Boston City Council News and Notes

January 20, 2017
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Boston City Council brings in the new year at their first meeting held last Wednesday, January 11, with a number of refiles. The Council operates on a one-year legislative cycle within a two-year term, meaning that proposals that aren’t voted on by the end of each year become inactive and need to be refilled in the next year.

 

Below is a list of refiles to watch out for later this year.

Boston Residents Jobs Policy: Mayor Walsh refiled an ordinance amending the Boston Residents Jobs Policy employment standards, from the current standards of requiring at least 50 percent Boston residents, 25 percent people of color, and 10 percent women on covered projects to 51 percent, 40 percent, and 12 percent respectively. The order also extends covered projects to include not just City-funded projects but also major development projects that require Zoning Board of Appeals approval and are at least 50,000 square feet.

Nomination Papers: Mayor Walsh refiled a home-rule petition to amend the rules around nomination papers to allow registered voters to sign as many candidates’ papers as they wish, rather than limit them to one valid signature for candidates for Mayor and District City Councilor At-Large.

Just Cause Eviction: Mayor Walsh refiled a home rule petition called the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act with a goal of preserving housing stability and maintaining diversity in Boston’s neighborhoods. The petition will apply to landlords who own seven or more units in Massachusetts and outlines nine causes that could justify an eviction, including nonpayment of rent, violation of terms of the lease, and damage to the apartment.

Municipal Lobbying: Mayor Walsh refilled a home-rule petition to create regulations on disclosure and registration for lobbying at the city level, modeled after existing State-level regulations. The rules would apply to both executive and legislative lobbying, including communications with all city employees at all levels over government operations. It was sent to the Government Operations Committee.

Community Preservation Committee: Councilors Flaherty and Campbell refiled an ordinance to create the Community Preservation Committee, following the successful Community Preservation Act (CPA) ballot referendum in November. State law requires that after communities opt in to the CPA, the local legislative body passes an ordinance to define the composition and procedures of the committee that will make recommendations on how to allocate CPA funds.

Snow Removal Exemption: Councilor Jackson refiled an ordinance that would create an exemption for residents over 60 years old and disabled residents from the City’s snow removal rules. Currently, the City requires all homeowners to shovel the sidewalk in front of their home within three hours of snowfall, with a $50 a day fine for non-compliance. This would allow seniors and persons with disabilities to apply for exemption through an ‘opt-in” process.

Body Cameras: Councilor Campbell filed a hearing order to review the Boston Police Department’s body camera pilot program, which began in September 2016. It would serve as a mid-pilot check-in to understand data and findings of the program so far.

Transportation Policy Briefings: City Council President Michelle Wu refiled an order to create a legislative docket that would allow the Council’s Parks, Recreation & Transportation Committee to host a series of policy briefings about key topics in transportation policy. Two more meetings are scheduled for February 2 on Transit Priority and on March 2 on parking.

Housing Innovations: Councilors Baker and Zakim refiled a hearing to discuss cooperative owned housing, especially single room occupancy and micro units and other alternatives as a way to create more affordable housing options in Boston.

Parking: Councilor Baker refiled a hearing order to discuss the current city resident and visitor parking programs as well as the potential to develop new revenue generating parking permit programs. The matter was already heard at an October meeting but was sent to the Parks, Recreation and Transportation Committee for another hearing.

Reprecincting: City Council President Michelle Wu refiled a hearing order to discuss reprecincting in Boston before the 2017 municipal elections. Boston can voluntarily alter precinct lines to get to more equal-sized precincts as long as the city does not change ward boundaries or political district boundaries. The goal is to spread out voters to make wait times at the polls faster.

Curbside Composting: Following a hearing in October, Councilors O’Malley and Pressley refiled a hearing order to discuss a curbside composting program in Boston.

Plastic Bag Ban: Councilor O’Malley and City Council President Wu refiled an ordinance to ban flimsy plastic bags from retail establishments in Boston. The ordinance would require retail establishments to offer plastic bags of at least 3 mils in thickness that are more reusable and charge a 5 cent fee on thicker plastic bags, recycle paper bags, and compostable bags.

Upcoming Hearings and Working Sessions will be finalized and publicized soon. Check for updates at www.boston.gov.public-notices

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