Halloween Update

When these glorious leaves fall, leave a bunch on the ground!


Happy Halloween weekend! Stay warm this weekend and enjoy the brisk fall weather.

I was happy to attend the groundbreaking of 585 Kendall and Performance Arts Center this week with several other City Councillors. This new building will be a world class office and lab space in combination with a performing and cultural arts center. We enjoyed hearing about the plans for the space and got to see and hear music and dance performances from Global Arts Live.

Below are some comments on a few top line items including some comments on some items from the last City Council meeting and a few quick notes for this Monday’s meeting. As always, please take care of yourself and take time out to appreciate something, small or large, every day. For those of you enjoying Halloween or trick-or-treating with family and friends, enjoy and stay safe!


Local Events/Notes

The Net Zero Action Plan
Yesterday morning I chaired a Health and Environment Committee Meeting to discuss the City’s NetZero Action Plan. The meeting was a continuation of our ongoing efforts to combat the climate crisis. The most recent IPCC Report makes it very clear that we need to move faster than ever. Our work in the next decade will be the difference.

Cambridge, in many ways, has known this for a long time, and while we’ve made some important steps forward, it’s time to hold ourselves accountable to more impressive goals and to commit to a full-throated defense of our climate. The NetZero Action Plan, officially adopted in 2015 is Cambridge’s roadmap to combat the climate crisis. It informs all of the administration decisions of the City and is the lens through which we set policy. NZAP is a framework that includes a suite of actions that work in unison. Since its inception in 2015, the NetZero Action Plan is reviewed every 5 years and from our last review process, through comments from and discussions with the City Council, CDD has worked to develop updated goals and programming to hopefully increase the speed and effectiveness of the plan.

So the bottom line is this: What is going to be different five years from now? We cannot afford to lag behind our intended goals. We need to be upfront and public about our agenda. We also need to be accountable. That is why myself and other Councillors have worked with CDD to develop “SMART” goals with tangible numbers and deadlines. It is going to be hard for the City to accomplish these goals, but we don’t have any choice. That is why I am committed to working with the City to push limits and continue to transform our City.

Halloween Fun and Safety
Halloween is this Monday and I want everyone to be able to enjoy the holiday in a safe and fun way. The Cambridge Police Department has put together some great information for families to think about when preparing for trick-or-treating. While Cambridge was recently ranked by the Chamber of Commerce as one of the safest cities in the country for trick-or-treating (#2 overall), it’s still important to be smart to ensure a safe and fun experience for the whole family.

Also, if you’re able, join Mayor Siddiqui, the City Manager’s Office, Cambridge Police, and Cambridge Fire for some free Halloween fun on Monday, October 31 from 4-6 p.m. at City Hall! Attend this kid-friendly event for candy and quick meet-and-greets with various city departments. Additionally, all Cambridge Fire Houses will be hosting open houses on Halloween this year from 4-6 p.m. Candy, which was donated by Cambridge Brands, will be distributed to all residents who stop by. Officers will also be distributing candy Halloween night while they are out on patrol.

Cambridge Public Safety Agencies Share Halloween Safety Tips

Cambridge School Volunteers Seeks Board Members (and volunteers)
Another reminder that Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for two new members of the board. They are looking for Cambridge residents with background and expertise in the areas of human resources and/or legal. They are looking for people who have had some experience with Cambridge Public Schools either themselves or as parents of CPS students. Ideal candidates will have a personal interest in public education. If you or someone you know is interested, candidates are invited to attend one of their board meetings to learn more about CSV. Find more information about the group at the link below.

Cambridge School Volunteers

Retrofitting Buildings to Help Protect the Climate
I was happy to attend a webinar this week put on by the Massachusetts Climate Action Network entitled “Retrofitting Without Displacement”. As we continue our work to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions, and with the BEUDO discussions ramping up, I am very focused on finding more creative ways to think about building retrofits to curb building emissions and how we can help folks in Cambridge get there. One of the things I have been thinking critically about over the last few months is how to combine many of the existing revenue streams discussed during the webinar along with new technology in non-emitting thermal networks. It’s easy to get discouraged thinking about our climate crisis battle, but this webinar was a breath of fresh air to remind me that together we can find creative solutions to difficult problems.

City Council Updates

First I wanted to touch base on a few items from the last City Council Meeting on October 24 before hitting on a few notes for the next meeting this Monday, October 31.

Stipends for Boards and Commissions
I was happy to see this report from the City Manager and it makes sense to pay stipends to different boards and commissions in the City. These groups do important work and the stipends will help get more talented people involved. I was also happy to see the standardization, so that groups in the city don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The report also took a lot of care to underline our goals of increasing diversity in all City positions. I was pleased at the depth and breadth of the report and look forward to continuing the conversation.

Parking Minimums
On Monday night, Cambridge became the first municipality in the Commonwealth to eliminate parking minimums for buildings. A lot of work was done by the City and the Council to get us to a place where we can really reform the City’s parking minimum policy. The reality is that we need to stop assuming cars and car use in our public places. Most of our streets used to be pedestrian lanes, and many likely for horses and carriage, then streetcar lanes and now mostly single vehicle use. Hopefully in the future it will be SAFE and multi-modal. We can make a choice to make it easier for people to not need or use cars – more public transit, more ways to traverse the city. And we can make a choice to not incentivize car ownership by not requiring parking spots. I’m proud of the Council and proud of the City for making this important step forward.

Proper Leaf Disposal
Last Monday I submitted a policy order on proper lawn care and disposal of leaves. With fall coming on and leaves falling, I think it’s important that the City does all it can to help its residents take care of their property in a way that is environmentally beneficial. Improving the effectiveness of the City’s communications is something I’m very focused on currently and this is a good example of something the City should already be doing proactively. We haven’t seen the communication yet, but I have been in communication with the City and expect them to follow through in short order.

Below are a few good bits of information about leaf disposal. Bottom line? Consider using your leaves as mulch for your plant beds in the winter or just running them over with your lawnmower to reinforce the nutrients in your lawn! A thin layer of leaves can be good for the soil, helping to retain moisture and nutrients.

City Council Meeting – Monday, October 31, 2022

It should be a “light” Council meeting on Monday as the agenda is fairly sparse, but I do want to mention that I submitted a short policy order with Vice Mayor Mallon to request a follow up discussion on municipal broadband. This is an issue I’ve been thinking about a lot, especially since we found ourselves isolating at home for much of the last few years. This policy order directs the Mayor to schedule a roundtable meeting to discuss the feasibility study that the Council requested previously.

Early In-Person Voting Begins
Early voting is an opportunity to vote before Election Day. Any registered voter in Cambridge can vote during the early voting period, from Saturday, October 22, 2022 through Friday, November 4, 2022. Unlike Election Day, you are not assigned to a polling location. You can go to any of the Cambridge Early Voting Locations.

If you don’t vote early, you can still vote at your assigned polling location on Election Day. Please be advised that your polling location may have changed. You can look up your assigned polling location for election day here. Polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8th.

In Person Early Voting October 22 – November 4

COVID Boosters
The CDC recommends 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 6 years and older. The updated Pfizer booster is authorized for people ages 5 years and older. Children in this age group are eligible for the bivalent boosters if it has been at least two months since the completion of their primary series or booster vaccination. Please see the links below to learn more about getting the booster and find out where you can get yours.

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: https://pattynolan.org/news/

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