Taking a Break - Preview of June 27, 2016 Cambridge City Council agenda

This will be the last regular meeting of the City Council before the summer break. They won't reconvene until the Special Midsummer Meeting on August 1. Here are a few items that I found at least somewhat interesting.

859 Mass. Ave.
859 Massachusetts Avenue

Manager's Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $750,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Extraordinary Expenditures account to pay for design services for the building located at 859 Massachusetts Avenue and a feasibility study for municipal facilities. [The interesting part is the statement that "The renovation project at 859 Massachusetts Avenue is estimated to cost approximately $5 million."]

I am curious about the costs. I can perhaps understand the $750,000 price tag if this includes a feasibility study for a range of municipal facilities (as opposed to just for this one building). What I cannot grasp is the statement: "The renovation project at 859 Massachusetts Avenue is estimated to cost approximately $5 million." Sure, as a municipal facility it will have to be made fully handicap accessible, and a lot of reconfiguration will be necessary for its new use. That said, it seems as though you could knock it down and build an entirely new building for well under $5 million. This estimate works out to nearly $1000 per sq. ft. I do hope at least one city councillor asks for some explanation of this estimated cost.

Manager's Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item 16-29, regarding the implementation of the C2 non-zoning recommendations. [Report]

This update does include some timeframes for some of the more achievable and generally acceptable goals, but the involvement of the Central Square Advisory Committee (CSAC) in helping to shape this has been hampered by staff changes at CDD. Hopefully this will be resolved soon, and perhaps the CSAC may be useful in facilitating additional public dialogue. Lest the perfect become the enemy of the good, some of the more controversial and difficult-to-achieve stuff can probably wait. Meanwhile, a new zoning petition to implement some of the more universally acceptable C2 zoning recommendations is expected later this year.

Manager's Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a communication from the Affordable Housing Trust relative to the Inclusionary Housing Study. [Report]

This is a great statement of support from the Affordable Housing Trust, but it's still not so easy to see how the economics of the proposed changes would work without at least some adjustment of the density bonus to cover the additional costs associated with increasing the inclusionary housing requirement to a full 20% of a new residential building.

Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Healthy Pharms Inc., to amend the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Overlay district section 20.700 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance and Map.

You had to know this and other similar petitions were coming when the most recent borderline spot zoning change was made for the vicinity of Ellery St. and Mass. Ave. (Sage Cannabis). At some point the City Council will have to take a more comprehensive look at the Medical Marijuana Overlay district section of the Zoning Code instead of taking these one petition at a time. It may make more sense to just eliminate that section entirely and delegate the regulation of these facilities to the License Commission or other appropriate agency.

Resolutions #1-16. Congratulations to students elected for 2016-2017 to the CRLS student government and as representatives to the School Committee.

The CRLS student government voted earlier this year to use Ranked Choice Voting (and Proportional Representation) in their elections. I had the honor of tabulating the votes for them using the same software that the City of Cambridge uses in its municipal elections. Congratulations to all the winners!

Order #1. Declare that the five black marble slabs that comprise the perimeter of the Prince Hall Monument, which were mined in Africa and now are located upon the historic Cambridge Common, represent the more than 5,000 Black men who helped fight for this country’s independence during the Revolutionary War.   Mayor Simmons

This is one of the reasons I really love Mayor Simmons. She knows and cares about history - especially local history. It was Mayor Simmons who several years ago was responsible for bringing the Prince Hall Monument to the Cambridge Common.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council regarding the feasibility of the City of Cambridge filing its own home rule petition regarding reduced speed limits in thickly settled areas in conjunction with the City of Boston’s current efforts.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux, Councillor Cheung

Boston and Cambridge filing Home Rule petitions to be able to adjust some speed limits is not the ideal way to do this. What is really needed is for the Massachusetts Legislature to amend the Massachusetts General Laws so that there are more distinctions than just "thickly settled areas" in determining local speed limits. For example, a one-way street that is parked on both sides with a relatively narrow travel lane (like many Cambridge streets) should be declared a "neighborhood street" (or something like that), and it should have a speed limit of no more than 20-25 mph. There are other streets that by their very geometry should also be put in this category without having to carry out a detailed traffic study to justify the reduced speed. This should be established statewide. The 30 mph standard is still perfectly fine for many streets. All of Cambridge is "thickly settled", but not all roads in Cambridge can safely accommodate the same speeds.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to work with the appropriate departments to determine the feasibility of implementing a truck ban on Prospect Street during certain times of the day, or to otherwise mitigate the impact of the trucks utilizing this street.   Mayor Simmons

Heavy truck traffic on Prospect Street (except for local deliveries) has been banned for a long time.

Order #10. That the proposed addition to Title 6, entitled “Animals,” regarding the restriction on the sale of animals in pet shops be referred to the Ordinance Committee for a public hearing.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Carlone

Many people choose to seek pets from local shelters, but it's really wrongheaded to unfairly restrict the ways a person can obtain a pet. The proposed ordinance would require that "A pet shop may offer for sale only those birds, mammals, or reptiles that the pet shop has obtained from or displays in cooperation with... an animal care facility... or... an animal rescue organization." A simpler ordinance would simply require that any such sales be accompanied by appropriate documentation of the source of the animal up for adoption/sale.

Not on the Agenda, but important:
This past Thursday (June 23), a Cambridge cyclist (Amanda Phillips) was killed on Cambridge Street near Inman Square. The indications are that the cyclist was riding close enough to parked cars that when a driver opened a car door into the path of the cyclist this caused her to fall to the street where she was then fatally struck by a motor vehicle. The incident was eerily similar to a incident in July 2001 when a woman (Dana Laird) was killed in Central Square. (My photos of that day were actually subpoenaed in the subsequent civil case.) Though there are some serious issues associated with traffic safety in Inman Square (especially for cyclists and pedestrians), this fatality is not directly related to those issues. This could just as well have happened elsewhere. Is there anything that can be done to prevent such an incident in the future?

There is no one right answer to this question. For starters, cyclists should never ride close to parked cars. Motor vehicle operators should always check and double-check before opening doors into a travel lane. Some will argue that the only solution is to move all cyclists off the roads so that they become the sole domain of motor vehicles. I disagree. There is a place for separate facilities, such as twisting roads and places where there is a great speed differential between bikes and motor vehicles (like along Memorial Drive or any DCR parkway), but in a local setting the best streets are still shared streets where all vehicles are clearly visible to each other. We have to do a much better job of educating cyclists and motor vehicle operators about how to safely operate their vehicles.

There was also another murder (Anthony Clay, 49) in The Port on Friday night/Saturday morning on Harvard Street across from Greene-Rose Park. This neighborhood, and especially the area on or near Windsor Street has been the site of several murders over the last few years. We're all hoping for justice to be served in this latest murder, but at what point do we say "Enough is Enough"? We can "Envision Cambridge" from now until eternity, but it doesn't really mean much when the most basic human right is denied. - Robert Winters


Historical Commission Announces 2016 Preservation Award Recipients

Preservation AwardsThe Cambridge Historical Commission is pleased to announce the recipients of the 20th annual Cambridge Preservation Awards. Inaugurated in 1997, the program celebrates outstanding historic preservation projects and the commitment of the individuals that make Cambridge a more attractive and desirable place in which to live and work.

Charles Sullivan
Charles Sullivan, CHC Exec. Director

This year’s awards ceremony took place on May 25 at the MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Avenue. MIT is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its move to Cambridge and has also recently completed the renovation and restoration of the Simons Building, the Morris and Sophie Chang Building, 195 Albany Street, the MIT Chapel, Kresge Auditorium, and the DuPont Gymnasium.

Winning projects include residential restorations at 194 Franklin Street, 27 Grant Street, and 75 Norfolk Street. The renovation by Just-A-Start of the Bishop Allen Apartments at 70 and 77 Bishop Allen Drive, 51 and 62 Norfolk Street for affordable housing was honored, as was the restoration and renewal of Dunster House by Harvard University. Winning commercial projects are Capital One Café at 24 John F. Kennedy Street for restoration of masonry arches and storefronts; Clover Restaurant at 1326 Massachusetts Avenue, for restoration of its decorative 1913 tile interior; the adaptive re-use of the former MBTA Conductors Building at 112 Mt. Auburn Street as a restaurant space; the restoration and adaptive re-use of the former Hathaway Bakery complex at 33 Richdale Avenue for new apartments near Porter Square; and Verizon’s full restoration of its brick facility at 10 Ware Street.

The Anthony C. Platt Award, which honors a project in a neighborhood conservation district, was awarded to the exterior renovation of a Mansard house at 12-14 Trowbridge Street in the Mid Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District.

Several participants in the Cambridge Community Development Department’s Storefronts-For-All program received Certificates of Merit including retail improvements at Loyal Nine, 660 Cambridge Street; a first floor retail space conversion to dance studio at The Dance Complex, 536 Massachusetts Avenue; and a new restaurant retrofit for Shepard Restaurant at 1 Shepard Street.

Two individuals were honored for their contributions to historic preservation and the community. Jane Rabb was recognized for her commitment to the preservation of her home, a former 1872 stable remodeled in 1919 by noted local architect Lois Lilley Howe. Richard C. Rossi, soon to retire as Cambridge’s City Manager, was honored for his tireless dedication to improving the lives of all Cantabrigians.

The list of award winners, contributing design professionals, contractors, and consultants is available on the website of the Cambridge Historical Commission, www.cambridgema.gov/historic/aboutchc/preservationawards.

Legislature Allows Establishment of Mount Auburn Cemetery: June 23, 1831

ON THIS DAY... ...in 1831, the legislature granted the Massachusetts Horticultural Society permission to purchase land for use as an experimental garden and a rural cemetery. Located on the border of Cambridge and Watertown, the garden failed, but the cemetery became world famous. As the first rural cemetery in America, Mount Auburn pioneered the idea of burying the dead not in urban churchyards but in a beautifully designed, naturalistic landscape on the outskirts of the city. The idea caught on and eventually led to the creation of public parks in metropolitan areas. 180 years after the cemetery was consecrated, the dead are still being laid to rest along Mount Auburn's winding paths, in her wooded dells, and on her gentle hillsides.

Listen to this moment: http://www.massmoments.org/audio/JUNE231%2Em3u

Read more about this moment: http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=183

Visit Mass Moments to search past moments: http://www.massmoments.org

PS - The Open Archives Tour yesterday took us to Mt. Auburn Cemetery. I saw the original deed signed by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (~1840) and heard some fascinating tales associated with the interment of Mary Baker Eddy. This was one of the best Open Archive Tours I have ever attended. Mt. Auburn Cemetery is an incredible place. - RW

“Dear City Manager…” – a Video Letter to the Next Cambridge City Manager

CCTVWhat would you like to say to the next City Manager? What do you want him or her to know about you, your neighborhood, organization, or business? Be part of the Video Letter to the Next City Manager, a project of Cambridge Community Television.

The CCTV recording studio at 438 Massachusetts Avenue will be open on Wednesday, July 20 from 2-6pm for you to record a minute or two of your thoughts. Please let us know you are coming and we will schedule you for a slot: info@cctvcambridge.org or 617-661-6900.

Can't make it on the 20th? Let us know and we will schedule another time.

Be a part of the future of Cambridge!

Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities Vacancies
Application Deadline Extended to July 22, 2016

Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking persons interested in serving on the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) advisory board. Made up of 11 Members who serve three-year terms in a volunteer capacity, the CCPD board meets on the second Thursday of every month at 5:30pm.

CCPD seeks to build a membership that reflects the cultural and racial diversity of the City, is cross-disability in nature and representative of the different geographical areas of the community. Members must be current residents of Cambridge.

City SealCCPD works dynamically to maximize access to all aspects of Cambridge community life for individuals with disabilities, and strives to raise awareness of disability matters, to eliminate discrimination, and to promote equal opportunity for people with all types of disabilities – physical, mental and sensory. CCPD members are expected to work with other members and CCPD staff to fulfill the goals and objectives of the CCPD Ordinance (CMC Chapter 2.96). CCPD members are expected to attend monthly meetings, participate in subcommittees, and work on various short and/or long-term projects, as needed.

For more information, contact Kate Thurman, Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities at ccpd@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4692 (voice) or 617-492-0235 (TTY). Interested persons should submit a letter by Friday, July 22, 2016 describing their relevant experience and the kinds of disability-related issues or projects that interest them (along with a résumé if possible) to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Fax: 617-349-4307
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

City of Cambridge names new Director of Libraries, Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley
Library LogoMcCauley returns to Cambridge to serve as Director of Libraries after building her library career at Northeastern University, the Somerville Public Library and the Santa Monica Public Library for over 17 years.

June 21, 2016 – The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Public Library Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley to serve as Director of Libraries. She replaces Susan Flannery who retired in April. McCauley comes to Cambridge from the Santa Monica Public Library where as Director of Libraries she managed five branches and a staff of over 200 employees.

Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley“Her interests and experience are wide ranging: fostering early literacy and computer literacy; working with dual language learners, low-income populations and teens; and ensuring new immigrants receive the assistance needed for navigating the system,” said Richard C. Rossi, City Manager of the City of Cambridge. “Maria has the knowledge, abilities, and energy to continue the long tradition of excellent leadership for the Cambridge Public Library.”

McCauley began her career at Cambridge Public Library (CPL) in Circulation Services and as a Reference Librarian. She quickly rose through the ranks, showcasing her talents for leadership and innovation in libraries.

“I am thrilled to return to where I first got hooked on a career in libraries-- at the Cambridge Public Library,” said McCauley. “CPL is recognized as a leader in providing outstanding library services for all. I look forward to joining an inspired team of colleagues, volunteers and a diverse city of readers and learners to build upon CPL's important programs and services and to look toward the future.”

The Cambridge Public Library opened in 1889 to provide free access to information for its citizens and currently boasts over 82,000 library card holders and circulates over 1 million books each year at 6 locations.

McCauley will usher in a new era of libraries in Cambridge. She will start her new post on August 23, 2016. CPL will announce an open house to the community at a later date so that Cantabrigians will have a chance to meet their new Director of Libraries in person.

Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley Bio:
Maria McCauley (or Ms. McCauley) has served as Director of Libraries for the City of Santa Monica since 2014. She began her library career 17 years ago at the Cambridge Public Library in Circulation and Reference Services. Over the course of her career, she advanced through several library positions at Northeastern University. Prior to moving to Santa Monica, she served as the Director of Libraries for the City of Somerville and was active in the Minuteman Library Network.

Maria received a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University, a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and is a PhD Candidate at Simmons. She is an elected American Library Association (ALA) Councilor-At-Large. Her research has been published in College & Research Libraries, Library Management and portal.

Hot Town, Summer in the City - Coming up at the June 20, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

City HallHere are a few of the more interesting agenda items this week:

Manager's Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative the transfer of $860,000 within statutory accounts of the Public Investment Fund Extraordinary Expenditure account for the acquisition of two parcels of the Watertown Branch railroad from B&M Corporation for the purpose of creating a future multi-use path and greenway.

The communication doesn't specify exactly which railroad parcels are being purchased, but presumably this includes at least the section adjacent to Fresh Pond. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will soon be constructing the connection to the existing multi-use path in Watertown.

Manager's Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to recommendations from the Outdoor Lighting Task Force that address the potential detrimental impact of outdoor lighting and propose solutions that diminish existing problems and address problems that may be created by new development. [Report][Proposed Ordinance (HTML)]

The Task Force was appointed Dec 2, 2013 and was originally expected to complete its report and draft Ordinance by Spring 2014. It clearly took a lot longer than that with many different iterations of the proposed Ordinance. It's worth noting that the Ordinance will apply not only to new construction but to all properties in Cambridge with several years to bring all properties into compliance with the Ordinance.

Manager's Agenda #6. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the approval and appropriation of an additional One Million, Two Hundred Thirty-Six Thousand, One Hundred Twenty-Five ($1,236,125) Dollars from Free Cash to the General Fund Law Department Travel & Training (Judgment & Damages) account, in order to settle the damages to be paid to the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (the “Chamber”) with regard to the City’s eminent domain taking of the Chamber’s property on June 13, 2016.

This will complete the transaction. No word yet on exactly what use this building will serve.

Manager's Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-48, regarding a report on posting Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) information on the Election Commission website. [Election Commission page on Campaign and Political Finance][OCPF Reports]

Though this makes navigation from the Election Commission website a bit clearer, it's unfortunately still the case that campaign finance reporting for State Representative and State Senate candidates remains very sparse. The need only file periodic reports 8 days before each primary election or general election and at the end of each calendar year. In contrast, municipal candidates in cities the size of Cambridge must maintain depository accounts with reports twice per month. One has to wonder why the reporting requirements are far less frequent for state candidates.

Manager's Agenda #10. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a report on the continued progress on the application for funding under the Commonwealth’s Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program (I-Cubed) for the North Point area of the City. [Report]

As the report states: "The Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program (known as “I-Cubed”) is a Commonwealth program and proven economic development tool that uses new state tax revenues to build public infrastructure in areas that will generate economic and community benefits." In addition: "The I-Cubed infrastructure improvements will reconnect North Point to East Cambridge and jump-start the development of the North Point neighborhood."

Resolution #2. Retirement of Terry Dumas from the Cambridge Housing Authority.   Mayor Simmons

Terry Dumas served as Director of the Planning and Development Department for over 25 years, and as a staff member of the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) for a total of 33 years.

Order #1. That the City of Cambridge stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando, the LGBTQ community, the LatinX community, the Muslim-American community, and all people in this country who reject the kind of violence that has visited far too many communities in recent years.   Councillor Cheung, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

This is a strong statement of solidarity from the City Council, though the last "Whereas" could perhaps have stayed more on point.

Order #3. That a joint hearing of the Public Safety and Housing Committees be formed for the purpose of gathering testimony from stakeholders in the City regarding the impact of short-term rentals on our communities with a view in mind to draft an ordinance that meets the goals outlined above, and to refer that proposed ordinance to the Ordinance Committee at the appropriate time.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Cheung

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a communication from Councillor Craig Kelley, regarding Short-Term Rentals in Cambridge: An Overview of Current Usage and Patterns as well as Policy Recommendations. [Kelley Communication]

The "sharing economy" is evolving and the question of whether to regulate or exactly how to regulate such enterprises as Uber and Airbnb is now coming into focus. Just as some taxi regulations should naturally also apply to Uber, the question of whether frequent Airbnb rentals should be treated the same way as hotels of lodging houses has to be eventually addressed. This is especially true in the case where housing originally built for regular tenancy is now being used effectively like a motel.

Order #8. That the City Council hold a joint meeting of Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration, and the Government Operations committee to discuss different models for campaign finance reform and publicly-funded municipal elections in Cambridge.   Councillor Mazen, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Devereux

Hot on the heels of a recent Order calling for cash prizes for voting (based on some rather shoddy "research"), this week's edition reintroduces an Order from a year or so ago calling for taxpayer-financed local election campaigns. There really isn't any legal way to restrict what a candidate chooses to spend on his or her campaign, so any such program would only apply to those who agree to specified limitations/restrictions. As much as I abhor the stratospheric spending on recent City Council campaigns, my strong sense is that this proposal would open a rather large can of worms. I also don't think it should be imposed without the prior approval of voters.

Order #10. The City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to determine the feasibility of introducing a municipal ID program in the city and respond to any and all community feedback regarding its possible implementation.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

I seriously doubt that the cost of obtaining a state ID is prohibitive, and a state ID would be applicable outside of our small city. A program providing assistance in getting a state ID would make a lot more sense.

Order #12. The City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to organize regular suppers on the second Saturday of each month, starting on the 13th of August, with free food for the Cambridge community in open public spaces throughout the various Cambridge neighborhoods.   Councillor Mazen

Who pays for all the free food?

Order #13. That the City Council go on record in support of S.2327, an act promoting housing and sustainable development.   Councillor Toomey

It will be interesting to see how much of this bill survives after all of the suburban legislators hack out all the really important provisions that might require their respective communities to share in the burden of providing affordable housing.


Cambridge ChronicleFeatured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):

CPA funding serves as major supporter of Cambridge's affordable housing programs (June 24, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Cambridge Dads podcast offers stories, advice to fathers (June 24, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Bicyclist dies after collision with truck in Inman Square in Cambridge (June 23, 2016 by Amy Saltzman)

60 SECONDS: Uptick in package thefts, tree protection discussed at City Council (June 24, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Cambridge Housing Authority completes financing for program (June 21, 2016)

First section of Grand Junction Path completed in Cambridge (June 20, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Community outlines job description for new Cambridge city manager (June 20, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Crime reaches historic low in Cambridge (June 17, 2016)

Sen. Jehlen and challenger Cheung face off at forum in Cambridge (June 16, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Violence plagues MONROE nightclub in Cambridge despite attempts to rebrand (June 15, 2016 by Amy Saltzman)

Police look to identify two suspects in Monroe nightclub shooting in Cambridge (updated June 14, 2016 by Amy Saltzman)

Backlash over Indigenous People's Day prompts vote for Italian Heritage Day (June 15, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Cambridge city manager search begins with public forums, drop-in sessions (June 13, 2016)

'Heartfelt farewell:' Cambridge graduating class to be remembered for activism, thoughtfulness (June 10, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Editorial: Massachusetts anemic democracy (June 10, 2016)

Affordable housing proposal for artists amended to be more inclusive (June 10, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Columbus replaced with Indigenous People's Day in Cambridge (June 8, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

CRLS basketball team honors Davonte Neal's family with championship ring (June 6, 2016 by Wayne Gethers)

Vice Mayor column: Now is the time to get involved in shaping Cambridge's future (June 6, 2016 by Marc McGovern)

Cambridge releases report on citywide energy, water use (June 5, 2016)

Connolly up for ‘big challenge' in race against Cambridge incumbent Rep. Toomey (May 31, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Cambridge DPW holds Commissioner's Award ceremony (May 30, 2016)

Community to decide how to spend $700K in Cambridge's third Participatory Budget (May 20, 2016)

MIT plan for Kendall Square transformation approved (May 18, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Envision Cambridge feedback reflects need for housing solution (May 18, 2016)

‘Paul’s’ Newtowne Variety closes in The Port after 55 years in Cambridge (May 18, 2016 by Natalie Handy)

Stories written by Luis Vasquez for the Cambridge Chronicle:

Q&A: Cambridge Rindge principal talks opportunity, student relations, being a Yankees fan (June 17, 2016)

Q&A: Albert Pless helps lead men's health advocacy in Cambridge (June 10, 2016)

Q&A: Couple to open martial arts school in West Cambridge (June 3, 2016)

Q&A: Acting Cambridge police commissioner, Christopher Burke (May 23, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Alissa Musto, Miss Cambridge 2016 (May 13, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Suzanne McKenzie, executive director of Breakaway Foundation (Apr 29, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Cambridge Vice Mayor Marc McGovern (Apr 22, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Phil Rizzuto, new owner of Lizzy's Ice Cream (Apr 7, 2016)

SPOTLIGHT: Lance Dottin, head coach, Cambridge Rindge boys basketball (Mar 31, 2016)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaev is paying for two (May 22, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaev should write a book (May 14, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: The Boston Bomber finally cries (May 5, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaev's middle finger is back to haunt him (Apr 28, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Is Tsarnaev paying for sins of his brother? (Apr 14, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should live (Apr 7, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaev's plea for help serves as a reminder (Mar 31, 2015)

Bridging the Gap column: Tsarnaevs at odds over homeland (Mar 23, 2015)

Kicking Off the Post-Columbian Era - June 13, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting

Now that Christopher Columbus is persona non grata in the City of Cambridge, the search for the New World continues...

Manager's Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the reappointment of Larry Ward and appointment of Charles Marquardt as Election Commissioners.

Congratulations to Larry Ward on his reappointment to another term (through 2020) and to Charlie Marquardt on his appointment (through 2017) to complete the term of the late Peter Sheinfeld.

Manager's Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation not to adopt the Rainwater Separation from Flat Roofs Zoning Petition. [Report]

Manager's Agenda #8. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation not to adopt the Riverside Neighborhood Protective Zoning Petition. [Report]

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 25, 2016 to amend the Zoning Map in the Riverside neighborhood from the existing Residence C-1 to Residence C within the area bounded by Franklin and River Streets and Putnam Avenue.

That's two negative Planning Board recommendations. In addition, the Flat Roofs Zoning Petition was Placed on File due to the Ordinance Committee hearing not being held pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 40A. The Flat Roofs Zoning Petition does have merit but needs refinement.

Manager's Agenda #9. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a recommendation that the City Council approve an Order to take by eminent domain a parcel of land comprising approximately 5,000 square feet of land located at 859 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge which is presently owned by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and that the City Council approve an Order appropriating One Million Three Hundred Sixty-Three Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy-Five ($1,363,875) Dollars to the General Fund Law Department Travel & Training (Judgment & Damages) Account from Free Cash.

We don't see too many eminent domain takings, though this is a "friendly taking". It hasn't yet been determined whether this will end up as housing or for expansion of City offices. However, having watched the trend over the last 15+ years where city councillors got expanded office space, magnificent salary increases, and their own designated parking spots (previously were available to others), my guess is that unless this building is used for affordable housing somebody will get bumped up the street to provide even more full-time space in City Hall for our part-time city councillors.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager review City policies on the availability and use of City office and meeting space for non-City appointed functions by non-City officials. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Mazen on June 6, 2016] [Order #4 of June 6, 2016]

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager review and report back to the City Council on the City’s policies and best practices in the use and supervision of City Council interns. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Mazen on June 6, 2016] [Order #5 of June 6, 2016]

These two Orders were the subject of quite the kerfuffle at last week's City Council meeting. The Orders themselves were worded so neutrally that you had to wonder what motivated Councillor Kelley to write them, but the heated exchange revealed that the attendees of one unofficial gathering somehow connected to one councillor was in conflict with an official meeting scheduled to take place in the same location. It seems pretty clear that if councillors intend to use City Hall as a staging ground for "civic engagement" only peripherally related to the business of the City Council, there will need to be some greater clarity about the rules and protocols. This isn't Dewey Square and people can't just Occupy wherever they please whenever they please.

Order #1. That the Mayor convene a Task Force charged with establishing recommendations for the City Council on what the ideal minimum wage in Cambridge should be, and how to best implement this increase without creating unintended consequences in Cambridge or elsewhere.   Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mazen, Councillor Toomey

I suppose one could argue that the Community Advisory Board on the Living Wage has already been working on this, but what's wrong with a little redundancy? In any case, it has already been established that the City Council does not have the authority to impose a citywide minimum wage. That could change if the state legislature chose to grant such authority, but there are plenty of good reasons why it would be better to maintain a uniform statewide minimum wage in addition to the federal minimum wage.

Order #2. That the City Council reaffirm the month of October as Italian Heritage Month in the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Maher

Columbus $5 stampIt was interesting to read the actual language of the City Council Order of last week declaring the 2nd Monday of October to be Indigenous Peoples' Day. Nowhere in that Order does it say anything about it no longer being recognized as Columbus Day, so it really now has two designations instead of one having replaced the other. This week's Order simply reinforces the idea that Columbus Day hasn't really been so much about Columbus but rather a commemoration of our brethren with Italian heritage.

Order #4. The City Manager is requested to coordinate with the Election Commission in order to operate at least 5 early polling locations, for the entire day, for the entirety of the 11-day early voting period, coordinate with the appropriate departments to develop and launch an awareness campaign that will educate Cambridge voters, and operate the polling locations as non-precinct based, “Vote Centers,” thereby allowing anyone desiring to vote early the ability to do so at the center most convenient location.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Devereux

Why not also prescribe the color of the curtains on the voting booths as long as you're micromanaging down to this level? It's one thing for the City Council to express a policy regarding expanded early voting opportunities, but how this should be carried out is still a management issue with real cost consequences. It's not at all clear how many early voting days, hours, or locations are realistically needed, and the cost per day quoted by Common Cause seems completely unrealistic.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate city departments to determine the feasibility of requiring gas pump labels with information about the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels at all gas stations in the City.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

Why stop there? I'm sure the authors of this Order may also wish to mandate appropriate labeling of beef products based on the same criteria. I'm just wondering what the gas pumps would say. Perhaps something like: "You are an evil bastard for using fossil fuels in your earth-killing machine. Shame on you!" I'm sure they'll also insist on placing signs in front of homes that use natural gas for heating and cooking declaring them to be unmutual enemies of the people.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to coordinate with the appropriate departments to explore voter reward options for municipal elections that are most appealing for citizens and businesses alike.   Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

Suffice to say that higher voter turnout is not a desirable end in itself if the only reason for the additional (likely uninformed) voters is a cash reward or other prize. Perhaps our elected officials could instead start by doing a better job of explaining why casting an informed ballot matters before doling out the cash.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public hearing held on June 2, 2016 to discuss and review a proposed list of community focus groups that the search firm will be conducting with various groups during the month of June and any other business that may properly come before the committee.

The process continues and your input is being actively sought. You can access schedules, documents, and more at www.cambridgema.gov/CityCouncil/citymanagersearch.


House Passes Largest Clean Energy Procurement Legislation in Massachusetts History
Bill increases Commonwealth’s offshore wind and hydropower production

wind turbinesJune 10, 2016 – The Massachusetts House of Representatives this week voted 154-1 to pass legislation that promotes clean energy power production in Massachusetts, stabilizes energy costs for consumers, and reduces the state’s reliance on fossil fuels.

The legislation requires Massachusetts utility companies to procure 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind, and supports a total of 2,400 MWs of clean energy, the largest clean energy procurement that the Legislature has included in any one bill. Diversifying the energy marketplace in Massachusetts by adding offshore wind and hydropower to the state’s energy portfolio is part of the Commonwealth’s long-term effort to phase out the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and help stabilize energy costs for consumers.

“Today’s bill will usher in a new era of clean energy production in Massachusetts,” said Representative Tim Toomey (D-Cambridge). “This bill will significantly increase our production of renewable energy, reduce stress on the power grid, and stabilize energy costs for consumers,” Toomey continued.

The procurement mandates stipulated in the legislation ensures that renewable energy power will constitute twenty percent of the Commonwealth’s energy procurement. The bill also reaffirms the state’s commitment to meeting the carbon-reduction requirements set by the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), which require a 25% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050.

“We have an obligation to ourselves and to future generations to take proactive measures that will reverse the destructive effects of climate change,” said Rep. Toomey. “Making clean energy a part of our power production is key to ending our dependence on fossil fuels, and reaffirms our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint,” Toomey continued.

The final bill also requires gas companies to repair all leaks in underground gas lines that are discovered during road construction projects. Additionally, the bill mandates gas companies to present a report to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) on the total volume of leaked gas in Massachusetts, as well as requires DPU to study the environmental impact of Grade 3 gas leaks and replace leak-prone pipes within five years.

“Unrepaired gas leaks pose serious environmental and human health concerns for communities across Massachusetts,” Rep. Toomey said. “I applaud Rep. Ehrlich for her continued leadership on this issue, and was very proud to be among the 52 members who co-sponsored her amendment, which ultimately led to the inclusion of this important reform in the final energy bill,” Toomey concluded.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Opening of the First Section of the Grand Junction Path – June 9, 2016

Goodbye, Columbus? - On the Cambridge City Council Agenda - June 6, 2016

Christopher ColumbusThis week's meeting is a sure bet to bring out hordes of people speaking in favor of (a) housing preferences for "certified artists", (b) voting rights for non-citizens in local elections, and (c) striking the phrase "Columbus Day" from the list of acceptable speech within the City of Cambridge. There are also a few agenda items that actually matter, but they will likely have to wait until after what is expected to be a prolonged period of Public Comment featuring a long list of invitees from one particular city councillor.

Here are the items that drew my attention this week:

Manager's Agenda #7. Transmitting Communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $42,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Finance (Personnel) Other Ordinary Maintenance account to be used to procure consultant services to assist in the hiring of a new City Manager.

The amount isn't so important nor is the particular consultant (GovHR - based in Chicago) that has been chosen to assist in the search for the next City Manager. What is noteworthy is that according to materials made available at the June 2 meeting of the Government Operations, Rules, and Claims Committee is that a series of 19 Focus Group meetings involving 96 "key constituency groups" is scheduled to take place between Thurs, June 9 and Thurs, June 16 - plus additional Focus Group meetings to bring the total to 28 such meetings. There will also be two drop-in sessions for City employees, one-on-one interviews with each City Council member, and approximately 16 one-on-one meetings with key City staff. The ultimate goal is to identify candidates leading up to a City Council vote to select the next City Manager (hopefully) by the end of September.

You can access schedules, documents, and more at www.cambridgema.gov/CityCouncil/citymanagersearch.

Manager's Agenda #14. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 16-9, regarding the organization of a Volpe Task Force.

The Community Development Department (CDD) proposes that a small working group (composed of a mix of residents from the surrounding neighborhoods – East Cambridge, the Port/Area 4, and Wellington-Harrington - along with representatives of the Kendall Square business community) be appointed. In Phase 1, the working group would work with staff and a consultant to support the Ordinance Committee’s development of a Volpe framework and would involve assembling the broad program parameters for the project including key ideas such as urban form, public realm, and goals for the character of the area. In Phase 2, the working group's work would inform the rezoning of the Volpe parcel after the General Services Administration (GSA) has selected a developer for the Volpe site.

Manager's Agenda #26. A communication transmitted from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter as Director of Libraries, effective Aug 23, 2016.

Ms. Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter will have some pretty big shoes to fill, and we all wish her well when she takes the reins of the Library later this summer.

Charter Right #1. That the Housing Committee hold a meeting to discuss the Inclusionary Zoning preferential point system to determine if there are certain occupations that should receive preferential points to prioritize their position on the Inclusionary Zoning list. [Order #7 of May 23, 2016, Amended by Substitution. Charter Right exercised by Mayor Simmons.]

This is the first of the three agenda items that will likely draw a crowd of invited guests to Public Comment. As I stated when this Order was proposed, this is a walk down a very slippery slope when you start giving housing priorities to people who have chosen specific lifestyles, professions, or hobbies. The original Order specifically called out "certified artists", but this was amended to be non-specific.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with appropriate City personnel to determine the cost and feasibility of adding additional parking levels to the Green Street Garage.   Mayor Simmons

That whole block on which the Manning Apartments, the Central Square Branch Library, and the Green Street Parking Garage could use a more comprehensive look. The Manning Apartments are now undergoing renovations. If other Central Square parking lots eventually give way to housing, there will be at least some need for replacement parking and this is the most logical site. There are, of course, some who would simply wish away all motor vehicles, but even with a net drop in motor vehicles there will still be the need for some additional capacity on or near this site should new housing be built or if some additional density weaves its way into Central Square.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Executive Director of the Cambridge Election Commission to publish at an appropriate and clearly identified central location on the City’s website by Aug 1, 2016 all Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Office of Campaign and Political Finance information.   Councillor Toomey

All of this information will eventually be available on the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) website. The problem is that it's only available in a timely way for candidates with depository accounts - and this does not include any of the State Representative or State Senate candidates. Those candidates only have to report immediately before each primary and general election and at the end of each year. Since all of the data is reported through the State's OCPF site, there's really little that the City can do other than to provide a link to this site that will only have updated information relatively late in the game.

Order #4. That the City Manager review City policies on the availability and use of City office and meeting space for non-City appointed functions by non-City officials.   Councillor Kelley

Order #5. That the City Manager review and report back to the City Council on the City’s policies and best practices in the use and supervision of City Council interns.   Councillor Kelley

I'm not quite sure what exactly is being sought here, but I will once again express my misgivings with the whole idea of personal aides for city councillors. There are some people currently serving in this role who would be great as additional staff working for City Council committees, but not as personal assistants. Interns are, I believe, something entirely different. These have generally been unpaid volunteers who work with individual councillors of specific initiatives. Even if they produce great things, they are not City employees and they should not have any special access to City resources, including offices, meeting rooms, or anything else over and above what any ordinary resident may access. More specifically, it needs to be emphasized that City Hall is not a place to build a political organization or movement dressed up as a personal initiative of any individual city councillor.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to assess the cost and feasibility of placing sunscreen dispensers containing broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher at Cambridge parks and playgrounds.   Vice Mayor McGovern

Two words - nanny government. These "dispensers" already exist - they're called "stores". You can buy sunscreen there.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Civic Unity Committee, for a joint public hearing held on May 12, 2016 to discuss all issues related to non-citizen representation and outreach in Cambridge.

This is the second of the three agenda items that will likely draw a crowd of invited guests to Public Comment. In addition to the completely relevant and useful discussions about resources for people who have moved to Cambridge from elsewhere, this report also contains a proposed Order furthering the idea of non-citizen voting in Cambridge municipal elections. Cambridge has a long history of being welcoming to immigrants and for providing resources for them. The idea of voting is something completely different and any standards regarding age or citizenship status should be uniform across all cities and towns. If the state legislature wants to take up this issue, so be it, but this is not something Cambridge should be doing unilaterally. Furthermore, there are many people, including me, who feel that Voting and Citizenship are intertwined and that the appropriate way to acquire the right to vote is to become a citizen.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, for a public hearing held on May 20, 2016 to review and consider an extension to the current City Manager’s contract, to review and approve a response to the May 4, 2016 Open Meeting Law complaint of John Hawkinson and to continue development and approval of the new City Manager search process.

To the part of this report relating to this frivolous Open Meeting Law complaint, I will only say that just because one has a legal right to do something that consumes time and resources for no useful purpose, this hardly justifies doing so - unless you're primary goal is to waste everybody's time and to alienate those with whom you might otherwise have a cooperative relationship.

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on May 24, 2016 to discuss the Green Line Extension Project (GLX).

Just read the report. The Cambridge and Somerville contribution toward making this a reality should be moved along without hesitation, i.e. on the fast track.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Nadeem A. Mazen, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of Civic Unity Committee, for a joint public hearing held on May 26, 2016 to discuss Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

This is the third of the three agenda items that will likely draw a crowd of invited guests to Public Comment. Suffice to say that regardless how the City Council votes on this, almost everyone, including me, will continue to refer to Columbus Day as Columbus Day - even if we acknowledge some of the more despicable aspects of world history. Most of us don't know much about Christopher Columbus nor do we particularly care about what he did or represented over five centuries ago. Columbus Day has for many of us represented the start of the migration of European people to this continent. That is not something I find in the least way objectionable. It is how my ancestors came to be here generations ago, so it is, in a sense, how I personally came to be here. If there is to be a name change, let's call it Immigration Day and have it be a celebration of all immigrants who came to this continent and who continue to come to this continent and specifically to this country. This is not dismissing any of the great things that may be said of those whose ancestors were here earlier, but let's not choose sides. How about declaring the day before or after Columbus Day to be "Indigenous Peoples' Day" and we can celebrate our choices in our own way. Many people will, of course, just go shopping. - Robert Winters

Update #1: The City Council voted 9-0 to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day. So in Cambridge, it's Goodbye Columbus. Elsewhere, nothing has changed. I suppose the most substantial effect will be in the Cambridge schools where from now on Columbus' name will be associated with Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, and Charlie Manson.

Update #2: The City Council voted to extend the contract of City Manager Rossi through the end of September to allow time to (hopefully) complete the search for the next City Manager.


Cambridge Water Board Member Sought

City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking a Cambridge resident to fill a vacancy on the Cambridge Water Board.

City SealThe Cambridge Water Board is a five-member board appointed by the City Manager that acts in an advisory role to the Managing Director of the Cambridge Water Department. Members typically assist in developing, modifying and approving policy related to Water-Department owned land and land use.

The board generally meets on the second Tuesday of the month, from 5-6:30pm, at the Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway, Cambridge.

Interested persons should send a letter and/or resume via e-mail, mail or fax by Friday, July 1, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Fax: 617-349-4307
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! - June-July 2016

recycling symbolPrevent Waste, Pollution and Habitat Destruction - and More! Shop Second-Hand Instead of New
Moving Season Tips
Reduce Food Waste and Save Money
Compost That Stuff!
Bring “POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION” Items to HHW Collection: Sat June 18
Volunteer at the City Dance Party: Fri June 24
Yard Waste Season
Of Interest
Recycling Questions Answered
Opt-Out from Unwanted Mail

Prevent Waste, Pollution and Habitat Destruction - and More! Shop Second-Hand Instead of New

There are MANY environmental benefits to shopping second-hand, including reducing energy and water use, protecting animal (and human) habitats, reducing pollution, and reducing the use of chemicals and pesticides. Additionally, it’s been said that seventy times more waste is generated upstream to make a new product, so by buying used you’re preventing seventy times the waste of the item you just bought from being created as well!

Shopping second-hand is much more affordable, fun, green, supports the local economy, and you can find great stuff! Visit this site for locations of second-hand shops, and don’t forget about the biggest yard sale in Cambridge this weekend:

Harvard Habitat for Humanity’s Stuff Sale, June 18 & 19
The biggest yard sale in Cambridge occurs every summer at the Harvard Science Center Plaza at 1 Oxford Street. The Stuff Sale offers mini-fridges, rugs, lamps, futons, storage bins and hundreds of other items useful to college students and anyone setting up an apartment. All proceeds go to support Harvard Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build housing for the needy. The sale is open to all from 9AM-5PM on these dates:

  • Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19
  • Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21
  • August 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and September 3, 4, 5

Yard sales are great places to shop second-hand! Check out this site that helps you find nearby sales, as well as Craigslist's garage sale page.

Moving Season Tips

Reduce Box Waste
Consider reusable boxes: https://www.boxsave.com. Have moving boxes? After you’re all moved in, consider posting your boxes on Freecycle or Craigslist, or a neighborhood email list, so someone else can use them. Some moving companies have box sharing programs, such as U-HAUL. There’s also this resource: http://www.usedcardboardboxes.com/about-us.

Donate Stuff
If you have items in good-condition that you no longer want, take a little time to get them to a thrift store or consignment shop. See our Donate Map and our "Get Rid of It Right" resource. Don’t forget all clean and dry textiles can be donated -- learn more here.

Special Disposal Required
Many materials require special disposal, including fluorescent bulbs and non-alkaline batteries. Learn more with our "Get Rid of It Right" resource. Don’t miss our next Household Hazardous Waste Day this Saturday, June 18.

Visit the Recycling Center
Many items are accepted at the Recycling Drop-off Center, located at 147 Hampshire Street in the back of the Public Works yard, during open hours (Tu/Th 4pm-7:30pm, Sat 9am-4pm). The yard is closed to the public at all other times.

Spread the Word

  • Order or print the “Donate More Trash Less” flyer to post at your building. The flyer is the last bullet of the “Educate Residents and Troubleshoot Problems” section of this page. To order, email recycle@cambridgema.gov. They’re great for move-out season!
  • Order or print the recycling flyer for new residents. The recycling flyer can be found in the second bullet of the "Educate Residents and Troubleshoot Problems” section of this page. To order, email recycle@cambridgema.gov.
  • Landlords: Include that recycling is mandatory in Cambridge in your lease.

Reduce Food Waste and Save Money

Make It Last: Fruit and Veggie Storage Tips
Make your fruits and veggies last longer to reduce waste and save money!

Store Inside the Fridge: apples, berries, cherries, grapes, kiwi, lemons, oranges, almost all vegetables & herbs. After ripening at room temperature: apricots, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes.

Outside the Fridge: Store in a cool place: bananas, mangos, papayas and pineapples. Store in a cool, dark place: potatoes & onions. Basil & winter squashes: store at room temperature - once cut, store squashes in fridge.

  • If you like your fruit at room temperature, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the fridge in the morning.
  • Many fruits give off gases that hasten the spoilage of other produce. Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves and store fruits and vegetables in different bins. Check out storage bags and containers designed to help extend the life of your produce.
  • To prevent moldy berries, wash them just before eating.
  • For some really great resources on reducing food waste from our friends in Seattle, click here.

Freeze or Share Your Extra Food
If you’ve got extra food, consider freezing it. Learn more about freezing food here. Or, reach out to friends and neighbors to see if they are interested in your extra food.

Compost That Stuff!

Do you compost? Thank you! Ready to start? Learn more here. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Recycling Division. Composting is nature's way of recycling and a terrific way to reduce waste and protect the climate. Learn more about the composting-climate connection here.

Curbside pilot participants, please be sure to put out your green bin every week, and call us by noon the following day if your green bin was missed: 617-349-4815. Purchase more compostable bags at Tags Hardware, Pemberton Farms, Cambridge Naturals, and Whole Foods. Email morr@cambridgema.gov if you need a coupon.

Bring “POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION” Items to HHW Collection: Sat June 18
9am-1pm, Volpe Transportation Center Lot 4 (via Munroe off 3rd St.) MAP

Click here for what's accepted at the next Household Hazardous Waste Collection, including alternative options and what you can bring to the Recycling Center during open hours. Cambridge residents only, bring proof of residency. We accept auto fluids, non-alkaline batteries, car tires, glues, medications, fluorescent bulbs, thermometers, thermostats, 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 collection. 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, email recycle@cambridgema.gov in advance. Remaining 2016 dates: Sat, Sept 10 and Sat, Oct 29.

Volunteer at the City Dance Party: Fri June 24
Join us at the City Dance Party at City Hall next Friday evening! We are building a team of recycling volunteers to mingle in the crowd at the beginning of the event and tell people about little known recycling tips (textile recycling, furniture donation, opt out of unwanted junk mail!). No experience needed! If you are super enthusiastic, we even have costumes available. Volunteers get a free reusable bag. Contact Camilla at celvis@cambridgema.gov to sign up! We have a lot of additional outreach opportunities this summer. Let us know if you would like to get involved!

Yard Waste Season
Yard waste season is in full swing! Here’s the link to our website where you can review what is accepted and how to prepare it. Remember, if you hire a contractor, they are responsible for removing yard waste. Call DPW for “YARD WASTE ONLY” stickers (617.349.4800) or email.

Of Interest
Get It Fixed! Fixer Fair, This Sunday June 19 - Father’s Day!
The Somerville Arts Council is sponsoring another Fixer Fair on Sunday, June 19 from 2pm-5pm, Union Square Plaza, organized by the Somerville Tool Library. Fixer Fair is a free, public, outdoor event devoted to repair! Don’t throw it out, fix it!

ReuseConex is Coming to Boston - Oct 17-19, 2016
ReuseConex is a conference all about innovative reuse programs that happens every other year. Previously held in Austin, TX, Portland, OR, and Raleigh, NC, this year it will be in Boston - October 17-19, 2016. Please help spread the word to interested stakeholders.

Donate Your Laptop and Help a High School Student - Through July 10
The Laptop Project is accepting laptop donations to distribute to students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school who do have not have adequate computer access. Learn more here.

See recycled art by artist Bobby Brown at the Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second St, Cambridge, from July 5 - September 9. Opening reception July 14 from 6pm-8pm. Bobby created the trophies for this year’s Go Green Challenge in the schools.

More Recycling Stations Coming to the Red Line
MASSRECYCLE has received a grant from the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to expand the MBTA Public Space Recycling Pilot Project on the Red line. They will be placing recycling kiosks at Davis, Porter, Harvard, Central and Kendall Stations. Marketing opportunities for businesses can be found here.

Cambridge Trees Need You!
Have a City tree near your home? It would be great if you would water it periodically. Young trees need extra TLC. If you can care for a young tree(s) near you by watering it, and weeding and mulching the tree well, please contact the Parks Division at 617.349.4885. Gator bags can be provided.

Recycling Questions Answered

Why Should Shredded Paper Go in a Clear Plastic Bag?
The bag needs to be clear so staff see that it’s not trash. Shredded paper that is loose in the recycling bin likely won’t get recycled as it will fall through the cracks and end up with broken glass and other small debris. Will a stapled paper bag work for my shredded paper? It should, though it’s more likely to break open in the recycling truck. Clear plastic bags are a better bet. Another option is to bring shredded paper to the Recycling Center during open hours and put it in the paper roll-off.

Please shred sparingly. Shredding paper reduces the number of times the paper can be recycled, because it makes the fibers in the paper shorter. Longer fibers make higher quality paper. Learn more here.

Can Clear Plastic Bags Be Used for Other Recycling?

Can I Recycle Plastic Plant Pots?
YES! Just rinse off the dirt and place in your curbside recycling bin. See the full list of what to recycle.

What If My Recycling Bin Is Full?
You can place excess recycling outside the recycling toter at the curb. Flatten or nest boxes if possible. If this happens frequently, use this form to request another toter at no charge or email recycle@cambridgema.gov.

Opt-Out from Unwanted Mail and Reduce Waste

In just a few steps you can start clearing out your mailbox with these organizations. Remember, reducing is better than recycling!

recycling symbolKnow that recycling is easy and mandatory in Cambridge! Review what to recycle and help educate new residents! Encourage others to stay in the loop and sign up for the City’s monthly e-newsletter on recycling, composting and reducing waste. Just email us at recycle@cambridgema.gov.

  • Missed recycling or trash? Please use Commonwealth Connect and report it online or via mobile app (iPhone / Android) or call DPW at 617-349-4800 by 12 noon the day after collection to make a request.
  • Need toters, brochures, labels, or posters? Email recycle@cambridgema.gov.
  • Following a weekday holiday, curbside trash, recycling, compost and yard waste collection is delayed one day. Check the 2016 collection schedule.
  • Next Household Hazardous Waste Collections: Sat, June 18; Sat, Sept 10; Sat, Oct 29. Learn more here.
AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.
AMC Local WalksThurs, June 30. East Boston Greenway/Piers Park/Harborwalk/Marine Arts Sculpture Park. 2 hour walk, some history, good harbor views. Option for harborside picnic table dinner at KO Australian bistro ~8:00pm. Meet at 6:00pm at Blue Line Airport T stop (Bremen Street side), parking available, approx. 268 Bremen Street on GPS. Same afternoon cell: 857-600-8295. L Joel Snider. AMC Local WalksSun, July 3. Lynn Woods, Lynn. Approx. 5 miles, Leader's Choice. 9:00am-1:00pm. Bring lunch, H2O, and snacks. Dress for the elements. From I-95/Rte. 128 take Walnut Street exit, 4 miles. From Rte. 1, Walnut Street exit, 2 miles. Turn left on Pennybrook Road to Western Gate parking lot. L Nelson Caraballo.
AMC Local WalksMon, July 4, 2016. Worlds End Reservation. Scenic 5-mi. walk, 8:30-11:30am. Bring snack/water. From Rte.3A rotary in Hingham, take Summer St. 0.5mi. to light, L on Martin's Lane to entr. $6.00 per person fee for non-members of the Trustees of Reservations. Avoid Rte.228 due to holiday event road closures. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias. AMC Local WalksSun, July 10. Breakheart Reservation, Saugus. Mod-stren. approx. 5-mi. hike, hills/rough terrain, 9:00am-2:00pm. Bring snacks/lunch/water. Meet at Northeast Metro School. From Rte. 95/128 exit 39 (Wakefield), take North Ave. E 2.5 mi. (becomes Nahant St.), R on Farm St., L on Hemlock St. to end. Rain cancels. L Nelson Caraballo.

June Programs at Fresh Pond Reservation

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

Dates: Thursdays 10am to noon
Place: Meets at the volunteer trailer in the front parking lot.
    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. Please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or fpr@cambridgema.gov for any RSVPs or questions!
Dates: Fridays 9 to 10am
Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    Join us for casual nature explorations, designed for young kids and their parents/caretakers, and play in our urban wild! Please come dressed ready for the weather (and in clothes that are OK to get a bit dirty). Register with Catherine Pedemonti at friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com.
Nature Journaling for Kids & Adults
Date: Saturday June 18th, 10-11am
Place: Register for meeting details
   Come and join us for a relaxed morning of sitting, seeing, and sketching the natural world at Fresh Pond Reservation. Please bring a favorite notebook and writing utensil. Absolutely no drawing experience is necessary. Kids and their caretakers are welcome! Please RSVP to Catherine Pedemonti at friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com for meeting details.
Summer Solstice Bird Walk
Date: Monday, June 20, 6 to 8pm
Place: Register for meeting location
   If you can’t bear to get up at dawn to look at birds, this evening walk is for you. Just as people take advantage of the longest days of the year to continue their outdoor activities, so do birds: They spend the extra hours of daylight foraging for food for their hungry babies. Led by Nancy Guppy. Beginning birders are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. Register with Catherine at friendsoffreshpond@yahoo.com.

Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or fpr@cambridgema.gov for any RSVPs or questions!

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. Upcoming Programs

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.

Read the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation Annual "Year in Review (2013)"

Read the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation Annual "Year in Review (2014)"

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 and grownativemass.org/programs/eveningswithexperts in particular. First Wednesdays of the Month, 7:00-8:30pm.

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

A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:

Here's Something Worth Watching

Robert & Judy on Cambridge InsideOutWe are back on the air as of Tues, Oct 13, 2015. The show is broadcast live every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm with producers/hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. We plan to have other guest hosts as well.

[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos of each]

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 149-150: June 21, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 147-148: June 14, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 145-146: June 7, 2016 (Part 2 with Luis Vasquez)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 143-144: May 31, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 141-142: May 24, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 139-140: May 17, 2016 - with guest Will MacArthur

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 137-138: May 10, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 135-136: May 3, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 133-134: April 26, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 131-132 w/Patrick Barrett: April 19, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 129-130 w/Jesse Kansan-Benanav: April 12, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 127-128: April 5, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 125-126: March 29, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 123-124: Mar 22, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 121-122: March 15, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 119-120: March 8, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 117-118: Mar 1, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 115-116: Feb 23, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 113-114: The Picture Show (Feb 16, 2016)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 111 (BYOB Ordinance) and 112 (Feb 9, 2016)

Cambridge Inside Out Episodes 109 and 110 (Parts 2 and 3 of Conversation with Tip O’Neill (1992) (Jan 17, 2016)

New and Old – Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 107 and 108 (Part 1 of 1992 Tip O'Neill Conversation) (Jan 26, 2016)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 105-106 with Anthony Galluccio (Jan 12, 2016)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 103-104 with Vice Mayor Marc McGovern (Jan 5, 2016)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 101-102: Looking Ahead to 2016-17 (Dec 29, 2015)

Cambridge InsideOut – Episodes 99 and 100: Looking Back at the 2014-15 Cambridge City Council (Dec 23, 2015)

Cambridge InsideOut – Episodes 97 and 98 (Dec 16, 2015)

Cambridge InsideOut – Episodes 95 and 96 with Patrick Barrett (Dec 9, 2015)

Cambridge InsideOutCambridge InsideOut Episodes 93 and 94 – On Civic Infrastructure (Dec 1, 2015)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 91 and 92 – Digging into the ballot data (Nov 17, 2015)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 89 and 90 – Making Sense of the 2015 Cambridge Election Results (Nov 11, 2015)

Election Day Discussion – Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 87 and 88 (Nov 3, 2015)

One Week before the Election – Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 85 and 86 (Oct 27, 2015)

PR Election Mechanics – Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 83 and 84 (Oct 20, 2015)

Oct 13, 2015 - The Return – Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 81 and 82

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.

Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2013-2014 featured co-hosts Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2015-2016 featured co-hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters.

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.

Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

Cambridge Historical Commission Announces 2016 Preservation Award Recipients (June 23, 2016)

City of Cambridge names new Director of Libraries, Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley (June 21, 2016)

Hot Town, Summer in the City – Coming up at the June 20, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting (June 20, 2016)

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! – June-July 2016 (updated June 17, 2016)

Kicking Off the Post-Columbian Era – June 13, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting (June 13, 2016)

Opening of the First Section of the Grand Junction Path – June 9, 2016

Goodbye, Columbus? – On the Cambridge City Council Agenda – June 6, 2016

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (June 3, 2016)

Budget Adoption Night – Highlights of the May 23, 2016 Cambridge City Council Meeting Agenda (posted May 23, 2016)

Rep. Tim Toomey Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign (posted May 13, 2016)

At the Signpost Up Ahead – the May 9, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted May 9, 2016)

Joint Statement of Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi Regarding the Green Line Extension (May 5, 2016)

Dos de Mayo – Interesting Items on the May 2, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted May 2, 2016)

Real Money – The City of Cambridge FY2017 Budget tops the April 25, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda (Apr 25, 2016)

Up the Inclusionary – Hot Topics on the April 11, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda (Apr 10, 2016)

No Foolin’ – Coming up at the April 4, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting (Apr 4, 2016)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – April 1, 2016 (April Fools Edition)

Cambridge Works Transitional Jobs Program Gives Residents A Helping Hand (Mar 21, 2016)

Happy Spring! – Coming up at the March 21, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting (Mar 18, 2016, updated Mar 21, 2016)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Mar 21, 2016)

Sunday Morning Statistics – Who Voted in the Cambridge Presidential primary (by age) (posted Mar 20, 2016)

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi to retire later this year (Mar 11, 2016)

Local Political Rumblings – State Representatives and State Senators (March 2016)

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates (last updated Feb 20, 2015 - updated periodically)

Cambridge School Committee 2015 Campaign Finance Summaries (Feb 6, 2016)

A Conversation with Tip O’Neill (1992) on Cambridge Inside Out (Jan 17, 2016)

Who Voted in the 2015 Cambridge Municipal Election? (Dec 6, 2015)

Morning Thoughts – Nov 25, 2015

Final Official Election Results – Cambridge 2015 Municipal Election (Nov 13, 2015)

Cambridge’s new Superintendent of Schools – Dr. Kenneth Salim (Oct 27, 2015)

2015 Cambridge Pre-Election Fun Facts (Oct 24, 2015)

Flashback to March 1998 (Oct 12, 2015)

Cambridge Municipal Election Candidates – 2015 (last updated Oct 2, 2015)

Visiting Lucius R. Paige and I.F. Stone at Mount Auburn Cemetery (Aug 25, 2015)

City of Cambridge Selects Utile Architecture + Planning team for Citywide Plan (Aug 21, 2015)

Who Votes in Cambridge? (July 9, 2015)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2015) - the April Fool's Day edition

Brian Murphy, 1964-2015 (Feb 5, 2015)

Age Distribution of Voters in Cambridge Elections: 2007-2014 (Jan 4, 2015)

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)

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)

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

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

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

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

April 2, 2016 - Yet another fun April Fool's Day

April 2, 2015 - Another fun April Fool's Day

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

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

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.


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 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect current Council committees)

City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)

City Council Committees (for the current 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
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

Subscribe to the Cambridge Civic Journal.
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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

Welcome to the Peoples Republic