Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Boston City Council Looks At Parking Fines Pilot, Olympics, City Charter Changes & More

Councillor-At-Large Michelle Wu provides notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the items below and more at their May 20, 2015 meeting:

Parking Fines & Towing: The Council voted 12-1 (Councilor Murphy opposing) to pass Mayor Walsh's ordinance giving authority to the Transportation Commissioner to designate Pilot Zones where fines for not moving your car during posted street cleaning times would be increased from $40 to $90 but towing would no longer occur.  After hearings and working sessions, the language was amended to include a sunset clause, ending the pilot program November 30, 2015.  The Transportation Commissioner will also be required to provide the City Council with data from the pilot program. The pilot will happen in Charlestown, and at the end of the program, there will be further evaluation.  Many Councilors expressed concern with the impact of stopping towing on cleanliness - if residents are less likely to move their cars for street cleaning, even with an increased fine, the City will have to use the extra ticket revenue for hokies or specific tools to clean around parked cars. Councilor Murphy expressed skepticism that the pilot would work and believes that towing is crucial for compliance with posted street cleaning. Councilor Wu voted for the pilot as a way to support government experimentation and innovation, remaining open to the possibility that it could work in some neighborhoods even if she is skeptical about it in the Downtown neighborhoods. Councilor McCarthy called for a citywide anti-litter campaign to get at the root problem.

2024 Olympics: On Monday, the City Council's subcommittee on the 2024 Olympics had a hearing focused on the International Olympic Committee's 2020 Agenda. There has been extensive coverage of the proceedings, including this Globe article. Overall, the Council heard about the IOC's goals of creating a more affordable and sustainable host city experience.  However, they will still require a financial guarantee for cost overruns, although this may come from a private entity. It would be a violation of the City Charter to write a blank check, as any financial expenditure needs to have a specific appropriation in place beforehand. Boston 2024 stated that they would have more of a plan by June, and that no financial guarantee would be signed until at least after the 2016 statewide referendum on the Olympics.  The City Council will be hosting several more hearings on the Olympics.

Boston City Charter: On Monday, the City Council's subcommittee on Charter Reform held a working session to discuss ideas for changes. Councilor Baker put forth 11 suggestions that had been submitted by constituents and others. These include: Giving the City Council authority to approve all Mayoral appointments, Council confirmation of School Committee appointees, Term limits for City Council & Mayor, City Council power to veto sections of the budget vs. an up or down vote, Extending City Council terms to 4 years, Eliminating the home rule petition, Charter revamp to eliminate conflicts and clean up language, City Council & Mayoral pay structure/raises, Special Election for vacant At-Large seats, Elections for Mayor & City Council to be on off years, Open Meeting Law review. Councilor Baker asked for this docket to stay in committee.

Constable Confirmation: The Council voted to suspend and pass confirmation of Constables and Inspectional Services Constables authorized by the City to serve civil process from May 2015 until April 2018.

  • Renewal List: Gabriel Azubuike, Linda Castagna, Geovanne Colon, William Flippin, Kevin Loftus, Shane Reed, Wallace Tilford, Joseph Turco
  • New Constable List: Sean Alexander, Holsen Borgella, Cavkil Bromfield, Samuel Desrosiers, Aisha Johnson, Krista Long, Ronald Luccio, Martin Richardson, Nicola Tritta
  • ISD Renewal List: Indira Alvarez, Anthony Cillo, Raoul Jacques, Toney Jones, Charles Mba, Baraa Mohamed, Tawonya Morris-William, Taschetta Stephens-Weston, Yvonne Tofuri
  • ISD New Constable List: Michael Campbell, David Rini, Yolanda Stinson-Tubbs

Diesel Emissions Reduction Ordinance
: The Council voted at the May 13th meeting to pass the amended ordinance filed by Councilor Murphy that would require the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and diesel emissions control technology in vehicles used for City projects and services.  That means for vehicles owned, leased, or operated by the City, as well as vehicles used for City construction projects with greater than $2M cost, they must be powered by ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel and meet EPA emissions standards for new vehicles in effect in 2007 or later or have verified retrofit technology that removes at least 20% of particulates from the exhaust stream. The ordinance is a victory for public health and environmental issues, and it has been in the works since 2009.

For complete notes from May 20th and prior Boston City Council meetings, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email at

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