City Councilor Ayanna Pressley is calling for a hearing on how to stop the exodus of liquor licenses from the city's outer neighborhoods to Boston Proper and the waterfront.
At Wednesday's City Council meeting, Pressley will explain her bid to change the current arbitrary limit set by the state legislature on liquor licenses in Boston, which she calls an outdated relic of "Prohibition frenzy about alcohol and a power struggle between Yankee legislators and Irish-dominated local governments."
Pressley might also have to fight the legacy of Dianne Wilkerson - the last time the city got an increase in the number of licenses was at the behest of the currently imprisoned former state senator.
In an "order" explaining her issue, Pressley writes:
The cap on the number of available liquor licenses in Boston drives up the price of licenses and the cost of doing business; and the unnecessarily high cost of doing business makes it difficult for entrepreneurs - particularly small/local-, minority-, and women-owned business enterprises - to bring innovation to the cultural, arts, and culinary arenas. And it unduly burdens entrepreneurs who wish to open small neighborhood establishments, who in some estimates rely on alcohol sales for up to a quarter of their revenue. And in certain communities in Boston, particularly in communities of color, the high cost of liquor licenses also makes it more difficult to develop the range of neighborhood entertainment and dining offerings necessary to attract and retain young professionals and families.
Over the past two years, Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan and Roxbury lost all of its bars when owners sold their licenses to well heeled outlets in the Back Bay and the South Boston waterfront with money to spend - licenses can go for six figures.