City Council Agenda Highlights (10/28/19) (One Response)

The Cambridge City Council will hold a regular meeting on Monday, October 28, 2019, starting at 5:30pm. The agenda is posed on the Open Meeting Portal.

City Manager’s Agenda

#1 100% Renewable Energy Study: The manager is requesting $300K from Free Cash to hire a consultant to help us with a plan to meet our goal of procuring 100% renewable energy for city buildings. The study will take a year; the process of getting off fossil fuels is moving way too slowly. There are not clear goals for when we will convert all city buildings to renewable sources and without goals we cannot measure progress toward Net Zero. It is not even entirely clear what percentage of our energy is renewably sourced today (possibly up to 20%, mostly from the15% through the state’s RPS-Renewable Energy Portfolio standard); even at 20% it’s well below where it should be for municipally-owned buildings.

#3 Municipal Energy Efficiency Projects: The manager is requesting a supplemental appropriation of about $109K for energy efficiency updates to schools and city buildings.

#4 O’Connell Library Pocket Park Funding: A design for a small park at the branch library on 6th St was completed a couple of years ago. The manager is proposing to fund its $345K cost through: $145K from Free Cash, $75K from the Cambrdge Open Space Trust, and a $25K grant from the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority’s Forward Fund.

#7 Central Sq Library Improvements: The manager is requesting $350K from Free Cash for significant interior renovations to the Central Sq Library starting in spring 2020, as well as to study possible future improvements.

#8 Traffic Calming on Madison Ave: Given the low volume of vehicles (on average 20-29 at the peak hours) and the 85% percentile speeds being less than 25mph, the Traffic Dept does not recommend any interventions beyond including Madison Ave among the streets that will have their speed limits reduced 20mph. Note: Next week the City will launch a new website to begin outreach on the 20mph speed limit on residential streets citywide (once it goes live the url will be

#9 Foundry Redevelopment Funding: The city manager is requesting an appropriation of $30M for the Foundry’s reconstruction of which $23M will come from Free Cash and $7M from the CRA. This will bring the City’s total commitment up to $29M ($6M was appropriated for design in 2015). The budget is about $5M above the original estimates. The Foundry will open in 2021. More information about the Foundry redevelopment project.

Policy Orders

#1 Shared Use Pilot at Sacramento Field: The mayor and I are asking for a report on a proposed pilot of off-leash hours in the early mornings for dogs at Sacramento Field. This would be before school hours and would fulfill a promise made to residents.

#3 Clarity on Internal Procedures for City Employees Filing Grievances: The Council does not have any authority over personnel matters, but we are sometimes placed in the middle of workplace conflicts; this order asks for a report on how such grievances are handled.

#4 Hearing Loops Requested for City Hall Meetings: Councillor Zondervan is asking that we make available “hearing loop” technology to transmit meeting audio directly to people’s in-ear hearing aid devices. This could be installed as part of the coming renovations to City Hall.

#5 Traffic Calming at Magazine and Upton St: I co-sponsored Councillor Kelley’s order for a “Pedestrian Crossing” sign where many school children cross.

#6 Traffic Calming at Raymond and Walden St: I co-sponsored Councillor Kelley’s order for a STOP signal or some other traffic calming feature at this intersection near the park.

#7 Traffic Restrictions at Mead and Walden St: I co-sponsored Councillor Kelley’s order for possible measures to restrict passage to residents only during the morning rush hour to deter cut-through traffic on a very narrow two-way street that gets blocked routinely.

#8 Assessing the Threat Level of Hate Crimes in Cambridge: Following an uptick in the number of incidents of racist graffiti in our schools, Councillor Kelley is asking that the City consult authorities such as the Southern Poverty Law Center to determine the degree of risk we face from hate crimes and what an appropriate response may be.

#9 Respect the Red: I think Councillor Kelley’s order is well-intentioned but misdirected. Yes, failures to stop at red lights can be very dangerous to pedestrians crossing. But I do not feel that a campaign that singles out cyclists as the only ones needing a reminder to stop is the right way to approach it. Rather, I would prefer to direct outreach to all road users and to install bike signals that give cyclists the right to proceed when the Walk light goes on for pedestrians; with a Leading Pedestrian Indicator setting, this provides cyclists with a few seconds to clear the intersection and avoid right hooks before the light turns green for vehicles. There are times when it is safer fro everyone for the rules to be slightly different for people on bikes and people in cars. Nonetheless, everyone needs to operate with more care and consideration for the safety of others.

#10 Quick Build Bike Lanes and Bus Priority for Mass Ave: This order asks for an intervention that has been under consideration since at least 2016 when Joe Lavins was killed in a crash in Porter Sq: protected bikes lanes and bus priority lanes going through the most congested section of Mass Ave between Beech St and Roseland. I fully support the order and would have co-sponsored it had I been asked.

Committee Report

#1 The Neighborhood and Long-Term Planning Committee met on 9/24 to discuss policies for sidewalk surface treatments including when brick sidewalks are used. In general we felt that sidewalks are too inconsistent in their degree of good repair and ADA accessibility. and that we need to spend more money on maintaining them.

Communications from City Officers

#1 My Brothers’ Keeper Task Force: The mayor is forming a task force to work on initiatives to support boys and young men of color. He has named his Director of Constituent Services, Tony Clark, as his co-chair.

#2 History of Zoning in Cambridge: The mayor has placed a report authored by a Harvard student on the history of zoning in Cambridge. The title is: “The Kind of City Which is Desirable and Obtainable” (sic, “That” and “Attainable”) and it asserts that zoning continues to racially segregate Cambridge. Coming a week before the municipal election, this seems timed to open up another debate on the Affordable Housing Overlay. (ICYMI: I am not running for re-election.)

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