Cambridge InsideOut - October 25, 2016
Seeking Recycling Advisory Committee Applicants - Learn about joining the Recycling Advisory Committee. Deadline November 10.
Leo Beranek, 102, pioneer who unlocked mysteries of acoustics
By Hiawatha Bray and Bryan Marquard, Boston Globe, October 13, 2016
Leo Beranek’s decision to leave Iowa in 1936 for Cambridge, where he revolutionized the field of acoustics, came down to a simple factor: Harvard University was the only graduate school that offered him a scholarship.
Once there, he planned to go into radio — “that’s what electronics meant in those days,” he once recalled — but he also played timpani in the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and that “got me going in acoustics. We were trying to understand how sound behaves in rooms.”
Dr. Beranek, a National Medal of Science recipient who was a founder of the Cambridge-based acoustics consulting firm Bolt Beranek and Newman, died Monday in Westwood at 102. His death was announced by WCVB-TV, which he helped found in 1972.
That venture into TV as a part-owner and executive made him millions of dollars when the station was sold a decade later. Under his leadership, WCVB instituted news programming changes that continue to shape Boston’s broadcasting landscape today. Dr. Beranek also was a leading philanthropist for major arts institutions, particularly the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and he served as president of the Cambridge-based American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
INMAN SQUARE LEFT TURN RESTRICTIONS
Effective November 3rd, the Department of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation will restrict several left turn movements in Inman Square in order to improve the safe operation of this complex intersection.
The following turning movement prohibitions will go into effect on this date:
In coming months, the Department will study the impacts of these changes on safety in Inman Square as well as evaluating the impacts on surrounding intersections and neighborhoods.
Variable message boards and advance warning signs will be in place to advise drivers of the change.
For more information on safety improvements in Inman Square, please visit our Inman Square Transportation Safety page.
|Election Commission (51 Inman St.)||576|
|Water Department (at Fresh Pond)||368|
|Police Department (East Cambridge)||290|
Lines not seen on Day Two (Oct 25)
CITY OF CAMBRIDGE EARLY VOTING SCHEDULE
DATE & TIME
City of Cambridge Election Commission Office
Mon, October 24, 8:30am to 8:00pm
Mon, October 31, 8:30am to 8:00pm
Police Department, Community Room
Mon, October 24, Noon to 8:00pm
Mon, October 31, Noon to 8:00pm
Cambridge Water Department
Mon, October 24, Noon to 8:00pm
Mon, October 31, Noon to 8:00pm
Mon, October 24, Noon to 8:00pm
Mon, October 31, Noon to 8:00pm
Cambridge Community Television will host a conference about the media and elections from 10am to 2:30pm on October 22 at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway.
The conference will include three panels that cover political reporting from the 2016 presidential election cycle. Local media professionals including Jim Braude, host of Greater Boston on WGBH; Chris Faraone, editor at Dig Boston and founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism; Rachel Gans-Boriskin, founder and blogger of Politics in Pink; Renee Graham, columnist for the Boston Globe; Donna Halper, media critic and Lesley University professor; Dan Kennedy, media commentator for WGBH and Nieman Journalism Lab; Sarah Moawad, coeditor of Muftah’s Egypt & North Africa pages; and Dante Ramos, columnist for the Boston Globe.
Divide widens on Question 2 in Cambridge (Cambridge Chronicle, by Natalie Handy)
Oct 7, 2016 - Question 2, which looks to almost triple the number of charter schools in the next 10 years, has been opposed by both the Cambridge School Committee and City Council.
In a recent column submitted to the Cambridge Chronicle from Mayor Denise Simmons, Vice Mayor Marc McGovern, councilors Craig Kelley and Tim Toomey, and School Committee members Kathleen Kelly, Richard Harding and Fred Fantini, the city officials urged residents to vote “no” on Question 2, stating charter schools cost Cambridge taxpayers $11 million per year. —“Charter school advocates will tell you that their students are chosen by lottery, therefore they don’t ‘choose’ their students. What they don’t tell you is that charters have far higher expulsion rates than public schools. Those students who win the lottery, if their behaviors or needs turn out to be too great, are forced out of their charter and return back to the public school system,” the letter said.
Two members of the City Council and School Committee, Patricia Nolan and Jan Devereux, separated themselves from the pack, writing a column this week in the Chronicle, supporting Question 2. Their support is based largely on the need for more educational attention among "high-need" students. — “In our city many - far more than in most districts – opt out of public schools and go to private schools. We cannot in good conscience vote to limit the choices for those families who cannot afford that option. In Cambridge and Massachusetts those choosing charter schools are overwhelmingly low-income families of color who believe their children will be better served.”
5) Broadband Task Force report and NLTP Committee meeting
Manager's Agenda #5 (June 20). A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to recommendations from the Outdoor Lighting Task Force that address the potential detrimental impact of outdoor lighting and propose solutions that diminish existing problems and address problems that may be created by new development. [Report][Proposed Ordinance (HTML)]
The Task Force was appointed Dec 2, 2013 and was originally expected to complete its report and draft Ordinance by Spring 2014. It clearly took a lot longer than that with many different iterations of the proposed Ordinance. It's worth noting that the Ordinance will apply not only to new construction but to all properties in Cambridge with several years to bring all properties into compliance with the Ordinance.
There is currently a campaign by some activists to oppose this proposed ordinance in its current form. The core of their argument seems to be that it would permit the king of lighting that was installed on the new Zinc apartment buildings in North Point (and which has been turned off for now by decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals).
Message being circulated regarding "Limit Light Pollution"
Ordinance Committee hearings on this matter will take place on October 27.
Oct 5, 2016 - Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) workers are on strike today, saying the university failed to meet their demands for fair wages and affordable health care.
The workers are demanding at least $35,000 a year in income and affordable health care.
In an attempt to negotiate, the university made the following offers, which the union rejected:
Health Care - “A health insurance option with minor modifications to the insurance currently held by dining hall workers. … This plan would create a new tier for employees who make less that $55,000/year in which the university would pay 87 percent of premium costs.” - OR The university has offered to contribute $25 million over four years for dining services workers to join Unite Here Health, the health insurance plan offered by Local 26.
Wages - Increase average wage from $21.89 an hour to $24.08 over the life of the contract.
Summer Stipend - Would be paid over summer break to employees, even if there are no shifts available to work: $250 per week for employees with more than 20 years of service. $150 per week for employees with 5 to 20 years of service.
Coming up at the October 17, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting
The dominant items this week are a flurry of environment-related communications from Acting City Manager Lisa Peterson and a torrent of bicycle-related City Council orders. There is also the anticipated filing of the "Central Square Restoration Petition." Here are some of the more interesting items:
One again we see the wisdom of the Cambridge Water Board in establishing years ago this backup plan for emergencies and prolonged droughts. Hopefully we'll be able to get back on Cambridge water (from Lexington, Lincoln, Weston, and Waltham) before too long.
Manager's Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Lisa C. Peterson, Acting City Manager, relative to the transfer of $33,500 from the General Fund Employee Benefits (salary adjustment) Salary and Wages account to the General Fund Election Salary and Wages account to pay for wages associated with early voting for the State/Presidential election.
As you can see, Early Voting isn't cheap. It will be interesting to see what the actual utilization is by location, day, and time of day so that Early Voting can be done most efficiently in future state and federal elections.
Perhaps the most interesting sentence in the report is this: "The first phase of this plan is to ready the City for the expansion Citywide of the curb-side organics collection program. It is presently expected that such will occur in the fall of 2017."
Manager's Agenda #7. Transmitting Communication from Lisa C. Peterson, Acting City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $190,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Community Development Other Ordinary Maintenance account to complete a Low Carbon Energy Supply Study.
Manager's Agenda #8. Transmitting Communication from Lisa C. Peterson, Acting City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $47,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Community Development Other Ordinary Maintenance account to complete a community-wide Greenhouse gas inventory.
Manager's Agenda #9. Transmitting Communication from Lisa C. Peterson, Acting City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $38,300 from Free Cash to the General Fund Community Development Other Ordinary Maintenance account which will be used to procure consultant services to augment Cambridge’s core environmental goals.
I'm not sure why all of these appropriations appear on this agenda this week. It seems to not be a coincidence.
Manager's Agenda #11. A communication transmitted from Lisa C. Peterson, Acting City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the William Noyes Webster Foundation, Inc, Zoning Petition (expansion of Medical Marijuana Overlay District 1 in Alewife).
Committee Report #2. 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 Sept 22, 2016 to discuss the zoning petition filed by Jane W. Heatley, President of the William Noyes Webster Foundation, Inc. to amend Section 20.700, Medical Marijuana Overlay Districts by extending the district.
In regard to this and other marijuana-related zoning petitions, they may all be eventually eclipsed by (a) a citywide change in the use tables in most business zones and (b) the outcome of Question 4 on Election Day that may legalize/regulate recreational marijuana. In spite of a variety of statements saying that there is no relation between medicinal marijuana legalization/regulation and recreational marijuana legalization/regulation, this seems nearly certain to be only a temporary state of affairs.
Committee Report #5. 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 Oct 5, 2016 to discuss the refiled petition to amend the Zoning Map in the Riverside Neighborhood from the existing Residence C-1 to Residence C within the area bounded by Franklin Street, River Street and Putnam Avenue.
It was interesting to read articles in the Boston Globe and elsewhere taking a very dim view of this zoning petition as thwarting the creation of affordable housing in the name of "neighborhood preservation". I suspect the truth is a little more nuanced, e.g. the desire to slow or stop infill/backyard development. It's not at all clear that any of that kind of development is leading to much or any "affordable" housing.
Applications & Petitions #5. A zoning petition has been received entitled "Central Square Restoration Petition," to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance in Article 2.000 ("Definitions") and Article 20.300 ("Central Square Overlay District") signed by area residents.
Though some may try to characterize this petition (whose lead signers are members of the Sater family who own and operate The Middle East) as some kind of upzoning of Central Square, I'd have to say that the name "Central Square Restoration Petition" characterizes it much better. Central Square used to be a major shopping destination and civic center for the greater Cambridgeport area (before the somewhat arbitrary re-designation of neighborhood names). It's in recovery, but it could be so much better than it is now. This petition cobbles together some of the better (and less controversial) ideas from the C2 Committee a few years back plus some other forward-looking features. The review before the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee should provide great opportunities for people of good will to "envision" Central Square in a manner that actually leads somewhere other than a dusty shelf along with decades of planning studies.
City Manager Search Process
It's much better to be now looking back at this process - the first ever during the Plan E era (since 1941). The official transition to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is expected be completed within another week or so when all contract details are finalized.
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to work with the appropriate City Departments to design a pilot system of flex-post separated bike lanes and intersections, along Massachusetts Avenue, Hampshire Street, and Cambridge Street to determine how installation of flex-posts might be used as either interim or permanent bike safety solutions while other infrastructure improvements can be designed and analyzed for safety and implemented as appropriate. Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Kelley
Order #4. That the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations committee be and hereby is requested to hold a committee hearing to discuss the possibility of adding a bike-bus lane to Pearl Street and any measures that can be taken to accommodate on-street parking preferences of residents. Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen
Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to include separated bicycle facilities or adjacent off-street paths in any plans for reconstructing all or part of Massachusetts Avenue, along the entire length of the reconstructed segment and to give first priority to the safety and convenience of the most vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users – with second priority to the safety and convenience of motor vehicles in any plans for reconstructing all or part of Massachusetts Avenue. Councillor Devereux, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mazen
Order #6. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, Department of Public Works, Community Development Department, Fire Department, Police Department, Budget Department, and other relevant City departments to install pilot program protected bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue between Cedar Street and Harvard Square starting on Nov 1, 2016, to install pilot program protected bike lanes on Cambridge Street between Inman Square and Quincy Street and to install pilot program protected bike lanes on Broadway between Prospect Street and Quincy Street, all for the period of at least one month. Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern
Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to include protected bike lanes on both sides of Huron Avenue for the full length of its reconstruction, per the Cambridge Bicycle Plan. Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen
Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to form a Vision Zero Working Group comprised of staff from the relevant City departments and residents to collaboratively develop and review traffic safety plans, street designs, public education initiatives, traffic enforcement and related policies with the shared goal of eliminating crashes that result in serious injuries and deaths as quickly as possible. Councillor Devereux, Vice Mayor McGovern
Order #11. That the City Manager is requested to consult with staff on what authority the City has to further restrict the routes of travel and delivery hours of oversized trucks on City street. Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor McGovern
These are a mix of good ideas and ill-considered opportunism in the wake of a tragic death in Porter Square. On the good side are Orders #2, #8, and #11. Order #2 asks City staff, including CDD and the Police Department, to report back on specific recommendations that might prevent future bicycle accidents and fatalities from occurring, and to make city streets safer for bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians. This is both timely and appropriate. We all know of locations, primarily complicated intersections, that need to be made safer for all users. Porter Square is one such location. We can likely assume that the Police Department will base their recommendations on actual causes rather than on a wish list generated by an advocacy group.
Order #8 is also a sensible request to establish a "Vision Zero Working Group" comprised of staff from relevant City departments and residents "to collaboratively develop and review traffic safety plans, street designs, public education initiatives, traffic enforcement and related policies with the shared goal of eliminating crashes that result in serious injuries and deaths as quickly as possible." We should hope that this group will take a broad look at the whole picture of safety and operation in the design of roadways, intersections, and signaling systems (as opposed to the narrow view of single issue advocacy).
Order #11 addresses the problem of the operation of oversized trucks on City streets. There may be limitations on what the City can do based on federal and state laws regulating interstate commerce, but there may be some opportunities. There certainly should be. Anyone who has ever seen an 18-wheeler blocking a swath of sidewalk and street lanes just to make a small delivery to a 24-hour store understands the current absurdity of the status quo. Every cyclist also needs to understand that whenever there is a large truck in the vicinity it is essential to get away from it pronto. Even if you believe you're riding lawfully, you still may not even be seen by the truck driver - and the risk is simply never worth it.
In contrast, Orders #3-7 are opportunistic moves that attempt to cure problems that don't necessarily exist and to do so with maximal disruption. The recent death in Porter Square was on a stretch of road where parking was prohibited and where there is already a "protected turn lane" for bikes heading inbound wanting to make a left turn toward Somerville Avenue, though it's not clear that many cyclists actually use it. This is what makes it so strange to hear advocates arguing for elimination of on-street parking and the segregation of cyclists from the roadway in response to this fatality. It will be helpful to eventually get a full report from the Cambridge Police and the District Attorney's Office on the exact cause of this fatality (and other fatalities in the last few years). It is often the case that the actual cause of such a tragedy does not coincide with the early conclusions of advocates who are understandably upset in the aftermath of tragedy.
I really hope that our elected city councillors pause and take a deep breath before demanding changes that will have little or no effect (and maybe even have negative effects) on actual safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. Address problematic intersections and designate some streets as bicycle-priority streets (like Harvard Street, Garden Street, Magazine Street and others) before radically altering currently well-functioning streets by destroying sight lines and dramatically increasing traffic congestion for little or no benefit. Eliminate parking at bends in streets where conflicts between cyclists and motorists are most likely. There's plenty to do right now in simply addressing intersection safety - and that's where most of the safety problems are. Let reason prevail. There is a whole city full of people - pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, residents with and without private parking, and businesses with and without customer or employee parking that need to be heard. Doing anything less would be undemocratic.
I can't speak to the broader goal here, but there is at least one location where a pedestrian bridge over the Little River in the vicinity of the recreated wetland area and its boardwalks would be a very welcome addition by creating a very nice walking loop.
Ordinances, Prohibitions, Bans
I certainly hope we don't ban excessively here. Unless such a ban were do be done statewide, the only effect will be to move the business to neighboring cities and towns or causing such sales to take place outside of established businesses.
Harvard Square Kiosk
This was an interesting meeting - especially in learning that it may be possible to bring utilities to the Kiosk that don't currently exist. While it's clear that some would like this structure to primarily serve visitors to Harvard Square, I still would love for it to have an active use where residents to gather. It doesn't have to be a hot dog stand or lunch counter, but it sure would be great to again have something like that right in the middle of Harvard Square. My dream is still to be able to watch Red Sox games there projected onto a wall of the Kiosk while eating a hot dog in the open air.
Oct 3, 2016 - As part of the City's continuing effort to plan for the future redevelopment of the Volpe National Transportation Research Center site in Kendall Square, the City Manager has appointed a "Volpe Working Group" consisting of residents of the surrounding neighborhoods - East Cambridge, the Port, and Wellington-Harrington - along with representatives of the Kendall Square business community and other community stakeholders.
The purpose of this working group is to develop an urban design framework and planning principles to provide guidance to potential developers about the City's priorities and expectations for the site. This work will build on the Kendall Square ("K2") Planning Study, conducted in 2012-2013, and the zoning discussions that occurred at the Cambridge Planning Board and City Council over the past two years.
The initial issues and recommendations raised by the Volpe Working Group will inform the City Council's Ordinance Committee, and will precede a more detailed and focused planning and zoning process involving the Working Group, Ordinance Committee and Planning Board that would occur after the GSA has announced its selected development partner for the site.
The Volpe Working Group's first meeting will be held Thursday, October 20, 2016, 5:30-8:00pm, at the Cambridge Innovation Center, One Broadway. Meetings will be open to the public. Attendees are asked to bring identification for entry into the building.
More information about the Volpe Working Group, including a list of members and background materials from past work related to the Volpe site, is available at www.cambridgema.gov/volpe.
|Volpe Working Group (updated Oct 3, 2016)|
|Peter Crawley (Resident: East Cambridge)||Renae Gray (Resident: Port/Area 4)|
|Gerald O’Leary (Resident: East Cambridge/Kendall Square)||Esther Hanig (Resident: Port/Area 4)|
|Steven LaMaster (Resident: Wellington-Harrington)||Chris Barr (Business: Biogen)|
|Brian Dacey (Business: Kendall Square Assoc. and Cambridge Innovation Center)||Hugh Russell (Planning Board)|
|Kathy Born (Cambridge Redevelopment Authority)|
All Cambridge Boards & Commissions
Inclusionary Housing Committee Reports:
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on May 31, 2016 to continue discussion regarding the recently completed Inclusionary Housing Study with community feedback from the May 18, 2016 hearing being shared and discussed with consultant David Paul Rosen & Associates.
Committee Report #11. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Mayor E. Denise Simmons and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Co-Chairs of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on July 11, 2016 to continue the discussion regarding the recently completed Inclusionary Housing Study and the Affordable Housing Trust’s recommendations to the City Council.
Committee Report #12. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on May 18, 2016 to discuss the recently completed Inclusionary Housing Study and will focus on receiving feedback from the community.
Some revisions to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance seem inevitable later this year, but the economic foundations in the study still seem (to me) to be a bit shaky, especially the idea of increasing the net affordable housing percentage from 11.6% to 20% without any allowance for additional density. My first concern is that if the requirement is too high then it may be more economically advantageous to build something other than housing, e.g. labs. My other concern is that since zoning changes require a two-thirds vote for ordination there might never be the political will to actually lower the requirement even if the economics warrant a decrease. It would be better if there was some way to index the requirement based on current economics.
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
7:00pm Riverside Rezoning Petition (refiled) to rezone the existing Residence C-1 to Residence C within the area bounded by Franklin and River Streets and Putnam Avenue.
8:00pm 605 Concord Avenue, Abodez Acorn Concord, LLC, seeks special permits pursuant to Section 19.20 (Project Review), 6.44.1(g) Reduced Setbacks at Building for On Grade Parking, 20.95.1 Increase in Floor Area, 20.95.34 Waiver of Yard/Setback Requirements, 20.95.2(5) Height Increase, 20.96.3 Reduction in Required Open Space and 10.40 General Special Permit Criteria for construction of Phase II of a mixed use development consisting of 49 residential units, ground floor commercial space and at grade and below grade parking. The project will also include minor expansion and modification of the existing Phase I project at 601-603 Concord Avenue.
3. North Point Design Guidelines, review and discussion
4. Board of Zoning Appeal Cases
• BZA 011553-2016 – 1607-1615 Massachusetts Avenue, Variance for front and side yard setbacks, and Special Permit for required parking for retail use.
• BZA 011491-2016 – 50 Inman Street, Variance for the extension of rear structure and addition of a single car garage with living space.
• BZA011549-2016 – 33 Kinnaird Street, Variance to build within the front and side yard setbacks and to allow tandem parking within 5 feet of the side yard setback.
5:30pm The City Council's Public Safety Committee and Housing Committee will conduct a joint public hearing to discuss legislative approaches to regulating short-term rentals in the City, including provisions submitted as a draft proposal on Sept 26, 2016 attached to Policy Order #5. (Sullivan Chamber)
3:00pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the Zoning Lighting Ordinance. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:00pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the Municipal Lighting Ordinance. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
6:00pm School Committee meeting (Attles Meeting Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)
5:15pm The City Council's Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee will meet for an undisclosed purpose. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm City Council meeting (Sullivan Chamber)
8:00am Recycling Advisory Committee (Sullivan Chamber, City Hall)
5:00pm The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a zoning petition by the City Council to delete the existing Section 20.700 – Medical Marijuana Overlay Districts; create a new Section 11.800 – Medical Marijuana; and list Registered Marijuana Dispensary within Section 4.35 of the Table of Use Regulations, allowed only by Planning Board Special Permit within Business A, Business B, Business B-1, Business B-2, Business C, Industry A-1, Industry B-1 and Industry B-2 districts. This hearing to be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)
5:30pm City Council Roundtable meeting to discuss Envision Cambridge. No public comment. No votes will be taken. Meeting will not be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)