This week has been packed with several important meetings. At Monday’s council meeting, the policy order expressing extreme disappointment at DCR’s decision regarding Riverbend Park passed 7-2. Environmental justice demands that we find a way to broaden the use of Memorial Drive as a park, not a car speedway all weekend long. Tuesday’s meeting on the tree canopy and the Urban Forest Master Plan brought a range of people together and demonstrated the passion and commitment of people to address this critical infrastructure – trees. We had a meeting yesterday on amending the way historical and neighborhood conservation districts are formed and run. I am glad there is a lot of consensus, and I support the Historical Commission’s sensible language for other areas.
YAY!!! Cambridge is now poised to be a true climate leader – if we pass strong ordinance language AND implement the ordinance. Yesterday, after lots of work, collaboration, and wrestling with concepts, ideas, hopes and dreams to do something truly pathbreaking in climate, the council agreed in concept (we’re not done yet) to amending our ordinance on building emissions to mandate reductions, and for large buildings on a timeline consistent with recent scientific data: 2035. With a commitment to use only quality offsets in a limited fashion and only if we don’t have local offsets available. It is a huge victory for those who have been working on this for the past year – and longer. Shoutout to Mothers Out Front for consistently pushing us to do more. And a thank you to Mayor Siddiqui and Councillor Zondervan who worked closely with me on amendments. And to Councillor Carlone who has always championed this work and supported all the amendments we proposed. And a huge thanks to Vice Mayor Mallon and Councillors Azeem, McGovern, and Toner who overcame initial concerns and supported most of our amendments and all of CDD’s proposals.
This Saturday, come to Memorial Drive from 1-3 pm for a rally to show support for more opening up of this valuable riverfront public way to the public without cars on Saturdays and Sundays.
Below are some comments on a few top line items and a few quick notes for Monday’s meeting and a few events to check out.
Interns Abigail Bulman and Jolie Jourdan testify about their projects.
City Council Updates
Ordinance Committee Meetings – BEUDO
After nearly two years of working to pass amendments to the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO), I am proud to say that we are closer than ever. During an Ordinance Committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan, and I presented amendments to the most recent CDD proposal which were nearly all accepted by the full council. Of the four proposals presented, 3 of them passed on 8-0 votes. I am proud of the work of my fellow councillors to get to this point. A few months ago, this kind of agreement across the board seemed unlikely, but through collaboration, advocacy, and dedication, the council directed CDD to make some important edits to the updated BEUDO proposal – including and especially, drastically limiting the use of unreliable global carbon credits. Now CDD will finalize ordinance language and send the final proposal to the full council in 4-6 weeks, per our request in committee. Now the work is to make sure the language matches the intent and that we are prepared to implement these changes effectively. I’d like to take some time to thank all of you who have dedicated so much time and effort to pushing for a strong BEUDO. Your emails, letters, and words meant so much to shaping the process. Hearing from people from all across the Cambridge community shouting from the rooftops got us to a place where the entire council felt the call to action and answered that call resoundingly and unanimously.
Astronomers – Streetcorner Dedication
I’d like to once again shout of the work of my intern from CCSC, Jolie Jourdan, who delivered testimony on Monday night in advance of a unanimous vote to adopt a street corner dedication request to honor two incredible astronomers who worked in Cambridge, Williamina P.S. Fleming and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. Next up she will work on another dedication, to suffragists in Cambridge. Stay tuned for more excellent work from her.
Gas-Powered Lawn Equipment
My other intern, Abigail Bulman, working through the College for Social Innovation, finalized a policy order to limit the use of gas-powered lawn equipment in Cambridge. Small motor lawn equipment presents not only an emission pollution issue, but also a public health issue for both the workers who need to use them and the residents in our city. Her research follows the work of several municipalities in Massachuestts who have sought to limit the use as well as the state of California, which will limit the sale of gas-powered lawn equipment in a few years. She has also been researching incentive programs like MassSave and working to understand how we can provide financial incentives to transition to safer, electric lawn equipment, like California is doing. Now the work returns to the Health and Environment Committee where we will work with city officials to develop an ordinance proposal to eventually limit the use. As I’ve said before: the technology for electric equipment is constantly improving, and the climate crisis and public health issues therein are only getting worse. And so we find ourselves with limited excuses to allow these public health issues to continue.
City Council Meeting - Monday, May 1, 2023
UFMP Tree Meeting Follow Up PO
As mentioned earlier, I held a Health and Environment Committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Urban Forest Master Plan and tree health across the city. Following the discussion, the committee decided to present a policy order to try to codify some of the solutions presented during the roundtable discussion. Thank you to my cosponsors, Councillors Zondervan, Carlone, and Azeem, for their dedication to our urban forest. And thank you to all the folks who presented, commented, and emailed to show their enthusiasm for more dedication to our essential tree and plant infrastructure. As was mentioned during the meeting, many of the ideas presented in the policy order are already in the City’s Urban Forest Master Plan. What this policy order seeks to do is present urgency and get immediate deliverables from the City Manager. It also asks the City Manager to do more outreach and to work with the dedicated groups around the city that are focusing on our urban forest including the Committee on Public Planting, Cambridge4Trees, and Green Cambridge. I hope this is a good step forward as we try to reinvigorate and redouble our efforts to protect trees.
FY24 Budget Proposal
The formal process for the FY24 budget will begin on Monday night as the City Manager has forwarded his budget proposal to the City Council. This proposal will be sent to the Finance Committee, which I co-chair with Councillor Carlone, where the full Council will have an opportunity to dig into the details with the City Manager and his team. I am committed to a transparent and thoughtful process and I am excited to discuss with the new City Manager.
Harvard Arts First Festival
TODAY ! this weekend! The Harvard Arts First extravaganza is happening…. I witnessed a wild fashion show of outfits made from trash (think miniskirt made of tabs from aluminum cans) or ocean debris (think plastic bags and junk) or medical supplied to be thrown out (think scalpels as epualets). Free activities Friday (jazz tonight) and TONS of performances tomorrow…. All free and showcasing a range of creative endeavors by Harvard community open to anyone and everyone. (a few pictures below).
Fuel Pump Warning Labels
In 2020, Cambridge became the first community in America to put health and environmental warning labels on fuel pumps at gas stations. The stickers are intended to remind drivers of the impact of using fossil fuels and hopefully consider non-polluting options. Similar to cigarette warning labels, the intent is public education. Now, other municipalities and states are considering labels. A UMASS study is seeking to understand how effective the warning labels are. Please take two minutes to fill out the survey below (It really is just 2 minutes). Please share with your networks!
Mayor Bike Bonanza
Tomorrow, April 29 at 11:30am, Mayor Siddiqui will be hosting her second annual Bike Bonanza to support local, small businesses. Join on a 6 mile bike. It’s safe for families, will be conducted on some of the protected bike lanes throughout the city, and will have bike marshals as escorts. You can view the route map and register here.
Host Fair Housing for All! Event – Saturday, April 29
This weekend, the City of Cambridge is hosting its Fair Housing for All! event on Saturday, April 29, from 11:00am-2:30pm, in the Lecture Hall and Community Room at Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. This in-person event will highlight the numerous services and programs offered in Cambridge that address a range of housing needs. Representatives will be on site from several city agencies and local non-profit organizations that provide affordable housing; homelessness, eviction, and foreclosure prevention services; landlord/tenant mediation; first-time home-buyer resources; enforcement of housing discrimination laws, and more, will be available to meet with participants. There will also be two panel discussions in the lecture hall, on fair housing laws and basic tenant rights from 11:30am-12:30pm, and on housing legislation and advocacy opportunities, from 1:00pm-2:00pm. This event is free and open to all.
El Salvador Event
Next Friday, May 5 from 6:30pm-8:30pm, the Cambridge El Salvador Sister City Committee, the Cambridge Women’s Commission, and the Office of Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui invite you to hear from Salvadoran women organizing in the past and present. The title of the event is “Women in Resistance”. You can attend at the Citywide Senior Center or online, via zoom. This is a great opportunity to hear from some very dedicated women and learn about the incredible work being done.
Enlace de evite/Register for in-person
Enlace de zoom/Register for zoom
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 regular meeting will be Tuesday, May 8, 2023 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. They have planned a public outreach gathering at The Foundry, on Tuesday, May 16 at 5:30pm. All the information as well as recordings of previous meetings can be found on their website. You can submit written comments at any time to be considered by the CRC by emailing: CharterReviewCommittee@Cambridgema.gov.
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.
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 (email@example.com) , or me for any of your City Council needs.
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