Wednesday, July 17, 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.


Once Lesley University offices, a three-story building near Port Square in Cambridge could become labs. (Image: KS Partners)

Changes to City Council rules

Government Operations, Rules & Claims Committee, 10 a.m. to noon Monday. This committee run by councillor Paul Toner continues reviewing and discussing possible amendments to how the City Council runs, including whether the council finds a new approach to occasionally complicated “foreign policy resolutions” such as the call for a Gaza cease-fire that occupied so much council time over the past months. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

More housing, more affordable

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. A big night for housing issues with policy orders calling for faster, less expensive and easier housing permitting and construction and a path to getting municipally funded housing vouchers – like those in Boston and Somerville – to help fill a gap described in the city’s Envision report from 2019: that home values and rents nearly doubled between 2000 and 2015, “requiring a household income of $100,000 to rent a one-bedroom apartment, although the median household income in Cambridge is $75,000, and prices have only risen since the time the report was published.” Support is also proposed for The Affordable Homes Act before the state Legislature, reviving hopes for transfer fees on big real estate deals that the council has been calling for since at least 2016. A single transaction in Cambridge in 2020 could have been worth $68 million for housing, councillors said at the time. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $81 million.

A timeline for a Central Square plan arrives on schedule from city staff, with Community Development assistant city manager Iram Farooq suggesting that looking over previous work will take through April, with community engagement through August and a zoning petition filed in September. With two months of public hearings, there could be zoning adoption in December as councillors wanted. (And in the interesting-but-less-consequential category, the city manager seeks a revolving fund for for the Department of Human Service Programs so it can sell and rent supplies and equipment at a municipal golf course pro shop, thus “sustaining the management and operation of the course.”) The council meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Jerry’s Pond hearing returns

Conservation Commission, 7 p.m., Monday. Commissioners bring back discussion of plans by the life-sciences developer IQHQ to return Jerry’s Pond as a public amenity; it’s been fenced in since the 1960s. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Room for small tech at Porter

Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Labs, research-and-development space and technical offices are proposed by KS Partners for what was once Lesley University offices at 815 Somerville Ave., next to the Porter Square Galleria mall and by the MBTA red line’s Porter Station. The 1973 building of three stories and 27,824 square feet would look much as it does now but go to five parking spaces from 13 and “create opportunities for smaller R&D companies and startups to establish themselves in the dynamic Cambridge market.” Plans are moving forward after being announced in March. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Budgeting the next fiscal year

Finance Committee, 3 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by city councillors Patty Nolan and Joan Pickett reviews and discusses the city’s operating budget in advance of the 2025 fiscal year budget season, including a discussion of financial obligations and future spending. Council priorities and goals are talked about too. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.

Envisioning Mass. Ave. of 2040

Massachusetts Avenue Planning Study community meeting, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The group holds its first community meeting toward creating a vision for what the avenue will look like in 2040 between Alewife Brook Parkway and Cambridge Common. Participants can expect an introduction to the project and its process and a chance to talk with the planning team. The focus here is on land use and urban design, largely separate from a Massachusetts Avenue partial reconstruction project that is underway concerning bike lanes and other modes of transportation, city councillors were told Jan. 22, though there will be some overlap. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Preschool for Cambridgeport

Board of Zoning Appeal, 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Lubavitch of Cambridge asks to put a daycare in 118 Magazine St., Cambridgeport, filling space left empty by the landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates (now Hargreaves Jones) when it moved to Sherman Street. The Lubavitchers have been busy, with day care uses in the works last last year at 38-40 Banks St. and 48 Banks St., homes about a mile away in a residential Riverside neighborhood near Harvard Square where it has its Preschool of the Arts. Nearby is its day care at 65 Banks St. put in place in 2021. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

This post was updated Feb. 24, 2024, to correct a time.