NEWRA NEWS - Notices, Meetings & Updates
NEWRA Voices Strong Objection to Liquor Licensing Breakdown
On Wednesday, September 15, the Boston Liquor Licensing Board heard the first group of 20+ applications for the 5 new "free" all-alcohol licenses being distributed in 2016. This group included 5 applicants from the North End. What made this hearing very objectionable is that NO North End neighborhood association - not NEWRA and not NEWNC - was given an opportunity to vote on these licenses. This has become the unfortunate style of the new Liquor Licensing Board - little-to-no community process and a rushed, less-than-thorough analysis of public benefit. Is this the way our City's liquor licensing should really be run - more like a Bill Belichick "hurry-up" offense than a thoughtful community process?
The North End is one of Boston's oldest, most residential neighborhoods. We have the highest residential population density in Boston, about 80% of Manhattan's density (which is the highest in the US). The North End also has one of Boston's highest concentrations of liquor licenses per resident, and liquor-serving restaurant/bar seats per acre. Compared with the other neighborhoods, the North End is third in these two "misery" categories, behind the West End (which includes the Boston Garden area) and Downtown (which includes Faneuil Hall). Over the past year, rather than helping us manage this over-saturation of liquor licenses in the North End, the Licensing Board added 3 liquor licenses to hit our overall cap of 91, pushed more all-alcohol licenses into our community, and drove us closer to becoming an Entertainment Zone.
As of mid-2015, less than a third of North End liquor licenses were all-alcohol. Today that's close to 40% (almost a 20% increase). Liquor serving North End restaurants now account for over 8000 seats. That's almost one liquor-serving seat for each North End resident, and over 60 seats per acre. Less than half those seats used to be all-alcohol in 2015, but now all-alcohol represents almost 60% of all seats. These mammoth increases are just in one year, and before any of the new 2016 "free" all-alcohol licenses are awarded.
Why is this important? An excess of late-closing all-alcohol liquor licenses drives crime, trash, and public safety issues, detracting from our overall quality-of-life in the North End. We talk about these new alcohol-related problems in our monthly Public Safety meetings - we're literally watching these unfold before our eyes. What's regrettable is that the City should be helping us manage the problem, but instead they're helping to drive it.
Before the new Mayor-appointed Liquor Licensing Board took over, the City had always had always tried to keep our mix of all-alcohol to beer-and-wine licenses well below Faneuil Hall / Entertainment Zone levels, while staying below an overall cap of 91 liquor licenses. That's clearly out the window now. Almost worse, many of us doubt that the Licensing Board follows these numbers (even though it's supposed to be their job to know this stuff).
We evidently need to remind City Hall again that we in the North End need to be treated respectfully and as the long-standing family-friendly residential area that we are. All North Enders should let City Hall know we don't want to be treated like a transient Entertainment Zone.
As NEWRA President, I wrote to Licensing Board Chair Christine Pulgini asking, urgently, for a stop to this madness. Here's what I said:
I am emailing you to express NEWRA's grave concern over your liquor licensing board's wholly unnecessary rush to hand out the remaining five "free" all-alcohol licenses created in the 2014 legislation. I urge you and your board to wait on awarding any of these liquor licenses until we can reestablish a reasonable community feedback process.
Last year, we objected to a similarly rushed process when 10 licenses were handed out, with only one of our two North End civic groups able to vote on these licenses due to the rushed timing. We were assured this was an anomaly, an artifact of having so many licenses available at once. Yet this year's process, with fewer licenses, has been even worse. Neither North End civic group will be able to vote, and your time from license availability to award looks like it's going to be less than two weeks. This rush is unproductive, undemocratic, and totally unnecessary.
Further, the only North End input will come from the 5 abutters' meetings conducted last (Tuesday) night, but scheduled at exactly the same time as Sal LaMattina's well-attended special City Council Hearing on the North End Nursing Home. Because at least 25 members of my association and most other civic-minded North End residents were at this City Council hearing and unable to attend the abutters' meetings, I would contend there was absolutely no reasonable community processs surrounding these licenses. As a city official, you should consider this lack of community input as unacceptable as we do.
The leaders of the Alliance of Downtown Civic Organizations, representing the nine largest civic associations of downtown Boston (including NEWRA), urgently request a meeting with you and other members of your board before you award your licenses. We are all concerned that public process surrounding licensing has totally broken down, and we would like to help you fix that. Please let us know when you might be available to speak with us.
Annual Meeting Notice
NEWRA's next meeting (October 13th) will be our Annual Meeting, where the membership selects 2017 officers. We will also be discussing a possible change to the by-laws, which would require a vote by the NEWRA membership. A proposal to extend term limits was suggested by several members, endorsed by the Nominating Committee, reviewed by the Executive Committee, and is now proposed formally by our Bylaws Committee. Currently, the bylaws state: "No officer may serve for more than two years consecutively..." and the proposed change would state: "No officer may serve for more than four years consecutively in the same position." This bylaw change will be voted on at the Annual Meeting, unless the membership or Executive Committee decides to delay the vote.
NEW - Research on AirBnB
NEWRA is working with other ADCO resident associations to spearhead important research into how AirBnBs affect the fabric of our community. Click on the button below to see the data that's been collected from other cities. If you would like to get involved in this joint AirBnB effort, please let us know at our next meeting or via email.
Save the North End Nursing Home
Many North End residents and public servants are working to try to save the Spaulding Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center - the only Nursing home in all of Boston's downtown neighborhoods and, more importantly, the home to dozens and dozens of our most senior citizens. If you are interested in helping, a great first step would be to sign the online petition at the Save the North End Nursing Home website: www.savethenorthendnursinghome.org
"The North End Community recently discovered Partners HealthCare's plans to close the Spaulding Nursing Home and Rehab Center (formerly the North End Nursing Home) at 70 Fulton St. The decision to close this facility was made without any input from the community or concern for the impact on the long term residents who make their home there and receive daily visits from family members who are unable to travel easily to locations outside the neighborhood." from http://savenorthendnursinghome.org/
UPDATE - LEWIS WHARF and other large projects in North End
Check out what's going on with the various larger development proposals for the North End. Click here to see more about Lewis Wharf and other BRA-driven projects...
Try out the ZLC file links
Now you can review the North End zoning map and preview all the documents provided to NEWRA on ZLC cases before seeing them at the general meeting. Diagrams, blueprints, letters of refusal, and neighbor-provided comments are all here.
View our NEWRA data maps of the North End and Boston
Click the buttons below to see NEWRA's newest Public Safety and ZLC maps, built from data made available by the Mayor's Open Data order. ALL MAPS ARE NOW WORKING. Please note that some of the City's Open Data feeds, which power these maps, have had challenges with data consistency. Our BRA Projects map is most affected by these difficulties which include incorrect locations and incorrect and/or out-of-date data. The City and the BRA have provided some fixes, but they are still working on others.
Note: If you are using IE9 please switch to compatibility mode to see the maps. Also, please make sure you have a reasonably fast Internet connection and computer to interact with these maps since they process a lot of data.
Learn More About the Boston Redevelopment Authority
Learn more about the BRA's 6-year Urban Renewal Zone extensions and how they effect YOU. Click this link to find out more...
NEWRA Meeting Calendar - click here
Who We Are
The North End/Waterfront Residents' Association (NEWRA) is a member-driven nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose purpose is to enhance the living experience and residential character of our unique neighborhood. Membership is open to all who maintain their principal residence in the North End/Waterfront area of Boston, Massachusetts.
Send us your questions and comments using our Contact Form or email us at email@example.com. For our mailing address or to sign-up for our mailing list, see our Contact page.
NEWRA General Meetings are held on the second Thursday of the month at 7PM at the Nazzaro Community Center on North Bennet Street.
All North End/Waterfront residents are invited.
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Copyright © 2009-2014 North End/Waterfront Residents' Association, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2009-2014 North End/Waterfront Residents' Association, All rights reserved.