City Council Agenda Highlights (9/23/19) (One Response)

The Cambridge City Council will meet on Monday, September 23, 2019, at 5:30pm. The agenda is posted on the Open Meeting Portal. There will not be a meeting the following Monday (Rosh Hashanah).

City Manager’s Agenda

#1 Open Data Review Board: Two new appointments. We are fortunate to have such a depth of local talent to draw from. If you aren’t familiar with our Open Data resources, take a look here.

#2 Re-Paving Priorities for Streets and Bike Lanes: This is a response to a policy order I sponsored to ask how DPW decides which streets to re-pave on an ad hoc basis (outside of total reconstruction projects in the Five-Year Street and Sidewalk Plan) and how $250K from Participatory Budgeting for “Smoother Cycling” will be allocated. Much of the spot repaving is necessitated by utility repairs. Bike lane paving this fall on Cambridge St (Quincy to Fayette) and next spring on Mass Ave (Sidney to Mem Dr) will use about half of the money earmarked from Participatory Budgeting. One concern I hear from residents is that when streets are repaved it can take several weeks for the crosswalks and other lines to be repainted.

#3 Rindge Ave/Parkway Area Improvements: This memo gives a detailed description of the various efforts to repair, maintain and beautify the road and sidewalks around Rindge Ave near Jerry’s Pond and Fresh Pond Parkway.

#4 Community Preservation Act Recommendations: In FY20 the CPA Fund will have $13.2M to distribute in local CPA taxes and state matching funds. As usual the Committee recommends that 80% go to affordable housing with the rest spilt between historic preservation and open space. Read the materials to learn which projects are recommended for funding. I’m especially excited that $350K will find a design of a new multi-use path on the former rail spur between Concord Ave and Danehy Park behind the Fresh Pond Mall and New St.

#5 Green Building Zoning Amendments: CDD has submitted amendments to strengthen green building requirements as part of the Net Zero Action Plan. These have been expected and will be referred to the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee.

#6 Zoning Amendments to Building Setbacks for Additional Insulation: As part of the Net Zero Action Plan, CDD has submitted amendments to allow minor reductions to setbacks to make it easier to add continuous insulation to exterior walls. These have been expected and will be referred to the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee.


Charter Right #1, Protected Bike Lanes on Mass Ave: Last week we charter-righted the city manager’s disappointing response to my policy order for a pilot of protected bike lanes on Mass Ave through Central Sq.  We since have received a letter written by the Central Sq BID and Cambridge Bicycle Safety supporting protected bike lanes and asking for their design and installation on an accelerated timetable. The letter is on the agenda as Communication #22. The segment between Bigelow and Sidney would be implemented in FY21-22 and coordinated with the River St and Carl Barron Plaza improvements that are now in planning and the narrower segment between Bigelow and Putnam would be done on a quick-build basis next summer. There would be public process associated with each segment. I am very pleased this initiative has the support of both the business community and bike safety advocates.

Unfinished Business

#5, Cannabis Business Permitting Ordinance: At this September18 Ordinance Committee hearing we forwarded the latest version of the petition with a favorable recommendation back to the Council, so that it can be adopted on Monday. The Siddiqui/Zondervan version prevailed and would give economic empowerment applicants a two-year head start over the medical dispensaries that were licensed by the state DPH by July 1, 2017. Read more in Cambridge Day.

#6 Alexandria Grand Junction Zoning Petition: See Committee Report #1 and Communications #21 which includes a new Letter of Commitment from Alexandria. The land for the Grand Junction Path would be conveyed at the time the project receives its special permit; however all but $1M of the $11.25M promised for the path’s design and construction would be withheld until after the building’s certificate of occupancy. It is not clear to me whether the path’s construction could take place simultaneous to the construction of the lab buildings or if it would have to wait until after the building project was complete. In addition Alexandria will make “commercially reasonable efforts” for up to 3 years to purchase the Eversource site on Fulkerson St for a maximum of $12,929,000. (the price Eversource paid for the parcel a couple of years ago). Finally, the developer would agree that any future building on the Kendall Sq Garage site would not exceed the height and massing of the One Kendall Garage.

Policy Orders

#1 Dedication for Asa Brebner: I submitted a request for a street sign dedication to remember the late musician and songwriter Asa Brebner’s place in the arts and culture community.

#2 Dedication for Fresh Pond Market: I submitted a request for a street sign dedication to mark Fresh Pond Market’s longtime location in Huron Ave and its owners Marc and Crosby Najarian. There was a tremendous outpouring of affection from the community at the closing event last weekend.

#3 Information on Changes to the Municipal Ordinance: I sponsored this order to create a new webpage to help residents understand the process by which the municipal code of ordinances is amended and to help us all track proposed and pending amendments. There is a page with information about zoning amendments but there is no equivalent for the municipal code. Councillor Siddiqui co-sponsored.

#4 Enforcing No-Smoking Rules in Buildings: This order asks if ISD can be given the authority to cite tenants and property managers for violating the no-smoking laws inside buildings.

#5 100% Renewable Electricity for Municipal Property: Councillor Carlone is renewing a request he first made in Feb. 2015 to report on whether the city could enter into an agreement to obtain 100% renewable electricity for its needs.

#6 Permitting Beer Garden for Events in Danehy Park: I attended the Cambridge Jazz Festival, which this year added a beer garden that was required to be located outside the park, causing the festival organizers to move the entire event onto the very hot, unshaded turf fields so that the beer garden would be nearby. I am asking if we could grant one-day licenses for city-authorized public events that wish to sell and serve beer in an enclosed area within the park itself. Councillors Kelley and Siddiqui co-sponsored.

#7 Review Safety of Crossings Around Harvard Sq Kiosk: In light of the tragic fatality of a resident crossing Mass Ave near the kiosk this week, I sponsored this order to review the planned redesign of the kiosk plaza, which is scheduled to begin next year, with an eye toward further improving the safety of the multiple crossings to and from the plaza. The mayor and Councillors Carlone and Zondervan are co-sponsors.

#8 World Dyslexia Awareness Day is October 4. City Hall exterior lights will be red.

#9 Social Worker for Central Sq Library: This order is an acknowledgement that the Central Sq branch staff need the expertise of a social worker to help patrons who come with needs beyond what’s on the library shelves. Sponsors are Councilors Mallon, Siddiqui and the mayor.

#10 Backyard Politics: This is an election year (though not for me) and the candidates are holding many house parties this fall. I’m suggesting that we head off the potential for the appearance of conflicts by holding the city’s annual Meet Your Neighbor Day at another time of year, since MYND is promoted by two city commissions and the city website lists MYND gatherings. Spring or summer events would be just as neighborly.

Committee Reports

#1 Ordinance Committee, Alexandria Grand Junction Zoning: This petition was forwarded to the Council with a favorable recommendation ny a vote of 4-3 (I was a no). Alexandra is asking us to pass it to a second reading on Monday so that it could be ordained before its expires on Oct. 9. The final vote would have to take place at our meeting on Monday, Oct. 7.

#2 Ordinance Committee, Cannabis Business Permitting (Aug. 14.): This is a report on the first portion of the hearing, which was recessed after much heated debate and testimony.

#3 Ordinance Committee, Cannabis Business Permitting (Sept. 18): This is the report on last week’s reconvened hearing. We rejected the “Simmons Compromise” amendments and sent the “Siddiqui/Zondervan version” of the petition, which already had been passed a second reading during the summer, back to the Council for potential adoption. For the first two years only state-certified economic empowerment applicants would be allowed to open adult-use stores. I support this. In response to questions about the city manager’s criteria for approving host community agreements,  added a policy order that passed unanimously: “That the City Manager work with the City Solicitor, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone and the Mayor’s office to develop criteria and policy goals to guide the City Manager in negotiating Host Community Agreements with adult use cannabis retail applicants and report back to the Council before signing the first Host Community Agreement.”

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 day 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 the day of the meeting. To submit written comments, please email and cc City Clerk Anthony Wilson 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