An act modernizing the business licensing process

We have heard from some Boston residents who are concerned about the potential impacts of “SD420 – An Act relative to modernizing the business licensing process.”  This legislation was drafted by the City of Boston and filed in partnership with Mayor Walsh.

The bill would give more control over business licensure to municipalities.  The part of the bill that is of interest to most people, of course, is the section that would allow municipalities the ability to set restaurant and bar closing hours.  Currently the state prohibits serving alcohol from 2:00AM to 8:00AM,this bill would remove that prohibition for communities in the MBTA service area.  Those communities would then have the ability, at the discretion of the municipal government, to extend service hours.  In other words if this bill became law and the City wanted to allow bars and restaurants to remain open later, it could make such a change subject to the approval of city government, presumably this would mean a vote of the city council.

Here is a summary, authored by the City:

The City issues a myriad of different operating licenses to businesses through two administrative bodies: the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs & Licensing and the Boston Licensing Board. At times, this process can be duplicative and burdensome for our local businesses. This legislation proposes to make changes to existing licensing requirements that would further the Mayor’s goals of streamlining the regulatory process and strengthening small businesses citywide. This plan includes providing local discretion to:
– Eliminate the Common Victuallers (CV) license requirement for non-alcohol businesses wishing to operate during standard business hours;
– Eliminate specialty licenses for billiard tables, bowling alleys, automatic amusement devices and fortune tellers;
– Determine at what capacity certain establishments can be exempt from the Non-Live Entertainment License requirements;
– Determine at what capacity certain establishments can be exempt from the Live Entertainment License requirements for instrumental/vocal music ; and
– Allow restaurants and bars to remain open past 2 a.m.

You can view a full copy of the legislation here.

Andrew Bettinelli
Legislative Aide
Office of State Senator WIlliam N. Brownsberger




4 replies on “An act modernizing the business licensing process”

  1. As a resident of Brighton since 1977, I have routinely been awakened by the hoots and howling of people as they traverse my neighborhood after leaving the bars in the Cleveland Circle area that have closed at 2:00am.

    I AM NOT in favor of extending open hours for restaurants that serve liquor; and bars in Allston or Brighton past 2 am.

    8 Kilsyth Terrace 02135

    1. Currently, state law prevents the City from late hours anyplace in the city.

      How do you feel about that? Should it not be possible for bars to stay open in non-residential areas until late hours?

  2. An Allston resident since 1981 and a homeowner here since 1997, I believe I live on the best street in Boston and am proud to be an Allstonian. And I have been a member of the Allston Civic Assoc. since Brian Golden’s dad was the president (early 1980s).
    But I believe later bar hours in Allston-Brighton will not encourage residential stability, nor will it provide a NEEDED service to those live here. It almost goes without saying, that the current level of alcohol licenses leads to a decline in quality of life, as Mr. Tackel notes. For those who question that, please talk to the officers at Station 14, they are the professionals who have to pick up the pieces.
    Having said that, I would not oppose later hours, as has been suggested, around the convention center or in downtown hotel areas whgere the impact would hopefully be less severe for residents. But that raises the question A-B bar owners (or their lawyers) would pose: What about us? I don’t have an answer for that.

    Finally, I’m sorry the Walsh administration has continued to link ‘world class city’ with more and later closing bars. Educational and medical facilities, cutting edge businesses, visitors from across the world, wonderful public green spaces and a place and sense of history are what make a memorable city. Boston already has that.
    Thank you, Bob Pessek

    1. Thanks, Bob. Your points are well taken.

      Agreed that Boston has a lot to offer, other than late bars. For better or worse, alcohol licensing does support more vital restaurants and entertainment districts. Longer hours will encourage growth in central city business areas.

      I think the answer to the A-B owners who say “what about us?” may be: Yes, there’s a place for everything but here is not where we want late hours. Those calls — hours for particular bars — are local calls. At the state level, the question is should the City have the power to issue later licenses.

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