City Council Agenda Highlights (6/17/19)

On Monday June 17, 2019, the Cambridge City Council will hold two meetings. We will convene at 2:30pm for a special meeting to interview the 4 finalists for the position of city clerk. Their resumes and personal statements may be found here (see agenda packet). Once the interviews conclude at around 5:30 we will convene our regular weekly meeting (see agenda) and take public comment on both regular agenda items and on the clerk interviews. Then we may recess to executive session to conduct a strategy session in preparation for salary negotiations with one or more of the clerk candidates. If we vote to offer the position to one of the candidates we would do so publicly in the open session that follows. I led the ad hoc committee that screened and interviewed the applicants. We have 4 well-qualified individuals to choose among, and I’m eager for the full council and the public to hear from them. Both meetings will be televised and live-streamed on the Open Meeting Portal.

My summary of the regular agenda items follows.

City Manager’s Agenda

#4 Electric Greens Roller for Golf Course: We will spend $10K to replace an older gas-powered roller with an electric one at the municipal golf course.

#5 HUD Funding for Homeless Services: We received a grant from HUD for $226.7K for services and assistance to people experiencing homelessness.

#6 HUD Funding for Affordable Housing: We received a grant from HUD for $549.2K that will be used for the HOME program for low- and moderate-income housing.

#7 CDBG Funding for Affordable Housing: We received a $352.6K Community Development Block Grant for affordable housing.

#8 Informational Meetings on the Affordable Housing Overlay Zoning: In response to our request that the staff conduct more neighborhood outreach on the citywide zoning change that soon will come before the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee (on June 25 and July 2, respectively), CDD has scheduled a series of meetings, alternately described as “open houses” (on the flyer) and “workshops” (in this memo). The complete schedule is here. I encourage everyone to go and ask questions and make suggestions. The potential impact of this zoning change still has not been thoroughly or clearly explained by the staff and a lot of people have no idea it is being discussed or how it could work.

#9 More Parking Meters Needed ?: This memo comes in response to an order from Councillor Toomey asking where more parking meters could be placed. In general, meters are used to encourage turnover of spots in business districts where enforcement of time limits is a challenge. Additional revenue from meters is a consideration, but in a city as well resourced as ours I don’t think it should not drive decisions (pun intended). Huron Ave in the “Village” is one of the locations considered, but the staff do not recommend adding meters because the business owners have not supported it. The current parking rules are 2 hours and/or residents. Mount Auburn St from Hawthorn to Gibson may be considered for meters because of its proximity to the hospital.

#10 Sidewalk Snow Removal Fines: This memo comes in response to an order I submitted asking for data on the number of complaints and citations for un-shoveled sidewalks and the incidence of repeat offenders. Over the past 5 winters almost 2,000 citations were issued and of those the majority (58%) were for one-time or first violations. The number of citations issued annually appears to be trending down (from 912 in 2014-15 to 210 in 2018-19). By coincidence we heard today from DPW that some of the newer sidewalks in the Huron/Concord area will need to be replaced due to spalling. The flyer cautions residents about using too much de-icing chemicals during the first year or so after the concrete is poured. This could cause people to get tickets if their walks start to freeze after they’ve shoveled and left for work. In fact, this happened to one of my neighbors who was being judicious with de-icing treatment.

Applications & Petitions

#2 Extending the Demolition Delay Period: This is a citizen petition that asks us to amend the ordinance to extend the demolition delay period from 6 to 12 months for structures 50 years or more years old that the Historical Commission deems “significant and preferably preserved.” The Historical Commission supports this amendment and I do, too. This will go to the Ordinance Committee for consideration.

Policy Orders

#1 Support for State Bill on Gender X: This order supports S.2213, which asks that all state identification forms include a place for someone to mark X instead of Male or Female.

#2 Second Request for Additional Trash Collection at Rindge Ave/Comeau Field: Despite recent efforts by DPW there is still a trash problem around this area. With the DCR pool opening soon we are asking for additional trash bins and collection.

#3 Inman Sq Construction Costs Estimate Increase: This order from Councillor Kelley asks for a detailed explanation of why the bids for construction came in almost $2M higher than estimated. The cost of reconstructing Inman Sq is now projected to be $7.9M. The order also asks for increased traffic enforcement during construction including enforcing “No left turns” for cars and “no bikes on sidewalks” through the intersection.

#4 Delay in Connecting Traffic Signal at Ellery and Broadway: A new traffic signal was installed months ago but is not yet operating because Eversource has not prioritized connecting it to the grid. There is mounting frustration with Eversource from all quarters. Note: Subsequent to the order being submitted the city manager informed the council that the signal will be connected this week and will initially operate in a flashing mode (yellow on Broadway; red on Ellery) and the pedestrian Walk/Don’t Walk signals will be inactive until the signal is fully operational (about a week).

#5 Support for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion: The 4 female councilors are sponsoring this order to protect the right to choose, which should not even be a question in 2019. It supports bills pending at the state and federal level that protect the abortion rights.

Committee Reports

#1 Municipal Ballot Design: I held a Government Operations Committee hearing to hear about the change the Election Commission is making to how the ballots for municipal election are laid out. Going forward the ballot will provide voters 15 bubbles to mark for candidates they are ranking for office. In the past the number of bubbles was equal to the number of candidates and that has made the ballots hard to read. With ranked choice voting there is no requirement to rank all the candidates, only those you most want to see elected for one of the 9 seats on Council or 6 on School Committee.

#2 Ware St Innovation Zoning Petition: The Ordinance Committee rejected this petition, as did the Planning Board. The Alley co-working space that occupies a portion of the Verizon building on Ware St will have to live by its zoning use variance, which runs another year or so.

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