Thursday, May 26, 2016

Boston City Council Looks At Water Transport, Vision 0, Saturday Construction & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered these items and more at their May 18th and May 25th meetings:

Saturday Construction Hours: The Council passed an ordinance to amend the regulation of construction hours and Saturday permits. The amendment changes the fee structure for off-hour work (anything outside of weekdays 7AM-6PM) from a flat rate of $100 whether the application is for 1 day or 1 week, to $100 per day requested. The penalty for each violation would be $300, and the Inspectional Services Department will not approve weekend work unless some emergency or urgent need is established.

Vision Zero: Councilor LaMattina as Committee Chair and Councilors O’Malley and Campbell as sponsors reported back about the Parks, Recreation and Transportation Committee’s Monday hearing to discuss traffic calming measures and the Vision Zero program in the City of Boston. Representatives from the Traffic Department, Police Department, Public Works, Public Health Commission, Elderly Commission, and the Disability Commission spoke about the interagency working group, the City’s published action plan and website, an online crash map, and plans for priority zones and neighborhood slow streets areas to do intensive street redesign work. The City also deploys a Rapid Response team after crashes to put temporary measures in place. Several Councilors emphasized the need for continued traffic-calming measures and the urgency of VisionZero.

Water Transportation: Councilors Linehan & LaMattina called for a hearing on the potential for water transportation in Boston Harbor, particularly to connect the neighborhoods of South Boston, East Boston, Charlestown, The North End, and Wharf District. Councilor LaMattina stated that the BRA has funding for two water shuttles, but we have not yet implemented service. Meanwhile MassPort’s community mitigation includes a water shuttle route that is hardly used at all – many opportunities for coordination and expansion. Councilor Linehan noted that not only does Boston’s growing population require better transportation, but SailBoston will be bringing Tall Ships back to Boston in 2017, with programming across all neighborhoods connected to the Harbor, and we should get the shuttles running by then. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Parks, Recreation and Transportation for a hearing.

Landmark Designation: Mayor Walsh filed a Landmark designation for the Massachusetts Historical Society Building, 1154 Boylston Street, starting the 30-day window for the Council to potentially override the designation. For those curious about Landmarks Designation process: first the Landmarks Commission takes a vote (unanimous in this case), with a favorable vote passing it on to the Mayor for approval. The Mayor can disapprove the designation, take no action (with the designation then taking effect after 15 days), or approve it (as he did in this case). If the Mayor approves, the Council receives notification and has up to 30 days to override the designation by a 2/3 vote. This was sent to the Planning & Development Committee (the designation will take effect June 16, 2016 if not acted upon).

For complete notes on this meeting and prior Boston City Council meeting notes, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email. 

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