Monday, August 27, 2018

Boston City Council Looks At Speed, Seaport Transit, Voting, Marijuana, Mobility & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and more at their August 1 and August 22, 2018 meetings (NOTE: No City Council meetings on August 8 or August 15):

Speed Limits: Councilors Flynn and Baker filed for a hearing to discuss reducing the default speed limit to 20 miles per hour and how to provide better traffic calming throughout the City. Councilor Flynn noted that his district needs traffic calming and safer streets, and there have been numerous examples of how dangerous the situation is, including the recent tragedy in South Boston that neighbors are still mourning. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development & Transportation for a hearing.

South Boston Seaport: Councilors Flynn and Flaherty filed a hearing order regarding the South Boston Seaport Waterfront and its Transit Strategic Plan. Councilor Flynn stated that he was grateful for growth in the city, but that residents deserve greater input in these plans. Councilor Flaherty emphasized the need for raised crosswalks, speed signs, and more traffic enforcement. He stated that the planning process for transportation planning in the area is supposed to be underway, and the Council needs an update. Councilor McCarthy stood to request that the issue of concurrent jurisdiction be included as well. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

Voter Registration: Councilors Pressley, Edwards & Zakim called for a hearing to discuss the possibility of requiring landlords in Boston to provide voter registration information to new tenants when they sign a lease. The Councilors emphasized that nearly 64% of Bostonians are renters, and voter turnout has hovered around 30%. Other cities around the country have implemented ordinances with this requirement. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Civil Rights for a hearing.

Equity Practices for Marijuana Licensing: Councilors Pressley & McCarthy called for a hearing to discuss Boston’s current marijuana licensing process and explore best equity practices. Councilor Pressley described that the medical marijuana licensing process saw 182 applicants, with 8 ultimately selected -- no businesses owned by people of color. She called for proactive regulations to codify equity in this multibillion-dollar industry, including a social equity program and an objective, transparent selection process intentionally focused on repairing past inequities. Councilor McCarthy echoed the importance of doing right by community and residents to have opportunity as big business looks to cash in from around the country on Boston’s new market. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Small Business & Consumer Affairs.

Dockless Mobility & Electric Scooters: Councilor O’Malley filed a hearing order to discuss dockless bikes and electric scooters in Boston. He noted that replacing car trips with other mobility modes benefits drivers by reducing traffic on roads, cyclists by increasing the critical mass necessary for safe bike lanes, the City by reducing congestion, and the environment by reducing carbon emissions. The popularity of micro-mobility has increased over the years and many of these trips starting in neighboring municipalities often end in the City of Boston, causing removal challenges for the City. Other cities with both docked and dockless systems see them as complementary, each improving the urban mobility ecosystem in different but related ways. The matter has been assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation for a hearing.
  • Boston Police Department: William Gross as Commissioner, effective August 8, 2018.
  • Neighborhood Housing Trust Fund: Mark Liu, Harry Smith, and reappointed Sister Margaret Leonard as members until January 1st, 2020
  • Boston Cultural Council: Daniel Francois, Jennifer Falk, and Justina Crawford as members until October 1st, 2020.
  • Commission for Persons with Disabilities Advisory Board: Olivia Richard, Juan Ramirez-Tapia, Yardley Sanchez, Elizabeth Dean-Clower, G. Paul Caron, and Wesley Ireland as Commissioners until August 1st, 2021.
  • Boston Employment Commission: The Mayor reappointed Charles Cofield, Deborah Wright, John Redd, Jorge Martinez, Mark Fortune, and Travis Watson until July 1st, 2020.
  • Living Wage Advisory Committee: The Mayor appointed James McNeil, and repappointed Benjamin Stuart, as members until June 1st, 2021.
  • Boston Groundwater Trust: The Mayor reappointed Janine Commerford as a trustee until March 22, 2020.
  • Boston Arts Commission: The Mayor reappointed Mark Pasnik as a member until April 1st, 2023.
Upcoming Hearings (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch online)

  • Wednesday, 8/29, 11am: Hearing re: jitney license petiton from Local Motion (Planning, Development, and Transportation)
  • Thursday, 8/30, 10am: Hearing re: declaring parcels at 200 and 400 Frontage Road in South Boston as surplus and transferring to the Public Facilities Commission for disposition (Planning, Development, and Transportation).
  • Thursday, 8/30, 1pm: Hearing re: Outreach, opportunities and challenges facing Veterans and Military Families in the City of Boston (City, Neighborhood Services and Veteran and Military Affairs)
Next City Council meeting is September 12, 2018.

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

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