Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Boston City Council Looks At AirBnBs, City Land Disposition, Seaport BPD Jurisdiction, Net-Zero Carbon Standards & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and more at their May 9th, 16th and 23, 2018 meetings (NOTE: There will be no City Council meeting on May 30th):
PILOT: City Council received the contract for Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement entered into by and among the City of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Seaport L-4 Title Holder LLC, and Amazon.com Services, Inc. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means. Short-Term Residential Rentals: Councilor Flaherty reported back on Monday’s working session on the proposed short-term rentals ordinance. As a review, this revised proposal eliminates investor units from the ordinance and restricts short-term rentals (defined as fewer than 28-night stays) to owner-occupied properties, except that owner-occupants of 2- and 3-family homes may list an additional owner-adjacent unit for up to 120 days per year. The previously proposed exemption for medical stays is still included, as well as an exemption for corporate or institutional furnished stays of 10 or more consecutive nights. Property owners that want to use residential units for short-term rentals outside the bounds of this ordinance will still have the option of applying for and securing a change of use and occupancy for those units. The matter remains in committee for potential amendments. The next opportunity for a vote would be at our next meeting, June 6th. Land Disposition and Stewardship: Councilor Edwards filed a hearing order regarding public land disposition and stewardship in the City of Boston. She stated that public land is a public good whose protection and use or disposition should further a greater purpose, such as promoting open space, enhancing cultural activity, creating recreational opportunities or expanding and preserving affordable housing in perpetuity. Currently, Boston lacks a uniform policy for land disposition that would further these community-defined priorities, including affordable housing goals that match that community’s needs and provide for the longest term of affordability, and offer the highest level of community resident ownership and control. In 2017, the Department of Neighborhood Development reported 186 land parcels and buildings sold or transferred for development or open space. Boston may have additional tools at its disposal to optimize the stewardship of land or promote long-term affordability. The matter was assigned to the Planning, Development, & Transportation Committee for a hearing. Concurrent BPD Jurisdiction: The Council voted to pass a home-rule petition filed by Councilor McCarthy to create concurrent police jurisdiction for State and Boston police at certain Massachusetts Port Authority properties in Boston. This legislation follows a recent public hearing and many years of conversations--the Seaport neighborhood of the South Boston Waterfront is the only place in the state where the municipal police do not have at least concurrent jurisdiction; State police have full and exclusive jurisdiction currently. As the residential population continues to grow quickly and more visitors spend time at companies and retail businesses in the area, having BPD jurisdiction (including ability to collect data, make arrests, and respond to calls) is urgent. Councilor McCarthy noted that this is an emergency law needed for the immediate preservation of public safety.  Sandwich Board Signs: The Council voted to pass an amended version of Mayor Walsh’s ordinance regulating free-standing signs, also known as sandwich board signs, after the pilot program passed in 2015 expired. Today’s vote reinstates the ordinance for another year, with a new sunset date one year after it will be signed into law. The ordinance allows all businesses to use free-standing signs on public walkways provided that the business meets certain requirements as listed in the ordinance. As Councilor Zakim noted, the one year extension will give community stakeholders in the Back Bay, including residents and business-owners, the opportunity to work alongside other city departments to create specific guidelines for the Back Bay. This could include looking at a directory system and uniform signage to uphold the historical and architectural integrity of the neighborhood. Net-Zero Carbon Requirements: Councilor O’Malley reported back on the recent working session to discuss how Boston might set policy to encourage net-zero carbon standards for future development as we continue to see increasing harm from climate change. He spoke on the City’s robust construction boom and the significant demand for innovative and modern designs that would be energy independent and not reliant on carbon, especially with the City of Boston’s commitment to making its buildings carbon neutral by 2050. 53% of Greenhouse Gas emissions come from free-standing buildings. Experts presented ideas for incentivizing developers to use Net Zero Carbon strategies, which including an expedited planning process, lower permitting fees, density bonuses or a potential Net Zero Carbon Overlay District. We can protect all residents from the impacts of climate change while also saving on costs by improving energy efficiency and increasing access to good jobs. The matter remains in the Committee on Environment, Sustainability & Parks.
Historic Boston: Councilor Edwards filed a hearing order to preserve historic Boston. She noted that Boston is a historic city with hundreds of sites, including churches, monuments, forts, wharves and marine areas, open spaces, performance areas, places of business, commercial districts and historic homes are listed on the state and National Registers of Historic Places, designated as City or National Landmarks and showcase the character of the community. Additionally, Boston’s historical sites provide a key backdrop for the state’s $1.2 billion tourism industry while attracting long-term residents, entrepreneurs and academic institutions to make Boston their home. Failure to protect historic sites today may result in the permanent loss of invaluable and irreplaceable neighborhood assets and physical manifestations of our country’s origins and culture. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.
Upcoming Hearings (Livestream)
  • Wednesday, 5/30: No Boston City Council Meeting (Memorial Day holiday)
  • Wednesday, 5/30 at 11:00 AM: Hearing re: implementation of Community Choice Energy in Boston (Environment, Sustainability & Parks)
  • Wednesday, 5/30 at 3:00 PM: Working Session re: implementation of Plastic Bag Ban in Boston (Environment, Sustainability & Parks)
  • Thursday, 5/31 at 2:00 PM: Hearing re: flexible payment plans for property tax arrears (Ways & Means)
Upcoming Budget Hearings (Livestream)
  • Monday, 6/4 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Carryover
  • Tuesday, 6/5 at 2:00 PM: FY19 Budget: Public Testimony
For complete notes on Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com or sign up to receive these notes automatically.

Monday, May 21, 2018

FPNA Neighborhood Gathering: Reducing Flood Risk, Neighborhood Updates & Your Top Wishes


Join the Fort Point Neighborhood Association
for
A Fort Point/Seaport Neighborhood Gathering 


Tuesday, May 22, 2018
6 pm - 8 pm
District Hall
75 Northern Ave
(entrance available off Seaport Blvd)

featuring
Climate Ready Fort Point/ Seaport: The Next Steps
Richard McGuinness

Deputy Director for Climate Change & Environmental Planning
Boston Planning & Development Agency


and

Reducing The Risk of Storm Water Back Surge Flooding
John Sullivan
Chief Engineer, Boston Water & Sewer Commission

plus

Top Wishes for The Neighborhood: Setting Priorities
Bring Your Top Wishes


&

Neighborhood Updates

originally published 5.17.18

Friday, May 18, 2018

Love Your Block Is Back

updated 5/19/18: Thank you to all who volunteered this morning.  To those who couldn't join us and to our returning neighbors, planting in Wormwood Park continues on Sunday, May 20th from 10:30 am - 2:00 pm.  Thank You Picnic starts at 5pm. For event changes due to weather, check here for updates or follow us on Twitter.

Updated 5/18/18:  Resident Volunteer Day starts Saturday May 19th at 10 am at Wormwood Park (Wormwood & A Streets) and planting may continue Sunday afternoon weather permitting. 
Street sweeping on Melcher Street is Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm rain or shine. Remember to move your car. Thank You Picnic is currently rescheduled to Sunday 5/20 at 5 pm in Wormwood Park. 

What is Love Your Block? Love Your Block is a spring citywide program to beautify and clean up Boston one block at a time.

What is Love Your Block FPNA Style?

It is Fort Point and Seaport businesses and residents creating a living tapestry together. With your continuous support, FPNA is celebrating the fourteenth annual neighborhood beautification event. Please join us as we plant, sweep and rake our way into spring. 

It is two volunteer events: one for businesses and one for residents.

FPNA Corporate Volunteer Day On Friday, May 18th from 11 am - 2 pm over 50 employees volunteered for Love Your Block. Companies participated by sponsoring a tree circle or street panel or as a tree angel, and by giving their employees an opportunity to volunteer for an hour or two in their work neighborhood.  Volunteers from neighborhood companies planted flowers and designed tree circles along A Street and Congress St.  Tools, gloves, commemorative t-shirt and lunch were provided in Wormwood Park (Wormwood & A Streets) for those who volunteer (green thumb not required). Take a look at all the flowers along A Street from Melcher to Wormwood Park.

FPNA Residents Volunteer Day: Saturday, May 19th from 10 am -1 pm. Gather for coffee and pastries in Wormwood Park (Wormwood & A Streets) starting at 10 am. Tools, gloves and commemorative t-shirt provided. Come meet your neighbors and plant, sweep or rake for an hour or stay all day. We will be gardening primarily in Wormwood Park and along A Street fence from Melcher St to Wormwood St. Donations are gratefully accepted to help repair winter damage to plants and vines, and to beautify Wormwood Park.  We recommend people wear gardening clothes or clothes and footwear you don't mind getting into the dirt.

Annual Melcher Street Cleaning Day is Saturday, May 19th from 9 am to 1 pm. By moving your car off Melcher St, you will allow street sweepers to clean the street. With 24/7 resident parking, Saturday is a once a year opportunity. Free parking provided courtesy of P&G Gillette Channelside parking. View your car flyer for special instructions. 

FPNA Residents Volunteer Sunday: May 20th from 10:30 am - 2:00 pm. Thank You Picnic starts 5 pm in Wormwood Park. Enjoy delicious treats and beverages from local restaurants and shops. 

Check back for event and weather updates. 


Special thanks to the City of Boston, P&G Gillette, Channelside Parking, and all our corporate sponsors and volunteers.

Friday, May 11, 2018

249 A Street Artists Open Their Doors To You This Weekend

The Artists of 249 A Street Cooperative are opening their doors to you this weekend as they host Spring Open Studios:


Saturday, May 12 & Sunday, May 13
Noon to 5:00 pm
249 A Street
View and purchase artwork from a variety of artists, including painters, photographers, printmakers, book artists, potters, sculptors, mixed-media artists, and jewelers, all conveniently located in one building. It is the perfect opportunity to find a unique, handmade gift for your Mom (Mother's Day is May 13), your graduate, your Dad (Father's Day is June 17) and yourself because you deserve it. View Participating Artists
It is easy to get there. 249 A Street Artists Cooperative is a short walk from the Seaport and the Red Line's South Station & West Broadway T stops.  Free validated parking available directly across the street at the Channelside parking lot (Binford St entrance).

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Fort Point Landmarks May Meeting With Special Sea Level Rise Mitigation Presentation

The FORT POINT CHANNEL LANDMARK DISTRICT COMMISSION will hold a public hearing on:

Thursday, May 10, 2018
6:00 PM
Boston City Hall - Piemonte Room (5th Floor)
After 5:30 pm, enter and exit City Hall at the Dock Square entrance on Congress Street 
(across from Faneuil Hall).

Subject of the hearing will be applications for Certificates of Design Approval on the agenda below, review of architectural violations and such business as may come before the commission, in accordance with Ch. 772 of the Acts of 1975, as amended.from Faneuil Hall).

. DESIGN REVIEW

18.1196 FPC        374 Congress Street 
Applicant: Bill Whitlock, Whitlock Design Group 
Proposed Work: At Boston Wharf Road façade, replace all windows on ground level with doors

18.1166 FPC        55 Thomson Place  
Applicant: John Renzi, Graphic Impact Signs 
Proposed Work: At front façade, install tenant directory signage

18.1147 FPC        A Street & Boston Wharf Road  
Applicant: Chuck Gregory, HDR Engineering 
Proposed Work: Along Both Sides of A Street between Iron Street and Melcher Street and The Eastern side of Boston Wharf Road between Congress Street and Calvin Place, complete sidewalk, crosswalk repair and construct wheelchair access ramps.

18.1144 FPC        12 Thomson Place  
Applicant: John Kiernan 
Proposed Work: At south façade, install new copper gutters and downspouts replicating original. At east and west parapets, install aluminum coated with PVC, colored to simulated patinated copper. 

II. ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW/APPROVAL: In order to expedite the review process, the commission has delegated the approval of certain work items, such as those involving ordinary maintenance and repair, restoration or replacement, or which otherwise have a minimal impact on a building’s appearance, to commission staff pending ratification at its monthly public hearing.  Having been identified as meeting these eligibility criteria and all applicable guidelines, the following applications will be approved at this hearing

PROJECTS COMPLIANT WITH DISTRICT STANDARDS & CRITERIA 
18.1214 FPC        21 Wormwood Street
Applicant: Jason Powell, Barkan Management Company
Proposed Work: At front façade, install replacement exhaust vent.

III. ADVISORY REVIEW 

Fort Point Channel Waterfront Presenters: Chris Busch, Mia Mansfield, Richard McGuinness, City of Boston Proposed Work: Preliminary plans for sea level rise mitigation in the district. NOTE: Due to time constraints there will most likely not be time for public comment. 

IV. REVIEW and RATIFICATION OF April 12, 2018 HEARING MINUTES

V. STAFF UPDATES 

 PROJECTED ADJOURNMENT: 8:00 PM 

FORT POINT CHANNEL LANDMARK DISTRICT COMMISSION  
David Berarducci, Susan Goganian, John Karoff, Lynn Smiledge, Vacancy Alternates: Thomas Rodde, Vacancy

Boston City Council Looks At Grants, Appointments, Bike Lanes, Greenway BID & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and more at their April 15 and May 2, 2018 meetings:


Grants: The Council voted to approve Mayor Walsh’s authorization orders for:
  • $99,314 from U.S. Department of Justice to fund Address Verification Program activities mandated by the MA Sex Offender Registry Board. This grant would also fund the FY17 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Reallocation.
  • The Elderly Commission to accept and expend $130,253 from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to fund 356 RSVP volunteers who will provide social support to homebound or older adults and individuals with disabilities.
The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture to accept and expend:

  • $5,000 from the MA Cultural Council to fund programming in the Roxbury Cultural District.
  • $5,000 from the Boston Foundation to fund the original creation of contemporary artwork by emerging artists.
Appointments:

  • Tony Barros as a Member of the Boston School Committee Nominating Panel for a term expiring on April 13, 2020.
  • Laurie Ciardi as a Member of the Boston School Committee Nominating Panel for a term expiring on April 13, 2020.
  • Jerry Howland as a Member of the Boston School Committee Nominating Panel for a term expiring on April 20, 2020.
  • Daniel Greene as a Trustee of the Boston Retirement Board for a term expiring on March 13, 2020.
  • Amelia Croteau to serve as an Ex Officio Trustee to the Boston Groundwater Trust.
  • Michael Parker as Chairperson of the Boston Conservation Commission, effective immediately.
  • Alexis Tkachuk, the Director of Emerging Industries, to execute on the Mayor’s behalf to host community agreements with marijuana establishments or medical marijuana treatment centers.
Protected Bike Lanes on the Longfellow Bridge: We voted to adopt the resolution that Councilor Zakim and I filed a resolution to support the implementation of protected bike lanes on the Longfellow Bridge. The Cambridge City Council unanimously passed a similar resolution. The bridge is scheduled to reopen this month after nearly a decade of planning and construction. According to the Boston Transportation Department, the number of Bostonians who “usually” commute by bicycle increased by 180% from 2007 to 2016, cyclists comprised 34.9% of inbound traffic on the bridge during the morning commute in 2017, and the bridge was among the top 10 busiest cycling locations in the entire city of Boston during 2017, despite the lack of a safe bicycle land during construction. More than 3,100 individuals signed a petition calling on the MA Department of Transportation to install protected bike lanes on the Longfellow Bridge, with signatories using terms such as “dangerous,” “death-trip,” and “terrifying” to describe riding on the bridge absent adequate infrastructure.  We support advocates’ requests to reduce the number of vehicular lanes on the inbound side of the Longfellow Bridge from two to one for the uphill portion of the bridge and implementing physically separated bicycle infrastructure on the bridge wide enough to facilitate passing, before it reopens. MassDOT has recently committed to being open to a pilot of this situation after certain baselines are established, but we believe the infrastructure should be safe from the beginning and the current numbers demonstrate a strong baseline for cyclist demand and need. The Council also urges the MA Department of Transportation to make an immediate public commitment to implementing this revised plan, and work with advocates and stakeholders to ensure the new bridge works for commuters of all transit modes.
                 
NSTAR Zoning: NSTAR Electric Company filed a petition with the Department of Public Utilities seeking zoning relief from the Boston Zoning Code. The zoning exemption relief is requested to complete certain proposed modifications to an existing substation, Substation No. 385 (the “K Street Substation”) at 500 East First Street in South Boston.

Greenway Business Improvement District (BID): We voted unanimously to approve the Greenway Business Improvement District, a special assessment district allowed by state law in which property owners vote to initiate, manage and finance supplemental services or enhancements above and beyond the baseline of services already provided by their local governments. At the public hearing on April 12th, we heard from the City, State, Greenway Conservancy and A Better City about this public-private partnership that will generate and estimated $1.5M for maintenance, operations, and programming. The Greenway is a hub of cultural programming, public art, resilient open space management, and place-making. This will help advance a sustainable, long-term stability to the Greenway’s funding in the spirit of shared responsibility between the public and private sectors. This will be the second BID district in Boston (after the Downtown BID) and will contribute $1.5M to The Greenway each year. Councilors emphasized and thanked the Greenway for their commitment at the hearing to pushing further on equity, diversity, and accessibility in all their programming and operations.

Upcoming Hearings (Livestream): 
  • Friday, 5/4 at 11:00 AM: Hearing re: MBTA Assessment (Planning, Development & Transportation) - POSTPONED
  • Friday, 5/4 at 2:00 PM: Working Session re: (Environment, Sustainability & Parks) - CANCELED
  • Monday, 5/7 at 2:00 PM: Working Session re: Authorizing Additional Licenses for the sale of All Alcoholic Beverages to be Drunk on the Premises in Boston (Government Operations)
  • Tuesday, 5/8 at 12:00 PM: Hearing re: An Act Directing the Police Department to waive the maximum age requirement for police officer Hugh Trong Ngo (Government Operations)
  • Friday, 5/11 at 11:00 AM: Hearing re: Amending the City of Boston Code, Ch. VI, Sec. 6-9.5(G), the Solar Renewable Energy Certificates Revolving Fund (Government Operations)
Upcoming Budget Hearings (Livestream)

  • Thursday, 5/3 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: BPS Administrative Budget, Central Office, and Academic and Student Support Services (1)
  • Thursday, 5/3 at 2:00 PM: FY19 Budget: FY19 Budget: BPS Academics and Student Support Services (2)
  • Monday, 5/7 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Inspectional Services Department
  • Monday, 5/7 at 12:30 PM: FY19 Budget Animal Care and Control Revolving Fund
  • Tuesday, 5/8 at 2:00 PM:  FY19 Budget: BPS School Operations (1)
  • Tuesday, 5/8 at 6:00 PM:  FY19 Budget: BPS School Operations (2)
  • Thursday, 5/10 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: BPS Human Capital and Equity
  • Monday, 5/14 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Boston Centers for Youth and Families
  • Monday, 5/14 at 12:30 PM: City Hall Child Care Revolving Fund
  • Monday, 5/14 at 2:00 PM: FY19 Budget: Youth Engagement and Employment
  • Tuesday, 5/15 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Public Works
  • Thursday, 5/17 at 10:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Public Health Commission (1)
  • Thursday, 5/17 at 2:00 PM: FY19 Budget: Public Health Commission (2)
  • Friday, 5/18 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Emergency Medical Services
  • Monday, 5/21 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Fire Department
  • Tuesday, 5/22 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Police Department
  • Tuesday, 5/22 at 12:30 PM: FY19 Budget: BPD Revolving Funds
  • Tuesday, 5/22 at 2:00 PM: FY19 Budget: Boston Planning and Development Agency
  • Tuesday, 5/22 at 5:00 PM: FY19 Budget: Boston Transportation Department
  • Thursday, 5/23 at 11:30 AM: FY19 Budget: Parks and Recreation Department
  • Monday, 6/4 at 11:00 AM: FY19 Budget: Carryover
  • Tuesday, 6/5 at 2:00 PM: FY19 Budget: Public Testimony
For complete notes on Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com or sign up to receive these notes automatically.