Boston Mayor Wu petitions Beacon Hill for 250 liquor licenses

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu appeared earlier than state lawmakers Monday to foyer for a house rule petition that will enable the town to situation 250 new liquor licenses in particular neighborhoods over the subsequent 5 years.

By tying non-transferable licenses to 10 ZIP codes, the laws seeks to treatment inequities created by the town’s present construction, which permits licenses to be transferred from the focused neighborhoods to wealthier areas just like the downtown and Seaport, Wu instructed a joint legislative committee.

“We have a system now where some neighborhoods have more than 60 liquor licenses, and some have fewer than 10,” Wu mentioned. “It is those neighborhoods that are often home to lower-income residents, residents of color, where there are hardly any sit-down restaurants, if at all.”

This is due partially to a scarcity of accessible licenses. When a bar or restaurant shuts down, the license is typically bought by companies on a so-called secondary market.

Driven by excessive demand, the price of these privately bought licenses, at $600,000-plus, is prohibitive to “new entrepreneurs representing different cultures,” Wu mentioned.

“That means that when they open up, they often get pulled to areas of the city with higher foot traffic, wealthier areas, less diverse and representative of all of the cultures of Boston,” she mentioned.

Today’s system operates as a “zero-sum game,” added City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune, who, together with Councilors Brian Worrell and Ricardo Arroyo co-sponsored the house rule petition handed by the physique and signed by the mayor in March.

“Each new establishment in areas like the Seaport often means a closure of a restaurant elsewhere,” Louijeune mentioned. “This creates a competitive environment where growth in one neighborhood comes at the expense of another.”

She added, “By adding more liquor licenses, we can break the zero-sum cycle and promote growth throughout the city without displacing existing businesses.”

The laws would search to treatment that by tying 250 non-transferrable liquor licenses to 10 of the town’s 38 ZIP codes, 02119, 02121, 02122, 02124, 02125, 02126, 02128, 02131, 02132, and 02136 — areas together with Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, Roslindale, East Boston and Hyde Park.