Attend meetings in Cambridge from Jan. 9-15 about a new Traffic Board and climate zoning
Meet the Traffic Board
City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. An update about Wednesday’s fatal officer-involved shooting in Cambridgeport is planned, and the city’s revived Traffic Board can be seated with the council’s pro forma acceptance of its new members appointed by City Manager Yi-An Huang: engineer and entrepreneur Vivek Sikri (to a one-year term), high school teacher Kimberly Kaufman (to a two-year term) and chair Kathryn Carlson, executive director of the Rappaport Institute (to a three-year term). Residents upset over the installation of protected bike lanes and their impact on parking and car traffic called for the return of a body to which controversial changes could be appealed – and it was noted that members such as John Pitkin had been “sitting and waiting to be called” to meetings since 1995. Seventy-five applications came in for the three seats, Huang said.
The question of whether rents in city squares are driven by who can pay the most is brought up for resolution once and for all, if the Community Development Department can provide an answer. And a way to make “small but important improvements” to homes and add new units in existing space is proposed as zoning by resident Doug Brown, who said this approach could avoid the “extreme unpredictability” of big developments. The tweaks would, for instance, allow accessory apartments (sometimes known as in-law apartments) in newer construction, ending a requirement that a building exist before February 2019, and align some lot and density limits.
Coffee shop replacing Darwins
License Commission, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. A standout agenda that introduces Roust Coffee as the replacement for the original Darwin’s Ltd. coffee shop at 148 Mount Auburn St., Harvard Square, which closed Nov. 22 ahead of three others in the chain – ending a three-decade run amid a worker unionization effort. Though chain co-owner Steve Darwin said the replacement here would be a bakery needing no employees, Roust posted a sign Nov. 29 asking potential hires to send email; a media query got no response. Roust plans to ask for seating for 19, a total occupancy of 30, and proposed hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. all days under manager Michael Spiers with a “full cooking line, a display counter for prepared foods, a retail section and a small café with a coffee bar.”
Kiin Thai Sushi looks to replace Thai restaurant The Similans with a license transfer after more than two decades at 145 First St., East Cambridge near Kendall Square; the Achilitos Taqueria looks to replace Tom’s BaoBao at 84 Winthrop St., Harvard Square, across from Winthrop Park and empty since late 2019; Cultura asks licensing for 65 John F. Kennedy St., Harvard Square, home of a parking garage and the stealth Dunkin’ Donuts known as the Eliot Street Cafe. Cultura would have indoor seating for 42 with a maximum occupancy of 62, and patio seating of 20 with maximum outdoor occupancy of 40, open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. all days under manager Seila Green.
Row 34, a seafood chain with locations in Boston, Burlington and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, seeks to come to Cambridge at MIT’s new 314 Main St. building in Kendall Square. It’s a big space, 7,000 square feet with seating for 202 inside and occupancy of 240, as well as 38 patio seats, open from 11 a.m. to midnight daily under manager Meghan Fuchs. The Turing Tavern asks to fill the empty space at 1281 Cambridge St., Inman Square, where Patrick Maguire’s Drifter’s Tale comfort food restaurant and bar closed in July. The tavern would have seating for 76 and an occupancy of 99, open until 1 a.m. Sundays and 2 a.m. other days under manager Damien Tubbritt.
Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.
Affordable homeownership change
Housing Committee, 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday. This committee run by city councillors E. Denise Simmons gets a Community Development Department update on plans to change the city’s affordable homeownership programs. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.
Zoning for climate resilience
Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. With the effects of climate change already upon us – and the need to handle them – board members consider recommendations from the city’s Climate Resilience Zoning Task Force, which met 19 times between January 2019 and March 2021 to apply information available to the city since 2012. Its final report was filed in February 2022. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.
Filling boards and commissions
Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, 3 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by vice mayor Alanna Mallon looks at which board and commission appointments get City Council review and which are filled by the city manager without review – the council has a different set of expectations than the city’s Law Department, Mallon said – and discusses a city clerk request for a dedicated email address for communications to the City Council. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.