Friday, June 21, 2024

Cambridge city staff and elected officials have a range of police issues to discuss Monday. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Police issues, cannabis fees

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. Policy orders responding to the Jan. 4 police killing of Arif Sayed Faisal in Cambridgeport have flooded in, and some staff responses to related issues – including that the Police Review and Advisory Board, which investigates some civilian complaints against police, hasn’t been filing required quarterly reports of its actions, and that the City Manager’s Office hasn’t been forwarding police department’s inventories of weapons and other equipment. (City Manager Yi-An Huang took office in September; the last inventory arrived before him, in June.) Councillors also want action on a long-delayed police Procedural Justice Dashboard showing data on traffic stops, arrests and citations.

Questions around why police couldn’t defuse the confrontation with Faisal. who was holding a knife during a mental health crisis, have inspired calls for an independent review of Cambridge Police Department policies and practices around deescalation methods and better nonlethal responses – one of which was used during the encounter with Faisal to little effect. Huang is asked to take immediate steps to get body cameras on city law enforcement, and Finance Committee co-chairs are prepared to talk about body cameras in the context of budgeting.

With another horrific killing after a traffic stop fresh in mind from Memphis, Tennessee – that of Tyre Nichols, dead Jan. 10 after an attack by officers three days earlier – there’s a new call to explore getting armed police out of traffic enforcement. This is the third try, after a July 27, 2020, order was paused over legal concerns and one Sept. 14, 2020, went no further than a Public Safety Committee hearing.

In non-police issues, city staff agree that an annual city “impact fee” on cannabis businesses should no longer be added to host community agreements and will be taken out of existing HCAs, responding to a council vote in March; and have a Law Department response about the council’s two-year bar on considering “repetitive” zoning petitions, which has come up most recently around a pair of proposals that could limit where labs open in the city (and are being discussed Tuesday in a joint committee hearing). Councillors want staff to be determine the best ways to promote bicycle safety, with a focus on expanding the distribution of bike lights; and to look at the state of mental health resources available through the city’s public health system and Cambridge Health Alliance.

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


King’s replacing Mona Lisa

License Commission, 10 a.m. Tuesday. King’s Famous Pizzeria Roast Beef & Seafood is set to move into 1621 Cambridge St., Mid-Cambridge, where the Mona Lisa Restaurant closed a few weeks ago after 17 years in business. The pizza and grill thrived when students from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School were able to come get slices over the course of the day, but the Covid pandemic saw revenues plunge, and neither a Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund grant or crowdfunding effort led by lawyer Anthony Galluccio could save proprietor Mohamed Omara’s business. King’s – there are King’s also in Salem and Gloucester – is ready to serve to 11 p.m. weekdays and to midnight on weekends in a 2,200-square-foot space with seating for 24.

While that approval is expected to be rote, evidence is being reopened in the case of Fresh Pond Auto Sales in regard to how many vehicles should be allowed in its showroom at 307 Fresh Pond Parkway, in the Alewife neighborhood – a case that’s been brewing since 2017, before the business opened. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Lab-limit plans combined

Joint meeting of the Economic Development & University Relations Committee and Neighborhood & Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts & Celebration Committee, 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday. These committees run by city councillors Paul Toner and Dennis Carlone look at two similar plans that could set limits on large labs opening in places such as Central Square, Cambridge Street, Broadway in The Port and North Massachusetts Avenue. The idea is to encourage the construction of housing and retail, proponents say. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Charter Review Committee

Charter Review Committee, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. This group remaking the city’s 80-year-old governing document debates having a city manager vs. strong mayor, examines elections and opens public comment to residents’ ideas. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Vassal Lane school name change

School Committee, 6 p.m. Tuesday. Along with some subcommittee reports – including one that looked into a student proposal to grant gym credit for participating in theater – there’s a superintendent’s report due on renaming the Vassal Lane Upper School to avoid honoring someone whose family enslaved people. 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 videoconferencing.

Town-gown reports

Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. It’s town-gown report time, when the board checks in on what Lesley and Harvard universities, the Hult International School of Business and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are doing in, for, with and to the city. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.


Affordable Housing Overlay

Housing Committee, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by city councillors E. Denise Simmons discusses potential changes to Affordable Housing Overlay zoning, which is meant to make 100 percent affordable housing easier to build citywide. Changes could include “relaxed dimensional requirements” along certain major streets and in some squares; and “additional height when green area open space is protected or expanded.” The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.


Alewife Zoning Working Group

Alewife Zoning Working Group, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The final meeting of the working group includes results from a transportation analysis; final zoning recommendations; and updated planning by Denver company Healthpeak, which in 2021 and last year spent an estimated $616 million amassing some three dozen acres for life-sciences uses – inspiring an area lab-building moratorium and this zoning work. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.