City Council notes

The City Council met on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Civil Immigration Detainer:

Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans provided an update regarding civil immigration detainer requests for 2017. ICE lodged 68 individuals that were in BPD custody and all were given access to the bail commissioner. Of those individuals, 18 posted bail and/or were released from BPD custody prior to arraignment. The other 50 were transported to the court for arraignment directly from BPD custody. BPD did not directly transfer any of the suspects to ICE custody and did not receive any cost reimbursements from the federal government pursuant to any granted detainer requests.

Greenway Business Improvement District:

A Better City, a Boston-based nonprofit, filed a petition to organize the Greenway Business Improvement District (BID), a financing mechanism made available by state law that would assess abutting businesses to fund the Rose Kennedy Greenway’s maintenance and operations.

This portion of land incorporates the land made available from the Central Artery Tunnel project and includes the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Park.

The process requires at least 51 percent of assessed valuation of all real property within the proposed BID and least 60 percent of property owners approve; the BID application included signatures from 89 percent and 82 percent respectively.

This would be the second BID in Boston, following the Downtown Crossing BID, and it requires City Council approval. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development, and Transportation for a hearing.

Boston Public Schools Transportation:

At-large City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, who is the chair of the Education Committee, reported back to the City Council on the BPS 2018-2019 transportation budget.

BPS shared a presentation on the number and cost of buses in its fleet, bus drivers, students using the buses for corner stops and for door-to-door transportation, students using MBTA, and other data as it related to the budget.

Essaibi George said that BPS is anticipating $123 million budget, which is $7 million more than presented with the 2018 budget process.

“I’m not pleased to hear the increase in spending,” said Essaibi George. “But they are looking at ways to improve family engagement and have some savings such as changing some bell times and more efficient routes.”

The matter remains in committee for further discussion.

Huntington Theatre:

The City Council voted to pass the Mayor Martin Walsh’s order to enforce a use restriction to ensure that the Huntington Theatre continues to be used as a theatre or similar cultural use, following a hearing of the Arts, Culture, and Special Events Committee chaired by District 7 Councilor Kim Janey.

Parts of the building will be used for residential and commercial use, but the Huntington Theatre will remain as a theatre and cultural space for the community.

“The use restriction will allow the Huntington to continue to be used as a theatre or similar cultural use for the next 100 years,” said Janey.

Collecting Eviction Data:

Councilors Josh Zakim and Frank Baker refiled their ordinance to require data collection regarding evictions in Boston.

Eviction notices must be filed with the courts, but it can be cumbersome to seek the data and difficult for the City to obtain it on a timely basis.

With drastically rising housing costs in Boston, evictions are causing displacement of individuals and families who may be faced with homelessness as they struggle to find another affordable place to live.

The goal is that having evictions data at the city level will inform policies regarding affordable housing and neighborhood stabilization.

“We want to make sure tenants that face eviction are informed of their rights and given the city and nonprofit legal services they need,” said Zakim. “It is important as we talk over and over and read over and over of the consistent rising cost of housing and the danger of displacement that we take action at the City level.”

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


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