City Council news and notes

October 13, 2017
By

By Beth Treffeisen

Special to the Gazette

Just Cause Eviction

The City Council voted to pass a new version of home rule petition The Jim Brooks Stabilization Act otherwise known as Just Cause Eviction at a hearing on Oct. 4.

The home rule petition would prevent a non-exempt landlord or foreclosing owner from recovering possession of a residential unit or housing accommodation unless good cause exists.

It will require landlords to notify the City after notice to quit. After the notification the Office of Housing Stability would provide tenants and homeowners with a description of their housing rights and resources.

“At these hearings I was asking the question: what will this do to solve the problem?” said Councilor Andrea Campbell. “This might do very little. I am concerned whether or not this will address the nature of this problem…We need to come together to come up with even more solutions to keep people in their room before it’s too late.”

The matter passed in a 10 -3 vote, with Councilor Bill Linehan, Sal LaMattina, and Mike McCarthy against.

The petition will go to the State House for final approval.

Ordinance on Eviction Data Collection

Councilor Josh Zakim and Frank Baker called for an ordinance to implement a proactive program requiring the Office of Housing Stability to gather data concerning “no fault” evictions in the City of Boston.

The goal is to know where the evictions are taking place so that the City is able to gather data in order to implement policies to prevent displacement, create affordable housing, and to stabilize neighborhoods.

“The Home Rule Petition will ultimately die on Beacon Hill, but this will be the real work and really make a difference,” said Councilor Michael Flaherty. “It will have a lasting impact in folks that are getting displaced.”

This ordinance will act as a parallel path to the home rule petition, Just Cause Eviction, and work to move for swift action with data collection.

“It is not a cure all but it is an important step in the right direction,” said Baker.

The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations.

Community Choice Energy

Following a well-attended hearing on Oct. 3, the City Council voted unanimously the following day in support of a revised adoption of Community Choice Energy (CCE).

CCE (also known as municipal aggregation) has already been successfully implemented in a number of Massachusetts’s cities and towns. Boston will be the 128th on the list. Through this process Boston will be authorized to contract for electricity on behalf of their residents and small business.

“This action we’re about to take will rank among the most important things we do this year,” said Councilor Matt O’Malley.

By taking advantage of bulk purchasing negotiating power, the City would be able to require a higher percentage of renewable energy, above the level required by state law.

If implemented, this program would help stabilize energy prices in the city and provide market incentives for renewable energy projects in Massachusetts and New England.

Although there are no anticipated extra costs on the ratepayers, there will a chose to opt out of the program at any time and return to the original Eversource rate.

The revised version incorporates minor changes from the City’s law department, changes language to reflect future initiatives, and asks for finical transparency for the ratepayers.

“Are we going to sit by and say this is our new reality – stronger storms, bigger damage, higher floods and react – or are we going to do as much as we can to act ahead on what we have to do something to change this situation?” asked City Councilor President Michelle Wu. “As the City Council, this is what we can do for our part today.”

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