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City of Somerville, MAMayor Ballantyne’s comprehensive 100-day policy agenda was 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 was 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 were also assessed and advanced during this period. The 100-Day Progress for All Agenda represents focused efforts among this broader work.

Mayor Ballantyne moved her 100-Day Progress for All Agenda forward with a focus on seven key areas:

Urgent COVID Response & Ongoing Recovery

  • 100-Day Goal: 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. 
  • First 100-Days Results:
    • The Ballantyne Administration took office amid the peak of the Omicron surge, and immediately accelerated multiple interventions and supports primarily with the support from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal funding.
    • At the Mayor’s direction, FEMA- and ARPA-funded promotion of testing, vaccination, and recovery resources such as rental or food assistance was intensified via enhanced multilingual, equity-driven outreach designed to meet residents where they were. Wherever additional assistance was needed to access resources, it was provided, whether booking vaccine appointments, applying for rental assistance, or delivering masks to quarantining families.
    • The Mayor swiftly ordered the opening of a FEMA-funded high-volume testing center and an additional smaller testing clinic in East Somerville to meet excess demand at the height of the Omicron surge. More than 50,000 rapid at-home tests were distributed to vulnerable residents through the Schools, libraries, City, and community partners. Multilingual at-home test instructions with links to videos were distributed with tests to ensure equitable access to self-testing guidance. 
    • With ARPA funding, more than 7,000 high-quality KN95 adult and child face masks were purchased and distributed to residents from hard-hit populations facing barriers to access. In partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City acquired 250,000 KN95 masks in preparation for future COVID surges.
    • COVID Listening Sessions are underway. Mayor Ballantyne believes strongly in connecting directly with constituents to understand their concerns, ideas, and needs. In tandem with the Voices of Somerville survey, she is hosting small-group listening sessions to directly hear from Somerville residents and workers disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the sessions, the Mayor will listen to community experiences and gather input on how the City can support an equitable recovery from the pandemic. Listening sessions are being scheduled now for the spring and early summer. Targeted outreach to hard-to-reach populations is underway and sessions can be held in any language. City staff will document the conversations so that ideas and comments can be considered as the City develops its recovery plan. 
    • Economic Development immediately began preparing for the fourth round of direct business support, which will begin the process to distribute more than $2 million in grant funding later this spring to local businesses impacted by the pandemic. The City’s pandemic outdoor dining program was made permanent,  and Economic Development launched a grant and technical assistance program that is providing more than $250,000 of additional assistance to ensure businesses can set up ADA-compliant outdoor seating.
    • Among other efforts to support the hardest-hit individuals and families struggling with economic impacts of the virus, the Mayor jointly committed an unprecedented local infusion of $7 million into direct child care supports through mid-2025 with outgoing Mayor Joe Curtatone, a collaborative decision made before she took office. After being sworn in, she followed an Office of Housing Stability recommendation to commit an initial $1 million of ARPA funding to flexible housing funds that could help cover costs like rent, mortgages, utilities, and taxes (as detailed further below). More flex funds will be allocated as needed, and more ARPA commitments are actively under review.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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. 
    • First 100-Days Results: In the interest of public safety, and in light of the high levels of viral transmission in the region during the Omicron surge and the need to protect our overburdened healthcare system at the time, the Ballantyne Administration proposed the above local vaccine mandate to the Board of Health in January 2022. Somerville joined a number of municipalities at the time seeking to implement similar mandates as a regional approach to COVID prevention. The independent body took up the issue of a proof-of-vaccine requirement for certain businesses but ultimately voted against enacting one. The City accepted the decision made by the Board, and businesses were informed they could implement their own requirements according to the best interests and needs of their staff and patrons – and some did. The City then increased other protective measures including establishing local testing sites, distributing rapid at-home tests, providing medical-grade masks to vulnerable populations, and promoting vaccination, among other efforts.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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. 
    • First 100-Days Results: An assessment and gap analysis of Health and Human Services (HHS) structures was swiftly launched both in the context of COVID but also in light of the Mayor’s equity priorities around long-term goals for health and human service efforts. Using this assessment, along with ARPA survey results and input from internal staff and nonprofit partners, a plan to strengthen HHS via both ARPA-funded positions and programs, as well as FY23 budget proposals, is in development. Key will be the hiring of a new Director to carry forward this restructuring and expansion of services. ARPA funding was also used to hire an Emergency Management Director for the City who is focused on the ongoing COVID-19 response and who will assist with strengthening related health structures. 

  • 100-Day Goal: 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 support to help secure housing stability as we continue to fight the pandemic.
    • First 100-Days Results: Supporting housing stability is both a central focus of Mayor Ballantyne’s COVID recovery priorities and her overall core community priorities. For immediate relief, she approved an Office of Housing Stability proposal to commit $1 million of ARPA funding to flexible housing funds that could help cover costs like rent, mortgages, utilities, and taxes. More flex funds will be committed as needed and significant additional commitments to housing stability are expected as the ARPA process moves forward. This program, which is expected to launch later this spring, has two vital and unique features needed to address housing stability:
      • Flex funds can be designated for up to six months of support for future rent if a household needs additional time to stabilize financially. Many housing supports only pay arrears and will not pay rent prospectively. This support for future payments fills a gap, giving landlords some peace of mind and tenants and homeowners the time they need to obtain new employment, recover from medical issues, or address other factors impacting their ability to make payments. 
      • Flex funds are designed to help tenants and homeowners who are not eligible for more traditional state and federal rental assistance programs. Many immigrant households, for example, are excluded from traditional rental assistance programs because they rent from other “primary tenants” rather than directly from an owner, or because their landlord refuses to participate in the rental assistance process. Flex funds provide a critical safety net for these most vulnerable of families who would otherwise fall through the cracks. 
    • Since the start of the pandemic, Somerville has assisted residents in accessing close to $4 million in rental assistance primarily through the state Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). To meet the demand for rental assistance services, OHS hired five bilingual rental assistance advocates through ARPA funding. The Office of Housing Stability also participated in efforts to preserve the RAFT/ERAP program at the state level. The legislature has now allocated an additional $100 million in supplemental funding for the RAFT program statewide. In addition, OHS continued advocating for a simpler RAFT/ERAP application process so tenants can more easily obtain these critical funds.

Equity, Inclusion, & Social Justice

  • 100-Day Goal: Launch the “Voices of Somerville” 2022 Survey. Carry out a 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. 
    • First 100-Days Results: This April, the City will launch the ARPA-funded Voices of Somerville survey to hear from residents of all backgrounds about how the city can best recover from COVID and build an inclusive, equitable community where all can thrive together. To achieve that, we must understand resident concerns and priorities across multiple areas impacting the quality of life and City services in Somerville. This will be more than just a one-off effort, with the survey running throughout the year to observe changes over time, identify areas for improvement, measure the impact of our interventions, and allow new questions to be included in response to urgent and evolving community needs and priorities. The survey will be distributed online and in person, and with a focus on ensuring representative participation, including from low-income and traditionally underserved residents.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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. 
    • First 100-Days Results: Since January, the Racial and Social Justice Department (RSJ) hit several key milestones to advance the City’s work to reimagine policing and public safety. In March, Raftelis Financial Consultants was hired to conduct the Somerville Police Department (SPD) Staffing & Operations Analysis, which will be used to examine alternatives or improvements to current approaches to public safety. RSJ also began recruiting Reimagining Policing Community Ambassadors, established the Youth Justice League and began outreach for members, and hosted the RSJ Virtual Forum to connect residents with staff. In the first 100 days of the Ballantyne administration, RSJ led more than 30 meetings, one-to-one interviews, and listening sessions with students, residents, community organizations, houses of worship, SPD, and elected officials. Safety meetings and trauma response support were also held with residents in response to nearby gun activity. This team continues to expand intentional outreach and engagement efforts to build trust and legitimacy within the community, to establish an inclusive and sustainable foundation for this initiative, and to support the broader work of the department. 

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: Under the leadership of the City’s SomerPromise initiative, staff recruited traditionally underrepresented residents to join the Somerville Families Task Force and take up multiple goals to improve support for Somerville families. Each member has direct experience seeking services and participating in programs designed to support families in Somerville at City, private, and nonprofit agencies. Members are assessing existing program experiences, positive and negative impacts of major changes in Somerville on families, and local factors that affect affordability and the ability to meet basic needs. The Task Force will deliver recommendations to the Mayor this spring on needed enhancements and new initiatives for family services and programs. To support a meaningful and transparent participatory community development process, all Task Force members will be kept apprised of the progress of their recommendations.
    • Bonus 100-Days Result: Teen Center initiative In the near-decade that Mayor Ballantyne has served the City of Somerville, first as a City Councilor and now as Mayor, residents and youth advocates have persistently called for a space for Somerville’s teens and youth. That goal has remained stubbornly out of reach. Since taking office in January, the Mayor has heard loud and clear that the needs of Somerville youth can’t wait any longer. Whether she’s heard it from the Somerville Children’s Cabinet, the results of the latest Youth Behavior Risk Survey, multiple ARPA proposals, and most importantly, in meetings with SHS students, Somerville’s youth need access to supportive adults, opportunities for growth, and above all, a safe space to be themselves. In partnership with the Somerville Public Schools, during the first 100 Days, the Mayor made a commitment to finding both a short-term solution for teens while work begins to plan a permanent Teen Center. The Mayor’s Office and SPS will convene partners across the City to get the job done, and of course, solicit the feedback and leadership of youth in the process.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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. 
    • First 100-Days Results: The City’s new ADA Coordinator is leading a rapid, three-pronged effort to accelerate and inform efforts to increase accessibility and inclusion in Somerville for persons with disabilities. 
      • First, a successful push to address barriers to participation and recruit new applicants to serve on the Commission for Persons with Disabilities resulted in a significant increase in interest and multiple applications are now pending review. 
      • Second, an internal survey of City service and department managers is now underway to gather data, assess needs, and identify opportunities to support the City’s existing ADA transition plan and enhanced staff training in the coming year. Once complete this spring, results will be assessed, presented to the Mayor, and used to inform efforts going forward. 
      • Third, a multilingual, print/verbal/digital, community ADA survey is in development with emphasis on residents’ lived experiences and challenges, as well as needed improvements to the City’s ADA Complaint Form and process. Proactive in-person and digital surveying guided by best practices will support equitable access to participation. A focused effort to promote and improve the complaint process will incorporate insights from survey results.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100 Days Results: Mayor Ballantyne is committed to getting all stakeholders in the local job ecosystem talking together and focused on the best ways to strengthen job training, job access, and quality workplaces for all residents. To start on a new collaborative path, the City’s Economic Development team is preparing to host a forum in May with representatives from Somerville Public Schools, community-based organizations, labor unions, and developers to expand existing relationships among these entities and discuss opportunities for more formal partnership. This effort aims to specifically build stronger career pathways for Somerville High School Career and Technical Education graduates, to increase student awareness of union jobs, and to encourage developers to ensure all community members can learn about, prepare for, and have opportunities to access quality jobs coming to Somerville.

Affordability for All

  • 100-Day Goal: 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. 
    • First 100-Days Results: As the former Executive Director and CEO of the nonprofit Girls LEAP Boston, Mayor Ballantyne understands the wage gap well. She also knows the impact that thoughtful programs can have on opening up opportunities for women that improve their life quality and family security. During her first 100 days, she began moving forward a four-pronged approach to address this challenge: 
      • Jointly committed $7 million in ARPA dollars to direct child care supports through mid-2025, which helps support access to the workplace. 
      • Reserved $2 million in ARPA funds to specifically advance a spectrum of initiatives designed to close the wage gap for women and especially women of color. Workforce Development and Racial and Social Justice staff are currently developing proposals for consideration, ranging from workforce development and entrepreneurship training to language access, salary negotiation, and educational advancement.
      • Began exploring options for how the proposed new municipal voucher program could build in mechanisms to complement this effort: vouchers could support women who would lose housing if their income grows.
      • Directed the Economic Development Division to establish a Salary Transparency Working Group to explore opportunities to promote salary transparency among private-sector employers in Somerville in job advertisements By sharing salary information, all job seekers would know what to expect for job payment and candidates would not be at a disadvantage when negotiating pay, which has led to salary disparities for women and people of color. Salary transparency ordinances have been explored in other states, and evaluation of permissible approaches within Mass General Law will be required to determine local options. 

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: On Day 1, the Administration got to work advancing State legislation supporting housing stability because permission is needed from the State House for Somerville to enact certain protections. On Day 3 in office, Mayor Ballantyne testified at the State House in support of rent stabilization. Ballantyne also immediately directed Housing and Planning staff to dedicate all necessary resources to continue and intensify support of and/or lead coalition efforts to pass statewide legislation to increase tenant protections and affordable housing funding. The efforts include:
      • Participating in the Advisory Committee and leadership team of the Massachusetts Right to Counsel Coalition, which seeks to ensure low- and moderate-income tenants – as well as small owner-occupied landlords – have access to free legal support in eviction cases, which would decrease displacement and homelessness, while helping to create paths to housing stability. 
      • Serving on the Advisory Committee of the statewide HOMES Act coalition, which seeks to allow for the sealing of eviction records in qualifying cases so that tenants – including those wrongfully served with eviction notices, who resolved debts, and who were not evicted – do not face later barriers to finding new housing due to publicly available and often misleading eviction records.  
      • Spearheading and convening, along with the Mayor’s legislative liaison, the statewide Local Option for Housing Affordability (LOHA) coalition seeking approval to enact local real estate transfer fees that would allow Somerville and other municipalities to place a fee on certain sales of high-end real estate by investor landlords, which would raise an estimated $6-$10 million annually in new funds in Somerville alone to support expanding the supply of affordable housing. 
    • Latest update: All three bills are advancing at the State House, and Mayor Ballantyne and her staff continue to work with partners to move them forward. The HOMES Act, which was passed last year and vetoed by the Governor, made it favorably out of committee and is close to having a vote on the State House floor.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: In coalition with advocates and organizations statewide, the Mayor and staff joined housing advocacy that moved forward critical resources and policy decisions and make it simpler and easier for tenants to access state rental assistance resources:
      • The City joined advocates statewide in successfully advocating for an extra $100 million allocation to statewide RAFT rental assistance funding in the State budget via a range of advocacy, including the promised Mayoral letter.
      • The City advocated alongside numerous stakeholders in efforts that led to critical tenant protections to prevent evictions for tenants who filed a rental assistance application. These statewide efforts resulted in the protections being extended from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.  
    • First 100-Days Results: The City’s Office of Housing Stability (OHS), alongside nonprofits, elected officials, and concerned residents, convened negotiations with Somerville’s largest landlords to seek their participation in avoiding displacement in Somerville related to the COVID crisis and its continuing economic fallout. Nearly all large landlords, including the Somerville Housing Authority, Montage, and others, committed to work proactively with OHS and Somerville non-profit agencies to help tenants access rental assistance rather than move to file evictions for nonpayment of rent. This, in combination with the Somerville eviction moratorium, kept the numbers of evictions filed in Somerville among the lowest per capita statewide at the time of writing. Staff are continuing to follow up with the remaining management companies.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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. 
    • First 100-Days Results: To pursue this Ballantyne Administration goal for advancing housing equity in Somerville, the City’s Housing Division researched various models of rent-to-own homeownership. Staff determined that the most prevalent private sector rent-to-own model is often predatory in nature. The most promising options identified involve public sector models and public-nonprofit partnerships, though these too have faced other challenges that we can learn from. Housing policy staff are focusing follow-up on more detailed research into these models. Exploratory conversations with community partners and agencies involved in the most promising models are currently underway to assess how they may be adapted and applied in Somerville.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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. 
    • First 100-Days Results: The Office of Housing Stability is proposing an initial allotment of $3 million in ARPA funds for a new City-funded affordable housing program that would be groundbreaking in the Commonwealth as it would control rental costs for vulnerable tenants including families that are not eligible for other federal programs. These new housing resources would be targeted to those with the greatest financial need, including families with children in Somerville Head Start and the Somerville Public Schools paying more than 50% of their income for rent and utilities. Under the proposed voucher program,  participants would be capped at paying no more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities. OHS is currently seeking a partner agency to administer the housing voucher program. Legal and logistical analysis continues.

Environmental Sustainability & Climate Change

  • 100-Day Goal: 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 externa​​l 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: In her vision for a net-zero carbon-negative Somerville, Mayor Ballantyne is committing to equitably reducing carbon emissions to the greatest extent, while raising the standard of what cities can commit to achieving for offsets. She is also focused on the urgency of this challenge. To advance this goal, the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) developed an accelerated work plan to complete a Somerville Climate Forward Update with new, more ambitious carbon-negative targets by mid-2023. Later this year, OSE will oversee a biannual greenhouse gas inventory and consumption-based inventory and analysis, which will help define what “net-zero carbon-negative” means to Somerville and inform the updated plan. Keeping equity at the forefront of both the plan and its development, City staff will then pursue an inclusive community engagement process to hear from groups historically underrepresented in sustainability work. The Somerville Climate Forward Update will also be the first version of the plan with summary guides translated into multiple languages.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: Mayor Ballantyne is working to keep the idea of “public” in all our public spaces. To that end, the Public Space and Urban Forestry Division drafted a policy that will greatly advance efforts to ensure that when developers create required public open space as part of larger projects (known as Privately Owned Public Space or POPs), that these new parks, courtyards, and plazas are accessible and inviting to all. A supplement to Somerville zoning, the policy will allow the City to more closely review all POP designs, ensure they have clear signage noting they are public, and offer high-quality features that inspire community use. Plenty of research shows what hasn’t been working nationally with privately built public spaces since the 1960s. This policy, which is expected to go into effect this summer, seeks to reverse that. Currently there are five POPs in Somerville with more expected over time.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: After record-breaking ridership in 2021, Mayor  Ballantyne and the Mobility Division have taken steps to expand the Blue Bikes system to better serve all Somerville residents. Since January 3, the Mobility Division secured private sponsorship commitments for five new public Blue Bikes stations via permitting for new development and prepared a multi-year investment strategy for the publicly owned Blue Bike system. The Administration also supported state legislation to modernize regulation of electric-assist bicycles, including for use in the Blue Bikes system. Outreach and engagement efforts this year will highlight the income-eligible membership program.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: Health and Human Services staff expanded the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program to include climate justice as a work area for the first time this year. Six high school students will work with the Department of Public Works for six weeks on a range of projects that will include learning about invasive species, good plants that are pollinators, overseeding and grass concerns, why things are chosen to be planted based on geographic region, irrigation systems, and more. They will also meet with staff in the Office of Sustainability and Environment to learn more about the City’s sustainability efforts, recycling programs and their connections to climate change mitigation, and careers in sustainability and public service. Applications opened April 4, interviews will take place in May, and students will work in June and July. Climate-focused jobs will continue to be offered each year going forward.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: The Ballantyne administration is leading municipal environmental planning with the creation of an urban Pollinator Action Plan to create the healthiest environment for pollinators – such as bees, moths, and butterflies – that are vital not just to help plants grow but to maintain our food systems for people and wildlife. The Public Space and Urban Forestry (PSUF) Division will submit a funding proposal for the FY23 Budget to support the creation of the Pollinator Action Plan. If funded, PSUF will work with an Advisory Group of community members and advocates to craft a Request for Proposals (RFP), then interview and hire a qualified team of experts in urban pollination, horticulture, the urban environment, and climate change. This team will work alongside the Advisory Group and through an inclusive public process. The Plan will assess which pollinators exist in Somerville, what plants they feed on, and how we can create more host plants to sustain them. The innovative Somerville Pollinator Action Plan will be a model for creating a city that supports urban pollinators and wildlife through engagement with the community. Our goal is to serve both residents and the small creatures who rely on our plant habitats.

Access, Transparency, & Accountability

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: Mayor Ballantyne’s office convened an internal team to develop a new Director position, who will be tasked with leading and building out a full Office of Accountability, Transparency, and Access. The process would mirror that used previously to establish the City’s Office of Housing Stability and the Department of Racial and Social Justice, where an expert Director was first brought in to conduct an organizational assessment, chart out structures, and propose staffing and programmatic needs. The ATA Director position will be included in the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The ATA Department would focus on meeting evolving constituent and stakeholder needs that stem from an increasingly digital landscape, such as public records requests and information regarding City operations.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: Mayor Ballantyne’s commitment to transparent, open, and ethical government is central to her approach to fair, equitable, community-centered public service. At her direction, the Intergovernmental Affairs team and City Solicitor's Office have begun reviewing existing legislation and policies and researching best practices to identify areas for enhancement of the Ethics Ordinance and lobbyist tracking that the Administration will seek to pursue in collaboration with the City Council. To advance this work and provide the resources necessary to support a meaningful commitment to these goals, the administration is preparing a proposal for the FY23 Budget for a Director of Accountability, Transparency, and Access, who, among other duties, will advance this effort.

  • 100-Day Goal: 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 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: To foster diverse participation in the City’s boards and commissions, Mayor Ballantyne directed staff to evaluate and improve the recruitment and appointment process from top to bottom. Feedback from sitting members and staff liaisons informed the creation of a five-phase action plan to enhance inclusive outreach and address barriers to participation. Examples of improved standards include ensuring calls for vacant seats remain open for a standard and sufficient length of time, removing various application barriers, conducting targeted outreach to underserved residents, and ensuring postings are translated and accessible via multiple methods both print and digital. Implementation of the initial two phases is underway. To date, six calls for members have been issued using the new guidelines, and interviews to fill 25 vacancies are in progress. Improvements to the process will continue over time as staff test what works best to support access to meaningful participation by all residents on the City’s boards and commissions.

Quality of Life

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: No stranger to quality-of-life concerns that she helped address as a four-term City Councilor, Mayor Ballantyne is placing a strong emphasis on rodent control efforts. Within weeks of her taking office, the City launched the six-month SMART rodent pilot in early March to mitigate rodent activity and collect data to quantify the issue. Fifty traps were installed in four neighborhoods. In the first month of the program, 105 captures were recorded, with the majority taking place between late March and early April (prime rodent season). This new technology enables the City to make data-driven decisions for the greatest impact, tailoring the response to specific conditions rather than using a blanket approach. The City will propose expanding and extending the program as part of this year’s budget process. 

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: To increase efficiency and improve coordination of rodent control services, Mayor Ballantyne tasked City staff with centralizing and expanding rodent control resources. The Environmental Health Coordinator position was thus moved from Health and Human Services to the Inspectional Services Division (ISD) to facilitate close coordination with the ISD inspectors who handle rodent issues. A new Senior Rodent Control Officer role was also created that will oversee the residential abatement program and work in the field, directly engaging with stakeholders and technicians. The job was posted at the end of March and interviews are underway. 

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: Mayor Ballantyne made directing resources to intensify efforts to address long-standing and complex flooding issues an immediate priority. She also moved to ensure impacted community members will be heard. The Infrastructure and Asset Management team thus launched two related community processes to evaluate solutions to flooding and combined sewer overflows (CSOs), which will help inform the next several decades of infrastructure projects. Staff hosted three community meetings to discuss 30+ conceptual flood-mitigation projects and get feedback from the public. Using that input, they are now modifying those conceptual projects and developing a prioritized citywide plan. City staff also launched a community engagement process focused on reducing CSOs and, as a first step, published a proposed scope and schedule of work for a CSO Long-Term Control Plan for public comment. Both efforts will ultimately inform a long-term capital investment plan, guiding the next 50+ years of work to improve water quality, address legacy flooding, and prepare for climate change.  

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.   
    • First 100-Days Results: Guided by Mayor Ballantyne’s vision for Safer Streets in Somerville, the City made significant construction, design, and education advancements to improve street safety and accessibility for all residents and visitors. Along with supporting the MBTA in opening the Green Line’s Union Square branch, a long-awaited transit-justice milestone decades in the making, they got to work on new steps. Among immediate, tangible changes, the City initiated construction on several projects that will install 2 miles of accessible sidewalks, 30 traffic-calming curb extensions, 13 raised crosswalks, three pedestrian refuge islands, and a half-mile of new protected bike lanes across the city. Looking further to the future, the City secured federal funds for pedestrian and bicycle safety enhancements on Mystic Avenue and Maffa Way, as well as MassDOT’s McGrath Boulevard reconstruction, which will tear down the Route 28 overpass that separates East Somerville from Union Square and create a green urban boulevard in its place. The Mobility Division also expanded and diversified community engagement efforts, leading 12 public meetings and workshops, issuing four multilingual surveys, flyering and canvassing for four safe-streets projects, and, with the Communications Office, creating a Vision Zero mailer sent to 35,000 residences citywide to foster a culture of street safety.

Strengthening & Supporting City's Workforce

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: After 30 years working in government, nonprofits, and business, Mayor Ballantyne understands well the need for strong workforce supports to both  improve the work environment for staff as well as the productivity of the organization. Together with Human Resources, her Office set a plan to ensure this goal would remain front and center. Human Resources has since hired an organizational development consultant to lead this initiative and assemble a Work Better Task Force composed of staff from relevant knowledge areas. The Task Force will develop a plan to gather data from all City staff and recommend changes that will enhance the work life of employees – and as a result, improve the delivery of services to the community. 

  • 100-Day Goal: 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.
    • First 100-Days Results: Mayor Ballantyne is working to ensure the City can compete for the best workers – and keep them. Fair and competitive compensation allows the City to attract and retain qualified staff across all functions – and in the current challenging hiring environment, ensuring appropriate compensation has become all the more critical. After a preliminary review with the Mayor’s Office, Human Resources significantly expanded the scope and scale of the scheduled compensation study to include salaries as well as benefits in order to gain a more holistic understanding of employee compensation. Human Resources is in the process of hiring a consultant to lead this initiative. After an intensive data-collection period, that consultant will produce a report and develop recommendations, which will inform changes to advance the City as an equitable workplace and support the City’s ability to attract and retain staff. 

Programs & Initiatives

An overview of how the budget process works and how it impacts residents and businesses in Somerville.
The City of Somerville has career opportunities for a diverse range of professionals and skill sets to reflect the culturally rich community we serve daily.

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