Boston City Council News and Notes

Council supports Home Rule Petition to allow Mayoral appointments

The Boston City Council on Wednesday, September 13, voted to pass the Home Rule Petition, which will give Mayor Martin Walsh the power to appoint members to vacant or expired seats on certain city boards and commissions if the relevant nominating entity fails to submit names within 90 days of notification of the vacancy.

The legislation also adds a residency requirement for boards and commissions that do not already include one, and will have a council confirmation on all appointees.

The boards affected by the petition includes Boston Arts Commission, Back Bay Architectural Commission, Beacon Hill Architectural Commission, Boston Landmarks Commission, Boston Housing Authority Monitoring Committee, Freedom Trail Commission, Boston Zoning Commission, and the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal.

The Boston School Committee Nominating Panel, which was on the original list of boards will not be included.

There are currently 37 holdovers, the longest dating as far back as 2004. This Home Rule Petition would address the holdover problem by putting a limitation of the time allowed for nominations before appointment.

It will move to the State House for final approval.

O’Malley calls for a hearing to discuss extreme weather events

With extreme weather events becoming increasingly more common as a result of climate change, Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley has asked the Boston City Council to have a hearing to evaluate Boston’s preparation, physical protective infrastructure, and local response for preparing and reacting to a catastrophic weather event.

O’Malley pointed out that in the last seven years there have been 14, once in a 100-years events and since that time it has increased to 16. Over the last 10-day period there have been two category 4 hurricanes come to the United States – never before have there been two category 4 hurricanes in the same year.

O’Malley asked that the Boston City Council discuss having annual or bi-annual meetings to check with the relative departments to see how the city is preparing or trying to mitigate future extreme weather events.

“I know that we have evacuation routes – I’m not sure where they go but I know one goes to Dedham and the other Brookline – but we need to talk about what our plan is,” said O’Malley. “I’m not looking to politicize this but we need to check in periodically to make sure we are prepared. Until this country gets its act together on climate change we are going to see more Irma’s, Katrina’s and Sandy’s and so forth.”

Wu files “Right to Charge” Ordinance

Boston City Council President Michelle Wu filed an ordinance, which would codify the right of Boston residents to install personal electric vehicle charging stations.

“Across the country, we are seeing the devastating impacts of super storms made more destructive and more frequent by climate change,” said Wu. “It is more important than ever that our residents should be able to take advantage of every tool available to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Under the ordinance, property owners would be allowed to install an electric vehicle charging station without condominium or homeowners’ associations banning or placing unreasonable regulations on the stations.

The ordinance will spell out the rights and responsibilities of station owners, including paying for installation and electricity costs, repairing and damages to common areas caused by the station, and disclosing the existence to potential buyers.

Transportation is responsible for about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emission said Wu, and electric vehicles are one tool that Bostonians are embracing to reduce their carbon footprint. Electric vehicles produce half of the greenhouse gas emissions traditional fuel cars use and as the utility grid becomes greener so will electric vehicles said Wu.

At the hearing, Wu said that many people view electric vehicle market as a luxury item but through the work of scientists it is thought that within the next couple of years it will be more cost effective.

“As residents begin getting rid of their fuel cars and change to electric cars, how will they fuel them throughout the City with no where to charge?” asked Wu. “It’s like the chicken and the egg cycle – the City is hesitant to install new charging systems if we don’t see a demand for them.”

Wu said, as a bicyclist herself, the City will remain committed to providing other modes of transportation along with Vision Zero and other safe street concerns.

“This is just another step we need to take to fight climate change,” said Wu.

The matter was sent to the Committee on Government Operations.

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