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April Updates from the City Council

I had to skip my Reddit recaps of the March City Council regular meetings – just got underwater with work – but I renewed the habit in April. Read on the for the lightly-edited highlights.

City Council Highlights, 4/2/2024

A resolution of note from the first section of the agenda, accolades and announcements: We passed resolutions by President Bears and Councilor Scarpelli to Honor and Commemorate the Service of Former Mayor Jack McGlynn in the WWII’s ‘Ghost Army.’ (Boston Globe link here, I think there are some non-paywalled recent options too.)

We approved a resolution offered by Councilor Leming that would initiate the process of bringing Medford’s linkage fees ordinance in compliance with the state act establishing the ordinance.

Linkage fees are payments that developers pay to the City for projects that meet certain size thresholds. Those payments go towards these City functions: parks and recreational facilities, police and fire facilities, roads and traffic facilities, and water and sewer facilities. Large developments impact the community in different ways and while many to most of these impacts are benign and welcomed, adding people, workers, travel, etc. to the community means more impact on our physical infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, parks) and more stress on public safety infrastructure. Linkage fees are not arbitrarily set: The City conducts studies (“nexus studies”) to ascertain what level of payment is appropriate to offset the impact of developments of various types and sizes.

Currently, Medford’s linkage fees ordinance is out of date with how it is intended to operate. For one, the State Act that enabled our linkage fees ordinance said the payment formula should be updated “at least every 3 years.” But our ordinance states the formula should be updated “no more than every 3 years.” It’s been a long time since the linkage fees were updated, and we are likely out of date on what we should be charging.

The linkage fees ordinance is a zoning ordinance, so updating this will go through several procedural steps between the Community Development Board and the Council. There are other changes to the linkage fees ordinance that we discussed in the Administration and Finance Committee last week – namely, adding affordable housing as a fifth bucket to which linkage fees can be paid – but that change wasn’t included in this resolution this time. I believe we are waiting for amendment language to be suggested by the Planning Department staff and then we’ll move forward on that.

We have a vast need for City revenue, more than any one channel can fix; but this is a valid and overdue change that will help, and I am glad we are pursuing it. We approved this unanimously.

Next we took up a resolution by Councilor Callahan to meet in committee about a rental registry ordinance. This is a proposal that is suggested in Medford’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which is why Councilor Callahan brought it forward. Check out BE 2.2.D, “Develop a rental licensing ordinance with energy efficiency standards,” in Medford’s CAAP: it’s on page 101.

From the Go Green Medford website: “This plan [the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan] was developed with the input of the public, staff, non-profits and state agencies throughout 2019-2021. Information about the development of the plan are on pages 60-62.”

And here is what the plan describes about the rental licensing (registry) proposal:

Develop a rental licensing ordinance and program, involving registration, inspection, and eventually retrofits for noncompliant rental units to address known health, safety, and energy efficiency issues in Medford’s rental housing. Launch a working group that will evaluate options for the design and implementation of an ordinance and program that will improve equity in the quality of Medford’s rental housing stock and reduce both utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions, while also protecting housing affordability, mitigating the risk of displacement, and reducing burdens on small-scale landlords. To the extent practicable, align Medford’s program with Somerville’s (currently under development) to create consistency across town boundaries.

It was noted during the meeting that the City already has a lot of landlords’ contact information, so some people were confused about why a registry was needed, or how it would be different. My impression from talking to staff and from the CAAP is that while the City has the contact information for many property owners in the City, there are gaps, and those gaps cause problems. Absentee or hard-to-reach landlords are an issue from a Board of Health or Code Enforcement perspective when code violations persist (i.e. housing code, pest problems, trash piling up, etc.). Filling those contact info gaps will help City staff distribute important property-related information and make sure it reaches everyone, i.e. about energy retrofits.

Several people voiced concerns that this registry would include compromising information or be invasive. To be clear, this wouldn’t collect tenant information; it would be a database of rental properties – where they are, who owns them, and how to get in touch with those owners.

This proposal was moved to the Planning & Permitting Committee for further discussion in a 5-2 vote.

I’m going to indulge myself in a bit of a sidebar here, because it is related to a lot of what we heard from some members of the public on Tuesday. We had a great deal of public comment on this rental registry item, much of it passionate. (I would call it the defining feature of the meeting, but you can watch the video if you have 6 hours of free time and decide for yourself.) It makes me sad to observe that when some people in the community hear us talk about properties, property owners and renters/rentals, it is assumed that we are vilifying property owners, or looking for strategies to penalize them.

I think this should go without saying, but it’s just not the case that anyone is “out to get” property owners or thinks folks who own rental units should be punished or taken advantage of. (Honestly, I just don’t get that at all. After all, I rent my home from a landlord. Why would I want to run them out of business?) And in the case of this proposal, this is a commonsense proposal to help improve workflow for City staff who are tasked with regulating health and safety and environmental codes for dwelling units in the City, and getting communications out to people who operate and live in those dwelling units.

I am well aware that some of that reaction in the community to any and all housing-related policies is because of policies that I myself have instigated, for example, my proposal to advocate at the state level for rent stabilization via a home rule petition. (For the record, I’ve been a vocal supporter of lifting the statewide rent stabilization ban since 2022.) I just don’t agree that it’s anti-landlord to say, “I think we should try to have some safeguards for how much rent should go up in a certain period, because most people will be displaced out of the community if their rent goes up by several hundred dollars all of a sudden.” I think it’s anti-displacement. I just don’t agree that this is a zero-sum situation. We will be spending a lot of time in Committee on the housing stabilization home rule and transfer fee home rule in coming months to do the hard work of crafting language that will be positive-sum equations – that will shore up affordable housing and protect against displacement without screwing small property owners who are also an integral part of the fabric of this community.

We heard a lot of folks say that these housing-related proposals, or the Council’s governing agenda overall, is dividing the community and causing pain. That makes me really sad. But if we’re going to talk seriously about division and pain, I think we should contemplate all the things that do that. For example, disinformation divides communities. “Us vs. them” rhetoric divides communities. Doing nothing about the housing crisis while households are cleaved out and forced them to go and live elsewhere because it’s no longer affordable for people like them to live here – that’s the community literally being divided right before our eyes.

I regret that some people feel attacked by these proposals that, in my view, seek to do what we can at the local level to deal with the housing cost and displacement crisis. But I can’t in good conscience prioritize those feelings above the very real, acute, and ongoing material harms that are caused by the housing cost crisis and displacement. Every housing proposal we’ve discussed includes exemptions for small landlords, owner-occupied buildings, and low-income seniors.

Okay, sidebar over. After a couple hours on that proposal, we moved on to discussion of the resolution by Councilors Lazzaro, Tseng and Leming to amend the City Council rules around public participation.

Their original proposal was to change this aspect of the public participation policy – “Any resident, petitioner, or interested party shall be able to speak on any item included on the agenda once for no more than 5 minutes” – to this: “Any resident, petitioner, or interested party shall be able to speak on any item included on the agenda once for no more than 2 minutes. Public participation shall not exceed 90 minutes per agenda item during a single meeting. Interested parties may also contribute written public comment on agenda items via an online form on the Medford City Council website or a paper form in the office of the City Clerk."

So that initial proposal would have lowered time per person from 5 minutes to 2 minutes, and capped discussion time per item at 90 minutes.

During her presentation of the paper, Councilor Lazzaro amended the proposal to have the time reduction per speaker be to 3 minutes per speaker, not 2 minutes. Later in the discussion of the proposal, Councilor Tseng made a further amendment: That members of the public be given 3 minutes each to speak until 90 minutes was reached on any given paper, and after that, subsequent speakers would be given 1 minute each. So the time limit per speaker would change after the 90-minute mark.

Here’s my take: I think that this is a tweak that will help the flow of our meetings and help more people participate. There’s a tension between wanting to optimize for people being able to speak at length, vs. wanting to make it possible for more people to speak at all. I frequently talk to people who are anxious about attending Council meetings at all because they think they won’t get a chance to participate before it gets too late, and so they usually decide not to come at all. There was certainly concern in the room (to put it mildly) about this reduction of time per speaking diminishing the democratic process. But I think a process that leaves many people going, “Why bother? I won’t attend at all, because I know I won’t get a chance to be heard,” is the same problem, and equally concerning.

The proposal doesn’t exist in a vacuum. I think that we can always do a better job of publicizing all of the various ways that residents can let their feelings be known and shared with Councilors – which includes public participation at City Council meetings, but isn’t limited to that. Our information is public; many people reach out to us outside of meetings, but I know many people don’t do that, aren’t in the habit of it, or need encouragement and reminders. For getting their opinions logged, people can also submit comments to the City Clerk to be read into the record during Council meetings, to be forwarded along to Councilors, and/or included in the official meeting minutes. People can always speak during the general public participation section at the end of every agenda, apart from speaking on specific items as they come up during the meeting, which is what these amendments apply to.

I also want to note that like our other rules, the timing of public participation is enforced at the discretion of the Chair. So the Chair always has the option to make exceptions where needed, like to allow extra time to accommodate a speech disability, etc.; or to allow more time per speaker if we do have a short agenda and aren’t under time pressures.

We had a very long session of spirited public comment on this item. Many people were very upset at the proposal. Ultimately it was approved in a 4-3 vote with President Bears, Councilor Callahan and Councilor Scarpelli voting against.

We also approved a B-Paper from President Bears that would add a new section to City Council agendas that is just for resolutions for which the sponsors’ motion is just to send it into Committee where we’ll have an initial discussion. We’ve been hearing that some folks find it confusing when ideas are brought up for the first time in a regular meeting (which is where all proposals have to start, procedurally) and then sent to Committee (i.e., how do I know which meeting to attend to observe the discussion and participate in it?). I’m sympathetic to that! And the point for many of us Councilors is indeed to have those substantive, get-into-the-weeds discussions in Committee when we’re focused on just 1 or 2 topics at a time, and not to have that in the regular meetings when there’s many other things on the agenda for the night. So I’m hopeful that this formatting change will help bring some clarity to the process.

We approved a resolution by President Bears to “join with neighboring communities, environmental protection activists, and the residents of Hardwick, MA in opposing the proposed construction of a landfill by Casella Corporation near the Quabbin Reservoir watershed due to the incredible danger it poses to our regional water supply.”

We approved a resolution that I put forward to support bill H.872/S.481, which is known as the Make Polluters Pay bill. I was approached by environmental activists in Medford to put forward this resolution, organized by members of the Mystic Valley node of the group 350MA. This is a piece of state legislation that would create a superfund into which the largest gas and oil corporations would pay – those corporations that we know to be responsible for the climate change effects that communities like ours are experiencing. Those funds would go towards local climate change resiliency projects in municipalities like ours.

Medford is already experiencing the effects of climate change – from heat islands, to intensifying storms. Especially given our siting along the Mystic River, we know it will be a huge challenge to contend with climate change effects in coming years and generations. We didn’t cause these massive changes, but we are forced to adapt to them. This bill says the corporations that are responsible must be held to account – and help communities like ours pay for the infrastructure, projects and programs that will allow residents to stay safe as the climate changes around us.

During this current legislative session, this bill was given a study order, meaning that the legislature will not take action on it this session. To me, that means it’s all the more important for communities to be advocating now for this bill. The clock is ticking on developing meaningful funding streams for climate change resiliency projects, and we can’t afford to delay one more year. The resiliency work before us will be far more than standard operating budgets can bear.

This resolution was supported by many members of the public (despite it being 12:30am at this point!) and passed unanimously.

For clarity, I want to note that this is not a bill that would invoke costs to consumers at all. It would just enable the state to tax the largest climate change contributing corporations that operate in our nation.

We then approved a resolution by President Bears to support the CHERISH Act (S.816/H.1260) to reinvest in our public higher education system and urge the legislature to pass it this term. Several members of Medford’s state delegation support this bill: Representative Garballey is a lead sponsor and Senator Jehlen, Representative Barber, and Representative Donato are co-sponsors.

We sent a resolution by Councilor Tseng to the Resident Services and Public Engagement Committee for discussion: to “meet to discuss a modernization of the Human Rights Commission's enabling ordinance and invite current and former commissioners to provide input.” We also sent to that committee a proposal by Councilors Callahan, Tseng and Lazzaro to pilot a series of listening sessions “where councilors listen to residents to extend Council outreach to residents, particularly of various underrepresented or under-served neighborhoods and backgrounds."

On a resolution by Councilor Scarpelli, we touched on the preliminary projections for the School Department budget, and also heard from several leaders and members of the MTA. The City Council has not yet received any budget recommendations from the Administration for the Schools or any department; budget hearings are set to begin later this month. For those interested, School Committee meetings are a better source for information at this stage: for example, there was a School Committee Committee of the Whole on the Schools budget yesterday on Wednesday, which seemed well-attended (I was able to listen in on Zoom for a bit).

To the folks who stuck it out until 1:20am with us: tip of the hat! We’ve been on quite a run of marathon meetings. I hope they start trending shorter, as was the norm pretty much all of last term, so that more people can participate and I can go back to my no-coffee-after-noon policy. 😉

City Council Highlights, 4/30/2024 (and video link)

Challenging myself to be succinct this time. We’ll see how that goes!

First off, while I don’t do recaps of the City Council committee or committee of the whole meetings, but I’ll note that we held two preliminary budget hearing in Committee of the Whole this week: one before the Council meeting on Tuesday, and another one on Wednesday.

In 2022, Councilor Bears proposed a new Budget Ordinance, and we have been working on and collaborating with the Administration to finalize that new law ever since. Even though we only took the final vote on the finished Ordinance this past Tuesday, the Council and Administration agreed that this spring we would start following its new timeline. We’re holding these preliminary budget hearings much earlier than usual, we’ve already relayed our Council budget priorities to the Mayor’s Office, and we expect the Mayor’s budget proposal back to the Council by May 31st.

I’m very proud of this collaboration and it’s resulting in a budget-discussion process that is much more spaced out, less rushed, and beginning earlier in the year than normal. It creates much more breathing room between conversations with department heads about their proposed FY25 budgets, and the submission of the Mayor’s budget proposal. It is still true that the Mayor has final say-so in the crafting of the budget: The City Council has no authority to add or reappropriate funds; all we get is a yes or no vote. (We sought to amend this with a series of Charter amendments in 2023, which did not advance, though the conversation/negotiation resulted in the creation of the Financial Task Force, which I think has been a very positive development and improved collaboration between the Mayor’s Office and the Council around the budget.) Having this consequential process occur over more time and start earlier in the year is helpful for me as a Councilor and I believe it makes it a more accessible experience for constituents, too.

Anyway, in these hearings, we go over specific departmental budgets and ask questions, and get a chance to check in with department heads more broadly about their work, their resources, their challenges and their aspirations for their departments. It’s a chance to get a snapshot of what services, programs and functions are funded; what there isn’t capacity for; and review any major goals or highlights from the past fiscal year or the incoming one.

On to the regular meeting.

On a proposal offered by President Bears and Councilor Scarpelli, we commended CCSR students at the Brooks Elementary for instigating a fundraiser to purchase safety whistles for local mail carriers.

On a motion offered by President Bears and Councilor Scarpelli, we congratulated former Councilor Caraviello for the honor of being named Citizen of the Year by the Medford Chamber of Commerce. Congrats Rick and well deserved!

On a motion offered by Councilor Tseng, we congratulated the Medford High School and Middle School Orchestras on Winning Medals at the MICCA (Massachusetts Instrumental & Choral Conductor's Association) concert festival, and invited them to play a piece at our next regular meeting!

We reviewed two special business permits for extended hours:

  • Snappy Patty’s requested 11pm-1am Thursday through Saturday. We approved this with a 30- and 60-day review.

  • Pinky’s Pizza requested 11pm-1am Monday through Thursday and 11pm-2am Friday through Sunday. We voted to continue this hearing to our next regular meeting on 5/14 to allow more time for public comment (at the meeting, we heard both advocacy for the later hours, and concerns from residential neighbors about late-night noise from delivery drivers); as well as to give the property owner time to discuss the proposal with residential neighbors to figure out how to make this mutually agreeable. There are many businesses in the City that have been granted extended hours through 1am (11pm is the default closing time). 2am, however, is fairly unusual and my impression is that’s what’s triggering the concerns about the late-night noise.

As with anything else, constituents who are for or against the proposal may send their testimony to the City Clerk ahead of the meeting, email Councilors, or attend the next meeting to give comment.

I put forward a resolution for the City Council to review the Annual Surveillance Report. Unfortunately, during the meeting I realized that the first two pages of the Report didn’t make it into our agenda packet, so we tabled this paper until our next meeting, so that Councilors would have time to review the whole thing. But since it was on the agenda, here’s some brief context:

The Community Control over Public Surveillance (CCOPS) Ordinance passed in 2023 requires that the City Council put out an Annual Surveillance Report every spring of how many requests for approval of new surveillance technologies it received in the preceding calendar year; and how many of those requests it approved, how many it denied, how many it requested modifications of; etc. The CCOPS ordinance also requires that the City departments that actually use approved surveillance technologies put forward a yearly annual surveillance report on the use of that technology – but that’s a separate requirement, due earlier in the year. In contrast, this one is the City Council’s reporting obligation, providing an overview of requests that crossed our collective desk the previous calendar year.

As the lead sponsor of the Ordinance, I prepared the Annual Surveillance Report, which was easy to do because no surveillance technologies came before us for approval in 2023 (so none were approved, none were denied or modified, etc). The only surveillance technology covered by the ordinance that were in use in 2023 (and at present) are Body Worn Cameras, and per a compromise provision in the ordinance, those are exempted from City Council approval until 2028. In any case, we will discuss this more when it comes up again at our 5/14 meeting.

President Bears and I put forward a proposal to support of S.1836 and H.2963, “An Act Relative to Payment in Lieu of Organizations Exempt from Property Tax.” Currently, under Massachusetts law, many major nonprofit institutions are exempt from paying property tax, such as universities like Medford and Somerville’s own Tufts University. These institutions often have Payment in Lieu of Tax or PILOT agreements with their host communities. However, these PILOT agreements and the resulting compensation mechanisms don’t come anywhere near what the institutions would be paying to cities if they paid property taxes like every other property owner. Here’s a quick piece of reporting from 2023 on the issue and the bill: the article is Boston-centric, but the same principle applies here.

The legislation is a local option: if passed, communities would be empowered to adopt a provision enabling them to require that institutions pay just 25% of the property tax that they would otherwise owe if they weren’t exempt. Like I said on Tuesday, I don’t believe this proposal goes far enough, but it’s certainly better than what we have now – 1) it’s something and 2) it’s binding. Currently, cities have precious little leverage when it comes to negotiating fair PILOT agreements, and we can’t even require that these institutions itemize the dollar value of what they’re providing via PILOTs (many of the benefits are non-monetary: programming, internship placements in the community, etc.).

Many Councilors and public commenters brought up how meaningful it would be to have these wealthy institutions pay their fair share, especially in a time of such fiscal scarcity in our community, but also as an evergreen principle (they benefit from our municipal infrastructure and services, after all). We approved this resolution unanimously.

Again, for clarity, this is just a resolution to endorse this state-level legislation. As one Councilor, I’m not optimistic that this bill will go forward this session: I testified for it or endorsed it for the past two years, and advocated for PILOT reform before I was in office, which I know is true of other Councilors as well. This is an uphill battle but I think it’s important that we continue to counter the lobbying efforts by wealthy nonprofit institutions to keep PILOTs loosey-goosey; and continue to support the statewide network of PILOT reform advocates.

Councilor Scarpelli offered a resolution to discuss the City Council committee process. Early in our discussion of this item, it was agreed that going forward, all resolutions should include clear and specific proposals that give Councilors and the public an unambiguous idea, ahead of time, of what the topic of the discussion will be – not just a “resolution to discuss X.” This is an important transparency measure: if members of the public don’t know what’s going to be discussed, they won’t know to show up to weigh in. All Councilors agreed to abide by this going forward, with the understanding that in the future, vague resolutions will be ruled out of order.

The topic on this paper ranged widely (which is part of what we avoid going forward through having resolutions be more specific and targeted). Councilor Scarpelli mentioned that the City Council newsletter, which was developed in the Resident Services & Public Engagement Committee, was not reported to a regular meeting for approval before it was published on the City website. There is a diversity of opinion on the City Council about whether it should be approved straight from the Committee going forward, in the interest of efficiently publishing recent updates from the Council to the community; or if it would be better to take a final review and vote in a regular meeting before publishing. It is true that either option is allowable; the Council could, if it chooses, authorize the Committee to publish newsletters.

The conversation on this topic morphed into a discussion of the real estate transfer fee home rule petition and rent stabilization home rule petition. Councilor Scarpelli brought up that President Bears and myself both signed a sign-on letter by municipal officials endorsing H.4138, the Affordable Homes Act, proposed by Governor Healey, and the real estate transfer fee provision within. Here’s the letter. You can see President Bears’ and my signatures on page 5, in the section titled “Individual Officials.” Councilor Scarpelli raised this topic because of his concerns that our individual endorsements of the Affordable Homes Act and its inclusion of a transfer fee provision constituted some sort of impingement upon our Committee process of crafting a home rule petition asking the State for the permission to create a Real Estate Transfer Fee.

To an extent, I can understand the confusion. Do both processes touch on the transfer fee? Yes. However, does this advocacy affect our Committee process of deliberating a transfer fee home rule? No. Did President Bears and I claim to be representing the Medford City Council or Medford community overall? No. If, by some miracle, this sign-on letter holds so much weight that the AHA does pass unamended, does that mean a transfer fee will be forced upon the City of Medford? No: it would still be a local option, which means we would still have to go through the process of proposing, crafting and passing a real estate transfer fee ordinance in order for one to go into effect.

We spent a long time on this topic. I was happy for the opportunity to reinforce the fact that Councilors often endorse (or oppose!) individual policies, bills and candidates. I personally choose to do this whenever I think it’s worthwhile – sometimes through sign-on letters, sometimes through endorsements, sometimes through testifying at State House hearings. Sometimes it’s legislation, like in this case, and sometimes it’s candidates for office. The bottom line is, there’s a difference between endorsing something as an individual, even if you’re an individual with a title; and taking official, collective action on a matter (i.e. when we unanimously voted to issue a Council endorsement of the PILOT legislation earlier in this same meeting).

It was clear that some speakers at the meeting were upset to see Council leadership endorsing a policy that they do not support, that they wish we would not endorse. To that I say: I get it! That is understandable and I can’t begrudge you for that. We disagree, and I have a title and a platform, and I completely understand how frustrating that is, because I am also human and also get pissed off when my higher representatives advocate for stuff that I think is bad and stupid. What I do regret and resent, however, is the spinning of a valid action (endorsing a policy as an individual) into an allegation of illegitimate action (asserting that the endorsement is tantamount to speaking for the Council without its consent and subverting the committee process) – when that’s just not the case. We can disagree without wading into disinformation.

I don’t regret that we have issues in the community that there’s vehement disagreement about – that’s a fact of life and certainly of politics. I think it’s actually quite a wonderful thing to be a part of the process where we discuss and deliberate about our different views and try to arrive at the best resolution possible – even though that process is also often hard, bruising, and painful. I don’t think that disagreement harms our community; no community has ever not had disagreements. I think what harms our community is when honest disagreement is spun into “us vs. them” language and assertions that “that person/group is out to get us!

Seeding that thinking, marketing that language – no matter what political “side” it’s coming from – that’s the poison. The person telling you your neighbor is a boogeyman is the person to be suspicious of, IMO.

Anyway: Councilor Scarpelli also put forward a resolution to discuss processes dealing with possible home rule petitions. (Again, going forward, the Council will ensure that future resolutions are phrased more specifically, so that both Councilors and the public know what discussion topics to expect.) The discussion on the previous resolution flowed into this one, as the home rule petitions the Councilor brought up were the real estate transfer fee home rule petition, as well as the rent stabilization home rule petition.

This was a good opportunity to reinforce the process that home rule petitions follow. It’s not a short process!

  1. Home rule petition (to enact a transfer fee, to enact rent stabilization, etc.) is proposed by City Council

  2. To advance, petition must be passed by City Council

  3. To advance, petition must be approved by Mayor

  4. To advance, petition must be filed by our State delegation (Medford state senators or representatives) as a piece of State legislation

  5. To advance, legislation must be approved by State Congress and Governor

  6. With enabling legislation approved, City Council must then craft and pass the relevant ordinance

  7. If passed, the ordinance takes effect.

To paraphrase part of what I said during my moderately-lengthy comments on these two resolutions on Tuesday: Am I advocating for these home rule petitions because I think they’ll definitely pass and be able to become law in Medford? No – honestly, I’m not particularly optimistic! Home rule petitions don’t usually become law. They’re more usually a way of sending a signal to the State, of advocating – i.e., hey State, we want you to give us the power to craft a real estate transfer fee, we want you to empower municipalities to craft rent stabilization policies.

Personally, I believe that part of my responsibility as a representative is to advocate for the tools the community needs that it doesn’t yet have. That’s why I’ll continue to advocate for communities to have the power to craft the transfer fee and rent stabilization policies that work for them.

And, I have full cognizance that this is just one small piece of our work on housing. These home rules have been getting a lot of airtime lately, but we are discussing many other housing-related policies and mechanisms that aren’t home rules, they’re just things squarely within the Council’s jurisdiction. This Council will continue to work on a comprehensive update to our Zoning Code of Ordinances (in the Planning & Permitting Committee), whereby we can do things to make it easier to add good-quality homes, accelerate commercial development to help our business districts thrive, and boost our commercial tax base. (We’ve been gearing up for this zoning overhaul since before I was on the Council!) The Council also plans to look further at measures like the Good Landlord Tax Credit (in the Administration & Finance Committee), which is a direct way to reward landlords who keep rents below market rates and encourage others to do so.

Councilor Scarpelli also put forward a resolution to finalize a date for a walking tour of Medford Fire Houses. This was withdrawn for good reason: prior to the meeting the Council, Administration, and MFD were able to lock in a date.

We approved food truck permits for the Boston Glory ultimate frisbee games at the Hormel Stadium over the next several weeks.

We approved a Community Preservation Committee funding recommendation of $287,500 from CPA Funds for Phase II of the Thomas Brooks Park restoration project. For the uninitiated, CPA funds are limited by State statute in what they may be spent on, and in what proportion. For more information, see the City website overview or the State law itself.

We took from the table and approved a Personnel Ordinance change to raise the salary for the Supervisor of Water & Sewer. The change request from the Mayor’s office stated: “The City has had this position posted at PW-18 [a salary level] for months and has not received any qualified applications. This proposed classification change would not require a supplemental Appropriation.”

I hope that this salary change helps us more quickly attract excellent and competitive candidates to fill the position. As always, all hiring decisions are made by the Administration.

We also took the final vote to approve the Budget Ordinance.

As usual, I didn't do a great job at being brief. Thanks for reading, all!

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