Thursday, March 26, 2020

Boston City Council Looks At Small Businesses, Arts District, Housing, Resources & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Here are some highlights from March 4, March 11, March 18 and March 25:


Small Businesses & COVID-19: We voted to adopt Councilor Mejia’s resolution urging immediate action to provide financial security to small businesses through increased relief funding and a moratorium on commercial rent and evictions during the COVID-19 epidemic.

COVID-19 Epidemic: We voted to adopt Councilor Flynn’s resolution supporting our Chinese and Asian Communities during the COVID-19 Epidemic, acknowledging misinformation and racism that has been impacting local small businesses and the community.

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: We voted to adopt Councilor Essaibi-George’s resolution in response to the DESE District Review Report on the Boston Public Schools urging rejection of state receivership. The report was released last Friday, on the same day as the City announced closure of Boston Public Schools, and it details deep, persistent challenges that resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Boston Public Schools and the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.


Women Veterans Resolution: We voted to adopt the resolution filed by Councilors Flynn & Edwards recognizing women veterans during Women's History Month. He noted that since the US military ended conscription and established an all-volunteer force in 1973, the number of women serving in the military has risen significantly. Comprising nearly 20% of serving military personnel and 10% of the veteran population, many women veterans do not receive proper recognition for their services and face a host of issues when they re-enter civilian life. 

Allston Village as an Arts Innovation District: Councilors Breadon & Baker called for a hearing on a potential Designation of Allston Village as an Arts Innovation District. They noted that Boston’s Allston neighborhood is named after renowned American painter and poet Washington Allston (1779-1843), who greatly influenced the American Romantic movement of landscape painting. There so many diverse small businesses throughout Allston in part due to the immigrant communities that call Allston and Boston home, including Eastern European, South Asian, East Asian, and South American communities. Although Allston Village has several murals and pieces of street art that enliven the streetscape and create a sense of place, there remains a necessity for artist-friendly greenspaces to accommodate small open-air performances and to establish Allston as an arts destination with more small music venues, studios and swing spaces that will serve visual artists, musicians, and poets/poetry slams. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Arts, Culture & Special Events for a hearing.

Women & the Opioid Crisis: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing to review women-specific outreach and healthcare programming to combat the opioid crisis. She stated that substance use disorder and the opioid epidemic impact women differently than men. In Massachusetts, approximately one in five pregnancy-associated deaths were related to substance use and more than one-third of the deaths among women delivering a live birth between 2011 and 2015 were fatal opioid-related overdoses. The matter was assigned to the Public Health Committee for a hearing.

Housing Security & COVID-19: Councilor Arroyo introduced a resolution urging a moratorium on rent, mortgages, evictions and foreclosures in Boston to provide housing security in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. He noted that the stay-at-home orders and closing of nonessential businesses are important for public health to slow the spread of the virus, but the government should step forward to provide relief for housing security for residents and businesses facing displacement and financial devastation. Many Councilors spoke in support of this relief. Councilor Arroyo called for suspension of the rules to take action on this docket on the same day that it was introduced (which requires unanimous consent), but Councilor Baker objected, saying the matter was too complex and out of the City’s authority, so the docket was assigned to the Committee on Housing & Community Development.

  • $100,000 Immigrant Advancement Initiative grant, awarded by the Donor Group to be administered by the Office of Immigrant Advancement to fund programs, initiatives, events and small grants that enable immigrants to play an active role in the economic, civic, social and cultural life of the City of Boston. (Passed)
  • $75,000 Surdna Foundation grant, passed through the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, to be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture to fund the Surdna Foundation's thriving Cultures Program designed to invest in artists, artists collectives and small arts organizations of color proposing projects to imagine and practice more racially just systems and structures. (Passed)
  • $10,000 Arts+Culture grant, awarded by the Boston Foundation to be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture. The grant will fund cultural institutions convening activities that support diversity, equity and inclusion strategies for those institutions. (Passed)
  • $1M from the United States Department of the Interior under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1965, to be administered by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, for the purpose of making capital improvements to McConnell Park in Dorchester. The Parks and Recreation Department will use the funds to reconstruct the athletic fields, including a Challenger field, Boston's first inclusive ball field and to add climate resiliency measures. (Passed)

  • Boston Cannabis Board: Darlene Lombos, John Smith, Kathleen Joyce, Lisa Holmes and Monica Valdes Lupi as members for a term expiring March 4, 2022.
  • Boston Cultural Council: Graham Wright, Richard Meinke, Abria Smith, Annie Le and Mu-Chieh Yun as members for a term expiring October 1, 2022.
  • Kathryn Burton as Mayor's Office Chief of Staff, effective March 9, 2020.

UPCOMING HEARINGS (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at:

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, April 1st at 12PM

Facebook Livestream: Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working to share information by livestreaming conversations with experts and community leaders to answer questions in real time. You can find all the videos posted afterwards here, or by specific topic below:

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.