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Mayor Walsh made the following appointments to the Community Preservation Committee:
- Felicia Jacques (designee of the Boston Landmarks Commission) and Carol Downs (Boston Planning & Development Agency designee) as members until January 1, 2020
- William Epperson (Parks & Recreation Commission designee) as a member until January 1, 2021
- John Sullivan (Boston Conservation Committee designee) and Kathryn Bennett (Boston Housing Authority designee) as members until January 1, 2019
President Campbell appointed Councilor Ed Flynn to the Boston Groundwater Trust as ex officio representative of the City Council
Greenway Business Improvement District (BID): At last week’s Council meeting, we received a petition to establish a Greenway BID, a special assessment district allowed by state law in which property owners vote to initiate, manage and finance supplemental services or enhancements above and beyond the baseline of services already provided by their local governments. State law requires that the Council hold a hearing within 60 days of receiving the petition and after certifying signatures on the petition and then giving 30 days’ of notice of the hearing to abutters. The process requires signatures representing at least 51% of assessed valuation of all real property within the proposed BID and at least 60% of property owners; the BID application included signatures from 89% and 82% respectively. Today we voted to authorize the first step in the process, directing the City Clerk to certify signatures on the petition. This would be the second BID in Boston, after the Downtown Boston BID. City Council approval is required by Chapter 40-O of the Massachusetts General Laws to designate a BID, because all abutters would be subject to the assessment once approved for the five-year term. Stay tuned for the hearing to be scheduled in April.
Property Transfers (Condor Street, East Boston): We voted (11-0, Councilors McCarthy & O’Malley absent) to approve the transfer parcels of vacant land in East Boston, formerly owned by Boston Planning and Development Agency, to the care, custody, management, and control to the Public Facilities Commission for disposition. The parcels are located on Condor Street in East Boston, each containing 8,750 square feet for a total of 26,250 square feet that has an assessed value of $560,000 and an appraised value of $720,000. They were acquired by the then-BRA using Inclusionary Development Funds with the intention to create affordable housing. After a community process with the Eagle Hill Civic Association, DND issued an RFP in May 2017 for a mixed-use and mixed-income affordable housing development to include artist housing and work space. This land would be transferred to a developer for a nominal fee and with a City subsidy to develop 41 units of housing:
- 8 units of sales/home-ownership: 2 at 80% AMI, 3 at 100% AMI, and 3 market rate
- 33 rental units: 4 at 30% AMI, 3 at 60% AMI, 17 artist housing units at 60% AMI, and 9 market rate.
DND plans to make a recommendation for Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, an East Boston nonprofit, to be the designee at the March 14th Public Facilities Commission meeting. Councilor Edwards expressed her support for this transfer and for partnership with NOAH.
Collective Bargaining: We voted to authorize funding the recently settled collective bargaining agreements between the City of Boston and SEIU, Local 888. 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, and includes:
- All employees covered by the agreement will be entitled to the City’s Paid Parental Leave (I’m very excited that this coverage will finally include many more City employees years after our initial ordinance passed)
- Eliminating all existing boot and uniform allowances/reimbursements and establishing a new $250 clothing and boot allowance (except for BCYF employees)
- Increasing the BCYF weekend differential per hour wage
- City of Boston will increase its contribution to the SEIU Housing Trust, which provides housing and rental assistance to SEIU members living in the City.
- Monthly contribution toward SEIU pre-paid legal services fund for employees
- Sick leave redemption upon retirement capped at $15,000 for current employees and $10,000 for all new employees (there was concern among the Council that this changed the terms for employees near retirement, who had acted for many years with the understanding that they would be able to cash out more than this)
- Employees will move to electronic pay stubs
Public Sector Unions & Advocacy Rights: We voted to adopt Councilor Janey’s resolution for the City Council to stand in solidarity with workers and public employee unions, and supports their continued freedom to organize. The Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court threatens to decimate the ability of public employee unions to raise the funds that they need to operate, organize effectively, and advocate for workers.
Hospital Merger: Councilors McCarthy and Flynn called for a hearing regarding the proposed 13-hospital merger of Caregroup, Inc. (the parent company of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and Lahey Health System. The merger would result in creating another powerful hospital market, on par with Partners Healthcare, and increased market leverage. Councilor Flynn expressed concern over how a consolidated BI-Lahey Hospital would impact both costs and access to care in Boston and the ability of community hospitals to serve low-income communities of color. They hope to hear from experts and stakeholders to better understand the potential impact of this merger on healthcare in Boston. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing.
Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/watch-boston-city-council-tv)
- Tuesday 3/12 at 2:00PM: Hearing re: Boston Police Department’s Body-Worn Camera Pilot Program preliminary study results. (Public Safety and Criminal Justice)
- Tuesday 3/13 at 2:00PM: Hearing re: an ordinance increasing access to voter registration (Government Operations)
- Thursday 3/15 at 1:30PM: Meeting re: sexual harassment policy in the Boston City Council (Civil Rights) [Curley Room, 5th Floor City Hall]
- Thursday 3/15 at 6:00PM: Hearing re: Redevelopment of One Charlestown Project (Housing & Community Development)[offsite at Knights of Columbus, 545 Medford Street, Charlestown]