Quick Council Update: Happy Long Weekend!


It’s Patriot’s Day weekend! Easter weekend and Passover is tonight at sundown, and the city hosted an Iftar – breaking the fast from Ramadan. A week of three major religions celebrating together. The themes of all are the same – and there is always hope in noting that, even as war rages halfway across the world. Injustice fills our newspapers, but so does hope and generous actions of compassion. For those who are not formally religious, it’s a weekend to celebrate the emergence of  spring flowers. I look forward to a small, but in person seder tonight which focuses on the themes of liberation and compassion – I love that our family blends the Jewish traditions of my husband with my Catholic tradition of ritual with a healthy dose of agnostic spirituality into our haggadah (the written part read before the seder dinner, which was of course what Jesus was celebrating at the Last Supper). At the city’s Iftar, it was moving to be with a community who expressed their appreciation for being able to celebrate and be who they are.
For the Council, we won’t be meeting in full session next Monday, although committee meetings continue with very important updates. Much of the work of the Council is done in committees and I am thrilled to see the work moving forward – on climate (the BEUDO changes for buildings emissions), the City Manager search, and council role in boards and commissions and budget deliberations including ARPA funding.
The city is also moving forward with new uniform trash containers – I have started to ask about the size, since it seems that we are going in the opposite direction of where we should be going.  Households are scheduled to get 45 gallon barrels each with an option – that you have to individually request – for a 35 gallon bin. Yet our family’s current bin is 32 gallons, as are most of our neighbors. Our Zero Waste Plan data shows that the average household generates about 20 gallons of trash a week — AND we are working hard to lower that. I encourage each of you to request a smaller bin  and ask the city to make that the default size.  
I hope you get a chance to seek out and participate in an Earth Week event – there are clean ups along the Charles, walks on climate in Central Square, and many activities related to spring rejuvenation. 
With covid cases rising, and hospitalizations starting to go up, the city is carefully monitoring the situation.  The best antidote is to be boosted, and get others to get a booster.  

Last Week’s Update: 
CMA 2022 #74 – Bike Lane Updates: At the most recent Council meeting, the City Manager recently provided the Council with an update on the MassAve4 project, asking for the Council’s approval on the approach and timeline. Per the report, the recommendation is to implement separated bike lanes through partial construction for the segments of Mass Ave with the overhead MBTA bus wires and the media, and full construction for the Harvard Square bus stops. With this recommended approach, the median and overhead wires will be removed, which means 40 to 50% of parking will be retained on this segment of Mass Ave.  This reduction will be challenging, but workable, and the city has committed to working with residents and businesses during the year planning process. Councillor Carlone exercised his charter right, but the discussion will continue at the next Council meeting.

POR 2022 #55 – Anti-Idling Enforcement: Last week, I proposed a policy order to strengthen the enforcement of the Massachusetts Anti-Idling Law.  Around Cambridge, on any given day there are many idling vehicles, and residents have written to the City Council asking that the Anti-Idling Law be better enforced. One such way would be through the implementation of a citizen-reporting program, much like the one that was piloted in New York City. There, complaints against idling trucks increased from only a few to over 12,000 last year, incentivizing drivers to turn their car off instead of idling. At the meeting, Councillor Azeem exercised his charter right, due to a couple questions surrounding the proposed policy. I look forward to voting on this at the next Council meeting.

POR 2022 #64 – Free Charlie Cards for High School: After advocacy from Youth Council members during public comment, I introduced a late policy order asking that the city Manager report back on the feasibility of providing all Cambridge high school students with free Charlie Cards throughout the school year. The City Council stands for equity and seeks to ensure that all students in Cambridge, regardless of which school they attend, have access to a safe and reliable means of transportation to and from school.

Ordinance Committee Meeting – Charter Review: Exciting news! The Ordinance Committee has voted to move forward the charter review commission. The language has been referred favorably back to the City Council, including an annual review of the City Manager’s performance and review of the charter every 10 years by a special committee.

The Govt Operations Committee moved forward on formulating guidelines for the City Council to be involved with the appointments to boards and commissions. This change to the charter means a more democratic process whereby the council has the final say over the composition of boards and commissions. I am grateful to the Vice Mayor for pushing this conversation and leading us to develop a collaborative process.

This Week’s Update and Other City News:
Since there is no City Council meeting next Monday due to Patriot’s day, please see below for a list of city events coming up:

April 20th at 2 PM – Finance Committee will meet to discuss city’s ARPA application/funding update status. The Committee will continue to discuss community proposals as we decide how to allocate the APRA funds.

April 20th at 5:30 PM – The Ordinance Committee will meet to continue a public hearing on proposed amendments to BEUDO. We have been meeting with many stakeholders over the past few weeks, making sure our proposed amendments will be feasible and that we hear all stakeholder concerns.

Earth Day Events – Use this list for a full list of events, and find some highlighted events below:

  • Bird Walk at Hall’s Pond – Thursday, April 21 at 7 AM. Hall’s Pond Sanctuary is one of only two natural ponds remaining in Brookline. Located Just over the BU Bridge, this small urban park with a pond, woodlands and wetlands, as well as dirt trails, a boardwalk, a garden and playing fields—a wonderful example of an urban green space that offers recreation space for people along with space for wildlife.
  • Charles River Conservancy Clean Up – The Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup builds on a national effort as part of American Rivers’ National River Cleanup®, which to date, has removed over 25 million pounds of trash from America’s waterways.

Trivia question:
Where is this historic site and why is it historic? $25 gift card on the line. If more than one correct answer, we’ll pick the winner by lottery.

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