiqui thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 1:58pm.
For the Committee,
Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair
Committee Report #3
The Ordinance Committee, comprised of the entire membership of the City Council, held a public hearing on May 1, 2019 at 5:33pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss a petition to amend the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.16 entitled “Noise Control” by deleting sections 8.16.081-8.16.087 to prohibit the use of leaf blowers in the City of Cambridge (ATTACHMENT 1).
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 Simmons; Councillor Zondervan; Deputy City Manager Lisa Peterson; Public Works Commissioner Owen O’Riordan; Deputy Public Works Commissioner John Nardone; Superintendent of Parks David Webster; Assistant City Manager for Human Service Programs Ellen Semonoff; Recreation Director Adam Corbeil; License Commission Chair Nicole Murati Ferrer; Chief Licensing Investigator Andrea Boyer; Superintendent of the Water Department Sam Corda; City Solicitor Nancy Glowa; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were Lizzie deRham, 20 Middlesex Street; Thomas Anninger, 26 Healey Street; Kevin Braga, 362 Green Street; Jim Boyle, 362 Green Street; Nan Laird, 156 Hancock Street; Elizabeth Van Ranst, 120 Foster Street; Brian Logee, 37 Smith Place; Laura McMurry, 334 Harvard Street; John Henn, 6 Walnut Street; Mark Nielsen, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue; Michael Tanlor, 28 Blakeslee Street; Peg McAdam, 131 Sunnyside, Arlington; Steve Christy, 200 Shrewsbury Street, Boylston; Megan Brook, 103 Inman Street; Norman Magnuson, 77 Massachusetts Avenue; Dr. Jo Solet, 15 Berkeley Street; James Kelley, 100 Smith Place; Mark Saidnaway, 2225 Massachusetts Avenue; Bill Lacey, 70 Ceylon Street, Boston; Gary Tibbetts, 2 Tufts Road, Arlington; Carol O’Hare, 172 Magazine Street; Tom Harrison, 91 Sherman Street; Pam Latimer, 10 Rogers Street; Tom Lucey, Harvard University; Ed Abrams, 80 Wendell Street; John McMahon, 36 Blakeslee Street; Denise Jillson, 2203 Massachusetts Avenue; Maggie Booz, 27 Lawn Street; Sue Butler, 14 Clinton Street; John Pitkin, 18 Fayette Street; Alisa Lemberg, 25 Loomis Street; and Milan Vit, 1 Craigie Street.
Councillor Kelley convened the hearing and stated the purpose. He announced that the hearing was being audio and video recorded. He stated that the petition will be presented by the petitioners, followed by comments by city staff, clarifying questions, public comment and then back to City Council for discussion.
Virginia Coleman, 2 Berkeley Place, the petitioner, stated that she was here to discuss leaf blowers. She stated that the petition is simple. It would ban all leaf blowers, electric and gas powered, throughout the City. She added that the City would be allowed a two-year transition period with respect to City owned parks provided that within this period a blower could not be used within 200 feet of privately-owned property or playgrounds, schools, hospitals, nursing homes or similar facilities. She stated that during the transition period the limitation on the use provided in the current ordinance would continue to apply to municipal operators and contractors. The effective date is June 30, 2019 and, given the current date, any effective date would have to be moved forward. She stated that the reasons for banning leaf blowers are crucial. She spoke about the adverse effects of blowers. The noise from the blowers far exceeds the allowed CDC level and affects hearing loss. She highlighted all the effects caused by the noise and those affected by the noise and the manufacturer’s dB rating is based on a distance of 50 feet while workers, and often residents, are much closer than 50 feet from a blower. Landscape workers are supposed to wear ear protection, and many do not. She stated that all are affected by the noise from the blowers. Most lots in Cambridge are small. She noted that the hearing loss in urban areas is leading to a lot of adverse health consequences. She listed all the health issues. She commented that something can be done about the noise from these blowers. She noted the second issue is emissions that are dirty. The leaf blower emissions from a two stroke and a four-stroke blower were compared to a Ford Raptor, a 400-horse powered pickup truck and the leaf blower emissions were larger. She spoke about particulate matter pollution; these particles stay in the air and are inhaled and are unhealthy. This increases asthma and other lung infections. Three governmental agencies charged with environmental protection have advised against using leaf blowers. She stated that the dirt from the front end of the blower in an urban setting such as Cambridge contains substances ranging from the unhealthy to the toxic. She stated in addition to damage to human health there is damage to the natural world. She stated that the most profound consequence is the takeover of the lawn care industry with blowers which has created a misguided and harmful paradigm as to what is the proper care and management of lawns, gardens and open spaces. She stated that individuals have become seduced that the outside must be pristine. She noted that parks are parks. She stated that if there are leaves along the walkway what difference does this make. She commented that playing fields are groomed as if they were center court at Wimbledon. She stated that once this new norm is created it is entrenched in people’s minds it becomes a necessity because without blowers individuals cannot have the manicured effect which individuals are led to believe that they must have. She explained that blowers came into existence in the l970. She added that blowers were a solution in search of a problem and have put humans at risk and contribute to environmental degradation. She stated that this has been discussed before and there is an existing ordinance. She stated that the ordinance is ineffective, poorly enforced and largely unenforceable. She stated that if the ordinance were followed and enforced the City would still have to put up with blower for 6.5 months every year. A ban will rid the City of this scourge and is easily enforced. This would set an important precedent among East Coast municipalities. She stated that 29 other communities have enacted blower bans; majority only covering gas blowers. She noted that implementing a ban would require adjustments on many levels and there may need to be exceptions. She stated that the bans in place are all different. She explained in 2015 a “rake-in” at Harvard Yard was organized by a student. She asked why this could not be repeated and can the schools do this. She felt that the parks could be raked and stated that it is fun to rake leaves. She stated that parks are an ill-chosen location to start a blower because children are especially vulnerable to particulates in the soil. She spoke about changing expectations. She stated that a notice was sent to residents about the tree ordinance informing them of the change to the ordinance. If a blower ban is enacted a notice should be sent out to alert residents about the change. She noted that this is not about punishing anyone; it is about a better quality of life for all. She stated that if exceptions must be made that they be only for electric blowers under certain circumstances bearing in mind that electric blowers are not harmless. She stated that light electric powered blowers are suitable to the needs of older residents. She stated that any change to the operations of landscapers will attract the opposition. They have a good business model and it works for them. She noted that responsible landscapers are acknowledging the environmental and health cost of the gas-powered blowers and are switching to electric blowers to be used selectively or at the clients’ request. She stated that her landscaper has stated that some clients have asked them not to use blowers and it has a minor impact on cost. She stated that this is the kind of behavior that should be encouraged. She stated that the City has enacted bans when it concluded that it was the right thing to do, knowing that there would be resistance among some. She stated that the closest analogy is the ban on plastic bags enacted because it increases waste and since the ban the stray plastic bags blown around by the wind on streets and parks have declined drastically. She added that the City has supported a statewide ban on plastic bags and the residents of Cambridge have learned to live without plastic bags. She ended by stating that Cambridge can do this too. Her comments are attached (ATTACHMENT 2).
Mayor McGovern commented about the science of stiring up particulates. He stated that the study presented did not show much of a significant difference between the amount of dust generated by a rake on grass or a leaf blower. He stated that a broom on concrete kicks up more particulate matter. He asked where this stops and does the science support your claim. Ms. Coleman stated that this was a single study which had more findings in the study. She stated that the study in lengthy and she cannot comment on it. She stated that in the presentation she stated that there was California Resources Board, the Nevada EPA and the Federal EPA which all point out that in order to avoid particulate pollution avoid using a leaf blower. She stated that she is relying on their expertise. Mayor McGovern damage done by the noise was there a period of time exposure in the study. Ms. Coleman responded that there is a pamphlet put out by the CDC that states two hours at 85 dB. She noted that the ordinance states 65 dB, but this is a distance of 50 feet which is meaningless for the operator. Mayor McGovern asked if it is typical to use a blower for two hours. Ms. Coleman stated that property in Cambridge is small the usage may be less than two hours and houses can be sandwiched between ongoing blower usage.
Councillor Zondervan stated that using leaf blowers does accumulate and could lead to continues exposure over a period of time. He added that most of the damage is to those using the leaf blowers more than those non-workers hearing the noise.
Commissioner O’Riordan gave a PowerPoint presentation (ATTACHMENT 3). He stated that there was a similar conversation about this two years ago. He added that from a departmental operational perspective the needs have not changed since that time. As a result of those conversations various City departments committed to looking at alternative means of leaf blowing most particularly looking at battery powered blowers. He stated that all have committed to using hand-held battery-operated leaf blowers at this point in time. He explained that regulations have been promulgated for personal protection equipment as leaf blowers are used in the City. He stated that as landscaping equipment improves in terms of using non-fossil fuel equipment that the City will immediately begin to investigate and use this equipment if such is viable in the City. He explained that there are a number of spaces in the City where battery powered equipment is used exclusively, and the expectation is that this will expand to other facilities in the City in the future.
Mr. Nardone stated leaf blowers in Cambridge has been highlighted. In 2007 when neighboring communities were not doing much with leaf blowers Cambridge looked at getting a leaf blower ordinance to help to reduce some of the issue’s individuals had about leaf blower. A task force was created, there was public outreach and discussion before the City Council and as a result the City has a good leaf blower ordinance. He stated that at the time the City Council recognized that a total ban on this type of equipment would be a hardship for City operations. The leaf blower was further discussed over a year ago and the City still feels the same way. He stated that there are issues with a full ban on municipal operation. He summarized the ordinance. The ordinance’s current restricted use helps protect public health, welfare and the environment. He stated that the ordinance defines leaf blowers as portable hand held or backpack blowers. He stated that the City continues to look at changes in technology. He explained that currently leaf blowers must meet EPA emission standards and have to be 65 dB or less. He stated that there are time restrictions. There are three months in the spring and three months in the fall when leaf blowers are allowed. There are provisions within the ordinance that allow for the use of leaf blowers on large municipal property.
Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that the leaf blower applies to everyone. She explained that the only thing that does not apply to everyone in terms of the use of leaf blowers is whether or not they need to get a permit with the License Commission. She stated that a full ban includes commercial leaf blower operators, City contractors or City operations and John and Jane Smith who own a leaf blower to take care of their yard. Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that in 2017 Rules and Regulations were created pursuant to the ordinance and more restrictions were added to what and what cannot be done. This includes the fact that an individual cannot use a leaf blower if one has tandem lots. She stated that if a company is taking care of a lot, tandem blowers cannot be used on both lots at the same time. This mirrors the 10,000 square foot provision of the ordinance. This is seen with multiple commercial leaf blower operators. This has been enforced and the operators are in compliance. The commercial leaf operator must train their employees. The Rules and Regulations are in English, Spanish and Portuguese. The operators are prohibited to blow toward open doors, cannot be pointed toward people or animals and must be 50 feet away from people or animals when blowing. She stated that employees must wear ear protection and has to be provided by the employer, free of charge. They can never be used for construction dust, plaster dust or dry garden top soil. The best practices included in the rules and regulations include the manner of usage of the blower to make sure that the noise and debris is reduced, cannot be used while playgrounds are in use, wet dusty areas prior to use if possible and the use of rakes. She stated that in terms of personal protection respiratory and eye protection, if requested by the employee they must be provided by the employer. She stated that in terms of enforcement the City has since 2016 implemented an aggressive way to enforce the ordinance by issuing fines at $300, the maximum allowed by the ordinance for each violation and each time. She stated that in terms of education by providing cease and desist letters to anyone including homeowners, companies that manage properties and commercial leaf blower operators. She explained that the License Commission has the authority to follow up on any complaint that the police respond to. This has increased. She stated that the City Council received an update from the License Commission (ATTACHMENT 4). She highlighted the further steps that the License Commission has taken. She stated that the advisories are published in the newspaper and on the License Commission website together with the Rules and Regulations and a list of registered companies. E-mails are sent to companies registered with the License Commission to remind them of the Rules and Regulations, seasons, the hours and the dates. She explained that if there is a trend or spike for a certain type of violation a reminder is sent about the Rules and Regulations. A full-time investigator has been hired. She stated that regarding a full ban and if it is believed that the ordinance is unenforceable now a full ban will exacerbate the enforcement of ordinance. She noted the License Commission investigators investigate nineteen different types of licenses and permits, including the Noise Ordinance and have two investigators. Dealing with a full ban would be totally impossible and would be a total drain on resources. She commented that even if more investigators were added enforcement would be impossible because they cannot issue tickets on the spot and the violation would have to be seen by the investigators in order for the License Commission Board to issue a fine. A hearing before the Board is required and there needs to be a hearing notice which has to be served. If it is a full hearing the Board has to vote and draft a statement of reasons and approve the statement of reasons at the hearing and then this needs to be served. She stated that if the City Council is inclined to do a total ban she suggested moving the onerous enforcement responsibilities to a different department who would have different resources. She stated that in terms of a full ban or not letting commercial leaf blowers there would also be a budget impact because the City would have to return money to the commercial leaf blower companies who have already paid for their permit. She noted that a full ban done not just apply to commercial leaf blower operators or municipal contractors or the City, but it also applies to regular people.
Mr. Nardone spoke about the modification to the City operations and actions taken. He stated that in 2016-2017 the City committed to trying electric leaf blowers and they have been used in City operations in all City departments. He stated that there has been an adjustment to the times by eliminating days in the spring and winter. He stated that the City does not want the work to be in flower beds and underneath bushes all the time with the leaf blowers but there are benefits to this. He stated that the City has procured additional battery-operated landscaping equipment such as electric lawn mowers, weed wackers, blowers and two green zones have been established where electric equipment is used exclusively. These areas are Bergin Park and Green Rose Park. Accommodations have been made to have electric chargers for electric equipment at the Rogers Street Park once the park is completed. He stated that there are pros and cons to using battery powered leaf blowers. He stated that battery disposal will need to be discussed in the future. The City is happy to try out new battery equipment. He stated that regarding permitted use there are 12,000 hours of use on City fields. There would be a significant increase in cost if work is done by hand. He stated that when looking at these new initiatives it is not easy to get more people to do this work. The City depends on temporary workers in the summer. He stated that if the City goes to rakes it is anticipated that there will be more leaf debris that this end up on the fields and grass which causes a negative effect to the grass and could lead to the “swampy effect.”
Mr. Corbeil stated that there would be significant impact on the golf course. He stated that the sports teams trying to get out on the fields in the Spring when everyone is fighting for space to be outside. He stated that currently there are 44,000 rounds of golf at the golf course and preparing this space for people to play golf is important. He spoke about the way that turf management has changed over the last sixty years. Leaf blowers are a plus for use at the golf course. He noted that the City has switched to more green technology with the mowers and the leaf blowers and these products are a major consideration with the purchases made every year. He stated that when looking a space that is 35 acres and where the technology is at now it is a stretch to think that this space could be worked without leaf blowers. He spoke about employing seasonal workers and it will take a longer time to maintain the course by using rakes. He stated that every spring with the moisture that is held because of the inability to remove the leaves there would be issues with dead turf thoughout the facility which is enjoyed not just by golfers. The greens need a blower and using a rake constantly would be problematic.
Mr. Nardone stated that as part of the stormwater permit the City looks at phosphorus on the Alewife, the Charles and leaf debris is a large source of phosphorus. This does not affect the parks as much it does affect the street sweeping in the fall. He stated that leaf blowers are used to get leaves from under parked cars. If the leaves were left on the street this adds more phosphorus to the storm water system. He highlighted all the large areas in the City that require maintenance. He stated that in the fall and the spring when there is a large amount of leaves built up under low lying bushes raking under plants and bushes can damage the roots.
Councillor Zondervan stated that as a teenage immigrant he used the backpack leaf blower. His family has experienced hearing loss from the use of leaf blowers. He stated that he was involved with regulating leaf blowers twelve years ago as a resident and an environmental activist and he remains convinced that the use of gas-powered leaf blowers needs to be phased out. He stated that he would like to ban all leaf blowers, but the staff cannot maintain the parks, grounds and golf course without leaf blowers. He stated that residents feel that a total ban would be burdensome. He stated that at the same time eliminating the nose and air pollution, including climate destroying emissions, from gas powered leaf blowers is a small but important component of taking the necessary action on climate change and protecting our environment. He thanked the petitioners for getting the ball rolling again on the leaf blower conversation. It is his hope the City Council will move forward in a way that addresses the legitimate issues raised by the petitioners, while also considering the equally legitimate concerns that have been raised. He submitted a proposal to allow electric leaf blowers to be used going forward, subject to the existing leaf blower ordinance and regulations; prohibit landscaping companies for using gas-powered leaf blowers in Cambridge starting in 2022 and prohibit all other uses of gas-powered leaf blowers in Cambridge, including by residents and City staff starting in 2025. He stated that several landscaping companies are already using electric equipment, so this is feasible. He stated that he recognizes that City staff face challenges and will delay their ability to transition. He wanted gas powered leaf blowers eliminated before 2022 by the City.
Councillor Simmons recommended hearing from the public. She moved to go to public comment and come back to the debate.
Councillor Kelley open public comment at 6:27pm.
Lizzie DeRham, 20 Middlesex Street, stated that there will not be many changes in the near future. She stated that she was under the impression that the leaf blowers were all electric and has found out that they are not all electric. She stated that dealing with a landscaping company opposite the old Vineyard Church and this company breaks almost every single part of the ordinance including blowing the water when it was raining. They blow into the street and clean the gutter. She spoke about asbestos being blown into the air and at the rate that these changes are going, half of us who deal with the worse of this will be dead. She spoke about the diesel busses that idle twice daily in front of the Banneker School there is a large number of particulates that is being raised. The landscapers are not controllable and are not monitored. She stated that this is a sad situation and the bottom line is to help people more enjoy golfing. She wanted better enforcement.
Thomas Anninger, 26 Healy Street, stated that this proposal is extreme and requires a common-sense approach. He stated that the City made a good presentation and it is clear that the leaf blowers are indispensable for the parks, recreational areas, public buildings and cemetery. He stated that the only solution to the City is to be exempt from any ban. An exemption for this City is needed because they have control over the public realm. He noted that in Cambridge there are large tracts of land controlled by institutions other than the City. He spoke about Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Harvard University and MIT cannot be controlled and the only solution which is to have no ban at all. He noted that the landscape contractors are not represented here. His contractor asked who will pay for this and these businesses will need to reinvent their business model. He stated that residents have become more conscious of how Cambridge looks and taking care of their property.
Kevin Broga, Director of Operations for CHA, stated that the CHA opposes the amendment to the Municipal Code to ban leaf blowers. He stated that the CHA manages and maintains over 3,000 housing apartments in Cambridge that are spread out over 75 acres of land. Leaf blowers are essential to the proper upkeep of their property and the grounds require constant tending in the early spring and fall during the leaf removal season. He added that the timely removal of leaves is a safety priority especially at the elderly and disabled sites. He spoke about the added labor cost for not using leaf blowers. He spoke about a test comparing leaf blowers to hand held methods and the results were reported in a published report. It took 80 minutes with a rake versus 6 minutes with a blower to clean the same area. He stated that in summary it takes over 10 times longer to remove leaves by hand than with a blower. He stated that this would be a direct increase in labor costs. He stated that the CHA spends $125,000 a year in labor costs and he agreed that the current ban has been ineffective in addressing residents’ concerns related to noise issues. He stated that this proposal exacerbates the issue by prolonging the exposure time to noise from blowers and allowing higher dB that will create immediate noise and the exposure would be minimized. He urged the City Council to reject this measure. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT 5).
Jim Boyle, Director of Maintenance for the CHA, stated that the CHA takes great pride in their sites across the city. The CHA tries to keep their property clean and green and in the fall his staff work overtime 7 days a week to clean the leaves. He asked the City Council to reject this proposal because it will put an undue burden on his workers.
Nan Laird, 156 Hancock Street, stated that she has been a resident of Mid Cambridge for fifty years. She urged the City Council to increase the restrictions on the use of gas leaf blowers. There is enough evidence that leaf blowers cause health issues and are detrimental to the environment. She stated that leaf blowers are unnecessary and are distracting to those who work at home. She has never owned nor operated a leaf blower and uses a rake and broom to maintain her home and sidewalk. She is a Professor of biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health and she has studied the effects of radon and smoking on airplanes. In 1984 she was on a committee appointed by Congress to look at the health effects of smoking in airplanes by passengers. She noted that there was little evidence in 1980 that side stream smoke was harmful to your health. There is a lot of evidence now. A ban on smoking was recommended and Congress adopted this in 2-3 years. The ban was for air flights of less than two hours and this because Congress was afraid of public reaction. To everyone’s amazement the public and airlines loved the ban. She noted that the airlines extended the ban to all flights. She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT 6).
Elizabeth Van Ranst, 120 Foster Street, stated that she was testifying against noise pollution. She stated that something needs to be done about this health hazard. She is in favor of reducing noise either in machinery or music. The noise from leaf blowers has prevented her from working in her home. She asked what about her right to a quiet enjoyment of her home. She spoke about the effects this has on her ears and her high blood pressure and she is in a total state of anger. She has been forced from her home until noise stops. She stated that the seasonal restrictions have helped and suggested allowing blowing only 1-2 weeks in the fall for blowing leaves. A residential ban is the way to go and ban gas blowers at least and further restrict the hours that electric leaf blowers can be used. She stated that the sound of raking is soothing and hopes to hear more of this. She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT 7).
Brian Logee, 37 Smith Place, stated that he owns Logee Landscape Service. He stated that this is a small Cambridge bases landscape company and has been in business for twenty-five years. He stated that Cambridge has already taken step to reduce noise and increase worker safety. He stated that employees want to be able to use leaf blowers and if banned in Cambridge then legitimate companies will not want to do business in Cambridge and this will open up to those who do not want to follow the rules. He added that the technology is constantly changing and will continue to improve. He stated that if banned outright will there be an opportunity to go back if there is a model that is acceptable. There does not seem to be compromise but Cambridge has come up with a good compromise for now. He encourages the compromise to continue.
Laura McMurry, 334 Harvard Street, submitted a petition of 92 residents who support the ban on leaf blowers (ATTACHMENT 8). She stated that most people do not like unnecessary noise and this is the reason that there are restrictions on noise. She stated that if there is a public benefit involved noise is allowed such as the snow blower, snow plow and the garbage truck. She objected to that leaf blowers, especially on residential property, is noisy and there is no public benefit. The only benefit is to the property owner or the operator or contractor and there is a public cost to the rest of us with the noise, smell and the dirt. She stated that the public reaps all the cost and none of the benefit. She added that much of what blowers do is unnecessary. She stated that on private residential property yard work can and should be done with hand equipment or a low powered hand-held electric leaf blower. She commented for those who choose to hire a contractor or landscaping company they can request that rakes and brooms be used. She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT 9).
John Henn, 6 Walnut Avenue, stated that he is opposed to a ban for electric leaf blowers. He stated that he is concerned about this issue that tends to pit people against people. This is troublesome for Cambridge. He suggested examining if one can transition out of two cycle gas engines which are noxious and polluting to four cycle gas engines with good mufflers and then to electric leaf blowers. This would be a good progression.
Mark Nilsen, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue, stated that he chose to live in Cambridge when he became a single dad seven months ago. He submitted the research done in California (ATTACHMENT 10) on the quantitative amount of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 that is released from both gas and electric leaf blowers. He stated that leaf blowers create a cloud of dust that is 1,000 times higher than the amount of PM 2.5 in a hazardous air quality City. He spoke about the amount of time regarding the exposure. He stated that 1/1000 of a 24-hour day is 1.4 minutes. He stated that 1.5 minutes in a cloud of a particulate matter from a leaf blower is an equivalent of living one day in a City with hazardous air quality. He stated that he is here for his son who is developing his respiratory system and to educate him. He commented that Cambridge is about education. This is about air pollution and he understand that it will be difficult to enforce a ban. He saw blower used to equal out pebbles. He wanted to ban leaf blowers. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT 11).
Michael Hanlon, 28 Blakeslee Street, stated that he has a landscaping business and operates in East Cambridge. The business began in 1907 and at the time there was no gas-powered laborsaving devices at all. He noted then and now the immigrant population is helping with the landscaping. He stated that when the leaves start to fall October - December it is hard to retain help, even with the assistance of the leaf blowers because this is difficult work. He stated that if he has to switch to all rakes and brooms and go backwards this will be a disastrous situation for a lot of companies who are trying to make a living in the City. He encouraged the City Council to not enforce the ban.
Peg McAdam, 131 Sunnyside, Arlington stated that she owns a small landscaping company and has been doing this work for thirty years. She stated that she does not like leaf blowers, but it is necessary for her business. She stated that she has four employees and the amount of time it would take to would be increased by 4-5 times as long. Her clients are elderly, cannot do this work and cannot afford to spend the additional money. She stated that she considers herself an environmentalist. She stated that she has electric equipment and it does not work. She stated that she needs a blower that works all day as she goes from house to house. She also stated that she does not have a place to charge the blowers. She is against the ban and she uses best practices. She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT 12).
Megan Brook, 103 Inman Street, stated that she supports the ban on all leaf blowers in all residential areas. She commented that if this problem were simple it would have been solved. There are layers of requirements and layers of companies doing the work and now do not know what to do. She asked is the world going to live or have the same job as before. She asked are people going to go insane or try to stay sane. The current ordinance must be increased at the very least. She stated that a 65 dB at 50 feet is a livable limit but most of the property in her neighborhood are only 30 feet wide. She stated that this results in someone working on a neighbor’s driveway that is one foot from the open bedroom window of her tenant’s baby’s bedroom. She stated that the City needs to find a way out of this. She stated that the we are facing climate change and the level of carbon dioxide currently and when this level was reached before the sea levels were sixty-six feet higher than they are now. She stated that the City needs to think about the things that are most important. She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT 13).
Norman Magnuson, Manager, Ground Services at MIT, stated that in the 1970 Cambridge was a rough City and now it is a well taken care of and clean City. He stated that he participated in a discussion in 2006 to restrict the use of leaf blowers in Cambridge. He stated that he served as a member of the Leaf Blower Task Force and was able to provide perspective of campus grounds. He stated that language in the 2008 ordinance addressing emission standards, noise levels, buffer zones, training, maintenance and seasons and hours of operation were fair and sound. Since 2008 MIT has submitted the required operation plan annually and has provided education and training for all leaf blower operators. He noted that over the past eleven years there has been only one complaint regarding leaf blower use. He commented that it was a legitimate complaint caused by operator error. He stated that he appeared before License Commission to accept responsibility for the mistake and demonstrated how this would be prevented from happening again. He stated that MIT has ten acres of land that requires leaf blower services. The total ban on leaf blower use would significantly disrupt MIT’s ground operations and he urged the City Council to consider alternatives approaches in order to meet the goals. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT 14).
Dr. Jo Solet, 15 Berkeley Street, stated that as a grandmother, her husband and she with her granddaughters are capable of taking care of her yard in Cambridge. She stated that she does not see this as an enormous physical burden. She stated that the ordinance in Cambridge is unenforceable and blower violations are part of the cost of doing business in the City. She stated that she has so many pictures of violators. She stated that the question here is not whether leaf blowers produce noise, air pollution, disturb humans and wildlife, risk the health and well-being of workers and those unwillingly exposed; this is all incontestable. The question is why in an asylum City aiming for Net Zero, planning miles of bicycle lanes an arsenal of these machines are deployed at all. She asked why blowers should be privileged over all other activity in the City. She stated that the issues heard is about freedom that individuals should be able to use blowers if they want and that blowers are cheaper than using hand tools. She suggested getting rakes for the golfers. She stated that these issues of freedom and economic impact have been faced before and used the smoking ban as an example and asked does the right to clean air override the right to smoke wherever and whenever an individual feel like it. She commented let’s not pretend that the leaf blower operators are taking proper care of workers’ rights. She spoke about degrading the environment and this will be paid for in the future. She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT 15).
James Kelley, Cambridge Landscape Company, 100 Smith Place, stated that he has been serving clients in Cambridge for 40 years. He stated that he opposed the total leaf blower ban proposal. He presented the City Council with a petition signed by 364 individuals in opposition to the ban (ATTACHMENT 16) ** He stated that he served on the committee that researched and developed the Leaf Blower Ordinance. He stated that due to EPA regulations gas powered leaf blowers now emit 80% less pollutants than they did in 2000. He explained that manufacturers have changed engine and fan design to reduce noise, pitch and emissions. He stated that the 65 dB blowers in use today in Cambridge by companies complying with the ordinance are much quieter and less offensive than those used before 2008. He added that they are only slightly louder than a conversation which is at 60 dB. He stated that multiple blowers being used in violation of the ordinance is the real issue. He stated that the ban proposal requires that all cleanup be done by hand tools. He stated that a study done at the University of California revealed that blowers, vacuums and brooms raise similar amount of fugitive dust which resettle in six minutes or less. He added that a blower raises particulates at levels below EPA safety thresholds for workers. He stated that based on this information a total ban on blowers will not significantly reduce emissions or dust. He stated that a total ban will put an economic burden on homeowners, elderly, disabled, institutions and large property owners and take longer to perform the cleanup work and cost consumers more money. This would necessity more and larger crews to perform the work and this also means more truck into the City. He stated that a total ban would impact the health and safety of workers. He stated that all landscape companies are experiencing a shortage of workers. He commented the current leaf blower ordinance is sufficient. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT 17).
Mark Saidnaway, Pemberton Farm, 2225 Massachusetts Avenue stated that he is the third generation and he is the sole owner of Pemberton Garden Services. He stated that he takes great pride in contributing to the beautification of the City by the garden center that he manages. He stated that many of the attendees are his customers. He stated that he employs twenty-five gardeners, many are college educated with masters degrees. He stated that eight are Massachusetts certified horticulturalist. He stated that we are gardeners and have leaf blowers. He stated that he obtains his permit from the City every year and buys only noise compliant machines at twice the cost of regular blowers. He stated that he strictly follows the usage time and conditions. His staff is training on how to properly use the leaf blowers in accordance with the guidelines of the City. He stated that he is proud to state that he has not been fined. He stated that he too gets upset with loud obnoxious leaf blowers. He asked where the enforcement is. He added that if the ordinance were enforced better a lot of the problems could be solved. He urged keeping the leaf blower ordinance as is. He does use brooms and charges his clients more with the broom. This is a serious safety issue with the leaves that fall in October. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT 18).
Gary Tibbetts, 2 Tufts Road, Arlington stated that he owns and operates Tibbetts Landscape and has been doing business in Cambridge for forty years. He stated that this full ban would raise the cost of doing business and currently leaf blowers can be used for the spring and fall clean up. He noted that these machines allow workers to do a better job at a reasonable cost to customers. He spoke of his clients that are in opposition to this proposal. He stated that raking leaves is hard work. He did rake in the early years, but yards are different today than years ago. He stated that he follows the regulations and provides safety equipment to his employees. If this ban is passed the City will get companies that are not licensed and are not following regulations. He stated that the labor market is extremely tight at the present time. He urged leaving the ordinance as it is.
Carol O’Hare, 172 Magazine Street, stated that the City Council needs to consider how to control this more than it is controlled now. She suggested reducing the time that these activities are allowed or requiring electric transition.
Tom Harrison, 91 Sherman Street, stated that he has no great opinion and if there is a ban it should not apply to the golf course. The golf course should be exempted. He added that the golf course cannot be raked by hand. It is a safety issue and you cannot play golf if there are leaves on the golf course. He commented that if this ban is passed the golf course will be unplayable for months out of the year. He stated that he will not spend $1,000 membership for the golf court when it is unknown if you can play golf because of the condition of the golf course. He stated that of all the public areas in the City the golf course is one of the least areas where the negative impacts of leaf blowers apply. He is opposed to noise pollution and many get away from the noise pollution by playing at the golf course.
Pam Latimer, 10 Rogers Street, stated that no particle blown by a leaf blower would be able to get into an individual’s lungs. She stated that the particle issue is annoying, and it may get in an eye or an individual may get dirt on them. She stated that a lot of these issues can be solved with cooperation, courtesy and communication. The noise is annoying. She stated that if there is a ban that is so restrictive on people it is not good for Cambridge. She stated that if the golf course became unprofitable it would become a perfect parcel for development. She stated that all need to work together to come to a common element and individuals seem to have larger looming issues that have nothing to do with the leaf blower ban.
Tom Lucey, representing Harvard University, stated that Harvard is opposed to the ban. He thought the staff from Public Works Department did a good job and summed up the issues that Harvard would also face on campus. He noted that Harvard works closely with the City sharing best practices. He stated that Harvard University uses electric leaf blowers where they can be used. There is concerns on how it would affect the infrastructure and the catch basins. He stated that Harvard is opposed to the total ban.
Denise Jillson, Executive Director, Harvard Square Business Association, 2203 Massachusetts Avenue, spoke in opposition to the ban. She stated that she likes to rake, and her husband loves his leaf blower and she is defending his right to use his blower. She stated that they have decided to live on Massachusetts Avenue and it is noisy. She stated that they deal with this because it is the unwritten contract they made when they decided to live on Massachusetts Avenue. She added that life in the City is a compromise, balance and understanding that you have to give some things to get some things. She stated that the regulations that are in effect are effective, thoughtful, working and need to be continued as they are. She stated that she is in opposition to this proposal.
Maggie Booz, 27 Lawn Street, stated that Strawberry Hill is mostly devoid of leaf blower issues. It makes sense for the City and larger properties to use the machines to take care of the acreage. She thinks there should be a ban on residential property. She stated that the pollution from leaf blowers, the detriment to pollinators and the detriment to health should outweigh the people who want leaf blowers.
Sue Butler, 14 Clinton Street, encouraged regulating and banning leaf blowers. She stated that the noise and chemical effects are serious. She commented that the particulates are her main concern. The wind from a leaf blower comes out at 140 to 270 miles per hour and exceeds a level five hurricane and does circulate particulates. She spoke about studies done by the Harvard School of Public Health on particulates. She stated that particulates come in two forms: PM10 and PM2.5, is 1/4 the size of the PM10. She stated that all enter the lungs and cross into the circulation and from your circulation they will cross the blood/brain barrier. She outlined the conditions that the particulates cause. She stated that the City Council is completely ignoring a massive health care issue by not considering the detrimental effects of particulates. She stated that she would like to see a map on the use of leaf blowers and the incidents of asthma in children and adult. She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT 19).
John Pitkin, 18 Fayette Street, stated that he supports greater restrictions of leaf blowers in residential areas. He stated that the noise and dust are evils and are not necessary. He spoke about if the ban were extended to residential area. He spoke about the concern of landscapers requiring leaf blowers rather than rakes. He commented that the landscaping companies would adjust. There is an ecological landscape design for leaves - so do this. He spoke about a spring and fall cleanup day and build community by using volunteers.
Alisa Lemberg, 25 Loomis Street, stated that as a homeowner she is opposed to a ban on leaf blowers. She stated that raking hurts her physically. She respects those who want to rake their yard and is not viable for her and she purchased an electric backpack blowers. It would be an undue burden to ban blowers. She stated that the current ordinance is a good compromise. She spoke about education and enforcement and the sending mailers and reminders to landscaper companies in nearby cities may help reduce some of the issue of being out of line with the ordinance. She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT 20)
Milan Vit, 1 Craigie Street, spoke about the noise from leaf blowers. With windows closed on the fourth floor he cannot have a conference call if there is a leaf blower in use. He added that he was unable to work from home. He spoke about different crews working on different property and the noise and the madness starts over again from morning. He stated that the leaf blowers are overused. He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT 21).
Seth Berman, of Berman Gardeners, Walden Street, stated that when he does a job he does an estimate based on the hours worked. He stated that he runs an organic landscape gardening service and he rakes all the time. He uses rakes and leaves in the plant beds because it is better for the environment. He stated that in 2017 he was cited for not having a permit. He has been permitted and owns three hand held blowers, one gas and two battery powered. He stated that the battery powered blowers are less noisy and do as effective work as the hand-held blower. He stated that what is important is that the cost for raking and using a broom will be significantly increased.
Michael Stone, 25 Loomis Street, spoke about legitimate concern of noise, particulate pollution and the challenge of using leaf blowers throughout the City. He commented that no one spoke out about better enforcement. He stated that in the future he would like to understand what the City is contemplating how the existing ordinance may be enforced more effectively and if there are monitoring or surveillance technologies that could be used not evaluate what contributors to noise and pollution there are in the City and what methods would be effective abating these nuisances.
Councillor Kelley closed public comment at 7:42pm.
Vice Mayor Devereux stated that last term she opened this discussion on how to get control of the misuse of leaf blowers and she is proud that there have been improvements and spurred the introduction of electric blowers for City property. There is room for improvement for compliance, training, best practices and enforcement. She stated that more direct outreach could be done to homeowners. On a peer to peer basis those who feel that blower use is not the best and we can educate each other. She agrees with Councillor Zondervan about compromise and she gave him clarification. She spoke about strengthening the existing regulations including rolling back the fall season to December 15 or 20th. She spoke about considering restricting the use of blowers on Saturdays to only non-professionals. She is looking for ways to balance this and respect the intent of the petitioners. She stated that it is unreasonably impractical to operate the City with a full ban and wanted to find a balance.
Councillor Carlone spoke about having asthma caused by particulates. He stated that he agrees with Vice Mayor Devereux and Councillor Zondervan on their proposals. He wanted to learn the twenty-four political entities that banned leaf blowers and to learn the results. He stated that there is something about distance, the amount of sound and the speed used. These are refinements that make sense. He has hearing issues related to working in construction. He stated that he needs more research on the twenty-four entities that approved bans. This could have move specific regulations regarding where people live including around hospitals and dormitories and would need to use a leaf blower at a lower speed.
Councillor Siddiqui respected arguments on both sides. There will be a day when leaf blowers will not be used but we are not there yet. She is amenable to a compromise. She spoke about increasing the patrol for violations and asked if an increase in employees would help. Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that it took eleven months to interview for a position and a year to transition the hired employee from part time to full time. She has no space for another person in her office.
Councillor Siddiqui stated that the City should be in a creative position and asked would another employee actually strengthen the ordinance. Councillor Siddiqui stated that if it is not helpful to the License Commission she will not offer this. Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that the License Commission does not have a schedule when someone is getting their lawn manicured. She stated that the ordinance is complaint driven. She disagrees that enforcement is not up to par. She stated that is one looks at the statistics before 2016 to now the License Commission is doing an excellent job with enforcement.
Councillor Simmons stated that it is important to review and evaluate the ordinance. Her memory of smoking ban; it was not an easy road. The process took a long time. There was an advisory committee from restaurants and the business community who had concerns and worked with the business community on how to implement the smoking ban. This advisory committee was in existence for a year after the ban was implemented. She stated that this model should be used for the leaf blower ordinance. She stated that there is a benefit to strengthening this ordinance so that it works better for residents. She asked if there is possible modification to the ordinance. She stated that education and information is important and to be mindful of talking to all that this will impact. She wanted to take the long slow road to get to a compromise.
Councillor Mallon stated that she is in favor of working group to get to a compromise. Ordinances are living things and need to evolve and adapt. She stated that it is good to look at this holistically and from senior residents who are on a fixed income. She wanted the senior community represented on the working group. She spoke about how difficult it would be enforcing a ban of no professional use of leaf blowers on Saturday. She stated that putting a plan in place to ban gas blowers and her concern is that the City is putting into place a different set of rules for the City than commercial landscapers. This sets the City up for failure; there should not be a different set of rules. Councillor Mallon asked about the current battery packs and questioned the environmental impact of disposing the batteries is unknown. Mr. Nardone stated that there is a life span to the battery packs. The ones is use now have a 1.5-year life span.
Councillor Mallon spoke about enforcement and suggested enforcement be done by another department. Ms. Murati Ferrer stated that her investigator could not enforce total ban. She stated that she would refer this to the City Solicitor for a legal opinion. She stated that regarding the noise ordinance the Police enforce the noise ordinance and respond when called when a leaf blower is used in an inappropriate way. Councillor Mallon stated that she wanted to think about a working group and bring the stakeholders back to the table.
Mayor McGovern likes working group idea. This needs more discussion. The other bans were bans on industry, but this is a ban on people and private property. He spoke about process. He does not think this is ready. He supports strengthening the current ordinance. He wanted to change the start time when leaf blowers can be used and change the timeline to shorten. He wanted to further explore the possibility of other departments doing enforcement.
Councillor Zondervan proposed that the City Council vote on the following motion:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the City Solicitor to work with the License Commission, Public Works Department, Human Services and the Water Department to form a stakeholder group to consider ways to improve the existing noise ordinance and improve its enforcement and to consider banning the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Cambridge no later than 2025. (No action was taken on this).
Councillor Simmons stated that she supports the intention but does not want it to be this restrictive. She wanted the stakeholders to provide recommendations regarding concerns with the City and the business community and come back to the Ordinance Committee. Councillor Simmons stated that she wanted to leave this wide open to let the stakeholder group come up with recommendations. She wanted the motion to read that there would be a stakeholder group to take up the petition, the concerns of the business community and the City and come back with a recommendation that can be forwarded to the Ordinance Committee. Councillor Zondervan stated that proposal is to consider what are the possibilities of banning gas-powered leaf blowers, which is part of the intent of the petition. Councillor Simmons respectfully requested that the motion be left open. The stakeholder group will have the petition that asks for this, the business owners and the City and the motion is too prescriptive.
Councillor Carlone suggested considering the merits of the petition. Vice Mayor Devereux stated that the petition wants to ban all leaf blowers and what Councillor Zondervan is suggesting is only banning gas powered blowers. She noted that Public Works already has an Urban Forest Master plan group.
Mayor McGovern wanted to put something together quickly and come up with some recommendations. He agreed with Councillor Simmons that putting into the motion to consider one thing why not consider what the landscapers are saying. He wanted a time line on this. We are elevating one group concerns over another. He suggested asking the City Manager to form the group. Mayor McGovern spoke about the Mayor appointing a group versus the City Manager. He would be happy to expedite this process.
City Solicitor Glowa stated that the task force was appointed by the City Manager and not an initiative by the City Council. She commented that this was a long process. She stated that it would be helpful for the City Council to decide whether it wants to have the City Manager report back with further analysis and information or just want to hear from stakeholders. She stated that it would be appropriate to hear from stakeholders from this committee but if you ask the City Manager to appoint a task force that is reporting back to the City Council and asked if the City Council wanted the policy discussions to take place off line with the City Manager or public hearings in the Ordinance Committee. Mayor McGovern stated that his concern is that public comment for three minutes and people stating their opinion is not a conversation. He stated that there has been no group that has gotten together that includes those who want the ban and those who do not. This did not happen tonight. He stated that he would prefer a group coming together to have a conversation and air their concerns and then bring something forward that has mutual support, and this cannot be done in the Ordinance Committee.
Councillor Simmons stated that the working group could be to inform what the ordinance could ended up being. She suggested that this stay in committee, be discussed and then reported out. She suggested a substitute motion as follows:
ORDERED: That a task force be appointed by the City Manager to have stakeholder meetings on the petition to ban leaf blowers in the City and report back to the Ordinance Committee. (No action taken on this).
Vice Mayor Devereux spoke about the process that came out of the Brown petition which was not acted upon, but the City Manager formed a working group which has been holding public meetings to consider elements of this zoning petition and will ultimately make recommendations to the City Council and the Ordinance Committee. She is hoping that this will be a more streamlined process.
Councillor Simmons requested Councillor Zondervan to rescind his motion. She spoke about the City Council agreeing on the City Manager appointing a working group to work in context with the Ordinance Committee.
Councillor Kelley stated that amongst the City Council there is an appetite for midterm constraints on the uses of gas-powered blowers on certain circumstances. He noted that he did not know what the circumstances are. He stated that the world is going to electrification and the world is going to change. He stated that when the public comes and talk it is an information sharing exercise. He stated that the comments made by landscapers are things he has not heard before or considered. He suggested that this matter be kept in committee and that Councillor Zondervan craft a motion as to how this may go forward. He stated that the petitioners could chop the petition up and see what works with the City Council. He explained that the challenge is that from a policy making standpoint the nine City Councillors cannot discuss this amongst themselves in fear of being in violation of the Open Meeting Law.
Councillor Zondervan moved to keep the matter in committee. He made the following motion:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the City Solicitor to work with the License Commission, Public Works Department, Human Services and the Water Department to form a stakeholder to consider the petition to amend the Noise Ordinance to ban leaf blowers in the City.
The question now came on the motion - and on a voice vote of seven the motion -Carried. Councillor Kelley voted in the negative. The motion to keep the matter in committee carried on a voice vote of eight members.
The following communication were received and made part of the report.
A petition requesting that the Fresh Pond Golf Course be excluded from the petition to ban the use of leaf blowers (ATTACHMENT 22).
The following communications were received in favor of the ban (ATTACHMENTS 23-1 THROUGH 23-27):
Dr. And Mrs. Lloyd M. Aiello
Barbara S. Baker
Paul E. Fallon
Pier and Bojana
Carol Lee Rawn
Katherine A. Stahl
The following communications were received in opposition to the petition (ATTACHMENT 24-1 THROUGH 24-23):
Catherine E. Alexandrov
George P. Carrette
Nancy E. Donahue, Director, Government and Community Relations, Chamber of Commerce
Stephen L. Michaels
Richard H. Nurse
Ronald E. Peeples
Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 8:30pm.
For the Committee,
Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair
Councillor Craig Kelley, Co-Chair
** The full petition is on file in the City Clerk’s Office for public inspection
Committee Report #4
The Health and Environment Committee held a public hearing on May 21, 2019 at 1:05pm in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was 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.
Present at the hearing were Vice Mayor Devereux and Councillor Zondervan, Co-Chairs of the Committee; Councillor Carlone; Councillor Mallon; Councillor Siddiqui; Assistant City Manager for Community Development Department Iram Farooq; Director of Transportation and Environmental Planning, CDD, Susanne Rasmussen; Environmental Planner, CDD, John Bolduc; Net Zero Energy Planner, CDD, Seth Federspiel; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were Florrie Wescoat, 33 Market Street; Susan Ringler, 82 Kinnaird Street; Charles Teague, 23 Edmonds Street; and Elie Yarden, 143 Pleasant Street.
Councillor Zondervan convened the hearing and explained the purpose. He announced that the meeting is being audio and video recorded.
Ms. Rasmussen gave context to the document and the state of affairs regarding climate change. She stated that the Net Zero Action Plan (NZAP) was adopted in 2015 and an aspect to the plan related to transparency and oversight of the implementation of the plan and the outcomes. She stated that part of the specific oversight structure is that each year a plan update is issued and then presented to the Climate Protection Action Committee (CPAC) as they have been appointed and has been given the role of the oversight committee. The process is embedded in the NZAP plan as well as a comprehensive five-year review process. This is the progress report for fiscal year 2018 (ATTACHMENT A). The concept of climate change has continued to worsen since the work began in 2015. She stated that the International Panel on Climate Change, a UN body, and the scientists that advise this body to have informed us that global warming has to be limited to an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change. She stated that while there had been some improvements in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and are now tracking from what was the worst-case scenario that was improving and are now increasing. She stated that emissions are increasing because of the increased use of fossil fuel on American soil. She stated that in March 2019 additional information came from the IPCC and given the current understanding of the climate the trend line needs to go down at a steeper rate. She stated that the oceans are warming at a rapid pace than what was believed a year or two ago. She noted that the current advise is that emission need to be reduced over 2010 levels by 45% by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.This has become more serious. She stated that Cambridge along with the other thirteen metro community leaders committed in 2013 to carbon neutrality by 2050. These are two targets being reviewed now. This is a critical area of leadership for the City. She explained that Cambridge is leading in the region along with Boston on taking specific actions to address climate change. She noted that action contained in the NZAP are intended to get the City to carbon neutrality by 2050 and looking at the new 2030 target which was declared in March. She stated that the NZAP is seeking to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. She stated that since reporting last year the City has been extremely active in the community and have had extensive interaction with the owners and operators of buildings in Cambridge, in particular the large emitters found in the commercial sector of the City. She turned the hearing over to Mr. Federspiel to go through the details.
Mr. Federspiel stated that in the Net Zero reporting process an annual report is submitted on the action plan containing updates for the year. This is the third annual report for fiscal year 2018. This report was presented to CPAC in draft form in February and the City received feedback from CPAC regarding priority areas within the NZAP from CPAC’s perspective. He stated that following this hearing the report will be released and available on the website. He spoke about a unique aspect of this year’s report. The beginning years focus on investigation of the feasibility of different actions and understanding different opportunities to pilot, ideas for implementation and how to move into full implementation of the programs and policies. He stated that as the City moves into the fourth year of the NZAP implementation program and if found through the studies that it is both technically and economically feasible to pursue the various actions there then need to be more policy recommendations coming out of these processes. He spoke about the next steps summary of the action plan and stated that over the next two years the recommendations of the NZAP will come back to the City Council for policy decisions and codification.
Mr. Federspiel stated that he would be highlighting the specific actions briefly and then go through the full fiscal year 2018 updates.
He stated that the first regulatory action is to amend the green building requirements in Article 22 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance. He explained that this action was delayed due to conflicting language with the state code and the need to work out the details of regulation. He stated that the City is ready with a draft proposal that is going through the final review process and will be submitted to the City Council for adoption. He further explained that this will increase the standard for large construction projects over 25,000 square feet from LEED Silver certifiable to LEED Gold and add additional pathways beyond LEED and the opportunity to use Enterprise Green Communities and Passive House certification. This will specifically require enhanced commissioning and that buildings are operating as they are designed to operate and save as much energy as possible. There will be added a path to Net Zero narrative. This would ask how net zero would be achieved in the next thirty years. The goal is to bring this amendment to the City Council this summer. He stated that the amendments to Article 22 Green Building Ordinance provisions will be paired with the amendment exception in Article 22 for the addition of exterior insulation to buildings. He noted that the feedback from the affordable housing community that the existing projects looking to retrofit buildings in an attempt to make the buildings more efficient. The most cost-effective way to do this is often to add exterior insulation. He explained that where there is a short setback the current regulations do not allow for enough flexibility to allow the buildings to achieve the retrofit. He stated that after doing a study of the technical requirements the amendments proposed would increase the allowable insulation from 4” to 8” and decrease the allowable setback to 3 feet. A provision will be added to allow for a Special Permit if requesting a further exemption of these provisions.
Mr. Federspiel stated that the next set of regulatory actions is to the BEUDO (Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance). He stated that when the ordinance was passed in 2014 it included language that this be reviewed for effectiveness of the ordinance and whether it was having a significant impact on building energy use and whether the buildings were significant reducing their building energy use and if not, the Community Development Department should recommend amendments to the ordinance. He stated that with four years or reporting under the BEUDO there has been an average across the City of a 1% reduction in energy use per year and this is not meeting the target of reduction and significant savings, particularly in light of the scientific targets that have to be met. He noted that Cambridge has been working with a stakeholder group of effected properties under BEUDO to explore what the amendments for performance measures and what form the amendments. He noted the ordinances passed from other communities. He stated that New York and Washington have adopted performance standards. The City will continue to work with the stakeholders’ group to propose a framework that could set ambitious targets for buildings in Cambridge and lay out the metrics for the targets in the initial proposed amendments and propose a working group, including stakeholders, that would identify the details of the policy. The details may include accommodations for specific building needs and exemptions for buildings that are working well or under some sort of hardship where targets could not be achieved. He stated that the goal is to come to the City Council with a framework for the amendments in the summer. The framework will include a timeline for the stakeholder group to work out the remaining details of the policy.
Mr. Federspiel stated that the next policy is a potential density bonus or a FAR bonus for buildings that achieve Net Zero emissions ahead of the required timeline. The Net Zero requirement for most new buildings will be effective in 2025. The buildings that achieve Net Zero in advance of 2025 the action in the NZAP suggests looking at offering density as an incentive to push this activity. He stated that through the Envision Cambridge process this concept was studied and the consultant suggested a modest increase in density of 10-15% for residential and commercial buildings would be enough to incentivize the increased energy performance. He noted that in the spring there will be a technical study of what the criteria might be to achieve this on both the energy efficiency and the renewal energy side to define the Net Zero building. The plan is to take the technical study and go through a stakeholder vetting process to turn this into a policy proposal with a goal of presenting this to the City Council by early next year.
Mr. Federspiel stated that the City is looking at the potential for solar installation requirement on new buildings in Cambridge. He noted that solar has become increasingly cost effective and is an important strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to increase the resilience of buildings by enabling them to produce their own energy on site. He stated that recently Watertown adopted solar installation ordinance for new buildings that are 10,000 square feet. He added that California has a statewide requirement for residential buildings going into effect in 2020. He stated that like the density bonus the City is studying what the technical requirements might look like and plan to bring this to stakeholders and take the technical recommendations and see how this will form the basis for a policy recommendation to bring to the City Council in 2020.
Mr. Federspiel stated that this policy may not require action by the City Council. He stated that the first set of commitments for Net Zero Municipal Building begins in 2020. He stated that Community Development and the Public Works Department have been working regularly to discuss what up until now the Net Zero ready standards are for municipal buildings and what the Net Zero standards will look like. The details of the definition are being worked on in a way that could turn into a documented policy that can be reported back on to the City Council once it is adopted by the administration. He commented that the City has a strong track record of building energy efficient buildings without the use of fossil fuel. He gave examples of these building. He stated that once municipal buildings are powered by 100% renewable electricity the buildings will become Net Zero emissions because of all of the energy needs will be provided by carbon free energy supply.
He stated that the last action is the five-year review process for the NZAP. It was important to the stakeholders in the adoption of NZAP that the City regularly look at the changing science, technology and economics around Net Zero buildings. He noted that the NZAP includes a provision that every five years the entire plan should be reviewed to understand the effectiveness of the plan, how the technological, scientific and economic landscape around climate change has changed and make adjustment recommendations to the plan based on the updated conditions, going through a stakeholder process to accomplish this. He stated that a revised NZAP will be present to the City Council.
Councillor Carlone stated that he understands adding insulation to buildings and adding up to 4 inches on the outside of a wooden house is tricky from a detailed point of view. He suggested conferring with the Historical Commission as to what is a reasonable way to detail as it meets the foundation. A change in setback to 3 feet to the next building the 4 inches on the outside is acceptable. He agreed with the Net Zero FAR bonus. A building currently in process is seeking to be the greenest lab building in the New England. He agrees with the density bonus. Mr. Federspiel stated that we are only looking at the technical aspects of the density bonus. Councillor Carlone spoke about clean energy for municipal buildings are we further along with this than a year ago. Ms. Rasmussen noted that we need to arrive at a conclusion as to what is acceptable purchase of renewable energy. She spoke about the possibility of going outside of the ISO New England territory that the City is in and buy into a large facility. She stated that this is important in connecting the Net Zero criteria because the same issue will come up (for private property owners complying with the NZAP in future). She stated that the City is engaged with their university partners and they have undertaken large purchases and are trying to figure out how to position the City in the best possible way. She stated that there was joint engagement and the City learned from this about making a cheaper purchase. Councillor Carlone stated that the goal is to save as much energy as possible. He commented that the weakest link is glass and asked will new standards address the glass issue. He stated that if the City is pushing for new standards will the City push to reduce the use of glass. This is all about style and tenants pay for the heat and air conditioning.
Ms. Farooq stated that the Net Zero standard are largely performance driven standards. She stated that the performance thresholds would have to be achieved once the regulation is triggered. In the interim the Planning Board has expressed an interest in thinking through the issue of glass buildings. The staff is convening to figure out a strategy as to what would be the appropriate way to address reducing the amount of permitted glass on building facades. She wanted a deliberative process over the summer to come up with recommendations that will lead to guidelines. Councillor Carlone spoke about National Guidelines for thirty years have recommended 40% total glass on buildings. He spoke about glass affecting the brain.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked about enterprise green community as an alternative to LEED gold and why this is appealing to affordable housing developers. Mr. Federspiel responded that enterprise green communities is a standard pathway for affordable housing developments. He stated that for them to pursue LEED gold is duplicative and they can achieve the same level of stringency through the enterprise green communities. Vice Mayor Devereux asked who developed this standard. Ms. Rasmussen responded that this is primarily used in affordable housing communities and has to do with enterprises engagement in this area. She stated that the affordable housing community has asked to continue using this standard. Vice Mayor Devereux asked that if the City went from LEED gold to LEED platinum (in the Green Building requirements) is there a comparable level. Ms. Rasmussen: will not go to platinum because so close to Net Zero this would be bypassed. Vice Mayor Devereux asked about BEUDO what the target for existing buildings and the amount of reduction that is can be achieved in a small amount of years. Mr. Federspiel stated the science-based targets is what the City is looking to benchmark for the existing building. He stated that the IPCC recommended 45% by 2030. Vice Mayor Devereux spoke about how much push back the City can expect.
Councillor Siddiqui spoke about the rooftop solar ready requirement and asked about green roofs in general. She asked how green roofs fit into the Net Zero conversation and if it can be made easier if individuals want to have rooftop gardens. Mr. Federspiel responded that this will be part of the technical study. It is possible to have both green and solar roofs. Councillor Siddiqui asked when the studies will be happening. Mr. Federspiel stated that the technical study is being done now and should be completed by the end of this fiscal year and use this for a stakeholder driven policy and recommendations.
Councillor Zondervan stated that his house was constructed in l980 and that he has reduced the overall energy consumption by 20% over fifteen years with 50% of the remainder coming from solar. He stated that at 45-50% reduction using on-site generation is a feasibility.
At this time Mr. Federspiel addressed the 2018 status report. He addressed a graph that showed the targets. He provided a summary of the five action categories of the plan. Each action has a green, yellow or red light indicating on track, delayed or stalled. He stated that this year a new parking status was added. He stated that for some actions it no longer makes sense to move forward. He stated that he will discuss barriers and next steps.
The first action plan deals with energy efficiency in existing buildings. He stated that there are four actions in this category. The custom retrofit program addresses how to help existing buildings to achieve the targets. In FY 18 the multi-family energy pilot was implemented. This applies to buildings with between 5-50 units. He stated that 40 properties have been successfully enrolled equaling 1300 units. They are offered solar advising and retrofit adviser service. In FY 19 the City began to look at a process with the larger building owners to understand the opportunities to enhance the existing state incentive programs. He stated that Massachusetts has been ranked # 1 in the nation for the last eight years for its energy efficiency programs. He added that there are a lot of resources available to buildings to achieve energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions. He noted that many buildings in Cambridge are not taking advantage of these opportunities. He stated that the City has been working through a stakeholder process with the BEUDO as well as Eversource to think about tailoring the offerings to make them more accessible to these buildings. A recommendation will be submitted later this year about how a program would take shape to help accelerate the retrofit process in these buildings in a way that is cost effective and subsidized by the state program. 42:24
Mr. Federspiel stated that the City is at the early stage of looking at time of renovation or sale as a trigger point for building retrofits. The feasibility assessment is at the early stage to look at what are the options and their impact. He noted that there will be no policy proposal until the technical options have gone through a strong stakeholder vetting process to understand the impact of any of the actions.
Mr. Federspiel spoke about the operations and maintenance plan requirement being parked because in the development of the BEUDO requirements that operations and maintenance are required through the LEED commissioning process which will be incorporated as a provision in the revised green building requirements and to have a separate operations and maintenance requirement would be duplicative; therefore the City is not pursuing this action separately.
Mr. Federspiel stated that the second detailed action plan deals with new buildings and there are 5 actions as follows:
Market based incentive program: this action was parked now as it is in the density bonus action.
Height and FAR bonus are moving forward, independently.
Changes to Article 22 of the Zoning Ordinance is delayed because of regulatory issues but is expected to move forward with stakeholder support.
Increased insulation moving forward with the Article 22 revisions.
Net Zero requirements for new buildings and new municipal buildings and retrofit of municipal buildings. In FY18 the City undertook 12 efficiency projects and 4 solar projects. In FY19 another 13 projects are underway. He stated that the upgrade at the Water Treatment Power Plant saved $175,000 each year.
Mr. Federspiel stated that turning to the energy supply, the third detailed action. There are three:
Low carbon energy supply strategy implementation. He stated that the City has continued to work on green energy options through the Cambridge Energy Aggregation Program and the municipal electricity program. He stated that a renewable energy strategy is being kicked off to learn how to decarbonize the energy being supplied to heat and cool buildings.
Rooftop solar ready requirement. The solar ready provision is parked because the state has adopted a solar ready requirement through the state energy code. This applies to many buildings in Cambridge and it was not necessary to duplicate this requirement.
Developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with local utilities has been parked because when working with the utilities having an overarching MOU seemed less effective than working on a project by project basis. He stated that Eversource was chosen as a partner to retrofit buildings and changing heating systems.
The fourth detailed action plan is the Local Carbon Fund. He stated that the principle of this fund would be to give buildings the flexibility to achieve the Net Zero standards as they are implemented to allow them to invest in energy saving projects. He stated that this action is behind its implementation schedule but is continuing. In FY19 a feasibility study was done. He stated that investigating a Local Carbon Fund is moving forward.
The fifth detailed action plan focuses on Engagement and Capacity Building about the plan. For communication strategy will use the communication materials that the City has developed over the years. He stated that the first Net Zero Action Plan Newsletter went out last summer. There is active civic engagement being done. This year a city-wide climate communication framework was reviewed that could include both climate mitigation and climate resiliency actions. The potential next step could be looking at this integrated communication approach. He spoke about continued accountability and capacity about implementing the Net Zero Action Plan. This annual reporting process is part of this overall approach. There is oversight by the CPAC. They are provided updates on the plan and it is through this action that the five-year review will be launched. He stated that lastly there is dedication action on development of Net Zero laboratory standards and acknowledging the unique challenges pertaining to Net Zero laboratory. This has been a success story for Cambridge. This sector has been engaged through the Cambridge Compact for a Sustainable Future and has a Net Zero Lab working group and has been given the resources to develop Net Zero Lab standards.
Councillor Zondervan asked if the City Council had any clarification questions.
Vice Mayor Devereux asked does Kiosk count as a municipal building to be Net Zero. Ms. Farooq stated that the City has not thought through this. Vice Mayor Devereux asked what is Eversource doing for their own buildings in Cambridge. She asked if Eversource would be subject to these standards. Ms. Rasmussen stated that their buildings are subject to zoning and if the building is over 25,000 square feet they are subject to these standards and should be reporting under BEUDO.
Councillor Carlone asked if the standards are by construction project or by actions. Mr. Federspiel responded by actions. Councillor Carlone regarding the virtual study asked if this will be tabulated or is what is learned in these findings. Mr. Federspiel stated that the consultants have built an excel based model and the different building inputs are added as tested for different parameters that the final deliverable will be a report describing the findings from this process. Councillor Carlone asked what the premium of the Net Zero municipal buildings is. Ms. Rasmussen stated that there has not been rigorous attempt to quantify this and it is hard to compare municipal buildings with other buildings because the City does other things that are premium.
Councillor Zondervan opened public comment at 2:11pm.
Susan Ringler, 82 Kinnaird Street, stated that she went to all the Net Zero Task Force meetings as a private citizen. She stated at the end of each meeting in 2014 she stated that the City is not moving fast enough then and are way behind now. She stated that the City gets an F on this. She noted that residents wanted something in 2013 - 2014 which was reasonable in light of the science of the time. The City created a task force which watered it down and now the City is not doing well. She stated that the City is giving itself ten green lights and 4 yellow lights; this is not acceptable. She commented that the BEUDO plan only applies to building over 25,000 and the only way the City will get retrofits on buildings is to first get them to measure their expenditure. She added that every old building that changes hands needs to have a measurement requirement added to the next owner. She stated that the City is not being responsible to the residents. She agreed with the notion that there are too many glass buildings. She stated that residents asked that the buildings be built for the future and not the past. The issues that are parked and with BEUDO all buildings need to be measured. She spoke about the world being on fire.
Eli Yarden, 143 Pleasant Street, spoke about the outcome of a BZA meeting was a continuance because the BZA did not have the votes to approve what Eversource was requesting. He stated that Eversource made it clear at the BZA meeting that their planning needs to be citywide and do not have the ability to deal with this on a project by project basis. He stated that there are no grounds for MOU being reached. He gave the background what happened. The consultant for Eversource divided the abutters of the proposed addition on Putnam Avenue and the fact that there was a separation regarding the housing. There are 120 units that abut this site. The separation of the abutters and the focus on landscaping rather than on the engineering raised concern. He stated that Eversource needs 5-10 years to plan and that Eversource is a privately held company and is constrained to be responsible to its shareholders. The value of the Eversource shares depends upon their ability to persuade individuals that more electricity is needed. He asked if any of this is workable; it seems not. Eversource has no response to climate change. He spoke about the grounds for a class action suit will be on the city’s failure to respond.
Charlie Teague, 23 Edmond Street, agreed with Ms. Ringler; the City gets an F. The affordable housing partner on Concord Avenue stated that in their presentation that the industry cost for Net Zero is 5-7% increase and the City is proposing doubling this as an incentive. For 4” in insulation you offer 38” decrease in the setback. Alexandria sold $1800.80 per square foot. He stated you do not have to be giving our money away; just past the laws. He stated that the labs are changing the air, and this is the reason for the increase in energy. He suggested zoning to ban double hung windows. He stated that the proposal is to give away our building rights and our quality of life to people to make more money.
Ginger Ryan 35 Crescent Street, a member of Mother’s out Front, asked about re-evaluation of 2020 of the timetable. She stated that the benchmarks need to be pushed up. Labs are the biggest use of green gases is 2030. Communication with citizens is difficult in Cambridge. She spoke about how little people are aware of the climate crisis. She hoped legislation action coming in 2020 are pushed up to 2019.
Steven Nutter, Executive Director, Green Cambridge stated that Green Cambridge has been part of the process from the beginning. Cambridge was one of the first to have a NZAP, but the facts have been proven. The next steps in the Net Zero path is legislation, and policy implementation by the City Council and the administration. He stated the ordination of the tree ordinance was to highlight the importance of trees. He stated hat until something is passed there will be no change. He spoke about using existing programs as a means of communication to the residents. He spoke about using existing programs to communicate about Net Zero. He noted that there are still 700-800 individuals who have opted out of the 100% renewable energy program out of 35,000 basic service rate payers. He stated that the progress is so incremental. He urged pushing harder and communicating better.
Lee Farris, 269 Norfolk Street, stated that it is good to see a comprehensive plan with measurable steps. She would like it to move faster. She stated that there was no measure of the opt into the green energy and should be in the report. She asked has the City tried to partner with Eversource to do mailing and suggested give $20 off next energy bill if you opt into the program. She spoke about 40 multi-family buildings enrolled and how many are not retrofitting. She asked could the City partner with this Eversource and Assessors and target the larger buildings and give money to the owners of large buildings for doing a list of things within a certain period of time. She asked about retrofitting existing municipal buildings; the municipal buildings are not called out and should be. She asked if there is a place on line where it is transparent to see who are in the stakeholder groups.
Councillor Zondervan closed public comment at 2:34pm.
Councillor Mallon stated that she liked the idea of partnering with Eversource and every time an individual receives a letter that they are not measuring up with your neighbors on energy efficiency it would be a great place to show how energy efficiency could be achieved.
Councillor Zondervan spoke about the five-year review and the most important thing is how to move this agenda more quickly. He spoke about engaging the public and hard to make headway. There is an opportunity to communicate more and reach more people than in the past. He stated that one of disturbing aspects of the report is the lack of progress on an MOU with Eversource. He stated that seeing that so much of our emissions are from the utility producing the electricity. This cannot be done without the utilities being active and effective partners. He wanted to hear more how it was determined that a MOU was not the way to go.
Ms. Rasmussen stated that it is important to look at the Cambridge building stock and emissions which come from the existing large buildings, which are commercial buildings. The City is trying to come up with strategies that work for large buildings and what is the path forward for the lab buildings. The lab air changes are regulated by federal standards. It is not unusual for a lab to have an energy use intensity that is 10-20 times greater than the buildings being built now. It is challenging for the lab sector. She spoke about the importance of transitioning the building stock to electricity over a thirty-year period. She added that the City cannot sustain more than the most minimal amount of fossil fuel consumption by 2050 and what is the pathway to convert all buildings to electricity overtime. There was thought that there would be an overriding MOU to provide information from Eversource to the City and the process became challenging. The collaboration with Eversource with direct program delivery was more important. The Eversource program delivery is based on a 3-year plan. She stated that two things have been added: the solar advisor was added and secondly, a retrofit advisor. The City provides an advisor to help owners implement. She stated that the programs are still not effective for multi-family buildings. She stated that in the next three years the City needs to come up with a plan that will work with the buildings that are in Cambridge. She stated that the City is trying to figure out through a retrofit advisor helping the City to understand why there is no more comprehensive energy efficiency implementation when someone takes advantage of the Eversource programs and Mass Save Programs and what needs to be done to restructure for this to actually work better. She stated that the City is focused on working with MAPC and other communities to more effectively weigh in for the next round of planning so that these programs help urban areas more than now. She stated that this is complicated. She stated that the building stock is complicated, the split incentive makes it challenging when the owner pays the bill for the improvements and the tenants pay the utility bill. She stated that as the City is moving toward electrification these projects are bigger and require more upfront capital. She spoke about loans that travel with the tax bill rather than with the building owner (PACE). She stated that the City needs to think about getting these programs structured in a way that effective intervention can happen and can be subsidized by the rate payers’ money. Reallocation needs to be given more attention. She spoke about the City’s limitation to provide funding for these changes. She stated that the BEUDO amendment is the best way to affect the large buildings. On the renewal energy side, she stated that the state set the standards for the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and how quickly the state will advance towards a greater degree of renewable energy. She stated that the City is involved with working with MAPC and other groups in an effort to push for renewable electricity to be available faster at a greater percentage.
Councillor Zondervan asked about the local carbon fund and the cost of renewable are dropping and through the community choice electricity program the City will be able to offer 100% renewable electricity at a lower cost than Eversource in the future. He added that the savings should be captured and apply them towards energy retrofits. He spoke about asking individuals to donate on their energy bills and still pay less. He stated that the donations can be distributed freely to help others who cannot afford to do retrofits. The utilities need to work with the City on this work. The City will have to move in the direction of thermal energy. He stated that the City cannot allow new buildings that operate on fracked gas. We cannot permit buildings with too much glass that use fracked gas. This whole Net Zero effort started because of the frustration that new buildings will add to the emissions as the City is trying to reduce emissions. Five years later the emissions are increasing, and large buildings are being added that are built with too much glass and contributing to emissions. The new buildings can be prevented from adding to the problem.
Councillor Carlone stated that this is about the next generation. The City has to get the message out and push. The City View should have a “Call to Action” and include actions taken or actions that could be taken to reduce emissions. Let this be sobering but this is how there will be action.
Vice Mayor Devereux spoke about the challenge of multi-families and that 2/3 of residents do not have direct control of their energy and it is difficult to engage no matter what communication is taken. At the 5-year re-evaluation is there a possibility there will be a reduction in the qualifying threshold from 25,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. Ms. Rasmussen stated that anything is on the table. She added that from a mathematical perspective, the large buildings are where the most emissions come from. She noted that this is about taking steps that drive down emissions from commercial buildings where the energy intensity is high. Ms. Farooq stated that the challenge is what does this mean to the building owner and there is more of a burden for the smaller buildings. The stakeholder process and any change have to be adopted by the City Council. The voluntary approach has been taken by the City for the smaller projects. The challenges for multi-family buildings are significant.
Councillor Zondervan stated that this cannot be put on individual residents or small property owners to solve this problem. The cost has come down so much that the problem is the up-front investment. He explained that he has done changes to his home and has reduced the energy consumption from the grid source by 60%. It is important to get energy down in labs. The utilities, state and federal government have to get involved. Cambridge can control what can be built in Cambridge and the City needs to get more stringent. The City has to do more somehow. He is looking forward to the ordinance amendments and will submit Policy Order to be forwarded to the City Council to begin the ordination process.
Councillor Zondervan and Vice Mayor Devereux thanked all those present for their attendance.
A communication was received from Joshua Hartshorne expressing his disappointment with the scale of the Net Zero Plan (ATTACHMENT B).
The hearing adjourned at 3:00pm.
For the Committee,
Councillor Quinton Y. Zondervan, Co-Chair
Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, 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. See Mgr #4
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
18-53. 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
18-96. 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. See Mgr #8
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
18-129. 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
18-134. 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. See Mgr #6
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
18-141. 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
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
19-5. 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
19-16. 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
19-21. 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
19-32. 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
19-35. 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
19-39. 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
19-42. 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
19-49. 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
19-53. Report on working with the Cambridge Police Department and other relevant City staff on how media collected by hand-held photo/video recording devices is used, stored, and shared.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Siddiqui (O-4) from 5/6/2019
19-54. Report on how a cloud-based data management system for DHSP's Children and Youth Programs will clearly protect all aspects of participant privacy and access security.
Councillor Kelley (O-5) from 5/6/2019
19-55. Report on working with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and the License Commission to establish a "play streets" permit.
Councillor Mallon, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui (O-7) from 5/6/2019
19-56. Report on determining what facilities, parking changes, and other improvements to the pavement conditions would be necessary and feasible to make Massachusetts Avenue a quick-build Complete Street between Sidney Street and Putnam Avenue.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone (O-2) from 5/13/2019
19-57. Report on establishing a partnership with the MBTA to offer CharlieCards at certain public buildings throughout the city.
Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui (O-4) from 5/20/2019
19-58. Report on working with the Recycling Advisory Committee and other stakeholders to draft an ordinance banning single-use plastic items in Cambridge.
Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone (O-6) from 5/13/2019
19-59. Report on exploring a pilot for Level 1 (110V) EV and Micromobility charging stations on street light poles throughout the city.
Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Kelley, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui (O-7) from 5/13/2019
19-60. Report on adding a cybercrime assessment section to the list of monthly Bridgstat reports or, alternatively, create a separate report to help formalize the information flow about cybercrime to the same level as the currently used Bridgstat.
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui (O-8) from 5/13/2019
19-61. Report on potential ballot changes at a public hearing of the Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee on May 28, 2019.
Vice Mayor Devereux (O-9) from 5/13/2019
19-62. Report on drafting a formal Anti-bias /Cultural Competency Strategic Plan for eventual adoption and implementation.
Councillor Simmons (O-2) from 5/20/2019
19-63. Report on providing a comprehensive list of projects Feeney Brothers Utility Services is currently working on within the City of Cambridge, as well as a detailed understanding of how the city is ensuring Eversource and Feeney Brothers Utility Services are keeping residents and property safe. See Mgr #9
Councillor Zondervan (O-4) from 5/20/2019
19-64. Report on adding $20 Million to the budget for Affordable Housing.
Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern (O-6) from 5/20/2019
19-65. Report on the pilot program and whether it could be implemented as a permanent program, which made menstrual products available in all restrooms, regardless of the gender identity assigned to that restroom.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui (O-2) from 6/3/2019
19-66. Report on whether it is possible to reduce or eliminate Building Permit Fees for 100% affordable housing development projects, through an exemption or other means and investigate what types of real estate tax abatements are possible for 100% affordable housing moving forward.
Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Carlone, Mayor McGovern (O-3) from 6/3/2019
19-67. Report on setting up a series of informational and interactive Affordable Housing Overlay workshops in a variety of neighborhoods to give residents the chance to foster a productive and informational dialogue with City staff.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern (O-6) from 6/3/2019
19-68. Report on the status of any gas-related surveys and safety activities related to the Inman Square reconstruction project. See Mgr #9
Councillor Kelley, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Carlone (O-7) from 6/3/2019
19-69. Report on the timeline and process for the creation of a stakeholder group to conduct the Cambridge Net Zero Action Plan review, as well as any other details on the process by which the quinquennial review will be conducted in 2020.
Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux (O-8) from 6/3/2019
19-70. Report on the feasibility of implementing suggested restoration projects in the area surrounding Jerry’s Pond, in order to make the Pond more accessible and inviting to the community.
Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan (O-10) from 6/3/2019
19-71. Report on obtaining data from Eversource on electrical demand projections by year until at least 2030, including a breakdown of commercial vs residential demand growth, as well as a ten year historical look back.
Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor Devereux (O-11) from 6/3/2019
19-72. Report on conducting a safety check of the Sullivan Courthouse Building.
Councillor Mallon, Councillor Toomey (O-16) from 6/3/2019