Saturday, June 22, 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.


Elevated residential forecourts are recommended in Alewife Design Guidelines being heard by the Planning Board. (Image: City of Cambridge)

Sloped roofs and Alewife zoning

Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Two zoning petitions arrive that look essentially equal on the agenda, but the first – the Ferguson petition – asks merely that city language stop incentivizing developers to build box-shaped houses and “to recognize the existence of pitched roofs and other sloped planes” such as A-frames, which can decrease shadows. “This change reflects the existing housing stock and traditional architecture of the city and allows flexibility for architecturally interesting designs, including curved bays, turrets and other non-vertical features,” signers say.

The second petition, though? It’s the Quadrangle zoning for the Alewife Overlay District, written by a working group over the past year and sent by the City Council, and it will determine how an entire neighborhood of new buildings and public spaces develops, with recommendations as broad as breaking up large blocks to be more walkable to as fine as encouragement for “warm colors.” Green roofs are a theme, public bathrooms are called for and squares and plazas “enlivened by outdoor dining, temporary markets, playful landscape features, public art, outdoor events and the ground floor activity of buildings” are called integral. Non-residential buildings are capped at eight floors in specific instances, but residential heights are suggested at caps of 12 stories in two of three subdistricts, which might conflict with proposed changes to Affordable Housing Overlay zoning – in that, 12-story heights were to be reserved for buildings of all-affordable homes to compete with developers of market-rate housing.

Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

‘Buildings and landmarks’ law

Ordinance Committee, noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by city councillors Marc McGovern and Quinton Zondervan returns to a conversation from April 26 looking at changes to laws around historical buildings and landmarks. The proposal resulted from controversy over conservation districts, which can protect architecturally significant neighborhoods without being as restrictive as historical districts – though some residents felt the laws were a roadblock to developments that could provide more homes, and that district leaders didn’t represent the city’s diversity. As a continuation, this meeting doesn’t include public comment. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Evaluating the city manager

City Manager Evaluation Subcommittee, 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday. The City Council begins the work of assessing the work of Yi-An Huang, city manager as of Sept. 6 and the first person in the role in decades who was not a City Hall insider. Toward the end of Louis A. DePasquale’s tenure as manager, councillors discovered they were in the position of extending the contract on an official they’d simply neglected to evaluate. Now the annual appraisals are being pursued intently. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.

Two miles on Massachusetts Ave.

Massachusetts Avenue Partial Construction Working Group, 3 to 5 p.m.Thursday. The team is focused on $50 million worth of reconstruction on the two miles between Cambridge Common and the Arlington town line, a project springing from the city’s Cycling Safety Ordinance and its addition of bike lanes. This second meeting focuses on the the concept design process, outlining what roadway information is considered, discussing tools and ideas for modifying intersections and exploring how street design and intersection operations relate. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.