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September 2014 Minutes

PSNA Meeting Minutes
September 18, 2014
North Cambridge Senior Center
2050 Massachusetts Avenue

Agenda

  • Hathaway Bakery
  • Car Sharing

Hathaway Bakery

Rob Wolff reported that demolition work has begun on the inside of the structures. He has filled 35 dumpsters so far and has been able to recycle some of the wooden beams in other parts of the development. Lead and asbestos are being removed.

Like anyone who opens the walls of an old house, he has found many things he didn’t expect, which have put him behind schedule. He is negotiating with a general contractor, and expects to have hired a firm and have the building permit by the end of October.

Wolff expects the model unit to be completed in April/May 2015. Under the most optimistic scenario, the two-story portion of the development will be ready for occupancy by August 2015 and the rest about two months later; Wolff feels it is most likely to be completed closer to the end of next year.

Car Sharing

Stephanie Groll from CDD presented some data about the city’s effort to reduce the use of cars and of car-sharing generally and in Cambridge specifically. This was opening night of a citywide tour, so other neighborhood associations will be seeing this soon. Please send any feedback you have about carsharing to stephanie.groll@cambridgema.gov.

Here’s some of the interesting stuff:

  • Since 2003, the population of Cambridge has increased 6% and applications for residential parking permits has dropped by 5%.
  • Car ownership drops in neighborhoods that are well-served by car-sharing services, although the cause for the lower car-ownership could be due to a combination of things.
  • North Cambridge has an average of .96 vehicles per household, Neighborhood Nine has .86 vehicles per household, and Agassiz has .72 vehicles per household.
  • In residential neighborhoods, the median distance that drivers walk to get a car is one-third of a mile, or about 7 minutes.
  • Those who join car-sharing services drive less, and walk and bike more, than before they joined. 94% of carshare members don’t drive alone to work.
  • Now that Avis owns the company, Zipcar is changing some of its practices. It will no longer put cars in private driveways, nor will it open single car locations.
  • Enterprise is the other carshare company operating in Cambridge, but they don’t have as many cars as Zipcar.

Changes to city zoning are required to continue the growth of car-sharing:

  • Need a definition of carsharing. Right now it regulated as if it’s a rental car operation.
  • Need to address and clarify this the relationship with parking requirements. For example, what about carsharing in existing parking spaces that were required by zoning?
  • Need to think about how to regulate it in residential areas, where it is currently not allowed. If we want more people to get rid of their cars, we have to allow the carshare cars to be located near their homes.

Without any warning, one of the most interesting discussions about traffic and parking at any PSNA meeting ever held broke out. Among the ideas that came up:

  • In the “under parked” neighborhoods in town (yes, there are a couple), would the city consider allowing street spots for carsharing? Moving those cars in snow emergencies and for street cleaning would have to be worked out.
  • Can we view large surface parking lots as a community resource?
    • If shared cars are used most on the weekends, what about sites for pop-up lots for Zipcar or Enterprise on Friday nights or Saturday mornings in emptied commercial lots?
    • Could some more formal arrangement for storing cars in these lots for a few hours while snow is removed be fashioned? The relatively cleaner streets that the vehicle ban during two snow storms last winter offer a promising precedent.
  • Does anyone have a formula that would allow or require developers to provide some number of car-sharing spaces per some number of units without having to provide more spaces, and possibly fewer, than current zoning requires?

This discussion might have continued, but as most of the attendees wanted to make it home in time to watch The Roosevelts without missing too much, the meeting ended around 8.