State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz Discusses Re-Precincting, Traffic Violations, Commercial Wharf, and Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing

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State Representative Aaron Michlewitz, representing the Third Suffolk District which includes the North End and Waterfront, spoke at the February North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) meeting regarding the bills he has filed for the new legislative calendar.

Watch the full presentation above, or use the timeline below to skip to topics of interest.

(2:10) Rep. Michlewitz opened with a review of the short-term rental legislation that was signed by Governor Baker on December 28. It goes into effect on July 1 for taxes and all regulations including insurance; September 30 for registration requirement. For a one night stay, there will be a 5.7% state tax and up to 6% municipal tax (6.5% in Boston). This will raise an estimated $50 million in revenue, split 50/50 between the Commonwealth and the municipalities.

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Massachusetts is the first state in the country to tie short-term rental revenue to affordable housing through regulations placed on additional units. On these second, third, fourth, etc. units, the municipality has the option to raise an additional 3% of tax revenue. A portion of that funding is earmarked for affordable housing in that local municipality.

Rep. Michlewitz then highlighted new bills specifically related to the neighborhood:

(6:44) Re-Precincting. Boston has been exempt from re-precincting since 1921. Development over the last century has drastically changed the populations in certain precincts, making the numbers uneven. The North End has four precincts. Precinct 3-1 is the largest at nearly the size of the other three combined. This creates longer lines and voter inequity that could be solved through re-precincting.

(9:50) Traffic Violations. A new bill looks to increase traffic fines, particularly around blocking the box. Rep. Michlewitz is looking to raise the current fine of $150 up to $500, and add a few insurance points to the driver’s record.

(10:59) Commercial Wharf. Over the years, previous Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administration made modifications that allowed residential units to be built on the first floor of Commercial Wharf, which is in violation of the Chapter 91 license. This license requires properties with direct access to the water to have commercial or public use on the first floor. Now, there are a handful of residential units that the DEP wants reverted back to commercial. Rep. Michlewitz is working to protect these residents and make these units exempt from Chapter 91.

(13:10) Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing. Companies such as Turo and Getaround are like AirBnB for cars in that people can rent your car for a certain period of time. Rep. Michlewitz discussed creating regulations around safety and consumer protection, as well as equity with car rental companies. Fees charged for peer-to-peer car sharing could raise money for public transit.

Questions from the Council and the audience begin at 15:47. Representative Michlewitz will also present to the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association on Thursday, February 14, 2019.

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