Council Updates, Juneteenth, Dance Party and More


Happy Pride Month! And this Sunday is Father’s Day and Monday is the newest national holiday, Juneteenth.

I spent much of last week in Falmouth, Cape Cod attending a National League of Cities Summit on Resilient Cities. I was able to meet with other local municipal leaders to discuss climate resiliency. Often when I attend meetings like this I am reminded how forward-thinking Cambridge is when it comes to most things, but especially climate resiliency action. I was grateful to hear some of the insights from other municipalities and share with others some of the work that Cambridge has done. And to be reminded that we have a ways to go as a city, state and nation to be prepared for the changes already in evidence, and that will be getting worse…

Last Saturday, I was happy to attend the Pride Brunch at City Hall. It was a lively and fun event and I was happy to celebrate pride with so many people in person. As an added bonus, I was able to try hooping skills – need some more practice! Later Saturday I was honored to take part in a street corner dedication for Janet Axelrod. And Sunday I attended the East Cambridge Baguette and Bread Bake Off. Another great event proving that when you close streets people come out and use them!

Trivia from last week: The historical marker… which nearby island harbored immigrants including a large number of Jews – look for the synagogue in the relief. And what happened to that land? The island was Noddle’s Island, now East Boston… the land was home to many immigrant groups over time – like much of Boston and Cambridge and most East Coast cities…

I was delighted to see that on Wednesday, Forbes named Cambridge the best place to live in its Second Annual Fortune 50 Best Places to Live for Families List. CambridgeDay wrote an article about the list. Seeing this list is a reminder of all the good that Cambridge does, and also the pressure to live up to that reputation every day.

There will be no Monday council meeting on June 19th, in honor of Juneteenth. Check out the City sponsored Juneteenth events down below. Monday, June 26, will be our last regularly scheduled full city council meeting until the summer meeting on August 7.

Below are some comments on a few top line items and a few events to check out.


Professionally baked baguettes from the first Le Grand Prix Elmendorf du Pain French bake-off in East Cambridge
Kendall Square Association Challenge event - next year it'd be fun to participate. This year councillors were invited to present checks to some non-profits.
Newly dedicated Janet Axelrod Square

City Council Updates

On Monday, June 26, we will be voting on final ordination for amendments to the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO). There will be some debate I imagine as there are at least a few changes still being contemplated. One change, which I support, would require new buildings constructed after 2024 to get to net zero by 2030. I believe 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. Other changes being floated may include exemptions for specific uses – which I do not support since we have exemptions for financial or other proven distress – we should not risk creating loopholes. 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. BEUDO doesn’t get us to our net zero goals on its own; we still have a huge 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 on June 26.

Cambridge Community Electricity Program (CCE)
On Monday, we heard from CDD on the ongoing plan to renegotiate our community electricity aggregation program, the Cambridge Community Electricity (CCE) program. This program is an important part of the city’s overall carbon emissions reduction plan as it allows all electricity customers to opt-in to electricity from 100% renewable sources.  AND it finally, after years of advocacy, has the standard program much higher renewables than the state-required minimum.  This program will also work hand-in-hand with BEUDO, helping covered buildings reduce their carbon emissions before doing any serious retrofit work – jump starting their timeline for net zero.

Amendments to the Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO)
We have received a significant amount of outreach over the continued discussions around amendments to the AHO. I have responded to many of you, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts here as well. As I’ve stated before and will continue to express, I have several issues with the amendments as currently written and with the rationale for how they were formulated, and I cannot support them at this point. I believe that these amendments to the AHO are premature and should have been considered and proposed as part of the scheduled five-year review process. As all who follow city politics know, the original AHO created rifts and divisions in our community, and I worry that this proposal will do the same. You can read my full statement at the bottom of this newsletter. If you have any questions about my position or would like to discuss the amendments further, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Kelley Petition – EV Charging
On Monday we ordained a very interesting and forward-thinking petition by former councillor, Craig Kelley, that will allow for car-sharing and EV charger-sharing within Cambridge. This is a creative idea which will hopefully 1) reduce the need for individual ownership of cars, and 2) increase the likelihood of residents to ditch their gas car for an electric option. By allowing residents to rent out their electric car charging units in their own driveway, we will expand the total charging infrastructure within our City much more rapidly than we could do otherwise. I’m excited for the potential of this new ordinance.

Home Rule Petition – Automated Traffic Enforcement
This week I sponsored a policy order to file a Home Rule Petition with the state to allow Cambridge to employ automated traffic enforcement for several traffic violations: red light violations, speeding violations, and blocking bus lanes. This home rule, as the attached policy order outlines, builds on all the work of this council and previous councils to work towards automated traffic enforcement. The rationale is for greater safety and offloading some of the traffic enforcement from police officers. I spoke to Commissioner Elow before filing the policy order, and the police department can support this as supplemental to their operations and are open to discussion of possible transition of  these kinds of services away from the department in the future. My hope is that if the state house allows this legislation, it will enable better, safer enforcement of traffic violations and will improve our road safety.

Cycling Safety Ordinance Review
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have been working to see how we can monitor the success of our Cycling Safety Ordinance. I support the ordinance and the timeline, and believe we should monitor effectiveness. The federal study shows bike lanes are safer – let’s make sure we all understand that data so we don’t have competing data sets.  Last Monday, the council passed a policy order, which I co-sponsored, that calls for a joint meeting of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee and the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Committees to review the implementation of bike lanes across the city. The policy order, more than anything, asks the city to have conversations, show implementation data, and to analyze the effectiveness of the CSO over time to make sure it’s having its intended effect. I hope this will lead to more transparency, more safety, and better streets.

Local Events/Notes

Family Movie Night – Friday June 16
The Cambridge Youth Council is hosting Swing Into Summer: A Family Movie Night in Starlight Square (84 Bishop Allen Drive). Doors open at 5:30pm and the film starts at 6:00pm. They will be screening Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. Entry to the event will be free for all, and complimentary concessions will be available for guests to enjoy. You can RSVP for FREE here.

Juneteenth Freedom Parade
On Monday, June 19 at 10:00am the Cambridge Families of Color Coalition, City of Cambridge, and Paragon Society will be holding the second annual Juneteenth parade and invite the entire city to celebrate Juneteenth. The parade will begin at City Hall and end at Riverside Press Park. There are several other City sponsored Juneteenth events as well, so if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, please consider checking them out.

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

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 is actively seeking input from all members of the community. Their next regular meeting will be Tuesday, June 20, 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:

Full AHO Statement
As I’ve stated before and will continue to express, I have several issues with the amendments as currently written and with the rationale for how they were formulated, and I cannot support them at this point. I believe that these amendments to the AHO are premature and should have been considered and proposed as part of the scheduled five-year review process. As all who follow city politics know, the original AHO created rifts and divisions in our community, and I worry that this proposal will do the same.

The proposal, generally, is to make it easier to build higher projects along corridors and in the squares. That is a good idea – and yet the rationales for many of the heights proposed were not included. Some of the heights seem unnecessarily large and not clearly cost advantageous. We should have clear economic data about the most cost-effective way to build housing, and what heights are appropriate. I am skeptical that we should allow 15 stories even in the squares.

This City Council has been focused on providing more affordable housing. We have taken great strides in this regard, and I have been committed to taking deliberate and focused steps to increase our affordable housing stock. The most important factor has been the more than doubling of funds available for affordable housing – an effort started several years ago which led last year to more than $40 million for affordable housing for this year’s budget. And at our most recent meeting, the council voted to increase that number by 7.1%, a move I supported and the City Manager followed.

I believe we should be setting a goal for affordable housing – is the appropriate percentage of city housing that is subsidized and affordable 20% of all units? More? Less? And what constitutes affordable – some cities seek to have a certain percent affordable to very low-income people and a certain percent affordable to middle income. I think Cambridge needs to do more for middle income families and discuss a goal for what percent of the housing stock should be subsidized.

The questions I had about the AHO should be part of the discussion: are the designs good ones? Is this the most efficient way to build housing? Are we doing all we can to ensure environmental justice? Who is being helped and what is the regional impact of our work.

And a note on process – this is not the end of the discussion.  Although I voted against continuing the process of major amendment for the reasons cited above, the Council as a whole voted tonight (5 in favor, 3 against and 1 absent) to forward the amendments as currently written to the Planning Board and the Ordinance Committee for continued discussion and debate. I appreciate all the outreach we’ve received on this issue and I hope we can move forward with an effective and reasonable policy.

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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