November Update


November Update
Including policy updates, community events, and ways to support artists in our community over the coming weeks!

ALSO announcing Councillor Zondervan's new blog!

Help a member of our community find housing!

A native Cantabrigian needs your help. She was seriously injured in an accident last year, resulting in surgery and the need for an extended recovery time during which she was completely unable to work. Now the building she is living in has been bought and she's being evicted from her apartment. Her income is still very limited right now, but she is willing to house-sit for seasoned travelers, provide companionship for an elderly person, or find other ways to help out in return for a place to stay while her situation stabilizes.

Please help if you can; she is in imminent danger of becoming homeless! If you know of any temporary accommodations or are willing and able to make a financial contribution, please contact my office right away.

Check out my new blog!

In an effort to keep constituents better informed about what is going on at city hall, my new blog will contain regular, detailed updates on specific topics and meetings. The monthly email blast will continue and contain quick summaries of the posts from that month. Please take a look ( and let me know what you think. If you have a request for a topic you'd like to see covered, or if you have any thoughts about how we could make this a more helpful resource for constituents, please do not hesitate to reach out <[email protected]>

Cannabis Zoning & Equity Conversation

In a pair of hearings earlier this month, the council made progress towards allowing adult-use cannabis businesses to open in Cambridge. An Ordinance Committee hearing (video) looked at zoning language proposed by city staff, and a hearing of the Economic Development Committee (video) honed in on the equity component, which is so critical to get right before we open up the floodgates and allow this new industry to take hold in Cambridge. While it may feel like establishing municipal cannabis regulation is taking a long time, it is important to make sure we get this right. In the long term, we will benefit from this careful consideration of how to balance our equity goals with a timely introduction of adult-use cannabis businesses in our city.

Please read my blog post for a more detailed discussion of the proposed zoning.

$167K for our Vanishing Tree Canopy

An alarming report from the Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force revealed that Cambridge has experienced an 18% relative canopy decline since 2009. This means that there is 18% less land area covered by tree canopy today than there was in 2009. The preliminary report shows that there has been a net canopy loss across every single land use category, including public open space, though residential areas are by far responsible for the greatest overall loss (not surprising as this is the majority of our land area). I've scheduled a Health and Environment Committee Hearing for Tuesday, December 4 at 5:00 PM to discuss these findings. Also, an Ordinance Committee hearing has been scheduled for January 9 at 5:30 PM to review my proposal that would require a permit before cutting down any healthy, mature tree on private property within city limits.

Please read the full blog post for a deeper analysis of the canopy loss and more thoughts on my proposed ordinance amendment to require a permit for cutting large trees on private property.

Last Monday, the council approved an additional $167,179.02 from free cash (over and above the regular budget) for additional tree plantings next spring. The $67,179.02 is earmarked for the Gore Street neighborhood as compensation for the massive pin oak that was accidentally destroyed by Eversource contractors over the summer, and the remaining $100,000 will be used to plant trees throughout the city on public property. The emphasis on parks in the eastern half of the city is critically important because the recent study confirmed what we already know: there tends to be less canopy coverage in the lower income areas of our city. This also means that our most vulnerable residents are most susceptible to the harmful effects of acute canopy loss. The original policy order requesting additional tree plantings specifically mentioned Greene-Rose Heritage Park, so I'm glad to see that included in the response. Finally, the City Manager's response indicated that there would be additional considerations in this area in the FY20 budget, which I was very pleased to see.

Although these appropriations are a drop in the bucket, they do represent a commitment by the city to address canopy loss, and I look forward to the final recommendations from the urban forest master plan task force, which are expected by next June.

Support Cambridge Artists!

If you're a Cambridge artist (of any kind!) with an upcoming event, please email my aide Dan <[email protected]> and we will be sure to include it in next month's newsletter!

-Please attend a showing of Bridge Repertory Theater's Midterm SHAKEup: A Night of Shakespeare's Iconic Political Scenes. As our deeply divided country hurtles toward another election, Shakespeare offers non-partisan breathing room and historical perspective on our modern civil strife. Marc Antony's "Friends, Romans, countrymen" headlines an intense lineup from a smattering of plays, all of which shine a light on the questions and forces shaping our time. Bridge Rep is an East Cambridge not-so-hidden gem, buy your tickets today (multiple show times) before it sells out!

-The Lilypad in Inman Square will be hosting Asian Glow for an event on Saturday November 3 at 8:30 featuring artists Kevin So, Awaaz Do, and Jere Pilapil. Asian Glow is a performance series for Asian American creative artists which strives to raise visibility for Asian Americans, extinguish tokenism, and explore individual stories involving the twin myths of the “model minority” and “perpetual foreigner.” Asian Glow also seeks to give the artists a platform to perform in a genre or style that does not necessarily link to their national or ancestral identity and provide local role models for the Asian community. Buy tickets in advance here.

-Jobe Freeman's CD Release Show will be at The Bebop in Boston on November 11, at 7 PM. Medallion Sessions Volume 2 was one of the final albums mixed and mastered in the New Alliance East Studio that was located in the EMF building. Nick Zampiello co-produced the album of folksy singer-songwriter tunes and I can't wait to give it a listen!

Community Announcements

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. Test riding a Lime electric scooter. We had a committee hearing on electric scooters and the potential for allowing them in Cambridge, and I am optimistic that we will get there once state regulations are updated.

2. Speaking to Activist Afternoons along with State Representatives Mike Connolly and Jay Livingstone as well as Somerville Alderman-at-Large Will Mbah. Congrats to both Will and Jay on new babies joining their families!

3. October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Cambridge, and everyone at City Hall stands with the #believesurvivors movement.

4. From our tour of the Casella recycling facility in Charlestown, where Cambridge's recycling materials are sent. One of the final products: endless bales of plastic, sorted by thickness. The machinery is very good at separating the various materials, with human help, but ultimately we need to stop producing so much waste!
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