Friday, October 06, 2017

Boston City Council Looks At Seaport/Fort Point Civic Amenities, Flight Paths, CPA, Energy & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and more at their September 19, September 28 and October 4, 2017 meetings:

South Boston Waterfront/Seaport Public Facilities: I filed a hearing order to discuss plans for access to public facilities, civic space, and city services in the South Boston Waterfront and Seaport / Fort Point areas given the continued residential transformation of the neighborhood. The area has seen population double in the last ten years, some projections estimate that the population will grow from about 4,000 current residents to upwards of 26,000 residents in 10-15 years. Currently there is no civic space in the area (e.g. no library, school, community center, fire station or police station), and we should be looking ahead to plan for how we will deliver city services and civic spaces to current and future residents. The matter was assigned to the Planning & Development Committee for a hearing.

Community Preservation Act: Councilor Flaherty filed a communication with the Council announcing the members of the CPA Working Group, whose purpose is to assist the City Council's Special Committee on the Community Preservation Act in recruiting and evaluating candidates for selection to the Community Preservation Committee. The members are Boston residents Curtis R. Kemeny (Beacon Hill), Beverly Johnson (Mattapan), Cortina Vann (Dorchester), Shelly Goehring (Dorchester), and Jeffrey Gonyeau (Dorchester). The group will meet soon to approve the application materials and kick off the process.

Flight Paths: Councilor McCarthy rose to give an update on his trip to Washington DC to meet with Congressmen Capuano and Lynch about the concentration of flight paths over a narrow band of households in recent years after the FAA instituted changes to GPS navigation systems. This has significantly increased noise and pollution over certain neighborhoods in Boston, including South End, Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury and Hyde Park. Councilor McCarthy will make available the in-depth report from MIT commissioned by the Congressmen.

Community Choice Energy: The Council voted unanimously to authorize the City of Boston to adopt the Community Choice Energy that I was proud to file in partnership with Councilor O’Malley. The order charges the Administration with beginning due diligence on a municipal electricity aggregation to increase clean energy for Boston residents and small businesses. At yesterday’s packed hearing, advocates, residents, and experts spoke about the environmental and economic benefits of increasing our renewable energy supply. We learned that dozens of municipalities in Massachusetts have instituted a CCE program with a 5% increase in renewable energy, and in all but one the rates have been cheaper than the Eversource basic plan rate. Boston’s 5% renewables increase would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to removing 6,400 cars from the city’s roads.

At today’s meeting, Councilors rose to speak about the urgency of committing to a clean energy future as we face the impacts of destructive climate change in weather disasters and the environmental refugees that we will welcome after each incident. Adopting a green municipal aggregation is the single largest action that Boston can take to immediately and dramatically increase our clean energy consumption. Moreover, the process has numerous safeguards, including the ability for anyone to opt out back onto the utility’s default basic plan. The utility company will continue to deliver the electricity and administer billing, so the transition would be seamless for the ~125,000 accounts that would chip in a little towards a big result. As mentioned at the hearing, not everyone can afford to install solar panels on their homes. CCE allows all residents to pool together and share in the transition to a green economy.

With the Council now having voted to authorize CCE, the Administration will begin the process of researching and requesting proposals from energy procurement companies, and vetting them in consultation with state agencies and public process. There are still months of process ahead before any draft plan would be presented and approved.

Short-Term Rental Housing: Councilor Zakim called for a hearing to discuss how the city reviews plans for new developments with respect to short term rental set-asides. The hearing is designed to increase transparency in the development review process around plans that a developer may have to set aside entire floors for short term rental corporations. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Housing & Community Development for a hearing

Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions (Watch online)
  • Tuesday, 10/10 at 4:30PM, hearing on project with the National Black Women's Justice Institute (NBWJI) (Healthy Women, Families, and Children) [Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington St, Roxbury]
  • Tuesday, 10/10 at 2:30PM, working session on parking permits for home health professions (City, Neighborhood Services, and Veterans Affairs) [Piemonte Room, 5th Floor City Hall]
  • Thursday, 10/12 at 10:00AM, hearing on the right to charge (Government Operations) [Piemonte Room, 5th Floor City Hall]
  • TENTATIVE, 10/16 at 11:00AM, hearing on the BPD Detectives Benevolent Association collective bargaining agreement (Ways and Means) [location TBD]
                       
For complete notes on Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email. 

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