City Council Agenda Highlights (1/28/19)

The City Council will meet on Monday, January 28, 2019, starting at 5:30pm. The agenda is posted on the Open Meeting Portal.

This weekend I am attending the Mayors Innovation Project Winter Policy Conference in Washington. There are policy discussions led by city leaders from across the country on addressing disparities in women’s health, reducing transportation emissions, improving community engagement and supporting local business.

City Manager’s Agenda

#3 Climate Change Resilience Analysis: The manager is asking to use $175K from Free Cash to fund a year-long task force process to recommend zoning changes for greater climate change resiliency. The task force met for the first time this week and will meet monthly. See project page. 

#4 Authorization Use of “Construction Manager at Risk” Procurement for City Hall Renovations: The manager is asking for our authorization to enter this type of contract with HMFH Architects, the firm selected for the future renovations to reconfigure city staff offices at City Hall, 831 Mass Ave and 3 Bigelow. If we agree, the request has to be approved by the state’s Inspector General. The idea is to bring the contractor into the project early on while it is still being scoped, so that that the eventual bid price more closely reflects the actual costs; a Guaranteed Maximum Price is set with a fixed fee for the contractor that is based on a percentage of the estimated project cost and includes sub-contractor fees. The memo explains at length how this would work and why the manager feels it is the most appropriate type of contract to use for the scope of this job.

Applications and Petitions

#4 Zoning Petition to Increase Hotel FAR in Industry B Zone: This petition asks to increase the allowable FAR (floor area density) to 4.0 for a hotel use in the Industry B zoning district near Kendall Square. Currently a residential is in IB is allowed to have a 4.0 FAR but a hotel use is capped at 2.75. The maximum height is 120′. It will be referred to the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee for more discussion.

Policy Orders

#1 Emergency Response Protocol for Water Main Breaks: As a follow-up to discussions at our last two council meetings about how the response to residents who suffered significant flooding following a water main break might have been improved, I have submitted an order requesting an explanation of the communication protocols for such non-natural disasters. Councillors Kelley and Zondervan are my co-sponsors.

#2 I-90 Allston Interchange Redesign Project Follow-Up Letter to Secretary Pollack: I co-sponsored the mayor’s order to forward a letter drafted by former Mayor Henrietta Davis to MassDOT stating what additional studies and mitigation measures are needed to protect quality of life and accessibility for Cambridge residents, especially those living directly across the river in Cambridgeport. There are concerns about access from Soldier’s Field Road to River St and about noise from the redesigned viaduct and highway. The letter also asks for improvements to the pathways along the Cambridge side of the river, which will be more heavily used during reconstruction of the highways and paths on the Boston side.

#3 Televise Cycling Safety Ordinance Hearing: The first committee hearing on the proposed ordinance related to creating a safe network of protected and separated bike facilities will be on Wed. 2/27 from 5:30-7:30pm.

#4 Eliminating Plastic Water Bottles at City and School Events: I submitted an order to ask that we stop offering “convenience water” in single-use plastic bottles at city events, and develop new best practices to encourage people attending to carry refillable water bottles. We can offer water in large kegs if water fountains are not readily available to fill reusable bottles. Water packaged in paper cartons (like milk) also could be made available when other water delivery methods are not possible. Other cities are banning all single-use plastic items and Cambridge is headed that way. Thank you to Mayor McGovern and Councillors Mallon and Zondervan for supporting my order.

#5 Support for House Bill on Rent Arrears: This resolution expresses support for HD 2395 by Rep Decker to restart a housing stability program to provide cash assistance to low-income tenants facing eviction. Such a program existed until 2003.

#6 Calculating the Value of Upzoning: I co-sponsored Councillor Carlone’s order to require that developers seeking to upzone a site for a project of 50K s.f.or more provide a formal financial assessment of the increased land value created for the owner/petitioner “along with recommendation of proportional contributions from said property owner/petitioner towards development impact mitigation, infrastructure improvements, community public benefits, and/or fulfilling City Council goals/projects.” Often we negotiate community benefits in conjunction with upzonings without knowing the true land value we are creating. Councillors Zondervan is the other co-sponsor.

#7 Temporary Moratorium on Tree Removal on Private Property: I co-sponsored Councillor Zondervan’s order to impose a temporary moratorium on the removal of any significant tree (8″ diameter or more) on private property that is 1) not already covered by the existing Tree Protection Ordinance, which includes special permit projects and 2) is not dead, diseased or dangerous (these could be removed with permission of the city arborist). The moratorium would help preserve healthy significant trees on private property until the Urban Forest Master Plan task force’s recommendations for changes to the Tree Protection Ordinance (expected later this spring) are implemented. The moratorium would not apply to affordable housing property or to special permit projects because they are already covered under the existing ordinance. Councillor Kelley also co-sponsored this.

#8 Peoples Pledge for Municipal Campaign Financing: Councillor Toomey has asked for the solicitor’s report on whether his suggested Peoples Pledge is constitutionally legal to be delivered by Feb. 4. We last discussed it at a committee hearing in mid-November. At the same meeting we also asked that a committee be formed to draft a non-binding ballot question to assess voter support for public financing.

Committee Reports

#1 Neighborhood and Long term Planning (11/29): The committee discussed Envision’s urban form recommendations and the Alewife plan. There were many questions about both.

#2 Housing (11/28): The committee discussed the 2018 Inclusionary Zoning Report and the concept of an Affordable Housing Overlay. The overlay has not been drafted so the discussion could not dig into its possible impact on urban form, ground floor local retail, historic structures, open space and trees..

#3 Ordinance (1/9): The committee discussed a proposed amendment to the Tree Protection Ordinance. The proposed tree removal moratorium grew out of this discussion.

Communications from City Officers

#1 Report on the 1/10 Arts Task Force meeting report by Councillor Mallon.

#2 Overview on the problem of bed bugs by Councillor Kelley.

Public Comment and Viewing Meetings

Public comment begins at 5:30 pm. Each person is allowed to speak for up to 3 minutes on any agenda item except for communications from other members of the public. There is an online system for signing up for public comment that goes live on the Friday morning before each Monday meeting. Here is the link. You also may call 617-349-4280 on the Monday of the meeting from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm to sign up to speak, or sign up when you arrive at City Hall by going to the City Council office after 5:00pm and using the public computer terminal on the desk by the door. Regardless of how you sign up you should do so before 6:00 pm on Monday. To submit written comments, please email and cc City Clerk Donna Lopez at If received after Thursday at 3pm, your comments will appear on the public record (under “Communications”) at the next subsequent Council meeting.

City Council meetings are televised on Channel 22-CityView and live-streamed on the City’s Open Meeting Portal and on the City’s YouTube site. Recorded versions of all Council meetings may be found on the Open Meeting Portal.

Make a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You can make the comment area bigger by pulling the arrow. If you are techie, you can use basic HTML tags and attributes to format your comment.

Development of Responsive Tabs Wordpress Theme by Will Brownsberger.
Hosting paid for by the Devereux for Council.
Site set up by ViV Web Solutions.

Welcome! is a public forum. The site depends on your participation.

You may comment on any post on this site.

You may add a new topic on a local issue.

You do not need a password.

You can subscribe at this link for occasional email news.

Jan Devereux
City Councillor
Cambridge, MA