Cambridge InsideOut - November 22, 2016
1) Notable Notes - Weddings, Births, and other announcements
Next Participatory Budgeting VOTE: December 3-9, 2016!
Do you live in Cambridge? Are you at least 12 years old? Then come out and vote between December 3-9 for your favorite PB projects and decide how to spend $700,000 of the City's capital budget!
Residents can vote online at pb.cambridgema.gov or in person at dozens of events around town. You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to participate in this process.
What's on the ballot?
Over 60 volunteer Budget Delegates worked hard this fall researching 548 ideas submitted by community members and developed 20 final proposals for the ballot. Voters can choose up to 5 of the following 20 projects. You don't need to rank your choices or do any math.
- Universal Design: Playgrounds for Everyone! ($100,000)
- Danehy Park: Fitness, Signs, Dog Park Lights & Scoreboards ($140,000)
- Shade and Wet Weather Canopies for Playgrounds ($146,000)
- Learn about Nature in the Port ($10,000)
- Cambridge Street Art Trail ($25,000)
- All-In-One Mobile Performance Stage & Art Space ($98,000)
- Lighting Landmarks: CHLS Gate & Sumner Statue ($45,000)
- Little Free Libraries for Children ($37,000)
- Bicycle Desks for Cambridge Students ($113,000)
- Wireless Speakers for Youth Centers ($25,000)
- Upgrade the Moore Youth Center ($80,000)
- Free Public WiFi in Columbia Park ($32,000)
- Kinetic Energy Tiles ($50,000)
- Solar-Powered Real-Time Bus Tracker Displays ($150,000)
- Building a Strong and Safe Bike Community ($114,000)
- Safer Crosswalks for Busy Roads ($104,000)
- Solar Power Shines! ($260,000)
- Hydration Stations in Four Locations! ($37,000)
- Safe Naps for Cambridge Preschoolers! ($4,000)
- (2-3) Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations ($30,000)
To learn more about each project and about the PB voting process, please visit pb.cambridgema.gov or contact us in the City's Budget Office.
Joint Statement of
Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale
Regarding Cambridge as a Sanctuary City
Nov 17, 2016 – The recent national political climate has generated considerable concern and anxiety on the part of many Cambridge residents, especially members of our immigrant communities. The City of Cambridge wants to clearly state to our community that it is committed to supporting and promoting the safety, health, and well-being of all of its residents. As a Sanctuary City, Cambridge affirms the basic human rights and dignity of every human being and provides education, health and other services to all residents of Cambridge, regardless of their immigration status.
“The City of Cambridge has been a Sanctuary City since April 1985, when the City Council first took steps to protect and support refugees fleeing from political violence and human rights violations in El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti,” said Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons. “In 1999, the City Council expanded that support to all residents, regardless of immigration status, and has regularly reaffirmed that over the last 20 years. Today, the City of Cambridge remains just as committed to all of our residents as we have been over the past 31 years.”
The City provides support and resources ranging from a Cambridge Immigrant Rights Commission to programing at the Cambridge Community Learning Center to a Community Engagement Team that works to connect hard to reach populations with City services.
“Every Cambridge resident – regardless of their status – is encouraged to seek and obtain assistance from the many resources available to the Cambridge community. Cambridge remains a welcoming community for all,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale.
Furthermore, a core principle of the Cambridge Police Department’s Community Policing philosophy is that all community members are encouraged to seek and obtain police assistance and protection, regardless of their specific immigration and/or documentation status. The enforcement of the nation’s civil immigration laws are the primary responsibility of the federal government and the Cambridge Police Department does not undertake immigration-related investigations and does not routinely inquire into the specific immigration status of any person encountered during normal police operations.
As Mayor and City Manager of Cambridge, we remain committed to the City’s Sanctuary City status and the services and support that we provide to the Cambridge Community.
Mayor E. Denise Simmons City Manager Louis A. DePasquale
The full text of the Cambridge Police Department’s Secure Communities & ICE Detainers policy is available at www.cambridgepolice.org/Publications. Past City Council Policy Orders are available at www.cambridgema.gov/CityCouncil.
Last week, the MBTA launched a survey to better understand the needs for late night MBTA service. This is an important step in ensuring the next iteration of late night service is done right, and is accessible to the population that might most benefit from it. The survey is available in several languages until Dec 16, 2016. For more information or to obtain printed surveys contact Tegin Bennett at email@example.com
Members Sought for Cambridge GLBT Commission
City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking individuals to fill vacancies on the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) Commission. Prospective Commissioners must either reside or work in Cambridge.
The mission of the Commission is to advocate for a culture of respect and to monitor progress toward equality of all persons with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The Commission also monitors policies and practices that have a positive effect on the health, welfare and safety of all persons who live, visit or work in the City of Cambridge with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Current projects include working with Housing and Health Care organizations who serve LGBTQ+ Seniors and Youth After School activities.
The Commission normally meets on the 4th Thursday of each month and Commissioners are expected to volunteer some time outside of meetings for various projects. Although it is not a requirement for application, it is recommended that applicants attend a Commission meeting to see how it operates; the next meeting is on Thursday, Dec. 1, from 6-7:30 p.m., at Windsor Street Community Health Center, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 119 Windsor St., Cambridge.
For more information about the Commission, visit www.cambridgema.gov/glbt. Minutes, and other information can be found there. Visit the Commission’s FaceBook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Cambridge.GLBT.Commission.
A Letter of Interest with a brief resumé should be sent via mail or e-mail by Monday, Dec 12 to:
Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Seeking Recycling Advisory Committee Applicants - Learn about joining the Recycling Advisory Committee.
City of Cambridge Recycling Advisory Committee Vacancy - Deadline Extended to Dec 2
The City of Cambridge is seeking residents and local professionals interested in serving on the Advisory Committee on Environmentally Desirable Practices/Recycling Advisory Committee (RAC) beginning January 2017. The RAC is a volunteer committee which provides advice, recommendations, and assistance to the Department of Public Works (DPW) regarding recycling, composting, reuse, and waste reduction. The DPW strives to meet the goals of the MassDEP Solid Waste Master Plan to reduce residential trash. The RAC does this through research, feedback, public outreach, and event planning.
Cambridge Recycling began in 1989 with a few volunteers dedicated to beginning a recycling drop-off program. Today, the City recovers more than 11,000 tons/year of recyclables from more than 44,000 households. Many residents drop off food scraps and every public school has composting. The curbside food scraps collection pilot diverts over six tons per week, and will expand citywide in the fall of 2017.
Currently the City’s goals to reduce waste match those in the MA Solid Waste Master Plan. Using 2008 as a baseline year, the City aims to reduce trash 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Some strategies that City staff have identified to realize this reduction in trash include maximize recycling, educate and increase reduction of food waste while implementing food scrap collection programs; strengthen programs that encourage reuse, repair and donation of durable goods and materials; and support extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation for problem products.
The Committee has been active for over 20 years and consists of at least nine members with a demonstrated interest in the topics listed above. Members serve a three-year term and are expected to attend monthly meetings (Sept-June). The City seeks members that represent local businesses and property managers, Cambridge residents and users of the Recycling Center, universities, non-profit organizations and social service agencies whose goals overlap with waste reduction.
Duties, Responsibilities, and Minimum Requirements include:
- Attend and participate in monthly meeting, held second Wednesday of the month (September-June) at 8am;
- Participate in creating committee direction and implementation of ideas;
- Take a leadership role in projects, such as doing research, organizing & attending events, advocating for Extended Producer Responsibility legislation, etc;
- Work with the Public Works Recycling Division, Climate Protection Committee, and other appropriate City staff to provide feedback on City initiatives and collaborate on various projects;
- Research different approaches to communication, education and best practices for recycling, composting, reuse and waste reduction programs;
- Disseminate outreach materials and post flyers in the community to educate the public;
- Write articles for all varieties of media promoting City programs and services including newspaper editorials, blog posts, newsletter articles, etc;
- Initiate, plan, attend and run events to promote recycling, composting, reuse and waste reduction;
- Recruit additional volunteers for specific events and projects;
- Meet with the community and participate in at least 2-3 events, such as Danehy Park Family Day, Family Fun Day, Fresh Pond Day, May Fair, block parties;
- Continually promote positive recycling, composting, reuse, and waste reduction whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Helpful Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
- Advocacy for state and federal policy on extended producer responsibility;
- Knowledge of the reuse industry;
- Familiarity with the Cambridge Public Schools;
- Knowledge about using recycled materials
Interested persons should submit a letter of interest by email by Friday, December 2, 2016 describing their relevant experience and their professional/personal interest in these issues to:
Lisa Peterson, Acting City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Please note that all current Committee members interested in serving again must submit a letter of interest.
All Cambridge Boards & Commissions
Seeking Volunteers for Harvard Square Kiosk Working Group
The City of Cambridge would like to share two important updates regarding the Harvard Square Placemaking process.
The City is seeking volunteers to serve on a new Harvard Square Kiosk Working Group. This working group is being created to advise the City Manager on the vision, programming, operations and governance of the Harvard Square kiosk and plaza. Letters of Interest are due by December 2, 2016. For more information and instructions for sending a letter of interest, please click on the link provided.
Comment Period Open on the Draft Request for Proposals Harvard Square Kiosk Consulting Services
As you may know, the City is interested in issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for hiring a consultant to assist the City to create a vision for the programming, operations and governance of the Harvard Square Kiosk. We would like to provide an opportunity for input on the scope and evaluation for the RFP consulting services. The comment period on the RFP will extend through November 29th, and comments will inform any changes to the RFP before it is posted.
To review the RFP and directions to submit your comments, click on the link to the Harvard Square Placemaking webpage and look under the "Latest" tab: https://www.cambridgema.gov/cdd/projects/parks/hsquarepublicspace
Please indicate in an email back to us if you wish to continue receiving information on the process. We look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to share this with your networks.
For more information, visit the Harvard Square Placemaking website: http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/Projects/Parks/hsquarepublicspace.aspx
Cambridge Human Rights Commission Vacancy - Deadline Extended to Dec 2
Acting City Manager Lisa Peterson is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC). Made up of 11 members who serve three-year terms, the CHRC meets on the first Thursday of every month at 6pm. The Commission seeks Cambridge residents representing the diversity of Cambridge. The application deadline for this commission has been extended to Friday, Dec 2, 2016.
Commissioners are expected to work with other members of the Commission and staff to fulfill the goals and objectives of the Cambridge Human Rights Commission Ordinance (CMC Chapter 2.76). Commissioners are expected to attend monthly meetings, participate in subcommittees on outreach and public education, and work with Commission staff on the investigation, mediation and resolution of complaints filed with the Commission which allege discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment or education based upon race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, family status, military status or source of income.
For more information, contact Nancy Schlacter, Cambridge Human Rights Commission, at 617-349-4396 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters of interest, including resume and/or applicable experience, can be sent via mail, fax or e-mail by Friday, December 2, 2016 to:
Lisa Peterson, Acting City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Book Release - Building Old Cambridge by Susan E. Maycock and Charles M. Sullivan (published by MIT Press)
2) Nov 21 City Council meeting
While the Orange Emperor prepares to assume the throne, Cambridge responds with symbolic acts of virtual warfare. I expect that the next two months will be dominated by discussions of Sanctuary Cities and declarations of our municipal virtue.
Here are the City Council agenda items that seem most noteworthy:
Manager's Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to an update on the drought conditions.
The drought persists, but things appear to be less dire than they seemed a month ago. The reservoirs are slowing gaining water and we have been able to use Cambridge water to some degree, so the cost of purchasing MWRA water is less than was projected.
Manager's Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to various projects and initiatives related to the City’s Bicycle Safety Work Plan.
City staff seem to be approaching this more thoughtfully than the "my way or the highway" approach suggested in recent City Council orders. For example, there is a substantial analysis of the pros and cons of completely revising the good plans already developed for Huron Avenue. Based on that analysis and the impacts associated with making major changes to the design at this point in construction, City staff does not plan to modify the layout of Huron Avenue.
There definitely are some modifications to street configuration and on-street parking that can be made for greater bicycle safety, but this is best done in conjunction with a thoughtful process involving all stakeholders - and not with the banging of drums. It is worth noting that at a recent City Council committee meeting on a possible increase in the cost of a resident parking permit, one councillor clearly stated that she hoped that by jacking the sticker price up sufficiently high it would lead to enough people giving up their vehicles so that parking could be eliminated from most or all of Broadway, Cambridge Street, Hampshire Street and Massachusetts Avenue. She especially liked that Uber vehicles would more easily be able to pick up passengers on these streets. Public process may be time-consuming, but it's far preferable to a dictatorial City Council.
Manager's Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the zoning amendments with recommended changes to the Inclusionary Housing Provisions.
Presumably, the zoning amendment process will now commence with referral to the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee. It will be interesting to see if the shifting economic forecasts associated with changes in Washington, D.C. will affect the view of how viable the proposed 20% Inclusionary Zoning percentage might be.
Charter Right #1. The City Manager confer with the City Solicitor on the possibility of allowing non-citizen Cambridge residents to vote in municipal elections without a home-rule petition. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Cheung on Nov 7, 2016.]
Perhaps the juxtaposition of this with the Sanctuary City discussion may give this a boost, but I still think that individual cities and towns should not be setting their own policies in matters such as this. For a hundred years the standard has been that Citizenship = "Right to Vote", and a lot of us agree with that definition. I will again add that just about everyone is a citizen of some country and they likely still retain those voting rights even if they currently reside in Cambridge.
Order #3. That all Awaiting Report items on the Awaiting Report List on Nov 7, 2016 be placed on file. Councillor Cheung
Perhaps most of the slate should be wiped clean, but maybe councillors should be afforded the privilege of selecting a few or the more substantial requests for retention on the list. While they're at it, we could also use a little Fall Cleaning of some of the items that are On the Table collecting dust and going nowhere. The City Clerk will, I'm sure, appreciate the gesture.
Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to commit to funding any and all programs that may be in jeopardy should the federal funds affect the viability of these programs. Councillor Cheung, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Kelley
Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to forward a letter to Cambridge organizations and City Departments regarding the status of our Sanctuary/Trust Act City and what this means for working non-citizens and the resources available. Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen
[References: 1985 Sanctuary City resolution 2006 Sanctuary City resolution Joint Statement by City Manager & Mayor Simmons]
Order #8. Nov 28th Roundtable/Working Meeting be changed to discuss Cambridge remaining a Sanctuary City. Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern
As an exercise, let's separate out the substance of these Sanctuary City resolutions from all the other statements of conditions, causes, and virtue.
The essential clauses of the 1985 resolution are:
"The City Council wishes to clarify its desire not to expend City resources, beyond the requirements of federal law, in voluntarily assisting or cooperating with investigations of alleged violations of immigration law by Salvadorean, Guatemalan or Haitian refugees, or in gathering or disseminating information on the citizenship status of those residing in the City of Cambridge"; and
"RESOLVED: That the City of Cambridge not participate in any form in the compounding of injustice against refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti or in the federal government's persecution of those, who in good faith, offer humanitarian assistance to the refugees"; and
"ORDERED: That the City Council declares it to be the policy of the City of Cambridge that, to the extent legally possible, no department or employee of the City of Cambridge will violate established or future sanctuaries by officially assisting or voluntarily cooperating with investigations or arrest procedures, public or clandestine, relating to alleged violations of immigration law by refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala or Haiti, or by those offering sanctuary"; and
"ORDERED: That no city employee or department, to the extent legally possible, will request information about or otherwise assist in the investigation of the citizenship status of any City resident, will disseminate information regarding the citizenship of a City resident, or condition the provision of City of Cambridge services or benefits on matters related to citizenship."
The 2006 resolution actually added little other than statements about how the Cambridge City Council at that time disagreed with a bill then working its way through the U.S. Congress.
Those were some pretty substantial statements in 1985, but they really aren't all that severe. In a nutshell, they basically say that the City of Cambridge won't carry out the work of the federal government in carrying out a policy with which the City of Cambridge has great disagreement. The federal government doesn't round up people who have failed to pay parking tickets while in the City of Cambridge, so this is, in some respects, just a statement that we'll do our jobs and the federal government can do their jobs.
What is insidious about the current situation is the threat of federal funds being withheld to any city choosing to not do the job of federal authorities. That's almost like saying that we're going to withhold your paycheck until you do your boss's job in addition to your own. Cambridge residents pay federal taxes (sorry, you can't claim the Peoples Republic of Cambridge as a sovereign state), so federal funding is really just a mechanism through which we get back some of our own money. What is most offensive is the manner in which the federal government attempts to micromanage local communities via the threat of withholding federal funds that they have extracted from residents of those same communities via taxation. This practice has been growing for years and is not particular to the latest dispute over Sanctuary Cities. Even President Obama threatened to withhold educational funds based on failure to reconfigure bathrooms, and there are plenty of other examples of federal authorities using taxation as a means of dictating policy.
So, the question I have is simply this: What aspects of Cambridge's Sanctuary City resolutions are actually in violation of federal law? Indeed, the last statement of the 1985 resolution states quite clearly that "the provisions of this Resolution shall be severable, and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision of this Resolution is declared by a court of component jurisdiction to be contrary to the Constitution of the United States or of the Commonwealth or the applicability thereof to any agency, person or circumstances is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of this Resolution and the applicability thereof to any other agency, person or circumstances shall not be affected thereby."
Order #7. That the City Council go on record requesting that the Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee hold a hearing or hearings on the attached proposed surveillance ordinance, and that representatives of the ACLU be invited to this hearing or hearings to discuss the necessity of such an ordinance. Mayor Simmons
I'm not exactly sure who wrote the text of this proposed surveillance ordinance, but I'm pretty sure he wears a tin foil hat.
On the Table #7. The City Manager coordinate with the Finance Department, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, and community stakeholders to outline a proposed system of governance, management, and stakeholder engagement for the Foundry, to be discussed in a public forum with the Council and community. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Oct 31, 2016.]
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 6, 2016 to discuss the redevelopment of the Foundry Building.
The more I hear about this the better I feel about how the City and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority came to this point. It seems as though every piece of real estate for which the City Council has some control has become a political football in a game in which All Great Things ride on the outcome. The Foundry is, at the end of the day, just another building. The City has lots of buildings serving community purposes, including multiple Youth Centers and all of the Community Schools programs. While everybody stamps their feet about The Foundry, where is the fervor about all of these other City programs and facilities? Perhaps the best thing would be to start viewing The Foundry as just another asset in an enlarged inventory of facilities. Maybe then we could start thinking less selfishly and more holistically. When was the last time the City Council and the School Committee looked at the bigger picture and asked if we're making the most of all of the City's assets?
3) Wed, Nov 16 Traffic & Transportation Committee comments
4) Wed, Nov 16 Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee - observations and comments
5) Nov 7, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting
With the Presidential election looming, it feels almost like the early 1960s when many people believed that nuclear annihilation was a real possibility. In contrast, the kerfuffles and excesses of the little fish in our City Council pond seem almost quaint. Here are a few items to distract you from the national picture:
Manager's Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Lisa C. Peterson, Acting City Manager, requesting the City Council accept Chapter 218 of the Acts of 2016, “An Act Modernizing Municipal Finance and Government”, Sections 193 and 194 giving municipalities the authority to reduce speed limits on all ways other than state highways.
You may recall that not long ago the City Council hastily voted to reduce the speed limit to 20mph citywide. This led to a thoughtful response from the Dept. of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation recommending a citywide limit of 25mph with a lower speed limit for legitimate "safety zones" (as was the intent of the state enabling legislation). The City Council was also alerted at that time to the fact that any change had to wait until the new state law went into effect before adopting its provisions. That time has now arrived and we'll shortly be seeing a 25mph limit in Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, and likely other places.
Manager's Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Lisa C. Peterson, Acting City Manager, relative to Council Order No. 15, dated Oct 31, 2016, regarding a Request for Proposal for consultant services related to the visioning, programming, governance, and re-purposing of the Harvard Square Kiosk as well as creating a Harvard Square Kiosk Working Group.
Charter Right #1. The City Manager coordinate with the Finance Department, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, and community stakeholders to outline a proposed system of governance, management, and stakeholder engagement for the Foundry, to be discussed in a public forum with the Council and community. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Oct 31, 2016.]
Both of these agenda items concern efforts by the City Council to intervene in processes that have been long underway and thoughtfully planned and implemented. Residents, including councillors, can raise questions and make recommendations about the outcomes of these process, but intervening in contracts is probably not the best way to proceed. In the case of the Harvard Square Kiosk and the surrounding plaza, the City is simply hiring a firm to create a vision for the programming, operation and governance of the kiosk and plaza. That consultant will be working with City staff and a working group of stakeholders on this task. The City has agreed to allow more time for public input on its Request for Proposals and to possibly generate additional respondents.
In the Foundry matter, the City Council voted to allow the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to shepherd the process leading to the selection of bidder who promises to achieve both the programmatic and financial goals specified by both the City Council and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority. Now some city councillors want to go back to the drawing board and change the goals in such a way that the City's costs to operate this "gift" from Alexandria Real Estate will be substantially increased.
Order #2. That the City Council urge the City Manager to establish a deadline of Nov 1, 2017 for fully implementing the various street improvements and safety measures for increasing bicycle safety that were passed during the Oct 17, 2016 meeting. Mayor Simmons
I hope that the interpretation of this Order is that whatever street improvements and safety measures are implemented are those that result from a thoughtful public process rather than in response to a blitzkrieg of pre-cooked solutions from activists.
Order #3. The City Manager confer with the City Solicitor on the possibility of allowing non-citizen Cambridge residents to vote in municipal elections without a home-rule petition. Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern
Every few years there's some kind of movement to allow non-citizens to vote in Cambridge municipal elections. This Order makes statements like "non-citizens ... are presently barred from formally voicing their opinions" that are clearly misleading. The Order also fails to note that any non-citizen living in Cambridge is a citizen of some country and generally is able to vote in those elections. Home rule petitions from Cambridge and elsewhere have been filed before and have not been approved. I certainly hope this is not approved either, but the Order also apparently seeks some kind of legal loophole that would allow non-citizen voting without any state approval. I seriously doubt if that is possible. In matters like voting it's best to have uniformity across all cities and towns in Massachusetts in terms of eligibility to vote in all elections.
Order #4. That the City Manager request permission from the DCR to continue Sunday closings on Memorial Drive year-round, starting in early 2017, and to work with the Cambridge Police, Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and Public Works Departments and any other staff to implement this plan, and to report back to the Council as soon as possible on the feasibility and schedule. Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone
I would rather see this expressed as a request to extend the season for this road closure rather than a year-round Sunday closure. There are consequences to these road closures, including increased traffic on other streets, and the costs should be weighed against the benefits (as well as the actual demand).
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report on behalf of Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 2, 2016 to discuss bicycle safety in Cambridge.
In reading this report I was glad to see that some City staff were taking a more thoughtful and measured approach than some city councillors. There is a lot of room for discussion and alternatives than just the blitzkrieg of orders introduced at the Oct 17 City Council meeting. I also hope that our elected officials can be educated about the difference between actual safety measures and politically expedient actions that don't address the acual causes of cycling fatalities and injuries.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Councillor David P. Maher, transmitting the Proposed Employment Agreement between the City of Cambridge and Louis A. DePasquale.
It appears that Louis DePasquale's first day of work in his new role as City Manager will be Monday, Nov 14, 2016 and his contract will extend through Jan 8, 2021.
6) Oct 31, 2016 City Council meeting
The ghosts and goblins will descend on City Hall this Monday. Here are a few agenda items of possible interest:
Sundry communications advocating for the segregation of two-wheeled vehicles from other vehicles.
Order #10. That the City Council acknowledges that said residents and other users desire the City to immediately enact safety improvements to bicycle infrastructure, starting with separated bike lanes on all major city thoroughfares. Councillor Mazen, Councillor Devereux
I have been bicycling in Cambridge for over 35 years without incident, so I continue to be surprised by statements that Cambridge roads are some kind of death trap. It's simply not true. Is cycling in Cambridge absolutely safe? Of course not - nor is driving or navigating the streets as a pedestrian.
Most of us can easily identify particular intersections that really are fundamentally unsafe and have been for a long time. Chief on my list would be the Porter Square intersection, Inman Square, River Street coming from the river toward Central Square, much of the McGrath/O'Brien Highway, and the rotary at the BU Bridge. If I gave it some more thought, I'm sure I could come up with more.
I very much appreciate all input from all sources who have good concepts for how a difficult intersection like Porter Square could be made better. Some of those ideas may even be counter-intuitive, e.g. removing all the signals and other devices and forcing everyone to pass through with extreme caution. Even if you think that's crazy, it's still worthy of consideration - though it would definitely not be my chosen remedy. [Reference: woonerf, shared street]
What I really resent in some of the proposals introduced at the Cambridge City Council is their primary focus on "protected bike lanes" without any discussion of the many potential down sides of that proposal. They certainly don't address the actual problem – dangerous intersections. Side paths make a lot of sense in places where there is a significant differential in speeds between motor vehicles and cyclists, e.g. along Memorial Drive. They also make a lot of sense along a twisting road where a faster moving vehicle might come up on a cyclist on a curve, especially if there is little or no shoulder. I don't think they make a lot of sense on straight roads with moderate speeds.
Here are a few examples of what will likely happen if cyclists are channelled into a corridor between parked cars and the curb:
(a) Cyclists of varying speeds will have difficulty sorting themselves out since passing will be more difficult.
(b) Motor vehicles entering a road at an unsignalized intersection will have to block this "protected lane" just to be able to see the traffic before entering the intersection. Most pedestrians are already familiar with this and often have to decide between crossing in front of the car or behind the car. This will be much more problematic for bicycles moving at speeds greatly in excess of a pedestrian.
(c) Picking up and dropping off kids at the local school will become an adventure with significantly narrowed travel lanes and bicycles moving past on the passenger side. We have two Montessori schools on my block, a Cambridge public school across the street, and soon a day care center. Add the coffee shop to that and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Bicycle altercations along my street are few, if any. As I mentioned above, the primary danger is at difficult intersections with turning traffic.
(d) With significantly narrowed travel lanes, traffic congestion will soar in spite of any prophecies to the contrary. Locations where there is now room to maneuver around a turning vehicle will come to a standstill. I understand that this is what many of the "Complete Streets" advocates want to happen, but I really do hope there is at least some effort made to hear what others have to say.
(e) Pedestrians crossing a street will now be essentially crossing three streets and will have to take great caution - much more than they must now do.
(f) Faster moving cyclists will continue to use the regular travel lanes. Their speeds are not all that different than motor vehicles on many Cambridge streets, especially if there's even moderate compliance with the lower speed limits that are proposed citywide. For these cyclists, there will be far less wiggle room for passing and they will often have little choice but to "take the lane".
(g) Based on all the conflicts that are introduced it is more than likely that advocates will conclude that the only way to make things work is to remove the parking altogether. I see this as almost inevitable. Some will rejoice at this, but many others will not. As has been pointed out very eloquently on this list, people do get older and their mobility may be reduced for this and other reasons. You cannot simply wish away the need for some (many) people to have access to a motor vehicle and to be able to park it at least somewhere near where they live. In my neighborhood many of the streets are almost fully parked much of the time.
(h) Snow events will bring everything to a standstill. In particular, the ideal practice of plowing streets most of the way to the curb will be far more difficult when streets are divided into multiple sections. As we all know, sometimes the only practical option is to not plow all the way to the curb since there's need for that additional storage. What happens then? My guess is that winter cyclists will simply ride in the regular travel lanes which will now be far narrower than they are now.
If the City is absolutely set on trying out this idea, they should start with one road as a pilot and see what problems do or do not develop and evaluate the results honestly. I think it's very important that any such evaluation be done by an objective party.
There were two important matters embedded in the torrent of City Council orders introduced two weeks ago - (1) addressing problematic intersections (like Porter Square); and (2) addressing the fundamental incompatibility between vulnerable users (including pedestrians and cyclists) and very large trucks with limited visibility.
I also feel that much more attention needs to be spent on identifying quieter alternatives for cyclists. In Medford, one of the most significant recommendations in their Bicycle Infrastructure Master Plan is the conversion of some streets to "bicycle boulevards" where cyclists are given very explicit priority without being segregated. That would be a good thing to do for a number of Cambridge streets.
PS - I have neither the time nor the inclination to write petitions or gather signatures on this topic. It's easy to get signatures when you tell people that your way is the only way to achieve "safe streets". I believe that a lot more discussion needs to take place on this topic - and not in a hypercharged political atmosphere.
Order #2. That the Public Safety Committee hold a public hearing to hear about the various uses of drones in Cambridge and any concerns residents may have about them, with the goal of recommending guidelines for a municipal ordinance that would protect the public safety and the privacy of residents. Councillor Devereux, Councillor Kelley
Order #12. That the City Manager is request to confer with the City of Boston to include Cambridge in the autonomous vehicle initiative as a partner. Councillor Mazen
It's entertaining to see the juxtaposition of orders expressing concern for public safety from unmanned drones while eagerly embracing unmanned motor vehicles.
Order #5. That the City Council go on record in support of asking the Cambridge Historical Commission to initiate a landmark designation study process on the Harvard Square kiosk. Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone
The entire area is already landmarked, and nobody is even considering doing anything to the Kiosk other than restoring it to a state much closer to what it was when first built. That said, if double-landmarking gives you thrills, knock yourself out.
Order #8. The City Manager coordinate with the Finance Department, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, and community stakeholders to outline a proposed system of governance, management, and stakeholder engagement, to be discussed in a public forum with the Council and community. Councillor Mazen, Councillor Devereux, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone
Translation - Throw the baby out with the bathwater. The City Council voted on a process with their eyes wide open, but apparently some city councillors would prefer to maintain a heavy hand on all aspects of the management of this City asset.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Jan Devereux, Chair of the Health and Environment Committee for a public hearing held on Sept 28, 2016 to discuss the ongoing drought and the impact on the Cambridge water supply, what restrictions on water use may be appropriate to consider and what public outreach is needed on water conservation measures.
Anything that helps educate residents about basic City infrastructure, especially something like drinking water and fire protection, is welcome. It continues to amaze me how many people, including civic activists and even city councillors, don't understand some of the most basic things that we all take for granted every day.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 29, 2016 to discuss different models for campaign finance reform and publicly-funded municipal elections in Cambridge, and will focus on receiving feedback from the community.
Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Aug 25, 2016 to discuss improving voter turnout for the municipal elections in Cambridge through voter reward options and will focus on receiving feedback from the community.
I gave testimony at both of these hearings. The "voter reward" idea is an absolute nonstarter. Campaign finance is a topic worthy of a lot of discussion, but most of what was presented at the hearing on that topic was at best underwhelming and misdirected.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Mayor E. Denise Simmons, informing the City Council they may go into Executive Session on Monday to discuss on-going contract negotiations with the prospective City Manager.
I hope this gets settled at this meeting and that a contract is signed either this Monday or next.
7) Discussion of the Presidential Election Results, the Fallout. What should we expect over next few years (federal government actions, political realignments, political movements)
THE MUNICIPAL SITUATION IN CAMBRIDGE
A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904
BY HENRY N. WHEELER, PRESIDENT OF THE LEAGUE
PRECEDED BY A PROGRAM OF THE WORK OF THE LEAGUE FOR 1904
Tues, Nov 22
7:00pm Planning Board meeting (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)
1. Update from the Community Development Department
2. Adoption of Planning Board meeting transcripts
8:00pm (continued) 35 CambridgePark Drive, Special Permit to renovate the existing technical office building by constructing a two story addition, relocating the loading area, and creating open space through landscaping and site improvements pursuant to Sections 6.43.5(b) – Curb cut width, 8.22.2.a – Alteration of a pre-existing nonconforming use, 220.127.116.11 – 1.75 Floor Area Ratio for non-residential use, 20.95.34 – Waiver of Yard Requirements, 20.73 – Flood Plain Overlay District Special Permit, 20.93.1 and 20.96.3 – Reduction of Open Space and Permeable Area. The applicant is TDC Development Group, LLC. (PB#314)
3. 77 New Street, extension of the Special Permit for one year. PB#286
4. 60 Binney Street, Determination of Use for the BonMe Fast Order Food Establishment pursuant to Section 13.42.5 and PB#243.
Mon, Nov 28
5:30pm City Council Roundtable meeting to discuss the City's status as a Sanctuary City. No public comment. No votes will be taken. Meeting will not be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
6:00pm Central Square Advisory Committee meeting (2nd floor meeting room, City Hall Annex)
The Central Square Advisory Committee will review: 907 Main Street hotel, Central Square Zoning Petition, review of a proposed bus shelter on Prospect Street at Bishop Allen Drive (outbound) and a proposal for crossing Mass Avenue with the storm water pipes.
Thurs, Dec 1
3:00pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing on a zoning petition by Nabil Sater, et al., to amend the Zoning Ordinance in the Central Square Overlay District, Section 20.300. This hearing to be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30-8:00pm Volpe Working Group Meeting (Cambridge Innovation Center, One Broadway, 14th Floor)
The next meeting of the Volpe Working Group will be held Thurs, Dec 1, 2016, 5:30-8:00pm, at the Cambridge Innovation Center, One Broadway, 14th Floor. Members of the public are welcome to attend. We ask that you RSVP before the meeting if possible, and please bring identification for entry into the building. At this meeting, the working group will continue discussion of key planning and urban design topics raised at the first meeting such as public space and connections, promoting a sense of neighborhood, and strengthening Kendall Square's civic identity. Discussion will include comparable examples and precedents from other places. More information on the Volpe Working Group is available at: www.cambridgema.gov/volpe
Mon, Dec 5
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Dec 6
6:00pm School Committee meeting (Attles Meeting Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)
Wed, Dec 7
5:00pm The City Council's Economic Development and University Relations Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss recent and anticipated development projects and commercial and institutional leasing in Harvard Square, and how such changes may affect the future of Harvard Square. (Sullivan Chamber)
Mon, Dec 12
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Wed, Dec 14
8:00am Recycling Advisory Committee (Sullivan Chamber, City Hall)
Mon, Dec 19
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
Tues, Dec 20
6:00pm School Committee meeting (Attles Meeting Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)
Wed, Dec 21
5:30pm Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board Meeting (Police Station, 125 Sixth St., First Floor Community Room)
[Meeting Agenda and supporting materials]