Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A City Council policy order this week seeks to reverse MBTA service cuts to lines such as the 47 bus. (Photo: Byron A. Nash via Wikimedia Commons)

Lab and parking restrictions 

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. With the return of the full council to business after breaking for much of July and August comes a proposal to distinguish labs from general office uses to help decide “where future lab growth is appropriate and where it could significantly impede other priorities, including the emergency need for more housing and the desire to have vibrant, active business districts and squares.” Another zoning issue for the council to consider is the Planning Board’s 7-0 thumbs-down on setting all parking minimums to zero, despite an acknowledgment that as much as 40 percent of residents don’t have cars. Clarification in the zoning text is needed, the board said, and maybe more nuance to avoid bad outcomes in areas far from public transit.

Speaking of transit, there’s a council policy order seeking to reverse MBTA service cuts to lines such as the 47 bus that runs throughout Cambridge and Greater Boston, and a staff announcement that there will be free bus and subway ride cards for all teens at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, the High School Extension School and the Community Charter School of Cambridge and Prospect Hill Academy. (Homeschooled students too.)

Considering the difficulty of opening recreational-cannabis shops – only two of several proposed store have opened in Cambridge since non-medicinal pot was embraced in a statewide ballot in November 2016 – there’s a council order seeking to expand a head-start in the market for “economic empowerment” applicants to five years. Five shops are under construction, staff say in a report, out of 13 applicants who have either received or applied for a Cambridge Cannabis Business Permit. There’s an additional five applicants in less-favored categories.

Cambridge Health Alliance should reopen its Birth Center, which closed early in the pandemic, councillors suggest, and the city should set up a fund to help employees in same-sex marriages pay for surrogacy services – a health care equity issue, as other employees who want kids get this benefit. Some councillors also want a public hearing this fall on water quality, since the city just switched from its own supply to that of the MWRA for the rest of the year over concerns about chemicals. The next use for city-owned property at 105 Windsor St., The Port, is coming back for discussion too.

More orders look at public facilities and recreation, including a call to lower barriers around having neighborhood block parties; attend to ailing grass at Greene-Rose Heritage Park, 155 Harvard St., The Port; and add QR codes to historical markers citywide so smartphone users can immediately know more about the person a square or street is named after. The eccentric artist Peter Valentine, honored in a resolution after his Aug. 9 death, could be one of those people after the expedited naming of a corner at Brookline and Franklin streets.

The council meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.


Allowing multifamily housing

Housing Committee, 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday. This committee run by city councillor E. Denise Simmons explores allowing multifamily housing in all zoning districts – or, as a City Council request from Nov. 16 put it, developing “concepts and principles to eliminate single-family and two-family-only zones in the city.” A report summing up three discussions held by the Planning Board on the topic can be downloaded here. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Charter review on records, more

The Charter Review Committee, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. More work reviewing the city’s rules of governance for the first time in 80 years. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Memorial Drive closings

Memorial Drive closings community meeting, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. City and state Department of Conservation and Recreation staff will present about the expanded hours of Riverbend Park, which results from closing Memorial Drive to car traffic, and listen to residents’ thoughts on the current schedule. Some Riverside residents have said intense traffic has been generated in the neighborhood by drivers not used to being diverted from Memorial Drive on Saturdays, leading to a series of reversals around keeping expanded park hours. The Tuesday meeting takes place in person at Riverside Press Park, 2 Blackstone St., Riverside. The Wednesday meeting is online.

School Committee retreat

School Committee retreat, 6 p.m. Tuesday. Priorities and plans for the 2022-2023 school year will be set at this special session. The committee meets in the Dr. Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 459 Broadway, Mid-Cambridge.

Plan for Alewife Triangle offices

Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. A 33,000-square-foot addition for Longfellow Real Estate Partners at 125 Cambridgepark Drive in the Alewife Triangle area arrives for consideration; Longfellow, which also has buildings at 100 and 150 Cambridgepark Drive and a parking garage at 140 Cambridgepark Drive, ensured the development was exempt from a lab- and office-construction moratorium for the Alewife Quadrangle. A hearing will also be resumed about at a potential jump in real estate “linkage” fees to $33.34 a square foot from the current $20.10 – money that must be paid by developers of big, nonresidential construction to fund affordable housing. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing. (An amendment to be introduced at Monday’s meeting of the City Council would charge smaller fees of smaller developments.)


More ramen in Harvard Square

License Commission, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday. Another ramen place? Yep. Waku Waku is looking to open a 1,697-square-foot, 38-seat restaurant at 33 Brattle St., Harvard Square, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. all days. There are also agenda items for entertainment licenses at Cloud & Spirits, the restaurant and bar at 795 Main St., Lafayette Square, and at the Massasoit Elks Lodge, 55 Bishop Allen Drive, Central Square, among other things. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Preventing wage theft

Ordinance Committee, 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by city councillors Marc McGovern and Quinton Zondervan continues a hearing from March 30 about crimes that include “the illegal misclassification of employees as independent contractors … an epidemic particularly in the construction industry.” The measure would allow only businesses free of compensation scandals to contract with the city, and only if they “properly classify employees” and pay them appropriately. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Alewife zoning recommendations

Alewife Zoning Working Group, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. A third meeting between staff from Community Development and this working group talks with property owners and developers about goals for their land and how they relate to planning in the area. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing. The group meets at 68 Moulton St., Cambridge Highlands. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Housing crisis town hall

A Better Cambridge Town Hall, 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday. The housing advocacy group A Better Cambridge host two sessions to discuss what the City Council is doing to address “a housing crisis – the rent is too high, people are getting pushed out, and we’re not building enough housing (especially affordable housing) to keep up with rising demand.” The first hour features Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and councillors Marc McGovern and E. Denise Simmons; the second hour features vice mayor Alanna Mallon and councillor Burhan Azeem and Paul Toner. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.


Greenhouse gas emissions law

Building Emissions Public Forum, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday. Proposed changes to the building energy use disclosure ordinance to lower greenhouse gas emissions over time are discussed by Community Development Department staffers and some city councillors. The law would affect residential buildings of 50-plus units and commercial buildings of more than 25,000 square feet. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing and streaming on the second floor of the City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, Mid-Cambridge, where a limited number of seats are available.


Bike safety in Somerville

Safe Streets Now Rally, 10 a.m. Saturday. Bike safety advocates rally for a timeline on improving the streetscape to make it safer “for people walking, rolling and riding bikes” after Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne promised steps toward safety after bicyclist Stephen Conley, 72, was killed an Aug. 12 “dooring” incident with a car on Holland Street. Announced speakers include state Rep. Mike Connolly, Somerville city councilor Willie Burnley Jr. and former Cambridge vice mayor Jan Devereux. The rally is planned for Seven Hills Park, Davis Square, Somerville.

Event for women’s rights

Conclave on the Common celebrating the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, 1 to 5 p.m. Civic, church, political, nonprofit and community organizations, as well as friends, family and allies are called to show up at 1 p.m. at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, for the march leading to the gathering on Cambridge Common, near Harvard Square, ending at 5 p.m.  “Wear your white, make your signs and stand up for your rights and the rights of others,” organizers say. Information is here.