April Update


Monthly Update

Featuring recent policy orders and community events PLUS our May office hours!

May Office Hours 

This month's drop-in office hours will be on Saturday, May 12, from 11-1 PM at Workbar, which is 45 Prospect St in Central. Come join us to learn about what I have been working on recently. We can discuss anything you'd like! You can RSVP on Facebook or just send an email to let us know you are coming.

May 24 Committee Hearing on Net Zero

I will chair a Health and Environment Committee hearing on May 24 from 1:30 to 3:30 to discuss the Net Zero Action Plan and learn about recent progress the city has made. Please RSVP on Facebook! The Net Zero Action Plan charts a course for Cambridge to reduce our building emissions to zero over the next 25 years. About 80% of our climate changing emissions in Cambridge come from building operations. Adopted in 2015, the Net Zero Action Plan is one of the most comprehensive emissions reductions programs in the entire country and makes Cambridge a national leader in combating climate change. 

Back in 2013, I was a co-author of the Net Zero (Connolly) zoning petition, and served on the subsequent City Manager appointed task force that developed the plan. I look forward to this hearing to discuss the progress on our city's very important Net Zero goals!

May 15 Committee Hearing on Cannabis Zoning

I will chair a Neighborhood & Long Term Planning; Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations committee (aka NLTP) hearing on May 15 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm to discuss adult-use cannabis zoning. CDD recently issued a memo outlining some of the zoning considerations, including:
  • Which zoning districts to allow establishments
  • Buffer distance around schools
  • Minimum distance between establishments
  • Total number of establishments allowed
  • Hours of operations
  • Special permit requirements
I look forward to discussing these and other zoning related questions on adult-use cannabis at the hearing.


The EMF building on Brookline St in Cambridgeport is a multipurpose arts center where hundreds of artists have pursued their craft for more than a decade. Recently, the owner, John DiGiovanni, issued eviction notices to all the artists and told them they had to be out by the end of April.

My policy order calling on the city to negotiate with the owner sparked an important conversation about prioritizing arts and artist spaces in our city and an attempt to save this precious community. Losing the EMF community means losing things like the Gifted Voices program, an initiative designed to give underprivileged children free vocal lessons to help them reach their full potential.

It also means losing an entire radio station and a recording studio held in such high regard that musicians come from all over the region to record music there. We cannot expect that things will carry on as usual in Central Square, which the state has officially designated as an arts and culture district, once this building and these spaces are gone. The artists who practice at EMF wheel their equipment down the street to play gigs at venues like The Middle East or The Plough and Stars. They are the musicians who play at our block parties and events citywide.

When they go, we risk losing the soul of our city, as I said when this came before the council. Unfortunately, after inspecting the building, the city has cited numerous safety concerns as the reason not to further explore leasing the building from the current owner. You can read more about this situation and how it has developed in WBUR, Boston Globe, and Cambridge Day.

The fight to save EMF is not over, but even if we don't prevail, this is an important moment for us as a city to decide how we are going to ensure a thriving artist community in our midst. We need strong, deliberate action if we are to remain a home to creativity and the arts.

Cannabis Grow Facility Tour

I recently had the opportunity to tour the Revolutionary Clinics adult-use cannabis cultivation center with my colleagues, Vice Mayor Jan Devereux and Councillor Craig Kelley. As we figure out the zoning changes necessary to bring adult-use cannabis retail to Cambridge, it is important to understand where the stuff will be coming from. We learned how the plants are grown, harvested, processed and tested, before the final product is delivered by car to retail shops around the state (currently limited to medical dispensaries of course). I was impressed with the cleanliness and professionalism found throughout the facility, as well as the sincere effort to make the operation environmentally sustainable through a giant rooftop solar array, and liquid cooled LED lighting (which use geothermal wells for the constant temperature water, around 55 F).

The facility, located in what used to a shoe factory in Fitchburg, occupies about 30,000 square feet on the first floor of one building, with plans to expand to all 4 floors of the two buildings. The required scale of these operations makes it unlikely we will see grow facilities in Cambridge, with the cost of land being prohibitive here. Revolutionary Clinics does operate a medical dispensary, and is considering applying to open a retail establishment in our city.

It was good to see the attention to quality and purity of the product, because that is an important benefit of legalization: the ability to ensure a high quality product for consumers. While I have never consumed cannabis and don't plan to do so recreationally, I am in strong support of legalizing adult use and taking the product off our streets. By regulating it properly, we can reduce youth consumption, improve racial and social justice and derive some revenues from a product that people are going to consume anyway.

Sierra Club Municipal Leaders Summit

I attended a great event organized by Newton City Councillor Emily Norton, who is also the head of the Massachusetts Sierra Club. Along with fellow councillors from around the state, we learned about climate change and climate policy in the state from great policy experts at Mass Energy, Massachusetts Climate Action Network and the State House. It was a great opportunity to learn and share knowledge so that we can amplify our municipal efforts to respond to the challenges of climate change while remaking our communities into net zero, resilient and climate restoring beacons of hope!

Quinton Featured on Podcasts!

This month, I was featured in two podcasts relating to my environmental work on the council. Many thanks to the hosts and producers who put these together!

The latest episode of Backyard Cambridge takes a deep dive into the issue of climate change. I was honored to be an informal consultant on this episode and I am featured a bit at the end. Give it a listen and let me know your thoughts!

In the super fun "Talk Clean to Me" podcast, you can hear my thoughts on innovating public policy and technology at the same time, and how to be a more effective technology entrepreneur. You can enjoy it on Soundcloud or iTunes!
April Policy Orders

Bike lanes in Porter Square- I submitted a policy order calling on the City Manager to prioritize the installation of protected bike lanes in Porter Square. After a hearty debate, the order passed. I remain surprised at how contentious this issue is, because as I said on the floor, "all we’re doing here is giving some extra impetus to say, ‘Please look at this, because we don’t want anyone else to die on our streets,’”. It doesn't make sense to redesign this intersection without adding protected bike lanes, and the proposed changes are not sufficient. You can read more in Cambridge Day or watch the video from a recent rally in Porter Square calling on the city to do more.

Automated Vehicle (AV) Testing- I sponsored a policy order giving the City Manager recommendations on best practices for AV testing in our city. Governor Baker plans to move ahead with a program that allows companies to test AV in cities and towns across Massachusetts, and it is important we demand that this testing is only done with safe practices in place. The City Manager will negotiate with leaders from other municipalities on an agreement, and i've asked him to advocate for having two human drivers inside the vehicle at all times, ensuring vehicles comply with all posted speed limits including the recently enacted 20 MPH safety zones in our squares, extensive data sharing with municipalities, and written documentation of the safety practices put into place by the companies before they begin testing. 

Save the EMF Building- I sponsored a policy order asking the City Manager to explore ways to preserve the artist space, either through another property or by the city purchasing the building outright. See above for more details on this very unfortunate situation.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman- I sponsored a resolution condemning the policies of the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, and criticizing MIT and Harvard for their handling of his recent visit to Cambridge. For more, read about it in The Tech or watch me speak on this issue at a rally on the steps of MIT.

Supporting Environmental Justice- I was proud to co-sponsor a resolution put forward by Councillor Siddiqui in support of advancing HB.2913 at the statehouse, a bill that would protect our most vulnerable communities against the harmful effects of polluting industries. This bill is currently awaiting report in the House Ways and Means Committee, and I recently signed a letter along with dozens of other municipal leaders from 39 cities and towns across the Commonwealth urging the committee to produce a favorable report. Please call your legislators and ask them to support this important legislation!

Reducing Water Consumption- I was happy to co-sponsor a resolution put forward by the Mayor's Office bringing attention to the Wyland Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation. For me, every month is water conservation month, but it is especially important to highlight this challenge as we head into the hot summer months. Please take the pledge today!
Get In Touch!

I hope that you will reach out to let me know your thoughts on matters before the council or otherwise of importance to you. My council office number is 617-349-9479 and my email is [email protected]. You can also reach out to my aide, Dan Totten, at [email protected]. I meet with constituents about issues big and small nearly every day. Be sure to follow our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages for regular updates!
1. I attended Open Mosque Day at ISB Cambridge. It was a great opportunity to learn and build community.
2. I spoke to youth at a Clean Water Action Massachusetts event about the importance of environmental justice
3. Gavin is a very progressive Cambridge 4th grader who's birthday wish was to take a tour of Cambridge City Hall. We even got to see the city's original copy of the Declaration of Independence!
4. As part of the annual cleanup day, I spent a recent Saturday morning pulling crab grass out of the flowerbeds in Inman Square!
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