Name: Christopher D’Aveta
Email Address (for public use): email@example.com
1. What are three issues you want to address if you are elected to the City Council?
My overarching concern, as a professional city planner experienced in working in
neighboring cities, is that Medford lacks development planning and long-term fiscal
planning. Doing all of this correctly will benefit the whole community in the form of an
increased commercial tax base, meaning less burden on residential taxpayers and, at the
same time, more funds to address the many needs the community has identified. So
improving the city’s revenue picture while protecting our diversity through keeping the
residential tax burden in check is a top priority for me. From that effort, other important
issues can be addressed: transportation and infrastructure, education, an improved library
and public buildings, the environment, culture and arts, housing, and accessibility. I’ve
seen how this works in a city like Waltham, where the commercial tax base centered at
Route 128 generates revenue that supports city initiatives like a line item for the Robert
Treat Paine Estate and the purchase of a fleet of hybrid vehicles.
Second on my agenda is to improve the climate for public participation and involvement in
Medford’s political life. As a neighborhood planner for Union and Davis Squares while
working for the City of Somerville, I gained first-hand experience with a public input
process that brought stakeholder voices to the fore and guaranteed a high level of resident
involvement in the workings of government. Our city leaders serve at the pleasure of the
people; at the very least, City Councillors should institute regular office hours. I was the
first candidate to call for this, as reported in the Transcript’s profile of me back in July,
and I’m pleased to see several others have followed my lead. That’s the bare minimum, of
course. Our salaried councillors shouldn’t just show up on Tuesday nights for meetings;
they should be working for the people in the community every day, listening and opening
up opportunities for public conversation and collaborative approaches. Further, residents
should expect a city council prepared to do business in a civil and respectful manner,
focusing on the substance of policies and their impact on the community, not on
personalities or personal politics, which are a sideshow.
Lastly, the city needs to invest in modern systems for tracking residents’ requests for day-to-day quality of life issues like snow clearing, potholes, garbage and recycling pickup, traffic enforcement, etc. Nobody should call city hall and get forwarded to three departments before being told either, vaguely, “you’re on a list,” or that the mayor will
personally handle the concern. There are many off-the-shelf solutions to this essential
communications and response problem. We should choose a cost-effective, high-quality one
and implement it.
If we can move forward on a smart planning process that engages the whole community
with public input opportunities, we can create an environment where we can tackle some of
our biggest challenges and opportunities together, including several I’ve already publicly
discussed: creating and implementing a maintenance plan for schools, public buildings,
parks, playgrounds, and green spaces; supporting our public library; and planning for the
Green Line stops, and how they will affect businesses, housing and traffic patterns.
2. What is your understanding of climate change and what do you think Medford’s role
should be, if any, in preparing for climate change?
There are simple things we can do right away, like make the city more pedestrian-, bikeand
mass transit-friendly to reduce car emissions. We can look to expand our recycling
program and demonstrate to residents how these small actions by many individuals can
add up to tangible benefits. We should explore options to offer composting for residents
who choose to do so. The city can also champion larger-scale initiatives, like commercial
solar conversions, or green building practices, by offering developers incentives to build
new construction to LEED certification levels or similar.
3. Do you think that residents understand enough about our city’s government? What changes would you push for to increase or decrease that understanding?
Medford’s greatest asset is its residents. I think the question should not be “do they
understand?” but rather, “do they care?” And if not, why not? A veneer of cynicism or
indifference only reflects the past, not the future. The city should certainly do more to
promote individual residents’ involvement in civic life: I can offer many specific, concrete
suggestions about how to do this, as is done routinely in other cities, from advertising
elections to publicizing commission meetings and minutes to reviving and opening up our
local cable TV access to establishing significant new channels of measurement, reporting,
and communication, like Somerville’s ResiStat. People lead busy lives and would like to feel
they can trust their elected officials to make the best-informed decisions on their behalf.
However, they need information, access, and accountability. Captain Barry is a good start.
But the city needs to make it easier for people to engage, even at a distance, by being
dramatically more proactive and receptive.
4. Do you support the Green Line extension to College Ave? Do you think Medford should push for the extension to Route 16?
I support the Green Line extension to the original planned terminus at Route 16, including
the station on College Ave. but no proper planning has taken place. Unfortunately, our city
has done little or no traffic and development planning for these stations, unlike
neighboring Somerville. At a recent Green Line public meeting, I asked a representative
from the MBTA how the area around College Ave. and Boston Ave. would be studied
relative to any increased vehicular traffic and how the traffic patterns and signalization
timing and pedestrian mobility are going to be addressed to accommodate this reality, and
the representative responded that it was not the MBTA’s job to do that. This is a huge
failing of the process and is unconscionable in my opinion. As an advocate for Complete
Streets, for this project to not plan for this reality represents a lack of foresight as well as
oversight. From knocking on doors and talking to people, I know significant work needs to
be done to address residents’ concerns.
5. Medford’s streets have become treacherous to walk, bicycle and drive on. What plan
would you push for to get all of our streets brought back to an acceptable level during your term?
Safer streets and byways have been a cornerstone of my professional efforts for years. I
was part of the Hillside citizen group that worked with the city and Tufts to install a raised
crosswalk on Winthrop Street in 2013, and I’ve been active with the “safe routes to school”
group at the Brooks Elementary, where my kids are in school. Again, the key to better
infrastructure maintenance (and improvements, like dedicated bike lanes, traffic calming
measures, and more) is to plan responsibly for the future and generate enough city revenue
so that we can accommodate these needs on an ever-increasing basis. I want to see our
roadways and infrastructure reconstructed in a lasting way, not just skim coat the roads
and call it paving, and ignore the underlying problems.
6. Are you familiar with “Complete Streets” policies? Would you encourage or discourage
the adoption of a “Complete Streets” plan for Medford?
Yes, I am very familiar with policies that provide for pedestrians and cyclists to be
considered in any new design, and I would encourage the latest thinking in technology for
traffic calming. I returned recently from a conference that offered various opinions on
Complete Streets and the data are quite interesting. I think we can be in the forefront of
developing better infrastructure in Medford. Nearly everyone I have spoken with about
Medford Square and all the parents of school age children across the city feel unsafe
walking or crossing the streets of the city and this must be reversed with proper planning
for the future of our roadways. Many roadway treatments have been shown effective at
reducing vehicular speed and we should start utilizing the most efficient and cost-effective
of those treatments immediately.
7. Do you think Medford should adopt the Community Preservation Act? Regardless of whether you believe we should adopt it, if it passes in Medford, what project would you like to see among the first 5 undertaken?
Yes, Medford should adopt it and I’d support affordable housing as a top priority. I’ve
worked on projects in other municipalities that derived part of their funding from the CPA
(typically, these projects utilize multiple funding sources), so I know that it is possible to
put an attractive development package together for additional funding. I would also make
certain that an exemption for any homeowner on a fixed income is included and I would
advocate for an increase in the amount of the residential exemption, much as Cambridge
allows for. I also know there is federal funding to support affordable housing initiatives, so
our CPA investment, augmented with CPA matching funds, and qualifying federal HOME
funds, could be further extended to make projects a reality for our community.
Affordability is becoming an explosive issue in many neighboring communities, and
Medford can be proactive in this area to guarantee our community can retain its
welcoming nature, its diversity, and its character.
8. The Mystic River is one of Medford’s great natural resources. Several organizations have been collaborating to improve the paths along the river to provide connected routes for recreational, transportation, and commuter walking and bicycling. One such path is the proposed “Clippership Connector” between Medford Square and the middle school complex at River Bend Park. What is your view about how the city should work with stakeholder on such a path? Should the city help to fund such a path?
Yes, the city should facilitate the creation of a Clippership Connector. I agree completely
that it’s not only one of Medford’s great resources, but an underutilized key to the future
smart growth of our city as a great place for families, seniors, bird and other animal
watchers, athletes, cyclists, small businesses, and every other individual or group who will
thrive with better stewardship of the riverbanks. Of course, the city should start by
listening: to the residents eager to have full access to connected routes; the residents whose
properties would be most impacted by any changes; and explore options for a grant or
other such investment that would assist in making this connection.
9. What is your position on affordable housing? What steps, if any, would you push for to see more affordable housing in Medford? What would you do to keep Medford affordable for lifelong residents?
I spoke of this above. We need to make sure the city’s housing plan is up to date and
accurate. We should integrate planning for affordable housing along with a review of the
zoning code. Medford should remain active in the North Suburban Consortium and apply
for funding through the consortium. We need to ensure the housing takes into
consideration all aspects of housing across the spectrum of need. We can leverage certain
areas of CDBG funding to support the HOME funds. Right now, that funding is used for
senior services, which supports aging in place and is an important corollary to affordable
housing. However, with more funds generated by the kind of smart growth I discussed
above, we could expand our commitment as a community to serving this need.
10. Do you think Medford has too many or too few liquor and entertainment licenses? Should Medford’s entertainment licensing rules be changed? How and why?
We need to look at the options to reinvigorate Medford Square with entertainment choices
for all ages. I’ve heard from a lot of elderly people who live in proximity to the square that
they’d like entertainment options, too, and people know that I am a strong advocate for the
creation of music venues similar to those now closing in Cambridge and Somerville. We
can and should capture some of the crowds lost to those venues which may require
petitioning the state for more control over our liquor licensing options. Community groups
like the Medford Community Coalition, with its cash mobs, and the Chevalier leadership
promoting the “OnStage” music series certainly have the right idea and the city should
encourage their vitality and entrepreneurship, even as it looks at ordinances that can be
11. Surrounding cities and towns have “sidewalk cafes” as part of their lounge and restaurant businesses, including those where the front of the building effectively opens up to the sidewalk. Would you support changes to ordinances and regulations to allow that type of establishment in the city?
Yes, we should encourage outdoor dining options as well as other street life activity that
would give people a reason to congregate in our business districts. Circle the Square takes
place 3 days a year, and succeeds in building that foot traffic. We need to have many more
such efforts, with enough to offer that residents will come and stay in our revitalized
commercial areas – not just Medford Square. And while the city can’t tell a private
business owner where to locate or how to invest private funds, it can create incentives or
offer assistance and create the environment for people to linger. People desire to be in areas
where there are other people and outdoor seating is a big step toward this goal.
12. What is one ordinance in Medford you would like to see changed? What change would you push for?
Right off the bat, I would seek to institute 30 minutes of free parking in all our business
districts now regulated by the parking kiosks before we come up with a more permanent
solution to this issue. This measure would benefit the small business community and
residents, in particular seniors, many of whom have told me of their difficulties with the
Republic parking program. It’s a quick, straightforward fix that would address one of the
system’s worst errors immediately.
13. Do you think there should be changes to Medford’s zoning? What sort of changes?
The answer to this question is critical to the city’s future progress. In short, yes, there
should be changes, but it will take an open, collaborative process to agree on what they will
be. This has to be done as a comprehensive review in conjunction with looking at
neighboring cities and towns. It has to involve the business community and residents who
will be affected. The outcome of the public process will yield important answers about what
we as a community will support. It may be a multi-year process but this is time well spent
on visioning our future.
14. Boston and Cambridge have energy disclosure ordinances:
“In 2013, the City of Boston enacted the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). This Ordinance requires Boston’s large- and medium-sized buildings to report their annual energy and water use to the City of Boston, after which the City makes the information publicly available. Additionally, every five years, buildings need to complete an energy assessment or energy action; exemptions are provided for buildings that are already efficient or are making significant progress on energy efficiency.
Cambridge has a similar ordinance. Should Medford follow suit? Why or why not?
For new construction, and especially for commercial uses, this should be built into our
special permitting: incentives for companies to locate here through certain density bonuses
to spur renewable energy systems. Incentives offering increased density relative to the
nearer the buildings can get to net zero will benefit the environment and the city.