A clash over outdoor dining
Mayor Michelle Wu stated that she is considering ending all outdoor dining in the North End restaurant, as expressed in a letter obtained by WCVB. The letter came out after restaurant owners in the neighborhood signaled frustration over a $7,500 fee, along with monthly parking fees, required for outdoor dining in the area. These restaurants also have later start and end dates than eateries in the rest of the city, when it comes to outdoor dining. If the North End restaurant are not able to work with the regulations, Wu said that she may close down outdoor dining completely.
“In two public community meetings convened over the past two months, residents expressed deep opposition to any form of outdoor dining or pleaded with the City to take a more active role in mitigating community impacts,” wrote Wu, in the letter. “They described themselves as at their wit’s end after two seasons of unprecedented intrusion on neighborhood life. As believers in the benefits of outdoor dining, we crafted the North End program in an effort to try one last time to strike the right balance with thoughtful spacing, time limitations, increased safety protections, and other resources necessary to mitigate the impacts on parking, trash, rodents, and public safety. Many North End residents have called for ending outdoor dining altogether in the neighborhood. If a critical mass of restaurant owners also believe this program is unworkable as proposed, then I am prepared to rescind North End outdoor dining before the start of this season.”
This letter was released just before a group of North End restaurants stated, on March 25, that they will pursue legal action if the current rules remain as they are.
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.