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 www.cambridgema.gov

Virtual Meeting Attendance

Members of the Public are invited to attend and/or participate in Regular and Special Meetings of the Cambridge City Council 3 ways:

  • View meetings over the City of Cambridge Municipal Television Channel – Tune in to Cable Channel 22 locally, to watch meetings on your television. 
  • Stream meetings live over the web – Access the Open Meeting Portal by following this link http://cambridgema.iqm2.com/citizens/default.aspx? navigate to the meeting you wish to view and click on ‘video’ to begin the live stream Watch/Participate via Zoom teleconferencing –
  • To watch a meeting via Zoom teleconference, follow the appropriate link below:

 

     City Council Meeting 
     To use Zoom via phone-only,dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
     US: 312-626-6799 or 929-436-2866 or 301-715-8592 or 346-248-7799 or 669-900-6833 or 253-215-8782

     Webinar ID: 978 9584 7144

 

     Finance Committee 
     To use Zoom via phone-only, dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
     US: 312-626-6799 or 929-436-2866 or 301-715-8592 or 346-248-7799 or 669-900-6833 or 253-215-8782

     Webinar ID: 967 4380 5129

 

  • Registration is required in order to speak during public comment - Sign up begins at 9 a.m. on the Friday before the meeting.

 

Follow the link here https://www.cambridgema.gov/publiccomment to register to speak.

 

Speakers will be prompted to enter their first and last name when signing into the Zoom, please use the same name you have signed up to speak as in         order to be unmuted by the moderator during public comment.

 

For more information regarding Zoom technology, click here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departments/citycouncil/zoomonlinemeetinginstructions

 


 

Beginning April 27, 2020, live captioning of Cambridge City Council meetings will be available through CART (communication access realtime translation) in order to provide communication access for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. To access the CART livestream, click here. For additional instructions, visit www.cambridgema.gov/StreamCART Note: text will not appear in the CART window until the City Council meeting begins. For questions or concerns related to CART, contact Kate Thurman at kthurman@cambridgema.gov

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

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