Hearings this week! Public Safety, AHO, Bike Ordinance, Tobin Project…

Mass Ave in Central Square being prepped for outside dining

Hi all, 

I wanted to make sure you were apprised of the upcoming committee hearings over the next week, since many of the conversations will be of interest. While there has been a pause on committee hearings over the last four months due to COVID, these are all important and connected topics that the council must focus on while we continue to respond to the pandemic that is far from over. With summer here, and the pandemic still a major concern affecting every aspect of life, some people have asked me why the city is moving forward on these major projects.  The answer is that we can safely continue the work of the city government, and must find a way to move forward, since the need for city governance hasn’t disappeared.  

Please share your thoughts, ideas, questions, concerns about these and any other topics. 

-Patty

Today, July 7: The Public Safety Committee will meet at 1PM to discuss the Cambridge Police Department’s Use of Force Policy and related matters. Watch or sign up for public comment HERE

  • After the recent budget process, when the question of police funding was on the table, every councilor committed to continuing the conversation around policing in Cambridge. This hearing will give both the public and City Councilors an opportunity to ask about the Police Department’s Use of Force Policy. You can read more about what will be discussed during the committee meeting in this communication from Councilor Zondervan, who is the chair of Public Safety. 

 

Today, July 7: The Ordinance Committee will meet at 5pm to conduct a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Cycling Safety Ordinance. Watch or sign up for public comment HERE

  • This committee will discuss the amendments made to the Cycling Safety Ordinance, which mostly revolve around a shorter timeline for completion. I am fully in support of this ordinance, and I recognize that we need to be thoughtful in the implementation of the vision. Some questions have been raised about the best path to the network of safe cycling routes, and I will be listening to those answers closely. Especially in this time of vulnerability for all our small businesses, I will be asking how we have included the voices of small businesses to ensure that the plan will serve the whole city. Overall, I am excited about putting a completion date on the roll-out of safe and comprehensive bike facilities across the city. Cambridge Bike Safety put together a useful FAQ guide about the changes – check it out here! 

 

Tomorrow July 8: The Ordinance Committee will meet at 5pm to conduct a public hearing on a petition to add an Affordable Housing Ordinance to the City’s Zoning Ordinances. Watch or sign up for public comment HERE

  • A new (albeit very similar to last year’s) Affordable Housing Overlay proposal will be discussed tomorrow, starting a 90 day clock within which the Council must take decisive action. This is the beginning of the conversation, one which I hope will be less divisive than before. As it stands, the policy still has a number of unanswered questions: what are the goals, how many additional affordable units would this zoning change have the potential to create, how can we ensure high environmental standards, and more. I have spent plenty of time looking into these questions and have still come up without a clear sense that this proposal is best for the city. Hopefully, this process, beginning with the committee hearing tomorrow, will bring some clarity. 

 

Next Wednesday, July 15: (I am chair of this committee) The Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee will meet at 10am to discuss the timeline, scope, and budget of the Tobin/Vassal Lane School Project, including updates on the Armory property, and how it fits into the long-term plan for all school buildings in the City to accommodate expected enrollment changes over the next 10 to 20 years and to receive an update on the legislative office plans. Watch or sign up for public comment HERE

  • This was a committee hearing I was planning to hold at the end of March, but it has become even more relevant since COVID has flipped our world upside down. This City is preparing to spend nearly $250 million on this project, and there are still plenty of unanswered questions. Why is this project going to cost a quarter billion dollars and how does it fit into the long term plan for our growing district? Additionally, since the beginning of my term, I have been working hard to find a way for the city to secure the armory site, which would relieve a massive amount of pressure on the current plans for the project and provide much needed space to add preschool classrooms and improve circulation. I was disappointed with the lack of foresight that has prompted a last minute push to purchase the site, but I have worked hard with Rep. Jon Hecht and Sen. Pat Jehlen to get DCAMM to consider selling it. To date, the National Guard, which controls the site, has stated they intend to keep the site, however I will keep working to see if the city can acquire all – or at least some – of the site. 

Wednesday July 15 at 2 pm there will be a special meeting of the council to hear an update on COVID-19 – continuing the pattern of the council, and thereby the city, getting information on a range of questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.