News Briefs: City Council

August 11, 2017
By

By Beth Treffeisen

Special to the Gazette

City Council establishes Community Preservation Committee

The Boston City Council passed an amended ordinance to create the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), as required by state law to make recommendations regarding the use of the funds generated by a surcharge on real estate property.

The ordinance requires that the CPC study the needs of Boston regarding community preservation, evaluate community preservation needs of the city, and make recommendations for expenditures from the Community Preservation Fund.

Under the terms of the proposal, the CPC would consist of nine members, five of who would be appointed by the mayor and four members appointed by the City Council – all for staggered three year terms.

A hearing was held on March 23 and a working session was held on May 15.

Amendments included that the CPC expressly list the City’s entities that will have representation on the board to include the Boston Conservation Commission, the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Boston Planning and Development Agency, and the Boston Housing Authority.

Additional amendments include conflict of interest language and clear language that the fiscal responsibility of the CPC will not replace operating funds but augment them.

“This has been a long and throughout process,” said Councilor Andrea Campbell, a co-sponsor of the ordinance. “This has been a compromising process where we’ve come together to talked through a lot of issues to ensure that we got an ordinance that was fair, transparent and talked about the issues of equity and diversity. We could have not done that alone.”

She continued, “We all ended committed that this process remains transparent and continues to involve residents.”

The Council will post the positions through the City website for anyone to apply, and a council subcommittee to be set up will vet the applications and make recommendations to the full Council for a confirmation vote.

Zakim calls for easier voter registration

Councilor Josh Zakim filed a hearing order at the City Council hearing on August 2 to examine ways to change the voter registration process to allow for more ballot access including, eliminating voter registration deadlines, allowing same-day voter registration, and moving to a an automatic opt-out system.

“One it’s a civil rights issue and a human rights issue and also good policy,” said Zakim.

“If we’re going to talk about being a representative democracy here at the City of Boston we need to make sure there’s as many voices as possible on election day.”

Zakim said that even though there is election coming up this year in Boston, most councilors expect a low turnout. He stressed the fact that there needs be fewer barriers to make sure people have better and easier opportunities to register to vote.

The matter was assigned to the committee of environment and sustainability for a hearing.

Future construction may have to meet net-zero carbon requirements

Jamaica Plain City Councilor Matt O’Malley called for a hearing regarding the benefits of net-zero carbon requirements and incentives in future construction in Boston at the City Council hearing held on August 2.

“What happens when a developer comes into one of our neighborhoods?” asked O’Malley. “They work with the community and we mostly ask for affordability, make sure the trees and landscape look great…but one thing we have left out of this conversation is making sure we are building the most energy efficient buildings that we possibly can.”

More than half of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, instituting such requirements would help the City meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Councilor Josh Zakim said that this is something that he hears daily from civic associations across his neighborhoods.

“The federal government is not acting at all – it is on cities to act,” said Zakim. “We need to make sure as the city continues to grow that we do it sustainability.”

Councilor Tito Jackson pointed out that the older building stock in Boston is one of the biggest places that carbon escapes from most.

“I look forward to an aggressive timetable on this because it is time to save the City of Boston,” said Jackson.

The matter was assigned to the committee on environment and sustainability for a hearing.

Wu introduces Community Choice Energy

 City Council President Michelle Wu and Councilor Matt O’Malley introduced an order authorizing the City of Boston to adopt Community Choice Energy at the City Council hearing on August 2. The order follows a hearing in January and a working session in April.

“This measure is to emphasis that it is not enough that we will just adapt to what will happen,” said Wu. “We have to do more to reverse climate change – this is about us taking stand. We are not going to cede control over energy policy to the federal level.”

The adoption of a green Community Choice Energy plan would allow the City of Boston to surpass state renewable energy requirements and bring energy decisions into local control.

This would be the first step in a state-defined process with community oversight. The order includes specific language with stipulations to seek bids for at least five percent renewable sourcing about state standards for the default option and pricing for an opt-in of 100 percent renewables.

Currently, 98 cities and towns in Massachusetts have already adopted community choice energy.

“I wanted to let you all in on a little secret – City of Boston has been awarded for environment achievements but we really don’t deserve it yet but we can,” said O’Malley. “A great first step is passing the Community Choice Energy.”

The matter was assigned to the committee of environment & sustainability for a hearing.

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