City Council Agenda Highlights (5/13/19)

The Cambridge City Council will hold a regular meeting on Monday, May 13, 2019, at 5:30pm. The agenda is here. Following two very busy weeks of budget hearings and other committee meetings, the agenda is relatively lean.

City Manager’s Agenda

#1 Future Davis Sq Redesign: Upon hearing that Davis Square may get a redesign to make it less auto-dominated, we asked our staff to meet with Somerville officials to make sure the two cities are keeping each other’s circulation patterns in mind. It turns out that Somerville is a few years away from doing anything major and hasn’t developed a final design or secured the funding. Meanwhile the bridge closings associated with the Green Line are fouling up traffic in other parts of Somerville.

#3 Ten New Firefighters: The new hires will be trained this summer and on the job in September. This is a request for $100,800 from Free Cash to cover their equipment and training.

#4 Four New Trees Outside City Hall: This comes in response to a policy order I submitted to ask for more trees at City Hall. DPW will plant one tulip tree near the corner of Inman and Mass Ave and three serviceberry trees on the embankment along Inman Street. These will be planted on the grass, not in street trees wells due to sidewalk width.

#5 Third Net Zero Report: This is the Year III report on our progress toward implementing the Action Plan laid out in the Net Zero Ordinance to reduce building emissions. We have already scheduled a Health and Environment Committee hearing on May 21 (1-3pm, to be televised) to discuss the report. Several legislative actions are recommended:

1. Amend Article 22 of the Zoning Ordinance to Increase Green Building Requirements and Remove Barriers to Increased Insulation (FY19)

2. Submit Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance amendments to introduce performance requirements for BEUDO buildings (FY19)

3. Implement recommendations for a Height and FAR Bonus through zoning for buildings that achieve net zero emissions ahead of the required schedule (FY20)

4. Adopt a Rooftop Solar Installation Requirement for new buildings (FY20)

5. Adopt Net Zero Requirement for New Construction of Municipal Buildings (FY20)

6. If feasible, implement policy recommendations for Upgrades at Time of Renovation or Sale (FY20)

Policy Orders

#1 Bent St Beautification: The parking lot that CPD uses on the corner of Sixth St and Bent St is owned by AT&T and the landscaping of the planters along the sidewalk could stand a refresh and a cleanup. It may be an opportunity for them to plant some small trees as well.

#2 Quick Build Bike Lanes on Mass Ave: I sponsored this order to explore the feasibility of creating a quick-build protected bike lane on Mass Ave between Harvard Sq (Putnam Ave) and Kendall (Sidney St). This would connect two sections of Mass Ave have or will soon have protected bike lanes. Also supporting the order are Mayor McGovern and Councillors Siddiqui and Carlone. Mass Ave is heavily used by cyclists already and better bike facilities will attract more cyclists and improve safety for all users. The order asks for a report back by the end of June.

#3 Support for Changing the State Seal and Flag: The Resolve Act (H.2776) requests a state commission to explore a new design for our state seal. Cambridge celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day, and the current seal, which is on the Commonwealth’s flag, is disrespectful to our Native American community. There is state legislation that would make Indigenous People Day a statewide holiday, and Mayor McGovern placed a copy of the letter of support he sent the state committee that is considering this bill on our agenda under Communications from Other City Officers.

#4 Make Charlie Cards Easier to Get: This order, which I co-sponsored, asks the MBTA to widen the distribution of Charlie Cards to public buildings so people don’t have to go to one of the few T stations that stock cards to get one.

#5 Right to Counsel Coalition for Tenants: This order asks Cambridge to join a coalition of local leaders and organizations that are advocating for the right of low-income tenants to have legal counsel during eviction hearings. Three bills are pending at the State House.

#6 Banning Single-Use Plastics: This order, which I co-sponsored, asks the Recycling Committee and the DPW staff to explore developing an ordinance similar to laws in Berkeley and Brookline that ban single-use plastics. We need to reduce plastic waste to reach our Zero Waste goals. The order asks for a report back by the end of 2019.

#7 Charging Stations on Light Poles: This order, which I co-sponsored, asks to place public charging equipment for EVs and micro-mobility devices on utility poles. Poles are being used for charging in other cities so technically it is feasible. The order asks for a report back by September.

#8 Cybercrime Reporting and Tracking: CPD publishes monthly BridgeStat reports on crimes like robbery and assault but the reports don’t include cybercrime. Councillor Kelley is interested in seeing some cyber stats.

Committee Report

#1 Early and Youth Voting: The Government Operations Committee, which I chair, discussed the feasibility of offering either early or no-excuse absentee voting in municipal elections and of lowering the voting age to 16 or 17 in city elections. The Election Committee thinks no-excuse absentee voting would be easier to implement than several days of early voting, and there is a state bill that would give cities the right to offer it. The report includes an order to draft a home rule petition for special state legislation to lower the voting age to 16. Somerville just passed a bill this week to lower its voting age to 16.

Communications fro Other City Officers

#1 Support for making Indigenous Peoples Day a state holiday (letter from the Mayor to the State Committee on Regulatory Oversight)

#2 Support for Widening the Community Path Extension (letter from the Mayor to Gov. Baker). I wrote a similar letter. The path must be at least 11′ wide (ideally 14′)  to accommodate the expected bike and pedestrian use.

#3 Dedication Committee Recommendations: A bench for Mary Jo Clark and dedication signs for Tom Magliozzi, Angel Fetene and the Sarchioni Sisters.

#4 Tenant Displacement Task Force: Notes and presentation from the April 23 meeting on eviction data.

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.

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Jan Devereux
City Councillor
Cambridge, MA