Offered by Councilor Ayanna Pressley
CITY OF BOSTON
ORDER FOR A HEARING TO EXPLORE LIQUOR LICENSE LAW CHANGES TO SPUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND FOSTER EQUITY ACROSS NEIGHBORHOODS
WHEREAS, A 1933 law apportioned a limited number of liquor licenses to Massachusetts cities and towns requiring them to seek legislative approval to exceed those limits; and
WHEREAS, State control over liquor licenses was a result of Prohibition frenzy about alcohol and a power struggle between Yankee legislators and Irish-dominated local governments; and
WHEREAS, Those conditions no longer apply, yet these restrictions are still in effect in Boston; and
WHEREAS, The lack of flexibility for Boston to locally control the liquor license distribution process makes acquiring a liquor license lengthy, burdensome and costly for businesses; and
WHEREAS, The cap on the number of available liquor licenses in Boston drives up the price of licenses and the cost of doing business; and
WHEREAS, The unnecessarily high cost of doing business makes it difficult for entrepreneurs – particularly small/local-, minority-, and women-owned business enterprises – to bring innovation to the cultural, arts, and culinary arenas; and
WHEREAS, It unduly burdens entrepreneurs who wish to open small neighborhood establishments, who in some estimates rely on alcohol sales for up to a quarter of their revenue; and
WHEREAS, In certain communities in Boston, particularly in communities of color, the high cost of liquor licenses also makes it more difficult to develop the range of neighborhood entertainment and dining offerings necessary to attract and retain young professionals and families; and
WHEREAS, These outdated restrictions impede the ability of cities and towns to spur economic development and limits their ability to foster equity across neighborhoods.
THEREFORE BE IT
ORDERED, That the appropriate committee of the Boston City Council hold a hearing to examine the process of acquiring a liquor license in Boston and explore changes to the laws governing that process; and that representatives from the Boston Licensing Board and other interested parties be invited to testify.