Council Updates: A Range of News


Happy Fall!  It’s been a while since my last council update…partly due to the end of the summer, and also with my aide Michael leaving for the mayor’s office I was without an aide – until this week!  Adrienne La Forte started this week and I am grateful and excited to be working with her.  She graduated from Tufts with a degree in environmental science and political science – perfect for this position!  Reach out to her or me with any council business.  

The council has been busy working on a range of items, and continued to move forward addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, focused on support for residents, non-profit organizations and businesses of all types.  Below are some of the items coming up in next week’s City Council meeting, and a recap of this week’s meeting.  

I have been busy with council work – and participating in some of the wonderful events around the city – I participated in the city’s somber remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attack.  Firefighters at each station held a moment of silence.  I found it moving – and a reminder to slow down and reflect.  I also worked with the Porter Square Neighborhood Association’s annual clean up effort – they rallied people to help clean up tree wells – I worked with the Lesley soccer team on a few wells and was appreciative of their energy and spirit.  The carnival was joyous and colorful – it was so nice to be able to have the event after two years of cancellation.  

As always, please consider supporting small local businesses, encourage vaccinations for everyone eligible (now young people also!!)  and take care of yourself.  It’s been a rough summer, and the fall is here with some hope and some continued challenges.  I look forward to any comments, suggestions, and thoughts on the council work or any other issues.


Last Week’s Update:

AMAZING NEWS!  After lots of hard work and a lengthy process involving our state delegation, the community and meetings with city staff, the city has taken the next step to acquiring a slice of the Armory on Concord Avenue. While I would have preferred us acquiring the entire site , this step is great news and I am thrilled to have made it happen.  

CMA #212 – recommendations of the Community Preservation Act Committee
We passed the recommendations for spending Affordable Housing Trust or CPA money – including $14 million for affordable housing, $1.75 million for open space and $1.75 million for historic preservation.  It is incredible that we were able to allocate another $17.5 million for these uses. I was happy to support this allocation.  I also asked whether the funds for affordable housing currently include a review of how they help us meet our climate goals.  I asked that all trust funds be directed to non-fossil fuel systems.  I look forward to hearing back on that request.  We should ensure that affordable housing projects are set up for a sustainable future – and especially with the research into public health harms of gas stoves, all residents should have access to electric stoves.  

POR #196 – Union drive at Darwin’sThere was a resolution to support the workers at Darwin’s who are seeking to form a union. I support unions and I support businesses like Darwin’s which pay above industry standards, treat workers well, and support a union drive.  The resolution was submitted before the news that Darwin’s would voluntarily recognize the union, so I proposed that the council affirm our support of unions and workers AND  that the council go on record as supporting, celebrating and uplifting our exemplary small local businesses.  Once again, I found myself being out front on an issue – of finding a path to more collaboration:  by unanimously passing the revised resolution (although there were 2 no votes on an amendment celebrating Darwin’s). We sent a message to all workers that we appreciate them, and to small business owners that we appreciate them. I hope that we can celebrate this union victory – and focus on those companies that don’t treat workers as well, that don’t voluntarily agree to recognize unions through a card check.  

CMA #216 – A Communication Update on COVID-19: City Manager Louis DePasquale will provide an update on the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the City of Cambridge. Last week, I sponsored PO #192, requesting that the City Manager work with the Public Health Department to issue a report on when the mask mandate will be lifted. I also sponsored PO #168 and am awaiting a report on the vaccination rate of City staff. With the rise of the Delta variant, it is imperative that staff in City buildings be 100% vaccinated to decrease the likelihood that COVID-19 spreads within municipal buildings. 

PO #201 – DHSP Report on Changes in Programming: Over the past several months, the Department of Human Services has made substantive changes to after-school programming, while failing to properly communicate these changes to parents. This lack of communication has left caregivers frustrated and unsure whether they need to seek alternate childcare after the school day. This policy order requests that the City Manager directs DHSP to issue a report outlining the specific changes made to programming, demographic information on the children being served, and other crucial information. I was happy to work with councillor Mcgovern as the lead sponsor and the Vice Mayor and Mayor on this important policy order.  

POR #203 – Installation of Suitable Historic Marker: The 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, a founder of American landscape architecture, will take place on April 26th, 2022. To commemorate his role in transforming Cambridge’s riverfront landscape, The People for Riverbend Park Trust has advised a marker be placed near the Charles River in honor of Olmsted’s achievements. I co-sponsored this order requesting that the City Manager, Cambridge Historical Commission, and DCR approve, fund, design, and install an appropriate historical marker in accordance with the Trust’s recommendation.

Some City News:

There has been much talk of the city implementing the ordinance, which I supported, requiring separated bike lanes along specific arteries of the city.  This plan has caused some concern – and I have advocated for the city to listen to and take into account concerns from business owners and others. I believe we should implement the ordinance, and we might be able to improve some of the plans by working with Cambridge Bike Safety and small businesses. That is certainly the case with the Mass. Ave. plans around Porter Square. For now, below is an announcement from the city about the latest extension:  bike lanes Mass Ave. between Harvard and Central Squares.  I was excited to ride the lane – although the first few days cars were blocking it – per the picture of my ride along it…..

And other exciting news:  See below for news on the bike lanes, on the city’s first (and hopefully not last) Miyawaki Forest that will be planted this weekend at Danehy Park, and the formation of a new rodent control program. 

There have been some changes to the election polling places – every voter affected will get a mailing from the Election Commission to alert them to the changes. Every voter has been sent a card to apply for a mail-in ballot if desired, and early voting will happen with the election this year, thanks to a state law allowing for that change.  I support any and all initiatives to encourage voting.

Cambridge’s First Miyawaki Forest will Boost Biodiversity and Climate Resilience:

The City of Cambridge today announced that on September 25, 2021, the first Miyawaki Forest in the Northeast US will be planted at Danehy Park in North Cambridge. A collaboration between Biodiversity for a Livable Climate and the SUGi Project, in partnership with the City of Cambridge, the 4,000 square foot microforest pioneers the innovative Miyawaki method of reforestation in this region. 

The Miyawaki method is noted for its hallmarks of dense planting, biodiversity, native species, and multilayered design to recreate the complexity of a native forest. In examples around the world, Miyawaki Forests have demonstrated remarkably high growth and survival rates, due to the planting method that fosters symbiotic relationships between plants and between fungal and microbial life in the soil.

“Miyawaki Forests offer an opportunity to reestablish healthy forests in urban environments,” said David Lefcourt, Cambridge City Arborist. “They cool their surrounding areas, mitigating the urban heat island effect, support biodiversity, buffer against flooding and erosion, help balance water cycles to fight drought conditions and sequester carbon.”

The Miyawaki Forest at Danehy Park includes plants significant to Northeast Indigenous communities, offering visitors an opportunity to learn about native plants as well as the ecosystems and wildlife present in Cambridge and the surrounding areas.

“In addition to the environmental benefits, these forests help build community through involvement in planning and planting,” said Owen O’Riordan, Public Works Commissioner. “These spaces provide a natural gathering place to interact with nature and learn about native ecology.”

The Miyawaki Forest at Danehy Park forest will be planted with the help of volunteers from the Cambridge community. More information about the project can be found on the SUGi site, where photos will be posted as the forest progresses. For specific questions about the Miyawaki Forest Project at Danehy Park, contact Andrew Putnam, Superintendent of Forestry,

For more information about Cambridge’s Urban Forest, please visit

City of Cambridge Launches Private Property Rodent Control Program to Expand Efforts to Help Combat Rats in the City:

The City of Cambridge today announced the launch of a new Private Property Rodent Control program to help residents combat rat issues on private property.

The City has contracted with a pest control company to offer a new residential rodent control assistance program aimed at combatting rats in the exterior areas of private properties as part of the city’s broader rodent control efforts. This program is available to residential properties in Cambridge with four (4) or fewer units and provides inspection and at least three baiting/trapping/follow-up inspections within a 60 day period at no cost to the resident.

Both owners and tenants can apply, and everyone 18 or older living at the property must sign a consent and release form to agree to this service. Once approved for the program, both City of Cambridge Inspectional Services staff and the pest control contractor will inspect the property and provide specific feedback on issues that should be addressed in order to help prevent rodent activity.

Rodents are an unavoidable part of life in any city, but the City of Cambridge is committed to confronting this problem in a variety of ways – by addressing rodent problems on public property, working to control rodents during construction projects, enforcing sanitary codes and ordinances, educating the public, and more.

The link to apply for the private property rodent control program, information on how to report rodent sightings, materials to help educate residents on how to control rats, and more can be found at

New Separated Bike Lanes on Mass Ave

During the month of September 2021, the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department implemented the Mid-Mass Ave Safety Improvement Project, which brought a number of safety and road user improvements to a section of Massachusetts Ave between Trowbridge St and Inman St. While the project is now substantially complete and in use, some items such as the remaining bike lane symbols and signage cleanup will continue to be installed in the coming days.
As a reminder, the Mid-Mass Ave Safety Improvement Project was a quick-build project that included:

  • separated bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue between Trowbridge St and Inman St;
  • pavement marking and signage updates for transit riders;
  • signage updates to improve pedestrian safety; and
  • a number of changes to parking and loading regulations to accommodate the needs of business owners and residents.

Separated bike lanes create space that is physically separated from vehicle traffic, which improves safety and comfort for people biking. More information about the project background and past outreach is available on the project page. This work is inline with the City’s Vision Zero goals and will meet the requirements of the Cycling Safety Ordinance.

Trivia question:

What year was the first woman candidate for President of the United States? 

(Extra bonus points: Who was her running mate?)

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

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