City Council Agenda Highlights (2/8/16) (4 Responses)

MEETING CANCELED DUE TO SNOW. The Feb. 8 City Council agenda is posted on the Open Meeting Portal. If you open the portal and click on the “full agenda packet” link for Feb. 8 you can read the attachments related to each of these these items.

Here are some items of note:

Policy Orders:

#1 This order, which I co-sponsored, creates a new ordinance to control invasive “running bamboo” from crossing property lines, where it can damage foundations, driveways, sidewalks and other landscaping. It is not an outright ban on planting new bamboo but it obligates owners to confine its growth and keep it 4′ or more from the property line. The proposed “duty to confine” is actually less strict than laws passed in Connecticut and New York, and some communities have banned running bamboo outright.

Council Rules and Committee Appointments:

I was on the ad-hoc committee that drafted the new rules, which include broadcasting Roundtable hearings. I am pleased to have been named chair of two committees: Health & Environment and Economic Development & University Relations and to sit on four others: Housing, Human Services & Veterans, Civic Unity, Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Facilities, Arts & Celebrations. All nine councillors are members of the Ordinance and Finance Committees.

Unfinished Business:

This meeting will be our first opportunity to vote on the “Wild and Exotic Animal Ban,” an amendment to the ordinance that would prevent circuses and traveling shows from bringing wild animals like elephants, lions and chimps into the city. The ban would send a message that Cambridge does not condone the cruel and inhumane treatment that circus animals are often subjected to. There are exemptions for educational, medical, governmental institutions, sanctuaries and accredited zoos. I support the ban.

Zoning Petitions:

A zoning petition has been submitted to create a new zoning overlay district where a medical marijuana dispensary could be located. A registered provider Sage Cannabis has identified a below grade location at 1001 Mass Ave between Harvard and Central Squares, which it believes would be ideal for a retail dispensary, but a new overlay district would need to be created. The petition will be sent to the Ordinance Committee for discussion. I support it. Read more here.

There is a policy order (#5) to re-file the Volpe re-zoning petition that was debated last year but never moved out of committee, and is due to expire. Once re-filed it would go back to the Ordinance Committee for more discussion. Last week we approved the formation of a Volpe Task Force.

City Manager’s Agenda:

#2 & #3 appropriate a total of $378,500 toward Early Childhood Education, which was the subject of a task force last year. A large part of the funding ($228,500) comes from mitigation funds associated with EF Education’s development of its new headquarters in Northpoint. Those funds will go toward early childhood ed scholarships for Cambridge residents, targeting those neighborhoods affected by that development (most likely East Cambridge and Wellington Harrington). The remainder of the funds appropriated ($150,000 from the free cash account) will begin to implement the task force’s recommendations including the creation of a new staff position.

#4 reminds us that special elections cost cities money ($18,580 to be exact). State Sen. Anthony Petruccelli resigned to join a lobbying firm and there will be a primary on Apr. 12 and a general election on May 10 to fill his seat representing the First Suffolk and Middlesex District, which includes Cambridgeport and the MIT area. I do not live in this district but am supporting Rep. Jay Livingstone. If he wins, I suppose there would be a special election to fill his seat, too.

#11 allocates $50,000 from mitigation funds received from the special permitting of McKinnon Company’s residential development at 130 Cambridgepark Dr toward a traffic counting device at a critical intersection near the Alewife T. The data will inform planning for improvements and will be available through the Open Data Portal.

#14 reports on the possibility of creating zoning incentives to further the Grand Junction Railway Path. Bottom line: CDD is making progress, but a great deal of coordination with property owners (including MIT and the State) will be required.

#15 & #16 report on efforts to promote more solar installations. The city has “contracted with EnergySage, an online solar marketplace platform to create and execute a year-long solar campaign starting in March 2016….Green Cambridge is also partnering with SunBug Solar to offer residential solar discounts through their Neighborhood Solar Campaign.” Have you looked up your address on the city’s interactive solar map? The Fletcher Maynard Academy may get a solar installation when its roof is replaced.

#17 announces the appointment of the coordinator of the new STEAM learning initiative. Her name is Sharlene Yang and she appears very well qualified to launch and lead this program.

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 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm to sign up to speak, or sign in when you arrive (before 6 pm). If you wish to submit written public comments, please email and cc City Clerk Donna Lopez at

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 Meeting Portal.






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    Jan Devereux
    City Councillor
    Cambridge, MA