At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley Visits NEWRA

In the middle of her first term, At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley visited the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) at their December monthly meeting.

Reviewing her recent activities on the City Council, Councilor Pressley noted that she created a standing committee on Women and Healthy Communities and is also serving as vice-chair of Public Safety Committee. In addition, she has been appointed to Chair the Committee on Arts, Film, Humanities and Tourism.

City Councilor Ayanna Pressley Speaks at NEWRA Meeting (Photo: Matt Conti)
City Councilor Ayanna Pressley Speaks at NEWRA Meeting (Photo: Matt Conti)

As Chair of the Committee on Arts, Film, Humanities and Tourism, Councilor Pressley told residents she is concerned about tourism’s impact on neighborhoods, such as the North End. “We want all of our venues to be thriving, but without eroding quality of life,” said Pressley.

The Committee on Women and Healthy Communities addresses issues such as sexual assaults, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy. Councilor Pressley said that teenage pregnancy is the #1 reason why women drop out of school. Changing the stereotyping and creating pathways for pregnant teens to graduate are priorities for the committee.

Councilor Pressley is also working with Councilor Ross on updating construction trade policies to increase the number of jobs going to Boston residents (now only 50% minimum).

The Public Safety Committee is targeting urban violence issues. The committee recently heard from families impacted by homocide. The families gave recommendations as officials look for ways to enhance policies.

Questions and Answers

David Kubiak commented that the City Council could improve quality of life in Boston’s neighborhoods by “taking planning away from the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and creating a separate planning commission that will be accountable to the people of this city.” Councilor Pressley said she agreed with Mr. Kubiak.

David Roderick asked that Public Works remove the snow instead of pushing it around and onto the sidewalk. He noted that a recent court decision put more liability on property owners to remove snow and ice.

“The Licensing Board is handing out licenses like candy,” said Sanjoy Mahajan. “We give them a policy we can live with and they ignore it.” Mr. Mahajan also took aim at city zoning officials by commenting, “the Zoning Board of Appeals hands out zoning variances without following the zoning code.” Mr. Mahajan said that late night hours are hurting the neighborhood. “Because restaurants are making so much money, no one else can afford the rents for other uses. Residents with families do not stay up until 2:00 a.m.”

Bart Higgins told the Councilor that Charter Street has seen a significant increase in noise pollution. The police respond when things get out of hand, but he wants the City to be more proactive. Councilor Pressley referred these type of issues to the Problem Properties Task Force, with District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina. Mr. Higgins said the rooftop parties remain an issue, but recently the problem has been bar hoppers coming out onto the streets in the middle of the night. He is also against late closing hours for North End restaurants. Ms. Pressley said she appreciated the “proactive angle.”

“The North End is very congested and we can accept tourists until 5:00 p.m.,” said Anne Pistorio. “But the North End is a residential neighborhood and we need to sleep. The North End has more alcohol licenses than any other neighborhood despite being the smallest.”

Brother James from St. Leonard’s Church said that kids are playing basketball in the Nazzaro playground late into the night keeping them up.

Victor Brogna said the problem with the BRA is the economic arm gets the upper hand pushing the planning arm into a secondary role. Regarding restaurants, he believes it is in their best interests to preserve the neighborhood as residential. “Little Italy in New York City was once a residential neighborhood and has now almost disappeared. The same thing has happened in San Francisco.”

Stephanie Hogue commented that “City agencies don’t talk to each other. The zoning board allows basements to be apartments and then there is no place for trash which impacts Public Works.” She welcomed more city agencies to come to NEWRA before they introduce new policies.

Councilor Pressley urged residents to contact her aide (617 635-4217) in connection with North End matters.

She thanked the group and ended by saying, “I love the North End.”

More information on Councilor Ayanna Pressley.