Friday, April 19, 2024


People seemed pretty exasperated Monday when councillor Minka vanBeuzekom forced reconsideration of a zoning vote for Kendall Square.

They howled and laughed – loud. Someone called out a disbelieving “What?” that she was delaying the inevitable by a few days. Her fellow city councillors all but walked out, calling her inconsiderate and unaccommodating because she was “putting people in an awkward position.”

That “awkward position” was mainly having to hold another vote (and maybe some discussion first) in next week’s final council meeting of the year, now that the council voted to roll that forward by two weeks by killing the actual final two meetings of the year.

Representatives of Kendall Square developer Boston Properties will also have to come back. It’s hard to rank this on the scale of terrible things for a zoning petition that didn’t expire until Feb. 5 – nearly two full months away.

Maybe vanBeuzekom’s demand for reconsideration of what is now a 6-2 vote is so pointless (probably even more so when you factor in how her fellow councillors reacted to it) because the zoning does seem inevitable. After all, this is zoning Boston Properties has asked for so it can fulfill its twice-failed promise to put up an apartment building. Who’s going to vote not to get an apartment building Kendall Square needs that has been promised three times? That would be perversely, pointlessly self-punishing.

But let’s just remember why this is all so inevitable: Because all of the councillors who voted for this zoning also took a whoooooole month to decide March 19, 2012, to let Boston Properties take away 42 percent of a rooftop garden in exchange for stuff such as a residential tower that had already been promised twice. This has been cited here roughly a billion times as so stupid (or politically tainted) that there are really no synonyms left to express exactly how stupid it was. These councillors failed to do their due diligence. They failed to ask the right questions. They failed to think. In all these ways, they failed the city. And the supposed toughness they showed Monday was pointless because of that – because they made the vote inevitable 20 months ago.

Now they’re angry at vanBeuzekom because she’s delaying it.

They shouldn’t expect the 47 percent of the Cambridge electorate who gave their No. 1 votes to challengers rather than incumbents in November to join in, though, and they should remember that even though 2,354 more people cast ballots this year than two years ago, every incumbent running for reelection except Leland Cheung lost No. 1 votes, totaling 600 gone.

The zoning vote’s going to happen. Seven days is not that big a deal – certainly not as big a deal as the vote that made it necessary.

This post was updated Dec. 13, 2013, to show that only Leland Cheung gained No. 1 votes from the elections of 2011 to 2013.