Including policy updates, community events, and ways to support artists in our community over the coming weeks!
Recovery going well!
On July 24th, I had full hip replacement surgery on my left side. My hip joint destabilized as a teenager, perhaps because I grew too fast, and I underwent surgery to have 3 screws installed to stabilize the hip (ball joint). At that time I was told I would need a hip replacement around the time I turned 50, because the joint would inevitably deteriorate faster than normal and develop arthritis. Last year I had surgery to remove the screws, thirty-some years after they'd been put in. They had done their job, and for most of those years, I enjoyed an excellent quality of life: hiking, biking and playing sports to my heart's content. But now it was time to replace the joint completely, because I was no longer able to do most of those activities. It took over a year for the bone to heal from the screw removal surgery, and this summer I was finally ready to get my new hip. Three weeks post surgery I'm recovering well and actively doing physical therapy. My goal is to get back on a bike this fall :-) I'm very grateful for all the support and best wishes I have received from so many. It has undoubtedly helped me heal even faster!
Tree Canopy Study Update
I was pleased to see a response from the City Manager to my policy order, which had asked for the next tree canopy study to be released by the end of the year, and for future studies to be done more frequently. Data for doing tree canopy studies are collected through a LiDAR flyover, and a team at the University of Vermont analyzes the results. The most recent study, released in the fall of 2017 using data collected during 2014, indicated a concerning 7% relative decline in Cambridge’s tree canopy coverage between 2009 and 2014. The response from the City Manager that the next study will be completed by Spring 2019 isn’t quite what I asked for, but at the July meeting DPW Commissioner Owen O’Riordan did say “I gave a rather conservative response, and it may be that we have the results sooner than that”. Additionally, the city has committed to collecting data every 2-3 years, which is a significant improvement over the 4-5 year timeline we have seen up until now. I expect the next study will show a further loss of tree canopy in Cambridge, particularly because citizen activists have documented recent severe loss including more than 50 trees lost over a 10-day period in April 2018. While we wait for its release, I will continue to insist on better protections for both public and private trees, and for more funding to plant additional trees, so that we can begin to stem the canopy loss and reverse the trend.
Safety improvements in Porter Square
At our recent council meeting, the City Manager released a report on the policy order I introduced last April calling for protected bike lanes in Porter Square. This report addresses concerns raised by the community last Spring about a lack of protection for cyclists turning right from Somerville to Massachusetts Ave. At a rally of more than 200 people in Porter Square, and in compelling testimony at several public meetings, stakeholders made it clear that more needed to be done. I’m very grateful to the Traffic Department and City Manager for responding to our concerns by adjusting the design to include a fully protected cycle track bicycle facility for this right turn. The report also outlines some next steps for beginning the process of a more thorough redesign of the intersection, which I also very much appreciate. I would of course like to see protected lanes leading up to and through the intersection in the near future, but this is a huge step forward and will make Porter Square much safer!
Bird Electric Scooters
While I support the concept of using innovative technology to incentivize mode-shift away from cars, I was disappointed by the “act first, apologize later” approach that Bird took as they released their electric scooters in Cambridge. There are several basic safety concerns here, and the community wasn’t prepared. Scooters were left in places that are hazardous for those with mobility issues, including seniors, and they weren’t collected early enough to prevent unsafe nighttime use. More education is needed on proper use, including where the scooters can be ridden (no sidewalks) and stored (neatly, out of the footpath). The lack of brake lights and turn signals may be a violation of state law. Additionally, I expect that companies who want to use our streets in this way will make a significant financial contribution towards safer infrastructure in Cambridge.
Vice Mayor Devereux will chair a Transit Committee hearing on this topic: September 12th at 1 PM in the Sullivan Chamber. The hearing will be broadcast online for those who are unable to attend in person. I recently met with representatives from Bird and I'm encouraged by the productive conversation we had. I am confident that we will be able to make electric scooters and other micro-mobility devices work in Cambridge, and Massachusetts, with proper regulations and in compliance with all applicable laws.
Climate Safety Petition
Cambridge residents recently submitted a zoning petition calling for greater protections from the dangerous impacts of climate change, including flooding and extreme heat. I supported this petition because it contained many great provisions including a Green Factor calculation that would create a flexible and quantitative way for developers to demonstrate green space adaptations. The results of the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (part 1, part 2) are clear, and we have a responsibility to protect those who are in harm's way. Unfortunately, the majority chose to kill the petition outright, which was in my opinion unnecessary and risky. Nonetheless, the petition has served a great purpose in raising the urgency of this issue, and the council, petitioners and city staff will be working through an advisory committee to advance the protections put forward by the petition into our zoning and other regulations. I look forward to continuing this conversation and putting in place real and much needed protections for our health and safety.
2070 Depth of Overall Flooding from Storm Level Rise and StormSurge and Propagation, from the CCVA assessment, part 2
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!
-There's still time to attend a showing of Bridge Repertory Theater's Dark Room. Many of you know Olivia D'Ambrosio, who is directing what is the world premiere of this play! I always enjoy attending Bridge Rep's performances at the gorgeous Multicultural Arts Center in East Cambridge, and this one promises to be spectacular. There are showings most nights until August 16- click here for more information or to buy tickets. I'll be there on Thursday for the finale!
-Ruby Rose Fox will premiere her one-woman show Saltat the Museum of Science Planetarium on Thursday August 16th at 7:30 PM. Ruby is an innovative artist and so I was not surprised to see she has adapted her show for the planetarium. Read more in the Herald or buy tickets directly from the Museum of Science!
-The alternative rock band "Hemway" is playing at The Burren on Sunday August 19th at 7:30 along with another band, "What Time is it Mr Fox?". The members of Hemway used to practice at the EMF building before being evicted a few months ago. See Facebook for more information or to buy tickets!
-Cambridge Community Center and The Hip Hop Transformation Project will be holding an end of summer concert Friday, August 17 at 6 PM. This incredible summer program empowers teens to find their voice and creative muse by giving them access to a recording studio and allowing them to produce music. See the flyer below for more details, or watch this news segment for more information!
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. Proud to stand with the gas workers who have been locked out by National Grid. These hard working professionals keep us safe every day but haven't had healthcare in two months because of corporate greed. #nationalgreed
2. Students from the Mayor's Summer Youth Program visited me at city hall to learn about their municipal government. They've spent the summer planting meadows and selling native plants to increase biodiversity in our city. Read more in the Boston Globe about these awesome kids!
3. I toured MSPCA-Angell animal hospital in JP with Mayor McGovern and other elected officials from the region. Here I am with Dr. Kiko Bracker, Director of Emergency and Critical Care at the facility. They do incredible work at the hospital and adoption center, and I'm very grateful to them for when our dog needed surgery a few years ago.
4. With my State Rep and friend Mike Connolly at the "Save EMF" rally, put on by the hundreds of artists who were recently evicted from the only affordable artist workspace in the city.