City Council

Photo of the Sullivan Chamber in City Hall

The City Council, the policy setting arm of the City, derives its powers from the City Charter and the laws and Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The City Council authorizes public improvements and expenditures, adopts regulations and ordinances, establishes financial policies and performs many related legislative tasks.

Pursuant to the Executive Order issued by Governor Baker on March 15, 2020, Cambridge City Hall will be closed to the public as of 5PM on Monday, March 16, 2020.

The City Council will continue to hold regular meetings.  Members of the public cannot be physically present during the meeting. Members of the public can watch the meeting on City’s Cable channel 22-CityView or online via the City of Cambridge Open Meeting Portal at

All public comment will be conducted through ZOOM virtual meetings.  Please be aware that ZOOM is ONLY being used to allow public comment at the beginning of the City Council’s meeting.  ZOOM will be deactivated when public comment has concluded.  The meeting will continue to be available on cable and the Open Meeting Portal.

Sign up for public comment at

You will receive instructions about how to use ZOOM after you have signed up.

If you do not have access to the internet, please contact the City Council Office at 617-349-4280 to have your name added to the list and instructions on how to join ZOOM via telephone.

Sign up begins at 9AM on the Friday before the meeting.  Public comment sign up will end at 6PM on the day of the City Council meeting.

Instructions on how to participate by phone or computer using ZOOM

Tips and FAQs

About the City Council

The City Council, the policy setting arm of the City, derives its powers from the City charter and the laws and Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It authorizes public improvements and expenditures, adopts regulations and ordinances, levies taxes, controls the finances and property taxes of the City, and performs many related legislative tasks.

The City Council is elected at-large by the proportional representation electoral process. Upon organization of each new Council, the members elect a Mayor and a Vice-Mayor, with the Mayor serving as the Council's chief legislative officer. The Council organizes into committees, which have become increasingly active over the past few years, providing much of the research and legislative analysis on major policy issues before the Council.

The City Council meets regularly on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. from the first Monday in January to and including the last Monday in June, and from the second Monday in September to and including the last Monday in December in the Sullivan Chamber on the second floor of City Hall. Approximately one meeting each month is scheduled as an informal roundtable discussion meeting at which no votes are taken. Business meetings are televised live on 22-CityView, the Municipal Channel, and rebroadcast on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and Friday at 10 a.m. They are also live streamed on the Open Meeting Portal.

The City Council's regular business meetings are conducted in accordance with the City Council Rules.  The City Council meeting agenda is generally posted online by 5:30 p.m. on the Thursday before the meeting on the City Council Open Meeting Portal. Copies of the agenda are generally available between 10 a.m. and Noon on Fridays at the City Clerk's Office. Please note that City Hall closes at Noon on Fridays.

Members of the public may speak at the public comment section of the scheduled business meeting for up to three minutes on any matter that is being considered by the City Council for action at that meeting (the public may not speak on items in the communications section of the agenda during public comment). You may sign up to speak by calling the City Council Office at 617-349-4280 on Mondays between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., or by signing up at the meeting between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

To have an item placed on the City Council agenda for action at the meeting, contact a City Councillor to request that he or she submit an order or resolution to the City Clerk to be placed on the agenda. If you wish to submit written comments for a meeting, please read the instructions for submitting written comments.

The agenda is also the way to send a letter to the City Council that will become part of the formal record of City Council proceedings. The letter should be addressed to the City Council, care of the City Clerk. The City Clerk will place all new communications on the agenda for the next regular City Council business meeting. Such letters, if they are about issues that are not otherwise on the Council's business agenda, are not considered part of the action agenda for that meeting, and thus, public comment on these communications is out of order.

2020-21 Cambridge City Council

2020-2021 City Council Group Photo, by Kyle Klein

Pictured in Front Row: Dennis J. Carlone, Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Patricia M. Nolan, Marc C. McGovern, Vice Mayor Alanna M. Mallon
Back Row: Quinton Y. Zondervan, Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., E. Denise Simmons, Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler

Guiding Principles and Goals (Adopted Provisionally)

On October 16, 2017, the City Council adopted provisionally Guiding Principles and Goals.

Guiding Principles

  • Accessible: We make it safe and easy for people to get where they need to go, for work and play.  
  • Deliberate. We plan for the future so that we’re ready for its opportunities and challenges. 
  • Diverse: We make room for a mix of people to feel welcome and at home here.
  • Efficient: We get the work of government done smoothly, in a transparent, collaborative, and fiscally responsible manner.
  • Equitable: We treat each other fairly and without bias; we respond to the humanity we recognize in each other.
  • Innovative: We support the people and institutions that are   inventing new ways to make life better. 
  • Navigable: We make it easy for people to find their way to the city services they need, so all our residents can figure out how to “make the system work” for them.
  • Neighborly: We strive to connect to the people around us; we pitch in to help each other out. 
  • Resilient: We take careful steps now to leave a better world for the generations to come. 
  • Rooted: We preserve the feel of a deep history that runs under our city. 

City Council Goals

  • Goal 1: Increase access to affordable housing for all income groups.  
  • Goal 2: Ensure that Cambridge offers economic and educational opportunity to all. 
  • Goal 3: Deepen our commitment to sustainable use of energy and strengthen our capacity for resilience. 
  • Goal 4: Expand and deepen community engagement.  
  • Goal 5: Develop more proactive, inclusive, and transparent city planning process. 
  • Goal 6: Make it easy to move safely through the City, especially by sustainable modes of transportation. 
  • Goal 7: Increase opportunities for all residents to enjoy the City’s open spaces. 
  • Goal 8: Ensure that Cambridge remains an Innovation Hub that integrates businesses of all sizes into a thriving ecosystem. 
  • Goal 9: Improve Council’s capacity to collaborate more effectively, make better decisions, and increase its accountability to the public. 
  • Goal 10: Ensure City’s budget allocates resources responsibly and responsively. 
  • Goal 11: Ensure Public Safety efforts reflect current and emerging challenges and opportunities in a way that incorporates Cambridge’s core values. 
  • Goal 12: Eliminate Bias within the City workplace and wider community. 

City Council Meeting Final Actions

Contact Us

How can we help?

Please provide as much detail below as possible so City staff can respond to your inquiry:

As a governmental entity, the Massachusetts Public Records Law applies to records made or received by the City. Any information received through use of this site is subject to the same provisions as information provided on paper.

Read our complete privacy statement

Service Requests

Enter a service request via Commonwealth Connect for things like missed trash pickups, potholes, etc., click here