Pressley pushes liquor-license reform on Beacon Hill

MassLive reports on a State House hearing yesterday on City Councilor Ayanna Pressley's proposal to increase the number of liquor licenses in Boston and give the city control over the Boston Licensing Board, now appointed by the governor.

Pressley's proposal is formally a bill by state Rep. Russell Holmes (D-Mattapan).



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Interesting to see where Boston liquor reform goes,

assuming this effort isn't already doomed by entrenched interests. For instance, will they make provisions for restaurateurs who bought licenses under the cap system? I think I'd be squawking pretty loudly if I'd spent $450K on a license a few months before reform made it worth $200K or less.

Reform of some kind is needed

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Reform of some kind is needed, unless you want more chain restaurants and growth only in certain neighborhoods. As someone who works in the business, those who would complain should make sure their game is tight--if you have a good product you shouldn't worry. But in my experience Boston is quickly becoming a city only for the rich.

I agree that reform is needed

Look at how many of our best independent chefs are opening their own places in Cambridge, Somerville and elsewhere, and I'll bet that Boston's absurd liquor license costs play a big part in those choices. I'm just anticipating the likely political obstacles that will be thrown down if this moves forward.

Growth in certain neighborhoods

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Right, restaurants normally open in neighborhoods where the majority of the residents can afford to eat at the said restaurants. Why would a business open in a neighborhood where most of the residents are too poor to patronize it? I highly doubt you'll see lots of back bay yuppies driving down to mattapan to eat at a cool new restaurant, but plenty of mattapan residents affluent enough to afford the said restaurant can also afford to drive or cab it to back bay. Also, those on the dole (i. e. the poor) shouldn't be spending taxpayer money on eaiting out and drinking at expensive restaurants in the first place - safety net that's currently in place was never intended to provide middle-class lifestyle.

Growth is good

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Why should the upwardly mobile on Mattapan have to schlep all the way to Back Bay to have a fancy meal?

Of course, part of the answer is that they could just head up Cummins Highway to Roslindale Square where they could have their options of American, Italian, and Haitian food served with alcohol.

I am no fan of gentrification. I don't like this idea that Boston could possibly become like Washington DC or San Francisco, with only the rich and poor. However, there's no reason why Dudley or Mattapan Squares could not support restaurants where one can go and have a good sit down meal washed down with some wine or perhaps a beer. If it can be done in Roslindale, East Boston, Allston, or any other part of the city, why not Roxbury or Mattapan.

Oh, and if you think EBT cards would go far eating at said places, you are truly detached from reality. I hope you realize that Mattapan is a very middle class area. But something might have colored your view on this matter.

What is your definition of

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What is your definition of very middle class?

02126 had a 2011 median household income of $45,605. The citywide median is $49,081, and statewide is $62,859.

Homeowners, for one

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I did bristle when I wrote "very middle class", but I will defend it.

First, it's a 10% variance from Mattapan to the rest of the city. Second, looking at the data further, mean income is $55,513, $62,146 for families, and $80,142 for families where both the husband and wife work. If you want the median for the last group, it's $75,762. In short, other parts of the country would look at those numbers and say that the area is doing alright.

Third, 42% of the housing stock in Mattapan are owner occupied, versus 34% for the rest of the city. I do consider home ownership a sign of middle class. Therefore, I consider Mattapan to be a middle class area. There are poor people living there, but one can say the same about almost any part of Boston. Yes, you don't have to own a house to be middle class, but owning a house is a sign that you are a bit beyond the level noted by the first poster.

I should also note that Roxbury and Mattapan are still considered the heartland of the African American community of Eastern Massachusetts. Yes, black people can eat and live wherever they want, but just like New York has Harlem and DC has U Street, there is no reason why Dudley Square couldn't have a vibrant scene.

Same license

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It doesn't matter if you are serving Budweiser for $1 or Dom Perignon for $100, you have to get the same license from the same pool.

Your argument is thus void of substance.

Trolling, or delusional?

With statements like this, it's hard to tell: "Also, those on the dole (i. e. the poor) shouldn't be spending taxpayer money on eaiting [sic] out and drinking at expensive restaurants in the first place."

I would also accept the answer, "Boston-Herald-commenter-level idiot".

Got what they paid for

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Preferred and early access to the market.

If they didn't want to risk "losing" the upcharge they paid due to artificial rarity, then they should have waited in line with everyone else who couldn't afford to buy advanced access AND put all their squawking behind initiatives like Pressley's to get the quota system reformed so that they could get in as cheaply as the rest of those waiting will.

Again, playing devil's advocate here,

there's an argument I think is likely to be made on behalf of current license holders, especially the ones who bought in the past couple of years: "We played by the rules, you're changing the rules, and that will cost us several hundred thousand dollars." Legal action will ensure that this will demand a better answer than, "Your tough luck, pal."

The free market wants what it wants

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If I buy a Veyron (normally about 40 made per year) and then tomorrow Bugatti decides to make 10,000 new ones and mine goes from being worth a few million to a few hundred thousand, I don't get to sue Bugatti. Well, I can but I doubt I will win.

If the government tightly regulated the number of

Bugattis that could be made, and then removed the cap, your analogy might be relevant. This obviously is not a free market situation at present.

I'm not talking about what is fair or not here: I personally want to see licensing deregulated. My point is that when businesspeople stand to lose a ton of money by some proposed new law, you can be assured they won't calmly sit by and do nothing to stop the drastic devaluation of one of their biggest assets. Don't take my word for it; watch what happens if this legislation moves forward.


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I agree. They'll not calmly sit by. I just don't think it will be of any use if the ball gets rolling.

Too much TBD

I apologize for not having followed this as closely as I should have but I don't understand - there will still be a limit on the number of licenses, right? But, Boston will be able to decide who gets the new ones? I guessssss that's better?

Regarding the desire to open more restaurants and bars in different locations - that's not in this bill, either, right? It only says something in general about how the new licenses would be distributed (and, in case you missed it, "municipal harbor" locations are given priority over others in the city). So, how does this guarantee the new licenses will be distributed any better than currently? Because the new board will prioritize that goal? That's asking a lot ... and it leaves the process pretty much as random as it is now.

Perhaps it's just a matter of one step at a time.

All I know is, it sure doesn't seem as though this will make getting a license that much cheaper, at least on the face of it.

Nor does it do anything to guarantee the even distribution of new licenses.

Abolish the ABCC entirely

There is no reason for the state to regulate alcohol licensing at all. Save some tax money by abolishing the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, and let each city and town democratically decide how much or how little regulation it wants to enforce on its own.

Not true

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You are familiar with the interpretation of the repeal of Prohibition, right? If not, the reason the state regulates these things is because the state is supposed to regulate them.

States are allowed to regulate them

not required to. Delegating that responsibility to municipalities is another way to do such regulation. and a more democratic way.

If (let's say) Cambridge wants to license 350 establishments and Belmont wants to license only 30, why should the state care?