As the city heads towards our new normal, make sure to take advantage of all that is reopening. The library finally reopened for in-person browsing (not completely, despite my and others urging – learn more about the hours and services currently offered here), City Hall is open half time for walk-in appointments, and Starlight Square has events almost every day.
This week the council had several committee meetings with potential for important changes to the city. The Tuesday Economic Development meeting reviewed all the work done by the city and partners to help small businesses during the pandemic. We can and should do more – and we can also be proud and glad that we did and continue to do as much as we do. The presentation summarizes much of the work. If you have a few minutes – ask the state house and Gov. Baker to make permanent the 15% cap on third party delivery fees for restaurants, or even more will go out of business. Wednesday we had the delayed meeting hearing from the Collins Center on possible reforms to our city’s governing charter. There was interest in making some changes as soon as possible – perhaps to be voted this November – and a larger more substantive review in the next couple of years. I have been excited to lead this effort over the last year and push for real results. The meeting on the Alewife Envision plan sought to continue discussion on how that crucial area of the city will be developed – and how we can manage it. Councillors had very thoughtful questions and city staff agreed that we need to work on a plan for the area. And we also had an ordinance meeting to put in place a city ban on using tear gas and other projectiles at peaceful protests. Cambridge has a policy of no tear gas which Police Commissioner Bard ensured was in place and he endorses the continuation of the policy. It was odd to hear from our legal counsel that the Council couldn’t do a ban since Somerville and Boston have such a ban. I supported the motion to move the ordinance to the full council for a vote.
I missed the Memorial Day parade – which is something I enjoy. Hopefully, we can have it next year – this year’s virtual event was moving. As the granddaughter of a WWI vet who suffered from his wartime service and died young as a result, I honor those who serve.
With a heatwave coming this weekend, I hope you find ways to stay cool.
In addition to those highlighted below, there are two reports that might be of interest in response to council orders – one on supporting National Black Business Month and Women’s Small Business Month. The other is in response to a request for a report on spending disparities related to businesses owned by historically marginalized groups and how the city might create a Sheltered markets program. And new appointments to the Harvard Square Advisory Committee were announced – in line with the recently changed (and improved) Harvard Square zoning.
CMA #6 – PB negative recommendation on Missing Middle: for those who have followed the Missing Middle zoning petition, you may have seen that the Planning Board voted to send it to the Council with a recommendation not to adopt. I have been advocating for the last few months against this petition which I believe would have many unintended consequences. I have been pushing for more sensible and straightforward zoning amendments, including but not limited to eliminating single and two-family zoning, and implementing parking maximums.
CMA #10 – Council budget for outside legal research: the Council voted in April to ask the Manager to include funding in FY22 for outside legal research, so the Council could have access to legal advice outside of the City Solicitor’s office. Unfortunately, the solicitor opined that this was not legal under our charter, and when the Council pushed back, they agreed to get an outside opinion. This report shows that the outside advice also came back with the conclusion that the Council does not have the authority to ask for legal research outside of the solicitor’s office.
CMA #11 – Permanent remote participation in City meetings: the state of emergency declared last year has allowed all Council and board meetings to be held remotely, including public comment. What we have seen during this time is greater participation in meetings and an increase in public comment at almost every meeting. The Council recently voted to ask the solicitor to provide an opinion on making remote participation permanent with the hope that public participation stays at a high level. This response is promising and provides a map for how the Council can do this without needing permission from the state.
PO #4 – Mosquito Spraying Policy: Some of you may have seen in the Boston Globe that Massachusetts’ uses a pesticide, Anvil 10+10, to control the mosquito population and prevent infections of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). There were concerns raised after it became clear that Anvil 10+10 contained levels of PFAS and that aerial spraying could cause PFAS to get into municipal water supplies. I introduced this policy order with the Mayor, and Councilors Zondervan and McGovern, to ensure that the city has reviewed our current policy to determine what the safest and most effective mosquito management program for Cambridge is.
Res #18 – In Support of H. 2434: I am glad to be introducing this resolution in support of H. 2434. This state house bill is to require fire safety education in schools and colleges, brought forward by Representative Decker. The legislation came from the advocacy of Cambridge resident Lauren Gibbs, who lost her daughter Mara, a CRLS graduate, and student at Reed College, in an apartment fire. This tragedy was avoidable and Lauren has worked tirelessly to make fire safety training a requirement at schools and colleges.
June is Pride Month, and there are many great events happening to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. See some of them below. The Council also passed a policy order asking the manager to repaint the crosswalks outside of City Hall the colors of the Trans Flag, the Pride Flag, the Bi Flag and the People of Color Pride Flag, as well as light up City Hall those same colors for the first half of June.
Virtual Story Time with Drag Kings, Queens and Friends – June 5th, 11:00 AM – Celebrate PRIDE with Story Time for Drag Kings, Queens and Friends! Join us for songs and stories about what makes each of us fabulous. For children of all ages and their caregivers. Registration required. Zoom link will be emailed to registrants one hour before the program begins. This virtual event is free and open to the public and is not recorded. If you register but later find you cannot attend, please remember to cancel your registration to make space for others.
All Boys Aren’t Blue – June 6th at 6pm: Cambridge Public Library will be hosting George M. Johnson, author of All Boys Aren’t Blue, in conversation with Professor Kai M. Green. Join the conversation here.
Cambridge Arts Stream Festival – June 5th, 6pm: Join Cambridge Arts for their 2021 annual River Festival reimagined for the second pandemic year as an online showcase of jazz and a retrospective of the festival’s history, This was produced in partnership with the Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge Jazz Foundation, JazzBoston and Cambridge Community Television. You can watch it here as well as on CCTV’s Channel 9.
Cambridge LGBTQ+ Pride Celebration – June 12th at 1:30pm: The Cambridge LGBTQ+, in partnership with a number of local organizations, are sponsoring two one-hour LGBTQ+ events at Starlight Square, including a family show and a concert.
Participatory Budgeting – one of the creative initiatives in our City to get direct input from all residents 12 years and older – is back for its 8th cycle. The portal is now open and the City is seeking submissions from the community on how to spend $1 million on one-time capital projects to improve Cambridge. Check out this nifty map with all the previous winning projects for inspiration. Submit your ideas by July 31, 2021!
Spring in the Sun – City of Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs are offering “Spring in the Sun,” free outdoor activities for Cambridge youth in grades JK – 8. Spring in the Sun will follow the same model as DHSP’s Fall on the Fields programming. Activities will include age-appropriate games, sports, and crafts that will be organized by grade band (JK-K, 1-2, 3-5, and 6-8) in order for Cambridge youth to connect with their peers and DHSP staff. Parents or guardians are required to stay at the fields with children who are 8 years old or younger. Sign up here.
Last week’s question: see pictures at the top of last week’s email (also pictured here) – where is Cambridge can you find this artwork? Answer: Aladdin Auto Service, behind the Fresh Pond movie theater
This week’s question: in what year, for how long, and why did a group of women take over 888 Memorial Drive?