The Feb. 1 City Council agenda is posted on the Open Meeting Portal. Our last meeting clocked in at just about an hour and I would expect this one to be relatively quick, too. A few items to note:
City Manager’s Agenda:
#1: I have been appointed as the mayor’s representative on the Coordinating Council for Children, Youth and Families, formerly known as the Kids’ Council. I’m very much looking forward to working with this group, which includes several CRLS high school students and new School Committee Member Manikka Bowman.
# 1 & 4 Convey the Council’s support for pending state bills related to bike safety and a pending federal bill to fund bike share programs like Hubway. I co-sponsored #4 with Councillor Dennis Carlone.
# 2 Proposes to organize a Volpe task force to better engage residents and other stakeholders with the complex rezoning process and planning vision for redeveloping 14 acres of federal land in the heart of Kendall Square.
# 3 Relates to expanding non-emergency communication with residents through automated phone calls and text alerts about neighborhood meetings and events. I co-sponsored this with Vice Mayor Marc McGovern.
# 5 Acknowledges the growing concern over the spread of the Zika virus and asks for public outreach, education and support for residents. I posted a link to a Guardian column by Bill McKibben about how climate change will spawn more disease vectors like Zika that threaten to create even greater global inequality. I sponsored this order with support from Councillors Carlone and Vice Mayor McGovern.
# 6 Conveys the Council’s support for pending state legislation that protects first responders (police and fire personnel) from civil liability when administering a potentially life-saving Narcan injection to people experiencing an opioid overdose. I co-sponsored this order with Vice Mayor McGovern. My husband works as a substance abuse counselor and has been trained to administer Narcan, so I have heard a great deal about the value of having it available in emergency situations.
# 7 We have a long tradition of dedicating street corners to honor residents who have made significant contributions to the community. I’m proud to sponsor a dedication request on behalf of my neighbor Emory J. Clark, who was the city’s first African American pharmacy owner-operator. Many remember Emory’s Pharmacy on Concord Ave at Corporal Burns Rd, which operated from 1971-91 and later was home base for Mr. Clark’s ice cream and snack truck. The Dedication Committee meets twice a year to review requests; each councillor is allowed to sponsor two requests annually.
# 8 Following up on the debate at our last meeting about the rather opaque approval process for sandwich board signs, I sponsored an order to ask for more information about how many such signs have been permitted, where they are located, and what criteria are used to evaluate new requests and renewals. The intent is not to ban sandwich board signs, but rather to ensure that they do not conflict with efforts to promote a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape especially in congested areas like Harvard Sq. Councillors Carlone and Nadeem Mazen and Mayor Denise Simmons co-sponsored this order with me. I attended the Pedestrian Committee’s monthly meeting last week and briefed them on this order.
# 9 Suggests applying for a US DOT Smart City Challenge grant to pilot an “automated, connected-vehicle transportation system” along the Grand Junction rail line. This is an intriguing idea, but the deadline to apply is Feb. 4 so I wonder whether there is adequate time for our busy city staff to pull together an application.
Communications and Reports from City Officers:
# 2 Councillor Toomey has suggested we read two articles on the affordable housing crisis in San Francisco to see what lessons Cambridge can draw from it. I have shared my thoughts in a separate post.
Public Comment and Viewing Meetings:
Public comment begins at 5:30 pm. Each person is allowed to speak for 3 minutes on any agenda item. You may call 617-349-4280 on Monday morning to sign up to speak, or sign in when you arrive (before 6 pm). If you wish to submit written public comments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and cc City Clerk Donna Lopez at email@example.com.
City Council meetings are televised on CCTV Channel 22 and live streamed on the City Council’s website. Recorded versions of all Council meetings may be found on the city’s Open Data Portal.
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Jan Devereux City Councillor Cambridge, MA