Take Back The Streets (...and alleys)

lexicon506

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Not trying to be a Wu basher I'm a supporter who voted for her. I was thrilled with her hires for chief of staff and chief of streets, both of whom are well known for their work in re-imagining city streets to be less car centric. I just don't see how this is consistent with those goals.
Agreed. I'm a big supporter of Mayor Wu but am disappointed that she hasn't tried to resolve this with an actually forward-thinking solution: pedestrianize Hanover St. Residents are right that outdoor dining has made the tiny sidewalks on Hanover difficult to navigate, so close it to traffic from Cross St. to the firehouse and allow people to spread out. Banning cars would also create a much nicer dining environment (aka. more $$ for restaurants), so charging a fee for upkeep becomes a much more reasonable request.
 

Sprngh2o

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Does Chinatown have this issue ? Crowds, noise ,congestion etc....
 

stefal

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Does Chinatown have this issue ? Crowds, noise ,congestion etc....
One restaurant in Chinatown requested an outdoor patio permit.

The North End has the densest concentration of restaurants in the state, with three times the number of on-street permits (77, 70 of which on public property across 0.2 sq mi) over the next highest neighborhood (Back Bay, 21 on-street permits). It has resulted in significantly more 311 calls and complaints of noise, congestion, rodents, and cleanliness than any other neighborhood.

While I question and encourage more transparency in where the $7,500 fee comes from and where exactly it is intended to go to, the letter Wu released is pretty well done, IMO. It's the City's apparent/reported unwillingness to talk with restaurants about this fee and provide more info on it where I see them failing.
 

JumboBuc

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One restaurant in Chinatown requested an outdoor patio permit.

The North End has the densest concentration of restaurants in the state, with three times the number of on-street permits (77, 70 of which on public property across 0.2 sq mi) over the next highest neighborhood (Back Bay, 21 on-street permits). It has resulted in significantly more 311 calls and complaints of noise, congestion, rodents, and cleanliness than any other neighborhood.

While I question and encourage more transparency in where the $7,500 fee comes from and where exactly it is intended to go to, the letter Wu released is pretty well done, IMO. It's the City's apparent/reported unwillingness to talk with restaurants about this fee and provide more info on it where I see them failing.
I find the comparison in Wu's letter of "70 on public property" in the North End "but only 21 on-street" in the Back Bay to be pretty disingenuous. Either compare public property to public property or on-street to on-street, but don't compare public property to on-street.

I definitely can see both sides of this and don't at all consider myself a "Wu basher" (I voted for her in the General albeit not in the Preliminary), but there's no question to me that there is a good amount of politics in this policy decision. A lot of Wu's appeal among a lot of people appears to be a belief that she'll prioritize policy decisions for the greater good over neighborhood politics, but I unfortunately just don't think that's a realistic possibility in our political environment.
 

BeyondRevenue

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The North End has a substantially denser restaurant presence than anywhere else in the city .. and possibly the nation. Last year’s laissez faire approach to oversight has fostered ill will between citizenry and restauranteurs. Wu can tell the North End restaurants to chill out while still encouraging cafe and outdoor dining elsewhere. The policy is addressing real, specific problems (vastly overcrowded, unmanaged street dining, gridlocked traffic, loud and unruly behavior forced into in a living neighborhood) with an effective market solution: use taxes. The situation is not an academic exercise in policy. It is a direct response to monstrous problems, those that interloping pasta profiteers are loathe to acknowledge or solve by themselves.
 

KCasiglio

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The North End has a substantially denser restaurant presence than anywhere else in the city .. and possibly the nation. Last year’s laissez faire approach to oversight has fostered ill will between citizenry and restauranteurs. Wu can tell the North End restaurants to chill out while still encouraging cafe and outdoor dining elsewhere. The policy is addressing real, specific problems (vastly overcrowded, unmanaged street dining, gridlocked traffic, loud and unruly behavior forced into in a living neighborhood) with an effective market solution: use taxes. The situation is not an academic exercise in policy. It is a direct response to monstrous problems, those that interloping pasta profiteers are loathe to acknowledge or solve by themselves.
Perhaps the problem here is that the market has clearly signaled despite the already high number of outdoor dining facilities demand is still not being met. Why should limited resources be catered to the much smaller number of people trying to drive/park there? The restaurants and those attending them are not new, it's in fact part of why the residents of Boston's choicest neighborhood have chosen to live there. If you're still worried about your mythical exurbanite who's out at 11pm in the north end, take away their ability to drive in.
 

commuter guy

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More difficulties for outdoor dining (not just for the North End)

New changes for this year:

"a 22-page packet of city guidelines that lays out the measures restaurants must abide by if they want outdoor seating, including several new additions this year. Those range from mandatory automobile and workers’ compensation insurance to changes to the type of barriers restaurants can place around their tables. Ropes, planters, and wooden railings are out; restaurants must use concrete jersey or water-filled barriers"

 

JeffDowntown

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More difficulties for outdoor dining (not just for the North End)

New changes for this year:

"a 22-page packet of city guidelines that lays out the measures restaurants must abide by if they want outdoor seating, including several new additions this year. Those range from mandatory automobile and workers’ compensation insurance to changes to the type of barriers restaurants can place around their tables. Ropes, planters, and wooden railings are out; restaurants must use concrete jersey or water-filled barriers"

I am assuming this is all in response to the fatal crashes into outdoor dining setups in Miami in Feb and DC in March, killing multiple restaurant patrons and injuring about 20 more people.
 

Stlin

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I am assuming this is all in response to the fatal crashes into outdoor dining setups in Miami in Feb and DC in March, killing multiple restaurant patrons and injuring about 20 more people.
Yea... I have to concede some of the homemade barriers were particularly sketchy with traffic 6 inches away, but man are these going to be a lot uglier, especially the plastic water filled ones. The concrete ones aren't too bad when decorated, though I do think the city should consider broadening sidewalks generally so these don't need to be on the street.

It's the fate of all regulation for them to get more restrictive over time as high profile edge cases make the news.
 

commuter guy

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I am assuming this is all in response to the fatal crashes into outdoor dining setups in Miami in Feb and DC in March, killing multiple restaurant patrons and injuring about 20 more people.
If I'm not mistaken, in both of these unfortunate accidents the car drove off the roadway and up onto the sidewalk. In light of the fact that the city has never demanded jersey barriers to protect people walking on a sidewalk it's seems like an over reaction under the circumstances.
 

Arenacale

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Yea... I have to concede some of the homemade barriers were particularly sketchy with traffic 6 inches away, but man are these going to be a lot uglier, especially the plastic water filled ones.
It's nostalgia for me, but I like the water barricade look. It's a shame they only make them in the traffic barrel orange anymore, when they were first developed by legendary racer Mickey Thompson for use in his namesake stadium off-road series they came in a deliberately patriotic red, white and blue. I think that scheme would actually work for Boston and you might be able to brand it across the city that way...

 

JeffDowntown

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If I'm not mistaken, in both of these unfortunate accidents the car drove off the roadway and up onto the sidewalk. In light of the fact that the city has never demanded jersey barriers to protect people walking on a sidewalk it's seems like an over reaction under the circumstances.
Most (or at least many) busy sidewalk areas are protected by parked cars. That is one of the rationals for street parking in urban areas.
 

Scott

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Maybe the money should go to the neighborhood to mitigate the impact of this instead of just to the city
 

Scott

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But the momentum to do that has to be grassroots not via edict from city hall.
 

BronsonShore

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I mean this without an ounce of snark: why? And who would be this grassroots? The aloof Brahman residents aren't going to get involved in anything
Unless you’re posting this from 1872, there aren’t a whole lot of aloof Brahmans left in Boston.
 

Blackbird

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Does San Francisco have the same requirements for jersey barriers and insurance? And if so, is it the only other place that does?

I'd actually feel better about all this if there was a precedent, and not just City Hall asking businesses to shill out thousands of dollars for minimal benefit.
 

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