Boston makes warm-weather streetside dining permanent, except in the North End, where it will be banned this year
Mayor Wu announced today the city is making permanent its pandemic-inspired system that lets restaurants reserve parts of the sidewalks and streets out front for outdoor dining - except in the North End, where residents had grown increasingly cranky at having narrow streets taken up by so many tables and where the city says traffic this summer will be even worse than usual due to a couple of major road projects.
Unlike in the first two years of the program, though, restaurants that want to partake will have to pay - $199 a year for restaurants without liquor licenses and $399 for restaurant that can serve alcohol.
Despite the ire of North End residents, the city says the specific reason for the North End ban is because of the regularly scheduled weekend shutdowns of the Sumner Tunnel and congestion due to the glacial pace of construction of the new North Washington Street Bridge:
The scheduled closures of the Sumner Tunnel and continued congestion around the North Washington Street Bridge construction project are expected to put a greater strain on North End traffic this summer and make it harder for residents and first responders to navigate the area. With about 95 restaurants in just over a third of a square mile, the North End has the densest per capita number of restaurants in the state. This has brought unique challenges and quality of life issues expressed by residents over the course of the temporary programs, including increased traffic, sanitation issues, and accessibility problems for older residents and those with limited mobility. The City will be creating a task force to determine how these issues could be remedied in future iterations of the permanent program. This year, the City will buy back jersey barriers from North End restaurant owners and provide relief for costs related to storing these items.
Last year, North End restaurant owners who wanted to set up tables in parking spaces were the only ones who had to pay fees, which the city said was due to the increased costs of trash removal and rodent control in the neighborhood and to help pay for alternative parking for residents who would normally park on the street.
The owners of four North End restaurants sued the city over the fees, demanding $1.5 million each in damages. The case, filed in federal court, is still pending. The judge in the case said in October she was inclined to dismiss the suit but gave the four time to file an amended complaint. The city has until March 17 to file a response.
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Can u imagine what Eversource
Can u imagine what Eversource bills will look like for the restaurants when the AC has to crank to get rid of the meat sweats on tourists' brows? Better hope for rich tourists.
Nothing about the Mayor's
Nothing about the Mayor's reasoning about the North End makes any sense at all. What am I missing?
Read the fine article
You can argue whether it is a good reason, but there is a stated reason.
But what does that have to do
But what does that have to do with replacing parking spaces with dining tables?
The proposal is to close the
The proposal is to close the streets, I believe, not just set up sidewalk dining and "parklets" that use up parking spaces. Streets in N. End are so narrow already, there are no parking spaces to begin with.
I'm sure dining in the closed streets was a lot of fun in 2021, when there still wasn't the same traffic, but even then, I think it was a burden to people who lived in N. End and needed to drive somewhere.
Restaurant owners are acting like they don't understand why they are being "discriminated against" by not being allowed to double or triple their dining space, but the way the N. End is built, it's just practically not the same as closing Newbury Street to traffic in the summer. There is no other way to drive through that entire neighborhood except those narrow, winding streets, and it's already a nightmare.
How does closing the Sumner
How does closing the Sumner Tunnel make traffic worse on Hanover Street?
Maybe the North Washington Bridge construction makes the area more congested in general. But I'd think that would discourage people from driving in, which would mean fewer cars in the middle of the North End.
i can almost taste the pettyness.
well, i guess as long as i'm sitting indoors.
More like a fake reason
The Sumner adds traffic to the North End when it's open. It certainly does not do that when it's closed. As for the bridge, the temporary bridge is still there, not seeing how the continuance of an existing condition leads to new traffic.
heading north out of the city is impossible at rush hour
i don't think it's a made up problem
But what does that have to do with restaurants in the North End?
Are we expecting that people who can't use the tunnel will instead drive up Hanover Street just for kicks?
Yeah, I don't get it either
I twisted my brain into a logic pretzel, and thought they were saying "so many pedestrian tourists in the North End. They will meander like sheep into the roadways of Boston and be maimed by traffic around the tunnel, which is somehow different than in years past."
Or, you know, because a "concerned group of citizens" are against change, here of the seasonal variety.
I’m not sure either
…but it’s clear the Mayor’s office sees a legitimate increase in congestion in that area and they think it will affect the North End. She could probably stand to explain her rationale a bit more clearly.
I’m just a bit confused by the insinuation that Wu is retaliating for last summer, since the residents say they don’t want on-street parking.
She’s not retaliating against the residents.
She’s retaliating against the restaurant community that gave her grief last summer. There’s a cocktail named after her at Vinoteca di Monica that is decidedly unflattering.
anything short of capitulation is retaliation?
Glacial pace of the Washington St bridge?
Calling the progress of the bridge glacial is an insult to glaciers.
is responding to the wishes of the neighborhood
good for her!
Are they the neighborhood wishes?
And who gets to speak for the neighborhood?
To be sure, I agree with Wu on this. But one person's neighborhood wishes is another's claims of kowtowing to NIMBYs.
Is Street Dining allowed in Lynnfield, Winchester, North Reading
and similar towns where most of the blowhards in this argument actually live?
Do the business owners live in the city?
I think the business owners, whose sales will be affected, should be heard here as well, don’t you? They are just as much a part of the neighborhood as the residents. Many of them ARE residents.
except in the North End,
except in the North End, where residents had grown increasingly cranky at having narrow streets taken up by so many tables
From prior stories
The crankiness was due largely to the loss of parking spots.
I don't live/work in the North End so I don't care. But the loudmouths on both sides seemed to be only looking out for their own interests. (Free parking vs free table space.)
I heard differently. Yes,
I heard differently. Yes, the loss of parking spaces didn't help, but it was also the impassable sidewalks, the trash left behind, and the hours and hours of loud tables below residential windows every night for six months straight. Sound hits differently when it's in passing vs. having a loud table camped on your sidewalk for two hours at a time.
Who speaks? Probably the massive amount of residents that showed up to the neighborhood meetings on this issue and literally spoke there.
The Mayor is a hypocrite.
Typical Democratic thinking. Ban cars and parking everywhere else except where taking away vehicles is really needed.
Racist insurrectionist coward
THis is why we need to add a report button to the comments here.
How in God’s name is that post racist? Am I missing something here?
This will teach them and
This will teach them and others a lesson not to get on the mayor's nerves.
To get re-elected!
Thank you Mayor Wu
Thanks to the Mayor for listening to the residents and not allowing outdoor dining.
They are never happy
So they were pissed last summer when they had to pay for a permit to use public space and now they are pissed because this option has been taken away? let's remember it's a neighborhood and people do live there, although for the life of me, i don't know why. i've avoided the NE for years since it's become over congested. Too many other options in the city.
What’s inconsistent about
What’s inconsistent about being unhappy about a fee of several thousand dollars that only applies to this neighborhood, and also being unhappy when outdoor dining is banned outright the following year? That seems like an appropriate reaction from a restaurant owner.
Too many cars
Instead of addressing way too many free street parking permits they just ban outdoor restaurant seating. I hope they revisit again next year. I feel like this is a neighborhood where they should just ban overnight on street parking. If you own a car in the north end you need to find an off street parking space to store your vehicle.
In urban areas in Japan you have to prove you have a place to put your car before you are allowed to buy one. They also have almost no street parking. Maybe we should follow their lead on this.
They also have a functioning
They also have a functioning public transit system.
They go together
It’s a lot easier to fund mass transit when you start to charge car owners even a tiny percentage of the social costs of driving.
To all of the people who are glommed onto the car issue:
Forget about parking - it's a red herring used to trivialize the concerns of the residents. Instead, try to use a SIDEWALK during outdoor dining. Try to go to the post office, a bank, the pharmacy or the tailor. Try to go to the health center. Try to go to church. And, if there's a medical emergency, the fire station is often the first to respond - but not during outdoor dining when they have a hard time even responding to fires. Would you think these were valid concerns in your own neighborhoods? And please don't tell us we shouldn't live here if we don't like it. Unless someone moved here during the pandemic, people didn't choose to live with outdoor dining. They tolerated it to help the restaurants but the large restaurant owners don't seem to appreciate this. The push to continue outdoor dining is not coming from the few remaining mom-and-pops but from those who own multiple establishments in the North End and elsewhere. And no, they don't live here. They may have a pied-a-terre in the North End but also have large spreads in some of the suburbs mentioned previously. And speaking of suburbs, who do you think is driving in to eat at North End restaurants? And if you come by Uber, please spare us your sanctimoniousness.
I'm really going to miss
sitting in the gutter eating overpriced pasta watching out for rats crawling over my feet.
Weird that you were being forced to have that experience
Personally, I just choose to not eat at restaurants that I think I won't enjoy!
Why not make it a true Little Italy?
The North End could emulate Italy and bar street and parking access to everyone but residents and delivery vehicles. All over Tuscany there are towns with strict regulations that keep cars off tight medieval streets making strolling and outdoor dining a lot nicer.
This is really what they should do.
The north end existed for hundreds of years without street parking, and without the tunnel for that matter. The north end is literally built for pedestrianization and like it says above it has the most restaurants by area. It’s actually a terrible sign if the city can’t make street dining work there. The idea that parking should come before making a city that is comfortable for pedestrians and full of street life is truly backwards, especially given what the mayor claims to care about. The arguments about tunnel traffic make no sense at all, and follows the same kind of logic the mayor would probably normally reject about solving traffic by expanding road capacity.
It’s also distrubing how much power politics she engages in. North end restaurant owners may not have handled it well last time but this just feels petty. Stand up to the mayor and she will clearly single you out. Also thinking about how she doesn’t want to give up her power to appoint the school committee more than she cares about the inequality of everyone else in Boston being the only people in the state who don’t get a vote on that. Easy to talk of democracy, but still doesn’t seem to be meaningfully put into practice here.
Before cars, there were
Before cars, there were horsecarts making deliveries in the North End. Traffic and parking congestion were certainly an issue in that era.
$199 and $399 fees?
This the first time I've seen government fees with "99" pricing, as opposed to being a round number. Makes you wonder about the people Wu is delegating decisions to.
I'm afraid these particular
I'm afraid these particular decisions were not delegated.
I have no problem with this
as long as these business pay at least 50% of the fair market value for the use of public land. If anyone believes bars and restaurants list money during the pandemic you are mistaken.
When the city first allowed street dining, you knew it was going to open the floodgates and would never come to an end.
A pretty bold claim to make that bars and
restaurants didn't lose money during the pandemic. Citation, please.
If only there weren't a fire station on Hanover Street
The obvious solution to all the problems here is to completely pedestrianize Hanover Street, which would leave plenty of room for both local walkers and restaurant diners. But that can't be done because of the fire station.
They do this kind of thing all the time in Europe. Many areas we think of as fully pedestrianized there actually do allow car access but only for residents, deliveries, and emergency vehicles, which keeps the traffic volumes low and the former 2 must yield to pedestrians which makes it comfortable. This European style neighborhood would be a great opportunity to try out something similar here.
Wu with some payback for the MAGA
restaurateur set. A bummer for those of us who enjoy eating outside in the north end.
The MAGA set doesn't need an imaginary slight
("She's doing this for revenge!") to despise Wu. The fact that a woman of Asian ancestry is Mayor is enough to rev up their Perpetual Grievance Machine.