Boston City Council has voted to reinstate the sandwich board ordinance for one year, allowing all businesses to use free-standing signs on public walkways as long as they follow certain requirements.

This is an amended version of Mayor Walsh’s pilot program passed in 2015. Last August, the Council voted to reject the proposal to make permanent the regulations. However, after that vote Councilor Michelle Wu explained the Government Operations Committee would hold a working session to review the ordinance, as well as proposals from Councilor Zakim of the Back Bay to amend the regulations.

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This new pilot program is a result of that working session. The requirements for the free-standing sign will be as follows:

  • Cannot obstruct accessibility or interfere with public travel.
  • Cannot be larger than 24″ x 36″.
  • Cannot be attached to any structures or fixtures.
  • Must be constructed of weather-resistant material.
  • Must be maintained in good condition.
  • Can only be placed on the public walkway during hours of operation of the business.
  • Must identify the name, address and telephone number of the business and owner of the sign, if different.
  • Must display content limited to the business’ goods or services for sale at the location of the sign.
  • Cannot display advertisement of alcohol or tobacco products.

This one year extension will give community stakeholders and city departments a chance to create guidelines, such as a potential directory system or uniform signage. See the full report below.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Salem St. is regularly riddled with these and they all block at least half of the width of the already narrow and over-crowded sidewalks. Is this not “interfering with public travel”? I have never personally seen this enforced – or am I missing something?

  2. The city says we can’t replace trees because our sidewalks are too narrow. But they allow sandwich boards. Not right!! Our neighborhood has so much tourist traffic right now. We need to pursue policies that make it manageable. Instead of sandwich boards, how about businesses manage a trash receptacle. Or even just clean the gutters in front of their places – I’m talking to you Salem street.

  3. Between Sandwich Boards , strollers, tours, tourists, lines at restaurants and bicycles who are legally allowed to ride on sidewalks there is nowhere to walk on Salem St sidewalks. This has gone beyond ridiculous.

  4. The city has nothing in place to enforce this. It is a waste of their time. What does Mahty intend to do about the growing numbers of homeless we step over on the street? He recently said at a business group meeting how improved this situation is. I guess he doesn’t walk around anymore and see what terrible shape the city is in.

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