The City Council rescinded the controversial zoning amendment on signs tonight. So for a while, at least these riverfront buildings and others in a zone along the Charles, surrounding East Cambridge and another in North Cambridge (the building identification sign zones) will stay looking the same. While they could have allowed the voters to decide, either at the next regularly scheduled election in November 2011, or in a special election, they saved us the expense. City Manager Robert Healy estimated the cost to put it up for a vote next November would have been $15,000, and a special election $170,000. The only Councillor advocating a vote by the citizens was Mr. Toomey. He wanted the $170,000 plan. I'm not really sure why.
Expect this to come up again as soon as proponents on the the Council and the Solicitor's office think it's safe. Perhaps then they will actually respect the wishes of the many citizens who do not want six by fifteen foot (90 square feet) illuminated signs all along the Charles River Reservation, surrounding East Cambridge and shining down on North Cambridge.
The other provisions of the amendment allowing waiver of sign regulations throughout the city will certainly return too. There is certainly plenty to discuss regarding this, but it seems to me that writing good regulations according to an overall plan would be a better approach than an ad hoc waiver process. More work though.
One highlight of tonight's meeting was when after railing on about the "lies and misinformation" calling the ninety square foot building ID signs billboards, Councillor Reeves on another topic mentioned a "huge billboard" advertising a public meeting about the Western Avenue redesign and reconstruction project. Those City of Cambridge signs are typically about four by six feet. So, is it or isn't it? You decide. And let your City Councillors know what you think.