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They could throw some pasta in the harbor: North End restaurant owners to fight $7,500 fee for outdoor dining

WCVB reports restaurant owners who got to use city sidewalks and parts of the street for outdoor dining during the pandemic are pushing back on the city's plans to charge them $7,500 to pay for special cleanup efforts and stuff needed in the restaurant-dense neighborhood, plus another few hundred a month to pay for parking for North End residents who lose on-street parking spaces. Restaurant owners in the rest of the city do not face similar charges.

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Comments

GOOD! If the City is going to charge a fee for restaurants to set up outdoor dining, it should be the same fee across the city. And having North End restaurants have to now pay per parking space on top of that so that residents can park in nearby garages is even more ridiculous, especially as residents pay $0 for a resident parking permit. If we're going to charge people to use parking spaces, let's make sure everyone's paying, not just restaurant owners.

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Just like I said when this plan was initially announced, the restaurants will whine for a bit but they'll ultimately capitulate for a few reasons.

First of all, the city cares more about residents (who vote) than out-of-town restaurant owners (who don't). Secondly, the cost to these restaurants amounts to like $50/day, which they will make 5x-10x in profit from these spaces almost every day. Most importantly, the vast majority of North End restaurants violated almost all Boston covid requirement the past two years. It's good they're finally being held accountable for their actions.

Last, many people will likely comment that having street parking (which these will take) isn't a right and they're absolutely correct. However, the North End is also a residential neighborhood so offering the parking spaces to restaurants certainly isn't a right either--it's a privilege.

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Last, many people will likely comment that having street parking (which these will take) isn't a right and they're absolutely correct.

Please explain the phenomenon of space savers.

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the city cares more about residents (who vote)

Ha, ha, ha, so the city cares about 25% of it's citizens.

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Let’s say for example someone has a condo on Hanover Street and the condo owner always managed to find a parking spot or double park his car in front of his building for a few minutes to carry groceries up to the second floor, now the condo owner is unable to do that . Mind you, that condo owner could be elderly..

How would you feel, if you were in the condo owners shoes.

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Just gonna say this... Maybe just maybe.. these restaurants should be mad at the folks who bitched about the loss of parking spots. I mean they are the reason why this is high as it is.. gotta pay for those parking spots elsewhere.

Maybe.. just maybe.. if we didn't prioritize cars and parking.. a fee wouldn't be needed. Cuz you know, people would act like adults and just go park elsewhere. or even better.. move to the burbs where they can have private parking, their way, anytime they want. No fee.

Seems to me the issue here is about parking replacement... Only in the north end did people come out with tiki torches when parking was going to be eliminated. So to appease the voters, Wu comes up with a way to pay for that.

Let's put the the blame where it really is. City's gotta recoup its costs it will pay for those private spaces so Karen can park her Land Rover. Go be mad at your neighbor Karen, not Michelle.

(and for the record, Im not against the fee being applied elsewhere, but that fee isn't for 'parking'. If I was a biz.. like the poster said above/below, 7500 bucks to add sq footage to my store for six months. Sure. Drop in the hat. Its that parking fee that is pissin people off.)

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… “incels” (also a slur, to be fair), often.

Maybe your name should be Karen.

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normal, happy sex lives and also use the term. I discourage it, as I know several Karens who are lovely people -- not unspeakable, unduly self-entitled white ladies -- so it seems unfair to them.

I'm not up on incel-speak, but since you seem to be, how is incel a slur? What little I know suggests they call themselves that, yes? Is it only for use by the in-group?

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Stupid fight.

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Let's say 20 restaurants, with the expectation to do this for the next 10 years.

20 x 10 x $7500 = $1.5M

Foley Hoag couldn't get that much for the job.

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… restaurants in general, the majority of which cheat their employees on wages and expect them to live on handouts from customers.

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Do you have any?

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The state minimum wage for tipped employees is about $6/hour. Don't blame restaurant owners for a system so deeply entrenched that it's hardcoded in both federal and state law.

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… do you think?

What about the restaurant owners who DO pay their staff a living wage? Are they lawbreakers?

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I have a friend who owns a restaurant down there. He is not opposed to the “fee”, because as he put it to me, “ it’s a drop in the bucket”. These restaurants get to increase their capacity but 25%-50% and in some cases more than that. On an average tourist season-weekend, a 4 top table brings in 4-6k of revenue per day.

One year ago or two, when COVID restrictions where gutting this industry then this would have been ridiculous but now….. nah find a new fight people especially in the North End where you can barley walk down the street without these silly things.

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… the truth.

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It’s not fair, it should be across the City.

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Why should the fee for a private business making exclusive use of public space be the same in a place where there’s ample underused space (e.g. wide streets, wide sidewalks, plentiful parking, and low density) as it is on Hanover st?

Why should the fee for using public space for your restaurant business be the same in a neighborhood where a four top grosses $2,000 per day be the same as in a neighborhood where a four top grosses $500 per day?

Would you also argue that real estate rent and parking rent ought to be the same everywhere in the city?

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Hanover Street is wide. There’s no reason for it to be two travel lanes and 2 parking ones. Drivers should not be hogging 90% of the public property especially since there are more pedestrians than drivers.

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Yeah that will definitely encourage the people still bothering to run local restaurants in the southern suburbs where they aren't raking in thousands of dollars of tourism cash. Let's make them compete on the open market for liquor licenses with the big dollar corporate chains, too - oh wait we do, and that's why the dining options in less touristy parts of Boston blow chunks. The restaurant scene in in Boston is a complete goddamn joke compared to, say, Somerville, where there's decent places to eat EVERYWHERE.

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Since when was fair across the city ever a Boston policy?

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Location, Location, Location
Hanover Street is not "the rest of the city". The location is uniquely attractive, and presents unique challenges to the community and unique costs to the City. There is no right to exclusive use of the public way, without a permit. The "fee" is primarily rent, for exclusive use of public property, reflecting the value and the costs to the owner.

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Then charge for a residential parking permit too. Be consistent and stop the endless handouts to drivers.

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Putting private property in public space should cost you money.

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starts tugging on their collar nervously...

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Excise tax, gas tax, permit parking, meters, tolls. Shall I continue?

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You might want to check that again.

And other than meters (which, by the way, are well below market rate), none of those payments are tied to public parking - you still have to pay excise tax, gas tax, tolls, etc even if you never park on a public street.

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Please include a list of hidden and subsidized costs imposed on the public by car owners along with your piddling list of expenses.

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This is a common argument, but the gas tax, excise taxes, permits, and tolls don’t even cover half the cost of maintaining the roads in Massachusetts.

https://taxfoundation.org/states-road-funding-2019/

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Since covid MBTA fares cover way less than 50% whereas car fees are around 50% of costs.

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Sure. I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that public transit is profitable. Especially since every penny given to the MBTA is scrutinized and the financial challenges facing the T are discussed widely and often.

But many, including the OP above, believe and drive under the illusion that they pay for and therefore “own” the roads. When in fact the cost of maintaining our roads falls to everyone even if they don’t drive or even own a car.

At the end of the day, infrastructure isn’t going to be profitable and the economic benefits are reaped upstream.

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The person I replied to and a bunch of people on this site, however, are under the impression that drivers should pay 100% for road maintenance and costs. Yet, fail to understand that you need maintained roads for everything (groceries, mail, emergencies, trash, etc) and society benefits as a whole.

I will point out that I never said anything about profitability. There’s no profit to be had when paying 100% the cost of something - roads, mbta, mail, etc.

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Private vehicles do not provide a public service.

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I assume you’ve never taken an uber or lyft? Or had food or groceries delivered to your house?

My point is that the roads drivers pay 50% for provide a lot more than just a road for personal vehicles. Just like the mbta provides a public service too.

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… that benefits all. They draw customers away from public transportation and their drivers park in bus lanes and bus stops, idle their engines, run red lights, speed and routinely engage in a multitude of other illegal and anti social behaviors.
Uber and Lyft, cheat their employees. Pour money into influencing voters to oppose laws to protect their employees. They are parasitic organizations.
Get real! Not comparable at all.

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Will fight to the death to make sure its members don’t have to get vaccinated endangering the public.

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I can't find figures for land value, but apartments in the North End run something like $4-800/sq ft, and a building has 3-4 apartments, vertically, so let's say land costs $2000/sq ft. in the area.

A parking spot is undeveloped, so you get it for half off, $1000/sq ft. The average US car is about 15'x6' or 90sq ft., so a parking spot needs to be a bit bigger than that - say 100/sq ft.

So each parking spot is worth $100,000, roughly, if it were privately owned. And the city of Boston taxes nonresidential property at the rate of $24.98 per $1000 in value. But public parking spots don't, of course, pay taxes, so each one costs the city $2,500 in lost tax income per year, conservatively.

If you own a car and aren't paying the city at least a grand per year to park on the street, keep your entitled mouth shut.

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A parking permit in Boston is zero dollars, Welfaregirl. Stop making crap up.

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Boston residents should have to pay for permit parking.
I think a very modest fee of $25/ year is incredibly reasonable.

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No idea why the city isn’t pushing for this? Vector this money to the MBTA for all I care, but people should have to pay to park on public streets.

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Councilor Wu proposed charging for resident parking stickers in 2019. When will Mayor Wu do that?

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IIRC that was the source of the "Five-Car Flaherty" name.

I wouldn't think the mayor has enough authority to do that unilaterally and if she thinks the city council would oppose it again there's probably not much point in trying to bring it up.

(but she totally should, along with an exponentially increasing charge for each additional car you have per household.)

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The council was on the fence about it, but the proposal died when Walsh gave it a hard "No".

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… “I’m a Car Guy” Walsh.

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The city should sell space savers and charge a user fee.

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I own a car and I would absolutely pay some kind of fee for a parking sticker. That's what Cambridge and Somerville and every other township around here does. It makes sense and covers the cost of administering the program - Boston is ACTIVELY LOSING MONEY on the parking permits right now because people have to be paid to process the whole thing with no offset for that cost.

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is the joke.

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Exactly … what if a diner accidentally trips over a chair on an outside public curb/street patio does that diner sue the city of Boston

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The real story here is that many North Enders, particularly older ones, are upset at losing "their" street parking. That's what this is all really about. Some of the additional fees are to rent garage spots for North End residents. And Mayor Wu and Councilor Edwards are doing their bidding instead of just being honest with them that they live downtown and can't have everything. If you live in the North End and can't handle tourists and restaurants, you have unrealistic expectations. We need to be supporting our restaurants right now, not slamming them with high fees due to NIMBYism.

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The complaints are about more than parking. There are huge consequences to the neighborhood when all the spaces on Hanover street are blocked. Where do delivery trucks go? They blocked Hanover many times, made side streets impassable, pulled up on curbs making pedestrian passage even more difficult, blocked intersections making pedestrian crossing even with lights dangerous.

When there was a need for funeral parking, cars lined up in the travel lanes - and in one instance at the corner blocking sidewalk, crosswalk, and road.
Uber/ Lyft/cab drop offs happened in the middle of the street, and pedestrians had to walk in a narrowed travel lane buffered by outdoor seating barricades.

Pedestrians dodged restaurant furniture, lines, dish stations and servers carrying food and drink. God forbid someone use a stroller or wheelchair- on a nice day it would be IMPOSSIBLE to navigate Hanover or Salem.

There is a real question about WHY restaurants in other neighborhoods should get street space for free, how the fee money will be spent, and there is a fair complaint re handling neighborhoods differently, but $7500 for a summer patio is cheap given how much these places charge.

If restaurants spent a ton on outdoor furniture, that was the choice they made when they knew the rules were “emergency/temporary”. They got a foot in the door using covid as an excuse and are now resisting reasonable oversight.

Even as of now, no one asked the neighborhood how it would like thousands of square feet of public space to be used, if not used as commercial/visitor/neighborhood parking. I am certain there would be more ideas on the table than the false choice of parking or restaurants.

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put the tables in the street and make it a place to hang out

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What the restaurants who are complaining fail to see is that this is needed. I heard so many people complain about their even using outdoor space. Many residents seem completely against it. So that means the city has to mitigate impacts. Impacts go beyond just parking and includes access in general, rats/mice and noise from outdoor usage.

I have seen the number of $50 a day bantered around. Which could be make or break for a small mom and pop in Dorchester but this is the North End. That is one well priced bottle of wine a day. If they are not making at least hundreds of extra dollars in profit from opening the space then its not even worth doing. So I guess this is a great litmus test to limit the number of restaurants that do this.

If they don't want to compromise then maybe just don't allow outdoor dining.

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