The Cambridge City Council will meet on Monday, May 6, 2019, at 5:30pm. Our agenda is posted on the Open Meeting Portal. here are some of the key items before us.
City Manager’s Agenda
#1 Traffic Mitigation Funding from the Everett Casino: The Encore Casino hasn’t even opened yet, but the City has already “won” $200K in traffic mitigation funding, which we will use to install monitoring equipment at several intersections (which ones?) in June to record traffic volume and to help with signal timing, as needed. The equipment is exempt from the Surveillance Technology Ordinance.
#3 Rodent Control near on Rindge Ave: DPW has stepped up efforts to keep the area around the parking lot near Jerry’s Pond and Comeau Field free of trash and waste that can attract rodents. A new Big Belly trash bin will be installed by the bus stop in order to discourage the continue dumping of household waste there. Also there will be signs asking people to stop feeding the birds and ducks around the area as the seed attracts rats.
#4 Disclosing Beneficial Interest of Real Estate Transactions: We asked if there is a way for us to require that when real estate sells the beneficial owners are disclosed. This memo from the city solicitor explains that we might be able to accomplish this by submitting a home rule petition to the state legislature to require disclosure when a municipal line certificate is issued. That way if a corporation or LLC is the owner of record we could demand to know who controls 25% or more of the shares or voting rights.
#13 Accessory Dwelling Units: The modest revisions to the ADU Ordinance that we have discussed at prior meetings are eligible to be ordained. The biggest change is that we would allow a single ADU of up to 900sf to be created in an existing accessory building (like a garage) on the same lot as a single or two-family house. It would need a special permit.
Applications and Petitions
#5 Petition Opposing Up-Zoning of CambridgeSide Galleria: About 60 residents of Thomas Graves Landing (4-6 Canal Park) have signed a petition opposing the increases in height that are part of the up-zoning petition by New England Development’s PUD-8 (the CambridgeSide mall). The current allowed height is 85′ and the up-zoning would increase it to 185′. NED is seeking to redevelopment the site with 3 new buildings of 135′, 165′ and 185′. The zoning is under review and will return to the Ordinance Committee later this spring (date TBA). The question of how to value up-zonings for PUDs or a small area (see #6 below) is one that we struggle with in the absence of good financial information to help us properly assess whether the community benefits justify the up-zoning and mitigate the impact on the surrounding area.
#6 New Street Up-Zoning Petition: This petition was first filed last summer and has been revised and re-submitted. The developer wants to build a self-storage facility at 52 New St (a lot of 43,793sf where Evolve fitness is located), but wants it to be larger than what would be allowed under the current zoning in order to be “commercially viable.” With the revised petition, which includes the building next door to Evolve in a new overlay district, the developer is offering to add some affordable housing to the storage building. It’s a little unclear how much housing; it says a minimum of 8,000 sf. The building could be 65′ (vs 45″ currently allowed) and the FAR could be 3.0 (currently 1.5). Any affordable housing would be exempt from the gross floor area that counts toward the FAR. Parking would be reduced from 1 space per unit to .5 for affordable units (or .75 for any market rate units that are produced in this overlay district). I still think there is no pressing need for more storage in this area. If the site is going to be redeveloped it would be a good one for the proposed 100% Affordable Housing Overlay where many more units could be created and the site’s proximity to Danehy Park would benefit more residents. The petition will be referred to the Planning Board and the Ordinance Committee for hearings.
#1 Opposing Fracked Gas Facility on South Shore: I sponsored this order to put us on record against the construction of a fracked gas compressor in Weymouth that would help a Canadian company transport fracked gas from Pennsylvania through the Commonwealth on “pipeline highway.” Mothers Out Front will hold a demonstration against this project outside City hall before our meeting on Monday (starts at 4:30).
#3 Support for Midwives: I co-sponsored this resolution supporting proposed state legislation to integrate Certified Professional Midwives into maternity care and to expand access to midwives under MassHealth as a means of improving maternal health of disadvantaged women and equitable access to midwives in areas where hospital maternity services have been cut. Two of my three children were birthed with the assistance of licensed midwives (one was in France where they are called sage femmes, or wise women).
#4 Media Collected by Police on Handheld Devices: This order asks what policies are in place relative to images and videos collected by police officers using handheld devices such as cell phones, which are not subject to the Surveillance Ordinance.
#6 In Memory of Cheryl-Anne Pizza-Zeoli: The affordable housing community lost one of its most dedicated volunteer advocates when Cheryl-Anne died last month. This order asks that there be a dedication in her memory.
#7 Play Streets: With the goal of making block party-style street closings easier, Councilor Mallon is suggesting we explore what Seattle is doing in licensing “play streets” which allow non-arterial neighborhood streets to be closed to traffic for up to 12 hours a week on up to 3 days for play and socializing. I’n happy to co-sponsor this order.
#8 Welcoming City Ordinance: Councillor Carlone has submitted a draft of a Welcoming City Ordinance that aims to codify our Sanctuary City practices to protect immigrants living in our community. I am proud to co-sponsor this and look forward to discussing with our law enforcement officers and other stakeholders it in future hearings. The ACLU-Mass supports it.
#9 Memorial Dr Greenway Improvements: DCR is soliciting public comments by May 9 on future improvements to the paths along Memorial Drive that go between the BU Bridge and the Eliot Bridge. Currently the paths are too narrow, too bumpy and generally unsafe for the volume of pedestrian and bike traffic, which is only expected to increase with the future work ion I-90 and Soldier’s Field Road. Councillor Zondervan is proposing that we invite DCR officials to attend a future Transportation Committee on the Greenway project. I look forward to chairing that meeting. Add your comments on the Wikimap.
#1 Housing Committee: The report on the April 25 committee meeting to discuss the 100% Affordable Housing Overlay includes an order to send the draft zoning language on to the Ordinance Committee for further discussion. My remarks at the hearing are here.
Communications for Other City Officers
Arts Task Force report on April 11 meeting to discuss the Central Sq Cultural District and arts programming in the future Business Improvement District.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and cc City Clerk Donna Lopez at email@example.com. 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.
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Jan Devereux City Councillor Cambridge, MA