Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Cambridge City Council, USA Schedules SPECIAL MEETING on Harvard Square Upzoning Proposal (Impacts on the Charles River)

Cambridge City Council, USA Schedules SPECIAL MEETING on Harvard Square Upzoning Proposal (Impacts on the Charles River)

I am reporting on this zoning proposal for a number of reasons.  Just to name a few:

1. It appears to be an excellent example of the Cambridge Development Department and friends taking a trusting, well intentioned person under their wing and conning her into a zoning proposal which achieves the OPPOSITE of what she wants.

2. It is an area in which I am a foremost expert since I did the drafting and provided expert knowledge for the zoning petition which creates most of the zoning which the Development Department and friends are working to destroy.  This is an area where I have had other victories of very clear importance.

3. On reading this thing and thinking it over, it would appear that the Cambridge City Council, should it pass the proposal, would be paying Harvard University to convert a number of dormitories in Harvard Square into retail malls and moving the dormitory uses to the I90 rebuild area on the Boston side of the Charles River.

The latter is a topic on which I have frequently reported and on which I have had significant victories, for the benefit of the project, for the benefit of Cambridge residents, and for the benefit of the Charles River environment.

Since this proposal is, for the most part, not Charles River, I have withheld it from the Charles River White Geese Blog, the Charles River Facebook page, and my email reports to people concerned about the Charles River.

The impact on my reports on the Blog and the Facebook page has been that my actions on most of these matters, while major have not been directly added to Blog, Facebook and email.  Reports have been provided edited to matters of direct relevance.

There have been four communications by me to the City Council and City Manager.

Only the fourth has been actually posted on this blog.  It is a summary of the City Council Ordinance Committee meeting on the proposal.  It was just posted and it provides a pretty good summary, including a pretty significant victory.

Today, in the process of creating my condensed versions of the blog posting on the Ordinance Committee meeting, I checked back in the official files.

I discovered to my surprise that the City Council has scheduled a Special Meeting to discuss the Zoning Proposal, on February 18, 2020 at 3 pm.  This was a shock.

My report on the Ordinance Committee Meeting was just posted on this blog, on February 10, 2020, at;postID=6361020298260485967.  It is a good summary.  It goes into the impact of the proposal including on areas which had never before been mentioned.  I omitted significant parts of the document out of a sense of being overwhelmed.  This is normal on Development Department initiatives.  They commonly are much worse than you realize and it is necessary to go back and go back and go back.

I will follow up with the deeper thoughts because I want to get this notice out.

The official record of my four letters on this matter are as follows.  They start with a very detailed photographic record of buildings targeted in that area in which I have had major influence.  Then I go into more general analyses.  The February 10 blog report forwarding my analysis of the January 30, 2020 City Council meeting goes into great detail on another area associated with Harvard Square in the vicinity of Brattle Square and on the adjacent neighborhood.

Here are the four official reports:

1., City Council meeting of November 16, 2020, Communication 1, pages 298 to 323, very extended photographic documentation of the area east of JFK Street, which were subjects of my East Harvard Square Downzoning.

2., City Council meeting of January 27, 2020, pages 73 to 78, following on the above, belying claims of a lot of retail in areas PROPERLY zoning for Residential / Office use.

3., City Council meeting of February 2, 2020, communication 1, pages 104 to 113.  This letter was filed by me with the City Clerk for the February 2, 2020 meeting and with the City Manager, both a few hours before I addressed the City Council Ordinance Committee meeting on January 30, 2020.

4., City Council meeting of February 10, communication 2, pages 140 to 148.  This thanked the Ordinance Committee for its very positive change, and went into detail why I thought more should be done.  It deals with both sides of the Harvard Square core and inpact on neighborhoods.  The blog report is posted above.

Letter 4, forwarded to this blog on February 10, is a good summary, while lacking the very detailed photographs in letter 1 which were then supplemented in letters 2 and 3.  The blog URL is above.

I will consider if I want to go further.