Welcome to fall. This morning definitely felt like fall at a brisk 45 degrees.
We are back to weekly Council meetings and I have enjoyed getting back to working with my fellow Councillors in the Sullivan Chamber. It has been a busy two weeks since my last update. We have had two Council meetings and discussed several important issues; CDD, along with the Mayor, Councillor Zondervan, and I, held a community forum on possible BEUDO amendments; and our new City Manager was sworn in during a wonderful ceremony on Monday. Ongoing meetings about eliminating single and two family only zones, and parking minimums are causing some elation and some concern in the community. As always, please share your thoughts.
One thing to note: There is a great opportunity for folks in Cambridge to lock themselves into low electric rates for 100% renewable energy – and lower their own carbon emissions footprint. The City of Cambridge has a Community Electricity Aggregation program that allows Cambridge residents to be part of a city run supply of electricity.
With electricity rates going up, CCE customers can get a 100% renewable energy option for 13.669 cents/KWh guaranteed until January 2024! Most other offerings that are 100% renewable are more than double that price – and the Eversource option that only uses 20% renewable energy is 17.9 cents/KWh. I’m a customer and I encourage you to sign up. This program is a great way for Cambridge to live up to its goals as a leader in decarbonizing our energy usage. There’s information in the link below, but if you want to speak to some of the experts and sign up in person, you can learn more about it at the Family-Friendly Solar Festival on Saturday
September 24, from 3-5 p.m! Here are links for the festival (Family-Friendly Solar Festival) and the aggregation program (City of Cambridge Community Electricity Aggregation).
Below are some comments on a few top line items including some comments on some items from the last two City Council meetings, the BEUDO community forum, and more. As always, please take care of yourself and enjoy something every day. As the weather begins to change, remember to take some time to take advantage of the beauty of Cambridge!
Meeting with Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem
Last Friday, I was honored to meet with the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum. She is a bright and thoughtful leader who is working hard to improve her city. I was also happy to be joined by my colleague, Councillor Paul Toner, and Somerville City Councilor, Kristen Strezo. We discussed advancing women’s equity, outreach to underserved communities, and talked about ways in which our cities could learn from one another. Thanks to the Consul General of Israel to New England, Meron Reuben, for setting up this great meeting!
Sister City Event with El Salvador
Monday afternoon Mayor Siddiqui and I were delighted to host a reception for several guests from our sister city in El Salvador. We were able to meet with Lorena Araujo, president of the Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES) and Zulma Tobar from the US – El Salvador Sister Cities organization. Cambridge has had a Sister City relationship with the community of San José Las Flores, El Salvador, since 1987. El Salvador is in the midst of a human rights crisis and we were honored to hear from these two leaders to discuss how they are fighting for the people of El Salvador. It was inspiring to see how rural communities like San José Las Flores are able to organize to speak up and fight for their rights. And to be reminded of how much people in many parts of the world suffer and have had to fight for basic human rights. Many Central American countries have lived a long history of the US not always being on the side of human rights.
Swearing in of the New City Manager
It has been great getting to know and getting to work with our new City Manager, Yi-an Huang. After dealing with inclement weather during our first attempt, we enjoyed a swearing-in ceremony in the Sullivan Chamber on Monday morning. I was grateful to meet Yi-An’s parents, who were in attendance. Our work together is just beginning, and it’s important to take time to celebrate Yi-An as he steps into this important role.
There is a lot to do in Cambridge this weekend and below are just a few things for you to be on the lookout for. Firstly, I’d like to highlight the Family-Friendly Solar Festival again. That will be on Saturday September 24, from 3-5 p.m at the Graham & Parks School on Linnaeaen Street – where there is a new solar panel!!! There will be a table at the event to sign up for Cambridge Community Electricity, so sign up if you haven’t already – and if you’re already a customer, consider opting into the 100% renewable option!
Family-Friendly Solar Festival
Another great event this weekend is the Family Play Street event on Memorial Drive on Saturday from 2:00pm-6:00pm. Play Streets provide a safe space and play materials for children to play freely and are an opportunity to meet neighbors in our outdoor open spaces. Take advantage of the road closures and enjoy the open space together. The event will take place on Memorial Drive next to the Weeks Footbridge in the Riverside neighborhood.
Family Play Street on Memorial Drive
There will also be a 5k Road Race on Sunday, September 25 at 10:00am to benefit Cambridge girls.. The Cambridge Girls Softball League and other girls’ sports teams are the primary recipients of the funds from the race. These organizations work on team building, athletic skills, and strengthen the connection among physical, mental and social well-being of girls. Equity in girls sports is something that I spoke about during this week’s Council meeting and something I will continue to work towards in Cambridge.
City Council Updates
In the last two weeks we have had a lot to discuss in the City Council. We discussed issues ranging from my policy order on the Cambridge Birth Center, to linkage fees, to parking minimum requirements, and to updating our working rules of the road.
Here is a summary of my statement/perspective on bike safety from meeting:
I favor having the city review our current policies and rules of the road, and explore how to ensure more widespread knowledge of AND adherence to the rules. Shared responsibility – cyclists need to feel safe throughout the city. Many have died, and we have a Vision Zero that needs to be continuously in mind as a goal we will meet. Distracted drivers need to be reminded of their responsibility and the danger that distractions present. Pedestrians need to be reminded to pay attention and to cross at crosswalks and not be on their phones. Bikes and increasingly, electric bicycles and scooters need to follow the rules of the road. Just this weekend we received a report about an e-scooter involved in an accident going the wrong way down a street. Earlier this year an e-scooter making an illegal left turn hit a cyclist, sending the cyclist to the hospital with a broken bone and causing damage to the bicycle – yet no citation was issued. Our city will definitely be seeing more and more electric bikes as well and need to update our practices to reflect changing technology. And for example, drivers need to know about the Dutch Reach- which saves lives.
As we work to make our city more accessible to everyone, by increasing walkability and making biking easier and safer, we know that we will see more and more people taking advantage of our city. With more and more people on the roads using increasingly diverse modes of travel, we should reiterate our responsibility to make our streets safe for everyone.
Charter Review Committee Update
The Charter Review Committee has had two meetings so far, with their next meeting happening on Thursday, September 29, from 5:30pm-7:30pm. To submit public comment to the Committee during their work, please email CharterReviewCommittee@cambridgema.gov. For more information on the Charter Review Committee and the Charter Review process, please see their new website.
I’m always excited about the prospect of working to improve upon our democracy here in Cambridge. As a member of the City Council, I’m anxious to consider the ideas that come from this historic Committee.
The City hosted a forum last Thursday September 15 to discuss proposed changes to the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO). I’m grateful to the City staff for helping organize this forum and grateful to all the folks who spoke up about their support for this important ordinance. I’m also grateful for the discourse from folks who expressed their concerns with the ordinance and I hope that we were able to answer many of their questions. The only way we are going to achieve our climate goals is by working together. No one has all the answers yet, but using avenues like this, we are able to work together to help Cambridge lead the fight against climate change.
If you missed the forum and want to learn more, please see the website below. There is a recording of the meeting as well as plenty of information about what the ordinance says and the current changes proposed. There will be plenty of discussions about BEUDO going forward, so please stay tuned in as we continue to advance our climate agenda to meet our goals.
For more information: BEUDO – CDD
On September 1, 2022, the CDC recommended 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 18 years and older. The updated Pfizer booster is authorized for people ages 12 years and older. In the coming weeks, CDC expects to recommend updated COVID-19 boosters for other pediatric groups. Please see the link below to learn more about getting the booster.
MBTA Resumes Normal Service
I’m thankful that the MBTA has finished their work on the Orange and Green lines and that normal service resumed this week. I’m sure I join all of you in hoping that this work helps to improve service in Cambridge and throughout the region. You can read more about their work at the link below.
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: https://pattynolan.org/news/