Monday, February 16, 2015

Boston City Council Looks At Late Night MBTA Service, BYOB & Fire Hydrant Flags

Councillor-At-Large Michelle Wu provides notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the items below and more at their February 11, 2015 meeting:

Long Island Bridge: Mayor Walsh submitted an order that would authorize a capital grant contribution of $4.3M from MassDOT for the Public Works Dept to design plans for rebuilding Long Island Bridge. The matter was assigned to the Ways & Means Committee.

Late Night MBTA Service: Councilor Zakim and I called for a hearing on continuing Late Night MBTA Service in Boston, as the one-year pilot extending MBTA service on Friday and Saturday nights to 2:30AM is due to end this June. The MBTA Board will hear a final recommendation on whether to continue late-night hours on April 15, 2015, after a one-month public comment period from February – March 11th. Councilor Zakim and I hope to use the hearing as an additional way to encourage public participation and comment from Boston’s residents, workers, small business owners, and visitors. Several Councilors rose to commend transportation workers for their efforts in such challenging weather conditions and expressed support for MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. All Councilors signed on to co-sponsor the hearing order. The order was referred to the Committee on Transportation, Public Infrastructure, Planning & Investment for a hearing.

BYOB: Councilor Murphy & I proposed an ordinance that would allow Bring-Your-Own-Beverage (BYOB) in Boston and give the Boston Licensing Board the authority to set rules and regulations about obtaining a BYOB license. State law controls the number of liquor licenses available for Boston restaurants and prohibits BYOB in restaurants with liquor licenses, but leaves the decision on whether or not to allow BYOB in restaurants without liquor licenses up to municipalities. Boston currently bans the practice, unlike Brookline and some other towns across the state. Allowing BYOB would help small restaurants who can’t afford a liquor license or don’t want to commit to the upfront costs of offering an alcohol menu and committing to purchase minimum numbers of cases. This would lower barriers to entry and encourage more neighborhood restaurants, supporting neighborhood business districts and economic opportunities throughout the city. Councilor Pressley noted concerns that liquor license reform needs to continue, and that in our conversation about BYOB, we should keep a focus on gratuity for hospitality workers and equity, such that certain neighborhoods aren't relegated to BYOB with no opportunities for liquor licenses. Councilor Zakim expressed support that this would help innovative concepts and experimentation with dining concepts that expand from lunch to dinner to potentially full service liquor licenses. Councilor Linehan said that his district has many restaurants with liquor licenses already, so he hoped that BYOB could focus on small restaurants with fewer seats. The matter was referred to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.

Fire Hydrant Flags: Councilor McCarthy & I called for a hearing on installing identifying markers on fire hydrants in Boston, which would help firefighters and others locate fire hydrants under snow. Several other municipalities have begun installing the steel markers at the beginning of each winter and then removing them in spring. Councilor O'Malley noted that there are over 13,000 hydrants citywide and hoped that we could incorporate technology in this initiative as well, such as adoptahydrant.org. The matter was referred to the Committee on City & Neighborhood Services and Veterans Affairs for a hearing.

For complete notes from the February 11th meeting, visit www.michelleforboston.com/notes or sign up to receive these notes automatically each week by email at www.michelleforboston.com/sendmenotes.

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