Mayor Ballantyne Announces Inclusive, Equity-Focused 100-Day ‘Somerville Progress for All’ Agenda

From COVID Response and Recovery to Affordability for All, from Racial and Social Justice to Transparency, 100-Day Agenda Released

SOMERVILLE, MA – In her inaugural address on Monday, January 3, newly elected Mayor Katjana Ballantyne laid out her vision for an administration that is inclusive and transparent, examines every issue through an equity lens, and strives to ensure progress made in the city positively affects all residents and businesses. She also promised to announce her 100-day work plan, and today she delivers on that promise with the release of the 100 Day Somerville ‘Progress for All’ Agenda.

The agenda can be viewed at somervillema.gov/100days or below.

Mayor Ballantyne’s comprehensive 100-day policy agenda is designed to

take on the most pressing issues facing the City of Somerville starting first and foremost with COVID response and recovery,
deliver on community priorities,
strengthen basic services that impact daily quality of life, and
establish the practice of applying an equity lens to all City actions.

“My vision for Somerville is an inclusive, equitable city where we can all thrive together, and I know that’s the vision this community shares. This 100-day agenda is my commitment to our city to get to work on that mission from day one,” said Mayor Ballantyne. “We face many challenges and our community has many needs and that starts with our intensive focus on COVID response and recovery. But right now, we also have so much opportunity for broader progress. This agenda is how we get our running start. This is how we seize opportunities and move forward our efforts to address the current crisis while also seeking longer-term progress for all.”
While many priorities such as climate change, housing, and racial and social justice will require long-term work, Mayor Ballantyne’s 100 Day Progress for All Agenda is designed to make quick, meaningful, and actionable progress on our greatest challenges and our community members’ most urgent needs.

Comprehensive work in numerous other areas will also be assessed and advanced during this period. The 100 Day Progress for All Agenda represents focused efforts among this broader work. The agenda was developed with a citizen Advisory Committee made up of residents, advocates, and community leaders prior to Mayor Ballantyne’s swearing in, and then workshopped with City staff in her first week in office.

Mayor Ballantyne will move her 100 Day Progress for All Agenda focused on seven key areas:

Urgent COVID Response and Ongoing Recovery
Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
Affordability for All
Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change
Access, Transparency, and Accountability
Quality of Life
Strengthening and Supporting the City’s Workforce

A sampling of specific priority items outlined for quick action includes:

Undertake swift action to increase access to COVID testing and vaccines
Launch efforts to shore up the City’s health structures to support the COVID response and long-term public health and wellness goals
Create a Somerville Families Task Force
Advance racial and social justice work including pressing forward on a path to reimagine policing
Invest $2 million in ARPA funds for initiatives to help close the wealth gap for women, specifically for women of color
Kick off research into rent-to-own homeownership initiatives
Explore options for a municipal voucher program to fund long-term housing subsidies for vulnerable families
Raise City carbon-reduction goalposts to target a Net-Zero Carbon-Negative Somerville by 2050
Establish Mayor Ballantyne’s Climate Justice Summer Youth Jobs Program
Set a goal to create the most ecologically restorative City landscape in the region
Move to create an Office of Accountability, Transparency, and Access
Pursue effective rodent control solutions, including the launch of the SMART system pilot
Invest in flood control and expand community engagement on solutions
Move forward actions to create Safer Streets in Somerville
Launch a Work Better Task Force to develop insights into how to best meet the needs of our residents and those who serve them
Conduct a Voice of Somerville Survey to hear from residents about their priorities

See plan below

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Mayor Katjana Ballantyne First 100 Day Agenda
Somerville: Progress for All

Mayor Ballantyne’s comprehensive 100-day policy agenda is designed to

take on the most pressing issues facing the City of Somerville,
deliver on community priorities,
strengthen basic services that impact daily quality of life, and
establish the practice of applying an equity lens to all City actions.

While many priorities such as climate change, housing, and racial and social justice will require long-term work, Mayor Ballantyne’s 100 Day Progress for All Agenda is designed to make quick, meaningful, and actionable progress on our greatest challenges and our community members’ most urgent needs.

Comprehensive work in numerous other areas will also be assessed and advanced during this period. The 100 Day Progress for All Agenda represents focused efforts among this broader work.

Mayor Ballantyne will move her 100 Day Progress for All Agenda focused on seven key areas:

Urgent COVID Response and Ongoing Recovery
Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
Affordability for All
Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change
Access, Transparency, and Accountability
Quality of Life
Strengthening and Supporting the City’s Workforce

Urgent COVID Response and Ongoing Recovery

Lead an all-out effort to fight the latest surge of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant that is putting more people at risk in Somerville. Seek to expand COVID testing opportunities in Somerville and roll out additional vaccine clinics. Intensify efforts to get more residents fully vaccinated and boosted to strengthen protection from the virus. Hold virtual calls with communities hardest hit to identify additional supports needed for those inequitably impacted by COVID-19 in Somerville. Direct rapid support to our small businesses and hardest-hit individuals and families struggling amid ongoing and new economic impacts of the virus.

Pursue a local vaccine mandate for patrons and employees of restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues to increase protection for Somerville residents and workers. The path to fighting COVID is focused on getting as many people as we can fully vaccinated and boosted. This is the strongest tool we have to drive down the severity of cases, to help protect our most vulnerable neighbors, and to help shield the regional healthcare system – that we all rely on – from overload.

Focus efforts on strengthening public health structures to support our COVID response and center long-term health equity and health services as a City priority. Based on existing data, research, and expert and community input, direct American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) investments to boost the City’s public health structures in 2022. Launch a clear path to strengthen Health and Human Services to build a foundation for effectively addressing current gaps, emergent needs, and long-term public health services strategy.

Increase investments to address COVID impacts on renters and homeowners. Target funding to build upon the work that Somervillians have done to protect each other. Expand financial supports to help secure housing stability as we continue to fight the pandemic.

Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice

Launch the “Voices of Somerville” 2022 Survey. Carry out survey to ask Somerville residents, business owners, young people, and community members of all backgrounds to tell their local government about the issues impacting them as we seek to recover from COVID. An intentional focus to hear from those living in low-income housing will be prioritized. This will help the City think not only about investments to make to improve the lives of those inequitably impacted by COVID but also about how Somerville as a full community bounces back better from COVID.

Advance the City’s commitment to eliminating institutional and structural racism and its intersections with other forms of oppression. Working through the leadership of the Department of Racial and Social Justice, prioritize work to address racial and social justice by pressing forward on a path to reimagine policing in Somerville with a focus on public safety and doing so intentionally while establishing a truly inclusive community process. This will include detailed information being released about community outreach and engagement to expand the progress of this work over the next 100 days.

Create a Somerville Families Task Force. Through the leadership of SomerPromise, support the Task Force in developing more solutions to help families stay in Somerville and keep them connected to City and non-profit services, as well as opportunities to engage and advance as our community grows and prospers.
Advance the City’s commitment to eliminating accessibility barriers and increase inclusion for all residents. Working with key City staff, the Commission for Persons with Disabilities and other key stakeholders, advance the ADA Division’s efforts to increase communication and education about ADA and accessibility issues with a focus on the ADA Complaint process and compliance. Issue a survey within the first 100 days to City Departments and the community at large to gauge needs and wants around ADA.

Spur collaboration to expand equitable access to good jobs and working conditions. Jointly establish a partnership between the City, Somerville Public Schools, local labor unions, and community-based organizations to increase diversity among trade union membership to help grow equitable access to better benefits, wages, and job protections for Somerville workers.

Affordability for All

Invest in closing the wealth gap for women and specifically for women of color. Invest ARPA funds in a workforce development and wage gap initiative. Mayor Ballantyne will direct $2 million ARPA dollars to an initiative to strengthen resources that work to close the equity gap for women in Somerville.

Testify at the State House and advocate for the Somerville Transfer Fee, Tenant Right to Purchase, and Rent Stabilization to reinforce the need for the home rule petitions related to ‘Tenant Right to Purchase’ and ‘Transfer Fee,’ to create more pathways to affordable housing and avoid displacement, to amplify our call for rent stabilization legislation, and to promote housing stability and local control in Somerville.

Advocate for increased State action on homelessness prevention and housing stability. Use all opportunities, including issuing a letter calling for the expansion of State investments in homelessness prevention, housing stability, and RAFT emergency rental and mortgage supports. Advocate for state legislation allowing Somerville to fund affordable housing through a real estate transfer fee.

Seek dialog with entities involved in evictions. In light of the possible end in April 2022 of state protections around residential evictions, direct the Office of Housing Stability to contact large landlords, local banks, and other stakeholders historically involved in evictions. Call them together with the Mayor to talk about diversion efforts and the need to create more pathways for people to stay in their homes.

Kick off research into rent-to-own homeownership initiatives. Direct Housing staff to initiate review of programs, policies, and best practices and how they can be leveraged toward creating a rent-to-own program in Somerville.

Explore options for a municipal voucher program to fund long-term housing subsidies for some of Somerville’s most vulnerable families. Through the leadership of the Office of Housing Stability, develop a voucher program eligible for ARPA funding that prioritizes families with children in Somerville Public Schools or Somerville-based daycare who are ineligible for other affordable housing programs.

Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change

Raise our carbon-reduction goalposts to target a Net-Zero Carbon-Negative Somerville by 2050. Under the direction of the Mayor’s Office, drive work by the Office of Sustainability and Environment, Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, Infrastructure and Asset Management, Finance, and other relevant departments and external stakeholders to update and accelerate Somerville’s existing net-zero climate action plan with more ambitious carbon-negative targets that better address the urgency of this issue.

Set a path for creating quality “Privately Owned Public Space” (POPS) in Somerville. Through the leadership of the Public Space and Urban Forestry division, release guidelines for establishing POPS aimed at increasing open space acreage in Somerville, ensuring that development projects create truly public spaces that serve residents and meet the highest standards for quality and maintenance. Require delivery to the Mayor’s Office of an internal first draft within the first 30 days of the administration.

Increase equity and access within the Blue Bikes bike-share system. Direct staff to draft a multi-year investment strategy in the publicly-owned Blue Bikes system, emphasizing neighborhoods where access is currently limited such as Brickbottom and Ten Hills. Consider options for ongoing long-term investments in expanding access across the community.

Establish Mayor Ballantyne’s Climate Justice Summer Youth Jobs Program to connect our diverse Somerville youth with workforce development opportunities focused on climate change and its impact in the city. Begin efforts to design a program that breaks down barriers to participation, speaks to and grows curiosity and aspirations, and creates opportunities to build upon program successes.

Set a goal to create the most ecologically restorative City landscape in the region. Build upon Mayor Ballantyne’s groundbreaking work on the City Council to establish native plants thresholds for all new plantings across the city. Direct the Public Space and Urban Forestry Division to develop a plan to increase native plantings throughout the city to 100% of all plantings.

Access, Transparency, and Accountability

Move to create an Office of Accountability, Transparency, and Access (ATA) to increase the openness and transparency of Somerville local government. This office will incorporate the key functions that create a transparent government and uphold ethical governance for the residents of Somerville. Direct staff from the Mayor’s Office, the Law Department, Communications and Community Engagement, and Racial and Social Justice to begin work to establish this new office, advance the preparation of any necessary proposals to the City Council for funding and staffing, and seek to bring about a first office of its kind in Somerville City government.

Pursue a strengthened ethics ordinance and lobbyist registration in partnership with the City Council. Working in partnership, launch efforts to push for greater accountability to residents about who is at the table pushing and working on policy at City Hall.

Establish a process to increase engagement and diversification of boards and commissions. Kick off examination of the process of appointment and outreach for membership as well as other potential barriers to diverse participation. Through the leadership of the Mayor’s Office, direct relevant departments to deliver a written brief on how to strengthen outreach and engagement and reduce barriers to access within the first 100 days.

Quality of Life

Pursue effective, innovative rodent control solutions. Through the leadership of the Inspectional Services Department (ISD), pilot the SMART system. This data-driven tracking system provides 24/7 monitoring of rodent control devices, providing real-time information on the movement and capture of rodents supporting the tracking and disposal of them. This will increase data-driven quantification of the issue and identify the appropriate areas to target to make the greatest impact.

Strengthen staffing of rodent control efforts in the City. Direct staff to centralize staff resources by moving the Environmental Health Coordinator position from Health and Human Services to ISD. Add an additional full-time employee within ISD to increase the overall capacity of City efforts to respond to rodent control issues.

Invest in flood control and expand community engagement on solutions. Working through the leadership of the Department of Infrastructure and Asset Management, continue strategic investments in, and comprehensive planning to advance, flood control and combined sewer overflow prevention. Direct focus to flood-prone neighborhoods including but not limited to Gilman Square, Davis Square near the community path, Duck Village/Union Square, and other locations. A community process to support this effort and evaluate solutions will be initiated within the first 100 days.

Move forward actions to create Safer Streets in Somerville. Launch assessment of needed investments to strengthen protected bike lanes, increase traffic control measures, address pedestrian safety measures, and expand staff capacity to work strategically across City departments. Working through the leadership of the City’s Mobility, Engineering, Parking, and Public Safety teams, and in partnership with community stakeholders, make tangible progress on improving safety on our streets and pathways for ALL residents.

Strengthening and Supporting the City’s Workforce

Launch a Work Better Task Force. The City of Somerville’s workforce has been on the front lines battling COVID for the better part of two years, showing extraordinary dedication to keeping our neighbors safe. We have learned a lot about how to effectively deliver City services to the community despite tremendous disruption. Mayor Ballantyne will direct Human Resources to launch a Work Better Task Force to develop insights into how to best meet the needs of our residents and those who serve them. This Task Force will produce high-level insights and ideas in the first 100 days.

Launch a compensation study to support the City’s ability to attract and retain qualified candidates, promote equity, and retain our talented staff. Direct the Human Resources and Finance Departments to launch a study for City positions focused on compensation and other benefits to keep pace with the market.

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