Council Updates, City Dance Party, and More

Summer Nights at Cambridge Crossing


Happy solstice! Happy summer! Happy return of the City Dance party tonight! Last night I went to CXCrossing (formerly known as Lechmere, a rather desolate patch of industrial land), which has transformed the area into a vibrant oasis with a wonderful park that also serves as green infrastructure with lots of residences and labs. The appreciation for the event, on a glorious summer night, was palpable. There are so many events in Cambridge over the summer across all the areas of the city, and I hope to enjoy many of them (and see many of you) in the next few months.

Last weekend I went to the Juneteenth parade, which was at once a celebration of freedom and also a reminder that the legacy of slavery continues to affect all of us today through systemic racism and inequitable opportunities. Also last weekend I was excited to check out the newly opened Somerville Community Path Extension. At long last, the path, which extends from Linear Park in Cambridge, can connect to the new green line extensions. It provides a great space for walkers, runners, and bikers to get outside, enjoy the open space, and travel across the city. Another event last week showcased some of the great success of affordable housing in Cambridge: a celebration of the opening of the Burns Apartments in North Cambridge, where seniors on very limited incomes can afford to live in renovated apartments in a beautiful space.

I have had many discussions recently about the implementation of the bike lanes on Brattle Street and the installation of pedestrian islands, which are unrelated and not necessary for the bike lane installation. While such islands are best practice for protecting pedestrians, it is not clear to me if they are justified on that stretch of road with so few pedestrians and no record of pedestrian crashes. I have asked the city to look into the why of the installation and consider adjustments if warranted. I have also asked why there is no rotary/roundabout at the most dangerous intersection on Brattle: the Sparks/Craigie/Brattle intersection. I know that intersection well since I am often biking, driving, or walking through it myself. I hope more attention there will lead to an answer on why the city hasn’t moved forward on the recommendation for a rotary.

In other news, Cambridge was named THE BEST city in the country to raise a child, and we also received kudos and gold level certification for using data well to inform city practices. While we can always improve, we also should celebrate how well we do in so many areas.

A correction to last month’s note on the home rule petition to allow the city to use cameras for traffic enforcement: I want to clarify the Police Commissioners’ position on the issue. She is supportive of having cameras be used in traffic enforcement, to supplement what the police department is currently doing, and is open to discussing the possibility of having the police department transition out of traffic enforcement in the future, not immediately. Apologies for any confusion.

Below are some comments on a few top line items, some quick notes for Monday’s meeting, and a few events to check out. With summer upon us, the council will have fewer meetings which means my newsletters will not be as frequent. As always, feel free to contact me about any city item at any time.


A first look at the new Somerville Community Path Extension
Mayor Siddiqui at the opening of the new Burns Apartments in North Cambridge

City Council Meeting - Monday, June 26, 2023

This Monday, we will be voting on final ordination for amendments to the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO). There will be some debate as there are a few changes being contemplated. One change, which I support, would require new buildings constructed after 2024 to get to net zero by 2030. This change is in line with the principles of the ordinance and would help incentivize more building developers to build directly to net zero construction. And the city council has passed a goal of net zero for the entire city by 2035 – this version of BEUDO would only get HALF the city to net zero by 2035. Other changes being floated may include a call out for labs or healthcare facilities and houses of worship, something I cannot support as an implied exemption. The ordinance amendment includes a hardship exemption, which would automatically cover any of those buildings that have financial or technical feasibility issues with compliance. That is sufficient. We are at a place where we are on the precipice of passing strong BEUDO amendments that will get us much closer to our net zero goals and we cannot allow ourselves to weaken the ordinance at this point. After all, BEUDO alone doesn’t get us to our net zero goals, we still have a long road ahead of us, so we need to be sure that BEUDO (which does represent a significant chunk of our carbon emissions) is as strong as possible. Your emails to the city council have been incredibly important during this process. Let’s get BEUDO over the finish line next Monday.

Police Officer Shooting
On our agenda this week is a memo from the Police Commissioner outlining the process for establishing a use of force policy for the Cambridge Police Department (CPD) and discussing the timeline for releasing the names of the officers involved in the death or Arif Sayed Faisal. The memo outlines some of the history behind the policy of releasing names of officers involved in use of force incidents and explains the current review of CPD policies being undertaken by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The memo concludes with the decision by the City not to release the names of the officers at this time, until either a formal policy can be proposed and implemented by the CPD or the inquest is completed. I believe it’s important to have a policy in place about the circumstances for releasing the names of the officers. I support such a policy. I do not have all the information behind the status of the inquest, but Commissioner Elow has indicated the memo that the “judge overseeing the inquest has issued an expansive protective order, preventing all parties involved, including the Cambridge Police Department, from releasing any additional information until the inquest is completed and the court issues a report”. That appears to limit what we can release now. At this point, six months since the shooting, I hope we won’t have to wait much longer for the report. I am glad the investigation is being conducted through the independent inquest process, but the timing of the report is outside of our control; and I am still committed to a full review of our CPD policies and procedures, something that the council has pushed for and is underway.

Urging Businesses to Save Energy (and Money!)
As I’ve often said, combatting the climate crisis will take every tool we have: big and complicated tools like BEUDO, but also small and obvious ones. My policy order this week asks the City to take action to urge local businesses to take an obvious step to reduce their energy use and help them save money: close their doors while running the air-conditioning! It seems like a no-brainer, but unless you push for it, we often find that things like this don’t happen. The policy order is inspired from action last summer in France that fines businesses for leaving their doors open while running air-conditioning. This policy order doesn’t go that far – it simply asks the City to communicate with all retail businesses to get them to take this obvious step to reduce energy use and help them save money in the process. But one step further: the policy order also asks the City to communicate with businesses, business associations, and stakeholders, to consider whether a more formal policy would be appropriate in the future. As we will be seeing hot weather soon, it’s more important than ever to conserve our energy usage.

Cycling Safety Ordinance Business Impact Study
As I’ve mentioned in the past I have been working and am continuing to think about ways to review the effectiveness of our Cycling Safety Ordinance (CSO). Recently, discourse over the issue has lent itself to a range of competing metrics and I want us to be able to have more reasonable discourse over the impacts of the CSO. If you’ve been following my council work, you’ll remember my recent policy order calling for a committee meeting to review the effectiveness of the CSO and provide an avenue for transparent review and discussion about implementation. In that vein, this week, I am introducing a policy order to improve the data gathering of the ongoing business impact study. I support the CSO and support improving transportation infrastructure across the city, especially carbon free transportation – and we need to ensure that any analysis of the effects of recent changes are as comprehensive and clear as possible. I hope this policy order will lead to a better impact study.

Local Events/Notes

City Dance Party – Friday June 23
The City Dance Party is returning after a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New this year, the Cambridge Play Streets initiative and Central Square Business Improvement District (BID) will be providing free interactive activities for the whole family at the corner of Temple Street and Mass Ave. The dance extravaganza with DJ spun music is a special opportunity for the entire Cambridge community to celebrate the beginning of summer. Come join thousands of Cambridge residents and visitors who will gather on Massachusetts Avenue in front of Cambridge City Hall (795 Massachusetts Avenue) on Friday, June 23, from 6:00pm – 10:00pm. This event is free and open to the public. Please note that Massachusetts Avenue will be closed to traffic, from Prospect Street to Lee Street, from approximately 5-11 p.m.

Rise Up Cambridge – Registration Open!
As many of you know, the City recently launched an incredible program that will provide cash assistance to low-income Cambridge households with children at or under 21 years of age, earning at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Rise Up Cambridge will enable these households to receive $500 per month for 18 months. As a reminder, anyone who qualifies for the program will be accepted. If you, or someone you know qualifies for Rise Up Cambridge, please submit your application soon. The registration period is open now through July 31, 2023 with initial payments beginning June 30. To learn more about Rise Up Cambridge, program eligibility, in person application assistance, or to apply, please visit

Bring Back Clotheslines
An event to check out tomorrow: a local group is educating folks on why to use old-fashioned clotheslines to dry clothes. It sounds obvious, but many of us don’t do it. We use the indoor equivalent in our house, an accordion clothes dryer rack. The event is sponsored by a group called Cambridge Climate Leaders Organization, and is tomorrow, Saturday, June 24th from 11am-2pm on the Cambridge Public Library Lawn. Rain date is Sunday, June 25th 11am-2 pm.

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, June 27, 2023 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. 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. You can submit written comments at any time to be considered by the CRC by emailing:

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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