Monday, October 31, 2016

Boston City Council Looks At Questions 2 & 4, Parking, Housing, Airbnb & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered these items and more at their October 19 and October 26, 2016 meetings:

Confirmations: Boston Landmarks Commission: City Council voted to confirm Richard Henderson until June 2019.

Charter Cap Fiscal Impacts: Councilors Ciommo, Essaibi George, and Jackson reported back on Monday’s hearing exploring the fiscal impacts for the BPS and City of Boston budget should the ballot initiative to lift the charter cap (Question 2) pass. The City’s Chief Financial Officer and budget analysts testified about the challenges BPS faces to fill budget gaps caused by resources leaving the district and following students to charters. The matter will remain jointly in the Committees on Ways & Means and Education.

Equity in Marijuana Licensing: Councilors Baker and Pressley reported back about Monday’s hearing on ensuring equity in the marijuana licensing process should the ballot initiative to legalize adult use of marijuana (Question 4) pass. Councilor Pressley noted that of the 108 medical marijuana licenses awarded in Massachusetts so far, none have gone to a business owned by a person of color. Among the 25 states that have legalized medical marijuana, less than 1% of operators are businesses owned by people of color. She mentioned that if marijuana is legalized in Massachusetts, communities most impacted by high rates of incarceration from marijuana-related crimes should have equitable opportunities to participate in the business. The matter will remain in the Committee on Jobs, Wages & Workforce Development.

Recruiting Educators of Color: Councilor Jackson refiled his hearing order to continue the conversation on strategies for recruiting and retaining educators of color in Boston Public Schools. The hearing order notes that as of 2015, BPS students of color represented 86% of the total student population while only 37% of BPS teachers were people of color. The matter was sent to the the Education Committee.

Housing Innovations: Councilors Baker and Zakim filed a hearing order to discuss cooperative owned housing, especially single room occupancy and micro units as a way to create more affordable housing options in Boston. Both emphasized the need to relieve the housing crunch in Boston, which is making our city unaffordable to too many families. The matter was sent to the Housing and Community Development Committee for a hearing.

Parking: Councilor LaMattina as chair of the Committee on Parks, Recreation and Transportation and Councilor Baker as sponsor reported back on yesterday’s hearing about parking policies. At the hearing, Boston’s Chief of Streets Chris Osgood and Commissioner of Transportation Gina Fiandaca testified about the programs in place to achieve their three goals of making parking more convenient, better-managed, and less-needed. Several Councilors expressed concerns at the hearing about the number of unfilled and recently reduced parking enforcement positions, which bring in more revenue for the City. Members of the public testified about the need to use street space to better accommodate all roadway users, including demand-responsive pricing at meters, more transit/walking/cycling infrastructure, charging a fee for residential parking permits (which are currently free and not limited to a certain number per household). The matter will remain in committee for a working session.

Airbnb: Councilors LaMattina and Baker called for a hearing to discuss for-profit lodging at personal residences through companies such as Airbnb and whether Boston should issue regulations at the city level. The co-sponsors and several colleagues called for regulations to address quality of life and safety issues in neighborhoods when certain housing units turn into permanent hotels through Airbnb. Councilor Jackson urged caution about stopping innovation, and Councilor Linehan pointed out that some of his constituents, particularly seniors who are struggling to make their property tax payments, need this as a revenue source to stay in their homes. The matter was sent to the Committee on Housing and Community Development for a hearing.

Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions (Watch Live)
• Monday, 10/31 at 10:00AM, Working Session: Street Occupancy Permits (Government Operations)
• Tuesday, 11/1 at 11:00AM, Climate Ready Boston Grants (Environment and Sustainability)
• Tuesday, 11/1 at 2:30PM, BPS Student Residency Policy (Education)
• Thursday, 11/3 at 10:00AM, Building Permit Applications (Government Operations) Thursday, 11/3 at 12:30PM, Various Grants (Public Safety and Criminal Justice)
• Thursday, 11/3 at 4:00PM, Water Transportation (Parks, Recreation & Transportation)
• Friday, 11/4 at 3:30PM, Working Session: BPS High School Start Times (Education)
• Wednesday, 11/9 at 11:30AM, Speed Limits (City, Neighborhood Services & Veterans Affairs)
• Wednesday, 11/9 at 6:00PM, BPS Bus Passes (Education) [Off-Site at Reggie Lewis Center, Roxbury]
• Tuesday, 11/15 at 5:00PM, BPS Master Facilities Plan (Education)

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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