City of Somerville

Agenda Item
Placed on File
May 8, 2014 7:00 PM

Requesting approval of a Complete Streets Ordinance to insure equal access for all users of the public ways.


Category:Mayor's RequestPurposes:Ordinance


  1. Complete Streets Full (This file has not yet been converted to a viewable format)
  2. Staff Report
  3. Legislative Matters_4_17_2
  4. Mass Cities and Towns with a Complete Streets Ordinance (This file has not yet been converted to a viewable format)

Official Text

To the Honorable Board:


As you are aware, in April, 2012, your Honorable Board endorsed the SomerVision Comprehensive Plan, that was later approved by the Somerville Planning Board.  Consistent with the Goals, Policies and Actions of the SomerVision plan, I am submitting to your Board for your review a Complete Streets Ordinance that works to ensure that all users of our public ways have equal access to facilities.


My staff and I are available to answer any questions you may have about this Ordinance.


Respectfully submitted,


Joseph A. Curtatone


Meeting History

Aug 16, 2012 7:00 PM Video City Council Special Meeting
Dec 6, 2012 6:00 PM  Traffic and Parking Committee Committee Meeting

Ms. Morrison spoke about the need to have “complete streets”, i.e., a roadway that takes into account the needs of motorists, pedestrians, transit users and vehicles, bicyclists, and commercial and emergency vehicles using the roadway in a manner that is sensitive to the local context and recognizes that Somerville is a dense, urban setting. To fulfill this need, the Administration is proposing an amendment, (referred to as Article VII - Complete Street Ordinance), to Chapter 12 of the city’s Code of Ordinances.

Included in this amendment are requirements for the City of Somerville to:

· enhance the safety, access, convenience and comfort of all users,

· provide for equality in use among all users,

· balance the needs of various users in a flexible manner,

· incorporate elements into public transportation projects and existing streets,

· conduct a yearly “rules of the road” education campaign to better inform cyclists of city/state traffic regulations,

· follow various state, federal and urban guidelines, and

· incorporate bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities, when applicable and practical, in all street projects, (with certain exceptions).

Chairman Roche’s motion that the language in the proposed amendment be reviewed by the Law Department to limit the city’s liability, was approved.

Chairman Roche’s motion that the City Solicitor review the proposed amendment, as follows: Section (6) - to determine what happens when state guidelines change; and Section (7) - which may be ambiguous - to determine if the cost is proportional to the project and how the difference would impact the city, was approved.

Several members of the public provided comments on this matter and Chairman Roche submitted an email from a constituent. The committee has completed its work on this item and recommends that it be referred to the Committee on Legislative Matters.

Dec 13, 2012 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
Sep 25, 2013 7:00 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting
Apr 17, 2014 6:30 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting

Ms. Morrison discussed the various elements of the Complete Streets concept and noted that the NATCO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) design guide is what is being used as the guide of record.

There was a discussion about the language in part #6.

The item is being proposed as an ordinance, partly because the state has provided financial incentives (chapter 90) to communities that have adopted ordinances and partly because it's simply good planning. Presently, only 6 communities have such an ordinance.

There was concern about the city’s exposure to litigation and tort liability and a request was made for the Law Department to review part #8 for any possibility of that happening.

The Littleton ordinance was discussed and the committee requested that there be additional mention of public health in Somerville's ordinance and Ms. Morrison will add language relative to funding sources, as well.

Apr 29, 2014 6:30 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting

Alderman Gewirtz recused herself from discussion and action on this item.

Mr. Shapiro reviewed the item with the committee and Ms. Morrison discussed the changes made, including the striking of the city's reference to design guidelines. The item was approved on a vote of 3 - 0.

May 8, 2014 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

Alderman Rossetti reported that the committee recommends approval of the item. Preside White suggested a motion to substitute #80 on the agenda for the item that had been separated from the report. Alderman Rossetti moved accordingly and the motion was approved. The Ordinance was Approved, Enrolled, and Ordained as submitted in #196956, #80 on the agenda.