Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is Cambridge Really the Most Walkable City??

The Cambridge Chronicle has a story on their web site, see link below, reporting about the "survey" done by the AARP. However, as yopu can see in my comments, it is not the survey done by the AARP that is relevant, but the survey done by the Mass Architectural Access Board that counts. The City of Cambridge has been maintaining or sidewalks in violation of Mass State Safety Code for years, and we have been paying for this faulty work.


Here is the comment I left on the Chronicle's blog...

The City of Cambridge has been ignoring both the Mass State Safety Code and the Federal Standards mandated by the Americane With Disabilities Act of 1990 for years now. Even after
I, and others, complained to the City in writing, and in testimony at various hearings, the City continued to reconstruct and maintain the sidewalks in violation of regulations and standards.

Many folks fell and suffered serious injuries during this period of trying to get the City to repair and maintain the sidewalks legally. The City, even with injured folks coming to City Council meetings to testify, continued to defy all laws governing how sidewalks should be reconstructed or maintained. Therefore, last year, March 2006, I began filing a series of Mass Safety Board complaints with the MAAB. In order to review such complaints, the MAAB must determing jurisdiction. To do that they request information from the City, namely, the date and permitting records for the most recent alterations of the sidewalk complained about. When a City allows a sidewalk to be dug up, and concrete or bricks removed, and a new surface to be installed, a permit should be issued. These records, when they are kept by the City of Cambridge, are kept by date and not be location, making it exceedingly hard to "find."

However, it seems that the City of Cambridge never issued permits for the illegally repaired sidewalks, because, as was explained to me, "We paid for it out of the minor repair budget." I was told that because they used the minor repair budget, the alterations didn't trigger compliance with safety board regulations. However, the City is wrong. It is the extent of the work performed, and not the budget that was used to pay the contractor that is at issue. After all, why would the Taxpayers want to pay millions of dollars to fix our sidewalks, and do the work wrong, so pedestrians safety was still a problem?

In spite of the City's failure to issue or "find" permitting information, I was able to supply the Safety Board with enough factual information, including photos, so the Board was able to determing jurisdiction in half the complaints I filed. The City continued avoid the issue, and finally the Safety Board came to Cambridge and surveyed the sidewalks in question. Result? Many outstanding violations. Although the AAPD may be wellmeaning, they may lack the expertise, and the knowledge of safety standards, and access standards required by both State and Federal Law, therefore, it is not the AAPD survey that is important, but the survey conducted by the MAAB that is relavent.

The MAAB ordered the City of Cambridge to fix the bad sidewalks by december 1, 2006, and provide photos, or a plan to prove the violations were corrected, or impossible to correct. To date, the City has not complied with the MAAB's orders. I will update folks on this issue on my blog, at http://fromtheport.blogspot.com, or my All About City Council blog at http://votekathy.blogspot.com.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Leaf Blowers, Noise and Fumes

This is the City's landscape maintainance company, with a truck spewing black fumes into the air. This was taken at Dana Park on a hot day, when folks who like to save energy were keeping their windows open to get a breath of fresh air instead of using the air conditioner. As you can see, the puff of black smoke got bigger and bigger and the breeze blew it right into the open windows of the homes of folks who lived across from the park. This is a "high tech" application of mulch, which is blown out through hugh tubes onto the base of the trees in the park. The black fumes are from the engine.

I oppose leaf blowers for the same reason. Although both this truck and the leaf blowers make a huge racket, it is the fumes, dust and debris, containing small particles, including virus, bacteria and fungus that I really am concerned about. let me ask you this, would you use a leaf blower in your living room?

Katie and Friends

My, what big ears you have, Katie!

No matter how hot it is, these pooches love going out to the Dog Park in Cambridge.

Sweet, sweet sweeties...

Cambridge Dogs are just beautiful!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Take Me Out To The Dog Park!!

Here are some photos of dogs living it up in the Fort Washington Dog Park in Cambridge MA. below please find my answers to questions posed by The Cambridge Dog owner's group.


Candidate’s Name:
Kathy Podgers

Area of City in which you reside:

Have you served on Cambridge City Council before? If yes, for how many years have you served (including this one)?

Although I have never served on Cambridge City Council before, I have attended City Council meetings regularly for the past six years or so. I have also attended committee meetings, testified at hearings, provided written testimony, complete with accurate information, and attended various board and commission meetings. I understand how the current City Council works, and that is one reason that I am running for City Council.

Question 1:
What do you see as the most important issues facing Cambridge right now?

Unfortunately, there are many important issues facing Cambridge that have not been addressed or resolved in previous years by the Current City Council. They include, but are not limited to, Transparency and Truth in City Government, the proper balance of the Built Up Environment with the Natural Environment, Effective Community Policing, Quality of Life Issues, such as Dog Parks and Snow Clearance, Housing, Budget Management and Taxes, and Transportation and Traffic, such as the impending decision about the Urban Ring, among others.

If you were elected, how would you begin to address the above-mentioned issues? Briefly describe using measurable goals and objectives.

The City Council is responsible for Policy Making in the City, and the City Manager charged with implementing the Policies set by the City Council. Currently the Council adopts goals every two years, and the City Manager forwards these to the Departments where, if they do write measurable objectives, I have never seen them.

I would, if elected, recommend a plan where Council sets goals, and sends a Policy Order to the City manager, requesting he have the pertinent department/s write measurable objectives to meet the goals that are set. Then, periodically, the Council can send the Manager a Policy Order requesting a progress report. This will result in better management and oversight, and result in issues and concerns actually being resolved in a timely way.

Question 2:

Would you support the creation of “dedicated dog parks” (safe, fenced parks created for families with dogs to recreate with one another and their pets) in Cambridge?

Yes, I support Dog Parks.

If YES, please list measurable goals and objectives you, as a city councilor, would pursue If NO, please state why not.

I would set goals by working with others, all the stake holders, such as providing a Dog Park within walking distance in each major neighborhood in the City. Then I would write a policy order requesting the City Manager to have the relevant Departments to write measurable objectives, including but not limited to, a time line, obtaining the space, developing a budget, and including community input, etc, with a provision that these objectives be reported back In City Council, and with periodic progress reports to City Council.

Question 3:

Would you support the creation of “shared use parks” for families with dogs (allowing dog owners to engage recreationally with one another and their pets during specified hours in specified parks and athletic fields) in Cambridge?

Yes, I support shared use parks. This must be managed wisely to avoid complaints and unintended consequences.

If YES, please list measurable goals and objectives you, as a city councilor, would pursue If NO, please state why not.

Please see above…I do not believe in setting goals by one person or group, but goal setting, to work properly, must be done in such a way that the community as a whole is agreeable. The City Manager is by law responsible for implementing policy, and he should have his departments write the measurable objectives. This should be reported back In City Council, and if there are concerns, then referred to Committee for resolution, or returned back to the City Manager for more work. The City Council should not just vote to accept and place on file, the Manager’s reports, especially when they are not responsive to the Policy Order.

Question 4:

Do you typically spend time in Cambridge parks, playgrounds or athletic fields?

Yes, I enjoy the outdoors, and spend much of my time there.

If YES, please list the parks you visit, an approximate number of times you visit in the average week, and the general activity/ies in which you engage
(e.g., watching soccer games, reading, picnicking)


Dana Park
Walking dog, photography, socializing

Pacific St Dog Park
5x weekly
Enjoying my dog running free, socializing

Magazine Beach
2x weekly
Photography, enjoying natural environment, viewing wildlife

Question 5:

Have you visited Pacific Street Park, Cambridge’s first dedicated dog park? Fort Washington? Fresh Pond or the Danehy Park dog run?

Yes, I used to go to Fort Washington, but after the death of the little dog who and the fencing issues, I now go to Pacific St Park. I have been to Fresh Pond several times.

Question 6:

Are you or a member of your household responsible for the care of a pet?
I own and care for my Service Animal, a Siberian Husky, which by law is not a pet. Service Animals, which include guide dogs, need to run and socialize as much as pets.

Question 7:

Is there anything else you would like Cambridge dog owners to know?

I have always supported Dog Parks, and the integration of dogs in society. I have never equivocated on this issue. Dogs are an essential aspect for human health. Please see the link on my campaign blog to Delta Society, which has a wealth of information on the value of dogs in society. In addition, we must realize that dogs are dumb, that is they are unable to speak for themselves, and we should, therefore, speak up for them and their welfare.

Kathy Podgers
148 Pearl Street, 02139

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

After you shovel the snow

After ypou shovel the snow from the sidewalk in front of your house, and, if you live on a corner, from the sidewalk along the side of your house, and from the curb ramp, so your neighbors, who are disabled can access the sidewalk from the crosswalk, and folks who use baby strollers can get by, and seniors using walkers, and folks whpo are blind with canes...
The City comes by and plows a snow poop into the curb ramp you cleared the day before.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Safety Code Violations?

The State of Mass has regulations that include what is called in the law as 521 CMR 3.10, which requires that wgen the construction of a street or sidewalk blocks the walkway, that an accessible route be provided, and that appropiate signs and other protective devises by used.

We often see the City of Cambrridge comply with this regulation in Harvard Sq, especially during the current construction projects. A sign will be set up stating Pedestrians ----> and there will be a temporary curb ramp set in place so strollers and wheelchairs and others can negitiate the curb. Cones and even tape is put in place to seperate pedestrians from traffic. This remains in place even when the workers leave for lunch, or for the day.

These photos were taken this summer on Pearl Street, where no accessible route was ever setup, and where a gaping open pit was left overnight for folks to trip into when crossing the street. This is a safety hazard, and the City should make sure that the regulations are followed in our neighborhood streets and not just in Harvard Sq.