Happy Summer! Looking forward to summer outings – and to making progress on ensuring the summers are bearable. The searing heat in much of this country is sadly not a good sign — hundreds of records for heat are being broken as you read this… All the more reason for us to continue to dramatically increase our actions to address the climate crisis. We on the council are working on a number of initiatives in this area. I am hopeful that the city will allocate ARPA funding to a range of needs – for non-profits, community initiatives like HEART, and climate related needs. The heat island situation in Cambridge is intense and I will continue to work toward mitigating the inevitable consequence of climate change with more trees, more green, less emission pollution – we need to do all we can.
In full disclosure: I cannot concentrate now since the news just hit that Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision has been overturned and a fundamental right that I believe is essential to women’s equality is now not the law of the land. The same court recently asserted a fundamental right to conceal a lethal weapon that has been used for massacres. Although anticipated, this ruling hit me hard. I have children who are in their twenties who now have to consider carefully whether to move to a state where they will not have control over their bodies. Both my parents were opposed to abortion, yet support choice since they did not believe the government should impose that belief on all women. With January 6 hearings showing clearly that an attempt to subvert our election was only stopped by Republicans following the rule of law and the Constitution, I am simply at a loss for understanding how the creators of the big lie who sought to organize a coup are not in jail. I won’t give up my work for democracy, but this day is hard.
Below is some news about next week’s meeting, which will be the last one for a month. The meeting will be the last one for City Manager DePasquale. I have enjoyed working with him and appreciate his leadership during my time on council. I look forward to working with Commissioner O’Riordan who will take over as interim City Manager until Yi-An Huang can start.
I will put out newsletters this summer, although not weekly. The Charter Review Committee will be gearing up and my work will continue over the summer.
I attended the ribbon cutting of the Foundry Building – a truly remarkable project that happened due to community activism, led by East Cambridge Planning Team and city councillors, notably Nadeem Mazen who fought hard to make the case that the city should keep the building which Alexandria gave to the city and transform it. The space is incredible – will be open in September – check it out. I also went to an event at Magazine Beach – the newly opened center that includes Audubon… I heard a great local band and enjoyed the recycling art project being constructed on site.
Take care of yourself, don’t give up – despite Covid and recent news, I feel lucky to live in Cambridge, in Massachusetts, and in the USA… Breathe deeply, and commit to making our world a better place.
BEUDO Update: The Ordinance Committee met on Wednesday night to discuss recent changes to the proposed BEUDO amendments. Mayor Siddiqui, Councillor Zondervan and I have been engaged in stakeholder meetings for the past few months discussing the proposed amendments. At the Ordinance Meeting, we updated our fellow councillors on the changes to the amendments, as well as heard from some experts regarding the feasibility of certain ideas. I remain committed to the 2035 deadline and am looking to Ithaca as our guiding light – if they can decarbonize all buildings by 2026, we can certainly do it by 2035!
CCWG Report: The Health & Environment Committee finally met to review the CCWG report. We went over the significant proposals, discussed barriers to implementation, and reviewed some amendments to the Transportation section. The Committee voted with a favorable recommendation to send the report back to the Council and place it on file. I will continue to follow up with the City to make sure all of our recommendations are enforced; for example, a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers was one of the CCWG’s suggestions, and I am currently in talks with the City regarding this idea.
POR 2022 #129 – Pedestrianization of Harvard Square: I am excited to introduce this policy order, along with Mayor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Mallon, and Councillor Carlone. Cities often benefit from the pedestrianization of highly trafficked areas, including an increase in safety and an open space for restaurant seating, retail, and residents. Cambridge has passed several policy orders, as well as held committee meetings, in favor of closing off certain streets of Harvard Square to vehicular traffic. This order asks the City Manager to work as quickly as possible to approve street closures in Harvard Square this summer, as well as develop a long term vision.
RES 2022 #152 – Congratulations to City Manager Louie DePasquale: Louis A. DePasquale is retiring as City Manager following 47 years of service to the City of Cambridge. He has played a critical leadership role over the past few decades, bringing Cambridge to the forefront of progress. In particular, he reacted swiftly and strongly to the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to shelter our residents from the worst of the disease. He will be sorely missed, and we thank him for his tireless service!
Other City News:
MBTA Bus Routes May Change–Take the Cambridge Bus Questionnaire
The City of Cambridge wants to hear your thoughts about the MBTA’s proposal for a new bus network for Greater Boston. Our seven-minute survey is open for people who live, work, study, or visit Cambridge. We want to hear your thoughts about the MBTA’s proposal and know what buses you ride today. Your feedback will help the City advocate for changes to the proposal.
In Cambridge, the MBTA’s proposal will:
• Create 5 new frequent bus routes for a total of 10 frequent bus routes
• Reduce or eliminate service in some areas
• Increase frequency on nights and weekends
See the MBTA’s full proposal online at MBTA.com/BNRD (opens in new window).
Reminder – Charter Review Commission!
The deadline to self-nominate to serve on the Charter Review Committee is next Tuesday, June 28th.
Application is below! Reach out if you have any questions.
Cambridge will continue free COVID-19 Testing 7 Days per week, but there will be a pause on walk-in sites after July 6. Due to declining numbers at the City’s walk-in testing sites on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the success of our 7 days per week testing partnership with CIC Health, the City will be pausing its walk-in testing sites after July 6. The final day of testing at the Christian Life Center (85 Bishop Allen Drive) will be Saturday, June 25 and the final day of testing at St. John’s (2254 Massachusetts Ave) will be Wednesday, July 6. Signage and handouts will be available at the walk-in sites to educate residents about this change. The City has extended our contract with CIC Health for an additional six months and free testing will continue to be offered 7 days per week during any available appointment times for people who live or work in Cambridge at 295 Third St in Cambridge. Learn more and book an appointment at www.cambridgema.gov/testing
The City of Cambridge has launched the 9th cycle of Participatory Budgeting (PB) and is seeking ideas from the community on how to spend $1 million on projects to improve Cambridge. The Idea Collection phase will be open from June 1 – July 31, 2022.
Winning projects from past PB cycles have included youth center upgrades, home essentials for newly housed residents, solar panels for the Main Library, laundry access in public schools, and many more! Projects are eligible for funding if they meet the following criteria:
- Benefit the public
- Are one-time expenditures that cost $1 million or less
- Are capital projects, (something bought or built)
- Are implemented by the City of Cambridge on City property (streets, sidewalks, parks, libraries, schools, youth centers, senior centers, municipal buildings, etc.)
- Projects on Cambridge Housing Authority, DCR, and MBTA property are not eligible
- PB funding cannot be used to make a grant to a nonprofit organization