Week-in-Review - 9/6/19: 4 days to go (sign up to help!), 3 city council updates

by Irina Costache, Campaign Organizer | Subscribe by Email

If you missed yesterday’s special email, Bill has now been endorsed by Progressive Newton, Massachusetts Sierra Club, and Sunrise Boston. (There are also more details yesterday about what Bill has been working on this week.)

Election Reminders

This is our last newsletter before the preliminary election this coming Tuesday, September 10!

Voters can find their polling location through this form on the city’s website. (The three locations are the Emerson Community Center for Precinct 1, the Hyde Center for Precinct 2, and the Waban Library Center for Precincts 3 and 4.)

  • Those who wish to vote by absentee ballot can still request one, but you might want to request it in person at this point (and turn it in at the City Clerk’s office in person as well).

  • If you are interested in showing you support for Bill on election day by holding up a sign at one of the three polling locations in Ward 5, please fill out this form and we’ll get in touch this weekend with assignments.

  • If you will be available on Monday to distribute reminders to supporters’ doors or Tuesday to make phone calls to voters, please email Bill as soon as possible to let him know. (The number of signups for specific days affects how we spread out the assignments, so don’t wait.)

  • Email your Ward 5 friends and ask them to vote for Bill on Tuesday: Word of mouth and personal recommendations are one of the most powerful tools we have for getting people to vote for Bill and to remember to turn out to vote in this Tuesday's Ward 5-only preliminary election. If you were thinking of emailing any lists of friends and neighbors about this race, now is the time to start doing that!

  • Lawn signs: Email Bill to get a lawn sign.


City Updates Residents Should Be Aware Of

On Wednesday, Mayor Fuller released her weekly newsletter, in which she included some updates about city ordinances. Here are four changes that residents should know about:

  • City Council change to Winter Parking Ban

    • According to the newsletter, the Overnight Parking Ban will be four weeks shorter this winter. Overnight on-street parking will now be prohibited from Dec. 1 - March 31.

    • For those in need of overnight parking in the winter, the city provides free municipal parking lot permits that can be obtained through the Newton Police Department. The permits are given on a first term basis and are good for parking only during the Winter Parking Ban.

  • City Council change to sidewalk snow-clearing ordinance

    • On Tuesday night, the City Council voted to pass an ordinance requiring homeowners to clear their sidewalks of snow within 24 hours of a storm’s end. The Mayor said that the exception to this rule will be in cases where conditions of snow warrant extra time or to those who “demonstrate hardship due to a combination of health and financial duress or religious circumstances.” Those who fail to do so would face a written warning for a first offence, and a $50 fine each time afterwards. The Department of Public Works will be enforcing this ordinance when people call/write in violations to 311.

  • City Council short-term rental (AirBnB) ordinance adopted

    • Also on Tuesday night, the Council voted on the city’s first ever ordinance regarding short term rentals (e.g. AirBnBs). The ordinance will go into effect on Jan. 2, 2020 and was meant to balance “the need to preserve ‘the quiet enjoyment of Newton neighborhoods’ while maintaining the ability of homeowners to earn extra money renting rooms.”

    • The rule allows homeowners to rent out rooms to people in the residence in which they live at form at least nine months of the year. The total number of bedrooms that can be rented out is three, while the total of renters allowed at any given time is nine. However, the City Council did not cap the number of nights a year that homeowners can rent out rooms. (This will likely need to be revisited.)

    • Those choosing to rent out rooms must register with the State and with the City of Newton before renting.

    • Homeowners will be held responsible to make sure that renters aren’t being “noisy, creating trash, causing parking or traffic issues or creating any other nuisance beyond which normally occurs in the immediate residential area.” Violating this rule three times will result in an inability to rent for six months.

  • There are 5 community meeting dates for people to learn more about the NewCAL (senior center, kind of) proposal -- Residents will have a chance to ask questions and hear directly from the project team at the Ed Center (Room 111) at the following 5 dates and times:

    • Thursday, September 19, 7:00 p.m.

    • Thursday, October 24, 7:00 p.m.

    • Thursday, November 21, 7:00 p.m.

    • Thursday, December 12, 7:00 p.m.

Riverside Proposal Revision

This week, the developers submitted to the City Council a revision to their proposed Riverside development, with significant reductions to the size of the project. With this new proposal, the development would feature 524 housing units, 524,000 sq. ft. of office space, 71,000 sq. ft. or retail space, and 2,756 parking spots. And, as opposed to the originally proposed total 1.5 million sq. ft., the project’s size would be brought down to 1.2 million sq. ft. Though this will make the project substantially smaller and nowhere near as tall, this reduction will be at the cost of: significantly less affordable housing, no condos, and less green space or riverfront revitalization. Also, the federal government has approved the proposed reconfiguration of the interstate highway exits to substantially reduce the traffic impact from the project on Auburndale and Lower Falls, which is a major change relative to the smaller, abandoned 2013 plan for Riverside.