City Council Updates, BEUDO Talk, and More


I recently got back from a two week vacation in Guatemala which was wonderful! The trip was a time away – a time of reflection, recreation, and learning. One key appreciation was for our car emissions standards – the air anywhere near motor vehicles was noticeably more polluted. There were lots of mopeds since gas is so expensive – a good thing. And an appreciation for learning about the Maya people – who had hundreds of cities across Central America with some amazing advances: like knowing about vulcanization of rubber more than a thousand years before Goodyear figured it out, launching the tire industry…. I heard howler monkeys, saw a bunch of spider monkeys, and saw just how painstaking and challenging the task facing archeologists uncovering structures buried under a thousand years of jungle growth is. I met some volunteers out registering voters – there are more than 20 parties at the national level, so the elections seem even more complicated than Cambridge’s municipal ones! The time spent climbing pyramids and temples in ancient sites and kayaking around some lakes, and marveling at the textiles made with mostly natural dyes and hours upon hours of labor helped me recharge so I could re-commit to working on the range of issues we face.

Finally we have some winter! Snow fell this weekend and at least in much of New England it finally seems like winter…. The lack of snow has been sad to those of us who like snow and also who know that the climate warming has meant warmer winters, and may well end skiing in New England in the not too distant future. Personally I am hoping for more snow soon to go sledding and cross country skiing… and a reason to make some hot cocoa and mulled cider.

On this, the last week of Black History Month and first week of Women’s History Month, I encourage you to read Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – I just read it for a book club. And, for those into learning, send answers to the question: why was a new street in Cambridge Crossing named for her – what ties Harriet Jacobs to Cambridge?

Below are some comments on a few top line items and a few quick notes for tonight’s meeting.


City Council Updates

Response To Police Killing
I hope you all read the City Manager’s excellent letter in response to the fatal police shooting. There continues to be protests and demands from some in the community who want faster action. We all want answers – and yet I also unequivocally stand with the need for a thorough investigation, which will take time. I trust our District Attorney, Marian Ryan, who is one of the country’s best. And I have full confidence in Commissioner Elow. I am glad to know that the push for body cameras, which the prior City Manager did not implement, will now happen under the leadership of CM Huang. As co-chair of the Finance Committee, I have scheduled a committee hearing to discuss the police budget for FY24 and to review a budget proposal for body cameras. I also support the call for accelerated action on responding to mental health crises – next week includes a policy order (which I co-sponsored) calling for funding the community response, HEART.

Finance Committee Meeting – Police Budget
As part of our continued effort to bring more transparency to the City’s budget process, my Finance co-chair, Councillor Carlone, and I will be holding a committee meeting on March 23 to review the City’s Police Department Budget in anticipation of the FY24 budget proposal. This meeting will also give the council an opportunity to review a proposal for funding body cameras for police officers.

Universal Pre-K
After YEARS of pushing, the city is poised to move to universal preschool for all 4 year old’s. We had a Roundtable City Council School Committee meeting to hear about the progress on this issue on Tues. Feb. 14. Cambridge will over universal pre-K to all Cambridge 4 year old’s beginning in the 2024-2025 school year. This issue is one I have championed for over a decade… and I also support the idea of including existing programs, run by nonprofits, into our planning and providing preschool options.

The Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO) is one of the City’s most important tools to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The council has been ramping up conversations around amendments to the ordinance and I am committed to setting aggressive goals to combat the climate crisis and reduce our emissions. We have continued to receive large amounts of communications about BEUDO. Many in support, but also many with concerns about feasibility, equity, and communication. Many of the concerns have come from condominium owners, who have felt left out of this process. Since hearing the concerns of the community and after meeting with several residents over the last few weeks and months I have issued a statement to hopefully clarify my thoughts on BEUDO. You can read the statement on Cambridge Day. If there are parts of the statement which you believe need clarification or you see needed changes, I am open to discussion. I have been working with the city and several of my fellow councillors to ensure that amendments to BEUDO are sensitive to the situation of condo owners and equitable for all private residential property owners while also ensuring that Cambridge is doing all it can to effectively curb greenhouse gas emissions. Please know that I appreciate the outpouring of communications that we’ve received on the issue and while this is an overall statement, if you’re interested in talking about the policy in detail, I’d be happy to schedule a time to talk.

Memorial Drive
Last week, I cosponsored a policy order requesting that the City Manager work with state agencies and local departments to ensure that Riverbend Park remains open to the public on both Saturdays and Sundays. The policy order asks the City Manager to expand communication efforts and increase community engagement so that we can ensure that the park is being utilized to its fullest potential. Finally, the policy order asks the City Manager to work to improve traffic mitigation, so that the closure of Memorial Drive doesn’t excessively impact traffic congestion in the area.

That policy order passed 7-2 and will go a long way towards codifying many of the ongoing efforts to improve the Riverbend Park experience for everyone. My experience is that the closures have been overwhelmingly positive, popular, and appreciated by our community. There are some neighbors who did not like the closures, who expressed their opposition and who felt unheard. The city has taken steps to mitigate impacts, and will take more. I believe it is in the best interest of the whole city, including the Riverside neighborhood. I also hope that we find ways to further enliven the riverfront – the activities at Magazine Beach demonstrate what a positive change it can be to be more expansive in our thinking of how to utilize this asset. I would love to see more options – including a brewpub, a café, and more sports activities along the river. I look forward to continuing ways for us to use the riverfront throughout the year.

Health and Environment Committee Meeting – Tree Canopy
As many of you no doubt saw, the Health and Environment Committee meeting on the Urban Forestry Master Plan (UFMP) was canceled this week. As chair of the committee, I decided to postpone the meeting after learning that the Urban Forestry Master Plan Task Force, which worked for over a year on the original plan, was not consulted at all during the process of updating the plan. As a council, we have often talked about the need to be more inclusive in our communications. I am committed to doing what I can to ensure that when we reschedule this meeting there will be ample notice to the group which worked so hard to produce the UFMP. By delaying this meeting, I am urging the Department of Public Works to engage more deeply with the task force so that we can have a more fruitful and informed discussion, which will hopefully lead to a stronger effort to protect trees across the city.

City Council Meeting – Monday, March 6, 2023

AED Access in Public Parks
I am excited to cosponsor a policy order this week with Vice Mayor Mallon requesting the city to install Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at all public parks and practice fields. AEDs are life-saving devices and I’m thankful to the dedicated folks who reached out to us asking for this policy order.

HEART Funding
As I mentioned in my introduction, this week I have cosponsored a policy order calling for the funding of a community response program called HEART. This program does great work and I hope this will act to solidify our commitment to community response efforts that aren’t solely tied to police work. We can and should commit ourselves to non-violent intervention and community safety and I think this is a great step.

Land Acquisitions – Affordable Housing
This week I have sponsored a policy order, with the help of Mayor Siddiqui and Vice Mayor Mallon and Councillor Carlone to ensure that the city is more proactive in researching and purchasing property in the city. Too often I see missed opportunities for the city to purchase multifamily housing that would allow us to provide more affordable home ownership opportunities in Cambridge. The council has been urging the city to consider purchasing more available properties for years and this policy order will hopefully work to change the city’s purchasing practices.

Charter Review Committee
The Charter Review Committee has been continuing their work reviewing our city charter and to prepare their report for the city council. The CRC currently meets every other Tuesday from 5:30pm – 7:30pm and are actively seeking input from all members of the community. Their next meeting is this Tuesday, March 14, 2023, at 5:30pm. In the coming weeks and months, they will be planning more public outreach events. They have also been working to attend community group meetings to spread the word about their important work and get input from the community. If you are part of a community group and would like to invite a CRC member to your meeting to talk about the work and get involved, please reach out to them via email! I invite you to attend their meetings and events, engage with members of the committee, and discuss your vision for our City charter. All the information as well as recordings of previous meetings can be found on their website. Further, you can submit written comments at any time to be considered by the CRC by emailing

COVID Boosters
The CDC recommends use of updated (bivalent) COVID-19 booster shots for better protection against COVID-19 Omicron variants. The updated Moderna booster is authorized for people ages 6 years and older. The updated Pfizer booster is authorized for people ages 5 years and older. Children in this age group are eligible for the bivalent boosters if it has been at least two months since the completion of their primary series or booster vaccination. Please see the links below to learn more about getting the booster and find out where you can get yours.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information
COVID-19 Vaccine Finder

Thank You

Thank you to everyone for reading. If there are any topics you want me to cover in future newsletters, I’m always happy for the input! As always, please feel free to reach out to my aide, Patrick ( , or me for any of your City Council needs.

You can find all previous newsletters on my website. Please share with anyone you think would be interested:

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