The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today a company that wants to operate amphibious sightseeing tours in Boston has to first get permission from the Boston police commissioner.
Nautical Tours has been trying to win permission to carry sightseers around the Hub since 2007, when it first asked the state Department of Public Utilities for a license to serve Boston.
The department said the company was unable to prove it had the financing to support its operations, but that it would grant permission - on the condition the company win a permit from the Boston police commissioner. Instead, in 2010, the company asked the Boston City Council for permission and, when that was not forthcoming, sued the state.
But the state's highest court told the company to stop quacking and just apply to the police commissioner. It noted the city's police commissioner has had authority over sightseeing operators since 1913:
Given the nature of sightseeing vehicles, here amphibious motor vehicles, and the public safety concerns associated with their operation on the sometimes narrow, crooked, and congested streets of Boston, the sightseeing licensing requirement is reasonable.