Cambridge InsideOut - April 26, 2016
Topics du jour:
April 22 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Outstanding City Employee Award.
Alessandra Albano, Executive Assistant to the City Council, City Council Office
Kia Benjamin, Executive Assistant to the Police Commissioner, Police Department
Stacey Cooper, Administrative Assistant to the Finance Director, Finance Department
Brian Corr, Executive Director/Peace Commission & Executive Secretary/Police Review & Advisory Bd.
Lei-Anne Ellis, Division Head/Childcare Family Services, Department of Human Service Programs
Joshua Foley, Senior Job Developer, Department of Human Service Programs
Gary Littles, Laborer/Streets Cleaning Division, Department of Public Works
Timothy MacDonald, Director of Water Operations, Water Department
Linda Prosnitz, Project Planning/Housing Division, Community Development Department
Gerald Reardon, Fire Chief, Fire Department
Brendon Roy, Assistant Project Manager/Capital Construction Projects, Executive Office
Nancy Schlacter, Executive Director, Human Rights Commission
Jeremy Warnick, Director of Communications & Media, Police Department
Amy Witts, Purchasing Agent, Purchasing Department
Jason Yee, Associate Librarian, Library
The City Manager will also present an Award in honor and memory of Assistant City Manager for Community Development Brian Murphy to a person who is committed to making government improve the lives of other.
The recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Friday, May 6, 2016 at 9:30am in the Sullivan Chamber of City Hall, for their superior performance, positive attitude, hard work and dedication to public service. All are welcome to attend.
April 21 – The Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee, the Alewife Working Group, and the Engagement and Communications Working Group have been formed to advise City staff and a multidisciplinary team of consultants on Envision Cambridge. View the list of the Committee and Working Group members.
At later stages of the planning process, additional working groups will be formed. We anticipate working groups on topics such as climate and energy, economic development, housing, and mobility.
Meetings are open to the public and non-members are welcome to attend. Stay tuned for an announcement of the first meeting dates.
For more information about Envision Cambridge, visit www.cambridgema.gov/citywideplan.
|Envision Cambridge (current as of Apr 20, 2016)|
|Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee|
|Alexandra Offiong||Matthew Wallace|
|Bethany Stevens||Risa Mednick|
|Bill Kane||Robert Winters|
|Dennis Swinford||Ruth Allen|
|Ebi Poweigha||Ruth Ryals|
|Frank Gerratana||Tom Sieniewicz|
|Joseph Maguire||Tom Stohlman|
|Josh Gerber||Zeyneb Magavi|
|Marlinia Antoine||Zuleka Queen-Postell|
|Envision Alewife Working Group|
|Catherine Connolly||Karen Dumaine|
|Doug Brown||Margaret Drury|
|Eric Grunebaum||Margaret Gadon|
|Geoff Wood||Mark DiOrio|
|James Butler||Sam Stern|
|Jennifer Gilbert||Tom Ragno|
|John DiGiovanni||William Ahern|
|Engagement and Communications Working Group|
|Ben Peterson||Justin Crane|
|Cathie Zusy||Justin Kang|
|Debbie Bonilla||Phyllis Bretholtz|
|Elaine DeRosa||Sarah Kennedy|
|Eryn Johnson||Tara Greco|
|Jeenal Sawla||Zuleka Queen-Postell|
|At later stages of the planning process, additional working groups will be formed. We anticipate working groups on topics such as climate and energy, economic development, housing, and mobility.|
Discussion of the workshops and what comes next
Two extremes - high income and publicly subsidized (nothing in the middle)
Role of small landlords who now provide moderate income rentals
Regional increase in housing supply needed to bring market forces back into play
Problem of housing being purchased by LLCs (often with foreign investment) as an alternative during a period when stock markets and other vehicles are more risky that real estate
Shold everyone have to apply to the City or a City-associated agency in order to obtain housing? That is NOT a solution.
Much of Cambridge traffic is pass-through traffic - independent of whether or not there is local development. Indeed, new local housing development may actually decrease this traffic.
Social cohesion, civic engagement
Economics and economic development
April 21 – The City of Cambridge has won national recognition by achieving a 5-STAR Rating from STAR Communities (STAR), a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit. STAR is the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing environmental, social, and economic performance measures. Cambridge received high marks for its work on a range of issues, including transportation choices, energy efficiency, arts and culture, and innovative programs for youth engagement and community policing.
Cambridge distinguished itself by receiving the highest STAR score to date and joins Seattle WA; Baltimore MD; and Northampton MA as the only communities that have received the Certified 5-STAR Community Rating, the top certification level. In all, 50 communities and counties across the country have received STAR certifications, and hundreds of others are actively using the rating system to measure sustainability progress.
“Our strong performance with STAR Communities serves as affirmation of many years of work by City departments to build a better City for future generations” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi. “For decades, the City has incorporated innovative principles into our planning and programing to create a City that provides a high quality of life. As a result of the City, our residents, businesses and institutions working together, Cambridge has been able to achieve not only the 5-STAR rating, but also the highest point total STAR has ever awarded.”
In March 2015, Cambridge joined the STAR Communities Leadership Program, conducted a baseline assessment and compared best practices with other communities nationwide. Assistant City Manager for Community Development Iram Farooq added that “achieving a 5-STAR rating reflects a shared philosophy about the importance of a sustainable community that cuts across City government. Over 20 departments, boards and commissions contributed time, expertise and information to the STAR Communities certification effort, one that showcases Cambridge’s commitment to healthy, resilient and sustainable environmental, economic, and social policies.”
STAR includes seven goal areas: the built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education; arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems. Cambridge attained 90% or more of possible points in four of these areas (built environment; economy and jobs; education, arts and culture; and health and safety). The City also received credit for exemplary performance in affordable housing preservation, superior fire protection, supporting sustainable transportation choices, and proximity to public parks.
“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community,” said Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities. “Cambridge’s 5-STAR Community Rating clearly demonstrates their national leadership in sustainability. We look forward to sharing Cambridge’s success stories with other cities around the country and working with city leaders as they continue to make improvements that benefit the whole community.”
To learn more about Cambridge’s Star Community Rating, please visit: www.cambridgema.gov/star.
Real Money - The City of Cambridge FY2017 Budget tops the April 25, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda
One of the things that distinguishes a city manager submitted budget from what you might see in a city with a strong mayor form of government is its consistency from year to year. Rather than see budgets for individual departments or initiatives skyrocket or plummet depending on which voters the mayor is courting, we generally see in the Cambridge budgets predictable changes based on rational objectives. That's worth remembering the next time someone tries to convince you that we need to change the charter.
Here are what I see as the most notable agenda items this week:
Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the FY2017 submitted budget and appropriation orders. [$560,592,915 total proposed FY17 Operating Budget - a 5.4% increase over FY2016; $13,969,210 Water Fund; $16,890,570 Public Investment Fund; (plus the total of $188,100,000 in Loan Orders - see #5-11 below)]
Communications and Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Judith T. Martin, Executive Secretary to the School Committee transmitting a copy of an order from the School Committee recommending the FY17 General Fund Budget of the Cambridge Public Schools be adopted in the sum of $172,793,980.00.
The City Manager and his Finance staff are expected to give a Budget Overview at this meeting during which they'll provide additional details (and a possible correction to the apparently missing Conservation Commission budget). The FY2017 Budget Book (either in print or online) is also expected to be made available around the time of the meeting. The Budget Hearings conducted by the City Council's Finance Committee commence May 5.
For the sake of comparison, here's a table showing how some of the budgets have changed over the last year, 2 years, and 12 years.
Manager's Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-14, regarding the possibility of closing two lanes to cars on Memorial Drive on April 29th for Walk/Ride Day.
I hate to say "I told you so", but... no, I actually enjoy saying "I told you so." The City's application was not approved due to concerns of the State Police around traffic safety and congestion. There was never any realistic chance that this would be approved. I told you so.
Manager's Agenda #5-11. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow:
#5: $17,350,000 to provide funds for various water pollution abatement projects, including construction of sewer separation, storm water management and combined sewer overflow reduction elimination improvements within the City’s Alewife Watershed, Cambridgeport Neighborhood, and areas in Harvard Square as well as the Sewer Capital Repairs Program.
#6: $5,000,000 to provide funds for a Comprehensive Facilities Improvement Plan.
#7: $2,000,000 to provide funds for the reconstruction of various City streets and sidewalks.
#8: $149,600,000 to provide funds for various School building infrastructure projects including construction for the King Open/Cambridge Street Schools & Community Complex, building envelope repairs at the Fletcher Maynard Academy, and a new boiler at the Amigos School.
#9: $150,000 to provide funds for the purchase and installation of mechanical components to ensure the operational integrity of the elevator at the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility.
#10: $4,000,000 to provide funds for the renovations of the Out of Town News Kiosk Building and adjacent plaza area in Harvard Square.
#11: $10,000,000 to provide funds for the design and construction of a multi-use path/greenway along the eastern Grand Junction railroad right of way from Broadway to the city line.
That's a total of $188,100,000 in Loan Orders - dominated by the cost of construction of the King Open/Cambridge Street Schools & Community Complex.
Manager's Agenda #19. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a report on potential issues related to the Barrett, et al. Zoning Amendment.
As promised on the night the Barrett Petition was passed, the proposed amendments have arrived.
Manager's Agenda #20. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the City of Cambridge receiving a 5-STAR Rating from STAR Communities (STAR) - the highest score ever given in the country and Cambridge is one of only four cities nationally to earn the top 5-STAR rating.
More gold stars for Cambridge.
Unfinished Business #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 24, 2016 to discuss a zoning petition by the Sage Cannabis, Inc. to amend the Zoning Ordinance in Section 20.700 Medical Marijuana Overlay Districts by creating an additional Medical Marijuana Overlay District (MMD-3). Question comes of Passing To Be Ordained on or after Apr 18, 2016. Planning Board hearing held on Mar 15, 2016. Petition expires June 22, 2016.
Manager's Agenda #21. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-34, which requested a legal opinion on the legality of the Zoning Petition filed by Sage Cannabis, Inc. For a medical marijuana dispensary and whether it is spot zoning.
Communications and Reports from City Officers #3. A communication was received from Councillor Craig A. Kelley, regarding MDD-3 Special District Zoning Petition or the draft letter from the City Manager of non-opposition to the Department of Public Health for Sage Cannabis, Inc.
The Sage Cannabis Petition will likely sail through ordination at this meeting, but the communication from Councillor Kelley is interesting. Apparently, in some other places where marijuana dispensaries have been approved there were agreements signed that would produce revenues for the host cities. It's a bit odd that Cambridge with its host of community benefit and other mitigation protocols in place never asked for anything from Sage Cannabis.
Communication #1. A communication was received from Steven C. Marsh, Managing Director, Real Estate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Investment Management Company, 238 Main Street, providing a brief update on several requirements related to the Kendall Square zoning (PUD-5).
This letter notes that:
2) MIT has been working with the City to finalize the property transfer of 35 Cherry Street. The City is working through a community process to determine the future use of the parcel, after which the closing and the transfer of title will be finalized. The City's acquisition of 35 Cherry Street includes the stipulation that the parcel be used "in perpetuity in a manner that directly benefit residents in the Area Four Neighborhood and surrounding communities."
3) MIT's $500,000 contribution to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority's Grand Junction pathway project between Main Street and Broadway has enabled that work to proceed to the point that a grand opening celebration is now being planned for the spring.
Resolution #3. Resolution on the death of Suzanne Schell Pearce. Mayor Simmons, Councillor Maher
Cambridge has lost one of the most kind-hearted activists I personally ever met.
Order #1. That the City Council go on record urging the National League of Cities to move the venue for the NLC City Summit scheduled to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, in November 2017 to another state which does not have such discriminatory legislation on the books. Mayor Simmons
Punishing the local businesses who had no say whatsoever in what laws their state government chose to pass.
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council and the community with a response to the concerns and assessment of the Bring Your Own Bag ordinance. Mayor Simmons
This might also be a good time to get some feedback on reactions to the proposed polystyrene ban set to go into effect later this year. There's nothing wrong with tweaking ordinances when necessary.
Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department, the Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs, and other appropriate City departments to determine the feasibility of waiving the motor vehicle excise tax for electric vehicles. Councillor Devereux
First, this would require authorization from the state. Second, it's a slippery road to travel when you start taxing people differently based on what you perceive to be better behavior. Why not charge different excise taxes for people who use their vehicles less frequently?
Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council if any progress has been made on the willingness of the City of Cambridge to contribute to a successful Green Line Extension and if there has been conversations with local developers regarding the same. Councillor Toomey
Though I suppose you can make the case that "local developers" and cities through which public transit passes derive benefit from the presence of the transit, this is still a sorry state of affairs when the state and the MBTA cannot manage their fiscal affairs to maintain and enhance their assets.
Order #8. City Council opposition to any off-peak hour fare surcharges as a means of mitigation for continued off-peak hours T service and support for a fair and equitable solution to mitigating the loss of late night T service, specifically one that does not unduly burden those with the least flexibility in their reliance on an affordable means of off-hours transportation. Councillor Cheung
I didn't know this was even being considered. It is worth mentioning that when the T shuts down at night the cost of transportation goes up considerably for those who must then take taxis or one of the pseudo-taxi services.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 6, 2016 to continue to discuss the development of the process for the selection of a new City Manager.
The process continues. Hopefully not for too long and leading to a good outcome. If the Council becomes deadlocked, I'm happy to make the decision. - Robert Winters
Apr 14, 2016 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking a Cambridge resident interested in volunteering to serve on the Cambridge Family Policy Council (Formerly Kids’ Council), which is dedicated to developing policy and program recommendations aimed at improving the quality of life for children, youth and families in the City of Cambridge, so that children and youth are:
The Family Policy Council meets approximately six times per year on the 3rd Thursday of the month, from 5:15-7:15pm.
The Mayor of Cambridge serves as the Chair of the Family Policy Council, and membership is comprised of key stakeholders in local government and in the community, which includes the following:
Recent Family Policy Council Initiatives
The Family Policy Council has been focusing on family engagement and developing recommendations to create and support genuine partnerships between families and the organizations and institutions that serve them by:
Past Family Policy Council Initiatives:
For more information, please contact Nancy Tauber, Executive Director, at 617-349-6239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To apply, please submit a letter of interest and, if possible, a resume, by Friday, May 20, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
Ph. 617-349-4300; Fax 617-349-4307
Up the Inclusionary - Hot Topics on the April 11, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda
Here are the relatively few agenda items that seem interesting this week:
City Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, recommending the reappointment of Conrad Crawford to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority.
City Manager's Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, recommending appointment of Naomie Stephen to the Cambridge Housing Authority.
These are the only two City Boards for which City Council approval is required for appointments by the City Manager. Under recently amended protocols, these will each have a City Council committee hearing prior to coming back to the City Council for a vote.
This is by far the most significant agenda item. Any change to Inclusionary Zoning would be a zoning amendment, so this matter will now have to be referred to the Ordinance Committee and Planning Board for further deliberation. The study and the Manager's recommendation call for a substantial increase in the inclusionary requirement. If I read it correctly, the current 15% requirement (which ends up being under 12% of the new units created after the density bonus is added in) would go up to somewhere between 17% and 20% after the density bonus is added. Some activists will, no doubt, want an even higher percentage, but there are at least some indications that the sky is no longer the limit in terms of housing prices and rents. There may be some logic in exercising at least a little caution in increasing the mandatory requirements.
Massachusetts House Bill H.1107 - An Act to expedite multifamily housing construction
Massachusetts Senate Bill S.122 - An Act promoting the planning and development of sustainable communities
Resolution #4. Resolution on the death of Dorothy Steele. Councillor Toomey
If you didn't see the recent Eric Moskowitz article on Dorothy Steele on the front page of the Boston Globe (Apr 5, 2016), you really should. It was one of the most beautifully written tributes I've ever read in a newspaper.
Order #2. That all future Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee meetings related to the selection of a new City Manager be televised. Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux
The actual level of interest in this process among the general public is not nearly as great as the sponsors of the Order seem to think. Interest will definitely pick as we get nearer to an actual vote, but for now it's just the usual suspects.
Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to write a letter to the Department of Public Health indicating the City of Cambridge's non-opposition for Sage Cannabis Inc., application to operate a RMD in the Business B-2 (MMD-3 Zoning) District within the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Councillor Cheung, Vice Mayor McGovern
I can certainly understand why the City Council might support a zoning change to allow Sage Cannabis to operate a medical marijuana dispensary at a location not previously permitted under zoning, but does the City Council really have to also write them a letter of recommendation? Surely the zoning change should be sufficient. - Robert Winters