Friday, November 18, 2016

Boston City Council Looks At Speed Limits, Transportation, Liquor Licenses, CPA & More

City Council President Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered these items and more at their November  2 and November 16, 2016 meetings:

  • Boston Conservation Commission: Mayor Walsh reappointed Michael Wilson, Joseph Orphant, and John P. Sullivan until November 2019
  • Boston Groundwater Trust: Mayor Walsh reappointed Daniel Manning until November 2018
  • City Council Central Staff: we voted to accept the hiring of Michelle Goldberg as new Senior Legislative Assistant, starting December 5, 2016
Speed Limits: Council voted to pass an amended version of Mayor Walsh’s order accepting the new local option for reduced default speed limits recently made available through the Municipal Modernization Bill. The Mayor’s language adopts Section 17C of the law, which gives the Transportation Commissioner the authority to reduce the new default speed limit when no signs are posted in thickly settled areas from 30 mph to 25mph. Councilor Zakim proposed an amendment, which the Council voted to include, that would also adopt Section 18B of the legislation, which gives the Commissioner the additional authority to establish special safety zones with a posted speed limit of 20 mph.

Contractor Safety: Mayor Walsh filed an ordinance to require applicants for building permits from the Inspectional Services Department, Fire Department, and Public Works Department to list their work safety histories and allow commissioners to deny or revoke permits due to safety concerns or OSHA violations. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Transportation Policy Briefing: Councilor LaMattina reported back that the first of our monthly transportation policy briefings was a success yesterday, starting with the topic of building a low-stress bicycle network in Boston. The goal of the series is to bring in policy experts to share thoughts and policy recommendations separate from any specific votes. Future sessions will focus on pedestrian safety, parking management, and more. You can watch the full presentation and panel discussion here

Liquor Licenses: Following this week's hearing, Council voted to pass an amended home rule petition requesting new liquor licenses for the South Bay development. Initially, Councilors Baker and Linehan sponsored the petition for both the South Bay development in Dorchester and the WS development in the Seaport, noting the need for licenses to attract anchor tenants to the developments. Government Operations Committee Chairman Councilor Flaherty recommended moving forward with South Bay’s licenses first and then consider WS at a later date, which Councilor Linehan agreed to. Councilor Pressley pointed out the overall goal is for Boston to have local control over its licenses, but that it was important not to hold up economic development in the meantime.

Community Preservation Committee: Councilors Flaherty and Campbell filed an ordinance to create the Community Preservation Committee, following the successful Community Preservation Act ballot referendum on Election Day. The Committee will consist of 5 members appointed by the Mayor and 4 appointed by the City Council, serving 3 year terms. The group would be responsible for recommending allocations of expenditures from the Community Preservation Fund. Projects must be related to the acquisition, creation, and preservation of open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing. The matter was sent to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

MBTA Privatization: Council voted unanimously to adopt Councilor Campbell’s resolution requesting a transparent briefing from the Baker Administration on plans regarding privatization of the MBTA and Keolis’ decision to redeploy trains away from Boston residents. As highlighted by the Boston Globe, Keolis regularly cancels service on the Fairmount Line to substitute for lines in suburban communities without adequate notification to Fairmount riders, leaving residents without access to public transit. The resolution further notes that privatized transit is profit-oriented and would put service second.

Bonus: City Council President Wu wrote an op-ed for the Boston Globe this week reacting to the recent election and urging more participation in local government. The work that we do (including the above) becomes more important now than ever, and we need your partnership and engagement! Read it here.

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

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