The Cambridge City Council will meet on Monday, November 4, 2019, at 5:30pm. As expected for a meeting on Election Day eve, the agenda is short. NOTE: There will not be a City Council meeting on the following Monday (11/11) because of the Veterans Day holiday. Here’s my summary of this week’s brief agenda.
City Manager’s Agenda
#1 Funding for Door to Door: This is a supplemental funding request for $25K for transportation for senior citizens. Door to Door, a nonprofit, provides rides to seniors for grocery shopping and medical appointments. The regular annual funding is about $109K. The additional request covers increased vehicle and fuel costs.
#3 New Revolving Fund for Renewable Energy and Greenhouse Gas Reduction: The manager is proposing a new ordinance that would create a revolving fund to hold operational “adder” funds ($0.002/kwh) collected through our municipal energy aggregation program and invest them in solar and other renewable energy projects. About $630K per year would be placed in the Revolving Fund for a total of $1.3M during the current 2-year contract. An investment of that amount in solar generation would produce RECs and Net Metering Credits that could be sold to fund the installation of a solar array on a municipal building by Dec. 2020. Buildings being considered for solar are the Peabody School/O’Neill Library, Graham and Parks School and Russell Youth Center. This is complicated and the memo explains it in more detail.
Policy Order #9 from last week’s agenda was charter-righted after a long debate about how to revise it be less focused on singling out cyclists as in need to “Respect the Red” signage and instead to broaden safety education to all road users. In addition, we discussed the situations when cyclists are actually safer by advancing with the Walk signal for pedestrians who are moving in the same direction to get a slight head start on cars. Dedicated “leading green” bike signals can help manage this — NYC is installing hundreds of them. The traditional “rules of the road” were created with cars as the dominant mode, but in a Complete Streets environment the rules need to evolve to be less one-size-fits-all. That said, everyone on the road needs to operate in a way that doesn’t endanger anyone else.
#3 Congratulations to Mothers Out Front: The national organization and its co-founders, Cambridge resident Kelsey Wirth and Vanessa Rule, were awarded a $100K McNulty Prize from the Aspen Institute. We appreciate the commitment of the volunteer members of the Cambridge chapter for keeping the pressure on us to strengthen policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and switch to renewables. I sponsored this resolution with my Health & Environment Committee co-chair Councillor Zondervan.
#1 Roundtable on Early Childhood Ed: We will hold a joint roundtable meeting with the School Committee on Mon., 12/2 to discuss expanding early childhood and universal pre-K programs.
#2 Veterans Appreciation: It’s customary to place such a resolution on the agenda before Veterans Day. City offices and schools will be closed on Mon., 11/11. There will be an observance ceremony at Cambridge Ceremony on Mon., 11/11 at 11:00am.
#3 Brattle-Sparks-Craigie Intersection: I’m asking for an update on a proposed modern roundabout for this confusing 5-way intersection. This was the preferred option presented at a community meeting in June 2018. There have been at least two crashes since August.
#4 Closing of Windsor House Adult Daycare: This order asks if there is an alternative plan for seniors and their caretakers who rely on this program after it closes at the end of this year.
#5 Support for Harvard Grad Students Union: After 18 months of stalled contract negotiations the members of HGSU-UAW voted overwhelmingly (90% for) to authorize a strike. The order urges President Bacow and the Harvard administration to negotiate a fair agreement to avoid a strike.
#6 Childcare fo Census Workers: This order asks to consider ways we might help for temporary Census 2020 workers who may need childcare.
#1 The Ordinance Committee sent a favorable recommendation on the proposed amendment to the Demolition Delay Ordinance, extending the delay period from 6 to 12 months. At Monday’s meeting we would vote to “pass it to a second reading” then it would have to be advertised for 10 days before we could take a final vote to ordain the change on Mon., 11/18.
#2 The Health & Environment Committee discussed our greenhouse gas inventory and future annual reporting on progress toward reaching reduction goals.
Communications from City Officers
#1 Traffic Citation Trends 2010-Q1 2019: Councillor Kelley and his aide analyzed the traffic citation data for both drivers and cyclists (available on the Open Data Portal) over the past 9 years. It shows a marked decrease in tickets. The most common citation is for failure to stop or yield. The second most common is for an expired inspection sticker. Speeding is way down the list. The only increase is in the number of tickets issued for blocking bike lanes. The drop in enforcement is concerning because driver behavior has definitely not improved and tere are more cars and bikes sharing the road.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and cc City Clerk Anthony Wilson 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