Monday, March 01, 2021

Boston City Council Looks At Street Trees, Community Voice, Land Use & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Below are a few highlights from February 24, 2021 Boston City Council meeting. Please note that the Council did not meet on February 17.

VOTES

Special Commission on Ending Family Homelessness: The Council voted to pass an ordinance to create a Special Commission on Ending Family Homelessness, which will develop an actionable and measurable plan to end family homelessness in the City of Boston.

NEW FILES

Street Tree Removal: Councilors Flynn and Breadon called for a hearing to discuss the process for street tree removals in the City of Boston. The current process includes a public hearing to gather feedback before a removal, but there is no requirement to notify abutters, and when trees are removed prior to a development project entering into the permitting process, residents do not have the opportunity to provide input beforehand. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Environment, Resiliency and Parks.

Community Voice in Impact Advisory Groups: Councilor Mejia called for a hearing on community voice in Impact Advisory Groups (IAGs), which are groups of up to 15 individuals tasked with providing advice and feedback on large-scale projects proposed by the Boston Planning and Development Agency to ensure that these developments meet the needs of the community and do not contribute to displacement, gentrification and a loss of community character. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development, and Transportation. 

Community Notification Process: Councilor Essaibi George called for a hearing to review the procedures to alert a neighborhood to development-related meetings. The BPDA must publish documents related to a proposed document within 5 days and share with the local neighborhood council or to a similar community or civic organization, but there is no mention throughout the Zoning Code of a required period of time that the BPDA should notify residents of any upcoming public meetings. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

Developer Profiles: Councilor Essaibi George called for a hearing regarding the creation of publicly available developer profiles, which may include information like accurate contact information, information regarding anh partnered firms, average Boston Residents Jobs Policy (BRJP) score, number of market-rate units and affordable units, and the BPDA Project Manager, the total number of commercial and residential units, any past or present DND or BHA contracts, list of publicly knowable civil rights litigation, and basic developer history. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

Planning and Land-Use Tools for Public Good:  Councilor Bok called for a hearing regarding using planning and land-use tools for public good; for example, by building on past tradition and using BPDA tools to help secure more land for the community purposes and long-term affordability that community land trusts can ensure; writing ground leases to ensure the long-term value of public land is captured by the public; and structuring city deed restrictions and ground leases to provide preferential options for conversion to cooperative or community land trust structures whenever possible. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

UPCOMING HEARINGS (Streaming online at https://boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv

  • Next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, March 3rd at 12PM.

For complete notes of Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com to sign up to receive Council Notes automatically.

FPNA Neighborhood Gathering Features The Outdoors, Development & Parks and Mayoral Candidate Michelle Wu

 You are invited to a virtual

Fort Point Seaport
Neighborhood Gathering


Tuesday, February 23, 2021
6 pm to 8 pm

featuring

Our C-6 Community Service Officers

Cisco Brewers & Il Giardino
Seaport Spring Updates
WS Development


ICA Reopening, Dancing & Live Music
requesting support of outdoor live entertainment license amendment. 
Update: The ICA withdrew their amended application. If they decide to pursue it at a future date, they will present again 

100 Acres Ups & Downs 
Building Heights and Park Sizes
from the Channel to the Haul Rd/South Boston Bypass Rd.*


Mayoral Candidate Spotlight
Boston City Councillor-At-Large Michelle Wu


* With development underway on the former Gillette parking lots and the planning of the 100 Acres Open Space Concept Draft Plan, we want to ensure the neighborhood has accurate information.
Everyone has a lot of questions: Are the buildings getting bigger? How are the park sizes changing? Where are parks getting smaller? What are the transportation impacts? What about climate change and flood protection of the inner neighborhood?, etc... 
Tune in Tuesday night to find out more and how you can help build a better neighborhood together.
 
We invite you to renew your membership or become an FPNA member for the first time. An individual membership is $35 and a family membership is $50. You can pay by check or via venmo @FPNA-Boston.  Join FPNA today!
Upcoming Happenings

Monday, February 22nd: 6:30pm Community Meeting for a proposed South Boston Retail Cannabis Establishment at 558-560 Dorchester Avenue

Tuesday, February 23d: FPNA Neighborhood Gathering 6pm - 8pm. Details above.

Wednesday, February 24th: 7:30pm. Abutters Public Meeting for ICA Outdoor Summer Program live entertainment license amendment request. Adding DJ and dancing with a change of hours. Virtual meeting link

Thursday, February 25th: 10am City Council Hearing on the 
proliferation of electronic billboards. If you are unable to attend and would like to submit comments, details are included in the link.

 
Neighborhood updates, questions or concerns, please contact FPNA

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Boston City Council Looks At Landmarking, Life Sciences, Inclusionary Development Policy & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Below are a few highlights from February 10, 2021 Boston City Council meeting:

MATTERS RECENTLY HEARD

Special Law re: Boston Landmarks Commission: Councilor Edwards reported back from the Committee on Government Operations on a hearing held to discuss a home rule petition to change the definition of the term landmark, allowing resources and places with significance to Boston’s neighborhoods to be eligible for landmark designation. The matter will be further discussed at a working session. 

COVID-19 Vaccines: Councilor Arroyo reported back from the Committee on Public Health regarding a hearing to discuss COVID-19 vaccines. At the hearing, representatives from the Administration, including Chief Martinez from the Health and Human Services and Dr. Lo from the BHPC gave an update on the state and City’s vaccination distribution phases, the city’s current vaccine strategy, issues surrounding language access and cultural competency, partnerships with community health centers and other organizations, and communication with Boston residents. Representatives of Boston’s health care institutions and other community members also gave testimony, leading to a productive conversation on vaccine coordination, distribution and education in order to minimize duplication of efforts and ensure that Black and Latinx communities and other more vulnerable residents are prioritized in vaccination efforts. This matter will remain in the Committee on Public Health.

NEW FILES

PILOT Community Benefits Agreements: Councilors Bok, Janey and Breadon called for a hearing regarding increasing oversight, transparency, and coordination of Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) community benefits offsets. Universities, hospitals, and other institutions rely on the city for strong public infrastructure, but often provide too few opportunities for residents to benefit from the prosperity they create. The City has previously identified 47 such institutions that own tax-exempt property, valued at $15 million, but the Office of Assessing has agreed to update their valuation over the course of 2021. Each of these institutions is eligible for a community benefits deduction, generally restricted to 50% of the requested PILOT contribution. Approximately 61% of PILOT contributions that the City receives are in the form of community benefits. Updating the community benefits requirements of the PILOT program, in line with the recommendations in the PILOT Action Group’s 2018 report, would ensure Boston's institutions more meaningfully contribute to Boston’s communities. This matter was assigned to the Committee on PILOT Agreements. 

Barriers to Rental Housing: Councilors Bok, Janey and Campbell called for a hearing regarding reducing barriers to securing rental housing in Boston. Major barriers to obtaining housing, that are currently legal in the City of Boston, include credit screenings and criminal background checks, as well as large security deposits and deposits or fees required to fill out rental applications. Reforms to credit screening by landlords are especially needed as the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are increasing the amount of Boston residents that have been evicted, rely on credit cards to purchase basic needs, are out of work, and are unable to pay passed-due rent or other debts. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Housing and Community Development.

Life Sciences Laboratories: Councilors Flynn and Flaherty called for a hearing to discuss zoning and the community outreach process for life sciences laboratories in the City of Boston. Last year, a life sciences laboratory began construction next to a residential building in South Boston without a community process. Because the laboratory was in an area zoned as Restrictive Manufacturing and therefore deemed to be zoning compliant, the proponent could bypass a community process. Amending the zoning code could afford residents the opportunity to have a say in what gets built in their community. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation. 

Inclusionary Development Policy: Councilor Edwards called for a hearing regarding the state of affordable housing as to Boston’s inclusionary development policy (IDP). The IDP was created in 2000 to set requirements for large and medium scale developers to create or preserve affordable housing in any new development with 10 or more units that requires zoning relief. IDP units are deemed affordable according to the Area Median Income (AMI) metric, which is based on incomes of households in the entire Greater Boston region, making many units unaffordable to many residents. The majority of IDP units are studios or 1-bedrooms, failing to meet the needs of families looking for housing. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Housing and Community Development. 

Construction and Utility Permits: Councilor Edwards called for a hearing regarding the coordination and community notice of the issuance of construction and utility permits. Both residential construction and public utility work can have a significant impact on residents’ quality of life, particularly if numerous projects happen simultaneously in a small geographic area. The Inspectional Services Department and  the Department of Public Works issue the permits necessary for these projects and could issue them in such a way to minimize quality of life issues. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation. 

UPCOMING HEARINGS (Streaming Online) 

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, February 24th at 12PM.
  • Tuesday, February 16th at 10AM: Hearing to discuss an ordinance to establish guidelines for permitting retail residential kitchens (Committee on Government Operations)
  • Thursday, March 4th at 12PM: Hearing regarding a text amendment to the Boston Zoning Code relative to affordable housing and jobs training exactions (Committee on Government Operations)
For complete notes of Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com to sign up to receive Council Notes automatically.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Neighborhood Blood Drive Tomorrow

 Morrison Mahoney LLP is hosting a Blood Drive in our neighborhood. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

8:30 am - 2 pm 

Morrison Mahoney 

Sign Up For An Appointment 

Few Slots Left

 http://bit.ly/MGHMorrison3

 Blood mobiles will be parked at 266 Summer St. 

 Any questions, feel free to email kcronin@partners.org.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Fort Point Landmarks February 2021 Meeting

updated 2/11/21: linked presentations and note 5 Channel Center moved to Advisory Review.

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

Thursday, February 11, 2021
6:00 PM

This hearing will be held virtually and NOT in person. 
You can participate in this hearing by going to our Zoom meeting link 
or by calling 929-205-6099 and entering meeting id # 870 4152 3627 
You can also submit written comments or questions to FortPointLDC@boston.gov 
or via Twitter @bostonlandmarks.


I.  DESIGN REVIEW HEARING

APP # 21.0610 FPC  22 Boston Wharf Road
Applicant: T-Mobile Northeast LLC d/b/a T-Mobile
Proposed work: At the roof level, install telecommunications equipment and cabinets/ false chimneys.

II. Advisory Review
APP # 21.0581 FPC  5 Channel Center Street
Applicant: BP3-BOS3 5 Channel Center Street LLC
Proposed work: At the roof level, install new visible mechanical equipment. At the Medallion Avenue elevation, replace a garage door with louvers in the existing masonry opening.

II: Ratification of 12/10/20 Public Hearing Minutes

III. Staff Updates

Projected adjournment: 7:00 pm

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

originally published 02.03.21

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Boston City Council Waives Special Election, Declares Transit Equity Month, Introduces Conservation Corps & Much More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Below are a few highlights from February 3, 2021 City Council meeting

VOTES

Waiving a Potential Special Election for Mayor: The Council voted 12-0 (Councilor Essaibi George abstaining) to advance an amended version of the home-rule petition filed by Councilor Arroyo to waive any potential special election to fill a vacancy in the office of Mayor. According to the City Charter, if a vacancy in the office of Mayor takes place before March 5, 2021, the City of Boston should fill this vacancy through a special election scheduled 120-140 days later, with the winner of that election sworn in immediately to serve the rest of the term, keeping the regularly scheduled election to choose a Mayor for a full four-year term. Given the public health risks and costs of administering an election during the ongoing pandemic, the legislation would waive the special election, with the newly elected Mayor sworn in immediately after the November results are certified. The home-rule petition now advances to the Mayor’s desk, then state legislature and Governor’s desk for approval.

Vaccinating Early Education, Childcare, and K-12 Educators Resolution: The Council voted to adopt my resolution with Councilor Essaibi George urging the Baker administration to make childcare providers, early educators and K-12 educators eligible for the current phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The updated vaccination plan unveiled by Massachusetts officials last week moves educators down in the vaccine prioritization schedule, contrary to the guidance of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices COVID-19 Vaccines Work Group. Establishing a clear, transparent, and specific plan for vaccinating childcare and public school staff members is essential to rebuilding trust among educators, communities, and public officials and working towards the collective goal of improving and protecting our school communities and city. 

Transit Equity Month Resolution: The Council voted to adopt my resolution with Council President Janey to declare the month of February 2021 as Transit Equity month in the City of Boston. February 4th is the birthday of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, whose role in the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, which brought national attention to the Civil Rights Movement. Transit equity is intrinsically linked to racial justice, and the expansion of safe, reliable, convenient and affordable public transportation is imperative to the fight against climate change, improving air quality and public health, and alleviating inequities within the City of Boston. 

Winter Walk Day Resolution: The Council voted to adopt a resolution from Councilor Essaibi George recognizing February 7, 2021 as winter walk day in the City of Boston, raising awareness and funds to help end homelessness.

NEW FILES

Good Food Purchasing: I called for a hearing regarding good food purchasing at the City of Boston and at Boston’s anchor institutions, including hospitals and universities. Food is intrinsically linked to public health, racial equity, economic stability, and community wellbeing. In March 2019, the Boston City Council passed the Good Food Purchasing ordinance to bring public food procurement in alignment with our values of racial equity, nutritional quality, environmental sustainability, a valued workforce, and local economies. This hearing will discuss progress implementing the ordinance at Boston Public Schools, AgeStrong, the BCYF, and other City agencies, as well as partnering with hospitals and universities with large food procurement budgets. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Post Audit and Oversight. 

City-level Conservation Corps: Councilor Bok and I introduced her refiled hearing order regarding a city-level conservation corps for Boston. A conservation corps workforce could partner with city workers and trade unions to accelerate Boston’s climate goals, including improved stormwater management through green infrastructure, retrofitting buildings to meet net zero carbon standards, increasing solar power, maintaining and planting trees, preparing our waterfront communities for storms and sea-level rise, and expanding the curbside composting pilot into a city-wide program. This program has also been included in our Boston Green New Deal & Just Recovery plan. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Environment, Resiliency, and Parks.

Cooperative Housing: Councilor Bok called for a hearing regarding the current state of cooperative housing in Boston and strategies for its further expansion. Cooperative housing arrangements, including limited-equity cooperatives, serve as a mechanism for people with modest capital holdings to build equity, promoting a more democratic economy and countering the deepening economic inequality in our city. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Housing and Community Development. 

The Boston Landmarks Commission: Councilors Bok and Breadon filed a home-rule petition to amend the state law to allow the Boston Landmark Commission to designate sites particularly important to Boston’s history to more fully preserve and honor a history that includes all Bostonians, not only white, affluent, and well-known historical figures. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations. 

Police Reform Task Force: Councilors Campbell, Mejia, and Arroyo called for a hearing regarding implementation of the Boston Police Reform Task Force’s recommendations and the state police reform bill. This hearing will provide a space to discuss progress implementing the Task Force’s recommendations, including the establishment of the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, and the implementation of the State’s Police Reform Bill. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice.

311 Services:  Councilor Essaibi George called for a hearing regarding expanding the services available on 311, including online voter registration, online SNAP applications, locations of sharps collection kiosks, locations of open detox and recovery beds and substance use disorder resources, and resources to handle domestic violence or mental health crises. This matter was assigned to the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services.

Elder Scamming Protections: Councilors Essaibi George, Breadon, and Flaherty called for a hearing regarding elder scamming protections. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to scamming and predatory sales techniques due to language barriers, social isolation, and other reasons. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business and Workforce Development

SNAP Gap: Councilors Essaibi George and Bok called for a hearing regarding the SNAP gap in Boston. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were approximately 70,000 people who were eligible for SNAP but not enrolled, threatening their food security, health and wellbeing. In July 2020, the Council voted to adopt my resolution urging the Baker Administration to implement the steps authorized in the state’s IT Bond Bill to allow residents to apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time, but this universal application has not yet been implemented. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Strong Women, Families and Communities.

Main Streets Organizations: Councilor Essaibi George called for a hearing regarding the impact of Main Streets organizations on small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the City of Boston began the Reimagine Boston Main Streets program to explore the impact of COVID-19 on our small businesses and to explore commercial areas that currently do not have a Main Streets organization. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business and Workforce Development.

APPOINTMENTS

  • Boston Landmarks Commission: Kristen Hoffman was nominated as an alternate member, for a term expiring June 30, 2023

  • City of Boston Scholarship Fund Committee: Adesuwa Igbineweka, Kathryn Preskenis, and Micah Rosegrant were reappointed, and Daniel Passacantille and Meghan Towie were appointed, for terms expiring June 1, 2023

  • Boston Fair Housing Commission: Onyen Yong, Javier Flores, and Egobudike Ezedi Jr. were reappointed for a term expiring June 1, 2023

  • Boston Parks and Recreation Commission: Anne Connolly and David Queeley were reappointed as Associate Commissioners and William Epperson was appointed as Associate Commissioner, for a term expiring January 25, 2025 

  • Boston Cultural Council: Jennifer Falk, Alexander Speir, Catherine O’Neill, Shauan Helton and Marie Tai were appointed, for a term expiring October 1, 2023

  • Boston Human Rights Commission: Leonard Lee, Robert MacEachern, Reyes Coll-Tellechea were reappointed for a term expiring on December 1, 2023

  • Boston Public Library Board of Trustees: Joyce Linehan was appointed for a term expiring April 1, 2021, and Senator Michael Rush, Navjeet Bal, Joseph Berman, and Christian Westra were appointed for a term expiring May 1, 2025

  • Make Boston Shine Trust Fund: Aisha Miller was appointed as a Trustee for a term expiring January 14, 2022

  • Boston Retirement Board: Daniel Greene was reappointed as a Trustee for a term expiring March 13, 2023

  • Boston Groundwater Trust: Edward McGuire was appointed as Trustee, as a representative

  • Municipal Lobbying Compliance Commission: Linda Champion was appointed for a term expiring January 3, 2022

  • Boston Election Commission: Alexis Tkachuk was appointed for a term expiring March 31, 2024

  • Internal Affairs Oversight Panel: Zouk Mo was appointed for a term expiring March 14, 2021

  • Zoning Board of Appeals: We voted to confirm the appointments of Sherry Dong and Bethany Patten, for a term expiring July 1, 2021.

  • Boston Industrial Development Finance Authority: We voted to confirm the appointment of Mayra Negron-Roche for a term expiring April 1, 2024

  • Boston Planning & Development Agency: We voted to confirm the appointment of Michael P. Monahan for a term expiring August 23, 2023 

GRANTS

  • $20,670,810 Emergency Rental Assistance grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, to be administered by the Department of NEighborhood Development, to fund assistance to households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • $80,000 FY21 Sustainable Materials Recovery Program/Recycle Dividend grant, awarded by the MA Department of Environmental Protection, to be administered by the Public Works Department, to fund a cost-benefit analysis of programs that utilized economic incentive to increase residential waste diversion in Boston

UPCOMING HEARINGS (Streaming online at https://boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv

For complete notes of Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com to sign up to receive Council Notes automatically.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Boston City Council Looks At Special Election, COVID 19 Vaccines, Water Rescues, Green Buildings & Bonds, Affordable Housing & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Below are a few highlights from January 27, 2021 City Council meeting.

VOTES

Annual Homeless Census Resolution: The Council voted to adopt a resolution filed by Councilors Essaibi-George and Flynn recognizing the annual homeless census. This year will mark the 21st Homeless Census, an annual Point-In-Time count of individuals and families staying in emergency shelter, transitional housing, or domestic violence shelter programs. The resolution recognizes the critical importance of the Census results and redoubles the Council’s commitment to further expanding housing stability resources, fostering the development of affordable housing, and ending homelessness across the City and Commonwealth. 

World Wetlands Day Resolution: We voted to adopt a resolution filed by Councilors Essaibi-George and O’Malley recognizing February 2, 2021 as World Wetlands Day. Wetlands are habitats for 40% of the world’s species of flora and fauna, minimize flooding, sequester carbon, and provide food and income for billions of people. This resolution recognizes the importance of Boston’s inland and coastal wetlands and celebrates ongoing wetland conservation efforts. 

Condominium Conversion Protections: The Council voted to approve the reauthorization of protections for tenants in condominium conversion situations through March 2021. Current conditions in the City continue to constitute an acute rental housing emergency due to the high prices of condominiums and rents, the high cost of new housing construction, and the reduction of rental housing stock through the conversion of rental housing units into condominiums or cooperatives. 

MATTERS RECENTLY HEARD

Waiving Potential Special Election: Councilor Edwards as Chair of the Committee on Government Operations reported back on yesterday’s hearing on the proposed home rule petition to waive the provision in the Boston City Charter to require a special election for Mayor if a vacancy occurs before March 5, 2021. She noted that the Committee will host a working session later this week and aim to bring the legislation before the Council for a vote at next week’s meeting. This matter will remain in the Committee on Government Operations, and a working session is scheduled for January 29th at 2PM.  

NEW FILES

Equitable & Accessible Vaccine Distribution Ordinance: I filed an ordinance to require equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, including at least one site in every residential zip code of the City, with hours including weekends, evenings, and early mornings to accommodate all workers. The ordinance would require the Health and Human Services Cabinet to work with the Boston Public Health Commission, health care providers and pharmacies to open a vaccination site in every neighborhood, create a single online interface for appointment scheduling, and issue weekly reports on vaccination sites and the demographics of Boston residents receiving vaccinations. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing.

Zoning Relief for 100% Affordable and Deeply Affordable Housing: Councilors Bok and O’Malley called for a hearing regarding zoning relief for 100% affordable and deeply affordable projects. Nearly half of Boston residents are rent-burdened, with more than 30% of their incomes going towards housing costs; more than 50,000 families are on the waiting list for a Boston Housing Authority unit; and a growing number of Boston residents are vulnerable to eviction. In this context, affordable housing projects – such as the joint project proposed by the Pine Street Inn and The Community Builders – are frequently delayed by lawsuits, which could be mitigated by a zoning code amendment for zoning relief for 100% affordable and deeply affordable projects. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development, and Transportation. 

Commercial Vacancies: Councilor Mejia called for a hearing to discuss commercial vacancies in Boston. Pre-pandemic, the average commercial vacancy rate was around 2.2%, and the average office space vacancy rate was 7%, a near-historic low. As commercial vacancies dropped, the average cost of rent in these spaces increased, presenting barriers for small businesses and entrepreneurs. As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, we must think critically about how to address barriers to accessing commercial real estate and create opportunities for aspiring small business owners. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business and Workforce Development.

Permitting Residential Kitchens Resolution: Councilor Mejia proposed an ordinance to establish guidelines for permitting retail residential kitchens, following a Council hearing held in October 2020. Entrepreneurs without access to the capital needed to start a brick-and-mortar business often get started in their home, sometimes without the requisite permits. Cities across Massachusetts have codified cottage food operations in their city codes to give food entrepreneurs a leg up in a volatile market and help them supply culturally relevant foods to their neighborhoods. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations. 

Greenbelt Protection Overlay District: Councilor O’Malley proposed a text amendment for the Greenbelt Protection Overlay District (GPOD), intended to protect the open space and aesthetic character of certain areas of the City. The proposed text amendment would add a GPOD for the West Roxbury side of Allandale Street. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations.

Net-Zero-Carbon Requirements for New Buildings: Councilor O’Malley called for a hearing to discuss the phases of implementing net-zero-carbon requirements for all new buildings in the City of Boston, including commercial, industrial, and large residential and small residential buildings. The City has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, and buildings contribute 75% of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, Mayor Walsh passed an Executive Order requiring that all new municipal building construction be low-energy and fossil-fuel-free, and the BPDA plans to lead a public process to develop new zoning requirements for privately-owned buildings and a timeline for implementation. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development, and Transportation.

Solar Panels on Municipal Parking Lots and Buildings: Councilor O’Malley called for a hearing regarding the installation of solar panels on municipal parking lots and buildings. The City owns and maintains 32 municipal parking lots, many of which have the potential for solar paneling, which could create long-term savings, local jobs generation, and local development in the solar and renewable energy industry. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Environment, Resiliency and Parks.

Green and Social Bonds: Councilor Bok and I called for a hearing regarding green and social bonds. In December 2020, the City of Boston issued its first series of Green and Social Bonds, amounting $60 million to fund climate resilience infrastructure and affordable housing projects. Climate resilience requires not only physical infrastructure, but also investments to reduce social vulnerability, including housing instability and evictions. The City of Boston has maintained a AAA bond rating since 2014, and its debt servicing expenditures regularly fall well below the city’s debt affordability limit, presenting an opportunity to leverage green and social bonds to fund capital projects for green and social housing. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Post-Audit.  

Internet Access and Digital Equity: Councilors Flynn, Mejia, and Bok called for a hearing to discuss internet access and digital equity. Internet access is more critical now than ever, and the City has partnered with Verizon to expand its fiber optic network to offer high speed broadband internet service to the entire City. However, some areas of the city are still underserved, and lack of competition can make it difficult for families to find affordable service. Some cities are exploring the idea of municipal broadband, where local governments invest and build their own internet infrastructure. This matter was assigned to the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services.

Water Rescue Infrastructure: Councilors Flynn and Edwards called for a hearing to discuss water rescue infrastructure, including water rescue equipment and water safety infrastructure. Residents in the Fort Point area have advocated for a life saving ring to be installed at Fort Point Pier and near public docks in case of accidents. This matter was assigned to the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services.

Expansion of the Boston Emergency Services Team: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing regarding the expansion of the Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST), which is made up of mobile crisis clinicians in a partnership between the Boston Medical Center, the Boston Public Health Commission, and the Boston Police Department. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice.

COVID-19 & Recovery Services: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing regarding the impact of COVID-19 on recovery services. The pandemic has created additional complications for all service and care programs, with detox services being temporarily closed after possible exposure to coronavirus. Residents struggling with substance use disorder cannot be left behind during the pandemic. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Health.

Opioid Crisis: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing regarding the opioid crisis, to review a collaborative, inter-departmental approach to increasing funding for prevention, treatment, and recovery services; exploring the feasibility of a Public Health Surge targeting major encampments; reporting findings from previous visits to Supervised Injection Facilities and to service providers in Philadelphia. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Public Health.

Protections for Tenants Facing Displacement: Councilor Edwards proposed an ordinance extending and enhancing protections for tenants facing displacement by condominium or cooperative conversion. This legislation would require landlords to notify tenants of plans to convert housing accommodation, provide relocation benefits, offer assistance in securing comparable housing for elderly, disabled, and low and moderate income tenants, and offer tenants the right to purchase the unit. It also requires landlords to obtain a conversion permit from the Inspectional Services Department. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations. 

Affordable Housing and Jobs Training Exactions: Councilor Edwards called for a hearing to review a text amendment to the Boston Zoning Code relative to affordable housing and jobs training exactions. Governor Baker recently signed legislation authorizing the City to update its linkage program and adopt inclusionary zoning, but the newly enacted legislation requires the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Boston Zoning Commission to annually adjust linkage fees to match changes in the Consumer Price Index each year. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations. 

UPCOMING HEARINGS (Streaming online at https://boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, February 3rd, at 12PM.

For complete notes of Boston City Council meetings, visit MichelleForBoston.com to sign up to receive Council Notes automatically.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

2021 Fort Point Seaport Neighborhood Kickoff Gathering

 Fort Point Seaport Neighborhood
2021 Kickoff

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
6 pm to 8 pm

with

Councilor Ed Flynn
District 2 Update

&

Mary Cirbus
Preservation Planner
 Fort Point Channel Landmark District
from Seaport Boulevard to West First St.

featuring

Aisha Miller
City of Boston's New Chief of Civic Engagement
411 on 311, Neighborhood Services, Public Outreach & Spark Boston

introducing

Stonewall Kitchen
Danny Mandeau, General Manager
308 Congress St.

plus

Neighborhood Updates

Hook Wharf (James Hook), 244 -284 A St. & 2 Harbor St.
2020 Highlights
Members & Volunteers

Netflix "Don't Look Up" To Be Filmed At Conley Terminal

Netflix Productions' feature film "Don't Look Up" returns to South Boston. This time the movie will be set at Massport's Conley Shipping Terminal.

Filming will take place Wednesday, January 27, 2021.

The crew will be parking at the Channel Center Garage and catering will take place at Artists For Humanity.  

There will be no two hour parking on West 1st street from 7 am to 7 pm starting Tuesday, January 26 through Thursday, January 28th. Parking will be restricted on the Medallion Avenue side of A Street Park on Wednesday, January 27th from 7am to 7 pm.

Parking restrictions will also be in effect for 300' area outside of Conley Terminal on Summer Street in the vicinity of Elkin Street.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

BPDA Holds 100 Acres Open Space Open Houses This Week

Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) invites you to ask questions and give comments on the Fort Point 100 Acres Open Space draft recommendations for the waterfront park, green spaces, open spaces and ground floor uses and their fit within existing Fort Point & the Seaport parks and open spaces. 

The first Open House is Monday, January 19, 2021 from 5:30 pm to 7 pm. Registration & Details.

A second Open House will be held on Wednesday, January 21, 2021 from 1 pm to 2 pm.  Registration & Details

Proposed Open Space Plan pending PDA & USPS approvals.

In case you missed last week's public meeting, view presentation

Public Comments may be submitted to Joe Christo up until end of day, February 5, 2021.

Monday, January 18, 2021

American Red Cross Blood Drive at District Hall

Gather and District Hall Boston are teaming up with the American Red Cross to host a Blood Drive on:

Monday, January 25. 2021
11 am to 4 pm. 
Appointments are REQUIRED
Limited Availability. Sign Up Today

To sign up, you may either:

1. Visit RedCrossBlood.org 

2. Call the Red Cross directly at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767)

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Fort Point Channel Operations Board 2021 Annual Meeting

The Fort Point Channel Operations Board will be holding their annual meeting via Zoom on:

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Public is welcome to attend this free event.

The Agenda:

  • Recap of Atlantic Wharf 2019 Annual Plan
  • Presentation of Atlantic Wharf 2021 Annual Plan
  • 2021 Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Grant Program
  • Other Channel-wide Updates

What is the Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Plan? To determine how to take better advantage of the Fort Point Channel's potential, the BPDA initiated a watersheet planning process with the Fort Point Channel Working Group and Fort Point Channel Abutters Group, which involved area residents, business owners and stakeholders. 

The resulting Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Plan envisions the channel as a location for a wide range of water’s edge and floating public uses, including piers, docks and landings for cultural attractions, recreational boating and sightseeing. The Plan also endeavors to seamlessly balance these public uses with the existing water-dependent uses along the Channel, including the Gillette Company, Barking Crab and Hook Lobster, as well as advancing water transportation initiatives. 

The activation goals and elements of the Plan have informed Municipal Harbor Plans specific to the area as well as state Chapter 91 Waterways licensing of projects along the Channel. The Fort Point Channel Watersheet Activation Plan is an important part of the ongoing development plans of 15 Necco, 244-284 A Street and Hook Wharf (James Hook).