Attend meetings on budget, the ‘missing middle’ and celebrating food and drink in Central Square
Closing Mass Ave to cars; campaign finance reform
City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. Creative uses of streets have been greeted by city staff with either apathy or hostility throughout the pandemic, but there may be a better outcome to this proposal with an economy-boosting basis: closing Massachusetts Avenue to cars from Prospect Street to Sydney Street from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Friday and Saturday through September. Other transportation-themed business coming up includes supporting state legislators’ call for electrified public transit, and an analysis of quick-build separated bike lanes with an eye toward whether future lanes need more concrete infrastructure (literally).
A slew of finance-related issues are on the agenda, including a look at hiring related to last summer’s calls to focus on human services ahead of policing; and a response to an order for more money to be put into housing stabilization, which the city manager says will be reflected in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in the coming budget. The manager is also asking $28.5 million in borrowing for sewer and storm water projects, mainly along River Street and around Harvard Square; $10 million for a Municipal Facilities Improvement Plan for projects at the Department of Public works complex, Moses Youth Center and several fire stations, among other things; $5 million in street and sidewalk improvements; and $1.8 million for school projects such as asbestos abatement and replacing the front plaza at the Haggerty School, emergency generator at the Cambridgeport School and gym floor at the Amigos School.
The Ordinance Committee recommends sending two municipal campaign finance reform proposals to the Law Department for its opinion and help on a home rule petition, which would go the state Legislature – one around limiting campaign donations from people with financial incentives to influence city politicians and the other capping an individual’s contributions to any council candidate to $200 per person, per year. And there’s a $25,000 grant around “energy efficiency outreach and engagement goals” that could draw some comment because it involves Eversource, which began drawing fire Friday for contributing pro-natural gas propaganda to public schools that includes “not a single mention of the climate crisis,” as Tobin parent Gleb Bahmutov noted online.
Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.
The coming budget, department by department
Finance Committee, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday. This committee run by city councillors Dennis Carlone and E. Denise Simmons will hold a public hearing on Fiscal Year 2022 budget items, including funding for the Mayor’s Office, City Council and city clerk; personnel, purchasing, auditing and assessing departments; fire and police departments; Traffic, Parking & Transportation; Inspectional Services and the License Commission; the Election Commission, Animal Commission and more. One line item that might draw significant attention this year is the Law Department, after repeated clashes surrounding delayed and unresponsive complaints. But the Information Technology budget, which sparked a mutiny a year ago around city staff’s failures to begin a municipal broadband feasibility study, could yet draw some comment. The only action has been a request for proposals around digital equity that mentions city-owned Internet, but not a study.
Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.
‘Missing middle’ zoning returns for Round 2
Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Proposed “missing middle” zoning that might bring more multifamily housing (theoretically slowing rising prices on existing housing) is coming back after a March 30 hearing, when board members seemed conflicted over liking the zoning’s goals but fearing that its specifics, including proposed dimensions, wouldn’t achieve the goals. Opponents to the zoning in the community are concerned this is a development industry-backed giveaway that will only raise housing prices. The board is also scheduled to look at how pot delivery businesses fit into zoning. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.
Safety manual changes, a Tobin relocation
School Committee Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The members plan to discuss recommended safety manual changes and updates from a School Committee health and safety working group; the planned temporary move of the Tobin School due to upcoming construction; and a request around polling places from the city’s Election Commission. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.
Perfecting the rules around cannabis delivery
Ordinance Committee, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by city councillors Dennis Carlone and Marc McGovern plans a hearing on cannabis delivery zoning amendments and Municipal Code Amendments. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.
Tiki bar in Harvard Square, patisserie near Central
License Commission, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday. There’s a flurry of eateries looking to open, including Wusong Road, described as a tiki bar and American-Chinese restaurant by chef-owner Jason Doo and restaurateur Thomas Brush. It’s expected late this year, holding 196 people in the shockingly narrow building at 2 Bennett St., Harvard Square, that used to host Les Sablons. Also seeking licensing is Praline, the Belmont patisserie opening with an occupancy of 40 in the boutique hotel at 907 Main St., Lafayette Square; Tenóch Mexican, the great Somerville taco and torta joint looking to come to 8 Museum Way, North Point, for a maximum 50 people at a time; and PlantPub, a vegan food and beer delivery service (from Pat McAuley, who wanted to open the Rewild cafe in Central Square a couple of years ago) that could also bring sit-down service to 675 W. Kendall St., Kendall Square, advertised as having 15 seats. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.
This post was updated May 9, 2021, with context around a “missing middle” zoning proposal to be head by the Planning Board.