Monday, October 04, 2021

Boston City Council Look at Downtown MHP, BERDO, Redistricting, School Buses, Rental Conditions & More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. Below are some highlights from September 22 and September 29, 2021 City Council meetings:


Amending the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan Resolution: The Council voted to approve a resolution from Councilor Edwards in support of amending the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan.

Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance: The Council voted unanimously to approve the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO), amending the City of Boston Code to set emissions targets and reporting requirements for annual energy use and water use for buildings greater than 20,000 square feet, and requiring emissions reductions compliance to decarbonize the City of Boston’s building stock. The 3,500 buildings subject to this ordinance account for only 4% of Boston’s building stock, but over 70% of building emissions. This ordinance also establishes the Emissions Review Board to increase accountability and transparency and the Building Emissions Investment Fund to support local building carbon abatement projects, prioritizing projects that benefit environmental justice communities, develop workforce opportunities, improve public health and increase affordable housing opportunities. This ordinance is known as BERDO 2.0 because it builds on the first iteration of BERDO, spearheaded by Mayor Tom Menino in 2013, which required public disclosure of building energy and water usage but did not require emissions reductions. 

Reproductive Freedom and Women’s Health Protections Resolution: The Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution from Councilor Mejia calling on Congress to affirm reproductive freedom and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify the right for doctors to provide and patients to access abortion care free from medically unnecessary bans and restrictions and fight back against the calculated attacks on reproductive rights and freedom across the country.


Redistricting Process: Councilor Arroyo reported back as Chair of the Committee on Census Redistricting to discuss a hearing recently held to discuss the reprecincting process in the City of Boston. The process will begin in earnest in January 2022 and will continue until October, a year before the municipal elections in November 2023. (Remains in Committee)


Newmarket Business Improvement District: Communication was received from Susan L. Sullivan, Executive Director of the Newmarket Business Association, regarding a proposed petition for the creation of a Newmarket Business Improvement District. (Referred to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation)


Review of Rental Unit Conditions, Standards, and InspectionsCouncilors Breadon, Edwards and Bok called for a hearing to review rental unit conditions, standards and inspections in the City of Boston. The City of Boston Code requires non-exempt owners of rental units to register each unit with the Inspectional Services Department (ISD), and generally requires inspections of all units every 5 years. The Code also allows for new tenants to request an inspection within 24 hours of moving into a new rental dwelling unit, with ISD inspecting the unit no later than 2 business days of receiving the request. However, rental unit registration status and information is not publicly accessible, leaving tenants and members of the public with limited means to determine whether a rental unit is in compliance, and the Code does not currently require property owners and agents to disclose all individuals or entities with business ownership interest in a rental unit to ISD during the registration process. (Referred to the Committee on Housing and Community Development)

Non-Criminal Disposition of Fines Home Rule Petition: Councilors Edwards, Bok, and Breadon filed a home rule petition regarding the maximum fine resulting from violations of ordinances, by-laws, rules and regulations, which is currently $300. The low dollar amount for fines reduces the efficacy of important tenant protection laws and regulations, including regarding problem properties and short-term rentals. If approved by the City Council, Mayor, Massachusetts State Legislature, and Governor, this special law would give the City of Boston the opportunity to propose specific fine increases up to $3,000, which would then be reviewed by the Boston City Council. (Referred to the Committee on Government Operations)

Boston Public Schools Bus Transportation Reliability: Councilor Edwards called for a hearing to discuss Boston Public Schools’ bus transportation reliability, after news reports of students arriving late to or missing school because of unreliable bus transportation. (Referred to the Committee on Education)


  • Next City Council meeting will be on October 6, 2021 at 12PM

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

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