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Sandwich Board Signs: The Mayor refiled an ordinance regulating free-standing signs, also known as sandwich board signs, after the pilot program passed in 2015 expired. Sandwich board signs serve as significant marketing tools for small and local businesses, but must not interfere with sidewalk accessibility. The previous code amendments included the following requirements: Massachusetts Architectural Access Board Regulations to ensure accessibility and prevent interference with public travel, the sign does not exceed 24”x36”, is not adhered or attached to any structures or fixtures, is constructed of weather resistant material, maintained in good condition, placed on the public walkway during the hours of operation, the sign identifies the name, address, and telephone number of the business, the sign displays content limited to the business establishment’s goods, wares, services or merchandise for sale at the location of the sign; and the sign does not display advertisement of alcohol or tobacco products. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Collective Bargaining: We voted to authorize funding a supplemental appropriation of $8,451 for the recently settled collective bargaining agreements between the Boston Public Health Commission and SEIU, Local 888 - Clerical Technical Unit. This would include base wage increases of 2% effective the first pay period of January of each fiscal year and new steps beginning in July 2018. The contract is from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2020.
Mayor Walsh made the following appointments:
- Cathleen Douglas Stone as a member of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission for a term ending January 1, 2022.
- Meg Mainzer-Cohen, Francis Crosby, Nancy S. Brickley, Christopher Cook, Christopher Osgood, Daniel Donahue, and Leo Fonseca as trustees of the Copley Square Charitable Trust for a term expiring on February 15, 2020.
- Christopher Cook, Richard Berenson, Sean Hennessey, Suzanne Taylor, and Christopher Osgood as members of the Freedom Trail Commission for a term expiring January 3, 2022.
- Blanca Tosado, Denise Williams Harris, Eileen Boyle, Francis Doyle, and Jordan Deasy as members of the Residency Compliance Commission for a term expiring January 3, 2022.
- Kathryn Preskenis as a member of the City of Boston Scholarship Fund Committee for a term expiring March 16, 2021.
- Natacha Thomas as a member of the The Living Wage Advisory Committee for a term expiring March 16, 2021.
- Craig Galvin as a member of the City of Boston Scholarship Fund Committee for a term expiring March 23, 2021.
- Brooke Woodson as a Chairperson to the City of Boston Scholarship Fund.
2017 Vision Zero Progress Report: Councilor Essaibi-George will hold a briefing regarding the city’s resources and strategies to eliminate fatal and serious traffic crashes in the city by 2030 as part of the Vision Zero plan. The progress report will be presented by the Livable Streets Alliance at 10AM on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in the Curley Room of City Hall. More on Vision Zero Boston can be found here: www.visionzeroboston.org
Speculation in the Boston Housing Market: Councilor Edwards reported back on the hearing on Tuesday regarding speculation in the Boston housing market. She described the housing crisis and wealth gap in Boston as undermining people’s ability to stay in Boston. She suggested taxing the flipping of residential properties into luxury condos or apartments, foreign investment, and condo conversion to slow the forces that continue to reduce our supply of housing for working families and generate needed revenue for affordable housing creation. Sheila Dillon, Chief and Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development spoke about the Boston Housing Plan and shared her concerns on the Boston real estate market and displacement. The Boston Plan and Development Agency (BPDA) also spoke about affordable housing and growing housing prices. Residents testified about the pressures from the housing crisis, with properties being flipped and sold for profit. The matter remains in committee.
Reentry: Councilor Campbell reported back on comprehensive review of reentry resources for incarcerated populations in Boston from the public hearing yesterday at the Suffolk County House of Corrections. She noted that according to the MA Department of Correction, 32% of offenders are reincarcerated within three years, and a disproportionate number of individuals caught in the cycles of recidivism are men and women of color. There is much work to be done coordinating resources for returning community members. The matter remains in the Committee on Public Safety & Criminal Justice.
BPD Disability Pension: Councilors McCarthy and Flynn filed a petition to increase the disability retirement pension for former police officers Terry L. Cotton and Francis Jankowski. Both individuals sustained serious injuries while in the performance of their duties and as a result were incapacitated from further service as police officers. The bill would authorize the State-Boston Retirement Board to increase the accidental disability retirement allowance payable to Mr. Cotton and Mr. Jankowski, setting the annual amount of pension payable equal to the regular full rate of compensation which would have been paid had they continued as a police officer at the grade held by each at the time of his retirement. The matters were assigned to the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice for a hearing.
Teacher Diversity in BPS: Councilor Janey called for a hearing regarding teacher diversity in the Boston Public Schools. Increasing teacher diversity is an imperative for BPS to close opportunity and achievement gaps. Research has shown that students with teachers of the same race can substantially improve educational outcomes for students. Teacher diversity has been linked with higher test scores and graduation rates and lower dropout rates. 86% of BPS students are Black, Latino, or Asian American, yet only 38% of teachers are Black, Latino, or Asian American. She also noted that a more diverse teaching force improves social-emotional outcomes for students of color, with students feeling happier, more cared for, and more engaged in learning. Councilor Janey would like to examine the current policies and recruitment practices BPS employ to recruit and retain teachers of color. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Education for a hearing.
Vacant Properties: Councilor O’Malley called for a hearing regarding vacancy data collection and incentives to reduce vacancy of commercial or residential properties in Boston. He spoke about Boston’s booming real estate market and the displacements of neighborhood businesses due to higher rents. He noted cities across the U.S. experiencing “high-end blight,” where high commercial rents cause vacant storefronts in vibrant neighborhoods. The City has implemented many initiatives aimed at increasing the affordability of commercial and residential space ranging from zoning reform to subsidies, but has not explored disincentives such as fees levied on long-term vacant properties. Storefronts left vacant for multiple years suggest a market failure, empty residential units remove housing that could otherwise provide homes, and filling vacant space improves the vibrancy and livelihood of our city while packing downward pressure on rents. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Housing & Community Development.
Honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: We voted to adopt a resolution offered by Councilors Edwards and Pressley honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recognizing his contributions to the City of Boston and the United States. On the evening of April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, TN; and fifty years later, his legacy continues to inspire people of color and all Americans, adults, children, low-income people, people of faith and all people of conscience to campaign for human dignity until such basic rights as food, water, stable housing, equality at work and home and fair access to public transportation are basic guarantees. Dr. King spent years in Boston as a student at Boston University, as a preacher in Roxbury at the Twelfth Baptist Church, and as a resident of the South End.
Upcoming Hearings (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv)
- Monday, 4/9 at 2:00PM: Hearing re: ordinance regarding the right of free petition (Government Operations)
- Tuesday, 4/10 at 10:00AM: Hearing re: proposed 13 hospital merger of Caregroup, Inc. (Parent Company of Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center) and Lahey Health Systems (Government Operations)
- Tuesday, 4/10 at 5:30PM: Hearing re: the opportunities and challenges facing small businesses in the City of Boston (Small Business and Consumer Affairs) at Bruce C. Bolling Building located on 2300 Washington Street in Roxbury
- Thursday, 4/12 at 10:00AM: Hearing re: petition to establish the Greenway Business Improvement District (Planning, Development, & Transportation)