Cambridge InsideOut - Aug 13, 2019

Guest Co-host: Patrick Barrett

Robert and JudyPossible Topics:

1) Future of retail
Zoning ideas for Central Square, Harvard Square, major corridors, and small mixed-use districts

2) What the Council might consider should the Overlay not pan out - what they should have been considering
Update of Overlay at Ordinance Committee

3) Update on First Street Garage/Courthouse
The Courthouse Saga - Courthouse and First Street Garage - and Rep. Connolly

4) Cannabis - will Central Square have 3 outlets within sight of each other?

5) Update on progress of the Central Square BID

6) Oldtime Baseball Game on Aug 22 - featuring Roger Clemens

7) Looking ahead at the municipal election - who's got a shot?
Role of Political Action Committees

8) Public financing of municipal elections?

9) Will rent control rear its ugly head?
Rent control proposed at State House H.1316 and HD.1100

10) Civic Calendar

2019 Municipal Election

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5, 2019.     List of Candidates who pulled nomination papers

Cambridge Candidate Pages    2019 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports

There will be 22 City Council candidates and 11 School Committee candidates.

Cambridge City Council and School Committee candidates: 1941 to 2019  (plain text) (PDF) - updated Aug 3, 2019

Candidate election Age address ZIP Occupation sigs certified
Akiba, Sukia CC 33 343 Walden St. 02140   100 72
Azeem, Burhan CC 22 91 Sidney St. #814 02139 MIT student 83 57
Carlone, Dennis CC 72 9 Washington Ave. #6 02140 Architect 64 62
Franklin, Charles CC 27 162 Hampshire St. #1R 02139 Engineer 60 58
Kelley, Craig A. CC 57 6 Saint Gerard Terr. #2 02140 Politician 81 73
Kopon, Derek Andrew CC 39 8 Wright St. #2 02138 Engineer 83 79
Levy, Ilan S. CC 52 148 Spring St. 02141 Software Engineer 76 58
Mallon, Alanna CC 48 3 Maple Ave. 02139 Designer 80 72
McGovern, Marc C. CC 50 15 Pleasant St. 02139 Social Worker 100 91
McNary, Jeffery CC 71 116 Norfolk St. 02139 Writer 76 60
Mednick, Risa CC 55 20 Maple Ave. 02139 Nonprofit Mgmt 65 59
Moree, Gregg J.  CC 62 25 Fairfield St. #4 02140   87 76
Musgrave, Adriane CC 34 5 Newport Rd. #1 02140   95 93
Nolan, Patricia M. CC 62 184 Huron Ave. 02138 School Committee 67 65
Pitkin, John CC 75 18 Fayette St. #2 02139 Retired 73 70
Siddiqui, Sumbul CC 31 283 Sidney St. #3 02139 Attorney 100 93
Simmons, E. Denise CC 68 188 Harvard St. #4B 02139 City Councillor 100 95
Simon, Ben CC 34 67 Bishop Allen Dr. #2 02139 Teacher 68 61
Sobrinho-Wheeler, Jivan CC 27 19 Trowbridge St #6 02138   90 78
Toomey, Timothy J., Jr. CC 66 88 6th St. 02141 City Councillor 100 97
Williams, Nicola A. CC 56 8 Brewer St. #5 02138   100 89
Zondervan, Quinton CC 49 235 Cardinal Madeiros Ave. 02141 Entrepreneur 93 71
Allen, Ruth Ryan SC 55 48 Fenno St. 02138 Business Owner 91 85
Bowman, Mannika L. SC 39 134 Reed St. 02140   98 87
Dawson, Bernette J. SC 37 71 Oxford St. #8 02138   58 58
Dexter, Emily R. SC 62 9 Fenno St. 02138 Research 96 93
Fantini, Alfred B. SC 70 4 Canal Park #203 02141 Retired 100 98
Kadete, Elechi M. SC 30 10 Laurel St. #4 02139 Financial Analyst 68 58
Lim, Christopher SC 44 48 Pleasant St. 02139 Engineer 72 67
Rojas Villarreal, Jose Rojas SC 48 19 Cornelius Way 02141 Loan Officer 73 70
Weinstein, David J. SC 46 45 S. Normandy Ave. 02138 Writer/Communications 67 60
Weinstein, Rachel SC 44 60 Standish St. #1 02138   100 94
Wilson, Ayesha SC 37 15 Concord Ave. 02138   76 67

Thinking out loud about the November municipal election - RW

Sun, July 21, 2019 - Tis the season when I assemble the Cambridge Candidate Pages and keep track of who has pulled nomination papers and submitted signatures for the 2019 Cambridge City Council and School Committee elections. At some point the field will be set and attention will turn to who these candidates are and how voters should decide how to rank their preferred candidates or whether to rank certain candidates at all. Voters will be permitted to rank up to 15 candidates for the 9 City Council seats this year.

I have been thinking a lot about what criteria I would use (and would advise others to use) in choosing which candidates to support and how those candidates might be ranked. Here are a few thoughts (and I will likely add to these as time passes):

1) As is often the case, most candidates will agree on many issues, e.g. the need to promote energy efficiency and resilience to any future changes attributable to climate change. There is, however, often a stark difference between how political candidates address matters on which they agree. Some want to mandate change and remove choice. The better candidates want to encourage change and provide incentives. It's a big difference. It's something I will be evaluating very carefully. Some candidates think primarily in terms of bans and reducing options. Others believe in expanding choice and providing good alternatives from which to choose.

2) Everybody seems to agree that affordability in housing and other essentials is highly desirable - even if it is currently elusive for many. However, even as most candidates speak of how much they believe in affordable housing, they generally evade explaining what they really mean by that. The percentage of subsidized housing units in Cambridge is currently just shy of 15% - a fraction that is slightly lower than it was a few years ago but which has been relatively stable for many years (and which is among the highest in the state). Recent changes to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance require a flat 20% affordable requirement for all new developments over 10 units - a true mixed-income requirement. Meanwhile some councillors and candidates are pushing the "100% Affordable Housing Overlay" (AHO) proposal because "they believe in affordable housing". What they generally fail to mention is that the AHO is actually a mechanism for transferring privately-owned residential property into "social ownership" in perpetuity. That is, over time its goal is to steadily increase the percentage of housing units that are controlled by government and its agents. In addition, as a result of the permanent deed restrictions required of these developments, they become taxed at the bare legal minimum and thus shift the residential tax burden onto the remaining privately-owned residential properties (unless commercial development is promoted to make up the difference). I will ask candidates if they agree with the goal of having public and quasi-public housing grow at a rate faster than housing in general. I will also ask them if they believe this goal should be achieved by any means necessary even if this means having little or no review by City planners and no mechanism for public objection.

3) In promoting transportation other than single occupancy motor vehicles (whether this be walking, biking, scooters, riding a bus or some other means) I expect most candidates will say how much they support whatever they feel will score them the most votes. They will likely not adequately address the matter of how this affects other modes. Do candidates find significantly increased traffic congestion acceptable just as long as bicycling is encouraged? Do they support a range of bicycle safety enhancements or is a completely segregated bicycle facility the only alternative they find acceptable - even if this creates problems for other modes? Do they support transit and, if so, what specifically do they support? Candidates will often tell you how much they support something without ever addressing the collateral effects.

4) For School Committee candidates, what is more important to you - ensuring that the education of the children of the city prepares them for a good life and to be able to take advantage of the thriving local economy, or making sure that they align with your political and social world view? For what it's worth, I would prefer to have most Cambridge students develop strong mathematics and science skills. I am far less concerned about ensuring that they agree with my social and political views.

Fri, July 26:

5) Groups like A Better Cambridge (ABC) and the Cambridge Residents Alliance (CResA) and whatever other group emerges this year will at some point publicize a list of preferred candidates and tell you to "vote for the slate". Never forget that these slates are the personal recommendations of a handful of people who could likely fit around your kitchen table with room to spare. Think for yourself and be very suspicious of zealots and political operatives.

I expect to add to this list.

Mar 27, 2019 – A few words on the "Overlay" proposal

Personally, this Overlay proposal obliterates over 35 years of what changes could be expected around where I live, and I don’t live in the upper crust part of town. The limiting factor has been the floor area ratio (FAR) – 1.0 for commercial and 0.75 for residential. I have always lived with the possibility that a higher building could appear next door, but that the footprint of the building would have to be smaller and additional setbacks would create a little breathing room between the buildings. That seemed like a reasonable expectation – one that I could easily live with.

During the time I have owned my triple-decker I negotiated with one neighbor so that a small extension would have a roof line that allowed light to continue to get to my first floor apartment. When the neighboring building changed hands and they wanted to add air conditioning units on the roof, I negotiated to ensure that they would be located far enough from my windows so that the added sound would be acceptable. These are the kinds of negotiations that happen when buildings are at or somewhat above the allowable density. Through it all I maintained very reasonable rents to all of my tenants since 1985.

If this Overlay proposal is approved, a new owner could build straight up to a height taller than my building with no setback whatsoever from the property line. Furthermore, the building could cover almost the entire lot yielding a density between 3 and 4 times what is allowed today. No sunlight whatsoever would get to my building. I would have no rights whatsoever to object.

Do I take this personally? Yes. If this were to happen I would likely look for another place to live after being here for over 40 years. So I’m looking now at the few potentially reasonable city councillors to step in and prevent this from happening. If adding to our already high percentage of subsidized housing units is your priority, you should really find a way to do this that doesn’t involve throwing me and others under the bus. – Robert Winters

City Manager’s Disposition Report pursuant to Chapter 2.110 of the Cambridge Municipal Code

First Street GarageThe City has released the City Manager's Disposition Report, which has been prepared for the City Council, Planning Board, and City Clerk. The Report is available online at

Materials related to the future of the First Street Garage, including the Third Community meeting presentation, the City Manager's Disposition Report, and the First Street Area Parking Planning Study report, are available on the project website.

Planning Board Hearing, Aug 13, 2019 at 6:30pm, at 344 Broadway (rescheduled from July 16)

City Council Hearing, Sept 9, 2019 at 6:30pm, at Cambridge City Hall (rescheduled from July 29)

Final Report for the First Street Area Parking Planning Study (by the consulting team of Kleinfelder and McMahon Associates)
Complete report available at, and consists of three items:
  • Cover memo from Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Director Joseph Barr
  • Summary report that provides a condensed overview of the study process, analysis, and conclusions.
  • Full report that documents the data collection, data analysis, scenario review, and conclusions.
[First Street Area Parking Planning Study Report Summary] [First Street Area Parking Planning Study Final Report]


Tues, Aug 13

12:00pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will reconvene its recessed public hearing of August 8, 2019 to continue discussions on a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinances to create an Affordable Housing Overlay District. There will be no public comment.  (Sullivan Chamber - Televised)

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   First Street Garage Parking Space Disposition
55 First Street – Disposition of a leasehold interest in 420 parking spaces and approximately 9,000 square feet of ground floor retail (together the “Leasehold Interest”) in the First Street Garage, located at 55 First Street and owned by the City of Cambridge, to the developer Leggatt McCall Properties, which was conditionally awarded the bid pursuant to G.L. Chapter 30B subject to the review and approval of the disposition of the Leasehold Interest by the City Council pursuant to the City’s Municipal Disposition Ordinance, Chapter 2.110 of the Cambridge Municipal Code (the “Disposition Ordinance”). (Materials)
Materials related to the future of the First Street Garage, including the Third Community meeting presentation, the City Manager's Disposition Report, and the First Street Area Parking Planning Study report, are available on the project website.

9:00pm   PB# 349
599 Massachusetts Avenue – Special Permit application by Santander Bank to allow Formula Business use pursuant to Sections 20.304.5.4 Formula Business in the Central Square Overlay District, to waive bank frontage extents pursuant to Sections 20.304.5.3.b Restricted Uses in the Central Square Overlay District and 10.40 Special Permit. (Materials)

Wed, Aug 14

5:30pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code to create a Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance; Including amendments submitted at the July 30, 2019 Special City Council Meeting.  (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway, Cambridge - Televised)

Sun, Aug 18

2:00pm   Monarch Butterfly Release Celebration  (Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy.
The sixth annual raising and releasing of monarch butterflies by the Cambridge Water Department at Fresh Pond Reservation has begun! From now until the public release ceremony in August you can view the caterpillars’ progress in the Ranger Station at Fresh Pond. The Cambridge Water Department sees this as an opportunity to partner and engage with the public for the benefit of both the monarch butterfly population and Cambridge’s drinking water supply in the urban wild of Fresh Pond Reservation—which was recognized last summer as a migratory monarch waystation after 5 years of propagating milkweed plants and monarch butterflies. This raise-and-release project combines volunteer stewardship and public education activities at Fresh Pond Reservation to encourage a monarch population in the beautiful City of Cambridge. Migratory monarch populations travel between New England and Mexico and have been in decline nationally since the 1990s, it is largely believed that habitat loss is the driving factor in that decline. Good habitat conditions for monarchs are often conditions that are also essential for healthy watersheds. See the butterflies up close, learn about their migration, complete the free activity booklet for a Jr. Range badge, and enjoy kids’ crafts! The release will begin at approximately 2:35pm in the meadow of the adjacent Kingsley Park at Fresh Pond. To learn more about Fresh Pond or this project and event, please contact Ranger Tim at (617) 349-6489 /, or visit the webpage at

Mon, Aug 19

5:30pm   Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District Commission Meeting  (Lombardi Building, 831 Mass. Ave, Basement Conference Room)

Wed, Aug 21

9:00am-11:00am   Community Benefits Advisory Committee  (Ackermann Room, City Hall)
The Community Benefits Advisory Committee will meet to further refine its strategic goals and advance its overall strategy toward fulfilling its purpose and acting on the Guiding Principles for Community Benefits Funding set forth in the Community Needs Assessment.

3:00pm   License Commission Public Hearing  (831 Mass. Ave, Basement Conference Room)

3:00pm   The City Council's Transportation and Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussion of the future electric needs of the Kendall Square area and progress toward identifying an alternate, viable location for a new substation other than the proposed site on Fulkerson Street.

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

Thurs, Aug 22

4:00pm   Affordable Housing Trust meeting  (City Hall, 2nd Floor Ackermann Room, 795 Massachusetts Ave.)

7:00pm   26th Annual Oldtime Baseball Game  (St. Peter's Field, Sherman St.)

Roger Clemens to pitch in 2019 Abbot Financial Management Oldtime Baseball Game. Free admission, no tickets necessary. [Facebook Page][Oldtime Baseball website]

Tues, Sept 3

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

Wed, Sept 4

5:30-7:30pm   Transit Advisory Committee  (MIT Stata Center, Room 32-144, 32 Vassar St.)

Thurs, Sept 5

6:00pm   Cambridge Historical Commission meeting  (Citywide Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Ave.)

6:00pm   Human Rights Commission Meeting  (2nd Floor Conference Room, 51 Inman St.)

Sat, Sept 7

9:00am-1:00pm   Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Day  (Field Street Lot at Danehy Park - enter via Fern St.)

Mon, Sept 9

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber - Televised)

6:00pm   Mid-Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District Commission (MCNCDC) meeting  (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)

6:30pm   City Council Public Hearing - First Street Garage  (Sullivan Chamber - Televised)

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the disposition of a leasehold interest in 420 parking spaces and approximately 9,000 square feet of ground floor retail (together the “Leasehold Interest”) in the First Street Garage, located at 55 First Street and owned by the City of Cambridge, to the developer Laggatt McCall Properties, which was conditionally awarded the bid pursuant to G.L. Chapter 30B subject to the review and approval of the disposition of the Leasehold Interest by the City Council pursuant to the City’s Municipal Disposition Ordinance, Chapter 2.110 of the Cambridge Municipal Code (the “Disposition Ordinance”). This hearing will be held pursuant to the Disposition Ordinance as part of the legal requirements for disposing of the Leasehold Interest.