Boston Herald

Liquor license push heads to Hill

- By Sean Philip Cotter sean.cotter@bostonhera­

Add it to the wish list: Another home-rule petition from Boston appears set to join its comrades up on Beacon Hill as the city seeks the state’s blessing to add 250 liquor licenses to specific neighborho­ods over five years.

The City Council passed by an 11-0 vote a proposal to have non-transferab­le liquor licenses tied to certain ZIP codes, intending to respond to the fact that the boom of bars and restaurant­s in neighborho­ods near downtown and, particular­ly, the Seaport have resulted in the typical transferra­ble licenses getting hoovered up into those areas, leaving little in the farther-flung parts of town.

The proposal from City Councilors Ricardo Arroyo, Ruthzee Louijeune and Brian Worrell would roll out five liquor licenses a year each to 10 ZIP codes around the city in an effort to spur economic developmen­t in some of the city’s neighborho­ods that need it. Arroyo, the government operations chair, said liquor licenses also encourage better-quality restaurant­s and fewer fast-foodtype places, improving health.

“There’s an actual butterfly effect from liquor licenses to community health,” Arroyo said.

Worrell talked about the economic benefits for areas that have historical­ly been left out.

“It will start providing the tools our Black and brown restaurant owner need create vibrant business districts and neighborho­ods,” he said.

Mayor Michelle Wu intends to sign the homerule petition, her office said.

That means it now will climb up Beacon Hill to the State House, where this type of legislatio­n needs the approval of both chambers and the signature of the governor before it would go into effect.

The hill is a notorious graveyard for local homerule petitions, and several ones that are particular­ly ambitious — read: likely to get looked askance by at least some denizens of the State House — have been passed recently by Wu and the council.

These are seen as some of Wu’s big legislativ­e wins, including abolishmen­t and reformatio­n of the Boston Planning & Developmen­t Agency and rent control — but none go into effect without Beacon Hill’s signoff.

But there is precedent for the State House to approve liquor-license changes; just last year, it passed a home-rule petition seeking four licenses specific to the Bolling Building in Roxbury and the Strand Theatre in Uphams Corner.

Previous attempts similar to this new one, though, have failed.

Right now, Boston’s 1,400-plus current liquor licenses can be sold from owner to owner, generally going for $500,000 to $700,000, the councilors said. This means the bigmoney new spots going in in places like the Seaport that are willing to pay that kind of cash end up pricing neighborho­od restaurant­s out.

The law, which would need state approval, would apply to ZIP codes 02119, 02121, 02122, 02124, 02125, 02126, 02128, 02131, 02132, and 02136 — areas including Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, Roslindale, East Boston and Hyde Park. It would make five new-non-transferra­ble licenses available a year for five years for each ZIP code. Three of those would be all-alcohol and two for sales of wine and liquor.

 ?? HERALD FILE PHOTO ?? It’s now up to legislator­s if Boson gets its way.
HERALD FILE PHOTO It’s now up to legislator­s if Boson gets its way.

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