Responding to constituent concerns regarding excessively loud parties in the North End and throughout Boston, District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina (North End / Waterfront, Charlestown, East Boston) has filed “An Ordinance Regarding Nuisance Control.” (View the full ordinance in pdf, also pasted below.)

The “noise ordinance” targets unruly gatherings within private properties and classifies them as public nuisances. The proposed regulation is not intended to interfere with typical social parties. An offense is defined as excessive noise and/or behavior that causes a “substantial disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of private and public property in a neighborhood.” The ordinance does not cover street noise which is covered by other noise regulations.

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Boston Police and local officials will be empowered to issue a warning notice for the first incident. A second incident within a year would be subject to a $100 civil fine to the persons involved and the property owner. Subsequent incidents within a year would see a $300 fine.

If passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor, the ordinance would apply citywide. It has the preliminary support of the Boston Police Department. Senior aide to Councilor LaMattina, Stephen Passacantilli, said that he worked on this ordinance with several residents and business owners in the community.

The following detailed explanation of the Noise Control Ordinance and its relation to the existing Problem Properties Ordinance is courtesy of the City Council Research Office.

Introduction and Purpose of Nuisance Control Ordinance

This proposed ordinance would amend the City of Boston Code by adding a new section and subsections specifically relating to unruly gatherings and classifying such unruly gatherings as public nuisances.  The purpose of the proposal is to address the harm and disturbances caused by unruly gatherings in the city’s neighborhoods.

The ordinance would impose liability on property owners in addition to other responsible persons for nuisances and harm caused by unruly gatherings.  By definition, the ordinance is narrowly tailored to apply to unruly gatherings on private property.  The ordinance defines such gatherings as a public nuisance if such gatherings create a “substantial disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of private and public property in a neighborhood”.  Behavior constituting a public nuisance for purposes of this ordinance includes excessive noise, fights, and disturbances of the peace.  The intent of the proposal is not to prevent individuals from having social gatherings, but to focus on unruly gatherings that create loud disturbances that substantially interfere with the quiet enjoyment rights of other residents.  The proposal also provides a mechanism for penalizing the property owner for a subsequent offense.

The ordinance requires notice to property owners, persons cited, and educational institutions if local authorities responding to a gathering determine that it meets the criteria of a public nuisance as defined in the ordinance.  Under the proposal, penalties may be assessed to the persons involved for a first violation; and, for the second and subsequent violations, the persons involved as well as the property owners will also be fined if the second violation occurred within year and the property owner received sufficient notice of the first violation.  The fine imposed for the first violation shall be $100.00 (one-hundred dollars) and for the second and subsequent violations, the penalty shall be $300.00 (three-hundred dollars).

Relation to Problem Properties Ordinances

The City of Boston has a public nuisance ordinance in relation to problem properties.  The Code of Ordinances for the City of Boston, Chapter 16-55, relates to public nuisance properties.  The purpose of the public nuisance properties ordinance is to authorize the City to police properties that have become a public nuisance by exhibiting a notorious atmosphere of criminal behavior and other disturbing activity so elevated as to endanger the common good and general welfare of a specific neighborhood.  Public nuisance is defined as “an unreasonable interference with a right common to the general public, such as a condition dangerous to health, offensive to community moral standards, or that otherwise threatens the general welfare of a neighborhood or the City in general through documented pervasive criminal activity, code violations, or other causes precipitating the deployment of any City resource.”

This proposal differs from the ordinances relating to problem properties because it is designed to address a specific issue concerning unruly gatherings that create disturbances in the neighborhoods constituting a public nuisance as opposed to pervasive criminal activity.

Conclusion

This ordinance specifically relates to unruly gatherings and defines when such gatherings constitute a public nuisance.  The ordinance also requires notice to property owners and educational institutions in addition to persons participating or cited under its provisions.  The ordinance also authorizes holding the property owner civilly accountable through the imposition of a fine after notification of a previous violation.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This letter was sent to the individual city councilors:

    The residents of the North End would like all of our city councilors to support the new public nuisance ordinance proposed by councilor LaMattina.

    Our cries for help with this very serious public health problem in our community have fallen on deaf ears with most of our public officials for years. The recent media exposure, and high community turn out at our monthly community meetings with city officials have finally realized the rapidly deteriorating quality of life issues in our community.

    I am sure that most of you are well aware of the growing concern with public safety and quality of life issues in the North End, most importantly the right to peaceful enjoyment of your community and your home.

    The city councilors ultimately work together to make the quality of life better for all of the residents of this city, not just their constituents. They have the luxury to trust each other in managing issues and problems in their own wards.

    Please help Councilor LaMattina and his senior aide Stephen Passacantilli help their community.

    We realize that some of you may not be experiencing the same issues or concerns in your wards and neighborhoods, this ordinance will have no negative impact on any good neighbor, in any community.

    It will only be of help in the future if your wards start to experience these same type of behavioral issues.

    The North End is out of control and we need this ordinance, party goers have been actually throwing bottles from roofs at our police officers, fortunately the police arrested seven individuals on Hanover St. this month for this criminal act.

    Please, let senior aide Stephen Passacantilli elaborate with you, if for some reason you are not aware of the deteriorating public nuisance problem we have in our community.

    Thank you,
    Richard Montemarano

  2. You’re the best, Richie! I hope this ordinance goes through. You are so right, it is a public health issue indeed.

  3. As someone mentioned before, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. It’s you idiots that came to the North End to enjoy the festivities knowing full well these were traditions of the North End people. Why don’t you all make the effort to fit in.

    • What traditions you are referring to on this post Janie? This post is about the ordinance filed that relates to loud roof top parties and people peeing off roofdecks, and throwing bottles off of the roof etc. Has nothing to do with “traditions of the North End people”. That would be the feasts you are referring to I would think. Wrong thread.

  4. Janie – No one is referring to the traditions and feasts. We’re referring to the disrespectful students and young professionals who are the two groups most frequently cited for being disruptive neighbors.

    Thanks,

    Brian

  5. Landlords need to do a better job of screening- not only the prospective tenants but also the the real estate agents they use who bring the prospective tenants. Our leases come with very specific addenda about group gatherings, the expectations of respectful behavior, proper trash disposal, a discussion about noise and the close quarters of the apartments and buildings etc. This is delivered twice-once by the agent when the apartment is shown and again in person with us before the lease is signed. At that point, the prospective tenant knows if they can adhere to these expectations routinely, and knows that we are serious about what we have written and signed. A little hands on, face to face time by the landlords is a necessary thing to manage a building well.

    This bill will be helpful to all.

    Corrine C.

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