On Wednesday evening, hundreds of concerned citizens of South Boston gathered via the all too familiar Zoom meeting to discuss problem properties and quality of life issues in the neighborhood. This meeting had it all; technical difficulties, senior residents with hot mics, local elected officials, and lots of residents who have had it “up to here” with house parties, lack of parking and absentee landlords.
City Councilor Ed Flynn – also a South Boston resident – was at the helm of this ship, steering us through the choppy of waters of Zoom glitches and waves of complaints to a calmer port in the gentrification sea.
After a snafu of a Zoom meeting limited to only 100 participants, Flynn’s staff quickly jumped into action by creating another meeting with a larger amount of attendees. The link was circulated and we were back in action. The meeting started with the introduction of Jessica Thomas from the City of Boston Inspectional Services Department (ISD). She explained the Problem Properties Task Force – and how they work closely with the Boston Police Department with…well, problem properties. Flavio Daveiga from the Office of Neighborhood Services for ISD was also in attendance and he informed us that the maximum fine of $500 has been issued to a handful of landlords of problem properties.
In a nutshell, most of the complaints from Wednesday nights meetings are from homeowners who pay taxes and are getting very frustrated with quality of life issues like noise from loud parties, trash put out in plastic bags, illegal fire pits, lack of parking and lack of enforcement of violations.
Here are some highlights from residents:
Kevin Manning – a homeowner – feels like renters are running the neighborhood and there is a lack of accountability towards the landlords.
Another homeowner and father of three, Paul Picciano is frustrated with lack of parking and parking enforcement in his neighborhood. He finds it difficult to take his children to sports or go to the supermarket in the evenings and on weekends to come back and find zero parking in his neighborhood.
Marie Allen from Athens St. describes a situation that is occurring in her neighborhood. Resident who own parking spots – rent them out and then park on the street.
Mary Barbara Walsh, an East 8th Street homeowner, listed a few problem properties on her block on M that have parties until all hours of the night, on all three floors.
Stella from L Street said she almost had a nervous breakdown last summer due to parties and M Street Beach out of control.
Kevin Lally – from Gate of Heaven Neighborhood Association – thinks the City of Boston should change the definition of rooming house – because there are plenty of multi-families in the neighborhood that have one and two tenants per room living like a rooming house.
Patty and Linda from the Andrew Square Civic Association were in attendance and agreed with the sentiment of all the complaints and frustrations. In their part of the neighborhood they are frustrated with parties and parking issues in addition to homelessness. They questioned enforcement of developments that have no parking because they are a car-free property – are those tenants/home owners still obtaining parking permits and parking on the street.
Laura described Southie has Mardi Gras every weekend.
City Councilor-at-Large Michael Flaherty– also a Southie resident – said bottom line we need enforcement. Enforcement from BPD, BTD and ISD. “We need enforcement and we need it now!”
City Councilor-at-Large and mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George believes that landlords need to held accountable. If they have violations and apply for permitting, there should be a record of violations. She also encouraged residents to call her directly if feel like they are hitting a wall with any of the City of Boston departments.
State Rep. David Biele was on the zoom meeting and he said he would work with DCR, State Police for enforcement of quality of life issues like public drinking, drag racing on Day Blvd. and trash.
Flynn brought up the additional quality of life issues like dogs off leash at Medal of Honor Park, pedestrian safety and infrastructure improvements.
So what’s next? Well, Flynn urged us to stick together. To keep reporting problem properties and watch out for our neighbors. Flynn will push for more funding for BPD, BFD and ISD to address quality of life issues via enforcement. He also encouraged residents to bring up these issues to the mayoral and City Council-at-Large candidates to see where they stand. He said to look at the candidates records and how they handle quality of life issues or how they intend to if in office.
Flynn ended the meeting by stating he is not giving up on the neighborhood. He understands that residents are upset, frustrated and discouraged. He promised to work hard and work closely with everyone to help improve our quality of life.
Solutions that were offered during the meeting ranged from limiting parking permits in the neighborhood per household, raising fines for problem properties to start at $1000, and more enforcement.
Hang in there, Southie! To quote the great David Soul,“don’t give up on us baby!”
You can read my live tweets here for the intimate details of it all.