Monday, June 24, 2024

Did you know Cambridge had a Roman Catholic convent building? Not for much longer, presumably. (Photo: Board of Zoning Appeal packet)

Blocking evictions, non-police response, pot changes

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. This is three meetings in one, in a way, including a 5 p.m. closed-door session about the Revolutionary Clinics litigation against the city’s approach to recreational marijuana, which gives a two-year head start to “economic empowerment” applicants. After the public meeting starts at 5:30 p.m., it’ll be paused for a public 6:30 p.m. hearing to set the fiscal year 2021 property tax rate.

Since it looks like that the state’s eviction moratorium will end Oct. 17, the council wants to make sure landlords in Cambridge know that a local moratorium will still be in effect. The city solicitor has a memo explaining the overlaps and differences between the city, state and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratoriums. In another Covid-19 related issue, there’s an update on outdoor dining that’s hoped to make up for coronavirus restrictions, with the city so far giving 103 permits for extended outdoor seating (beyond businesses with existing patios) and 38 heat lamp permits, up from two in 2018.

The council asked the city manager to look into the feasibility of an alternative Public Safety Crisis Response System, one that didn’t have officers with guns showing up to situations where guns weren’t necessary. The report that has come back, on the letterhead of police commissioner Branville G. Bard Jr., says that while there are “many” situations where this might work, possibly with a team working out of the Cambridge Health Alliance, it’s “crucial to begin with the understanding that it is sometimes difficult and at other times impossible to begin with a non-police response even when a non-police response is most desirable.” There’s also an update arriving on the city’s Cycling Safety Ordinance and a reminder that the council wants a Truck Safety Ordinance – and is calling for a report on progress by Oct. 19.

The council wants to amend the city’s marijuana laws to include a “cannabis microbusiness” category and delivery-only pot sellers. There’s more detail on what that means here.

The city manager is appointing a 26-member Net Zero Action Plan Task Force to spend nine months on a five-year review of how the city’s doing at eliminating greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, the council wants to ensure eco-conscious construction continues by supporting bills under consideration at the state level.

And, in a peculiar bit of business, Department of Public Works commissioner Owen O’Riordan reports on the mystery of the “small amounts of furniture [that] have begun showing up on sidewalks at the end of every month,” mainly on Columbia Street. Spoiler alert: “We have not identified a definitive reason.”

Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.


Holding coronavirus-era classes in city parks

School Committee, 6 p.m. Tuesday. Members have motions to explore using space in city parks for educational purposes during school hours and adoption of a Covid-19 Safety and Facilities Manual put together by its Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee. There’s also a motion to consider a “policy on how the committee will address harm by members” to groups listed in the district’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

CambridgeSide zoning is back for some tweaks

Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The remaking of CambridgeSide is back before the board with some changes. Owners New England Development aims to reconcile the original late-1980s zoning for a 1.1 million-square-foot mall with its current plan for 1.7 million square feet of mixed uses including residential, retail, office and lab space, and restaurants.


It’s Surveillance Technology Impact Reports time

Public Safety Committee, 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday. This committee run by city councillor Quinton Zondervan takes on the latest Surveillance Technology Impact Reports and annual reports on police technologies such as ShotSpotter. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Committee picks up Envision Cambridge planning

Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration Committee, 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by city councillor Patty Nolan becomes the first in many months to discuss the Envision Cambridge development master plan, which was ordered six years ago to take the city into 2030 – and with the final report filed last year, time’s a-wasting. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.


Buckingham, Browne & Nichols needs more space

Board of Zoning Appeal, 6 to 11:30 p.m. Thursday. The Buckingham, Browne & Nichols private day school in West Cambridge’s Observatory Hill is seeking more primary school space by converting a Roman Catholic convent building at 6 Manassas Ave., part of the St. Peter’s parish campus. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.