Government Affairs Committee January 2017 Update

As we start 2017, the Government Affairs Committee is keeping abreast of proposals before the City of Cambridge which may impact locally-owned independent businesses.  Here are a few highlights and items of note from happenings in the City:
Central Square Restoration Petition
This zoning petition, also referred to as the Sater Petition, seeks to implement changes to Central Square’s zoning that have been discussed over the last 10+ years as part of multiple reviews of the Square.  Cambridge Local First is supportive of the Petition in general and its “Formula Business” requirements in particular.  The Petition and the Formula Business language, if adopted, would require a Planning Board review and input for any business meeting certain criteria such as having 10 or more locations in Massachusetts or 20 or more globally or sharing a common trademark or logo.  Businesses that do not meet the definition of a Formula Business would not be subject to a Planning Board Special Permit Review.  This will provide, in our opinion, small, independently-owned businesses with some valuable relief when seeking to open in Central Square.
This Petition is set to expire on March 1st unless acted on by the Council.  We encourage you to ask the City Councillors that you know or are your customers to support this Petition and the Formula Business language.
Inman Square
Inman Square is a difficult place for those who seek to traverse its tangled main intersection whether that be by foot, bicycle or automobile.  The City is working on plans to redesign the intersection with several options for enhancing pedestrian and cyclist safety.  Each of these plans has pros and cons to their designs.  If your business is in Inman Square or has you traveling through Inman Square frequently some of these proposals may have more of an impact on your business than others.  The redesign of Inman Square is going to happen, so we encourage you to review the options and provide your feedback, including any impacts to your business before a final design is selected.
We will link to the proposed designs on the Cambridge Local First website and we encourage you to look them over and provide feedback either to CLF or to the City.
The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority 2017 Forward Fund

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority’s Forward Fund (the Fund) is a microgrant program intended toreinvest development funds generated in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area to fund pilot projects by non-profit organizations, community groups, innovative thinkers, and small businesses across the City of Cambridge. The Fund supports innovative civic improvement projects and creative physical interventions that better Cambridge’s built environment for the benefit of all the city’s residents, workers, and visitors.

The grants available for 2017 are the Civic Experimentation Capital Grant, with an award range of $5,000 – $25,000.  The second available grant is theCommunity Infrastructure Captial Grant, also with an award range of $5,000 – $25,000.  The grants are available to help support projects that create, maintain, or enhance Connections within Cambridge. 

This is a great opportunity to implement projects in your particular part of Cambridge while having them funded by the Forward Fund.  For more information visit the Forward Fund.

(Above taken almost entirely from CRA’s Forward Fund site.)
City Council Election Year
Its another odd year which means a City Council Election this November.  While that seems like a long time away, there is already a growing list of candidates who will soon be seeking your input, support and contributions.  CLF will once again be surveying the candidates on a variety of issues that impact locally-owned, independent businesses and their employees and will make the responses available to our members and the general public.
Join the Committee
We are always looking for new members to join the Government Affairs Committee and we welcome anyone who would like to undertake the work of making doing business in the City easier, reducing red-tape and working to have the voice of independently-owned, local businesses heard when the City considers changes to regulations to join us.
Cambridge Local First