Cambridge InsideOut - January 16, 2018

Robert and Judy

Possible Topics:

1) Civic Nerdiness

2) History of Garbage

3) Looking Back at 2017 and the 2016-2017 City Council term

4) Civic Calendar


Civic Nerdiness

Annual Documents SealThis week on Tuesday, Jan 16 at 2:30pm, the City Council's Ad-Hoc Rules Committee will conduct a public hearing in the Sullivan Chamber to discuss and suggest changes to the City Council Rules. This committee consists of Vice Mayor Devereux (Chair) and Councillors Mallon and Kelley; as well as Donna Lopez, City Clerk; Nancy Glowa, City Solicitor; Maryellen Carvello, Office manager to the City Manager, and Wil Durbin, Chief of Staff to the Mayor.

I suppose it must be the pinnacle of civic nerdiness to care about the City Council Rules, but the structure of the City Council subcommittees, their mission, the number of members on each committee, and what constitutes a quorum are actually contained within the City Council Rules. From this civic nerd's point of view this actually is significant. In an ideal world the subcommittees should be where most of the detail work takes place. Unfortunately, it has sometimes been the case that these subcommittees become little more than discretionary devices for their respective Chairs where matters that sometimes have little to do with the purpose of the committee are pursued. In addition, there have been some topics in the last few years that didn't really have a natural match to any of the existing City Council committees or which were taken up by what might be viewed as the wrong committee. For example, if there is a Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, why were matters relating to bicycle transportation handled within the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations Committee? [I would restructure the committees just to shorten the name of that one.]

It's interesting to look at what the standing committees have been at various times in Cambridge history. Here are a few snapshots, including some recorded in the City's Annual Documents (yes, I really do have these original books on my shelf):

Joint Committees: 1887
Accounts
Almshouse
Assessor's Department
City Engineering
Claims
Finance
Fire Department
Fuel
Health
Lamps
Ordinances
Printing
Public Instruction
Public Property
Roads and Bridges
Rules and Orders
Water Supply

Standing Committees
of the Mayor and Alderman

Bonds
Claims
Elections and Returns
Fire Department
Health
Licenses
Police
Roads and Bridges
Sewers

Standing Committees
of the Common Council

Bills in the Second Reading
Elections and Returns
Enrolled Ordinances

Joint Committees: 1911-1912
Accounts
Assessor's Department
City Engineering
City Home
Claims
Finance
Fire Department
Health
Highways
Legal Matters
Legislative Matters
Ordinances
Parks
Printing
Public Property
Public Instruction
Water Supply
Wires and Lamps

Standing Committees
of the Board of Alderman

Bonds
Cemeteries
Claims
Elections and Returns
Fire Department
Health
Highways
Licenses
Parks
Police
Rules and Orders
Sewers
Soldier's Aid
Street Railways

Standing Committees of the Common Council
Bills in the Second Reading
Elections and Returns
Enrolled Ordinances
Rules and Orders

City Council Committees: 1938
Americanization and Education

Bonds

City Engineering

City Planning

Claims

Elections and Printing

Finance

Health

Industrial Development

Legislative Matters

Licenses

Military Affairs

Ordinances

Parks and Cemeteries

Public Celebrations

Public Property and Public Institutions

Public Safety

Public Service

Roads and Bridges

Rules and Orders

Soldier's Aid

Water Supply

Wires and Lamps

City Council Committees: 1998
Cable TV and Communications

Civil and Human Rights

Claims

Economic Development, Training, and Employment

Elder Affairs

Environment

Finance

Food Policy

Government Operations

Health and Hospitals

Housing and Community Development

Human Services and Youth

Ordinance

Public Safety

Public Service

Rules

Sister Cities

Traffic and Transportation

Veterans

City Council Committees: 2000
Cable TV, Telecommunications, and Public Utilities

Civic Unity

Economic Development, Training, and Employment

Finance

Government Operations, Rules, and Claims

Health and Environment

Housing

Human Services

Neighborhood and Long-term Planning

Ordinance

Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

Public Safety

Transportation, Traffic, and Parking

Veterans

City Council Committees: 2012
Cable TV, Telecommunications, and Public Utilities

Civic Unity

Claims

Community Health

Economic Development, Training, and Employment

Environment

Finance

Government Operations and Rules

Housing

Human Services

Neighborhood and Long Term Planning

Ordinance

Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

Public Safety

Transportation, Traffic, and Parking

University Relations

Veterans

City Council Committees: 2016
Civic Unity

Economic Development and University Relations

Finance

Government Operations, Rules, and Claims

Health and Environment

Housing

Human Services and Veterans

Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Art, and Celebrations

Ordinance

Public Safety

Transportation and Public Utilities

City Council Committees: 2018
?????

It's likely that prior to the adoption of the Plan E Charter that went into effect in 1941 there was either the need or the desire for more oversight of City departments, and both the number and the nature of the City Council (and Board of Alderman) committees seem to reflect this. Some standing committees are essentially permanent (Ordinance, Finance), but others clearly change with the times and even with the desires of individual councillors. What should be the focus of City Council subcommittees for the 2018-2019 City Council term? Should they remain the same? Are there any priorities that warrant a redefinition of the Council subcommittees? Should we revive some committees from the long past?

If you have any ideas, come to the meeting Tuesday afternoon. - Robert Winters


This Week:

Tues, Jan 16

2:30pm   The City Council's Ad-Hoc Rules Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss and suggest changes to the City Council Rules  (Sullivan Chamber)

6:00pm   Regular School Committee meeting  (Henrietta Attles Meeting Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)

6:30pm   Planning Board meeting  (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)

General Business

1. Update from the Community Development Department

2. Adoption of Planning Board meeting transcripts

Public Hearings

6:30pm   PB#333 – 114 Inman Street – Special Permit application by 11 Development, LLC to convert an existing church to 4 units of housing pursuant to Section 5.28.2 Conversion of a Non Residential Structure to Residential Use. (Notice) (Materials)

7:30pm   PB#243 – 100 Binney Street and 41 Linskey Way – Major Amendment to Planned Unit Development (PUD) Special Permit by ARE-MA Region No. 45, LLC and ARE-MA Region No. 47, LLC, c/o Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. to revise the Development Plan of 2010 and to allow up to 2,700 square feet of bank use at 100 Binney Street and to shift the approved location of an active use in the Final Development Plan from 100 Binney Street to the abutting parcel, 41 Linskey Way pursuant to Section 12.37 Amendments to Final Development Plan. This will be the first of two required public hearings for the Planned Unit Development process as outlined in Article 12.000. (Notice) (Materials)

General Business

3. PB#329 – 3-5 Linnaean Street – Request to extend the time for a public hearing on the Special Permit application and for the issuance of a decision.

Wed, Jan 17

5:30pm  Cambridge Election Commission meeting  (1st Floor Meeting Room, 51 Inman St.)

I. MINUTES

II. REPORTS

1. Executive Director's Report

2. Assistant Director's Report

3. Commissioners' Reports

III. PUBLIC COMMENT

IV. ACTION AGENDA

Old Business

1. 2017 Municipal Election Review

New Business

5:30pm   Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board Meeting  (Police Station, 125 Sixth St., First Floor Community Room)

[Meeting Agenda and supporting materials]

Thurs, Jan 18

6:00pm   Meeting to discuss Porter Square intersection safety improvements  (Lesley University, University Hall Amphitheatre, 1815 Mass. Ave.)

6:00-8:00pm   Envision Cambridge - Engagement Working Group Meeting  (City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, 4th Floor Meeting Room)


I have a request! If you know of any Cambridge home that still has an intact backyard garbage (food waste) collector, i.e. the concrete-lined hole with the heavy steel cap in which food waste was deposited for collection by the "honey wagon" to be delivered to pig farms, please let me know. I would like to get a few pictures prior to the start of the citywide organics curbside collection that's set to start in April. Extra special appreciation if there's still the old metal bucket inside the container. I saw quite a few of these setups still intact when I used to distribute compost bins and set them up in back yards.

Honey Wagon

Garbage Receiver - Orchard Street Garbage Receiver
Garbage Receiver Top Garbage Receiver Liner

Frederick B. Jones Patent (1910) for Garbage Receiver

Dale Ward - "The technical name was "Garbage Receiver". I used to pick them up with my father in Somerville at F.B.Jones and deliver them to Spag's in Shrewsbury. Yes, a full trailer of garbage receivers. Everybody had one. The lids were available separately. F.B.Jones used to manufacture and/or sell ladders as well." The front of F.B. Jones was on Clifton St., Somerville and there was a rear entry on Newberne St. It must have bordered the RR tracks that are now part of the Somerville Community Path.


Looking Back at 2017 and the 2016-2017 City Council term

Two years ago I put together an outline of some of the issues and tasks that lay before the City Council and the City administration that perhaps needed attention at that time. I called this outline Unfinished Business (Jan 5, 2016). Let's do a status check on how we fared over the last two years.

I – Housing

  1. Barrett Petition – Accessory apartments, etc.
  2. Affordable Housing Overlay – Citywide? Or not?
  3. Future housing on Central Square parking lots?
  4. Adjustments to Inclusionary Zoning required percentages
  5. Vail Court?

II – Citywide Master Plan/Envision Cambridge

  1. Will it be the ultimate way to kick every can down the road “until the master plan is completed”?
  2. Will it be cooperative or combative with people taking sides from the start and competing to pack the public meetings and serve on committees?
  3. Will it be a competition between those who support transit-oriented development and density vs. those who support limiting growth, limiting heights, limiting density in the name of “livability”?
  4. Representativeness of participants – will all points of view be represented?
  5. Alewife early action item – will the current Concord-Alewife Plan be significantly altered to respond to those concerned about pace of housing growth in the area (and NIMBYism)?
  6. Transportation in the Citywide Plan (likely to be renamed “Envision Cambridge”: Will the discussion continue to be dominated by “bicycle as panacea” or will there be a more comprehensive view? Will any new connections be proposed over RR tracks, rivers, or one-way patterns? Will new modes like personal mobility devices be accommodated?
  7. Will the end product have any fundamental recommended changes or will it be essentially an endorsement, more or less, of the way we are now doing things?
  8. Will there be any movement on Central Square, the C2 Recommendations, or some alternative?

III – STEAM/STEM

  1. Will there be any follow-up of discussions of the last year or so?
  2. Will there be any actual jobs created or connections to jobs for Cambridge residents who actually need them?
  3. Will we have simply created or grown another bureaucracy that drafts plans but delivers little benefit?

IV – Bans, Ordinances, and changes in City services

  1. Curbside Organics Collection
  2. Plastic Bag Ban - Checkout Bag Ordinance – when does it go into effect? Any glitches?
  3. Polystyrene ban – when does it go into effect? Possible glitches, exemptions, recommended changes?
  4. Anything else to be banned or restricted? Soda? Candy? Fatty foods? Meat?
  5. Regulation of outdoor lighting?

V – Mass & Main

  1. When will actual construction commence? Will there be disruptions?
  2. Large stormwater storage tank to be built in parking lot behind Mass & Main site.
  3. Will there be lawsuits to try to block project? More petitions?

VI – Foundry Building

  1. When will building actually become available for use?
  2. Programming in building – what fraction for non-profits, etc. and what fraction for revenue generation to support the whole building? Will there be controversies over decisions made by Advisory Committee and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority?

VII – Volpe Site – Zoning and Possible Uses

  1. Likely that current petition will be re-filed
  2. How will competition between economics and possible housing/open space play out?
  3. Will Volpe Center just stay there in same building for another 20-50 years?

VII – The “Sharing Economy”

  1. Uber, Lyft, taxis – how will that dilemma be resolved? New regulation by City? By State?
  2. AirBnB – will this be further regulated or will everybody run their overpriced condos as unofficial hotels?

IX – Miscellaneous other Cambridge-style initiatives that may happen or go nowhere

  1. Publicly funded municipal elections
  2. Voting rights for non-citizens in local elections
  3. Shifting of political power to individual councillors via political aides, discretionary money, and differing interpretations of the City Charter
  4. Changes to Residential Exemption, e.g. only for low-income people with requirement that residents prove their income to be eligible (very unlikely – authority of state)
  5. $15 minimum wage (also unlikely except for City contracts and City workers – City lacks authority to set wages/prices except perhaps in declared emergency)
  6. Proposed special status for “recognized groups” at Ordinance Committee meetings – opens up a wider discussion of legitimacy and representativeness of neighborhood associations, political advocacy groups, etc.
  7. Proposal to have 11 full days of early voting for November election at precincts all across the city with staffing and security. A far better Order would have asked for a report from the Election Commission on how to best plan for Early Voting in accordance with changes in state law (as opposed to dictating to staff how this should be done).
  8. Effect of new development in Union Square, Somerville on Cambridge traffic, housing availability and affordability, access to Green Line Extension (if it happens any time soon).
  9. Will the current housing speculation bubble burst?

X – Civic Unity – Race, class, and the never-ending conflicts between different groups, neighborhoods, etc.

XI – Other Notable Things that emerged in the intervening two years

  1. Road reconfigurations (for better or worse) for bicycle accommodation
  2. Changes in License Commission policies and procedures
  3. Invasion of local politics by national political organizations
  4. Harvard Square controversies and changes
  5. Changing of the Guard
  6. CRLS Boys Basketball repeats as State Champions
  7. Pedro Martinez plays in the Oldtime Baseball Game at St. Peter's Field
  8. City Announces First Minibond Issuance, Invites Residents to Directly Invest in Cambridge
  9. The 2017 municipal election
  10. Some very notable passings

CIVIC CALENDAR

Mon, Jan 8

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Tues, Jan 16

2:30pm   The City Council's Ad-Hoc Rules Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss and suggest changes to the City Council Rules  (Sullivan Chamber)

6:00pm   Regular School Committee meeting  (Henrietta Attles Meeting Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)

6:30pm   Planning Board meeting  (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)

General Business

1. Update from the Community Development Department

2. Adoption of Planning Board meeting transcripts

Public Hearings

6:30pm   PB#333 – 114 Inman Street – Special Permit application by 11 Development, LLC to convert an existing church to 4 units of housing pursuant to Section 5.28.2 Conversion of a Non Residential Structure to Residential Use. (Notice) (Materials)

7:30pm   PB#243 – 100 Binney Street and 41 Linskey Way – Major Amendment to Planned Unit Development (PUD) Special Permit by ARE-MA Region No. 45, LLC and ARE-MA Region No. 47, LLC, c/o Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. to revise the Development Plan of 2010 and to allow up to 2,700 square feet of bank use at 100 Binney Street and to shift the approved location of an active use in the Final Development Plan from 100 Binney Street to the abutting parcel, 41 Linskey Way pursuant to Section 12.37 Amendments to Final Development Plan. This will be the first of two required public hearings for the Planned Unit Development process as outlined in Article 12.000. (Notice) (Materials)

General Business

3. PB#329 – 3-5 Linnaean Street – Request to extend the time for a public hearing on the Special Permit application and for the issuance of a decision.

Wed, Jan 17

5:30pm  Cambridge Election Commission meeting  (1st Floor Meeting Room, 51 Inman St.)

I. MINUTES

II. REPORTS

1. Executive Director's Report

2. Assistant Director's Report

3. Commissioners' Reports

III. PUBLIC COMMENT

IV. ACTION AGENDA

Old Business

1. 2017 Municipal Election Review

New Business

5:30pm   Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board Meeting  (Police Station, 125 Sixth St., First Floor Community Room)

[Meeting Agenda and supporting materials]

Thurs, Jan 18

6:00pm   Meeting to discuss Porter Square intersection safety improvements  (Lesley University, University Hall Amphitheatre, 1815 Mass. Ave.)

6:00-8:00pm   Envision Cambridge - Engagement Working Group Meeting  (City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, 4th Floor Meeting Room)

Mon, Jan 22

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Jan 24

5:30pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct an additional public hearing to discuss the Zoning Petition filed by Peter Kroon, et al, to amend Section 20.50 of the Zoning Ordinance in the “Harvard Square Overlay District”. This meeting is televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Mon, Jan 29

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Jan 31

6:00-8:00pm   Envision Cambridge - Housing Working Group Meeting  (Senior Center, 806 Mass Ave.)

Topic: Housing Indicators