John Falco Questionaire Responses

Email Address (for public use):

1. What are three issues you want to address if you are elected to the City Council?

As your city councilor, I will advocate for:
Economic Development

  • Improvements to business districts to make them safer and more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly and encourage economic growth.
  • Top-to-bottom review of city ordinances to ensure we are attracting and retaining the best businesses to our city.
  • ncreased funding of the Chevalier Theatre.

Financial Planning

  • Work with stakeholders to devise a Master Plan for Medford that will position the city to take advantage of local, state, and federal grant money.
  • Advocate for an overhaul of the budget process to ensure transparency and effective use of each department’s budget.

Making Government More Accessible

  • A comprehensive 311 call center to improve constituent services and track progress on city projects.
  • Regular office hours throughout the city (and online office hours) to ensure residents have easy access to their councilor.
  • Full review of the City Charter to examine changes that will save taxpayer money and improve city services.

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?
 Climate change is the change in weather due to the increase of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy.
I believe that the City of Medford’s role should begin with educating our students about the dangers of and simple solutions to climate change. This can be done by incorporating additional information about climate change and global warming into our science curriculum. Teaching our students about the importance of simple actions like changing light bulbs, using less water and recycling are simple, but essential steps, in reducing emissions.
 As Vice Chair of the Medford School Committee I advocated for new programming at the Medford Vocational Technical High School that would prepare our children adequately for a 21st Century economy. In addition to creating programs for Robotics, Engineering, and Biotechnology we also adopted an Environmental Services program. This is a crucial step in educating our children about the importance of changes in our environment.

 Part of my vision for our city includes a full time, self-sustaining program that will offer educational and recreational programming. The city could offer programming to adults that would educate residents about climate change and highlight the changes each of us can make to help create a better environment.

Medford should also build more bicycle/walking paths and adopt a Complete Streets program to make roads and sidewalks more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. In addition to promoting heathy lifestyles, initiatives like these encourage residents to leave their cars at home. In addition, the City of Medford should continue to plant more trees, conserve water and energy and encourage recycling.  

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?

 I think that some residents are very informed about our government while others could learn more. Knowledge about how government works and services we offer is a valuable tool. If elected in November I will be advocating for a full review of the City Charter. Our City Charter has not been reviewed in over 30 years and Medford has changed a great deal since our last Charter review. A review of our City Charter is a great opportunity to involve and teach residents about the different types of government that are available. I would advocate for the formation of committees and forums that would educate residents about our current form of government while also discussing what other options are available.

4.  Do you support the Green Line extension to College Ave?  Do you think Medford should push for the extension to Route 16?

 Yes, I support the Green Line extension to College Ave.
I believe that Medford would experience the biggest environmental and economic benefit by extending the Green Line to Route 16, but the city must protect the surrounding neighborhoods and abutters to this project. A project of this magnitude will have a significant impact on the surrounding neighborhoods with regard to traffic and pedestrian safety and reminds us why we need a Complete Streets Program. We must insist that proper planning takes place and that all efforts are made to ensure that pedestrians and bicyclists are kept safe.

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?

 I will advocate and work with the new administration to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of every street in the city to get a better understanding of what streets need to be completely repaved and what streets need to be repaired. Once the review is complete I will advocate that the city contact state and local utility companies to see if any upcoming projects will be taking place before resurfacing begins. This proactive approach will prevent streets from being paved and repaved numerous times. I will also advocate that the city publicize the plan and scheduling for repaving and repairing the roads.

As your city councilor I will advocate for improvements to our business districts and main thoroughfares by making them safer and more welcoming such as improved lighting and safer street conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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 familiar with “Complete Streets” policies.
 I would encourage the adoption of a “Complete Streets” plan for Medford and feel that it is long overdue. Many surrounding communities have Complete Streets plans and I believe that Medford would benefit in many ways by having such a program. Adopting a Complete Streets program would make walking, bicycling, and public transit safer and easier. It would also give residents more options when traveling to work, school and around our community. One of the biggest benefits is that this would be a cost effective solution to the City of Medford.

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, I believe that Medford should adopt the Community Preservation Act. The CPA is a good way for each household to invest in our community. In addition the city would receive partial matching funds from the state. One of the most pressing issues that could be addressed by passing the CPA is affordable housing. This is a measure that I would certainly support.

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, transportational, 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?

 The City of Medford is fortunate to have a natural resource like the Mystic River flow through the heart of our city. If elected in November I will lead the charge to connect Medford Square to Riverbend Park via the Clippership Connector. I will advocate that the new administration take a proactive approach in working with all stakeholders to bring this plan to fruition.

 I believe that the City should help fund this path, but it should also look for grant opportunities and could possibly use funding from the Community Preservation Act if it passes in November.

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 have always believed that Medford is a very desirable place to live, work, play, and raise a family. Our proximity to Boston, abundance of green space, and newer schools make Medford very attractive, but while more families move into our city, many families struggle to stay. With rising property values and housing prices there is concern that children growing up in Medford today will not be able to afford to live in our great city.

 I believe we should encourage our local banks and lending institutions to provide first time home buyer programs and encourage additional low income “set asides” for new condominium developments. In addition I would encourage local developers to partner with state affordable housing advocates to provide more affordable housing opportunities to local residents.

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?

 As a Medford resident I enjoy dining locally and when possible going to see local entertainment at Chevalier Theatre. I believe that the revitalization of Medford Square is paramount to our local economy and giving restaurants the ability to serve alcohol and provide entertainment will draw more restaurateurs to the area and give residents more dining options. My vision for Medford Square is for the City of Medford to embrace the Chevalier Theatre by managing it properly and to fund it appropriately. This will create more entertainment options and boost our local economy.

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. I would support changes to ordinances and regulations to allow sidewalk cafes. I believe that sidewalk cafes bring new life, vitality, and can improve the overall appearance of a street. In addition they also enhance an economy by creating more foot traffic to the area.

12. What is one ordinance in Medford you would like to see changed? What change would you push for?

 One of the biggest responsibilities of the Medford City Council is to review and update local ordinances and zoning. If elected in November I will be advocating for a top-to-bottom review of city ordinances and zoning to ensure that we are attracting and retaining the best businesses to our city. While this will be a very time consuming initiative, I believe it is long overdue and needed to avoid unwanted businesses from occupying our main business districts.

13. Do you think there should be changes to Medford’s zoning?  What sort of changes?

 One of the biggest responsibilities of the Medford City Council is to review and update local ordinances and zoning. If elected in November I will be advocating for a top-to-bottom review of city ordinances and zoning to ensure that we are attracting and retaining the best businesses to our city. In particular we have to look at our zoning regulations to determine that we have the right use for right district to prevent massage parlors and pawn shops from setting up shop in our downtown business districts.

 Updated zoning would have prevented a house being built on the property next to Grandfather’s House on South Street that greatly impacted its historical significance. Updated zoning would have also prevented a pawn shop and massage parlor from being opened in Medford Square.

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?
 Yes, I believe the City should adopt such an ordinance to identify buildings that are not energy efficient so that changes can be made to improve their efficiency. This will help in reducing energy levels and create energy efficient buildings. By measuring/benchmarking energy and water use building owners will be able to develop effective energy management practices and strategies to lower energy costs.

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