Feb 10, 2019 - I'm cleaning up some old email today and found something I wrote a couple of years ago in response to a question about books on Cambridge history. Perhaps you'll find it useful. - RW

It's hard to say where to begin. There was a tradition of Cambridge history-writing in the 19th century that was largely lost during most of the 20th Century. The tradition seems to be having something of a 21st Century revival. Some of my favorites (and I've picked up many of these on eBay) are:

Lucius Paige's History of Cambridge (1877) - you can also read this on the web, e.g. https://archive.org/details/historyofcambrid00paigiala
I mention this one first because it is so often referenced in later histories.

The Cambridge of Eighteen Hundred and Ninety Six (a 50th Anniversary compilation published in 1896 commemorating the transition of Cambridge from Town to City in 1846)
This has a lot of good history in it. I have loaner copies available.

Survey of Architectural History of Cambridge, Volumes 1-5, by the Cambridge Historical Commission
These you can still pick up on eBay and they're at the Cambridge Public Library. I have multiple copies of each volume as loaners.
Volume 1 was originally published in 1967, but a 1989 update is practically a whole other book.

A City's Life and Times, Cambridge in the Twentieth Century, various authors, published by the Cambridge Historical Society, 2007.

Building Old Cambridge, by Susan Maycock and Charles Sullivan of the Cambridge Historical Commission, recently published and available (no sales tax!) at the Cambridge Historical Commission office as well as local bookstores (with sales tax).
This volume started out, I believe, as a successor volume to Volume 4 of the Survey of Architectural History of Cambridge (Old Cambridge), but it grew into something far more comprehensive.

There are at least, I believe, 5 oral history volumes put together by Sarah Boyer and the Cambridge Historical Commission. I believe they may all still be available for purchase at the CHC office, but some are also available at bookstores (and at the Library).

Cambridge on the Charles, by Alan Seaburg, Thomas Dahill, and Carol Rose, published by Anne Minerva Press. Alan and Thomas are friends and fellow Board members with the Middlesex Canal Association (I'm also the webmaster).

There are lots of other miscellaneous books that I really love, including Ten No License Years in Cambridge, published in 1898, that provides great insight into the temperance movement in Cambridge and the roots of the "good government" movement in the 20th Century. It's available in the Cambridge Room of the Main Library.

The books by Tip O'Neill all have some interesting bits and pieces about Cambridge in the 20th Century.

Robert Winters

February Falderol - Feb 11, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda and OMFUG

In between bemoaning divine trees at Harvard and ordaining a Tree Tribunal, here are a few mundane Monday items up for City Council consideration:

Water MainManager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 19-08, regarding the Craigie Street Water Main break.

This is the kind of topic-specific response I especially like. For example: "The Cambridge water transmission and distribution system consists of about 185 miles of underground pipe, 4,450 valves and 1,800 hydrants (the “Water System”). All these pipes and appurtenances are documented in the City’s GIS system. Each water main is defined by its age (date installed), material, size and whether it is cement lined or not." And this: "CWD has replaced, repaired or added over 2,730 valves in the Water System since 1980 and has also formalized a valve exercising program." And this: "CWD has replaced/rehabilitated or improved about 43 miles of pipe within the Water System since 1992." And this: "In the 50’s and 60’s, all of the large transmission mains were cement lined. In the 90’s, about 9,500 feet of pipe were cement lined as well."

Cambridge residents should really try to get a basic idea of what it takes to keep the most basic elements of their city functioning - things like water, sewer, electric supply, natural gas infrastructure, roadways as well as things like rubbish disposal and recycling. Call it civic education.

Manager's Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-111, regarding a report on TNC vehicles blocking travel lanes.

TNC stands for "Transportation Network Company", a relatively new term necessitated by the advent of entities like Uber and Lyft that do all they can to distinguish themselves from the (regulated) taxi industry. By their account, they're just referral services that connect customers to drivers. One big difference is that there is built-in accountability for taxis, e.g., you could lose your right to operate as penalty for frequent or egregious violations. In contrast, many TNC drivers are just people with a license to drive with no special requirements for either customer service, geographical knowledge of an area, or expertise in lawful driving. Bending and breaking rules are common. This response from Police Commissioner Bard is primarily about short-term blocking of bike lanes for pickup/dropoff of passengers. Designated curb space for this purpose would help, and some existing taxi zones should be re-purposed for this. I don't personally buy the notion that brief stops in bike lanes endanger either cyclists or pedestrians, but it is an inconvenience and the prevalence of these TNC vehicles warrants better allocation of space. However, congested areas with competing needs will never operate like a Swiss watch and it's foolish to believe they ever will. Everybody has to give a little.

Unfinished Business #5. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 9, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.66 entitled “Tree Protection” to amend section 8.66.40 entitled “Applicability” and by adding a new section 8.66.055 entitled “Procedure for other projects.” [THE QUESTION COMES ON PASSAGE TO BE ORDAINED ON OR AFTER FEB 18, 2019.]

It will be interesting to see if any actual wisdom emerges from the Feb 14 hearing on this (which some hasty councillors wanted to prevent). This has never been as simple as "Thou Shalt Not Cut That Tree No Matter What", and property owners deserve some flexibility in managing their property. Even if a tree is not currently dead, diseased, or dangerous there are situations when removal is still the best long-term option, especially if the removal may lead to better-situated, healthier trees thriving in the long term.

Applications & Petitions #1. A Zoning Petition has been received from Stephen R. Karp, Trustee of Cambridge Side Galeria Associates trust to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by adding a new Section 13.100 to Article 13.00 of the Zoning Ordinance and to amend the Zoning Map to add a new PUD-8 District overlay that certain area (which includes parcels and portions of ways and streets) labeled as "PUD-8 district".

It would be premature to comment much about this, but I definitely will look forward to a revitalized First Street, greater permeability through the site, and more diverse uses (including some housing), and improved architecture. I'm looking forward to hearing what the Planning Board and Councillor Carlone (who was involved in the original planning and development of the site) have to say as this petition makes its way through the hearings.

Order #1. That the City Council go on record reaffirming its support of the homeless issues bills awaiting action in the House and Senate, and entreats its elected delegation in both bodies to actively work on moving these measures out of their respective committees on toward adoption.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons

Order #2. City Council support of legislation that protects children.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons

Order #7. That the City Council go on record in support of an “Act relative to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program” and an “Act to ensure right to counsel in eviction proceedings".   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui

These three Orders encompass support for a range of proposals that shouldn't be particularly controversial.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the Apr 23, 2018 Policy Order seeking additional funding for affordable housing concerns.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern

This Order really should be understood in the context of other housing-related proposals currently being considered. These include the "Overlay" proposal to facilitate the transfer of private property to public or quasi-public ownership, support for a real estate transfer tax either via Home Rule or enabling legislation at the state level to fund this property transfer, and other initiatives. The City's policy seems to be centered on transferring as much privately-owned property into public or quasi-public ownership as possible. I'm not so sure that this is a very good long-term policy in spite of any short- or medium-term housing affordability issues.

Order #9. That Rule 39, "Rules of Travel" under the “Rules of the City Council” hereby be amended to be titled "Rules of Travel and Other Council-Related Expenditures."   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Toomey

The basic idea here is that some councillors want more flexibility in funds available to them for hosting constituents and similar purposes. Do they realize that this is the reason there is a City Council office with a budget and staff? When has it not been the case that a city councillor could simply ask the staff to make arrangements for such get-togethers?

Communications & Reports #2. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Siddiqui, transmitting the submission of the Mayor's Blue-Ribbon Task Force on Tenant Displacement Jan 29, 2018 meeting minutes.

It will be interesting to see if this task force actually focuses on practical ways to address these difficulties.

Awaiting Report: 5 from 2016, 2 from 2017, 56 from 2018 (8 resolved this week), and 16 from 2019 (1 resolved this week).

That's a total of 79 items awaiting a response with 9 of them addressed in this agenda. That's better than most weeks. It really is ridiculous to be dragging along items from so long ago without a response. If there really is neither the need nor the willingness to act on some of these, a simple response to the effect of "Not now, Councillors" would be better than leaving so many of these things to moulder. Seriously, is anyone still all that fired up to modify zoning to restrict restaurants where a wood-fired oven is used? If the City would just come back with a very basic proposal for an Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, we could scratch a couple more items off the list. It's a lot easier to respond to a shorter list. - Robert Winters


Check out the latest episodes of Cambridge InsideOut: Tuesdays, 5:30pm and 6:00pm on CCTV

If you would like to be a guest (or co-host) one of these Tuesdays, let me know. - RW

Episode 371 (Feb 5, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Patriots; Trees, continued; Eversource & Infrastructure; Assessing Upzoning; 20mph speed limit sign deluge
Episode 372 (Feb 5, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Cannabis tax; Al Vellucci; Young'uns and Commissions; Board of Fun
Episode 369 (Jan 29, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Proposed moratorium on tree removals; Jan 28 City Council meeting
Episode 370 (Jan 29, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Bottled water; value of upzoning; publicl funding for municipal elections (again); Jan 29 City Council meeting
Episode 367 (Jan 15, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Jan 14 City Council meeting; Notable Retirements, Envision Cambridge, aging water infrastructure, and more.
Episode 368 (Jan 15, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: How Big is Too Big?; table-setting for the election year.
Episode 365 (Jan 8, 2019, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: History; Political Trichotomy; Trees; Infrastructure & Inundation
Episode 366 (Jan 8, 2019, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Significant passings; arts funding and earmarking; proposed Home Rule petition for a real estate transfer tax; and more
Episode 363 (Dec 18, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: One Way Zoning; Housing Choice Initiative; Suburban Zoning and Subsidized Housing
Episode 364 (Dec 18, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Housing, continued; Cannabis Retail Ordained; City Clerk Donna Lopez to retire in May; Plan E in Lowell
Episode 361 (Dec 11, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: New Central Square Police Substation; Central Square BID update; Surveillance Ordinance; Revised Street Performer Ordinance; 1899 Ordinances.
Episode 362 (Dec 11, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: City Hall landscaping; Late Order on "Act to Promote Housing Choices", oddity of asymmetric rules for passing zoning ordinances, political consequences; Airplane Noise.
Episode 359 (Dec 4, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Publicly funded municipal election campaigns and PR elections; refranchising of Cable TV and the future
Episode 360 (Dec 4, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Early days of Cable TV, Grand Junction updates, Davis Sq. changes, flat roof zoning, accessory dwelling unit zoning, City housing policy = social ownership
Episode 357 (Nov 27, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Late semester musings; Nov 26 City Council meeting - trees, curb cuts, councillor coddling, municipal facility upgrades, urban agriculture, outdoor lighting; Van Morrison and Astral Weeks
Episode 358 (Nov 27, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Voter histories, targeting voters, publicly financed campaigns, age distribution of voters 2012-2018, voter turnout, supervoters, #1 voter fealty
Episode 355 (Nov 20, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials] [audio]
Topics: Thanksgiving memories; Nov 19 City Council meeting highlights - First Street Garage saga, Surveillance Ordinance, Street Performers Ordinance
Episode 356 (Nov 20, 2018, 6:00pm) [audio]
Topics: Nov 19 City Council meeting highlights - Street Performers Ordinance, Climate-relatd committee appointments, bicycle safety (esp. the Craigie Bridge & Museum Way)

Save the Groundhogs - Feb 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

groundhogResearch indicates that the groundhog population in Cambridge has reached an historic low. The consequences in terms of city planning will likely be devastating. While contemplating this impending disaster, consider the following items up for discussion as we enter the last six weeks of winter.

Manager's Agenda #3. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, requesting that the City Council vote to accept Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 64N, Section 3 (“G.L.c.64N, §3”), which is the state law that allows municipalities to impose a local excise tax of up to 3% on retail sales of cannabis within the City.

Into the General Fund, please. No earmarks.

Manager's Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-104, regarding a report on a list of streets where it is recommended that the speed be reduced to 20 MPH.

If you look at the map, this is pretty close to a citywide 20mph speed limit.

Addendum: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign; Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind; Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign? Apparently there are over 400 streets that will have to get a 20mph sign because, you know, state law. You can't paint it on the roadway, and you can't just post the whole city as 20mph with the roads (including numbered highways) with slightly high speed limits being the exception. Logic vs. legislation.

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City departments to conduct a formal and professional financial assessment of the additional value created for the owner/petitioner by up-zonings for developments of more than 50,000 square feet.

The information will be interesting and useful, but I'm still concerned about the quid-pro-quo aspect of zoning for sale whether it be for cash or subsidized housing units.

Addendum: The Mayor amended the Order to also assess the added benefit to the City associated with upzoning. I pointed out to the Mayor after the meeting that similar analysis should accompany downzoning petitions as well. About 20 years ago downzoning was all the rage and this definitely reduced the value of many properties. Some of the upzonings in recent years simply added back the height/density that had been taken away.

Resolution #5. Retirement of Paul Burke from the Cambridge Police Department.   Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mallon

I have met many members of the Cambridge Police over the years, and Paul Burke ranks among my most favorite. Happy trails, Paul, and I hope to see you around town.

Order #1. Dedication sign in honor of Tom and Ray Magliozzi.   Mayor McGovern

Ray worked on my VW Bus once, but he'll never admit it. Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.

Order #3. That the City Manager confer with Eversource and the appropriate City departments to undertake a series of studies and analyses related to finance, health and safety, building design, and long-term electricity needs before the construction of a substation in East Cambridge.   Councillor Mallon, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Siddiqui

Anyone who has ever dealt with Eversource knows that they rarely do long-term planning - just reaction to developments being built, so let's just look at this as a way of assisting them. I'm sure they do need the new substation. The only question is where it should be located.

Addendum: There were concerns expressed during Public Comment and by some city councillors regarding potential adverse health effects associated with the electromagnetic fields adjacent to major electrical infrastructure such as the one proposed on Fulkerson Street. I wonder if they are aware that there are several high voltage underground transmission lines criss-crossing the city. Should we all run for the exits?

Order #5. That the Central Square Massachusetts Avenue sidewalk maintenance/repairs and replacement tree planting become part of the River Street/Barron Plaza project to bring Central Square back to the original circa 1990 intent.   Councillor Carlone, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon

Sure, fix up the sidewalks of Central Square and then some. I'm not sure that the "1990 intent" is necessarily the appropriate standard. There have been many reconfigurations of the sidewalks and streets of Central Square over the years and not all have been for the best.

Order #6. City Council support of traffic safety bills SD.847/HD.1653, SD.1461 and SD.1383/HD.1534.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern

The most significant of these (to me) is the setting of a safe passing distance of vulnerable road users, including cyclists. Nobody should get buzzed by a ton or more of flying steel, and that includes people standing on the sides of roadways. I also like the use of red light cameras, but you know all too well this will lead to hours of pointless debate about the evils of surveillance and the inalienable rights of scofflaws.

Order #7. Proclaim Feb 12, 2019 as Darwin Day in Cambridge.   Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

You can use the opportunity to announce the Darwin Awards.

Late Order #12. City Council support of “An Act promoting housing opportunity and mobility through eviction sealing (SD 526 and HD 3815 HOMES).”   Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Toomey

The concern expressed in the Order is that if a tenant files a complaint against a landlord it will go on the tenant's "permanent record" and may make renting more difficult in the future. That's a perfectly reasonable concern, though I don't have much sympathy for repeat offenders.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 12, 2018 to discuss formation of a city commission dedicated to providing a forum for exploring and addressing the concerns of undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate and other post-high school students in Cambridge.

I wish I could have attended this hearing, but I was busy teaching some of the very same people this proposal is about. I do wonder if the students the City Council hears from are really a representative sample. I somehow doubt it.

Addendum: Several councillors chimed in on this. I have to say that forming a commission of young people that deliberates only about things of concern to young people seems awfully self-serving. A much better perspective (and one expressed by some councillors) was the importance of aggressive outreach to younger people who might serve on the whole range of City Boards & Commissions - maybe even some new ones. My suggestion is that we create the Board of Fun and charge it with coming up with ways to make Cambridge more fun for people of all ages. I can't imagine the Planning Board ever generating plans for miniature golf and/or batting cages. It took the Charles River Conservancy to bring the skate park to North Point.

Communications & Reports #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a memorandum from Councillor Kelley regarding Tree Removal Comments.

Councillor Kelley makes some good points in his memo. The real problem, however, is the complete inflexibility of the moratorium proposal some councillors are backing. The inability last week of four city councillors to understand the meaning of due process continues to stun me. Will blind zeal rule the day or will an adult legislator emerge with a thoughtful compromise that provides some flexibility for homeowners faced with difficult decisions? The hearing on Feb 14 should be very telling. - Robert Winters


Coming up soon on the Cambridge Civic Front:

Wed, Feb 20

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

Mon, Feb 25

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Tues, Feb 26

10:00am   The City Council's Human Services and Veterans Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the lessons learned from the death of Laura Levis, and to discuss what measures are being enacted to instill a greater level of confidence in local Cambridge Health Alliance centers to prevent another occurrence of this nature. This meeting will be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

2:00pm   The City Council's Transportation and Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the MBTA’s Better Bus Project report as it relates to proposed changes to bus lines and service throughout Cambridge.  (Sullivan Chamber)

5:30pm   Roundtable/Working Meeting between the City Council and School Committee to discuss plans for the Tobin/VLUS school design and construction process. This meeting will be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Feb 27

2:00pm   The City Council's Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to review unsolved and/or aging homicide investigations in Cambridge, to include “cold” case work and limitations, legal or tactical, on sharing relevant information with the general public.  (Sullivan Chamber)

5:30pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Title 12 entitled “Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places” by adding a new chapter 12.22 entitled “Cycling Safety Ordinance”. This meeting will be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Thurs, Feb 28

5:30pm   School Committee Special Education and Student Supports Subcommittee meeting  (School Committee Conference Room, CRLS, 459 Broadway)

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the District’s reading curriculum, Foundations, Multi-Tiered Student Supports, and reading interventions, including Reading Recovery. It is anticipated that this meeting will end no later than 7:30pm.

Mon, Mar 4

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Tues, Mar 5

6:00pm   The City Council's Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on the Affordable Housing Overlay District. This meeting will be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Mar 6

1:00pm   The City Council's Transportation and Public Utilities Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss how Transit Benefits Ordinance are used in other cities to further sustainable transportation goals, and whether Cambridge could benefit from implementing a Transit Benefit Ordinance.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Mar 13

8:00-9:30am   Recycling Advisory Committee (RAC) Meeting  (Sullivan Chamber, City Hall)

3:00pm   The City Council's Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss under what circumstance the City of Cambridge might be interested in submitting a home rule petition to allow the City Council or another branch of Municipal Government to define, if, where and how public consumption of cannabis might be allowed in Cambridge.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Mon, Mar 18

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Mar 20

4:00pm   The City Council's Public Safety Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the implications of identity theft and cybercrime on local residents and businesses to include Cambridge Police Departmental responses to these events and possible proactive measures to help people protect against such crimes.  (Ackermann Room)

5:00pm   The City Council's Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on the Affordable Housing Overlay District. This meeting will be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Mon, Mar 25

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Mar 27

3:00pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss a zoning petition filed by Melissa and Christopher Grippo et al to amend the Zoning Ordinance by adding at the end of section 5.30.11 a sentence that reads; not with standing the foregoing, in Industry B District, a hotel use (Section 4.31.2) shall be governed by the second number (4.0) for purposes of determining the maximum ratio of floor area to lot area. This meeting will be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Thurs, Mar 28

5:00pm   The City Council's Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue discussions on the Affordable Housing Overlay District. This meeting will be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Mon, Apr 1

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Apr 3

5:30pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the zoning petition filed by Stephen R. Karp, Trustee of Cambridge Side Galleria Trust to add a new Section 13.100 to Article 13 and amend the zoning map to add a new PUD-8 District Overlay. This meeting will be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Cambridge Public Schools (official website) Cambridge School Committee website
School Committee Meetings School Committee Members & Subcommittees
The Unofficial Guide to School Choices for the Cambridge Kindergarten Lottery

Picking through the pieces of the Jan 28, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda

It's a twister!Here's my initial selection of the agenda items that either I find interesting or which are sure to bring out a crowd:

Manager's Agenda #3. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $175,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Department Extraordinary Expenditures account to fund a Climate Change Resilience Analysis which will focus on zoning recommendations.

Another $175,000 for a Climate Change Resilience Analysis? Didn't we do this not so long ago?

Applications & Petitions #4. A Zoning Petition Has been received from Melissa Grippo and Christian Grippo, et al, requesting the City Council to vote to amend Section 5.30.11 of the Zoning Ordinance by adding the following sentence at the end of that section: “Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the Industry B District, a hotel use (Section 4.31.2), shall be governed by the second number (4.0) for purposes of determining the Maximum Ratio of Floor Area to Lot Area.”

I don't know nuthin' about it, but there's now another zoning petition in the queue.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to review the City’s communications and emergency response policies and protocols related to flooding resulting from infrastructure failures.   Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Kelley

Order #2. City Council support for I-90 Hybrid Plan with request for further review.   Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

BIG projects can be fun because when the scale of spending is large it creates opportunities to do some creative things around the edges of the necessary stuff. Envision that.

Order #5. City Council support of HD2395: An act to further provide a rental arrearage program.   Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern, Councillor Siddiqui

This is the kind of idea I can get behind - assisting people to get through a bad patch with some transitional assistance. It makes a lot more sense than some of the other proposals that have been floating around over the past year.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City departments to conduct a formal and professional financial assessment of the additional value created for the owner/petitioner by up-zonings for developments of more than 50,000 square feet.   Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan

I suspect the motivation behind this is not just information-gathering. It sure seems like a prelude to extracting more "community benefit" money out of proposed developments - or maybe just creating a political basis for not granting zoning relief at all. Naively, I would still like to believe that zoning should be based on good planning rather than on who's going to share the spoils.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 9, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.66 entitled “Tree Protection” to amend section 8.66.40 entitled “Applicability” and by adding a new section 8.66.055 entitled “Procedure for other projects.”

Order #7. That the tree protection ordinance amendment discussed at the Ordinance Committee hearing held on Wed, Jan 9, 2019 and referenced in Committee Report #3 of Jan 28, 2019 be further amended per additional language.   Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Kelley

Basically, the sponsors want to enact a one-year moratorium on tree "removal permits" (where have we heard that phrase before) except for dead, diseased, or dangerous trees. This doesn't seem to allow any discretion at all to property owners, and it treats ordinary small-scale homeowners just as harshly as those big evil developers. If you violate this prohibition they'll make you pay into a tree replacement fund. I'm sure this committee report and order will bring out the troops to public comment, but there are some serious problems with this proposal.

Beyond the simple fact that there has not been proper legal notice (a moratorium is a lot stricter than a requirement to seek approval by the City Arborist), it also completely disrespects the rights of property owners to manage their own property. Furthermore, it would appear that the required payment for violating the moratorium will likely be well in excess of the cost of the tree removal. Most property owners would probably be OK with a reasonable ordinance that would dissuade them from wholesale deforestation of their property, but I seriously doubt whether there would be support for an ordinance that removed all discretion. Most property owners actually remove trees reluctantly and they certainly don't want to have to appear before the Tree Tribunal whenever they are faced with such a decision.

This is a municipal election year and it's pretty clear that some people are trying to make tree protection a defining issue for the upcoming election. So let me dabble in a little political calculus for you. There are two, maybe three city councillors who stand to gain politically by being the tree champions. The councillors who will be collecting those #1 Votes are the ones who already have them from those voters who are rallying around this moratorium proposal. Any other councillors will be getting a #3 at best, and those preferences will count for nothing. On the other hand, there are a lot of homeowners - and that includes a lot of environmentally-conscious homeowners - who will not be particularly keen about having their hands tied even though they probably won't be reaching for the axe anytime during the next 12 months.

Every week it seems like the current City Council shows just how little faith they have in the people who elect them.

UPDATE: The City Council passed to a 2nd Reading the proposed revision to the Tree Ordinance included in the Committee Report (as amended in the report). Though there was spirited public comment favoring Order #7 - the proposed moratorium and punitive fines ($300/day) for removing a significant tree, the City Council voted 5-4 to send that proposal to the Ordinance Committee for an actual hearing and possible revision. This was really the only reasonable course of action, but Councillors Zondervan and Devereux apparently feel that discretionary tree removal, even by a homeowner, is the moral equivalent of murder. Councillors Kelley, Mallon, Simmons, Toomey, and Mayor McGovern voted in favor of due process; while Councillors Carlone, Devereux, Siddiqui, and Zondervan would have preferred immediate action without any public notice. There has never been any hearing where this punitive moratorium was on the agenda and where property owners could address their concerns. Councillors Zondervan and Devereux made it quite clear that they believe that informing people after a law is passed constitutes adequate notice. Democracy, representation, and due process apparently mean little to these councillors. - RW

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the City Solicitor, in consultation with the Election Commission, to report back on the legality and constitutionality of the proposed “Cambridge Publicly Financed Municipal Election Program” and the “Cambridge Municipal Election People’s Pledge.”   Councillor Toomey, Councillor Kelley

Though I would like to see the legal opinion on these ideas, I still think they are ill-conceived for Cambridge municipal elections.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Carlone Co-Chair and Councillor Quinton Zondervan, Co-Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 29, 2018 to discuss Urban Form Recommendations from the Community Development Department.

Speaking of municipal elections....

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula M. Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councilor E. Denise Simmons, Co-Chair and Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui Co-Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Nov 28, 2018 to discuss the proposed Affordable Housing Overlay District and on the first annual Inclusionary Zoning report.

Here's an idea - Let the City's policy be simply to maintain the subsidized housing stock that already exists and add to it via Inclusionary Zoning. We're already way ahead of the game compared to almost every other city or town in Massachusetts.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from City Clerk Donna P. Lopez, transmitting a communication from Councillor Mallon, transmitting notes from the meeting of the Mayor's Arts Task Force from Jan 10, 2019.

These Arts Task Force minutes sometimes read like the psychiatrist's notes at a wacky therapy session. How does that make you feel? - RW


Jan 21 - Which potential 2019 City Council election campaign accounts have been active this year? (Updated)
[Not all of those listed will actually be candidates in 2019 and there may be others not listed here. You decide.]
You can sort the table or leave comments here.

Cambridge Community Electricity Program to Fund Development of Local Solar Project, Provide Savings to Consumers
The City’s new contract with Direct Energy will increase local renewable energy production and provide lower electricity rates than Eversource Basic Service.

The Cambridge Community Electricity Program is launching a new model for using the City’s electricity aggregation to directly create more local renewable electricity. Effective January 15, 2019, the program will collect a small amount of money, $0.002/kWh, from all participants as part of their regular electricity bill, which will be used to fund a new local solar project. Once built, the solar project will provide green electricity to everyone enrolled in the Cambridge Community Electricity Program.City Seal

The new program model is made possible through a 24-month electricity supply contract with Direct Energy. This contract offers new program prices that are fixed from January 2019 through January 2021. Participants in the Standard Green option will receive greener electricity than available through Eversource Basic Service by supporting the new local solar project. The Standard Green price will change to 11.12 cents/kWh, which is lower than Eversource’s January 2019 through June 2019 residential price of 13.704 cents/kWh.

The previous 100% Green option is now the new and improved 100% Green Plus option, which current 100% Green participants will be automatically enrolled in. 100% Green Plus participants will continue to receive 100% renewable electricity through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) from existing renewable energy projects in New England and will receive additional solar electricity from the local solar project. The 100% Green Plus price will be 11.94 cents/kWh, also less than Eversource’s winter 2019 Basic Service price. Any Cambridge resident or business can opt into 100% Green Plus at any time.

“This innovative model for our Community Electricity Program supports Cambridge’s local economy and furthers our renewable energy goals without having a negative impact on personal finances,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We are proud to continue pioneering programs that lower the carbon footprint of our community in cost-effective ways.”

Beginning in February 2019, Direct Energy will replace Agera Energy as the supplier listed on Eversource electricity bills. Participants will continue to receive and pay one bill from Eversource, which will be responsible for delivering electricity to Cambridge and for addressing power outages. Those who are eligible for discounts from Eversource will continue to receive the same benefits. Those with solar panels on their property will continue to receive net metering credits, which will be calculated based on the Eversource Basic Service rate, not on the program rate.

Savings cannot be guaranteed for future Eversource rate periods because Eversource’s prices change every 6 months for residential and small business customers and every 3 months for large business customers. Program participation is not required; participants can opt out of the program at any time with no penalty or fee and return to Eversource Basic Service.

All active accounts will be automatically enrolled in the new contract with Direct Energy unless participants choose to opt out. New Eversource electricity accounts in Cambridge will also be automatically enrolled in the program.

To switch between Standard Green or 100% Green Plus enrollment options or to opt out of the program, call Direct Energy at 1-866-968-8065. Cambridge residents and businesses currently enrolled with the Cambridge Community Electricity Program do not need to take any action to continue their enrollment as part of this new program model.

Additional information is available on the program website at www.masspowerchoice.com/cambridge. Questions or comments can be directed to Cambridge Community Electricity program consultants at 1-844-379-9934 or cambridge@masspowerchoice.com.

Launched in July 2017, the Cambridge Community Electricity Program is an electricity aggregation, which uses the bulk purchasing power of the entire community to negotiate a price and increase the amount of renewable energy in the City’s electricity supply. The City uses a competitive bidding process to choose an electricity supplier for residents and businesses and to secure the best price possible for the community while advancing the City’s sustainability goals.

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

Cambridge ChronicleIf you would like to subscribe or pick up a free paper copy at various sites, I encourage you to do so. It really is The Paper of Record.

Cambridge School Committee authorizes investigation of member’s use of N-word; students say voices overlooked (Feb 7, 2019)

Warm Hearts for Warm Feet Wool Sock Drive returns for second year (Feb 6, 2019)

Neighborhood association elects new officers at annual meeting (Feb 6, 2019)

MBTA proposes 6.3 percent fare hike (Jan 28, 2019)

Should students have a say on policy? (Jan 28, 2019)

STATE HOUSE ROUNDUP -- Federal employees feel shutdown’s bite (Jan 21, 2019)

Cambridge eliminates fees for street performers (Jan 15, 2019)

Police continue to seek answers, assistance in Cambridge murder (Jan 11, 2019)

Cambridge looks to add gender-neutral option on birth certificates (Jan 8, 2019)

Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest accepting submissions (Jan 8, 2019)

Cambridge City Council passes CCOPS law (Dec 26, 2018)

Recreational marijuana is here, so what’s the point of medical? (Dec 24, 2018)

Cambridge’s Kendall Cinema sells to billionaire ‘lover of cinema’ (Dec 20, 2018)

CPA fund lacks cash in Massachusetts (Dec 18, 2018)

Cambridge’s Transit Committee to pitch dozens of ideas to MBTA for improved bus service (Dec 17, 2018)

Cambridge police return to Central Square with opening of substation (Dec 11, 2018)

Paved path for pedestrians, cyclists breaks ground on Watertown-Cambridge Greenway (Dec 10, 2018)

‘A win-win for everyone:’ Plans for Millers River, Grand Junction path move forward (Dec 4, 2018)

FCC rule could gut funding for Cambridge community TV (Nov 30, 2018)

Two arrested, one injured after shootout in Cambridge (updated Nov 29, 2018)

Cambridge makes moves to start $25M renovation of fire headquarters (Nov 28, 2018)

Cambridge football loses late in game after Somerville rallies for win (Nov 22, 2018)

Cambridge residents asked to vote on budgeting (Nov 21, 2018)

Cambridge Mayor McGovern, City Manager DePasquale to deliver State of the City Address (Nov 21, 2018)

DA: Forensics link man with Cambridge ties to 1969 murder of Harvard student (Nov 20, 2018)

Cambridge leaders look for solutions after cyclist killed near Science Museum (Nov 20, 2018)

Controversial politics, early voting fueled turnout in Massachusetts elections (Nov 19, 2018)

Yard waste collection to continue through Dec 14 (Nov 16, 2018)

Baker open to fee hike to boost state CPA match (Nov 16, 2018)

Cambridge Police Department welcomes 10 new officers (Nov 13, 2018)

Cambridge cyclist killed by dump truck (Nov 9, 2018)

Enroot building housing almost a dozen Cambridge nonprofits to be sold (Oct 30, 2018)

Will a dog park be coming to the front lawn of Cambridge’s main library? (Oct 30, 2018)

Cambridge offering retrofit advisor service to help apartments and condos save energy (Oct 26, 2018)

Resident parking permits for 2019 available (Oct 26, 2018)

Cambridge man arrested for Craigslist post offering to buy cop killers a drink (Sept 19, 2018)

Members announced for new task force to support the arts in Cambridge (Sept 18, 2018)

Salvation for Sancta Maria: Nursing facility to remain open in Cambridge (Sept 17, 2018)

Global market complicates local recycling, frustrates residents (Sept 17, 2018)

What's Coming Up at the Jan 14, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting?

Calendar - Jan 14, 2019Here's my take on the interesting stuff this week:

Manager's Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-126, regarding the River Street Infrastructure and Streetscape Project.

The basics: The outreach and design processes will occur throughout 2019 and into early 2020. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2020. $34 million has already been appropriated for the design and construction of sewer and drainage infrastructure improvements and surface enhancements on River Street between Memorial Drive and Central Square, including Carl Barron Plaza.

Manager's Agenda #6. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-120, regarding the focus of Envision Cambridge goals during community presentations.

If you read the infographic and fact sheet that's meant "to clarify the 100% affordable housing overlay concept and address any misconceptions related to its potential implementation or impact" it becomes abundantly clear that the Community Development Department has already made its decisions and is now in the process of conducting an advertising campaign to sell it (even though it has received dismal reviews in most venues where it was presented - for good reasons).

Manager's Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-97, regarding a report on updating vacant property database and reviewing strategies presented in the Storefront Vacancies Best Practices Report.

I just hope people understand that popup/activation/placemaking or art displays in vacant storefronts is a pretty lame substitute for the real thing. This is really about finding a new economic equilibrium between retail demand and the costs associated with occupying commercial space - and you can't blame it all on Amazon. My own admittedly naive view is that for multi-story buildings with ground floor retail, that retail space should be re-conceived as something akin to the utilities in the basement - an essential part of the building that should not necessarily be viewed as a primary revenue-generator for the property. Let the upper floors pick up some of the tab.

Resolution #10. Retirement of Timothy MacDonald from the Water Department.   Mayor McGovern

Resolution #12. Retirement of Robert Reardon from the Assessing Department.   Mayor McGovern

Tim MacDonaldThis is a double-whammy for me personally. I have known Tim MacDonald for over 30 years - ever since I served on a Water & Sewer Advisory Committee appointed by then-Mayor Al Vellucci. Tim served as Manager of Water Operations and Director of Water Operations. Blessed with a sense of humor and good nature to go along with his experience and expertise, Tim has long been one of the greatest assets of the Water Department.

Robert Reardon may be one of the most qualified people in his field in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He's also one of my all-time favorite people in City Hall. He could write a book on the political history of Cambridge. Maybe he should now that he'll have time on his hands. I don't know whether to congratulate him or to beg him to reconsider.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to direct the appropriate City personnel to compile a report outlining how a prolonged Federal Government shut-down may impact the people of Cambridge.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Siddiqui

There are two sides to this inquiry. First, how will the lack of federal services and funds (for things like housing vouchers) affect residents who need those services and how many residents are affected? Second, how many residents of Cambridge have been furloughed from federal jobs? I'll add that banks, landlords, utilities, etc. should really step up and grant time extensions on bills and maybe even extend low or zero-interest loans in lieu of paychecks since (I hope) we all know this can't go on for too much longer.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Managing Director of the Water Department on whether the department is monitoring aged pipelines to prevent unexpected breaks and if information on the age of the pipes is readily available.   Councillor Toomey

This provides an appropriate follow-up to last week's Order on the age and maintenance of the city's water mains.

Order #5. That the Neighborhood and Long-Term Planning Committee hold a public hearing to explore the feasibility of Transit X and their potential to provide an affordable, equitable, safe, practical, congestion-reducing, and eco-friendly public transportation solution for our community.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone

There was a guy going around maybe a year ago trying to sell people on this idea of mini-monorails running all over the city. It still seems a bit like something from a Fritz Lang film.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and the City’s legal services providers on establishing a system of information-sharing and/ or alternative method for making available that data which may be of beneficial use to the City in analyzing displacement.   Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Carlone

Analysis is good, but please don't unfairly punish small-scale owner-occupant landlords who are just trying to manage their modest investment. I grow increasingly suspicious every week of the City Council's intentions. The Order provides a list of 46 outcomes of an eviction proceeding and not once does it make reference to an eviction being fairly carried out for justifiable reasons.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to explore the feasibility of designing the next iteration of the Cambridge Community Electricity program.   Councillor Zondervan, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui

If City intervention can land me a better deal on electricity, I'm all in. Otherwise, no thanks. - Robert Winters


Wrapping Up 2018

As we turn the corner to 2019 - a municipal election year - I will try to produce a narrative and some reflections on what went down during the last 12 months. For the curious, here is my list of things that went on in the Sullivan Chamber. It will be a challenge to cobble a coherent narrative from these and other events from this year, but I may give it the old college try in the next day or two (or maybe not). - RW

Election of the Mayor (Jan 1)
appointment of Special Ad-Hoc Rules Committee to review the City Council rules (Jan 8)
selection of Councillors Dennis Carlone and Craig Kelley as Ordinance Committee Co-Chairs (Jan 8)
Planning Board recommendation to adopt parts of the Kroon, et al, Harvard Square Zoning Petition (Jan 22)
City Council Rules amended and placed on Unfinished Business (Jan 22)
Rules Adopted (Jan 29)
Retirement of Renata von Tscharner from the Charles River Conservancy. Councillor Toomey (Jan 29)
Request for update on marijuana-related zoning and regulation (Jan 29)
Order #4 to explore funding options for the possibility of creating a Business Improvement District (BID) for Central Square. (Jan 29)
City Council Committee Assignments for the Council Term 2018-2019 (Jan 29)

Order #7 supporting Right of First Refusal Bill (Feb 5)
report on possibility of a supermarket opening at 20 Sidney Street (Feb 12)
Order #4 re: to establish a new working group to evaluated bike lane pilot (Feb 12)
Order #5 re: to create additional opportunities for the community to evaluate and understand the plan to redesign Inman Square (Feb 12)
AAA bond rating reports (Feb 26)
vote to approve the use of the new voting equipment and to discontinue the use of the existing voting equipment (Feb 26)
Retirement of Elaine DeRosa from the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (Feb 26)
Congratulations and thanks to William B. "Bill" King on the occasion of his retirement (Feb 26)
direct the new bicycle lane working group, once it has been convened, to hold a series of “listening sessions” at the senior buildings (Feb 26)
initiate study of pedestrian/bicycle/shuttle bridge at Alewife (Feb 26)
home rule petition for a Cambridge Right of First Refusal Legislation - Charter Right (Feb 26)

home rule petition for a Cambridge Right of First Refusal Legislation fails 3-6 (Mar 5)
Resolution on the death of William "Bill" Noble (Mar 5)
Carlone's cribbed text for First Refusal (Mar 5)
information from the Historical Commission relating to the proposed landmark designation for 40 Cottage Street - ignored by Council (Mar 5)
confer with the Election Commission regarding the possibility of instituting early voting in the 2019 municipal election (Mar 19)
block rates for water consumption and sewer use for the period beginning Apr 1, 2018 (Mar 26)
accepting the City of Boston's invitation to join their intergenerational housing pilot program (Mar 26)
conduct, compile, and publish an inventory of all City-owned vacant buildings and lots with the City's plans for them (Mar 26)
drafting of an Arts Overlay District ordinance in the Central Square Cultural District (Mar 26)
compile a list of single family homes which could be purchased by the Affordable Housing Trust and converted to Single Room Occupancies or Housing Cooperatives (Mar 26)

feasibility of requiring property owners to give the City written notice when a storefront becomes vacant (Apr 2)
work with Trinity Property Management to give the nearly 200 tenants of the EMF building additional time beyond Apr 30, 2018 (Apr 2)
FY19 submitted budget and appropriation orders (Apr 23)
Zoning Petition was received from Douglas Brown Et Al (Apr 23)
additional commitment of $20 million from the City’s budget is devoted each year over the next five years toward the City’s efforts to preserve and create affordable housing units (Apr 23)
proposal put forward by the City Manager to amend Chapter 12.16, Section 12.16.170 of the Municipal Code, (the “Street Performers Ordinance”) (Apr 30)
develop a program the “Cambridge Publicly Financed Municipal Election Program” for City Council and School Committee candidates (Apr 30)
provide a report on the history of Constellation Charitable Foundation's Parcel C in Kendall Square (Apr 30)
Zondervan proposes increases in Resident Permit Parking fees (Apr 30)

Resident Permit Parking fees - adoped 6-3 as amended (May 7)
Retirement of Stuart Dash from the Community Development Department (May 7)
develop a small business parking pilot that would allow temporary on-street employee parking during typical daytime operating hours (May 7)
small business parking pilot (Inman Sq) to allow temporary on-street employee parking voted 5-4 (May 14)
updated schedule for resubmitting a revised draft of the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance (May 14)
complete a tree canopy study based on the April 2018 LiDAR data before the end of 2018 (May 14)
Home Rule Petition - Inman Square reconfiguration (May 21)
Budget Approval (May 21)
Cured-In-Place Plastic Pipe (CIPP) and other plastic pipes (May 21)
create a structured commercial tax rate system for FY20 that prioritizes lowering the tax rate for small businesses (May 21)
activate the Front Lawn of City Hall in the afternoon with games (May 21)
housing eviction, etc. data collection request (May 21)
feasibility of expanding the curbside composting program to small businesses and nonprofits (May 21)

Cured-In-Place Plastic Pipe (CIPP) - Charter Right (June 4)
Vellucci Plaza Home Rule - Charter Right (June 4)
structured commercial tax rate system for FY20 - Charter Right (June 4)
Retirement of Virginia "Ginnie" Kelley from the Election Commission (June 18)
Retirement of Susan Maycock from the Cambridge Historical Commission (June 18)
Order to establish an aggressive new strategy to reduce the violence in the Port and Wellington-Harrington neighborhoods (June 18)
Three Zondervan tree Orders (June 18)
Committee Report on sale of adult-use cannabis (June 18)
Zondervan memo on Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force (June 18)
appropriation of $2,000,000 to provide funds for repairs at multiple firehouses (June 25)
revised draft of the proposed Surveillance Technology Ordinance (June 25)
Rainwater & Flat Roof Zoning Petition (Kelley, McGovern, Zondervan) (June 25)
community engagement and outreach – bicycle lanes in the area of South Massachusetts Avenue (June 25)
proposed zoning amendment to section 4.22 of the zoning code (Accessory Units) (June 25)
new initiative that will seek to place Port residents (ages 18 and over) on paths to jobs with family-sustaining wages (June 25)
proposed amendments to Street Performers Ordinance (June 25)

Failure to pass Brown-Nakagawa Petition to 2nd reading (July 30)
Cannabis regulation Zoning Petition (July 30)
many opposition letters re: Nakagawa-Brown (July 30)
Retirement of Ellen Shacter; death of George Teso; death of Richelle Robinson (July 30)
Sherman St RR quiet zone (July 30)

CPA votes (Sept 17)
appointment of Elaine DeRosa as a member of the Cambridge Housing Authority for a term of 5 years (Sept 17)
Planning Board recommendation to adopt the Cannabis Zoning Petition with suggested revisions (Sept 17)
Two Sancta Maria Orders (before we learned they were staying) (Sept 17)
Acceptance of Home Rule legislation re: Inman Sq. reconfiguration (Sept 17)
Zondervan's "rescind" effort re: Brown Petition (Sept 17)
establishment of Sherman Street Quiet Zone (Sept 24)
Housing Committee report on Overlay, etc. (Sept 24)

Toomey orders pushing his campaign finance notions (Oct 1)
Icelandic crosswalk design (Oct 1)
Envision Cambridge draft recommendations to be reviewed by respective City Council committees (Oct 1)
request list of streets to drop to 20mph (Oct 1)
20mph limit committee report (Oct 1)
Additional $5 million appropriation from Free Cash toward Inman Sq. project (Oct 15)
Confirmation of Elaine DeRosa to the Cambridge Housing Authority Board (Oct 15)
Order requestiong written timeline of what steps must take place in order to take final vote on Affordable Housing Overlay (Oct 15)
Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Sept 27, 2018 to discuss Affordable Housing Overlay District (Oct 15)
Kelley memorandum regarding Inman Square Redesign Project (Oct 15)
Sundry communications received relating to opposition of City Envision proposal (Oct 29)
Order and HR Petition for early voting in City Council and School Committee elections (Oct 29)
Request for report on status of the Cambridge Street Bicycle Safety Demonstration Project (Oct 29)
Ordinance Committee report re: Cannabis Zoning (Oct 29)

Funding for new Police Reporting Station at 628 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square (Nov 5)
Ending Broadband Task Force and funding digital equity research initiative (Nov 5)
Community Benefits Advisory Committee - evaluator, etc. (Nov 5)
Further Study Needed on First Street Garage (Nov 5)
Rethink Approach to Envision Cambridge (Nov 5)
resilience task force (Brown/Nakagawa) appointed - 25 members (Nov 19)
draft surveillance ordinance (Nov 19)
draft street performers ordinance amendments (Nov 19)
order calling for a student commission (Nov 19)
Simmons Order asking for region-wide discussion about affordable housing (Nov 19)
Order requestion draft zoning and public health regulations for urban farming (Nov 26)

report on the Grand Junction Overlay District (Dec 3)
easement and accepting the conveyance of a 2nd easement for the purpose of constructing a multi-use path along the Grand Junction Railway (Dec 3)
Alexandria zoning petition for Grand Junction Pathway Overlay District (Dec 3)
Flat Roof Zoning Petition again (Dec 3)
Accessory Dwelling Unit Zoning Petition again (Dec 3)
Order re: Inclusionary Tenants' Association (Dec 3)
Legal Opinion on Portland's Relocation Assistance Ordinance (Dec 3)
Order calling for committee or working group to help Council work through the goals and potential options of publicly financed elections (Dec 3)
various cannabis related orders (Dec 3)
Cannabis passed to 2nd Reading (Dec 3)
appointment of an Advisory Committee on Climate Resilience Zoning (Dec 10)
Legal Opinion on Portland's Relocation Assistance Ordinance adopted 9-0 (Dec 10)
Surveillance Ordinance ordained as amended (Dec 10)
Street Performers Ordinance ordained as amended (Dec 10)
City Council go on record in strong support of Bill H.4075, Act to Promote Housing Choices. Councillor Simmons (Dec 10)
City Council support of Bill H.4075, Act to Promote Housing Choices - fails 4-4-1 (Dec 17)
Cannabis zoning ordained (Dec 17)
City Clerk Donna P. Lopez for her 49 years of service to the City of Cambridge and best wishes for a truly happy and joyful retirement. (Dec 17)
Order asking for updating the Zoning Code's Table of Uses (Dec 17)
Order requiring that a business entity’s beneficial ownership be disclosed in all Cambridge real estate transactions (Dec 17)
Order for obtaining and analyzing further detailed and specific eviction data (Dec 17)
Announcement of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Tenant Displacement (Dec 17)

January & February Programs (and Beyond) at Fresh Pond Reservation

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

Fresh Air Walks
Dates: Wednesdays, 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    These casual walks, led by Ranger Tim, will encompass Fresh Pond and take an informal look at each week in nature, life, and the city. Come alone or bring your co-workers! Rain or shine. Questions? Contact: tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov
Seasonal Walkabout at Lusitania Wet Meadow
Date: Friday, February 8th, 11:00am to 12:00pm
Place: Meets at the “Meeting Rocks” (where the meadow meets the perimeter road trail)
    Come out for a seasonal walkabout with Ranger Jean at the Lusitania Wet Meadow. We will monitor wildlife by sign, track or presence, and make note of weather, state of plants, condition of water and other abiotic resources. You can help chart the seasonal changes of some of our most active wildlife spots, or simply come to enjoy the walk. Come dressed to be outdoors for the hour. All knowledge levels welcome. We will be walking off-path. Service dogs only, please. To RSVP, please contact Ranger Jean at (508) 562-7605 or email jrogers@cambridgeMA.gov. Heavy rain postpones to the following Friday.
Positive Eco-Ethics in a Human-dominated World
Date: Monday, February 11th, 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Place: Meets inside the Water Treatment Plant (front door), 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Together, let's discuss the state of nature and main environmental worldviews, including anthropocentrism, biocentrism, and ecocentrism. Let's explore and consider a positive and more balanced worldview to help move us in a direction that gets us back as a critical component of nature in nature as opposed to being apart from it. For any question, contact Claire at claire.oneill@earthwiseaware.org Learn about Earthwise Aware » https://www.earthwiseaware.org/
Evergreens! Are they all the same?
Date: Sunday, February 17th, 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Join Ranger Jean for a short exploratory walk where we will explore what makes an evergreen an evergreen and how different trees express these differences. Come discover the wide variety that can be seen here at Fresh Pond. This program will venture on- and off-trail, please dress for the weather and wear sturdy footwear. In case of inclement weather, this program will be held indoors. Please contact jrogers@cambridgeMA.gov to RSVP.
Vacation Week: Creature Crafts!
Date: Tuesday, February 19th, 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Place: Meets at the Maynard Ecology Center, lower level of Neville Place (back building), 650 Concord Ave.
    This is a “drop-in” style program partnering with Green Cambridge’s Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project, so feel free to stop by for a little while or the whole duration! Between noon and 2pm we’ll have fun and different age appropriate arts and crafts to participate in and to help everyone better explore the nature and wildlife that surrounds our busy lives. For questions or directions, contact Ranger Tim at tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov.
Vacation Week: Ecology Hike through an Urban Woods
Date: Thursday, February 21st, 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station (under the clock tower), 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Ready your winter boots and let’s venture off-trail! Great for families, this program will take a close look at some of the things that make the woods habitable even in winter and learn about what animals call the City of Cambridge home. Be sure to bundle up! For questions or directions, contact Ranger Tim at tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov.
Read Across America: “Skylar’s Great Adventure”
Date: Sunday, February 24th, 11:00am to 12:00pm
Place: Meets at the Maynard Ecology Center, lower level of Neville Place (back building), 650 Concord Ave.
    Celebrate reading this year with the creators of “Skylar’s Great Adventure”, a recently published children’s book about the true story of Fresh Pond’s brave owlet. Hear the story and check out some other nature-themed books with the rangers to spark your learning curiosity in this national education initiative.
Calling All Artists!
Young, old, print, paint, and media! We’re looking for Fresh Pond-related artist submissions for our exhibit on March 17th, “Reflections on Fresh Pond”. Help us explore the beauty of this public land through any medium and see beyond the quiet of winter. Contact: tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov for more information.

Interested in Volunteering? Get hands on and give back to the land! Contact Ranger Tim at tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov to find out more!

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 is $10 and can be paid online or sent to 31 Mt. Pleasant St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

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

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

Tues, Oct 30, 2018 -- Today's Homework Assignment:
Please identify which policies, if any, from Cambridge's Growth Policy Document should be changed.
[To the best of my knowledge, these important policies have never been part of the discussion among the current Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee or its various Working Groups. Indeed, some of the current recommendations growing from the Envision Cambridge process clearly contradict some of these current policies. - RW]

Cambridge Growth Policy - Toward a Sustainable Future
1993, updated 2007
[Full Document - with graphics and narratives]

Percentage of Subsidized Housing Units (not including group quarters) - September 2017

Community Housing Units Subsidized Units % Rank (of 351) Notes
Statewide 2,692,186 262,223 9.7% - -
Chelsea 12,592 2,434 19.3% 3  
Boston 269,482 51,283 19.0% 4  
Bedford 5,322 972 18.3% 5  
Cambridge 46,690 6,911 14.8% 11 ~7,800 of 53,000 currently
Burlington 9,627 1,283 13.3% 17  
Andover 12,324 1,637 13.3% 18  
Needham 11,047 1,397 12.6% 25  
Lowell 41,308 5,180 12.5% 26  
Canton 8,710 1,090 12.5% 28  
Lynn 35,701 4,435 12.4% 29  
Concord 6,852 804 11.7% 34  
Lexington 11,946 1,321 11.1% 47  
Lincoln 2,153 238 11.1% 48  
Dedham 10,115 1,104 10.9% 49  
Westwood 5,389 576 10.7% 55  
Randolph 11,980 1,280 10.7% 56  
Framingham 27,443 2,871 10.5% 59  
Natick 14,052 1,458 10.4% 61  
Wilmington 7,788 799 10.3% 64  
Malden 25,122 2,542 10.1% 65  
Braintree 14,260 1,382 9.7% 70  
Somerville 33,632 3,250 9.7% 73 statewide average
Quincy 42,547 4,096 9.6% 75  
Brookline 26,201 2,454 9.4% 78  
Woburn 16,237 1,419 8.7% 86  
Revere 21,956 1,780 8.1% 102  
Melrose 11,714 932 8.0% 104  
Winthrop 8,253 638 7.7% 111  
Newton 32,346 2,425 7.5% 115  
Waltham 24,805 1,834 7.4% 120  
Medford 23,968 1,694 7.1% 133  
Watertown 15,521 1,072 6.9% 136  
Saugus 10,754 732 6.8% 139  
Everett 16,691 1,061 6.4% 150  
Wellesley 9,090 573 6.3% 152  
Arlington 19,881 1,121 5.6% 163  
Stoneham 9,399 495 5.3% 176  
Wayland 4,957 254 5.1% 181  
Milton 9,641 481 5.0% 187  
Weston 3,952 167 4.2% 207  
Belmont 10,117 365 3.6% 231  
Winchester 7,920 244 3.1% 244  

Note: It must be pointed out that the figures above only show subsidized units. In many cities and towns there are many "naturally occurring" affordable units, i.e. apartments that simply have affordable rents. In addition, some tenants live in unregulated apartments but pay reduced rent due to such mechanisms as Section 8 vouchers. The figures above should therefore be understood only as a baseline.

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.

AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.
AMC Local WalksSun, Feb 10. Bedford, Burlington & Lexington Municipal & Conservation Lands, MA. Very hilly 6-mi. wander through various conservation & municipal lands. 9:45am-2:30pm. Meet at the new Wilson Mill Park, Old Burlington Rd., Bedford, MA. From Rte. 128 exit 32 merge on Rte. 3N for 1.5 mi. to exit 26, turn L on Burlington Rd (Rte. 62) toward Bedford for 0.6 mi., turn sharp L on Old Burlington Rd. Pkg. lot is 0.3 mi. at dead end. Rain cancels. Conditions may require traction devices/snowshoes. L Mark Levine.
AMC Local WalksSun, Feb 17. McLains Woods, Groton. 1:00pm. We'll enjoy the scenery of woods, vernal pools, and beaver ponds on this loop thru a large area of conservation land. About 2 hours, moderate pace. Meet by the open field on the SW side of McLains Woods Rd, 42.6396N 71.5582W. L Olin Lathrop. AMC Local WalksMon, Feb 18. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike/snowshoe around pond, 10:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. If no snow, bring traction device for boots. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.
AMC Local WalksSun, Mar 10. Northeast Groton. 1:00pm. Explore a large protected area in the Groton/Westford/Tyngsboro corner. We'll see varied environments from beaver ponds to meadows to upland forest, and an old quarry. About 2 hours, moderate pace. Meet at the end of Cow Pond Brook Road in Groton, 42.6249N 71.5026W. L Olin Lathrop. AMC Local WalksSat, Mar 16. World's End Reservation, Hingham. 5 mile hike/snowshoe, 9:00am-noon. Bring snack/water. From Rte. 3 exit 14, take Rte. 228N 6.5 mi., L on Rte. 3A 1.0mi. to rotary, R on Summer St. 0.5 mi. to light, L on Martin's Lane to entr. $8 fee for non-members of the Trustees of Reservations. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.
AMC Local WalksSat, Mar 23. Walden Pond, Concord. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, across grassy meadows and through hemlock forest, to scenic Walden Pond. Visit a cove, once inhabited by Henry Thoreau. Enjoy sit-down break, on the shore of Walden. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at China Ruby Restaurant, in nearby Maynard, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Lincoln Train Station commuter parking lot. From Route 2, take Route 126 South for 2 miles. Turn left on Codman Road, follow to end. Turn left, see Train Station on left. L Brian Connolly. AMC Local WalksSun, Mar 24. Andres Art Institute Sculpture Garden, Brookline, NH. Explore trails through 140-acre hilltop international sculpture garden - largest in NE, w/views, constantly changing exhibits and interesting finds. Note, some steep sections & rough terrain. 9:45am-2:00pm. Take Rte. 2 W 20 mi. past Concord, MA rotary. R on Rte. 13N 15 mi., L Andres driveway (2.5 mi. N MA/NH state line). 100 yds to pkg. lot on R. Conditions may require traction devices/snowshoes. L Mark Levine.
AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 14. Rocky Hill Sanctuary and adjoining woodlands, Groton. 1:00pm. This is a great area to hike around in, with a beautiful point on Long Pond, beaver marshes, a heron rookerie, and more. About 2 hours, moderate pace. No dogs. Meet at the Rocky Hill Sanctuary parking area on Cardinal Lane in Groton, 42.5811N 71.5311W. L Olin Lathrop. AMC Local WalksSat, Apr 20. Crane Beach, Ipswich. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, across scenic sand dunes, and along the ocean beach. Beautiful desert landscapes, include pitch pine forest, views of Essex Bay, and sea birds. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at Woodman's Seafood Restaurant, in nearby Essex, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Crane Beach parking lot. Parking Fee. From Route 128, exit 14 in Gloucester, take Route 133 West for 5 miles. Turn right on Northgate Road. Then, turn right on Argilla Road, follow to beach. L Brian Connolly.
AMC Local WalksSat, May 4. Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 4 mile walk, around scenic Ponkapoag Pond, with visit to AMC Camp. Pleasant stroll across golf course, on maple tree walkway. Enjoy sit-down break, on the dock at AMC Camp. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at The Lodge Bar & Grill, in nearby Randolph, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Ponkapoag Golf Course parking lot. From Route 93/128, exit 2A, take Route 138 South for 0.7 mile. See Ponkapoag Golf Course parking lot on left. L Brian Connolly. AMC Local WalksSat, May 18. Crane Beach, Ipswich. Moderate pace 5 mile walk, across scenic sand dunes, and along the ocean beach. Beautiful desert landscapes, include pitch pine forest, views of Essex Bay, and sea birds. Walk followed by dinner/social hour at Woodman's Seafood Restaurant, in nearby Essex, at around 2:00pm. Meet 11:00am, at Crane Beach parking lot. Parking Fee. From Route 128, exit 14 in Gloucester, take Route 133 West for 5 miles. Turn right on Northgate Road. Then, turn right on Argilla Road, follow to beach. L Brian Connolly.
AMC Local WalksSun, May 19. The General Field and Surrenden Farms, Groton. 1:00pm. Come see this unusual conservation area with large open-field habitat and great views to the south and west. We'll also duck into woods for a bit and stroll along the beautiful Nashua River with conservation land on both sides. About 2 hours, moderate pace. Meet at the parking area at the top of the General Field, 42.5871N 71.5858W. L Olin Lathrop. AMC Local WalksSun, June 23. Groton Hills. 1:00pm. Come explore this large chunk of conservation land with varied topography, including beaver ponds, meadows, upland, and eskers. About 2 hours, moderate pace. Meet at the trailhead in the northeast end of a parking are on Chicopee Row roughly across from Fertiledale Drive, 42.6324N 71.5472W. L Olin Lathrop.

A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904

[original PDF]

Robert & Judy on Cambridge InsideOutCambridge InsideOut airs weekly every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm with producers/hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. We will have other guest hosts as well.

[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos (and now audio too!) of each]

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 371-372: Feb 5, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 369-370: Jan 29, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 367-368: Jan 15, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 365-366: Jan 8, 2019

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 363-364: Dec 18, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 361-362: Dec 11, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 359-360: Dec 4, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 357-358: Nov 27, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 355-356: Nov 20, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 353-354: Nov 13, 2018

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 351-352: Nov 6, 2018 w/Patrick Barrett

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 2015-2018 features 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

Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

Save the Groundhogs – Feb 4, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted Feb 4, 2019)

Picking through the pieces of the Jan 28, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted Jan 28, 2018)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – Jan 21, 2019

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Jan 21, 2019)

2019 Cambridge City Council Campaign Bank Reports – preliminary (posted Dec 25, 2018; updated Jan 21, 2019)

What’s Coming Up at the Jan 14, 2019 Cambridge City Council meeting? (posted Jan 12, 2019)

Kicking Off the New Year – Jan 7, 2019 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights (posted Jan 6, 2019)

The Misdirection of One Way Zoning – Just One Slippery Item on the Dec 17, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda (updated Dec 19, 2018)

Cambridge School Committee 2017 Campaign Finance Summaries and $/Vote (updated Dec 15, 2018)

Lotsa Ordainin’ To Do – Dec 10, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda (posted Dec 9, 2018)

Distribution of Cambridge voters by age: Nov 2012 – Nov 2018 (posted Nov 22, 2018)

On Deck for the Nov 5, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting (posted Nov 5, 2018)

Cambridge Growth Policy – Toward a Sustainable Future (posted Oct 31, 2018)

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Confirmed in Cambridge (posted Aug 24, 2018)

Tight spot on Huron Avenue (posted Aug 14, 2018 by John Allen)

The Marcia Deihl bicycling fatality (posted Mar 14, 2018 by John Allen)

A look at the Brattle Street bikeway (Feb 16, 2018 by John Allen)

Not left, Felton (by John Allen, posted Sept 24, 2017)

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

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

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)

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)

April Fools Day - 2017 (and here)     April Fool's Day - 2016 (and here)

April Fool's Day - 2015 (and here)     April Fool's Day - 2013 (and here)

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

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.

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

City Council Rules 2018-2019 (adopted January 29, 2018)

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

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

City Council Committees (for the current term)

School Committee Rules (Adopted January 1, 2018; Revised June 19, 2018)

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.

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