City Council news and notes

By Beth Treffeisen

Special to the Gazette

Bill Linehan’s last meeting

District 2 City Councilor Bill Linehan submitted a letter of resignation after 43 years of service to the City. Mayor Martin Walsh joined the City Council to present Councilor Linehan with a silver Revere Bowl and in line with the Council tradition; Michelle Wu presented him with a crystal gavel given to outgoing councilors who have served as council president.

Right to Charge

The City Council voted unanimously to pass the home rule petition that would codify the right of condominium and homeowners to install personal electric vehicle charging stations in or near the dedicated parking spots.

In Boston, there are multi-family homes that have been converted to condos, sometimes with just two or three condos in the association, and the governing documents require unanimous consent for any changes to the property. That means one owner could prevent another from switching to an electric vehicle.

City Council President Michelle Wu stated that 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation and that she would like to make it possible for a resident in any living situation to be able to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles.

Wu would also like to set the stage for charging infrastructure now since the costs of electric vehicles are quickly becoming more affordable.

The law department expressed concerns that the City would be more vulnerable to litigation by passing this in the form of an ordinance rather than a home-rule petition.

Although Wu is generally skeptical of filing home-rule petitions since the City has no control over the pace and likelihood of state approvals, she has already spoken with state colleagues who are optimistic about passage on a reasonable timeline.

Procurement Reform

City Council President Michelle Wu and At-large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley introduced an ordinance to amend the City of Boston’s procurement processes for contracting with private businesses for goods and services in order to encourage greater meaningful engagement with women and minority-owned business enterprises (WMBEs).

The goal is to align the City’s spending with the goals of addressing income inequality by giving WMBEs a fairer shot at winning City of Boston contracts.

The ordinance will codify the City’s responsibility to create a supplier diversity program, conduct active outreach to WMBEs regarding City needs and contracting processes, and requires solicitation of bids from at least one WBE and least one MBE for contracts under $25,000.

The ordinance was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Private Corporation Street Closures

Councilor Josh Zakim filed a hearing order to examine the use of public ways by private corporations. Particularly in the Back Bay and the South End, private corporations (e.g. movie and television productions companies) have been closing down public streets, taking both metered and resident parking spots without public process or community notification.

This matter was assigned to the Committee on City & Neighborhood Services and Veterans Affairs for a hearing.

Back Bay/ South End Gas Pipeline

The City Council voted to adopt the resolution filed by Councilors Josh Zakim and Mat O’Malley urging more deliberation and public process from the Public Improvement Commission (PIC) before finalizing approvals of a natural gas distribution pipeline that will run from Back Bay into Fenway.

The sponsors echoed community concerns that building more fossil fuel infrastructure is counterproductive to the City’s efforts to support renewable energy.

The PIC met on this issue on Thursday, Oct. 19 at City Hall.


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