Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Boston City Council Looks at Hubway, Speed Limits, Marijuana & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered these items and more at their September 14, 2016 meeting:

Appointments: Mayor Walsh made the following appointments:
  • Zoning Commission: Jane Cooper Brayton for a neighborhood representative seat until May 2019, subject to Council confirmation
  • Boston Industrial Development Finance Committee: Quoc Tran as a member of the Board of Directors until April 2020, subject to Council confirmation
  • Boston Fair Housing Commission: Egobudike Ezidi Jr. for a term expiring July 1, 2017 (does not require Council confirmation)
Hubway: The Council voted to pass an order authorizing the Boston Transportation Department to enter into a 10-year contract for the city’s Hubway program, following Councilor LaMattina’s recommendation as Chair of the Council’s Committee on Parks, Recreation and Transportation. Councilor LaMattina reported back from the hearing that this would be a regional program in partnership with neighboring municipalities. The program’s three goals: 1) Improving user happiness through availability of docks and bikes, 2) Growing the number of trips taken by increasing the number of members and casual users, and 3) Increasing equity of access and use, geographically and demographically. To date, no city funds have been spent on operations or equipment. A longer-term contract will allow greater incentive for sponsorship and neighborhood access. The Council must vote to approve any contract with a term longer than three years.

Speed Limits: Council Baker called for a hearing to discuss the recently passed state legislation, Act Modernizing Municipal Finance and Government, with respect to speed limits in Boston. In April, the Council unanimously passed a home rule petition to reduce the speed limit in densely populated areas from 30 to 20 mph and 15 mph in school zones, which the Mayor signed and forwarded on to the State House. The state law allows for cities and towns to lower the unposted speed limit to 25 mph and 20 mph respectively. The matter was sent to the Committee on City & Neighborhood Services and Veterans Affairs for a hearing.

Equity in Marijuana Dispensary Licensing: Councilor Pressley filed a hearing order to discuss strategies for ensuring equity in marijuana licensing. Should voters approve the ballot question to legalize adult use marijuana this November, regulatory authority will sit with a new Cannabis Commission at the state level. Councilor Pressley noted that the City of Oakland recently passed an ordinance promoting equity in access to opportunities for ownership of medical marijuana dispensaries, and Boston should encourage business ownership and hiring in underemployed populations, especially for communities of color and low-income communities that have been victims of the ‘War on Drugs.’ The matter was sent to the Committee on Jobs, Wages, and Workforce Development for a hearing. 

Council Business: Councillor Wu gave a quick update on the five Council administrative items that she has been working on as Council President
  1. City Council Chamber Accessibility: The Council is awaiting final numbers from a house doctor report examining the costs of lifting the Chamber floor, creating wheelchair-accessible seating in the audience, adding acoustic treatment so that all can hear the proceedings, updating the lights to energy-efficient LED bulbs, etc. The goal is to begin construction next summer.
  2. Website: The Council has been working with DOIT to be able to attach documents such as notes, background information, and presentations to calendar items so that residents can access proceedings online. The goal is to enable residents to follow Council business and give feedback before votes/meetings happen. 
  3. Events management procedures: As the Council hosts more off-site meetings in the neighborhoods, we need standardized procedures to secure venues, staffing, and coordination between Council offices and Central Staff to ensure everything runs smoothly.
  4. & 5. Details 
For complete notes on this meeting and prior Boston City Council meeting notes, visit MichelleForBoston.com or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email. 

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