Monday, March 15, 2021

Boston City Council Looks at Daycare, Residential Kitchens, Property Taxes, Conservation Corps & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Below are a few highlights from March 3 and March 10, 2021 Boston City Council meetings: 


Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day: We voted unanimously to adopt Councilor Breadon’s resolution designating March as Women’s History Month and March 8 as International Women’s Day.

Boston VNA Health Care Professionals: We voted to adopt a resolution from Councilors Flynn, Edwards and Breadon in support of Boston VNA health care professionals in negotiations for their first-ever union contract, and urges the BVNA management to treat these workers with respect and dignity.


Inclusion of Daycare Facilities Zoning: In partnership with Councilor Breadon, I called for a hearing regarding the Inclusion of Daycare Facilities zoning regulations. Since 1989, Boston’s zoning code has included Inclusion of Daycare Facilities (IDF) regulations that require developers of buildings above a certain size to either set aside space for an on-site early education facility or cause such facilities to be created off-site. However, these regulations are inconsistently enforced, and some developers have made financial contributions to BPDA in lieu of directly building early education facilities, despite a clear process for determining the size of such financial contributions or how these funds should be used. High-quality early education and care is a public good, but these regulations could be strengthened to increase the supply of early education programs, meet the scale of demand for early education, and meet the needs of all of Boston’s working families. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

Zoning Amendment for Residential Kitchens: Councilor Mejia called for a text amendment to the Boston Zoning Code to update certain aspects of the Accessory Home Occupations definition to include retail residential kitchens. The Committee on Government Operations recently held a working session to discuss necessary changes to Boston’s zoning code to enable residential kitchens to sell cottage goods. During the working session, we heard from representatives of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department, the Boston Planning and Development Agency, and the Office of Small Business Development, and advocates to determine when a residential business would require a permit, the inspectional staffing needs, and necessary wraparound services for business owners to adhere to safety standards. In response to this discussion, Councilor Mejia proposed this text amendment to the zoning code, which was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations.

Off-Leash Dog Recreation Spaces: Councilor Arroyo called for a hearing to discuss off-leash dog recreation spaces in the City of Boston. The current distribution and planned expansion of the City’s dog recreation spaces leaves many residents without access to off-leash recreation spaces, especially in the neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan and West Roxbury. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Environment, Resiliency and Parks.

Language and Communications Access: Councilor Mejia proposed an ordinance amending Boston’s language and communications access ordinance. There are over 140 languages spoken in the City of Boston, and Boston residents who speak languages other than English often struggle to access City resources and information. There is a need for information to be translated and interpreted, but also to be conveyed in a culturally competent way that reflects its audience. In 2016, I introduced and the Council passed an ordinance establishing a language and communications access plan for the City of Boston’s departments which made accommodations for individuals who speak languages other than English. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations.

Gender Parity in the Naming of Public Art and Places: Councilor Essaibi George called for a hearing regarding gender parity in the naming of public art and places. She noted that only 10 of BPS’ 125 schools, 2 of the almost 400 properties managed by Parks and Recreation, and none of the Boston Public Library branches are named after women. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Arts, Culture and Special Events.


Property Taxes and Assistance Programs: Councilor Bok reported back on a recent hearing to discuss property taxes and assistance programs for seniors and long-term residents facing difficulties during COVID-19. Property taxes may increase the burden for seniors and other vulnerable Boston residents and affect their ability to maintain their homes. During the hearing, representatives from Administration and Finance, Assessing Department, Age Strong Commission, and others presented about the impact of property taxes and opportunities to provide relief. (Remains in Committee)

Conservation Corps: I reported back as Vice Chair of the Committee on Environment, Resiliency and Parks regarding a working session recently held to discuss a city-level conservation corps for Boston, sponsored by Councilor Bok and me. During the hearing, we heard from representatives from Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department, Boston Water and Sewer Commission, the Office of Workforce Development, and Philadelphia’s PowerCorpsPHL program, as well as from Boston advocates about opportunities to create an urban conservation corps program that helps the City meet our climate goals while providing workforce development opportunities and sustainable career pathways, particularly for Black, Brown and other underserved Boston residents. (Remains in Committee)


  • $245,900 FY21 Local Culture Council Program grant, awarded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, to be administered by the Office of Arts & Culture to fund the Boston Cultural Council sub-grants. (Passed)

UPCOMING HEARINGS (Streaming online at

  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, March 17th at 12PM.

  • Tuesday, March 16th at 10AM: Hearing regarding a supplemental sidewalk clearance program during snowstorms in Boston (Committee on City and Neighborhood Services)

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

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