Citizen complaint of the day: Allston is disgusting

A concerned citizen holds his nose with one hand and types with the other:

The streets and side walks of Allston are disgusting. There is trash everywhere from plastic cups to wrappers to cigarette butts and way more. It makes me feel ashamed to live in this part of Boston, especially when I cross over into Brookline and the streets are pristine and immensely clean. I implore you to take a look around and get the filth cleaned up please. Thank you.



    Free tagging: 


      There are parts of Dorchester

      There are parts of Dorchester that are nicer than parts of Cambridge (have you seen savin hill lately?) In fact both places are about the same size in terms of population. Yes there are plenty of rough parts of dot, but there's actually some upscale parts too. People don't know Dorchester by itself is the 6th largest city in Mass, so by saying its disgusting you're basically ripping on an entire city that's as socioeconomically, culturally, geographically, and physically as diverse as Cambridge.

      Only after the city cracks down on slumlords

      Force students and low income people into expensive slums, and they tend not to care about their community.

      Going rate for a 1 bedroom in Allston is $1200. What it gets you looks like it hasn't been taken care of since 1982, and a absentee slumlord.

      My first apartment in Boston out of college was on Pratt street and the landlord kept a broken down car in the front yard and the whole back half of the unit didn't have heat all winter, even after multiple "fixes".

      Transient population has something to do with it

      A lack of attachment to the area (and therefore, less interest in maintaining it) on the part of the transient college kids is certainly part of the problem. However, I have always thought that the largest part of the problem was that since said students comprise such a large percent of the population, and almost none of them vote in local (city council, mayoral) elections, it give the city pols a free hand to pay less attention to the neighborhood than they otherwise would.

      If West Roxbury were treated the way A-B is, the elected officials would be turned out in no time.

      ACA meeting tonite

      No major agenda, just D-14 on hand to discuss matters, and other general issues. The trash problem in Allston has come up on several occasions, and folks from the mayor's office and D-14 have been promising to deal with it.

      P.S. The college students who get cited for loud parties/alcohol are often employed in street clean-up duty, apparently.

      Community service

      I've seen community service cleanup crews twice in my neighborhood in the past 6 years. The first time, it took me close to 3 months of calling the city and finally a public shaming in the Globewatch column to get the city to remove the bags of trash that had been filled and then left all around the neighborhood.

      JP's been covered in trash lately too

      It was absolutely shocking how much garbage, trash, and debris was strewn all over Centre Street. Why is the city doing residential street sweeping (they have for weeks now) but not sweeping public roads where parking isn't allowed?

      And why aren't the city's bike lanes being cleaned? The lane on mass ave is a sea of broken glass and debris, when it isn't being blocked by cars parked in the lanes.

      wow, no sense of irony

      The whole point of Critical Mass is to protest the fact that bicyclists have a right to the road too, but are injured, killed, harassed, and intimidated.

      With bike lanes, I get to add "GET IN THE BIKE LANE!" to the list of things that are screamed at me. Despite the fact that I'm under no obligation to do so, and riding anywhere but the very edge of the lane is more dangerous because I could be doored. Because drivers won't look in their damn mirrors before flinging open their doors...

      I did Critical Mass once. It

      I did Critical Mass once. It was an awful experience. I don't think blocking off traffic for several traffic lights during rush hour is going to raise awareness. I don't think riding several cyclists side by side so cars cannot pass is going to do anything either. I think my favorite part was riding by Fenway during a Sox game. Officers kept trying to stop everyone so pedestrians could cross, but no one stopped.

      when i lived in brighton...

      i would go out once a week with rubber gloves and a trashbag. picking up anything you could imagine drunk students leaving behind. they really dont care, about themselves, or where they live, never mind you.

      my family had the house built in 1913 and we finally left last year, driven away from the place we were all born (and quite a few died). people always give you that "well you shouldnt live there if you dont want to live in a college neighborhood" bullshit. guess what? it wasnt a college neighborhood when we my great grandfather had the house built a hundred years ago, it was the top of a pasture. it wasnt a college neighborhood when i was growing up there. it was a neighborhood full of families and children played ball on every corner. it was a place i would have liked to have raised my own kids. i really had a great childhood growing up here in the 70s and 80s. the college kids have ruined a lot of nice neighborhoods.

      p.s. heroin is another reason i fled, that one isnt the students fault. it suddenly swept through and took a lot of my friends. i know the suburbs are no safe guarantee against drugs but i feel like my kids have more of a chance to avoid the heavy stuff out here in the burbs.

      Shouldn't be news.

      There is every kind of drug available in Brighton.

      Weed, cocaine, crack, meth, pills.

      Go to the basements and alleys of 1300-2000 Comm Ave.
      Go to Fidelis Way or Faneuil.
      Go to the woods surrounding the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
      Go to the several halfway houses within a block of Cleveland Circle.
      Go to Ringer Park, Glenville Ave or Lincoln St./Empire St.

      It may not be obvious, but it's there - trust me.

      I'm sure it is

      But is it something that would drive people out of the neighborhood, like in the 70s, or just the general low level shit that doesn't mean anything? I think he was being overly dramatic.

      Also, I wouldn't group "weed" in with the rest of those. Marijuana doesn't make people do stupid violent things, unless you count attacking a bag of Funions. Or the complete overreaction of the police to it, driven by our country's completely insane drug war.

      People smoking weed along Comm Ave, Glenville, Ringer Park and the reservoir isn't surprising at all. I've certainly detected telling odors from some of those places. But I don't think that's anything to be concerned about. Heroin, on the other hand, is a problem. And if there's something specific, perhaps it should be brought up at a community meeting.


      Many of those areas the poster identified are indeed shooting galleries for heroin users. And the presence of the addiction clinic at Brighton Marine doesn't help improve the problem either. One could argue that the people attending are trying to deal with their problems. But their general trashiness is unwelcome in Brighton and should be unwelcome everywhere. And frequent lapses are a direct cause of things like needles found in the playground or woods of Ringer park. They are not the students (as much as the students can be blamed for a myriad of other problems). I truly don't understand why they don't strand those people on a harbor island as quarantine.

      You're right - I sorta missed my own point

      I really shouldn't have grouped weed in with the rest of those much harder and more harmful drugs. It distracted from my point.

      I believe that weed is harmless and should be legalized, taxed and regulated. But that's another debate, entirely.

      I guess my point was this:

      When it comes to drugs in A/B, there is much more than meets the eye.

      I feel like folks (not this site) have misconceptions about drugs in the city, and they are:

      1. You need to go to [insert "rough" Boston neighborhood] to get the hard shit.

      2. A/B is just a bunch of pot smoking college kids.

      Those are both wrong. There are people using and selling hard drugs in Brighton.

      I'll respond to your third paragraph with a real life example:

      In the 2003-2007 era, the Cleveland Circle 7-11 became a popular hangout spot for vagrants and addicts. They lived on the other side of C.H. Ave, in a secluded playground that was covered in needles. I got to know them, but one in particular. His name was MorningStar and he is no longer with us. MorningStar was a violent heroin addict who had friends in the various halfway houses in my neighborhood. Every time I saw him, he was either high, coming down or needing. And he was one nasty dude when he needed heroin. After several major incidents involving MorningStar and his friends, the community got D-14 involved. There are no longer multiple addicts outside of that 7-11 on a regular basis. The secluded playground has been razed and the addict camp is gone. The community addressed the issue and the response was positive.

      Is there a point to that story? Maybe, I don't know. I just feel this is the kind of thing that you were referring to. A few isolated incidents - no big deal. But when people like MorningStar start overrunning your neighborhood, you've got problems. We took action to prevent this from happening and it was successful.

      It was experiences like these that made me realize that there is a little more than meets the eye in Brighton.

      P.S. I'll never forget the day MorningStar told me Mr. Butch had died.

      Much better said

      You're right, you were detracting from your point. It makes a big difference to know that there's heroin use in those locations, rather than just kids smoking weed. Some folks I've heard complain about the most ridiculous things, like "car doors being slammed" and it makes it really hard to take them seriously.

      But I like the example you brought up and I was hoping that bostnkid had something specific like that in mind, that could be discussed in a community meeting and resolved. Today, even. Instead of just giving up and moving out.

      P.S. A nice example of the dangers of unminded, unused "greenspace" too.

      Pot isn't harmless to the

      Pot isn't harmless to the thousands of Mexicans murdered to supply the stuff to US users... the pot laws should be changed but until that happens they are what they are; and users should bear a responsibility for the unimaginable violence their habit tolerates.

      Harmless Pot

      FWIW, the overwhelming majority of the weed smoked in Boston is NOT coming from Mexico. Try Canada, California or Indian Reservations in north/northwestern NY state.

      Oh yes

      I knew Morningstar from when he hung at Harvard and Comm., about a decade ago. He wasn't violent then, but many things change for the worst with these people (I work with the homeless, I know). Heroin is bad juju.

      I also knew Joe Lennon, the guy who stabbed someone to death at Fanueil Hall several years ago during a bad drug deal. He wasn't like that until Heroin took him.

      I was one of the last 5 people to see Butch. That man is greatly missed. (Save the date, July 12th is the 5th anniversary of his demise)

      Side-question: does anyone know the whereabouts of his suitcase? I did the artwork on it for Butch, the last anyone ever would do. I'd like to retrieve it for nostalgia's sake.

      Check with the tattoo shop?

      You might ask in Regeneration Tattoo. That was where his van was kept if I recall. I also remember hearing about a sister when they held his funeral so maybe she would have it and you might find her name/information from some of the articles covering his death.


      I met Butch's sister at the funeral, and also know of the (former) crew at Regenerations (frankly, they were very standoffish with us, given out little group had all known Butch for 30+ years and they were newcomers, such as it were). However, I understand Sue (the Tattooed lady!) is long gone. My assumption was, she took it with her. But I'll ask, you never know, and thanks for the suggestion.

      I hop it still exists there. The picture of Butch in the middle of the artwork got damaged, and I am the sole person with those pix to be able to repair it.

      They had to move the van several times, though I remember it behind regenerations until the cops made them move it. I think it was somewhere down near the old Cort furniture that "fateful morning." Being down that way and spending the night in the van, Butch went to a "before hours" place nearby, had a few, and was on his way to Upper Allston from there, when the accident happened.

      Side commentary - the Gals at Regenerations et al did NOT "buy a van for Butch" as the news said at the time. It was 100% purchased out of his own SSDI checks (that came directly from Butch), for which they were his payees. Just to correct the record on that. Also, he bought the Vespa 100% from his stemming money. Took about 7 months. A close friend, "Clicker," still has the entire payment and purchase agreement hanging on his wall to this day.

      Me, "Clicker," and Butch used to sit around and compete playing "Jeopardy," if you can believe that. A very smart man was Butch.

      RIP Harold Madison, Jr. - you are missed.

      theres a heroin "epidemic" in

      theres a heroin "epidemic" in pretty much every city neighborhood, and Brighton is no exception. And for the record, plenty of college kids are on it. People who don't do opiates don't realize that Purdue changed Oxycontin a couple years ago to prevent abuse and that all of a sudden hundreds of thousands of kids across the country who were addicted to pills switched to heroin.

      I don't think the poster was necessarily saying Brighton has an exceptionally high rate of heroin use... but it's high enough that he'd rather not raise his kids there and that's probably a smart idea. Remember that Brighton also has a high hispanic population, and the heroin trade in Boston (and most of the Eastern US) is controlled by colombians and then dominicans and puerto ricans. There is also a high Asian population, and a lot of heroin is brought to the US and consumed by Asians (you just wouldn't know it if you don't speak Chinese/Thai/Khmer)

      People seem to think that dope fiends all hang out outside and you can tell when a town has a bad drug problem by how many dealers you see out on the corners and how many junkies are laying around in the streets. Most of them are just inside all day and you never see them, so you wouldn't know they exist... and nowadays the dealers all just use phones so you don't really see them out on the corners.

      Same here

      My Mom's family is from Adamson street in Lower Allston, house went back to just after 1910. I lived there for a few years myself as a kid, grew up in Newton, came back to Allston as an adult and stayed. Because it's home.

      Or WAS, until all of the above, as you say. I gave up and left a few years ago as well. The area is no longer "friendly" for actual locals, it's become a strip-mall for juvenile delinquents and marginal, transients.

      (Bet you knew the McAuliffe's?)

      Near as I can tell, it's a

      Near as I can tell, it's a combination of the problems. There is litter in the street gutters from trash and stuff people have dropped, and sometimes the street sweeper gets it, and sometimes not. There is debris left over after every trash day in places with bad disposal habits (like the big block of apartments on Linden), and then there are places where that stuff just piles up, like the footbridge over 90.
      We pick up best we can before and after trash day, and catch what we can in the small yards around us, and things have improved... a little. If people see a little trash, then they are more likely to add to the mess, assuming (sometimes correctly) that noone cares.
      I am also struck by the difference between nearly visible line between Brookline and Boston, and I know it cannot JUST be students, as those areas closest to Allston also have nearly as many students as Allston does.

      Improper Disposal

      There are also long stretches of Commonwealth Ave where buildings do not have dumpsters in the alley in back, but rather just toss loose trash (sometimes in bags) out on the curb. This probably contributes to the trash problem on the stretch of Comm Ave between Allston Street and Harvard Ave more than actual littering. When the trash goes out without a dumpster or can (and often even a real bag) the trash removal company is not going to scrape the ground clean. Those buildings should all be required to use commercial dumpsters out back or cans if there is not room. Keep the cans in back then maintenance brings them out on trash day.

      Compare instead the block of Comm Ave between Allston and Gordon Streets where there are dumpsters and buildings whose maintenance personnel pick up messes that get left behind by passers by. Much nicer looking.

      Is leaving bagged trash at

      Is leaving bagged trash at the curb not in a trash can allowed in Boston? It sounds like it shouldn't be.

      Who is picking up this trash, the city or a private service? In Cambridge, city trash pickup is provided to all residential buildings, but large buildings are highly encouraged to hire a private dumpster service instead.

      At some point, citizens must take action

      Plenty of neighborhoods have the same problems with trash.

      But what I think you see in some neighborhoods is that residents take it upon themselves to clean up. In front of my building, the first-floor retail keeps the front clean because it's good for business. Likewise, restaurants on the block. Homeowners are generally good at it.

      There is a block between Dartmouth and Clarendon streets well-known for its dirtiness. Never been able to figure out why that block of all of them is so messy. Mostly, it gets that way on trash days, which leads me to believe it's lazy residents (meaning, sorry to say, renters).

      The difference between neighborhoods is as much about residents taking it upon themselves to keep them clean.

      College students living off-campus are not the responsibility of the universities. The students are grown adults. Their landlords are the ones responsible for keeping things clean.

      ISD / code enforcement is a part of this, but the city councilor for A-B will need to push to get landlords to clean up their act!

      This sort of thing doesn't help, of course.


      These fucking things...

      These damn compactor trashcans are absolutely fucking useless. Each one I see in a high-traffic area is broken, and/or overflowing with GARBAGE and liquid.

      No one wants to touch them to throw in their trash. When they do, the thing clogs up (let me be a good citizen and unclog the stuck shit people threw in so that I can be green about disposing of my litter--seriously?).

      Some of you may know more than I do regarding the topic, but didn't the city spend to the tune of thou$ands per unit to place these all over the city? They are useless! Bring back the regular carbage bins. Sweet Jesus on a pogo-stick!

      The compactors are actually

      The compactors are actually better at keeping litter from blowing all over the place. The problem is that the city decided that because the compactors have a greater capacity that they could get away with not emptying them as often. Now that laziness has gotten to the point that most have broken from being overfilled!

      Do you have ideas to help?

      I live in Allston and I work for an organization called Allston Village Main Streets. We have been around for 16 years working with the city of Boston, Allston Residents, and small businesses to try and make Allston Village a better place to live work dine and shop. We have had some major successes (completing dozens of storefront renovations annually, adding murals to deter graffiti, launching a successful farmers market in front of the Jackson Mann) but it seems that the amount garbage is always the elephant in the room. What can we do to make it better? I would love to hear anyone's ideas about how to better engage the community to help clean up our neighborhood! Your ideas are appreciated, and your help is essential. Please feel free to get in touch at 617.254.7564 and I plan on being at tonight's Allston Civic Association Meeting at 6:00pm at the Honan Allston Library on North Harvard Street.

      Thanks for keeping the conversation alive!


      I would actually argue against using murals to "deter grafiti".

      First off, despite being well intentioned and typically trying to depict some form of community spirit, they look gaudy and trashy. The only mural I ever could appreciate artistically is that one that was on Newbury St. near Dartmouth St. and is now gone.

      Secondly they often just get grafiti'd over themselves and because there is a mural there one can not just use the typical tools of painting over or sandblasting.

      The best defense against grafiti is to have an actively patrolling police force and to treat it as a felony even for first time offenders. And of course keep the sandblaster ready for those you do not catch.

      I don't know about 30years ago

      But it certainly seems a lot cleaner than when I lived there 25 years ago.

      A story from that era: Went into the bodega that used to be at the corner of Parkvale & Brighton one night. Guy in front of me was buying a box of sandwich bags, a box of baking soda, and 2 packs of cigarettes. I was not surprised when he paid for it with a $100 bill nor the fact that the clerk didn't bat an eye and had no problem making change.


      for the past is a particularity human trait.

      50 years ago is always looked on as the golden age, no matter what really happened 50 years ago.

      Sorry folks, but granny was giving hummers in the back of chevys in her day. Technology changes, styles changes, but people and behavior don't. We just would like to think they do.

      I wasn't there, but everyone old enough to remember 30-40 years ago tell me Allston, Davis Square and other areas of Cambridge were drug addict, dirty shitholes. Southie might have had less petty crime, but drug use were more prevalent. Snitches were bitches and people disappeared.

      Bkid is right though, but it's not just Boston that's seen a surge in Heroin use. Conversely, meth is finally dropping out of style, but not before destroying tons of lives.

      I don't know about 30 years ago

      I managed a bar in Allston and lived in Lower Allston 25 years ago. the area is much cleaner and hospitable than it was back in the day.

      cocaine is far more of a scourge than heroin. Cokeheads are volatile, junkies are calm. Pot provides the financing for both as the modern hydroponic market has virtually eliminated pot dealing in public.

      Cigarettes are much less popular than 25 years ago thus sidewalks are cleaner.

      Many of the students in Allston can afford their apartments as opposed to back in the day when 6 of us shared a rented house for $216 each.

      Those who post about decline weren't around 25 years ago.

      All of Boston is cleaner and more law abiding than it was 25 years ago.

      Broken Glass

      I lived in Allston for 2 years and the thing that concerned me the most was the amount of broken glass found allover the sidewalks, especially during flip flop weather.

      Touch and go

      I've lived in Allston for years, and cleanliness is touch-and-go based on the building or business.

      Hint: If the landlord is conscientious, the street is clean. If the business owner is conscientious, the street is clean. If the landlord lets his property be covered in graffiti, litter, and loitering shady men, the street in front of it will be filthy. If the business owner keeps a dirty restaurant or store, the street in front of it will be gross, too.

      What the city really needs to do is go after the stores that allow their sidewalks to become filthy, and start ticketing them. Yeah, some ethnic Allston staples might get fined, but that's life.

      Boston Shines

      This time of year the streets and sidewalks everywhere look awful, just because of the end of winter and a months long period with no street sweeping and leaf litter etc. This is why the city hoststhe citywide neighborhood cleanup April 27 and 28 - that's when the most trash is on the streets.

      Interesting discussion of causes, and I believe it that Allston may be dirtier than other neighborhoods, but there is an opportunity for residents to start thhe warm season with clean sidewalks and parks by organizing a cleanup of affected areas on a weekend when city resources are focused on supporting it.

      I agree with many that

      I agree with many that mentioned a transient population as a critical component. Lower class businesses (pawn shops/used furniture etc) and a general lack of investment in the infrastructure (although the LED lights are wonderful!). Allston area is just not that important to the economic and political powers of Boston. You see the change when hitting Brookline because JFK village and Coolidge Corner are critical to the economic and political well being of Brighton, thus more investment, better cleaning, higher class businesses etc.

      Look at the intersection of Harvard and Comm. and Harvard and Brighton. The difference really is night and day considering the similarities.

      It is sad really, and until Boston gets its act together or Allston/Brighton incorporate as a new town/city I don't think too many meaningful changes will happen. There are lots of good folks in this area, yes lots of college students but they are not all dirty drug addicts.

      There are solutions though.
      -Community patrols as a requirement at BU/BC like a 1-credit class and you have to spend 1-3 hours a week working with a verified community group.
      -Encourage landlords to pool resources and negotiate for one trash contract, this reduces the total amount of dumpsters out back as well as saves landlords money on trash pickup (money saved could be mandated into a community cleanup fund)
      -Reduce auto lanes and road widths on certain roads adding green space/plantings as well as proper bike infrastructure so cyclists don't have to ride in the crap at the side. This would also allow for wider sidewalks of proper width and allow for the placement of more trash bins/compactors etc.
      -Continue community loan/grant program for business improvement and facade work. Develop a series of attractive options and use the grants to encourage the switch to that type.
      -Work to reuse blank walls, put in windows, trees along the base, murals, space designed to be graffiti-ed (but designs can be removed with just water)

      I am sure there are more, some may not be doable, and some may. Folks have ideas. It may be a slum to some, but good people do live here and sometimes just want the opportunity to do something good