Tues, Aug 26 - We're taking the week off from Cambridge InsideOut this week. We might do a show on Sept 2, but there's a good chance that we'll extend our vacation through that date before returning to the Fall Lineup.

The 21st Annual Oldtime Baseball Game last night was a great time for all who attended. Thanks again to Steve Buckley for doing all that he does to make this happen, and a special thanks to Pete Frates for all the inspiration he's provided.

[Oldtime Baseball Game website]   [21st Annual Oldtime Baseball Game Facebook Page]   [Oldtime Baseball Game Facebook Page]


Statement from Mayor David Maher regarding License & Traffic Decision on Bridj Application

Aug 22 - “It has become increasingly clear that the City of Cambridge, like many other cities, needs to develop transportation strategies that better respond to these emerging transportation services. Recently, we have seen a number of new technologies aimed at promoting alternative transportation methods for those living and working in Cambridge. We must continue to seek these alternative modes of transportation if we hope to positively impact climate change and reduce the burden on our public transit services. As Cambridge moves forward with our Master Planning process, I expect that transportation issues will continue to be a major focus.”

From the Bridj website:
Bridj is an express mass transit system - meaning users save time by going directly to their destinations. When compared to traditional public transit, Bridj saves you time by offering reliable service, no transfers and way fewer stops. Using Bridj to move around the city is incredibly affordable. For a little more than a subway ride, but less than a taxi you can get to and from your destination quickly and easily. Plus, if you commute using Bridj, the entire expense may be tax deductible. Each shuttle is top of the line. When you enter, you'll sit down in your guaranteed premium seat and enjoy a quiet ride with complimentary WiFi. The time you spend traveling is not only more comfortable, but you can also be productive. Smart Bridj makes cities move more effectively by crunching millions of data points to see where people live and work. We use this data to construe commuting patterns and instead of forcing people to conform to an existing mass transportation system we can conform to meet your needs.

Related: Transit startup Bridj facing regulation in Cambridge, to the surprise of founders and city officials (BetaBoston)


Cambridge Challenges Somerville to the Ice Bucket!
SAM_0736

L to R: Joe Amaroso, Mayor David Maher, City Manager Richard Rossi, School Superintendent Jeff Young

Not shown: School Committee members Fred Fantini, Mervan Osborne, Kathleen Kelly, and Patty Nolan;
and City Councillors Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Nadeem Mazen, and Dennis Carlone

Mayor Maher challenged Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, the Somerville Board of Alderman, the Somerville School Committee and the staff of Somerville City Hall to support ALS research by duplicating the effort made by the City of Cambridge. Rich Rossi also challenged Belmont Town Administrator (and former City of Cambridge Budget Director) David Kale.


Upcoming Civic Opportunities

Tues, Aug 26

6:00pm   The City Council's Economic Development and University Relations Committee will conduct a public meeting to discuss how to best launch Small Business Town Hall Meeting.  (831 Massachusetts Avenue, Basement Conference Room)

Wed, Aug 27

5:30pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will once again conduct a public meeting to continue discussion on the Dennis Carlone, et al. zoning petition requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge to designate the City Council as the exclusive special permit granting authority for Project Review Special Permits. This meeting to be televised.  (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)

5:30pm   Cambridge Election Commission meeting.  (1st Floor Meeting Room, 51 Inman St.)

I. MINUTES

II. REPORTS

1. Executive Director’s Report

2. Assistant Director's Report

3. Commissioners' Reports

III. PUBLIC COMMENT

IV. ACTION AGENDA

Unfinished Business

1. 2014 State Primary - Tues, Sept 9

New Business

Tues, Sept 2

6:00pm   School Committee meeting  (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)

7:00pm   Planning Board meeting  (2nd floor meeting room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)

General Business

1. Update by Brian Murphy, Assistant City Manager for Community Development.

2. Adoption of the Meeting Transcript(s)

3. Board of Zoning Appeal Cases

BZA-004715-2014 – 249 Walden St, antenna replacements

Public Hearing

7:00pm   PB#198, Discovery Park, Special Permit amendments. The first request is for a Minor Amendment to decouple future Buildings 500 and 600, and for Design Review Approvals of Buildings 400 and 500 and Garage B as outlined in Condition 2 of the Special Permit. The second request is for a Major Amendment to the Special Permit allow construction of Building 600 as a 82,000 square foot hotel in place of the previously approved 120,000 square foot office/research Building 600 and a Minor Amendment to decouple future Buildings 500 and 600. That request also seeks relief to allow the hotel’s main entrance to face the Discovery Park campus rather than Route 2 and to reduce the articulation of the façade and roofline along Route 2 pursuant to Sections 20.63.7, 20.64.3(1) & (2) of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance. The Design Review of the hotel will take place during this public hearing. The applicant is BHX, LLC as Trustee of Acorn Park Holdings Realty Trust (Bulfinch).

General Business

4. Volpe Update

General Business items may be taken out of the order in which they appear on the agenda above. Times for General Business items are approximate. Public comments are taken only during a Public Hearing. During the discussion and deliberation on General Business items, the Planning Board does not solicit public comment. The City of Cambridge will provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities upon request. Please make requests for alternative formats at least two weeks in advance by contacting the Planning Board staff listed below. For further information concerning this agenda, please contact Liza Paden, Planning Board staff, at 617 349 4647, lpaden@cambridgema.gov. Applications and Petitions are online at www.cambridgema.gov/cdd.

Wed, Sept 3

5:30pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing on a zoning petition by the Cambridge City Council to amend the Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge by creating the Cambridge Highlands Overlay District to be coterminous with the district currently zoned Residence B located in the Cambridge Highlands neighborhood, situated north of Concord Avenue, south of and adjacent to the Blair Pond Reservation, and east of and adjacent to the municipal boundary with the Town of Belmont; and to amend the text of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge by creating Section 20.800 - Cambridge Highlands Overlay District. This hearing to be televised.  (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)

Mon, Sept 8

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway)

Tues, Sept 9

7:00am-8:00pm   State Primary Election

6:00pm   Community Preservation Act Committee Meeting  (Ackermann Room, City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave.)

The Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC) will hold a committee meeting Tues, Sept 9 at 6:00pm in the Ackermann Room of Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave. The purpose of the meeting will be for the CPAC to vote on the percentage allocation to CPA expenditure categories and on particular projects to be funded with Community Preservation Act Funds for FY15. These funds may be allocated to affordable housing, open space and historic preservation. For more information, contact Karen Preval at 617-349-4221 or kpreval@cambridgema.gov.


August Programs at Fresh Pond Reservation

These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.

A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
http://www.friendsoffreshpond.org/calendar2014/photopages2014cal/jan14/p01-13-14chipnorton.htm
Wake-Up and Weed!
Dates: Every Thursday in August
Time: 10am to 12noon
Place: Meets at the volunteer trailer in the parking lot in front of the Water Dept.
    Join our weed-warrior crew! We are Fresh Pond citizens dedicated to keeping invasive plants at bay for the benefit of wildlife, water and humans alike. No experience or long-term commitment necessary! All tools are provided; sturdy shoes, pants, long-sleeves and a water bottle are strongly recommended. For more information contact Kirsten at 617-349-6489 / klindquist@cambridgema.gov. No registration necessary.

Please register for each event that you plan to attend. You will receive information on parking after you register. E-mail Elizabeth Wylde at friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com or call (617) 349-6489 and leave your name and phone number.

Offered by Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation

All Upcoming Programs

GROW NATIVE MASSACHUSETTS
Evenings with Experts 2014
First Wednesdays of the Month: 7:00 - 8:30pm
Free and open to all.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
The Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program
Fresh Pond Reservation users are getting involved! The Cambridge Water Department's Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program brings people together on a regular basis to monitor plants, conduct maintenance activities, and to learn about the ecology and history of the area. You can find out about projects that are being planned for this summer, including invasive plants removal, Purple Loosestrife nursery monitoring, bird box monitoring, and more. Call Kirsten Kindquist at 617-349 6489 or email klindquist@cambridgema.gov for more information.
2014 Volunteer Weeding Schedule:
Monday evenings 5:30-7:30pm.
Thursday mornings 10am to 12 noon.
Meeting Place: The volunteer trailer, parked in the Water Department parking lot.
What to bring: water, closed-toe shoes, long sleeves to prevent bug bites, hat if it is sunny, sun lotion. Your own gloves if you prefer them.
We provide: gloves, tools, instructions, good company
email klindquist@cambridgema.gov for more information.
Fresh Pond Plant Identification Walks
Dates: Monday Evenings: Sept 15
Time: 6:00 to 7:30pm
Place: Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility Front Door 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Ted Elliman, New England Wild Flower botanist and author of an upcoming plant guide, will lead walks around the reservation, highlighting some of the Reservation's more common native and non-native plants, and describing their roles in the ecosystem. For more information and parking directions, contact Kirsten at (617) 349-6489 / klindquist@cambridgema.gov
Tours of the Water Purification Facility
Dates: Monday Evenings: Sept 8, Oct 6, Nov 3
Time: 6:00 to 7:30pm
Location: Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    The Cambridge Water Department is offering tours of the City's beautiful Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility. The program will include a virtual tour of the Cambridge water supply system, explaining the process by which water that falls as rain in the suburbs 10 miles west of Cambridge is transported to Fresh Pond and made into pure drinking water for our city. Come, and bring your questions. For more information and parking directions, contact Kirsten at (617) 349-6489 / klindquist@cambridgema.gov

Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at www.friendsoffreshpond.org to download a form.

Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at http://friendsoffreshpond.org to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants.

Read the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation Annual "Year in Review"

• This winter and spring Grow Native Massachusetts is offering a series of free nature-related "Evenings with Experts" lectures at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. Details are at www.grownativemass.org.

• Sign up for the City of Cambridge's informative "Recycling and Composting Newsletter" by e-mailing recycle@cambridgema.gov.

AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.
AMC Local WalksSat, Aug 30. Blue Hills Skyline Trail, Quincy. 6.5-mile hike, rocky terrain with a number of steep hills with views. Moderate-rated hike, not for beginners. 10:00am-3:00pm, mainly on Skyline Trail, lunch on Nahanton Hill with great view. Bring lunch/water/hiking shoes. Meet at Shea Ice Rink, Willard St., Quincy. From SE Expressway Exit 8, S 0.6mi. on Willard St. From I-93/Route128 Exit 6 Braintree, N 0.7mi. Email if severe weather. L Mike Tuohey. AMC Local WalksSun, Aug 31. Parks & Greenways, Cambridge to Malden. Mostly wooded, somewhat hilly 9-mi. hike w/8 ponds and incl. Middlesex Fells & ending at Oak Grove T sta., 9:30am-2:30pm. Bring lunch & water. Meet on W side of Alewife T sta. at passenger drop-off. L Robert Winters, CL Mike Stadelmaier.
AMC Local WalksMon, Sept 1. World's End Reservation, Hingham. 5 mile walk, 8:30am-11:30am. Bring snack/water. From Rte. 3 exit 14, take Rte. 228N 6.5 mi., L on Rte. 3A 1.0mi. to rotary, R on Summer St. 0.5 mi. to light, L on Martin's Lane to entr. Parking. fee. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias. AMC Local WalksMon, Sept 1. Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain. 4-mi. walk among 5000 kinds of trees & shrubs, 12:30-2:45pm. Bring snack & water. Meet at Admin. Bldg., Arborway. Take T to Forest Hills sta., walk 0.6 mi. L Robert Winters, CL Mike Stadelmaier.
AMC Local WalksSat, Sept 6. Wompatuck State Park, Hingham. 8.5 mile. hike w/lunch at scenic pond, 9:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch/water/hiking shoes. Rte. 3 Exit 14 to Rte. 228N toward Hingham, 4 mi. to Wompatuck sign, then R on Free St. 1.3 mi. to visitor center pkg. lot. Email if severe weather. L Mike Tuohey. AMC Local WalksSat, Sept 6, 2014. Middlesex Fells, Winchester. Fast-paced 7-mile hike to lesser-known hills in the western Fells. 9:30am-1:30pm. Bring lunch and sturdy footgear. From Route 93, take exit 33 in Medford, go west on South Border Road toward Winchester; two miles to paved Long Pond lot on the right. Rain cancels. L Marc Hurwitz.
AMC Local WalksSun, Sept 7, 2014. Lincoln/Concord Conservation Land. Moderate hike to Mt Misery/Fairhaven Bay, 9:30am-2:30pm. Bring lunch/water/sturdy footwear. Meet Lincoln RR Station. Rte. 95/128 exit 28, take Trapelo Rd. W 2.5mi. to stop. L onto Lincoln Rd. 1.3mi. to Lincoln RR sta. pkg. on R before tracks. Heavy rain cancels. L Henry Gardner. AMC Local WalksSun, Sept 14, 2014. Horn Pond Conservation Land, Woburn. Slow paced nature walk looking for late summer wildflowers and fruits. Focus on plant ID and fun natural history. 9:00am-noon. From Rte 95/128 Exit 33A take Rte 3 South for 3 miles. Left on Pond St. 0.8 miles to parking lot on left. Parking limited, arrive early. Steady rain cancels. L Boot Boutwell.
AMC Local WalksSun, Sept 14, 2014. Wharton Plantation, Groton. 1:00pm. Come explore the Rocky Hill section of the NEFF Wharton Plantation and adjoining conservation lands. This features streams, beaver ponds, upland forest, and all-around pretty woods. Meet at the Dan Parker Rd. entrance on Rocky Hill Rd, 42.62776N 71.52350W. About 2 hours. L Olin Lathrop. AMC Local WalksSat, Sept 20, 2014. Parks & Greenways, Quincy. 7-mi. walk w/beach, woods, salt marshes, historic sites, 10:00am - 2:30pm. Bring lunch. Take Quincy Shore Drive to Wollaston Yacht Club pier at Beach St. Or T to Wollaston, walk 1 mile. L Mike Tuohey.
AMC Local WalksSun, Sept 21, 2014. Explore East Boston. From 10am-2pm. Harbor walk, beaches, historic sites, and more. Meet inside near the exit turnstile at Airport T Station (Blue Line). Bring lunch, water. Storm cancels. New members welcome. L Sharon Marshall. AMC Local WalksSun, Sept 21, 2014. Lynn Woods, Lynn. Leader's Choice, 5 miles, 9:00am-1:00pm. Bring lunch, water, and snacks. Dress for the elements. I-95/Route 128 to Walnut Street exit, 4 miles. From Route 1, Walnut Street exit, 2 miles. Turn left on Pennybrook Road to Western Gate parking lot. L Nelson Caraballo.

Recent Broadcasts of Cambridge InsideOut    [complete list of shows]

Aug 19 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 79 and 80 with Terry Smith

Cambridge InsideOutAug 5 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 77 and 78 with Patty Nolan

July 29 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 75 and 76 with Brian Corr

July 22 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 73 and 74 with Marc McGovern

July 15 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 71 and 72: News and Events, July 2014

July 1 - Transportation Safety w/guest Rozann Kraus

June 24 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 67-68: More News Around Town

June 17 - Tales from the Democratic Convention and other news from around town

June 10 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.

June 3 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 61 and 62 – News and Commentary

Watch Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm. The co-hosts are Susana Segat and Robert Winters.


Tues, Aug 19 - Our guest on Cambridge InsideOut was Terry Smith, former Director of Government Affairs, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. [Susana Segat was on vacation this week.]


Terry Smith on Cambridge InsideOut (Aug 19, Part 1)


Terry Smith on Cambridge InsideOut (Aug 19, Part 2)


Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher and City Manager Richard C. Rossi Accept ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
City Council and School Committee Members will Participate in Group Challenge

ALS ChallengeOn Wednesday, August 20, at 2:00pm, Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher, along with Vice-Mayor Dennis Benzan and other members of the Cambridge City Council, will participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and funds for ALS research. The event will occur on Cambridge City Hall lawn. “So many people in all walks of life are being faced with this terrible disease,” stated Cambridge Mayor David Maher, “just last week we lost a long time Cambridge School employee and friend, Jurina Vellucci, to ALS. Knowing how many people are suffering from ALS, we felt compelled to participate in a large scale way to help create awareness and to contribute to research for a cure.”

Ms. Vellucci was an employee at the King Open School (and the former Harrington School) who lost her four year battle with ALS last week.

Joining them will be several Cambridge School Committee members, City Manager Richard C. Rossi, several city department heads and City Hall staff.

Vice-Mayor Dennis Benzan and Councilor Marc McGovern were recently challenged by former Cambridge City Councilor and Massachusetts State Representative Marjorie Decker. The Mayor’s office seized the opportunity to make it a group challenge on the lawn at City Hall, and to help create awareness of ALS. The Cambridge contingent will be challenging another local city to do the same.

The ice and buckets will be generously donated by Acme Ice on Kirkland St. in Cambridge. Eric Law, owner of Acme Ice can be reached at 781-420-1332.

For additional information, please contact Alanna Mallon in Mayor David Maher’s Office at 617-349-4327 or email amallon@cambridgema.gov.


Community Preservation Act Committee Meeting on September 9

The Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC) will hold a committee meeting Tues, Sept 9 at 6:00pm in the Ackermann Room of Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave. The purpose of the meeting will be for the CPAC to vote on the percentage allocation to CPA expenditure categories and on particular projects to be funded with Community Preservation Act Funds for FY15. These funds may be allocated to affordable housing, open space and historic preservation. For more information, contact Karen Preval at 617-349-4221 or kpreval@cambridgema.gov.


Three Secret Gardens in Cambridge, Massachusetts


Cambridge Selected to Compete for $5 Million Dollar Energy Efficiency Prize

August 12 - The City Cambridge was one of 52 communities across the country selected to advance to the quarterfinalist round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), a $5 million incentive competition to reduce America’s energy consumption.

Cambridge has assembled a municipal team, outlined a plan and secured signed commitments of collaboration from NSTAR, MIT and HEET (Home Energy Efficiency Team).

“Getting to the Quarterfinals is just the beginning, now the Cambridge community needs to generate real energy savings by upping everyone’s commitment to energy efficiency and solar,” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi.

Cambridge is motivated to succeed because it currently pays some of the highest energy prices in the country, so the next challenge is to motivate renters, landlords and homeowners to tackle energy efficiency and solar installations.  Significant energy efficiency strides are necessary for the Cambridge community to achieve net-zero for all energy use in buildings.

In total, over the two years of the GUEP competition, Cambridge and other participants have the potential to save more than $1 billion in total energy costs and cut millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

“The communities GUEP selected are leaders in energy efficiency who will develop innovative approaches that will inspire and enable others to follow in their footsteps,” said Dr. Francis Slakey, Founder and Executive Director of the Georgetown University Energy Prize.

“Over the next few months, we will fine tune our energy efficiency plans and look for input and participation from the community through our school children, educational institutions, landlords, tenants and homeowners,” said Brian Murphy, Assistant City Manager for Community Development.  “We welcome hearing from individuals who want to volunteer their time and energy to making Cambridge the home of energy innovation.”

To learn more about the Georgetown University Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit www.guep.org, or follow the Prize on Twitter (@GUEnergyPrize).

About Georgetown University Energy Prize
The Georgetown University Energy Prize aims to rethink America’s energy use by harnessing the ingenuity and community spirit of towns and cities all across America. Over the course of a two-year period, the Prize will challenge small- to medium-size towns, cities and counties to rethink their energy use, and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. To compete for the Prize, local governments, residents, utilities and others will need to work together to demonstrate success in sustainably reducing energy consumption. For more information, visit www.guep.org.


August 8 - I just returned from the wake for Walter J. Sullivan. Though the event is the death of a great man, this was a thoroughly joyful experience. So many people from all walks of life were there, including many people from political life past and present. It was like a walk down a half century and more of Cambridge history - and not the history of buildings and events. This is the history of the many long time families of Cambridge - and everybody knew Walter. - RW


Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals Vacancies

City SealCity Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). Made up of five members and seven associate members, the BZA meets twice a month on Thursday evenings to review applications for variances and special permits in accordance with Cambridge Zoning Ordinance. Board members also act on appeals to zoning decisions made by the Commissioner of Inspectional Services.

For more information, contact the Inspectional Services Department at 617-349-6131. Letters of interest, including resume or applicable experience, can be sent via mail, fax or e-mail by Friday, Sept 12, 2014 to:

Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Fax 617-349-4307
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov


A Really Bad Idea gets its first hearing

July 30 - I attended a City Council Ordinance Committee today on the topic of the Carlone Petition that would transfer much of the Special Permit granting authority from the Planning Board to the City Council for the next several years. This is perhaps the second worse zoning petition I've seen introduced over the last three decades. Though I had not intended to speak at the meeting, after hearing all the rubbish that was said during public comment, I really had to chime in with a little perspective. It's unfortunate that Councillor Toomey couldn't make the meeting (it was a very busy day at the State House) because as a city councillor since 1990 he would have been able to provide the kind of institutional memory that some of the new kids on the block simply don't possess. It is at times like this that I really miss Councillor Reeves who could usually be counted on to set the record straight.

One thing that some councillors forget, never knew, or perhaps just want to avoid is the whole idea behind devices like Special Permits, Overlay Districts, and Planned Unit Developments. There was a time when zoning was a lot more cut and dried. Districts were designated as Residential, Commercial, Industrial, and perhaps another category or two. There were also some mixed districts such as neighborhood-scale mixed retail and residential. (I live in such a district.) There were also established limits on height and density and setbacks appropriate to some districts, though there were also zones with no such limits. The zoning determined what you could build "as of right," and you did not have to go to the Planning Board or the City Council just as long as your plans did not exceed the prescribed limits. On some occasions you might have to seek a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals if you needed a little relief. It was all pretty simple.

Over time, the allowed heights and densities have been increased when there was a desire to attract new construction or, in more recent times, to "downzone" to lower heights and densities in response to demands for "liveable neighborhoods." The last few decades also saw the introduction of Overlay Districts and Planned Unit Developments as devices that would allow the Planning Board to have a little more flexibility as a means of extracting desirable outcomes. One device that was used in conjunction with these districts and, more recently, in some other districts, was the Special Permit process.

The basic (and very good) idea of the Special Permit process is this: Cap what can be built as of right (by lowering heights and densities), but allow a property owner/developer some additional height or density in exchange for providing certain carefully specified benefits. These constitute the Special Permit Criteria. It's really a form of gentle extortion for the public good. Better building design, publicly accessible open space, additional housing are examples of Special Permit criteria, and it's the City Council who votes on what criteria are specified in the Zoning Ordinance. The Planning Board (in conjunction with City staff) is then charged with ensuring that the criteria are met, and the deal is pretty simple: Meet the criteria and you get the Special Permit.

It has to be emphasized that this is not a blank check. There are still limits on height and density for projects built under a Special Permit, and it's all laid out in the Zoning Code passed by the City Council. Fortunately, there's an expert Planning Board and City staff to sort out all the details. They don't have too much discretion to address "bigger issues" because that was never intended. The Planning Board are not the policy-makers. That task is left to the elected City Council and that's what they do when they amend the Zoning Ordinance. This includes modifying the Special Permit criteria depending on what incentives for the public good they decide might be extracted via the Special Permit process. Even in the disposition of proposed zoning amendments, whether those proposed by residents or by the Planning Board itself, the Board only makes recommendations to the City Council, and it's up to the City Council to adopt, amend, or reject the proposal.

Creating incentives for new housing via Special Permit in former industrial areas was an initiative of the City Council a little more than a decade ago. Not too much housing was produced at first, but in recent years the goal of new housing has been happening at a quicker pace. It's happening because the City Council wanted it to happen, and now newly-spawned groups such as the Cambridge Residents Alliance (CRA) and the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance (FPRA) are howling in protest. Instead of proposing modification of the Special Permit incentives, we instead get the Carlone Petition (which, by the way, was also signed by Councillor Mazen). It will be a shock if it gets more than those two votes, and it requires six votes out of nine to pass. The best course of action for the City Council would be to discuss it briefly at the next Ordinance Committee meeting and then forward it to the full City Council with a negative recommendation. Then they can process it into the dumpster in September.

The Carlone Petition survives now only as a political organizing tool for Carlone (and Mazen), Carlone's supporters, and his paid City Council aide Mike Connolly who is receiving a City paycheck for what is fundamentally outside political activity with the CRA. [This, of course, was inevitable when these Council aide positions were established. Virtually all of these aides played significant roles in the elections of the people for whom they now work, and it's hard to imagine firing any one of them without inviting retaliation from the associated councillor.] The City Council could and should be tackling more significant matters, including adjustments to the Special Permit criteria if they feel the need. There were a lot of good ideas generated during the K2C2 process that are languishing on the back burner while time and effort is wasted on Carlone's Folly. Now would be a good time for some leadership from the other seven city councillors. - Robert Winters


Voter Registration and Absentee Ballots for the State Primary, September 9th

The State Primary will be held on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. For Cambridge residents not already registered, the last day to register to vote is Wednesday, August 20, 2014 until 8:00pm. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7:00am until 8:00pm.

Absentee Ballots are now available at the Cambridge Election Commission office. Any voter who is unable to go to the polls on Election Day due to physical disability, religious belief, or absence from the City may request an Absentee Ballot from the Commission. The deadline to apply for an Absentee Ballot is Monday, September 8, 2014 at Noon. Absentee Ballots may be mailed to voters, or such voters may choose to vote at the Commission office during regular city office hours: Monday, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30am-5:00pm; Friday, 8:30am-Noon. The office will also be open for Absentee Voting on Friday, September 5th from 8:30am until 5:00pm and on Saturday, September 6th from 9:00am until 5:00pm.

For any additional information, please visit the Cambridge Election Commission office at 51 Inman Street, call (617-349-4361) or visit our website at www.cambridgema.gov/election.


Mayor David Maher Announces Fire Relief Fund for Victims of Allston Street Fire

Office of the MayorMayor David Maher announced today that the City of Cambridge has established the Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund to assist the victims of the recent Allston Street fire. On July 27, 2014, a 9 Alarm fire displaced nine Cambridge families, including several children, from their homes and destroyed all of their personal belongings. None of the 29 people displaced from the buildings sustained injuries although they are in need of financial assistance to help recover from this tragic loss.

“We are grateful that no injuries were sustained in the fire, however, there are many Cambridge residents currently without shelter and in need of financial assistance,” said Mayor Maher. “The majority of the residents affected were renters, making it difficult to recover any losses as many likely did not have renters insurance. Cambridge has always been very generous to our neighbors in need and many of the victims need our help right now.”

The Mayor’s Office will be accepting checks made out to "The Mayor's Fire Relief Fund" via mail and alternatively, residents are welcome to stop by the Mayor’s Office at City Hall to deliver their donation in person.

Donations can also be made online at http://www.gofundme.com/MayorsFireFund

The Mayor’s Office also welcomes gift certificates in any amount to department stores and grocery stores.
Gift certificates and checks can be mailed or delivered to:
Cambridge City Hall
c/o Mayor's Office
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

For additional information, please contact Mayor David Maher’s Office at 617-349-4321 or email us at mayor@cambridgema.gov.

Midsummer Night's Distraction - July 28, 2014 Cambridge City Council Agenda

City SealThe City Council returns briefly on Monday for its only meeting of the summer. Due to renovations to the Sullivan Chamber, this meeting will take place in the Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway, CRLS. Here is a sampler of items of interest:

Manager's Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $133,437.51 funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to the Grant Fund Police Salary and Wages account ($97,423.51) and to the Grant Fund Other Ordinary Maintenance Account ($36,014) which is a reimbursement of expenditures related to the 2013 Marathon Bombing during the week of Apr 15, 2013 through Apr 24, 2013 and will be used to offset overtime costs and to purchase a Morphotrak system used for identifying latent finger prints.

Though there isn't really anything controversial in this, I'm reminded of an appropriation a few months ago to cover costs associated with bomb-sniffing dogs that led to concerns about excessive police presence. In the end, most of us just got to pet Kevin, a very nice and very talented police dog.

Manager's Agenda #15. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to zoning text prepared by the Community Development Department in regard to a request made by the Ordinance Committee at its June 9 public hearing on the Chun, et al. Zoning Petition, which proposes amending the zoning in the Cambridge Highlands neighborhood.

Nothing special to say here - just that maybe third time's the charm. This is the Chun III Petition.

Manager's Agenda #19. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-71, regarding a report on the feasibility of streamlining the permitting process for one-day permits for food trucks visiting Cambridge for special events.

I suppose some steps have to be taken to ensure public safety, but I remember being a youngster in New York when all you needed was a low-cost vendor's permit and you could just park a cart along a road and sell hot dogs and other tasty stuff. I did that for a part of a summer and never once had to deal with regulators, inspectors, the fire department, or anyone else for that matter. When did eveything get so damn complicated?

Manager's Agenda #35. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-52, regarding a report on New Street improvements.

Not long ago, a City Council proposal to improve New Street was assailed by those who felt that improvements would facilitate the approval of new housing on that street - even though their original complaint was about the dreadful state of the street. Solution = Problem (to some). I hear that some paint has been applied to the street to better guide the traffic. The proposed improvements will be better still. The horror!

Manager's Agenda #37. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, request support from the City Council of my intention to submit an application for funding under the Commonwealth's Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program (referred to as the "I-Cubed" program).

The report provides some explanation. "The I-Cubed program provides a mechanism for funding public infrastructure associated with economic development projects. It relies on new state tax revenues derived primarily from new jobs associated with the project to pay debt service on the bonds which are issued by the Commonwealth to fund the infrastructure." The application is for future development in the NorthPoint area.

Manager's Agenda #38. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an update on the Cambridge Conversations: Preliminary Summary of Process and Input.

The report covers only the initial "conversations" phase of the larger "Master Plan" process and mainly consists of a compilation of impressions expressed by residents. Some have suggested that the whole process may take several years.

Manager's Agenda #39. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to actions I am taking in light of the July 16, 2014 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in the case of Merit Construction Alliance v. City of Quincy as it relates to the Responsible Employer Ordinance.

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor to determine if there are other options for requiring apprenticeship programs and to report back to the City Council with a legal opinion on how to proceed in ensuring these programs remain part of the Cambridge Employment Plan.   Councillor McGovern and Councillor Simmons

The Order is in response to the fact that the court decision renders some of the City's legally mandated apprentice programs unenforceable. Ideally, voluntary compliance with the intent of that law could still provide the same benefits.

Manager's Agenda #41. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to proposed amendment to Chapter 6.04 of the Cambridge Municipal Code (the "Animal Control Regulations").

Those who fail to scoop the poop may soon have to pick up or pay more. Other proposed changes include giving Ranger Jean at Fresh Pond the authority to enforce all aspects of the Animal Control Regulations. Does this include speeding, lane violations, or failure to yield to smaller dogs?

Unfinished Business #8. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk's Office transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee for a public hearing held on June 24, 2014 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code entitled "Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance." The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after July 14, 2014.

This matter was passed to a 2nd Resolution at the June 30 meeting and is now in the queue for ordination. As this is not an especially onerous regulation, it could well be voted and approved at this meeting.

Resolution #11. Resolution on the death of Seth Teller.   Councillor Toomey

I knew Seth primarily via email and only met him briefly a few times. In addition to being a popular professor at MIT, he was recently very involved in organizing opposition to the proposed redevelopment of the former Courthouse building at 40 Thorndike Street (which will have its next hearing at the Planning Board on Tues, July 29). People who involve themselves in Cambridge civic affairs may often line up on opposite sides of an issue, but they are all players on the same field. When someone dies so unexpectedly, it leaves a void that crosses all lines.

Resolution #36. Resolution on the death of Kensley David.   Vice Mayor Benzan

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to devise and implement a system that will require the City to publicize and convene a community meeting within 72 hours of any catastrophic event - including but not limited to murders, shootings, or other similar episodes - that could impact public safety or the perception of public safety.   Councillor Simmons

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Police Commissioner and report back to the City Council and the community on the specific number of additional police officers that will be assigned to patrol Area IV neighborhoods, whether this increased police presence will be in place through the winter months, and what other additional measures will be undertaken by the Police Department in Area IV.   Councillor Simmons

Kensley David was the young man who was recently murdered on Windsor Street. The two Orders are in response to this tragedy.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to resume negotiations with Mr. Fawcett regarding the Whittemore Avenue Community Garden and to explore the possibility of securing this space by eminent domain.   Councillor Carlone

Many of us would love to see this community garden restored and made a permanent part of the city's inventory of community gardens. It's worth mentioning, however, that over the years there have been a number of such community gardens on private property that were voluntarily made available to residents thanks to the generosity of the property owners. One such garden on Putnam Ave. some years ago was at the center of a controversy when new housing was proposed for that lot. Would that property owner have ever made the lot available for a community garden if he knew that one day it would prevent other uses on that lot? Let's hope that in the present case some mutually acceptable agreement can be reached.

Order #4. That the City Council go on record affirming its support for the preservation of the Silver Maple Forest.   Councillor Carlone

Yeah, sure, let's have another resolution. Many of us would like to see open space like this preserved, but these orders are getting tiresome. It's interesting that the language of the Order is directed toward the property owner "sending him our warmest regards" but also calling for taking "any and all legal steps necessary to prevent the City from providing any water or sewer connections to the proposed Silver Maple Forest development site". That's something of a mixed message. The "Silver Maple Forest" is the 15.6 acre site of a controversial development project along Acorn Park Drive in the Alewife area located at the intersection of Cambridge, Belmont, and Arlington.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City departments regarding the loss of on-street parking spaces as well as the loss of a handicap parking space in Municipal Lot #8 as a result of the reconstruction/reconfiguration of Western Avenue.   Councillor Toomey

My greatest concern about the Western Avenue reconfiguration has been that in order to accommodate bicycles on the sidewalk it would lead to dangerously narrowed lanes in the roadway that would endanger those of us who prefer to cycle on the roadway rather than on the sidewalk. There is still much work to be done before the road is completed, but recent visits have only confirmed my fears. This roadway will be worse for both motor vehicles and bicycles, and I fully expect less safety for pedestrians, bicycles, and motor vehicles.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to work with community experts, local universities and the Cambridge Water Department to produce a research study determining the possible harmfully effects of continuing to fluoridate the city’s water supply.   Councillor Mazen

I don't really know that fluoride is needed in the water supply in this day and age when every toothpaste has all the fluoride needed to provide any necessary dental health benefits. That said, I do love the alarmist language in the order like "adding industrial-grade fluoride chemicals to the public water supply". The Order calls for a research study but already contains the conclusions that "Fluoride is classified by the FDA as a drug, not a nutrient, with many side effects and known neurotoxicity and therefore it is not appropriate to add to a city's water supply" and "More than 33 studies have reported an association between fluoride drinking water concentration and reduced IQ." Having consumed lots and lots of fluoridated water over the last 59 years, I can only imagine how brilliant I might have been had I only abstained from consuming this toxic beverage known as water.

Order #17. That the City Manager is requested to form an advisory committee comprised of residents, business leaders and planning professionals to advise the City Manager and staff on ways to improve the Planning Board process while also determining ways to make the special permit process more understandable and transparent to the public and look for opportunities to provide greater public involvement and engagement.   Mayor Maher, Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor McGovern and Councillor Simmons

This is, in my opinion, the real centerpiece of this meeting's agenda. The Carlone Petition introduced at the June 30 meeting would politicize all Special Permit development projects over a certain size. It's a dreadful proposal. There is, however, a perception in some quarters that the current Planning Board procedures for hearings and decisions on Special Permits do not permit adequate public review and input. Whether true or not, this Order proposes that the City Manager form an advisory committee comprised of residents, business leaders and planning professionals to advise the City Manager and staff on ways to improve the Planning Board process. One simple revision that would make a lot of sense would simply be to have a proponent first bring in a concept and solicit public input prior to coming in with a fully-designed development proposal. Subsequent meetings would then benefit from this early feedback from the public.

If the City Council has any wisdom at all, they will pass this Order and ask that the City Manager move quickly to form this advisory committee and propose useful procedural changes at the Planning Board (which may soon see one or more new members). This could make things better for both residents and Planning Board members. This would be far better than disempowering the Planning Board and turning every development proposal into political theater before the City Council.

Order #19. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and reach out to the principals at Vecna to work with them and assist the company with its plan to create new retail and open space opportunities which could significantly add to the vitality of this growing area of Cambridgepark Drive.   Mayor Maher

One of the most positive trends I've noticed over the last year or two is that ground-floor retail is being regularly characterized as a community benefit. It wasn't all that long ago that only open space and "affordable housing" were seen as community benefits. Nowadays there is a lot of emphasis put on "place making" and that's a very good development.

Order #20. That the City of Cambridge joins with our fellow citizens, municipalities and elected officials across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in calling for a boycott of Market Basket stores in the spirit of unity with current and former employees of Market Basket   Mayor Maher

As a regular Market Basket shopper, I do hope there's some kind of resolution soon. However, I don't think it's good that elected officials or elected bodies are calling for boycotts. That's a decision best left to individuals.

Order #23. That the City Manager is requested to confer with all appropriate departments and explore the feasibility of creating a Cambridge City Youth Council that will represent the youth population of the city and serve as an advisory board to the City Council.   Councillor Cheung

I thought we already had such an advisory board - the Kids' Council. Their charge may be to coordinate services relevant to Cambridge youth, but advising the City Council could be added to that charge. Having a new, separate group seems a bit redundant. Modifying the existing Kids' Council seems like a simpler and more effective idea.

Order #24. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Cambridge Community Development Department on the feasibility of producing a Cambridge Sustainability Plan with stated priority goals to complement Cambridge's Master Plan.   Councillor Cheung

I'm inclined to say that the policy goals contained in the Growth Policy Document (1992) coupled with the 2006 update is the Cambridge Sustainability Plan and it's a pretty good one. I would expect a few revisions to grow out of the next process but it's not like we have to revert to Square One.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee for a public hearing held on June 11, 2014 to explore the way forward for a shared use with a rail and trail path along the Grand Junction Corridor.

All good ideas, so let's get things moving. I would especially like to see some fresh ideas on how best to connect to the Somerville Community Path.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk's Office, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee for a public hearing held on July 2, 2014 to discuss the Timothy R. Flaherty, et al. zoning petition requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge to expand the Medical Marijuana Overlay District, MMD-1 to encompass 61 Mooney Street.

No comment - just the observation that Planning Board report has been received and with the Ordinance Committee report this matter could now be moved to a 2nd Reading putting it in the queue for ordination in September.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Leland Cheung transmitting information on The Rush to Build Walkable Urban Grocery Stores.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey Jr. regarding his appeal of a public records denial with the Division of Capital and Asset Management and Maintenance regarding the sale price of the Sullivan Courthouse.

Both of these communication have a relationship to the Legatt McCall proposal to redevelop the former Courthouse building at 40 Thorndike St. One of the benefits touted by the developer would be a new neighborhood grocery store to be located on the ground level of the First Street Garage. Regarding the sale price of the Courthouse property, I doubt whether that will be made known until the final transfer of title has taken place. As of this past Tuesday, no papers had been passed. It was anticipated that the transaction would be completed soon after the prisoners were evacuated from the jail and that took place last month. Perhaps we'll learn more at the July 29 Planning Board hearing. - Robert Winters

Comments?

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! - August 2014

recycling symbol

Household Hazardous Waste Day 8/23
Can You Fix Stuff? Volunteer at Cambridge Repair Café
Free Workshop - Reduce Food Waste & Compost 8/25
Do Something Super with Unwanted Furniture 8/27-9/3
Old Appliance Tips and Free Power Strips!
22-CityView Inside Features Cambridge Recycling

Household Hazardous Waste Day 8/23

The next HHW collection is Saturday August 23 from 9am-1pm at the Parking Lot on Field St at Fern St by Danehy Park. Cambridge residents only, bring proof of residency. We accept auto fluids, batteries (non alkaline), car tires, glues, medications, mercury items, paint products, solvents, and propane tanks (20 lbs or less). If the product label includes the words POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION, bring to HHW day. Click here for more info including alternative options and what you can bring to the Recycling Center during open hours. Last HHW Day for 2014 is October 4. Property Managers: If you’re bringing more than 25 pounds or 25 gallons from a Cambridge residential building or if you have no proof of residency, please email recycle@cambridgema.gov in advance.

Can You Fix Stuff? Volunteer at Cambridge Repair Café

We’re looking for people who can fix electrical appliances, musical instruments, jewelry, furniture, bikes and other household items.  Please click here if you have repair skills and can volunteer your time and share your skills for 4 hours on Saturday 9/27 from 10am-2pm, and thank you!

The Cambridge Repair Café is Saturday September 27th from 10am-2pm at the Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender St. Free and open to the public. What to do with a chair when a leg is loose? With a toaster that no longer works? Or a sweater with moth holes? Toss it? No way! You can repair it at Repair Café! Repair things together, receive expert advice, meet each other, be inspired and save money. This is a joint project of the Cambridge Public Works Department, Cambridge Recycling Advisory Committee, Cambridge Public Schools Office of Sustainability, Green Cambridge, Community Development Department, Cambridge Community Center, and more! More Info: Facebook.com/CambridgeRepairCafe.

Free Workshop - Reduce Food Waste & Compost 8/25

Monday, August 25, 6pm, Water Department, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway, meet at front entrance. Learn your options to compost food scraps, and ways to reduce food waste. We’ll review best practices for outdoor composting, indoor composting with worms, and options for drop-off and bicycle pickup. Recycling food scraps and making soil is extremely rewarding, benefits your garden and house plants and helps to curb climate change! Reducing food waste is also incredibly important considering that Americans waste more than 40% of the food we produce for consumption. That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion. For more info on composting, click here. To RSVP please email recycle@cambridgema.gov.

Do Something Super with Unwanted Furniture 8/27-9/3

Moving September 1st and can’t take it all? Plan ahead and arrange a free pick up from inside your home with the Coalition for the Homeless on 8/27, 8/28, 8/29, 9/2 or 9/3. Items must be clean and usable. Someone’s gonna love your stuff.  Email pictures of your good-condition furniture to donations@mahomeless.org and include your address, phone number and put “Cambridge Pickup” in the subject line. They take kitchen tables & chairs, couches & sofa chairs, ottomans, hutches, end tables, coffee tables, bed frames, dressers, bookshelves, cabinets, rugs, lamps, dishes, pots & pans, and blankets & linens. Your donation helps low-income and formerly homeless families furnish their apartments at no cost to them. **Also, we’re thrilled to announce that beginning this September, the Coalition will schedule pickups in Cambridge for the last Friday and the first Monday of every month, except holidays. For more info and other options, visit CambridgeMA.Gov/Furniture.

Old Appliance Tips and Free Power Strips!

Residents can schedule and pay for the pickup of large items/appliances online. This includes air conditioners, dehumidifiers, dryers, exercise equipment, freezers, lawnmowers, refrigerators, stoves, washers, water coolers & heaters, and more! For electronics, know that you can save the City money and take back TVs and computers to retailers including Best Buy, Staples, Apple and Radio Shack.

Cambridge renters: complete this City survey and receive a free 7-socket smart power strip, a $30 value! These devices automatically eliminate wasteful standby power, saving money and energy. A widescreen TV plugged into it can save $140/year. If you’re going on vacation unplug appliances that use standby power and turn off your air conditioner off.  Also, check out these great energy savings tips for spring and summer.

22-CityView Inside Features Cambridge Recycling

In case you missed it, 22-Cityview Inside recently interviewed Cambridge Recycling Director Randi Mail. Check it out at http://youtu.be/w1XQg-55GdE. Ms. Mail talks about the curbside compost pilot program, drop off sites for food scraps, tips to reduce food waste, donating furniture to the Coalition for the Homeless, the upcoming Repair Café on 9/27 and more!


  • Missed recycling or trash? Please use iReport or call DPW at 617-349-4800 no later than 12 noon the day after collection to make a request. During winter, clear snow to curb so that collection crews can access your trash barrels and recycling toters and they are not behind snow banks. For more click here. Thank you!
  • Request for toters, brochures, stickers or posters? Use our online form.
  • "Like" the Cambridge DPW on Facebook.
  • During holidays weeks, trash, recycling and yard waste collection is delayed one day. Check the 2014 collection schedule online for full details.

Take the 50% recycling pledge today at www.cambridgema.gov/recycle and get a free sticker!
Recycle More. Trash Less.

Master Plans and Monkey Wrenches - June 30, 2014 Cambridge City Council Agenda

The curtain falls tonight on the FY2014 Fiscal Year as the City Council enters its Summer Recess - but not without a little controversy. Councillor Dennis "Pearl Harbor" Carlone is the first signer of a new zoning petition that is almost guaranteed to bring some fireworks in advance of the July 4 holiday. The petition has near zero chance of ultimately passing but stands out prominently in its disrespect for the Planning Board, the Community Development Department, and previous Cambridge City Councils who have passed a variety of zoning petitions with detailed Special Permit criteria spelled out to guide the Planning Board in the granting of Special Permits under the Zoning Ordinance.

Monkey WrenchApplications & Petitions #5. A zoning petition has been filed by Dennis Carlone, et al. requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge to designate the City Council as the exclusive special permit granting authority for Project Review Special Permits.

The intent of this petition appears to be to enact an effective 30-month moratorium on all larger proposed developments in Cambridge by turning each project into a political football. Except for Councillors Carlone and Mazen (first and last signers), the signers of the petition consist almost entirely of principal players of the Cambridge Residents Alliance who have made no secret of their desire to enact such a moratorium. The essential component of the petition is the transfer of Project Review Special Permit authority from the Planning Board (where there is substantial professional expertise) to the City Council. Anyone who has ever witnessed the Planning Board working together to devise detailed conditions on the granting of a Special Permit should now imagine what this process might look like if conducted by the City Council as they play to the favor of their various political supporters. I shudder to think of it.

Fortunately, it appears that this misguided proposal has the support of only the two city councillors who signed it. Ideally, the City Council would just vote it down and declare it Dead On Arrival, but it's possible that it may be formally referred to the Planning Board and the Ordinance Committee (co-chaired by Carlone) so that it can receive a proper funeral. As a zoning petition, it would require 6 of 9 city councillors to support it and that's pretty much an impossibility unless they start lacing the Kool-Aid with hallucinogens.

Meanwhile the initial phase (Cambridge Conversations) of the upcoming review and possible revision of the City's existing master plans has been met with expressions of satisfaction from most members of the public. Perhaps this is why Carlone and Company have chosen to toss a monkey wrench into the process. Political organizing thrives so much more when wrapped in controversy.

Communications #6. A communication was received from Rick Snedeker, 107 Clifton Street regarding a request for a Special Act Charter for Cambridge that does not include Proportional Representation.

This is included primarily for comic relief. This Snedeker fellow has now written a series of letters to the Cambridge Chronicle detailing his hostility regarding the structure of Cambridge city government and the way municipal elections are conducted. He believes that having 90% of ballots count toward the election of city councillors is more disenfranchising than a winner-take-all election where often fewer than 50% of ballots count toward the election of a candidate. That's interesting math. He would have elections of ward councillors by simple plurailty vote with no runoffs or primary elections. This installment from Snedeker also calls for the Mayor and City Council to be able to dismiss any City department head by a simple majority vote. I can only imagine the thrilling City Council meetings when a department head says something not to the liking of the elected councillors.

Communications #11. Sundry communications were received regarding the East Cambridge Courthouse.

There are 38 individual signed letters plus an additional 74 petition signatures in support of the proposed redevelopment of the Courthouse building. The prisoners are now out of the East Cambridge Courthouse and the transfer of the property from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to Legatt McCall, the chosen developer, is imminent. While there is clear opposition to the proposed redevelopment from many residents, it's pretty clear that this is not a unanimously held position. The Planning Board is expected to make a decision on the Special Permit for the 40 Thorndike Street proposal at its July 29 meeting (to be held in East Cambridge, most likely at the Kennedy-Longfellow School). Regardless what the Planning Board decides, it is very likely that lawsuits will follow.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk's Office transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee and Councillor Nadeem A. Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration Committee for a joint public meeting held on June 25, 2014 to discuss the ongoing out of school/STEAM working group research.

I'm sure the participants at this meeting meant well and I think we all want to see some good programs developed in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM). The report, however, is remarkable in some of its convoluted quotes. Some of my favorites are these: "Councillor Mazen explained that it's important for one subgroup to track other subgroup. People in this subgroup should ask other subgroups: Are we talking around the subject or are we addressing it?" and "Councillor Mazen confessed he isn't opposed to having another subgroup but he feels that this can fall into other subgroups and can also be discussed by each subgroup." and "Councillor Mazen said he hoped next time will be an opportunity for everybody to work more circularly about a coordinator position".

Exactly how does one "work more circularly?" Does it involve beating around the bush? I'll have to consult with my subgroup about this. - Robert Winters

Note: Due to construction in the Sullivan Chamber, this City Council meeting will take place in the Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room at 459 Broadway (CRLS).

Comments?

2014 SUMMER/FALL EVENTS -- Magazine Beach Park

Magazine Beach Park is located on the Charles River at the foot of Magazine St., Cambridge, MA.

Plenty for all...this summer & fall

Sun, Aug 31
Bread & Puppet Theater
August 31, 3-4pm. Vermont’s famous rabble-rousers perform their outdoor “Circus.” FREE. Rain location TBA. Sponsored in part by Cambridge Arts.
Sat & Sun, Oct 18-19
Head of Charles Regatta
8am-5pm | Fabulous vantage point for viewing and cheering world-class rowers in this iconic race.
Bring a picnic. FREE.
November
Cambridge Arts Exhibit
Magazine Beach Exhibit | Views of a Changing Public Resource. Cambridge Arts - Gallery 344, 344 Broadway. FREE.

For news & event updates: www.magazinebeach.org -- In case of rain, check event updates on our website.

June 9 - This week Cambridge received the Congress of New Urbanism Charter Award, regarded as the preeminent global award for excellence in urban design.

MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989
By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990

MAPC Study: 435,000 new housing units needed by 2040

A new report is estimating that the greater Boston area will need another 435,000 new housing units by 2040 to lure new workers and accommodate an aging population. [Reports available here]

Note: When comparing the peak population of Cambridge back in the 1950s (over 120,000) to what it is today (perhaps 107,000) it's important to keep in mind that families were typically much larger then. It's also the case that what people find acceptable in terms of living space and amenities has changed dramatically over six decades. This translates into considerably more "units" of housing (and higher density) in Cambridge if the population should rise to levels close to what they were in days of yore.


K2C2 Final Reports Released

K2C2 areaThe final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.

Community Development Department

Kendall Square Central Square Planning Study (K2C2)

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.

Comments?


Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

Cambridge Challenges Somerville to the Ice Bucket (Aug 20, 2014)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 79 and 80 with Terry Smith (Aug 19, 2014)

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Aug 17, 2014)

2013 Cambridge City Council Campaign Finance Receipts - Jan 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014 (updated Aug 16, 2014)

Campaign Finance – 2013 Cambridge City Council candidates (May 25, 2013, updated Aug 16, 2014)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 77 and 78 with Patty Nolan (Aug 5, 2014)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 75 and 76 with Brian Corr (July 29, 2014)

Mayor David Maher Announces Fire Relief Fund for Victims of Allston Street Fire (July 29, 2014)

Midsummer Night’s Distraction – July 28, 2014 Cambridge City Council Agenda (July 27, 2014)

Master Plans and Monkey Wrenches – June 30, 2014 Cambridge City Council Agenda (June 30, 2014)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher (June 10, 2014)

Master Plan Mythology and other Big Items on the Apr 7, 2014 City Council Agenda (Apr 7, 2014)

MBTA Role in Cambridge Center Project – Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989 (Feb 13, 2014)

Cambridge School Committee 2013 Campaign Finance Summaries (Nov 3, 2013, updated Feb 8, 2014)

K2C2 Final Reports Released (Dec 31, 2013)

The Advent of PR in Cambridge (Nov 10, 2013)

Completing the Square (June 11, 2013)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes (June 8, 2013)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2013) - the April Fool's Day edition

On becoming a True Cantabrigian (Dec 29, 2012)

Enjoying? the Concord Avenue "raised bike lanes" (Dec 3, 2012 by John Allen)

Cycle track disease is contagious! (Nov 14, 2012 by John Allen)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, Initial Years, 1963 to 1982 (July 12, 2012)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area – Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (Apr 5, 2012)

Specific issues with Western Avenue project (posted Nov 3, 2010 by John Allen)

Western Avenue proposal: ill-considered (posted Oct 27, 2010 by John Allen)

“Cycle track”: a sidewalk by another name (posted Aug 11, 2010, letter of Paul Schimek)

Comments on Cambridge’s Western Avenue project (posted June 22, 2010 by John Allen)

The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998


April 2, 2013 - Well, that was fun. Thanks to everyone for being such a sport on April Fool's Day.

Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)

Introduction: Memorandum from the Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 on its Final Recommendations
Full Report (reformatted in HTML) Goals
Public Places to Build Community Public Places elements
Retail, Cultural and Non-Profit Diversity Housing
Connecting People to the Square Foster a Sustainable Future for Central Square
Leverage Future Private and Public Investments Definition of Central Square Districts
Zoning Recommendations Transfer of Development Rights
Transportation Recommendations Location Specific Issues
Comments?

The Neverending Study of Central Square

Aug 11, 2012 - While preparing to write a series of essays on Central Square, I put together the following list of Central Square studies culled from a variety of sources. I have originals for most of these. If you know of any others, please let me know. - Robert Winters

Feb 1980 - CDD report entitled "Central Square - Commercial Area Revitalization District

June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square

Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)

1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)

Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan

1989 - Draft Central Square Development Guidelines

May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"

Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!

Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)

May 1995 - Central Square Improvements Project, Master Plan Report

May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)

May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"

Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study

Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)

Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)

June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)

2009 - CDD Central Square Customer Intercept Survey Report

2011 - Central Square Market Profile

2011 - Red Ribbon Commission Study Report

2012 - Goody/Clancy report and recommendations

2013 - K2C2 Final Reports


THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik (33½ minutes)

FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee

City Council Rules 2010-2011 (adopted January 4, 2010 and amended April 5, 2010)

City Council Goals - FY2010-2011 (approved February 2, 2009)

City Council Committees (for the 2010-2010 term)


School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)

School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)


June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).

I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:

These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization and I'm tempted to say that some should be incorporated into the recently adopted City Council's Goals for FY2010 (adopted Feb 2, 2009). In fact, of the 22 current goals, the only one that comes close is: "An increased level of recruitment and opportunities for membership on boards and commissions." The current Council goals emphasize things like "fostering community" via block parties and such, though one has to wonder if the City should be promoting these activities or just getting out of the way so that people can foster community on their own. The goals also seem to put some emphasis on developing "successful nightlife campaigns" while mentioning nothing about promoting ordinary "daytime" economic activity that supports the everyday needs of residents.

One founding principle of the CCA that fell into disuse over the years is listed above as #3: To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs. Indeed, I can personally testify to the fact that in its dying years the only reason the CCA made endorsements at all was because the CCA-endorsed incumbents wanted the benefit of having an advertised CCA slate of candidates that would help secure their reelection. There was precious little effort to recruit new candidates or to support them. Today, the benefits of incumbency are greater than ever. The cost of political campaigns have become absurdly high and most of the incumbents now have (City paid) staff who are inevitably political appointees who directly or indirectly assist in the reelection efforts of their bosses. The deck is increasingly stacked against challengers. Furthermore, the salary and benefits for elected councillors are now so sweet that it is unlikely that any of them would ever want to move on to another job.

With this background in mind, I would like to encourage all Cambridge residents to help level the playing field by finding out about this year's challengers for seats on the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge School Committee. This is not meant as a dig against any particular incumbent as much as an appeal to support the challengers in what is a difficult and laudable effort. Please see the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the current list of expected candidates. Then use your own judgment - don't expect me or anyone else to do it for you.

Speaking of this year's municipal election, there are some activists who are now expending great effort to attack the City Manager and most of the current City Council. That is not nor has it ever been the intention of the Cambridge Civic Journal or its editor. Candidates are now being seduced by financial promises from one angry fellow with a Brattle Street address and a basketful of grudges. Former CCA Executive Board members from its darkest and most manipulative days are oozing up from the civic swamp trying to at last make good on their failed campaigns of the early 1990s to oust city manager Bob Healy.

It's entertaining to watch people who have primarily earned disrespect in their civic efforts try to capitalize on the recent Monteiro jury decision as a means of realizing their decades-old vendettas. Conveniently forgotten in their recent letters to Cambridge's "oldest weekly newspaper" are the many achievements of City Manager Bob Healy, the strong financial position of the City, and the recent 8-1 vote of confidence bestowed upon Mr. Healy in granting him a three year contract extension. Also missing in this testimony is the fact that virtually all affirmative action in the hiring of employees and department heads has taken place on Mr. Healy's watch. These letters also fail to divulge how long these writers have been carrying their jealousy and anger toward Mr. Healy for actually orchestrating progress in Cambridge while the best they could ever do is snipe from the sidelines. - Robert Winters


This Old Land of Cambridge - The true story of the geological history of Cambridge - by George Ehrenfried
Sadly, George passed away (Jan 5, 2010) at the age of 96. He led many a geology-themed hike with the AMC Local Walks/Hikes.

Selected City of Cambridge References:

Plan E Charter (Cambridge's city charter) Acts of 1921, Chapter 239 as amended (establishment of Cambridge Election Commission)

Mass. General Laws Chapter 54A (governing Cambridge's PR elections)

Pen Portraits of Prominent People - by Henry J. Mahoney Editor, Cambridge Sentinel - 1923

This book was published c. 1923 and features very witty one-page “pen portraits” (with photo) of prominent Cantabrigians of the day. I'll be adding names alphabetically as time permits. There are 182 portraits in the book.

It comes to mind that there may be some value in expanding these profiles to other prominent Cantabrigians who arrived on the scene after 1923, including prominent Cantabrigians of today. With this in mind, I extend the invitation to any and all who may wish to contribute their own “pen portraits” of Cambridge people. Contributions do not necessarily have to be in the style of Mr. Mahoney. Inclusion is, as always, subject to the erratic discretion of the editor.

Special thanks to Karen Welch for sending me the book. - RW


Political History of Cambridge in the 20th Century
written by Glenn Koocher, November 2004 -- edited by Robert Winters, July 2006
 
[An alternate edit of this essay will appear, along with many other valuable essays, in a
centennial volume to be published by the Cambridge Historical Society in 2007.
]

Which People's Republic
written by Bill Cunningham, 1999


Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for people who can give one to two hours per week to help students in the Cambridge Public Schools, grades K through 12. No experience necessary. Call 617-349-6794 or e-mail csv@cpsd.us for more details.

Oliver Wendell Holmes – Morning Exercises of December 28, 1880
As recorded in the book 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Cambridge (1881)


 
Robert Winters
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
 
Philosophy of the CCJ Editor
 
faces
The Cambridge Civic Journal is an independent newsletter of civic affairs in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published as a public service by Central Square Publications. All items are written by Robert Winters unless otherwise noted. [Of course, I do sometimes forget.]

Thoughts for these times:
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz

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“The Number One thing I would emphasize is that journalists and bloggers would do well to see themselves as partners in the provision of information and that each can benefit greatly from the other. I’ve never seen this as a competition. It is especially true these days that local papers and young journalists are not very well-versed in the communities they serve. Much of the institutional memory has either died out or been bought out.” -- Robert Winters, mathematician and creator of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online publication about Cambridge, MA (rwinters.com)

Jorkin: “Come, come, Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”

Fezziwig: “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business, Mr. Jorkin…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must.”

Scrooge: “I think I know what Mr. Fezziwig means, sir.”

Jorkin: “Oh, you hate progress and money, too, do you?”

Scrooge: “I don't hate them, sir, but perhaps the machines aren’t such a good thing for mankind, after all.”

Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"



the known universe
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