Sunday, May 26, 2024

These are just some of the municipal meetings and civic events for the coming week. More are on the City Calendar and in the city’s Open Meetings Portal.


Traffic changes on Garden Street demand new signs and directions for traffic. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Garden Street traffic; trees

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. A new one-way section of Garden Street won’t be returned to two-way traffic just yet, acting chief of the Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department Brooke McKenna tells councillors in a report, because “it is too early in the process to know if the one-way configuration can be successful in the long run.” The traffic changes were made with the Oct. 28 addition of two-way bike lanes, and the impact on surrounding streets have made neighbors unhappy – but the worst of it has passed, McKenna said in the report, and “total [traffic] volume is within the range across side streets from October before implementation.” The department also has a series of adjustments underway to help, including getting online maps updated, making signal timing adjustments, addition of a left turn for eastbound Huron Avenue traffic and a few new signs and markings. “It can take three to six months for drivers to adjust,” McKenna said, and “we are still in the settle-in period.” Final data collection is due in the spring.

Conscious that a report on the city’s tree canopy is late – and the previous one showed dramatic loss – councillors have a motion urging action, funding and long-term plans to keep things green. There’s also a set of requests for staff to review regulations around emissions and their cost to residents and businesses in time and money, and to begin looking at the next round of laws concerning greenhouse gases.

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

Zoning for climate resilience

Health & Environment Committee, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. This committee run by city councillor Patty Nolan looks at zoning language proposed by the Community Development Department to deal with environmental crises, the results of a Climate Resilience Zoning Task Force report and the broader “Resilient Cambridge” plan. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing. (Update on Dec. 20, 2022: This meeting was canceled.)

Bilingual staff, inclusive forms

School Committee, 6 p.m. Tuesday. Members seek a review of district forms and communications to make sure they use gender-inclusive language and to ask the district to ensure steady availability of bilingual teachers for dual-language immersion schools and programs, including sponsorship of international work visas. The committee meets in the Dr. Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 459 Broadway, Mid-Cambridge. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Lab limits, two-block zoning

Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The board considers two citizen zoning proposals, including one about where labs can go in the city (the “Callender petition”) that starts by adding a definition to a vague category of uses – the “technical office for research and development, laboratory & research facility” – and then would change the table of uses to keep new labs out of most business or office districts to “minimize competition with other land uses such as housing and retail,” in the words of a Community Development memo.

The other (the “Barrett petition,” after developer Patrick Barrett) affects just two blocks in North Cambridge – a triangle formed by Massachusetts Avenue, Cedar Street and Alberta Terrace – to allow for mixed-use development, including housing, of up to 80 feet rather than the current 35, taller than surrounding areas. “Rezoning this small section would continue the trend of varied and eclectic development patterns along Massachusetts Avenue. That could be a positive or negative result, depending on one’s attitudes about varied and eclectic development patterns,” a CDD memo says. The proposal would exempt ground-floor commercial spaces from density calculations and “could have unanticipated consequences” by using that approach, such as allowing a two-story office or lab building without setbacks. But it’s a safe bet adoption of the proposed zoning would see at least the temporary departure of the Cambridge House of Pizza, Friendly Corner minimart, Pet Republic store and other businesses in the targeted square footage. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Improvements for tech school

School Committee virtual roundtable, 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Members will go in depth on plans to improve the Rindge School of Technical Arts, the city’s vocational high school program, continuing a conversation from Oct. 25. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.