Happy Summer! We are in the midst of budget season here at the city council (more updates to follow on that next newsletter), but I thought I would take a moment to talk about a lot of the exciting things that have been happening here on the city council this spring and in my campaign. In this newsletter, I will recap our fundraiser and highlight our victories passing the plastic straw ban, regulating Airbnb and advocating and getting more money for immigrant legal services here in the city.
We had a very successful Campaign Kickoff 2.0 at Sally O’Briens. We highlighted our campaign’s focus on fighting to keep Somerville a Community for All by Preserving Community, Standing with Workers, and Promoting Equity. Check out the speech that I gave to conclude the event HERE. Many thanks to my campaign staff, all my supporters who showed up, and the great musicians and artists who performed that night.
We have our new lawn signs in for the 2019 elections- please email my campaign manager Mike Bowler if you would like one dropped off in your yard (or maybe a street facing window) - email@example.com
2)Plastic Straw Ban Passes
I am excited to announce that the plastic straw ban ordinance was voted into law unanimously on May 9th. The ordinance will make plastic straws and plastic stirrers only available on request. Alternative non-plastic straws will still be allowed without request in order to promote their use when needed. The ordinance will be in effect in 9 months. Plastic straws are an important device for people with disabilities, so the Disability Policy Consortium was consulted during the crafting process, and their recommendations were incorporated. An educational campaign will be done to educate businesses to make sure that plastic straws are still accessible to anyone who needs it.
With 500 million straws used yearly by Americans, plastic waste is a problem that desperately needs to be addressed. I am proud that an important first step has been made to help address the large amount of single use plastic waste which is affecting our environment.
3) Free and Low-cost Legal Services for Immigrants
Back on February 8th, with the help of my colleague Mark Neidergang, I passed a Board resolution that: the administration appropriate funds to contract a community organization to provide free or low-cost legal services on Immigration and naturalization issues to immigrants living in Somerville.”
I am excited to announce that the new budget, thanks to the support of the Mayor on this issue, includes new funding measures that increases the free and low-cost legal services provided to our immigrant community! This is an issue of great importance to me, and I am excited to see Somerville putting money toward this essential service for our fellow community members.
4) Airbnb Regulation - Cut down on speculation!
Long overdue for an update here, but I am excited to announce that the city council voted on May 9th to pass the regulation on short-term rental units offered by websites like AirBnB, HomeAway, and VRBO. The regulations that were passed by the City Council require that units offered for short-term rental remain operators’ primary residence and create a registration process for short term rental operators aimed at ensuring safety for tenants and renters. Research conducted for the City by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in July 2015 found that there were around 400 active AirBnB short-term rental listings in Somerville and that 40% were for entire residences (see Sustainable Neighborhoods Working Group Report pages 20-21). With many Somerville residents struggling to find affordable rental housing that will allow them to stay in the community, there is concern that allowing operators to rent out entire housing units will decrease the number of regular rental opportunities, making it even harder for residents to find affordable housing. The new regulations would allow short-term rental operators to rent rooms within their primary residence or rent their entire primary residence when they are away, but would prohibit operators from renting units that they themselves do not live in. The regulations also establish a short-term rental registration process administered by the City’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) that will require an inspection of the short-term rental unit to ensure compliance with the regulation of the ordinance and applicable health and safety codes. This is an exciting victory for affordability and community here in Somerville! The ordinance goes into effect January of 2020.
Thanks for taking the time to read my updates! I am excited to continue this important work in my second term, but I am going to need your support to get there. You can sign up to volunteer for my campaign by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or you can donate to our campaign by clicking here!
Your Public Servant,
Always feel free to reach out over email to sign up for the newsletter or to ask questions/voice concerns at email@example.com or call me at 508-718-8126.
You can donate to our campaign by clicking here!