Cambridge City
MA

Committee Report
CRT 2018 #24
REPORT ACCEPTED
Jul 30, 2018 5:30 PM

A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on June 27, 2018 to discuss the Zoning petition received from Douglas Brown et al to amend the zoning Section 20.70 Flood Overlay district and creation of a new Section 22.80 - Green Factor.

Information

Department:City Clerk's OfficeSponsors:
Category:Ordinance Committee

Body

 

ORDINANCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair

Councillor Craig Kelley, Co-Chair

Vice Mayor Jan Devereux

Councillor Allana Malon

Mayor Marc C. McGovern

Councillor Sumbull Siddiqui

Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.

Councillor E. Denise Simmons

Councillor Quinton Zondervan

In City Council July 30, 2018

 

 

The Ordinance Committee, comprised of the entire membership of the City Council, held a public hearing on June 27, 2018 at 5:30 PM in the Sullivan Chamber.

 

The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the Zoning petition received from Douglas Brown et al to amend the zoning in Section 20.70 Flood Overlay district and the creation of a new Section 22.80 – Green Factor.

 

Present at the hearing were Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Committee, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Simmons, Councillor Toomey, Councillor Zondervan, City Manager Louis DePasquale,

Deputy City Manager Lisa Peterson, Public Works Commissioner Owen O’Riordan,

City Engineer Kathy Watkins, Senior Manager of Zoning and Development, CDD, Jeff Roberts, Susanne Rasmussen, Director of Environment and Transportation Planning, CDD, John Bolduc, Environmental Project Planner, Erik Thorkildsen, Urban Designer, CDD, City Solicitor Nancy Glowa, Director of Assessment Robert Reardon, Margaret Donnelly Moran, Director of Planning and Development, Cambridge Housing Authority and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez. 

 

Also present were Mike Nakagawa and Doug Brown, the petitioners, Russ Burke, BSC Group, Nancy Ryan, 4 Ashburton Place, Sam Stuart, Deborah Ruhe, Just-A-Start, Carolyn Magid, 71 Reed Street, Richard Clarey, 15 Brookford Street, Kailash Nakagawa, 51 Madison Avenue, Larry Bluestone, 18 Centre Street, Jesse Kanson-Benanav, 26 Willow Street, Katie Moniz, BSC Group, Sea McFarland, 52 Pearl Street, Lydia Vickers, 45 Cherry Street, Chris Barr, 48 Russell Street, Tom Lucey, Harvard University, Bill McAvinney, 12 Douglass Street, Carolyn Fuller, 12 Douglass Street, Jim Perrine, 1588 Cambridge Street, Sheli Wortis, 106 Berkshire Street, Lee Farris, 269 Norfolk street, Sarah Gallop, MIT, Margaret Donnelly Moran, Cambridge Housing Authority, Bret Matthew, 124 Armory Street, Mark Johnson, 24 East Street, Alice Heller, 22 Corporal Burns Road, David Maher, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Tina Alu, 113 ½ Pleasant Street, Alison Field-Juma, 363 Concord Avenue, Nella LaRobertson, 54 Curcuit Street, Peter Valentine, 37 Brookline Street, Larry Childs, 22 Corporal Burns Road, Eric  Grunebaum, 98 Montgomery Street, Toby Hyde, 11 Wendell Street, Lynne Lombardi, 26 Whittemore Avenue, Kathy Baskin 73 Munroe Street, Belmont, Peggy Barnes-Lenart, 115 Fayerweather Street, Michele Sprengnether 31 Chilton Street, James Williamson, 1000 Jackson Place, Kathy Watkins, 90 Fawcett Street, Joseph Maguire, 270 Third Street and Ellen Waters, 34 Crescent Street.

 

 

 

 

 

Councillor Carlone convened the hearing and stated the purpose.  He announced that the hearing was being audio and video recorded.  He stated that there are forty communications received which will become part of the report.  He outlined the format of the hearing.  The petitioners will present first, city staff, public comment and then the ordinance committee will discuss the issues.  He stated that after the presentation by the petitioners and the staff the City Council has the right to ask clarifying questions.  He stated that this is a complex petition for a large portion of the City. 

 

Mike Nakagawa and Doug Brown, the petitioners, gave their presentation introduction.  Mr. Nakagawa stated that he is from North Cambridge and he purchased a house that appeared to be outside of the flood plain.  The house is now in the flood plain - after two years living there he experienced flooding. A few years later the flood plane was expanded. He pays $10,000 every four years for flood insurance.  He stated that the City must to do more.  The goal of the petition is to save people from changes in the environment; not to save the environment from changes by people. 

 

They gave a PowerPoint Presentation (ATTACHMENT A).  The petition’s focus is on community health, safety and resiliency.  There are three major climate problems; heat is the most urgent problem, which is the number one reason for increasing deaths.  He noted that most of the City is in the extreme caution zone.  Concrete buildings increase the heat; but a green infrastructure changes and slows down the temperature rise. He noted that air conditioners work less efficient in high temperature. 

 

He next spoke about flooding, which will likely spread throughout more areas of the City.  Storm surge and sea level rise are important factors. He stated that the City is actively doing projects to combat flooding - $35 million would be spent on sewer improvement work in the Port area.

 

There is also a water quality issue.  He explained that there has been a D+ rating for the Little River and the Alewife Brook area. There are significant areas that do not have trees, which provide cooling.  These areas are under rapid development.

 

Mr. Brown stated that the question is why submit this petition now?  He stated that there is data that shows that the City should act, and the City has the plan.  He stated that by 2030 the development in the flood plain should be completed.  He stated that the petition tried not to intrude on the Envision process and Community Development stated that the petition does not affect this process.  He stated that Envision proposes approximately 6 million square feet of new development in the Alewife area; 60% of which will be commercial. If the City does not mitigate the risk the market will do that for us.  Mr. Brown stated that there is more than one goal in the zoning ordinances and they need to be balanced.  He outlined what is known today about Concord-Alewife goals, which contain a lot about green infrastructure and how the land should be used.  He said the idea that housing is not being built is untrue and 95% of the development has been within the flood plain.  He stated that FEMA encourages communities to enact more restrictive requirements to better protect people and properties.  The challenge is that there is more than one goal in the zoning ordinance. 

 

Mr. Brown explained that there are three mitigation strategies: defend, retreat and accommodate and this petition focuses on two of the strategies: adapted buildings and resilient ecosystems.  He stated that specific zoning language is needed and outlined what is proposed in the petition.  He stated that proposed flood plain overlay is expanded to protect against future threats.  He stated that health and safety requirements should be added within the flood plain overlay to protect residents.  He stated that there should be restrictions on hazardous materials in flood plain areas. 

 

 

 

The petition has open space, permeable surfaces and tree canopy requirements and a minimum building setback for healthy tree growth.  It allows for increased building height and reduced parking requirements.  He stated that the exemptions for small homes from the special permit requirement should be kept. 

 

He stated that the green factor score is a new requirement.  A green factor is a scoring system that encourages green systems.  He noted the green factor standard for Seattle and their benefits. He stated that there is no study for costs for the green factor.

 

He stated that the ideas in the petition came from the work being done by the City, such as the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment, Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency Plan and the Envision Master Plan.  He stated that these should not be guidelines, but legally binding requirements.  The petitioners’ goal was not to affect development.  The petition allows for more height.  He stated that green systems are cheaper than grey systems.  He stated that reducing parking saves money.  It is a challenge to retrofit a building.  He stated that everyone benefits if the City is prepared. 

 

He stated that new housing has to be safe now and in the future. 40B outlines the environmental standards for housing. He stated that the Jefferson Park project will yield 104 affordable units, including 19 three-bedroom units. This project meets many of the new standards, but only has 18% open space, which is lower than the number in the petition.  It received 11- 40B exemptions and would still be valid with this petition.

 

He summarized the petition.  People expect Cambridge to protect its residents. People need safe places to live and new housing needs to achieve this. Jobs, economy and infrastructure need to be protected.  Smart growth should not make unsafe housing. Green investments are good investments. Retrofitting is expensive, but it can be done and must be done now.  He concluded by saying that this petition will not interfere with the Envision Cambridge process.  Climate change is happening and how Cambridge responds is how we care for one another. If we act now some of its impacts can be avoided.  The Planning Board stated praised the petition either in whole or part but there is a concern about the comprehensive nature of the petition – it may have unintended consequences, particularly for housing.  He stated that he does not agree with that assessment.  He stated that affordable housing advocates stated that this is bad for housing, but Chapter 40B specifically exempts these projects from many of the zoning requirements.  He stated that his assumption is that the Board of Zoning Appeal would continue to exempt these projects from problematic requirements.  He spoke about the exemption for setbacks for the Millers River and the HRI projects.  He stated that the City is grappling with the idea that the long-standing housing crisis is at odds with the climate crisis.  He acknowledged that the housing crisis is real, but so is climate change. 

 

Mr. Brown suggested that the parts of the petition be identified that are liked by the council, the parts that the Planning Board and the housing advocates support and that they then be refined over the next few months.  He explained to the Planning Board that the sense of urgency is based on the mismatched rate at which the Envision process is unfolding and the rate at which the flood plane is rapidly filling up with vulnerable residents and buildings approved using now discredited zoning standards.  He expressed little confidence on interim guidelines enforced on a haphazard basis.  He added guidelines are not enough; requirements are needed.  He suggested that there may be a middle ground.  He stated that the petitioners believe that a balance between multiple priorities is possible and that there can be climate resiliency and enough housing for all.  It is the responsibility of the City and its residents to try.

 

Councillor Zondervan wanted to understand whether some of the zoning relief proposed in the petition will be granted through the special permit process or zoning variances.  Mr. Brown responded through the special permit process.  This was the intent when the petition was written.  He stated that if this is not clear perhaps the language could be adjusted. 

Vice Mayor Devereux asked about Seattle’s green factor map and the different scores for different areas.  She stated that the petitioners looked at the green factor to be one citywide.  She asked if a different score could be developed based on the level of risk.  Mr. Brown explained that Somerville is considering this; there are different scores for different areas of the City.  He stated that goal was to set the bar quite low with the idea that it would be easy for projects to meet the standard and could be refined by Envision to establish the standards.  Mr. Nakagawa spoke about having one score for flood plain areas and over time determined the different levels of green factors for projects as they come online. Mr. Nakagawa stated that this is for what will be flooding in the future and the buildings need to be ready for lifetime development.

 

Councillor Mallon commented that the provision of the petition seemed overly prescriptive if you consider the entire flood plain areas.  She asked how would the City handle 25 foot-setback on all four sides?  Mr. Nakagawa stated that the rainwater is near the street and would only affect the area flooded and does not affect the whole parcel.  He stated that many parcels were not affected by flooding as they appear on the maps prepared by CDD.  He stated that the performance standards and the area of applicability are not matched.  He stated that because you are in an area does not necessarily mean that all the requirements are needed for flooding.  Councillor Mallon noted that it is difficult to know the affects if the parcels and locations to be affected are unknown.  Mr. Nakagawa stated that it goes by what is actually flooding and not the map. 

 

Councillor Mallon stated that there are exemptions for 40B and she is worried about the cost for the non-profit housing developers.  Mr. Brown stated that Jefferson Park project received exemptions for FAR, height and lot area per unit, the three things that control how many units you can have and there is no reason why this project could not have been made bigger.  He stated that the 140 units were chosen because that is what was there previously.  They could have added 1-2 stories on and doubled the amount generated and reduce the overall cost of the project per unit. The exemptions were received because they are in a residential B zone.  He stated that on the ground we need to have the space to deal with the water and that the units are safe and protected out of the water. 

 

Councillor Mallon noted that this has affected bond rating and will there be a different way to measure this in the future.  Mr. Brown responded that this is going to become an increasing component of the rating, because the risk is increasing.  He stated as more parts of the City are flooding the costs will go up. 

 

Councillor Carlone requested City staff to come forward.  They will give an overview of the city’s document on this.   Mr. Roberts introduced the staff.  There was a memo to the Planning Board from the staff on this petition (ATTACHMENT B).  Mr. Roberts stated that the brief provided that went to Planning Board had two overall functions:  to review the current planning efforts and practices relating to climate change preparedness and to review this specific proposal including an assessment of the effects it may have. He stated that the CDD memo is a brief on this topic. 

 

Mr. Roberts stated that current development standards were reviewed that applied which included the green building standards in the zoning ordinance. This uses the LEED rating system, which includes criteria for water management and urban heat island mitigation, storm water management standards which are applied at the local and state level generally requiring retention and detention of storm water on site along with other water quality standards.  He stated there are the current flood plain overlay district requirements, which require compensatory flood storage, and this is linked to the federal flood insurance policy.  He stated that the tree protection ordinance, which is linked to zoning ordinance, requires replacement of significant tree caliber on private sites through the urban forestry master plan, which has commenced recently.  He stated that these issues relate to climate change and are issues that have their own distinct solutions and are viewed as individual components.  He noted that this is being pointed out because it is important to consider the effects of any new standards or requirements may have on the current requirements. 

 

 

In the report key initiatives underway are mentioned such as Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency process (CCPR) and the Envision Cambridge process.  Mr. Roberts stated that these are two separate processes but are related to one another.  He explained that the CCPR process evolved from an effort called the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA), which modeled the effects of climate change in terms of heat precipitation and storm surge for 2030 and 2070 climate scenarios.  These are very complex scientific models.  He stated that the importance of these assessments is that they provide a detailed factual assessment of what the vulnerabilities are expected to be and provides a rational and quantitative basis for prioritizing the risk and recommending practical approaches that will produce the best outcomes. This process is still underway. However, CCD, Public Works and the Planning Board have incorporated the findings into the ongoing project review procedures that are overseen. 

 

He stated that a key example of CCVA projects are now reviewed to protect new construction from projected ten-year 2070 flood events and are capable of recovery from the one hundred-year projected 2070 flood events through design and materials.  He stated that recommendations from the CCPR process continue to be developed.  He added that it is also important to note that CCPR plan is not just about new development but also about mitigating risks for existing buildings which cannot always be done through zoning or project review but requires partnerships and investments that will benefit the City and the large region.  He stated that the work that is being done on CCPR plan is coordinated with the Envision Cambridge comprehensive plan.  He stated that it is important to view the CCPR in the context of the City’s other long-term planning goals. 

 

An example of this is that both processes have an early phase that focuses specifically on the Alewife area. Elements of the CCPR plan that related to Alewife are being integrated in with the urban design, housing and economic development elements and other goals that have emerge from this planning process.  He stated that one focus of this process is to study ways to incorporate resiliency measures into building construction while also making pedestrian friendly environments and create street-front activation despite the noted need to elevate the ground floors of the buildings.  He stated that the Envision Alewife Working Group process has concluded its most recent set of meetings with a presentation on zoning recommendations, and the CCPR process prepared its draft report of recommendations for Alewife area. CCPR and the Envision Alewife recommendations will be integrated to create a comprehensive zoning proposal that covers all the issues.  He stated that the expectation is that the Envision Alewife is headed towards completing its report this year, which will incorporate the factors of the CCPR plan. The larger process, the Envision Cambridge process, will continue through this year and the broader CCPR process is targeted for completion in mid-2019. 

Mr. Roberts stated that the second part of the CDD review was looking at the petition itself.   He noted that the petitioners did a good job earlier explaining the issues that are being studied with the CCPR process.  He stated that there were several concerns with the specific approaches being recommended in the petition.  He covered the broader concerns.   He explained that the overall approach is to expand flood plain overlay district to include all the areas identified as vulnerable from flooding in 2070 from sea level rise and storm surge precipitation. This results in an amorphously shaped district and would impact close to one-half of all the parcels in the City.  In many cases only part of a parcel would be impacted, and, in some cases, it may be unclear to property owners precisely who would be affected. 

 

The petition would expand the current set of flood plain overlay district requirements into this new area and would require Planning Board special permits for all types of construction, not just the large-scale developments where currently Planning Board review is required, but also smaller structures, additions, alterations and earth work.  He stated that the zoning specifically exempts 1-3 family dwelling from the special permit requirements, but not from other requirements of the district. 

 

The petition would also retain and expand the requirements for compensatory flood storage, which would not necessarily be applicable or appropriate to address precipitation, base flooding or storm surge-based flooding where there are distinct strategies.  He stated that the proposed boundaries themselves are based on complex models of future climate scenarios.  This was not created for serving as fixed zoning boundaries, but as projects that could be revisited and updated overtime as conditions change.  He stated that the zoning boundaries would become either outdated at some point or would need to be changed regularly as the scenarios are revised which would result in additional uncertainty. 

 

He stated that the number of parcels currently subject to the requirements would gain new requirements.  In addition to the special permit process it would require additional engineering reports and new development standards.  He spoke about the impacts of new requirements, which are hard to gauge because it would depend on many factors such as the condition of a lot and the scale of the project.  He stated that smaller projects would be impacted.  Some of the other requirements would put higher demands on the amount of land area that needs to meet the requirement. He stated that if proposed projects were small the cost may not be justified to undertake the studies. 

 

He stated that the proposed standards in the petition for building elevation has many layers and if taken altogether they end up being higher than the City’s current recommendations which are based on the CCVA 2070 projections.  He stated that these requirements would apply in addition to the base zoning requirements, which results in some issues.  He cited prohibition on certain activities and materials, which can prohibit uses that are allowed currently in the proposed area, including hospitals, service stations and labs.  He stated that it was unclear whether the City’s water treatment plant might have a problem meeting the standards proposed.  He further stated that any residential uses on the ground floor would be considered non-conforming even in districts that only allow residential use and requiring dry-land access to sites could make large areas of currently developed land non-conforming under the proposed standards. He stated that the subject of non-conformity is an important issue and, in this case, many existing building are at risk from the impact of climate change and part of the strategy is to improve existing buildings. 

 

He noted that when new zoning requirements are put in place that increase the level of non-conformity of the lots then the effect is that it can add to the time, cost and difficulty of improving a property.  He stated that this could promote the status quo rather than encourage improvements.  He stated that it is important to be cautious about zoning whatever the goals, by adding more zoning requirements does not always meet the goals intended.  He stated that in cases where buildings are developed to meet the new proposed requirements the result could be outcomes that are not intended by the City’s other overall planning goals.  He stated that an example of this is that the petition requires parking to be built above the flood elevation which would be above grade while in most of the City above grade parking is discouraged and is counted against the allowed gross floor area on the site.

 

Mr. Roberts spoke about urban design strategies that incorporate climate change, resiliency and other goals such as pedestrian oriented streets and a mix of housing, employment, retail and community resources is a challenge. It is being pursued in the Envision Alewife process and the Envision Cambridge process as the CCPR recommendations are incorporated into a comprehensive recommendation. 

 

He spoke about the green factor in the zoning petition.  He noted that this is an intriguing idea and it has been used in other places.  This still poses questions that need to be examined more closely but the general point raised about the need to pay closer attention to the quality and not just the quantity of open space and green space on a parcel is a relevant issue. This is at the forefront of CCD thinking as they look at ways to mitigate the impacts of temperature increases.

 

Mr. Roberts stated that the Planning Board recommended that the petition not be adopted.  He stated that the Board report has not yet been written as the Planning Board hearing was held on June 26, 2018.  He outlined the issues discussed by the Planning Board. The Planning Board felt it was important to complete the CCPR process, and when setting policies going forward to consider the recommendations in the context of the Envision Cambridge process which has produced a long set of goals and objectives that need to be prioritized.  He stated that the Planning Board members expressed concerns about the petition being too over broad and far-reaching in terms of the areas impacted and the proposed requirements.  He added that there was uncertainty in understanding exactly the consequences of the petition based on the language and testimony received.  He stated that some board members felt that this is a subject area that would benefit from a better understanding with a greater range of the potential strategies for mitigating climate change impacts, particularly the heat island effects. 

 

Mr. Roberts stated that some board members stated that there are some things that can be done now even if the zoning is not changed through the development review process similarly as how the Planning Board currently incorporates the City’s 2070 flood projections into their review standards for new projects.  He noted that one example mentioned by a board member was the green factor provision and the possibility that the Planning Board could ask developers to submit this analysis as an informational component part of their review.

 

Councillor Siddiqui stated that based on the CDD memo there does not seem to be a middle ground and there are elements in the petition that some developers are now doing.  She agreed with some parts of the petition and is concerned with housing aspect.  She asked Mr. Roberts if there can there be a middle ground for now and what is the informal list that could be taken out of the petition and discussed. 

 

She noted that the Planning Board felt there were some good aspects of the petition, but there were no specifics.  She stated that she would not support this as it is and asked what parts are workable.  Mr. Roberts stated that the CDD objective is to evaluate petitions as they come to the city and in this case the staff was not involved in this petition.  The staff has developed different conclusions on the standards that should be recommended. This is one aspect of the review process. The objective was to give information to guide the City Council and the Planning Board to make the determination as to what has merit/does not have merit in petition. 

 

Mr. Roberts stated that one zoning concern to deal with is could this be dealt with in a different way - take the flood plain overlay district (which was created for a specific reason) and then expand it over another district is a serious concern about the overall petition approach.  There is a process in place for project review of projects of a certain size.  It is an extensive review that provides staff an opportunity to look at the most recent planning that has been done and look at how this applies to a particular site. When issues are being developed and tested is important and should be done in a judicious way including impacts of climate change and other City goals.  If there are concerns about new development that the City would like to see studied through a different lens, then it would be extracted and looked at through the current process. 

 

Councillor Siddiqui asked about the timeline and what will happen in the next few years and when it will be implemented.  Mr. Bolduc responded that the planning process regarding climate preparedness plan would be folded into the Envision Cambridge process.  A preparedness plan was distributed for Alewife area with general recommendations with specific ideas about different ways to implement.  He stated that currently the City is evaluating options in a specific way about how to apply the four categories of strategies.  He stated that the expectation for the Alewife area is that this will be done by the end of the year.  He stated that this evaluation will look at how much of the strategies are needed, such as green infrastructure to improve resilience.  He stated that green infrastructure by itself would not solve everything.  He wants to look at the feasibility of these measures and the cost effectiveness.  He noted that the biggest challenge is the risk is to existing development and that will be dealt with the redevelopment process.  He stated that the City does not want to create rules that discourage redevelopment and lock out existing buildings.  He stated that this is a very complicated process and by the end of the year it is expected to come up with performance-based standard. 

 

Councillor Kelley stated that he does not understand the connection between the parking requirement and the statement that this will increase on grade parking.  Mr. Roberts stated that in petition there are uses not allowed at specific elevations and included fuel stored in vehicles which interpreted as written would mean an automobile that is parked would not be allowed below the flood elevation and the flood elevation is near or above ground level it would require parking above the elevation.  He stated that there is a limit to the amount of surface parking at grade.  Councillor Kelley asked if he was speaking about section 20.720 hazardous materials he sees petroleum products and he does see the connection.  He stated that he read this as gas stations.  Mr. Roberts stated that in section 20.75 in paragraph (10) addresses this. 

 

Councillor Kelley spoke about the impact on 1-3 families were exempt from the special permit requirement but would be covered by the flood plain overlay district requirements.  He stated that he thought that these were exempted.  He asked how they would be impacted.  Mr. Roberts read 20.73.1. where this is covered.  Councillor Kelley stated that if you needed a special permit how are these things required.  Mr. Roberts stated that this is a procedural issue with the new provisions proposed and it is unclear how it would be enforced.

 

Councillor Kelley referred to 20.726 on variance requirements and asked is this a legal restriction on variance.  Mr. Roberts that this would require a consultation with the Law Department on the legal implication.  Councillor Kelley asked if shelter in place requirements were anywhere else in the zoning. Mr. Roberts responded that he is not aware of any in the zoning ordinance.  He suggested checking with Emergency Management Department on this. 

 

Vice Mayor Devereux asked when FEMA maps would be updated.  Mr. Roberts stated that this is unknown.  Vice Mayor Devereux asked when the improvements to Mystic River Dam would occur.  Mr. Bolduc explained that Cambridge participates in the Metro Mayors Climate Preparedness Task Force, which involves 15 communities that have agreed to work together on making the region more resilient.  He stated that the storm surge problem is a regional problem and the map shows storm surge flood risk in 2070.  He spoke about the modeling work done which shows the protection that Cambridge gets from being located behind two dams, the Charles River Dam and Amelia Earhart Dam.  He stated that the time of the risk is further in the future than for precipitation driven flooding.  There is time to work on this. 

 

There are two projects identified outside of Cambridge that would reduce Cambridge from risk.  The Climate Ready Boston process includes designs for storm surge barriers in East Boston and Charlestown.  He stated that the Charlestown barrier would block a significant pathway for storm surge that would start at the Schraft Center and reach the Charles River in Cambridge.  He noted that this barrier is well designed, and it needs to be taken to construction detail.  He stated that Cambridge was invited to participate on the advisory committee to provide input into the design stage. 

 

Mr. Bolduc stated that the Amelia Earhart Dam water level is reaching near the top.  He stated that it is not as simple to say that if the water went over the top it would lead to Cambridge flooding.  He stated that this depends on how long the high-water level is sustained and the volume of water that passes the dam.  This is currently unlikely.  He stated that between 2045-2050 the risk becomes significant.  He stated that Cambridge has teamed up with Somerville and the Mystic River Watershed Association to advocate to DCR that they raise the elevation of the adjacent park so that this can be blocked.  He stated that the DCR is in the process of developing this design. Cambridge has provided its data from the assessment done that identifies the critical elevations.  He explained the DCR Commissioner is committed to incorporating this information.  He spoke about the need for funding for this.  He stated that the City is studying the other end of the dam on the Everett side to understand other pathways and whether they are important or not to the flood risk and what needs to be done.  Vice Mayor Devereux stated that the picture adds to the sense of urgency.

 

Vice Mayor Devereux spoke about design standards for active street fronts and asked how realistic it is to continue to have these street fronts in the flood plain areas especially regarding the Envision Alewife.  She asked would the City have to balance active street frontage with the petition’s proposed open space setback.  Mr. Thorkildsen stated that it is a matter of finding design solutions that address both issues at the same time.  There is a way to have green space combine active street space. 

 

Ms. Watkins stated that specific locations must be reviewed. She explained that the City worked with on the Mass + Main development team on the 2070 build to protect.  It was a matter of a couple of inches over what they were proposing.   She stated Alewife with the sea level storm surge volume, which is higher than the precipitation numbers, there are different answers at different locations. 

 

Mr. Thorkildsen stated that there is a relationship between elevation and planning.  Some of the provisions of the petition raise ground level.  It would be better to think through this to achieve the best balance.  Vice Mayor Devereux asked how close the performance-based standards in the Alewife Preparedness Plan will be to the recommendations in this petition.  Is there an opportunity for synergy or to make the city standards stronger?  Mr. Bolduc stated that there have been sensitivity testing and how it would affect temperature, storm water runoff and water quality.  He stated that this is in the Appendix to the Alewife Plan.  It will not just be green roof or ground vegetation; it will be a combination and it will also be grey infrastructure.  He stated that it is not good to set a standard that the cost is so high that people will not follow.  He stated that the 2070 and 10/1% risks are being applied.

 

Councillor Zondervan spoke about the concern about the unintended consequences.  How does the City get around this?  He asked whether through zoning or design review process determines that a property needs to be a certain height above a flooding elevation level will impose a certain cost for the building.  He stated that if property owners do not want to do this it does not seem to him to be a good reason not to put this in the zoning.  He suggested estimating a certain elevation costs and if property owners do not want to do this it is a disincentive. 

 

Mr. Bolduc stated that the maps developed from the vulnerability assessments or the precipitation driven flood maps and the storm surge flood maps were based on scenarios that were selected to conduct a vulnerability assessment.  Now the challenge with climate change is in the past we did not have to do planning with climate change in mind.  Now there is a profound variable that needs to be considered in the planning process and the challenge is that it is dynamic, and it is unknown how fast sea level will rise and when the elevations will arrive. There is uncertainty about climate change and where it will occur, and this affects planning assumptions.  He stated that the City is hoping to change what the map looks like. If the City can implement some of the downstream storm surges barriers the boundaries of the risk areas will change.  The options for standards and the options for implementation mechanism are locked in place and are not flexible.  Climate change standards need to be flexible without going through zoning changes. He stated the City wants to review if there is a better way to do this.   He stated that it is a matter of what are the standards and how they are applied and bringing this specificity into the Climate Preparedness Plan and integrate it into the Envision Cambridge process. 

 

Mr. Roberts stated that when looking to improve a site through a zoning change does not necessarily encourage improvement.  He stated that the whole set of existing and proposed requirements that apply need to be taken into consideration.  He asked if height is enough of an incentive along with other requirements to make improvements.  Councillor Zondervan stated that he understands flood maps are changing; if there is a large flood plain the elevation does not change much, and safe standards could be identified in this area.  Ms. Watkins stated that it depends on the type of flooding.  She stated that Riverside and The Port experience perception type flooding associated with the system backing up.  She stated that these elevations could change depending on parcels and the zones.  She noted that with the elevations associated with the ten, one hundred-year and 500-year type flood event, those areas may vary a lot.  She stated that in the Port there is a difference between the 10 and 100-year flooding and if the buildup is 2-3 feet what are the impacts.

 

Councillor Carlone stated that this is clarifying questions on the petition and some of the questions are leading to a lengthy discussion.  He urged focusing the questions to understand the petition in this phase of the meeting.

 

Councillor Zondervan stated that he is trying to establish a standard and how this will be codified if not through zoning.  Ms. Watkins stated that analysis is done on properties.  This is more site- specific requiring a specific analysis. 

 

Councillor Zondervan asked if there are any alternatives to mitigate heat and how can green infrastructure be codified to reduce heat.  Mr. Bolduc spoke about the heat island impact.  He noted that temperature couldn’t be changed because it is a global effect.  He stated that in Cambridge the heat island effect amplifies temperature.  He stated that tools available to change this are to replace heat absorbing surfaces with cooling surfaces with vegetative or reflective surfaces and the tree canopy.  He stated that this is the reason for the Tree Canopy Master Plan to figure this out.  He stated that there needs to be conditions created for trees to thrive to create the shading effect desired.  Councillor Zondervan stated that the 55 Wheeler Street project is an example of shelter in place features, but the generator is on the ground floor.  He asked would the City require generators to be above a certain level.  Ms. Watkins stated that the entire building at 55 Wheeler Street is proposed raised.  She stated that it is important to look at the elevation and the flood elevation. 

 

Councillor Mallon spoke about the same prescriptive zoning being used for one-half of the City.  This is problematic.  She spoke about the need for a detail analysis of how this will affect the Port neighborhood before she can feel comfortable about this.  New performance-based measures need to be cost tested on their impacts before implementation.  She did not want a negative implication, especially on buildings.  Councillor Mallon stated that the cost implication is important to her and the effect on housing projects.  She stated her concerns about moving forward with this petition as written.  She acknowledged that all are trying to get to a place where all feel comfortable.  She did not want a prescriptive zoning overlay for the whole city and making choices that may have negative impacts.

 

At 7:25 PM Councillor Carlone opened public comment.

 

Russ Burke, Director of Planning, BSC Group, 803 Summer Street in Boston stated that they have clients in Cambridge and that resiliency and sustainability are important issues for all concerned and municipalities.  He questioned the timing of the petition amidst the Envision planning process raises questions.  He noted that Cambridge has been ahead of the curve and leaders in adopting and implementing measures to address climate change and resiliency.  He stated that Cambridge is addressing climate change and asked if there is a need for immediate action with a citizens’ petition. This is a blunt instrument that is jumping to the front of the line of the Envision process and on-going City initiatives.  Effective zoning requires precise language that is transparent and predictable.  The petition has standards that are not precise beginning with the applicability of the flood zone area. He stated that the petition has aspects that will affect the environment.  The City needs to take a comprehensive approach in its planning policies.  He urged the Planning Board and City Council to defer action on the petition to allow the current processes in place to formulate strategies.  His comments are attached (ATTACHMENT C).

 

Nancy Ryan, 4 Ashburton Place, spoke about her situation with the flood plain.  She found out she was in the flood plain on July 10, 2010 when she had flooding in her basement.  She stated that she supports this petition.  She stated that several neighborhoods have been built upon which are low-lying areas.  She noted that the petition is designed to protect “people” and the City from sizable storms.  The City needs to balance its goals, including the affordable housing goal with environmental protection.  She commented that Envision would not exist if it were not for the Cambridge Residents Alliance and their pressure for better planning.  She stated that Net Zero came from members of the City Council and the residents, not from the City.  She stated that the City’s response to the petition is trust us we are working toward this and there is no urgency.  She wanted it passed forward for discussion.  She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT D).

 

Carolyn Magid, 71 Reed Street, stated that she is outside the expanded flood plain.  She supported zoning proposal to protect residents against climate change.  She noted that there might be other ways to achieve these objectives, but she shares the sense of urgency with the petitioners. She acknowledged that Cambridge has an affordable housing crisis and it needs to be addressed but should not be addressed against the health and safety of its residents. (ATTACHMENT E).

 

Kailash Nakagawa, 51 Madison Avenue, said that this petition sounds like “not in my back yard” and it is.  He stated that what he does not want in his back yard are buildings that are built without proper heat protection without green spaces and open spaces.  These buildings will make his neighborhood hotter especially with the climate change that is coming.  This problem affects all families in this area.  He does not want it unsafe for children and seniors to go outside as the heat increases. He stated affordable housing is needed but the families should not be in the hottest areas of the City in buildings that do not have protection from the heat.  The areas will get hotter because of the new buildings being built without protection from heat without green space. Can we have a safer alternative for all.  Heat kills more people than any other event.  Why can there not be protection against heat.  A vote against this petition is a vote against the protection of residents.  His comments are attached (ATTACHMENT F).

 

Larry Bluestone, 18 Centre Street, stated that he was opposed to the petition as it relates to the revisions to the existing Flood Plain Overlay District and the disruption of the Envision Cambridge planning process.  He noted that the environmental protection aspects of the petition are plausible but are over restrictive, deeply flawed and contradicts other City policy goals such as affordable and transient oriented housing and urban design guidelines.  The Envision Cambridge process has crafted recommendations for the City and this petition undermines the City policies, goals and the Envision process.  It increases construction costs and dimensional requirements.  The petition recommendations undermine the Envision process.  The petition increases the jurisdiction area of flood plain area.  The petition’s one size fits all makes no sense.  The petition should be rejected.  He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT G).

 

Jesse Kanson-Benanav, 26 Willow Street, Chair, A Better Cambridge, requested that the City Council not forward this petition as it is written.  He stated that A Better Cambridge would like to support some parts of the petition.  He noted that the climate is changing, and steps need to be taken on this issue. There needs to be community conversations about issues such as climate change and other issues.  Residents submitted the petition, which gives the opportunity for conversation.  It has deficiencies for affordable housing, which were echoed by the Cambridge Housing Authority, Just-A-Start and HRI.  This petition as written is not the step forward. 

 

He stated that the petitioners are being disingenuous about the impact on 40B for every development.  However, if they are serious about allowing density to elevate buildings and bring them out of the flood plain as much as possible, he would be willing to negotiate this element of the petition and add in any additional FAR that was lost because of the strict height or dimensional issues that were included.  He urged that this petition not be passed as written but have all in the community involved including Envision Cambridge.  He submitted two communications (ATTACHMENT H-1 and H-2). 

 

Sean McFarland, 52 Pearl Street, spoke about 2 points of the climate safety petition.  He urged the City Council to move with urgency on this petition.  He stated that the longer the delay the harder it would be to address flooding when the waters come.  He supported stronger green space requirements.  He spoke about the catastrophic risk of flooding and the threat of heat island affect, this petition is a positive step in the right direction.  He urged the City Council to adopt the petition.  His comments are attached (ATTACHMENT I).

 

Chris Barr, 48 Russell Street, spoke as Chair, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, as an employee in Cambridge and a Cambridge resident. He expressed his concerns about the Brown et. al. petition.  He stated that Cambridge Resiliency planning efforts are more extensive and advanced than most cities.  These efforts have also been transparent, collaborative and inclusive.  He stated that uncertainty in the Brown petition language is extremely problematic and will make the City development process uncertain.  It would effectively ignore all the resources, time and energy that have been and will continue to be spent on this issue and will waste time, effort and money for both the business community and the City.  He stated that the expansion of the flood plain overlay district will substantially increase the number of projects that will require Planning Board review, making the process far more inefficient and overwhelming to the schedule of the Planning Board. 

 

He stated that a 500-year flood plain is just not a recognized standard for urban planning.  He added that there is no justification to use it in the City’s efforts.  He spoke about Biogen’s dedication to their mission to improve patient’s lives and are reflected in the efforts to improve the environment. He stated that he has spoken before many City committees about their work in sustainability.  He stated that like many Cambridge businesses they share the petitioners desire to adequately plan for the future, but believe and open, collaborative process that would identify any unintended consequences.  He urged the City Council to not advance the Brown petition.   His comments are attached (ATTACHMENT J).

 

Tom Lucey, Director of Government and Community Relations, Harvard University, stated that Harvard has been engaged in sustainability planning, climate preparedness planning and resiliency planning for many decades and has worked with the City on these efforts.  He stated that Harvard works hard to be a leader on its campus as well as in research done by faculty and labs.   He stated that recently Harvard’s formal processes with the City included Envision Cambridge, Climate Resiliency and Vulnerability Task Force, Urban Forestry Master Plan and many other efforts, which represents time, and effort the university has given to the City.   It is prudent to let these processes play out.  He added that the recommendations are expected to come out soon and into 2019.  He urged the City Council to recognize this and the fact that many of the ideas were started by the City Council.  He stated that in addition to concerns about process and timing there are concerns about urban design, historical preservation, accessibility and the impacts.  He noted that the use of the 500-year flood plain standard is not a recognized standard to be used in a planning exercise.  He asked the City Council to follow the lead of the Planning Board and to allow the City processes to play out; they have been inclusive and robust.  He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT K).

 

Bill McAvinney, 12 Douglass Street, stated that this zoning petition and the process around it is not the Cambridge approach.  It only applies to new construction.  This approach will favor the most affluent in the City and shortchange the less affluent in the City.  He stated that CDD was including all housing.  This has been a process that a small group came up with the petition; the petition has a narrow set of interests, a narrow group and was not inclusive.  This is not a developed process.  The wording and the effects need to be reviewed.  He added that to not pass this zoning does not mean that one is not working for the safety of residents. The City needs to deal with climate change.

 

Carolyn Fuller, 12 Douglass Street, stated that she is a housing advocate, a concerned citizen about climate change and a member of A Better Cambridge.  She stated her opposition to the petition as written.  Elements of this petition need to be studied by an independent analyst to evaluate impacts.  She stated that the authors of this petition were laser-focused on a single issue, climate change resiliency at the exclusion of all other issues, including efforts to reduce climate change.  She commented that there were no attempts to collaborate with other stakeholders to find solutions to address climate change resiliency without negatively impacting other critical City goals, including affordable housing.  She added that affordable housing does not have to be sacrificed for climate change.  She urged the authors to work with housing advocates to find solutions that address climate change and our housing crisis.  Most want Cambridge to prepare responsible for climate change. She noted the key word is “responsible.”   Her comments are attached (ATTACHMENT L).

 

Jim Perrine, 1588 Cambridge Street, stated that he is President of Commonwealth Community Developers, affordable housing developers.  He stated that he has not done a project in Cambridge.  He explained that developers deal with issues relating to resiliency, climate change, sustainability and energy consumption with every development.  He stated that climate change needs to be addressed soon, but it needs to be done collaborative and to get it right.  This petition as written is not the solution.  For one reason it includes half of the parcels in Cambridge.  This is a complex issue and a complex zoning petition.   He acknowledged that a lot of thought went into the petition, but that there are other issues that need to be addressed.  He praised the Community Development Department.  He stated that maybe CDD could be faster if the department were not given so much work.   He stated that if this petition is accepted the cost of affordable housing will go up, the number of units that can be built will go down and getting a waiver from 40B is risky.  He stated that when there is risk involved the funding gets more expensive or disappears.  He urged the City Council to continue to work on this issue, but do not approve this petition.

 

Lee Farris, 269 Norfolk Street, stated that the Cambridge Residents Alliance supports this petition.  This petition balances the need for housing with appropriate planning for climate change so that people will have safe and healthy housing.  She stated that the Cambridge Residents Alliance in 2012 called for the citywide planning process that led to Envision Cambridge.  This petition assists the Envision process, not blocking this process.  She stated that she spoke with Ms. Peters about the Envision process schedule.  Ms. Peters stated that by the end of the year Envision will produce zoning bullet points and then the process will conclude.  Next the City staff will work to turn this into draft zoning language.  She stated that the soonest zoning will be approved is 2020 and this leaves out the climate vulnerability process.  Meanwhile buildings would be built that are not safe by 2070 unless the City Council enacts zoning changes. 

 

She stated that instead of the informal process that is led by City staff the petition seeks to create standards with zoning that is approved by the City Council and understood by the entire community.  Staff will be able to develop urban design guidelines that accomplish the Envision goals.  She noted that the quality of affordable housing is important along with the quantity.  Those who live in affordable housing should be safe from the future heat and flood risk that is coming.  She wanted people living in safe housing.  She stated that heat can kill, and she did not want seniors dying with the heat in affordable housing units.  She stated that at the Planning Board hearing members where concerned about the gap in time between now and when the Envision process will result in approved zoning.  She stated that there are elements in this petition that the Planning Board members stated that could become standards now.  She urged the City Council to make changes to the petition that they feel are warranted and pass this to the full City Council.  Her comments are attached as (ATTACHMENT M).

 

Sarah Gallop, Co-Director of Government and Community Relations, MIT, focused her comments on one theme that is at the core the MIT’s relationship with the City, which is MIT’s long-standing practice of cooperative and productive engagement.  She stated that MIT’s philosophy of collaboration is carried out in good faith with the expectation of mutual benefit and progress in areas of joint concern.  She spoke about the active sharing of expertise and resources that is particularly demonstrated through the collective efforts to address climate change.  Nine faculty members and 13 staff have been working with the City on a range of sustainability efforts many, which were implemented by the City Council.  She gave examples and listed the projects that are being worked on.  She supported the active outreach that the City uses to get residents involved. She stated that there are 22 MIT faculty and staff working on committees on climate and/or sustainable issues.  She expressed the hope that these committees will be allowed to complete their committed work. Her comments are attached as (ATTACHMENT N).

 

Bret Mathew, 124 Amory Street, stated that he notices his street is on flood map.  He is in opposition to the petition.  He stated that he is a renter and the supply of affordable housing is important to him.  The petition increases the height limit in the affected area and does not increase the FAR, which defeats the purpose of increasing the height.  More green space needs to be set aside for flood protection and heat island protection.  He commented that there is only so much land in the City and with the set aside there needs to be compensation through height and density.  The City has built more in the past years and the City’s populations has increased and is demanding more housing than in previous decades.  He stated that in 2016 the vacancy rate for on the market housing was 3.6%.  The City needs to up zone the City for greater FAR to compensate for more green space while meeting its housing goals and protecting against climate change.  He stated that if the City considered doing this the opposition to the petition would reconsider and work with the petitioners to reach a compromise.  He requested that the petition be rejected if the City is not willing to increase density and height.

 

Mark Johnson, Director of Development, Divco West Real Estate Investments, 200 State Street, Boston, stated that although Cambridge Crossing has a special permit, he has participated in conversations with business leaders and expressed concern for the citizen’s petitions’ impact on mixed use, transit-oriented development.  He stated that resiliency is considered in the planning process, but not to the exclusion of other priorities, such as urban design and housing.  He stated that as a registered architect he is concerned about the conflicts between the citizens’ petition and long-time urban design principles that the City has been successful in advancing. He stated that many of the proposed requirements will result in significant impacts and the ability of developers to execute new mixed-use projects that include planned amounts of open space, commercial density, retail and housing.  The petition indicates that property owners could seek increases in height to replace density lost as a result of new zoning requirements.  He stated that building heights are carefully vetted with surrounding neighborhoods and the federal aviation administration, which would likely preclude increases in height that would offset loss of density.  He stated that the petition would disrupt the existing approvals process, preempt many existing City planning processes and create uncertainty that would make it difficult to show investors a predictable approval process for projects.  His comments are attached as (ATTACHMENT O).

 

Alice Heller, 22 Corporal Burns Road, stated that she wanted to acknowledge the City staff for their leadership in addressing climate change.  This petition speaks to the need to implement measures known to make a difference.  She stated that the crisis of heat and flooding is at our doorstep today.  The goal of this petition is to increase dialogue and spur action now.  She supports this petition and is heartened by the dialogue.  She stated that using zoning law while waiting for the Envision proposed regulations would be a proactive measure to save the City money and without the risk of displacement of businesses, residents and employees during a climate change disaster that could happen soon.  She wanted all to come to a middle ground to continue a legacy of livable, safe and affordable City. She wanted this petition to move forward.

 

Tina Alu, 113 1/2 Pleasant Street, CEOC Director, expressed her concern on how this petition would negatively affect the creation of affordable housing.  She spoke about a moratorium on housing development and stated that the reality is that some of the proposals in the petition would have the same results.  She stated that Alewife is the last large scale of land area that could help address the current and future affordable housing needs.  She stated that the recommendations in the petition would reduce buildable land and, in many ways, such as setback for shade trees and set asides for thirty percent of each site for open space.  She stated that in order to maximize public funding and leverage economies of scale new affordable housing projects must have forty or more units.  She commented that these new requirements for tree cover and open space along with the high land costs will make new affordable housing developments of this size, especially non-profit developments almost impossible.  She noted that some market rate developments may still be feasible but will likely be more expensive and less dense.  Fewer units would be created under the zoning ordinance, which mandates that at least twenty percent of housing developments be affordable.  The petition would expand the geographical protections to other parts of the City, such as Cambridgeport, East Cambridge and other neighborhoods. She stated that all new construction would be subjected to this petition and a lengthy special permit process.  This will make it costlier and more time consuming to build new housing in these areas, especially moderate sized projects. There are several other areas of the petition that will negatively impact the City’s affordable housing goals and impede recommendations made in the Envision Cambridge planning process.  She stated that efforts to address flooding and the consequences of climate change should be supported, however, these efforts must be balanced with the City’s commitment to create much needed affordable housing.  She concluded by stating that this petition and future proposals should all be examined through the affordable housing lens.  Her comments are attached as (ATTACHMENT P).

 

Alison Field-Juma, 363 Concord Avenue, stated that she lives in the Alewife area and every day she sees a disaster waiting to happen.  She stated that the City has built twice as fast than anticipated and now we have to build smart.  She supports the petition and is in line with City goals and builds on decades of excellent work of City staff, particularly environmental planning and public works.  She stated that data and ideas generated are from the Envision process.  It does one additional thing, it takes action now to provide a uniform and consistent regulatory framework to protect the health and safety of Cambridge residents and workers; this is not about protecting buildings, it is protecting the environment.  There should not be lower standards for residents living in affordable housing.  The work needs to be done now to protect all of us.  She stated that vegetative surfaces would reduce ambient air temperature and provide cooler area and reduce energy demand. Her comments are attached as (ATTACHMENT Q).

 

Eric Grunebaum, 98 Montgomery Street, stated that he supported the petition.  He stated that it is time to build a better city that will take into account the coming climate impacts.  He stated that he is a member of the Envision Alewife Working Group and has participated in lengthy discussions and paid attention to the written reports and the current development patterns and choices.  He stated that as the City becomes denser the impervious spaces and tree canopy have been under increasing pressure.  He stated that he has not seen the Envision process adequately respond to climate risks of heat and water.  He wanted to see action on this sooner.  There should not be competition with housing and the petition will take this into account and a healthy dialogue will be held on this.  He wanted a healthy habitable City to be the right of all.  He wanted more open space, but not at the cost of housing.  This petition is a strong move in this direction.

 

Toby Hyde, 11 Wendell Street, stated that not enough housing has been built to allow people to live in Cambridge.  He asked why the petition sacrifices space for housing at the cost of and in the name of climate change.  This proposal will result in fewer units and more driving and emissions.  This petition takes the language of climate and resilient efforts that should be supported through existing processes such as the Envision Cambridge and this short circuits the process in the interest of a few.  There are world-class economists and academics studying these issues here.  Restrictions in land supply increase inequality and decreases inter-generational mobility.  A vote for this petition is a vote for increased emissions and for fewer units.  He asked the City Council to reject this petition.  He suggested using the existing processes to embed climate change and resilience and balance the need for housing in this City.  He stated that this climate crisis in America is largely a housing crisis.   

 

Lynne Lombardi, 26 Whittemore Avenue, asked all to please consider dredging and widening rivers throughout New England to facilitate transportation, commerce and tourism while alleviating costal water rise the way that Germany did after World War II.  She thanked the City Council for upgrading long neglected fire stations.  She requested enforcement of vagrancy laws to address the public health hazard of addicts, drugs and drug dealing in public spaces.  She stated that working citizens deserve a basic quality of life and that life in Massachusetts is an exhausting, humiliating obstacle course. 

 

Joe Maguire, 270 Third Street, objected to the Brown petition.  He stated that this petition has not followed a good community process, such as the Envision Cambridge process.  The Brown petition will impede development and hamper housing by restricting units on the first floor.  He stated that the way the definitions and the 500-year flood plane was chosen in this petition and he stated that we should not look beyond the 100-year flood plain. He spoke about his Binney Street development, which has over thirty percent permeable open space, the tree coverage has been increased and is 500 inches above what was started with. There are many examples of infrastructure project that the City staff has worked on with the developers on mitigation for drainage for storm and sanitation.  He stated that this petition is bad for the economic growth and bad policy for the 500-year flood plain.   He stated that there are good elements in the petition and would work on what is the right vision for the Envision process.

 

Charles Franklin,129 Franklin Street, had his communication read into the record.  In his communication he stated that all agree that there is a housing crisis and affordable housing needs to be future proof.  He stated that all he sees is luxury housing.  His comments are attached as (ATTACHMENT R).

 

Peter Valentine, 37 Brookline Street, stated that if climate is your God you are dead.  He stated that all have control over their own form.  He did not want any more big buildings in Central Square because we need connection to our total existence.  The Creator will provide what you need to survive. 

 

James Williamson, 1000 Jackson Place, observed that all speakers are not required to state their address.  This is about the residents who live in the City.  Those who represent universities and big companies should not be telling what should happen in Cambridge.  The environmental impact of global warming is now upon us.  He stated the threats have put us in a situation to decide if human existence will continue.  He spoke about the vote of not approving the petition by the Planning Board.  One Planning Board member stated that there is merit in this petition.  He spoke about the complaints of the CHA and does this really mean that the CHA will not be able to close on the Millers River.  If this is the case it needs serious attention, he said.  He stated that there is a fix and it is to allow the first floor to be what is planned.  He asked is 40B an answer to the problem.  He wanted the serious concerns addressed.

 

Kathy Watkins, 90 Fawcett Street, stated that the affordable housing advocates are so intertwined with the developers and the universities.  The City Council needs to listen to different people including affordable housing residents.  She supported the petition as a resident of a new building in the quadrangle portion of Alewife. She stated that she has seen first-hand how ill equipped her home is for heat island effects and flood.  She spoke about the poor conditions of where she lives.  She stated that she depends on her car and if the garages flood she will be unable to replace her car.  She commented that the City places low-income residents in apartments that are in flood and heat island zones via Inclusionary Zoning Units.  She stated that climate change is real and urged the City Council to pass the petition.  She noted that the opposition to this petition has no suggestions as how to combat this issue.  She stated that if affordable housing is the only lens through which climate change is being viewed it is not good for the future.  Her comments are attached as (ATTACHMENT S).

 

Peggy Barnes-Lenard, 115 Fayerweather Street, spoke as a member of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance Board and spoke about the map.  All the planning and the goals of the City are under the umbrella of heat and flooding and what is done economically really need to take this into account to make this sustainable.  She stated that those in opposition are those who are ready to develop.  She is concerned with the amount of land that is in the pipeline.  She spoke about thinking creatively and suggested an interim measure. This petition is stating that we need to do this now.  She noted that sixty percent of the quad is being proposed for development in the next ten years.  She supported the petition and having a real conversation.  She noted that three members of the Planning Board asked what can be done now and stated that the board needs muscle via regulations on increasing green infrastructure and dealing with contaminants.  She stated that this is too important to wait until 2020.  Her comments are attached as (ATTACHMENT T).

 

Ellen Water, 34 Crescent Street, stated that she supports the petition.  She noted that the City’s position is more appropriate if the issue is trying to make the City more environmentally friendly and supportive of a more green approach by the City.  This petition presents that this is more of an emergency situation that requires bold initiatives and bold action.  She stated that what is important is that all climate change predictions have proven to be much worse than it was thought to be, and the damage has been coming quicker than predicted.  She stated that the cities that take the bold action against climate change will be the ones to survive and be sustainable, viable places to live and those that do not will suffer devastation.  She stated that Cambridge is not provided with any special protections.  If the City takes the more conservative approach it will be detrimental to the City.  She stated that given the circumstances of climate change, a bolder path will result in many more long-term effects and will mitigate the negative effects that are being predicted.  She stated that the flexibility discussed by the City does not work here.  The City needs to look ahead to the future; this is a paradigm shift.

 

On motion of Councillor Carlone public comment was closed at 8:53 PM.

 

Mayor McGovern spoke about the petition and stated that climate change is real. The City has been working on climate change and resiliency work; the issues are complicated.  He spoke about the best intentions.  He stated that there are elements in the petition that he likes, such as the parking reduction conversation, utilities on rooftops of large buildings, greater permeable open space. He does not believe that emergency plans do not exist already.  He stated that he does have some concerns on other parts of the petition.  He thought that the petition was overreaching.  He was concerned that public safety facilities cannot be located in the 500-year flood plain. This will not allow Lafayette and Inman Square Stations to be renovated because they are non-conforming.  This is an unintended consequence of this petition and should be eliminated from the petition.  He believes that the provision that no development be allowed on dead end roads is in effect a moratorium on development in Alewife.  He stated that there are things that deserve more conversation.  It is important to him that the affordable housing partners are concerned and fear that this is problematic.  He stated that it is offensive when it is stated that their opinion is compromised.  They need to be listened to.  This petition is not ready yet for passage.  The best place to have the on-going conversation is in committee, not at the City Council. He will not vote in favor to forward this to the City Council because this is not the place to do the required work.

 

Councillor Carlone noted that more discussion is needed on this petition.

 

Councillor Toomey thanked the petitioners and the staff for their presentations.  He stated that the best interests of all residents are the prime concern including both climate change and affordable housing.  He stated that he would not vote in favor of this petition.  He stated that the request by the CHA to rehab a 300-unit building would not go forward if this petition is adopted.  He stated that there are residents who live in affordable housing that need to live in a safe environment now.  Some of these developments need to be upgraded. He stated that in good conscious he could not vote in favor of this petition in the current form.  Discussions do need to continue and work things out. 

 

Councillor Mallon stated that the CHA memo (ATTACHMENT U) states that the CHA has modified its request to include relief from the petition but have been advised that relief cannot be granted while the petition is being considered.  She further read from the memo: Unfortunately, our financing schedule does not have any leeway and we must submit the comprehensive permit this week to ensure that we can obtain a building permit for the project by November 15, 2018, which is an absolute requirement for us to close on the financing with our lenders and investors prior to the end of the year.  She asked if this petition were moved to committee is it still being considered and would the $110 million be affected for the renovation to Millers River development. 

 

Councillor Carlone responded that the petition is in effect until the full City Council turns it down or the petition expires.  Councillor Mallon stated that if this is not voted down tonight it would be affected.  Councillor Carlone explained that tonight it is about keeping it in committee or moving it forward to the City Council or sending it forward with a negative recommendation.  He further stated that there is nothing that the committee could do tonight to affect this project.  The City Clerk explained that the project was affected when the petition was advertised; the project is at risk.  Councillor Mallon spoke about letting the petition expire what is the expiration date.  The Chair stated that the petition expires ninety days from the City Council hearing. 

 

Councillor Toomey stated that he believes that the CHA has until mid-November on this.  He stated that the ninety days would be up by November.  He asked Ms. Moran, Director of Planning and Development, CHA to clarify this.  Ms. Moran stated that she would have to have a building permit in hand by mid-November.

 

Vice Mayor Devereux stated that clarity is needed on whether the CHA needs zoning relief from this petition and cannot be granted relief while the petition is being considered.  She suggested leaving the matter in committee to continue the discussions and she did not know how this impacts the CHA project.  She stated that maybe there are other ways that the committee can continue consideration of this petition. 

 

Councillor Carlone explained the process followed on the Volpe petition.  He stated that he and his co-chair met with MIT and the City and modified the petition.  He wanted the City Council to submit areas where they could support and he and Councillor Kelley would meet with petitioners and staff and wean this down to areas of support and there may be some resolution by July. 

 

Councillor Zondervan said the CHA needs to apply for their permit next week so there is nothing that can be done tonight to impact this. 

 

Councillor Carlone stated that CHA may be in process and by September there may be resolution.  Ms. Moran stated that the application was submitted today.  Councillor Carlone stated that all want this to work out, but this is a process, which the Ordinance committee is in the middle of. 

 

Mayor McGovern stated that he suggested to the petitioners that before submitting this petition they meet with CDD for a more refined petition to be filed.  This did not happen.  If no action is taken and this impacts the Millers River Project could the committee pass this with an unfavorable recommendation and schedule a Special City Council meeting and vote the petition down.  Then the City and petitioners could sit down and draft a new petition to be submitted to the City Council.  The City Clerk stated that the process of the Special Meeting would be to take a vote to not pass the petition to a second reading and would still be required to wait the ninety days for the petition to expire.

 

Councillor Kelley spoke about five items that have been conflated and are related but not necessarily properly subject to the exact same zoning amendment.  He stated that there is flooding, heat island effect, emergency protection (such as the loss of electricity due to flooding), the green factor and trees.  These are all separate zoning or policy issues.  He stated all are unsure of the impact of Envision and a good solution may be found while waiting for Envision.  He stated that the housing discussion is the most conflated of all issues. He commented on the 2014 MAPC Study stated that up 435,000 new units of housing would be needed in the Greater Boston area by 2040.  He stated that a housing discussion is important but whether this petition has a meaningful impact on the housing numbers is doubtful.  The worst-case scenario is that every climate prediction will wind up being overly optimistic and agrees that this is something that we do not want to kick down the pipe.  He suggested that the discussions should be held in separate directions for flooding, heat island effect, emergency protections, green factor and trees.

 

In response to a question by Councillor Carlone, City Solicitor Glowa stated that if the City Council wanted to move the petition forward with a positive or negative recommendation or no recommendation it could do this tonight or leave this in committee and then vote upon the petition when the City Council next meets.  She stated that there is no requirement for the City Council wait a period of time in order to vote on the petition now that the City Council has the recommendation of the Planning Board.  The City Clerk informed the City Solicitor that the formal recommendation by the Planning Board has not been received by the City Council.  The Planning Board has twenty-one days after their hearing to make a recommendation.  The Clerk stated that this negative recommendation would appear on the July 30, 2018 agenda or this could be the subject of a Special Meeting providing that it is held twenty-one days after the Planning Board hearing. 

 

City Solicitor Glowa stated that she misunderstood and was under the impression that the City Council had already received the Planning Board recommendation. She stated that once the Planning Board hearing has been held the City Council can vote upon the petition twenty-one days after the Planning Board hearing or when the City Council gets the Planning Board recommendation.  She noted that twenty-one days will have passed by the Summer Meeting so whether the City Council has the recommendation or not the City Council could vote upon the petition at this time if it wished to. 

 

The City Clerk stated that at the Summer meeting the City Council hopefully will be in receipt of the Planning Board recommendation and will have the Committee report with a recommendation of favorable, unfavorable or no recommendation before the body and generally the next step is to pass a proposed amendment to a second reading.  She stated that this would be the action at the Summer meeting. 

 

City Solicitor Glowa added that she is not positive that the amendment has to be passed to a second reading and that there have been times when the City Council has decided to suspend the rules.  She stated that she did not think that the City Council would be prohibited from voting at the Summer meeting if it wanted to, but this issue can be investigated and reported back to the Chair in the meantime. 

 

The City Clerk requested clarification on what vote the City Council could take at the Summer meeting.  She explained that the action on the committee report would be to accept the report and place on file and depending on the recommendation in the report, if it were a negative vote, there would be no further action required by the City Council.  If there were two negative recommendations at that point, would a similar petition be allowed to be refiled within two years. 

 

City Solicitor Glowa stated that the Planning Board recommendation is simply that, a recommendation; it is advisory.  She stated that the City Council is the legislative body and has the authority to enact zoning amendments and the Planning Board is only required to hold a hearing and to have twenty-one days pass after the date of the hearing and/or to have submitted a report in this time after which the City Council may vote on the petition.  She stated that the City Council has the right to vote on the petition once the time has passed or the recommendation is in front of the City Council.  She stated that she does not believe that the law requires the Ordinance Committee to make a recommendation and she does not believe that the City Council is bound by a recommendation of the Ordinance Committee.  She further stated that it is the full body of the City Council that has the authority to vote on a zoning petition and if the Planning Board issue has been resolved the City Council has the authority to vote upon it.  She stated that as far as the second reading she stated that she thinks that this is customary, and she does not think that it is legally required, but she would research this further. 

 

Councillor Zondervan asked what the implications on action are if taken tonight.  He stated that if there are no implications then this discussion can be taken off line and return to the petition. 

 

Councillor Carlone stated that he would prefer to return to the petition, but it has been suggested that the committee may have to reject this tonight so that the CHA project would not be harmed. 

 

Vice Mayor Devereux stated that the committee seems to be going down the path to find reasons to reject this petition without knowing definitively if this would help the Millers River project be out of jeopardy. She stated that she feels that the City Council is acting on this on the fly and if it was this critical what the committee did tonight would impact the $110 million project that information should have been discussed with the City Manager and/or City Solicitor or the Planning Board because this information was known last night.  She stated that she feels that the committee is being boxed into having to make a negative recommendation now without full information and this does not feel fair.  She stated that this hearing has been long, similar to the Volpe hearings, and the committee is asking the City Solicitor to make decisions on the fly.   

 

Councillor Carlone requested Ms. Moran come forward to help the committee understand the situation.

 

Ms. Moran explained the CHA needed to have the ambiguity related to the petition resolved.  This can happen during the period of time when the CHA’s comprehensive permit is under review, but that the zoning board could not grant the CHA a comprehensive permit while this petition was outstanding, and the CHA would not be able to move forward because relief could not be granted.  Ms. Moran explained that the CHA application was submitted today and assumes that in August the CHA they will go before the BZA for their review and approval.  She stated that the problem she heard this evening is that if this remained in committee it would stay active for the ninety-day period and while it is alive the Millers River project would be in limbo and would not be able to move forward to its next step.  She noted that the further into August through October the less likely the CHA will be able to meet the conditions of financing which is to have a building permit in hand by November 15, 2018.  She stated that the process starts today with the filing of the application and that the CHA was not expecting a negative vote tonight.  The CHA wanted to put all on notice and identify the fact that the CHA is in a process and if they continue to be in limbo though the end of the summer then the project would be jeopardized. 

 

Councillor Carlone stated that most complex zoning hearings do continue almost the full ninety days.  He stated he wanted to make this work for all.  He spoke about the positive aspects of the petition, especially the green factor.  He stated that the petition is overly complex. He did not want to stop the process and wanted more details on the CHA project and do everything to move this project forward.

 

Councillor Kelley stated that there are some things in the petition that he would vote for tonight.  He does not see this petition passing the first time around and thinks that this petition will expire and be resubmitted.  This means that there will be no final action for the next three months, which leaves the CHA in a problematic situation with their financing.  He asked the City Solicitor if the City Council could pass part of the petition without jeopardizing other aspects of the petition and bring them up in the future without prejudice. 

 

City Solicitor Glowa stated that the City Council can amend this petition tonight, recommend to the full body amending the petition by carving out aspects that the committee does not wish to move forward with a positive recommendation and these aspects would no longer be part of the petition.  The aspects of the petition carved out could not be acted upon again for two years.  She further stated that if the body wanted to consider all parts of the petition it could be moved forward with or without a recommendation and consider any parts that the body wanted to consider without having a detrimental effect of the part of the petition the body does not wish to move forward.  There is no way to have the carved-out parts become a separate petition that is still alive and able to be acted upon subsequently.

 

Vice Mayor Devereux stated that everything could be carved out and amend the petition to only forward the green factor, which seems to be the one element that four members of the Planning Board felt would be worth considering.  She stated that she is frustrated with this process.  She expressed concern that this petition was filed in April and is being heard on the last day and are bumping up against all the deadlines.  She stated that having a complex petition presented with no ability to discuss it.

 

Councillor Carlone stated that this is a very complex petition and we do need more discussion. He requested that each member of the City Council carve out questions and areas of support. He recommends that the Ordinance Co-Chairs meet with the petitioners and the City separately, work on this and come back to the Ordinance Committee.  He noted that this is the committee that is supposed to work things out and this petition is a huge job.

 

Councillor Zondervan asked if there are no other ways to provide relief for the Millers River project besides an up or down vote.  Is there way to provide relief while the petition continues?

 

Councillor Carlone stated that as the petition gets edited there could be an area where the petitioners do not want a negative effect and that this area would be modified.  This does not go into effect until the zoning is approved.  He stated that if the petition is modified during the process in July could this open the door for financing.  He was unsure about this.   

 

Councillor Mallon stated that she wonders how many other projects that have been approved and do not have building permits will fall into this category.  She suggested that the petitioners withdraw petition tonight and because all agree that this should be worked on further in a committee would they be amenable with forming a committee that included petitioners, City staff and housing advocates and have this committee come back with a robust set of recommendations that could be considered in the future.  She stated that all feel the need for more conversation but are feeling stymied by this particular project that will affect many people. 

 

Councillor Carlone stated that this cannot happen and likely result in a two-year delay for the petitioners. 

 

The City Clerk explained that if the petitioners withdraw there is a provision in the zoning that this is considered negative action once the petition has been advertised.  She suggested that this be moved forward and that subsequent Ordinance Committee hearings be held to try to amend the text of the petition and that there may be two Ordinance Committee reports on the July 30th agenda with one containing amended language.  She stated that this also depends on the amended language and if this is passed to a second reading.  She explained that that the first two Mondays in September there will be no City Council meetings, and this gives time for another Ordinance Committee hearing to work on the text. 

 

Mr. Brown stated that this suggestion is an interesting idea.  He stated that there are challenges; he does not know if the State zoning law has such a mechanism for withdrawal of zoning petitions.  There is for special permits.  He stated the procedural challenges are the two-year rules if it is not substantially different and if there is a negative review from the Planning.  The Planning Board did not leave this opening when they voted the petition down instead of passing it with no recommendation.  He stated that he needed clear understanding about what the City Council would support in some future version.  He stated that it needs to be discussed if there is some protection against a flood of new projects.  He stated that they went through this with HRI who suggested that text be added to the petition, which was drafted by their lawyer and stated basically that 40B projects were exempt if their comprehensive permit were received.  He stated that HRI had received their comprehensive permit, but Millers River has not.  He stated that the minute that he is asked to exempt affordable housing then the petition is opened to the other side that state that those who live in affordable housing should be subjected to lower standards of health and safety in the buildings that are built for them.  He stated that there could be a way to exclude them and the City Council could vote on this twenty-one days from last night. 

 

Councillor Carlone read from the Zoning Ordinance, which states that “no proposed amendment to this ordinance which has been unfavorably acted upon by the City Council shall be considered on its merits within two years after the date of such unfavorable action.  The granting of leave to withdraw after a proposed amendment has been advertised for a hearing before the City Council shall be considered as constituting unfavorable action.”  He repeated that the reality of getting all of this done in a month is ridiculous; it is just too complex.  He stated that both Councillor Kelley and he will ask members of the City Council for their areas of support or concern regarding the petition. 

 

He proposed that all parties meet like it has been done before on other petition and try to work this out and find consensus.  When we are successful, another Ordinance Committee hearing will be held.  He stated that all Councillors appear to agree to find a way to allow the Millers River project to happen.  Millers River financing issue just adds to the complexity.  He stated that he and other City Councillors have stated that this petition will go longer than one ninety-day period to get successfully resolved. He suggested leaving the matter in committee, address the issues and work with petitioners and staff and come up with something that is close, just as was done with the Volpe petition.

 

Councillor Simmons asked for clarification on where this leaves the Millers River project.  If this is left in committee does this allow Millers River to go forward or put it into jeopardy. 

 

Councillor Carlone responded that Millers River is in process.  Their drawings have been submitted and are going for a comprehensive permit in August.  The committee will meet again.  He stated that no one wants to threaten CHA’s proposal.  

 

Vice Mayor Devereux suggested keeping the subject matter in committee and referring the petition to the full City Council.  She asked does this have any different impact or advantage.  Councillor Carlone commented that the City Council could act on an incomplete, unrefined petition.

 

Mayor McGovern stated that he agreed with the recommendation made by Councillor Carlone.  He stated that he hopes that this is resolved by August and that Millers River is not jeopardized.  He favored keeping this in committee and that the Ordinance Co-Chairs meet with appropriate individuals.  He urged the members of the City Council to get their comments to the Chair by the end of the week, so this can be moved forward.   

 

Councillor Simmons also requested the petitioners withdraw the petition.  She expressed her concerns that Millers River is caught in the middle of this and believes that this is not what anyone wanted to see.  She does not have comfort and was unaware of the jeopardy of the  Millers River project.  She stated that this extraordinary body of work that has some major impacts that may have the unintended consequence of thwarting, stopping or ending housing for a vulnerable population.  She urged petitioners to consider withdrawing. 

 

Councillor Carlone stated that the co-chairs would try to make this petition process work and make the CHA application viable.  If it becomes clear that this is not going to happen then he would schedule another Ordinance Committee hearing and deal with this then.  He stated that he and Councillor Kelley would not wait until it is too late for the Housing Authority.  He stated that clarity is needed.  He stated that no one wants to hurt the public housing effort.

 

Mr. Brown stated that the zoning states that the petition cannot be submitted for two years.  He asked if there is a standard as to what is substantially different so that the petition could be resubmitted.  City Solicitor Glowa responded that the petition has to be significantly different. She stated that you could not change a few words here and there or take out or add a piece or two to the petition.  This is a comprehensive, large petition so if it were at all like this petition it would not be permitted for two years.

 

Councillor Carlone commented that this will not be decided tonight.  He stated that his impression is that this should remain in the committee for further discussion.  He stated that the Mayor suggested that the comments and/or changes be submitted by the end of the week or by Monday.

 

Councillor Kelley commented that he does not see this petition passing in the time frame outlined by Chapter 40A and that the petition is important in so many ways.  He stated that the City Council does not want to vote down this petition and not have the ability to consider the elements for the next two years.  He stated that he would like CDD and the Law Department review this to see if there are other ways to resolve the Millers River issue without having to come to any final decision on the petition itself. 

 

Vice Mayor Devereux asked about the two-year provision and whether this is only applicable to another citizen-generated petition.  Councillor Carlone responded in the negative.  City Solicitor Glowa reiterated that another petition that is substantially the same as this petition could not be refiled by anyone for two years. She further explained that there is no way to amend the zoning without a petition.

 

Mr. Brown stated that this only applies if the City Council acts unfavorably on the petition.  Councillor Carlone responded or is withdrawn (leave to withdraw) by the petitioner. 

 

Councillor Simmons stated that 10.51(A) of the zoning states “that four members of the Board of Appeals or five members of the Planning Board, depending upon which board took the original action, vote that there are specific and material changes to the conditions upon which the previous unfavorable action was based and described such changes in the records of its proceedings” leads her to believe that the City Council could move this forward and not have the jeopardy of not being able to file this for two years.  She stated that this is the interpretation that she gleans from this. 

 

City Solicitor Glowa stated that this does not relate to zoning amendments.  Councillor Carlone stated that there are so many aspects of this that it is unfair to put the staff, petitioners and City Solicitor through this without evaluating what the possibilities are.  City Solicitor Glowa stated that Article 10 deals with appeals to the Board of Zoning Appeals related to enforcement decisions or decisions of the Planning Board or Board of Zoning Appeal.  She stated that this has to do with zoning decisions by permit granting authorities.  She stated that the matter pending before the City Council is a petition to amend the zoning ordinance, so this section of the ordinance does not apply.

 

Councillor Mallon asked who determines what is substantially different regarding a petition.  The City Clerk responded the staff of CDD or someone who has the knowledge of what the zoning is.

 

Councillor Simmons asked if it were possible to schedule another hearing next week after the July 4th holiday on this petition.  She stated that all want to preserve the integrity of the Millers River project going forward and also give time and attention to this zoning amendment.   This is before the Ordinance Committee, it has been filed and it requires that something be done with this.  Councillor Carlone repeated that this is so complex that the key petitioners, the City, getting information on the CHA project and the Ordinance Co-Chairs should meet and then will have another Ordinance Committee hearing before the July 30, 2018 Summer meeting if merited.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Kelley about Section 1.52 of Article I of the Zoning Ordinance, City Solicitor Glowa stated that she has a sense that Chapter 40A differs in the withdrawal language. However, she noted that this would require a petition to amend the Zoning Ordinance because it is in the City’s Zoning Ordinance.  She stated that this is the applicable law for tonight and would be unless and until the zoning ordinance is amended to change this provision.  She stated that she is unsure whether Chapter 40A mirrors this language or is different in this one regard.  She stated that if the City Council votes down this petition the two-year provision is in the state law. 

 

The leave to withdraw language is in the City’s zoning ordinance and could be amended to strike this language. However, this action would not make a difference if the City Council voted this petition down and if the City Council has a negative recommendation from the Planning Board and does not vote this in the affirmative then this is deemed to be unfavorable action also.  She stated that unless the City Council voted in the affirmative this would have to wait for two years before a petition could be refiled. 

 

Councillor Kelley stated that the City’s zoning could be amended to strike out the leave to withdraw and allow the petition to be withdrawn and be refiled.  City Solicitor Glowa stated that she would have to research this because she does not recall if there is a slight difference with this one provision.  

 

Councillor Carlone commented that this section of the City’s zoning ordinance was put in for a reason and was due to repetitive petitions that were negatively received and holding up things.

 

Councillor Kelley submitted the following motion:

 

ORDERED:              That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to direct the City                                                         Solicitor and the Assistant City Manager for Community Development to                                           explore any alternatives to assist any affordable housing projects as it                                                         relates to the Brown petition and to further provide the City Council with                                           an analysis on whether the City Council has the authority to change the                                                         two-year provision contained in Article 1.000, section 1.52 of the                                                         Cambridge Zoning Ordinance.

 

The motion carried on a voice vote of eight members.

 

Councillor Carlone moved to leave the subject matter in committee.  The motion carried on a voice vote of eight members.

 

Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley thanked all those present for their attendance.             

 

The following communications were received and made part of the report:

 

Communication from Patrick Herron, PhD, Executive Director, Mystic River Watershed Association, 20 Academy Street, Arlington, transmitting support for the Brown petition (ATTACHMENT V).

 

Communication from Megan Brook, 103 Inman Street, regarding the heat island petition (ATTACHMENT W).

 

Communication from Suzanne Trainor, Government Affairs Associate, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, 144 Gould Street, Needham, transmitting opposition to the Flood Plain Overlay District and Green Factor zoning petition (ATTACHMENT X).

 

Communication from Martha Older, strongly supporting the climate change zoning petition (ATTACHMENT Y).

 

Communication from Jen Craft, 30 Holworthy Place, urging that the safety and wellness of current and future residents be protected by supporting the Cambridge Climate Safety Zone petition (ATTACHMENT Z).

 

Communication from Sarah Slaughter, 11 Stearns Street, in support of the Climate Safety petition (ATTACHMENT AA).

 

Communication from Lore and David Levitt, 14 Notre Dame Avenue, in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT BB).

 

Communication from Phillip Sego, 221 Norfolk Street, in support of the Climate Safety petition (ATTACHMENT CC).

 

Communication from Sheli Wortis, 106 Berkshire Street, in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT DD).

 

Communication from John MacDougall, 175 Richdale Avenue, in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT EE).

 

Communication from Allan Sadun, 17 Pleasant Street, urging the City Council not to indulge in what seems to be an irresponsible and misguided petition (ATTACHMENT FF).

 

Communication from Susan Farist Butler, 14 Clinton Street, in support and urging adoption of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT GG).

 

Communication from Michele Sprengnether, 31 Chilton Street, in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT HH).

 

Communication from Susan Labandibar, 8 Brewer Street, in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT II).

 

Communication from Ann Fleck-Henderson, 113 Richdale Avenue, in support of the Climate Safety initiative (ATTACHMENT JJ).

 

Communication from Charles R. Norris, Norris & Norris Associates, 446 Huron Avenue, in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT KK).

 

Communication from Bjorn Poonen, 303 Third Street, urging the City Council to work with the petitioners of the Flood Plain Overlay District/Green Factor petition to improve the petition and adopt some version of the petition (ATTACHMENT LL).

 

Communication from Elaine O’Reilly, governmental Strategies, Inc., 8 Beacon Street, Boston, in support of serious review and discussion about the proposed Flood Overlay District (ATTACHMENT MM).

 

Communication from Robbie Harwood, Florence Street, transmitting request that the City can codify preparedness, especially for new affordable housing (ATTACHMENT NN).

 

Communication from Bob and Mary Woodbury, 133 River Street, not in favor of a hasty rezoning petition that could leave people who want to live in Cambridge high and dry (ATTACHMENT OO).

 

Communication from C.A. Webb, President, Kendall Square Association, urging the City Council to not advance the Brown petition (ATTACHMENT PP).

 

Communication from Anne Taylor, 66 Thorndike Street, in support of the Climate Safety petition (ATTACHMENT QQ).

 

Communication from Gile Beye, 18 Harrington Road, in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT RR).

 

Communication from Bob Flack, SVP Development, Twining Properties, One Broadway, urging the City Council to support the Envision process and submit a negative recommendation on the Flood Plain Overlay District (ATTACHMENT SS).

 

Communication from Kent Johnson in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT TT).

 

Communication from Mai Le-Nguyen, Executive Assistant, The McKinnon Company, l Leighton Street, stating that the Brown petition does not find ways to address both climate change and affordable housing (ATTACHMENT UU).

 

Communication from Henry H. Wortis, 106 Berkshire Street, urging to avoid housing displacement the City needs solutions that do not depend on private housing development while protecting the residents from the devastating effects of climate change (ATTACHMENT VV).

 

Communication from Abra Berkowitz, 632 Mass. Avenue, in support of the important aspects of the Brown et al petition (ATTACHMENT WW).

 

Communication from Seanna Berry, 16 Clinton Street, in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT XX).

 

Communication from Pawel Latawiec, 2 Earhart Street, in opposition to the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT YY).

 

 

 

 

Communication from Peter Dublin in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT ZZ).

 

Communication from Lisan Mo in support of the Climate Safety Zoning petition (ATTACHMENT AAA).

 

The hearing adjourned at 10:10 PM on motion of Councillor Carlone.                                                                     

 

                                                        For the Committee,

                                                        __________________________________

                                                        Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair

                                                        Councillor Craig Kelley, Co-Chair

                                                                      Ordinance Committee

 

Meeting History

Jul 30, 2018 5:30 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft

REPORT ACCEPTED AND PLACED ON FILE

ORDER ADOPTED

FAILED TO PASS TO A SECOND READING 4-5-0

RESULT:REPORT ACCEPTED