Happy Passover and Happy Easter! At the start of today’s meeting, we joined Councilor O’Malley in getting ready for Marathon Monday with a celebration of Olympic and Boston Marathon champion runner Joan Benoit Samuelson. As always, please reach out with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-635-3115. Anyone can sign up to receive these notes by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes or see the whole list of notes at www.michelleforboston.com/notes.
FY 2018 Budget: Mayor Walsh filed his recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The budget totals $3.14B, including $1.08B for Boston Public Schools. The total operating budget represents an increase of 4.8% ($144M) over FY17. Starting at the end of this month, the Council’s Ways & Means Committee, chaired by Councilor Ciommo, will hold hearings to look into each department’s proposed budgets. The Council will vote on the FY18 budget in June. All of the associated dockets were assigned to the Ways & Means Committee. You can see more detail on the proposed budget in the Mayor’s press release at: https://www.boston.gov/news/mayor-w….
Surplus City Parcels: We voted 12-0 (Councilor Zakim absent) to transfer two parcels of land to the City’s Public Facilities Commission.
- Northeasterly corner of Richie Street and Columbus Ave in Roxbury: a subdivided 20’ sliver totaling 5,970 square feet from an existing parcel serving as a Public Works facility in Jackson Square with an appraised value of $120K. The abutting property will be developed as a 75,000 square-feet recreational center including an ice rink and indoor turf field, and the developer has expressed interest in this parcel as a potential field house. The parcel would be made available through an RFP to consider uses that increase the public benefits of the proposed rec center.
- Willow Court in Dorchester: a 10’ sliver totaling 1,140 sf within Public Works custody, with an appraised value of $23K. The current owner of the abutting property at 68 Willow Court is building a 9-unit residential building, and would like to purchase this sliver lot to provide access to the development from the side along Enterprise Street.
Urban Renewal Progress Update: Councilor Linehan reported back on Monday’s meeting with the BPDA, the second of our biannual oversight meetings regarding urban renewal. The BPDA reported that two of the fourteen urban renewal map areas have been inventoried for Land Disposition Agreements—the South End/Lower Roxbury area and the Downtown/Central Business District area. They are now one year into the two-year action plan for inventorying LDAs and stated that they should be close to 50% complete, because the South End and Charlestown map areas were by far the largest maps. The plan is for public access to specific LDAs to be available through the BRA’s zoning viewer tool online, and for there to be significant progress about changing boundaries by the next check-in meeting. The BPDA also committed to codifying through a letter their mutual understanding with the Council that regardless of whether DHCD would consider a temporal extension of urban renewal areas as a minor modification, the Boston City Council will have a controlling vote. The matter remains in the Committee on Planning & Development for the next update meeting in six months.
Immigrant Defense Fund: Councilors Pressley and Jackson reported back on Monday’s hearing on Councilor Jackson’s order to explore an immigrant defense fund to help undocumented immigrants facing deportation or who have been detained to afford a lawyer. Councilor Jackson stated that only 4% of immigrants appealing deportation proceedings without legal representation are successful, yet there are tremendous costs when breadwinners are removed from families, e.g. $28K to put a child in foster care. The likelihood of success rises to 49% in cases with representation. The matter remains in the Committee on Healthy Women, Families & Communities.
Early Education and Childcare–Childcare Funding Mechanisms: Councilor Essaibi-George reported back on Tuesday’s briefing focused on funding mechanisms and cost barriers for quality early education and childcare in Massachusetts. This was our third briefing in the policy series that Councilors Pressley, Essaibi-George, Campbell and I launched, and we were joined by Ann Bookman, Director of the UMass Boston Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy; Tracy Palandjian, CEO of Social Finance; and Elizabeth Gaines of the Forum for Youth Investment. We heard about the troubling cost landscape in MA, as well as examples of funding mechanisms that other states and municipalities have launched. See the link to slides and video here: https://www.boston.gov/public-notices/22046. The matter remains in the Committee on Healthy Women, Families & Communities.
Shelter Recovery Beds: Councilor Essaibi-George reported back on yesterday’s hearing on the transition of shelter recovery beds at the Southampton Street Shelter as an informative conversation about the shift to rapid rehousing, with a goal of greater long-term stability. Councilor Jackson maintained that the Boston Public Health Department knew about the transition for a year without notifying participants, then placed residents recovering from addiction in the same programs as active users. Councilor Jackson said that since the transition, 7 residents relapsed, and 3 have been incarcerated. The matter remains in the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery.
Winthrop Square Project: Councilor Linehan filed a home-rule petition to amend the state’s shadow laws and allow for an exemption for Millennium Partners’ proposed redevelopment of the Winthrop Square Garage site. The proposal would provide an exemption for this project to cast shadow on Boston Common, as well as eliminate the remaining shadow bank that developments abutting the Common may take from, and extend shadow protections to Copley Square. Councilor Linehan described it as a great deal for the city, trading a little more shadow for $12M in taxes and $153M in public mitigation funds, including $28M for Boston Common, $28M for Franklin Park, $35M for BHA. Councilor Jackson stood to oppose the proposal, stating that the BPDA has tried to usurp City Council power through a process that has not been transparent. He mentioned that Millennium has already been exempted multiple times, that the mitigation funding was conditional on certain sales projections, and that this would set a bad precedent. The matter was assigned to the Committee on Government Operations for a hearing. A home-rule petition would require approval by the Council, signature from the Mayor, and then state legislative approval as well.
Memorial Hero Square: We voted to suspend and adopt Councilor McCarthy’s resolution designating a Memorial Hero Square at 927 Harrison Avenue in honor of Chief Water Tender, Frank Elmer Smith. He mentioned that this was a revision, based on more accurate research identifying where Mr. Smith had grown up.
Announcements: Several Councilors stood in tribute to Councilor LaMattina, who yesterday announced that he will not be seeking reelection this year after over a decade on the Council and three decades working for the City of Boston.
Upcoming Hearings/Working Sessions (Watch at www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/live.asp)
- Thursday, 4/13 at 12:00PM, Ownership and Occupancy Deadline for Residential Property Exemptions (Government Operations)
- Thursday, 4/13 at 2:00PM, Boston Police Cadet Program (Public Safety & Criminal Justice)
- Tuesday, 4/18* at 5:00PM, Free Petition Ordinance (Government Operations) *note date change
- Tuesday, 4/25 at 3:00PM, Community Choice Aggregation (Environment & Sustainability)
Ways & Means hearings on the proposed FY18 budget begin April 24th. The full budget hearing schedule will be published with the next Council Notes!