Hey, there! Log in / Register

Proposal would make chain outlets formally justify themselves before opening in Boston neighborhood business districts

The City Council agreed today to consider a proposal by councilors Michelle Wu, Kim Janey and Lydia Edwards that would require retail and restaurant chains to get zoning-board approval before opening any new outlets in the city's "local business" districts.

The councilors say the measure would not stop chains from opening new outlets, but would require more formal consideration of neighborhood concerns before they go forward. Although Starbucks generated controversy with a proposed outlet at the gateway to the North End, Wu said the measure is in response to chainification across the city - she pointed to the now failed Petco in Roslindale Square as well as a Popeye's under construction in Codman Square.

Wu said said the measure, based on similar ordinances in other cities, would help local businesses that now find themselves under assault by national chains looking to glom onto the successful neighborhood districts the local business owners built. She said that by requiring zoning-board hearings, the measure would let residents and officials gauge how well a chain would mesh with a neighborhood on everything from early morning trash removal to local hiring.

"We cannot and should not treat a Starbucks like a local coffee shop; they should be treated differently," Edwards, who represents the North End, said.

Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain/West Roxbury) said he supported the general idea, but cautioned against unintended consequences - he wondered whether the proposal would affect chains such as Roche Bros. and JP Licks, which are both local.

In their request for a hearing at which to consider the proposal, the councilors write:

Small businesses and locally owned businesses contribute to the economic and social vitality of the neighborhoods throughout the City of Boston. ... The City of Boston should recognize the importance of small and locally owned businesses in its land use and planning objectives and provide a welcoming environment to allow such businesses to thrive and be successful. ... The City Council understands the need for retail variety and the most viable retail environments offer a variety of retailers; however, the proliferation of chain retail stores in neighborhoods of the City takes away from the aesthetic characteristics of the neighborhoods and adversely impacts smaller businesses and locally-owned businesses.

Their proposed ordinance, which would require approval of the Boston Zoning Commission, defines a chain as any company with at least 11 outlets, anywhere in the world.

In addition to the eleven establishments either in operation or with local land use or permit entitlements approved for operation, the business maintains two or more of the following features: a standardized array of merchandise, a standardized facade, a standardized decor and color scheme, uniform apparel, standardized signage, a trademark or a servicemark.

Neighborhoods: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon The formal hearing request120.46 KB
Ad:

Comments

exactly whose palms need to be greased before they can set up shop in the city.

up
Voting closed 88

Jobs killer.

up
Voting closed 18

The personal over the corporate. More Davids, fewer Goliaths. Homogenization sucks! Let our neighborhoods have character again.

up
Voting closed 3

This doesn't stop another Frankie D or Nicky V from opening up 11 more nearly identical restaurants in the North End.

up
Voting closed 11

... good "independent" restaurants in the North End? (Pretty please).

up
Voting closed 23

Bella Vista
La summa
Nebo actually has killer sauce
Piccolo Nido

up
Voting closed 20

Try the bolognese. Amazing and aleays consistent.

Very nice meal every time.

up
Voting closed 19

This just makes Boston seem that much more unfriendly to business. No local entrepreneur is going to open a shoe store in my neighborhood, but Payless might. Now any chain will have one more hoop to jump through....and some will likely just say screw it and go to Brookline or Dedham or Milton.

BTW, does this apply to banks too?

up
Voting closed 33

Andrea Campbell said she supports the general idea, but wants the flexibility to let each district decide what it wants.

But the idea is not really to ban chains. The proposal would make them a "conditional use," which means they're basically allowed, but they do have to go before the zoning board (and so before at least one community meeting before that). Most of the chains already go before the neighborhood (Starbucks certainly did in South Boston, but let's not bring up the infamous Whole Foods community meeting in JP), this would add one more hearing.

up
Voting closed 21

I remember that time a poster here claimed Subway specifically increased the littering in the square.

I remember the huge anti-Petco meetings which in the end were a huge waste of time given that the free market (shocker, I know) turfed out Petco anyways.

up
Voting closed 8

I've been here long enough to know that

but they do have to go before the zoning board (and so before at least one community meeting before that).

Means..

"how much ass kissing can a big corp do for us, and how many freebees will we get also"

Because thats all this is. This new law will be used in this manner.. it almost always is...

Sorry I wasn't born yesterday not to believe this wouldn't go like this..

up
Voting closed 15

"The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time." Henry Ford

I try to "shop local" whenever possible and the local shop usually thrives if they have a good product and keep the place clean. What are they afraid of? None of the councilors have ever had a real job so who is pushing this?

I avoid Starbucks due to their liberal policies so I don't know about them but I know most McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts are locally owned franchises. In most cases their cleanliness indoor and out is held to a higher standard than the local shops. This proposal is discriminatory and outrageous and would never pass SCOTUS, especially with our two great new justices.

up
Voting closed 30

"I avoid Starbucks due to their liberal policies"
What the heck does that mean? Which "liberal policies" do you not support?

Do you realize that they hire thousands of veterans and have committed to hiring more?
https://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/community/veterans

up
Voting closed 45

Starbucks treats LGBT people like human beings and apologized for calling the cops on black customers. Republicans don't like equality.

up
Voting closed 36

Because the North End is SUCH a bastion of White Privilege.

***

Edited to correct myself: the vast majority of Boston area posters here are Privileged Mostly Whites who do not want to see success in others, as it would impinge on Theirs.

up
Voting closed 23

...for you to live under. You're not needed here.

up
Voting closed 21

Go Away Idiotic Troll!

Funny how you always show up when fishy does - I never saw a fish wear socks before.

up
Voting closed 22

You know. The policies that have declared "war" on certain holidays nominally having to do with Jeebus but those darn pagans got there first.

up
Voting closed 20

It must suck to live a world of Papa John Pizza and Kim Davis wannabees.

up
Voting closed 31

I saw a commercial with Papa John, Peyton Manning, and Jim Nantz. I asked "Is my TV made by Toshiba, or by Summer's Eve?"

up
Voting closed 17

Local business wouldn’t be fighting with chains over space if building construction had kept up with population growth over the last 2+ decades.

up
Voting closed 30

in the past 50 years small retailers could get enough traffic to survive.

up
Voting closed 26

Cars are not people
cars are not people
cars are not people
cars are not people
cars are not people
cars are not people

up
Voting closed 42

How would road construction help squeeze more businesses into (for example) JP's central business district?

up
Voting closed 26

What kind of justification do they want?

I want to open this store to make money.

up
Voting closed 26

Few local businesses can afford the inflated local rents, while national brands will pay them for visibility in prime locations (like the North End).

up
Voting closed 37

In Somerville, Mayor Curtatone used his muscle to block Ocean State Job Lot from moving into the vacant Star Market on Winter Hill, and a Walmart-owned supermarket from moving into the vacant Circuit City at Assembly. Years later, they’re both still vacant.

up
Voting closed 29

Build shelter for humans there or shut the (expletive) up.

Vote Democrat again.

up
Voting closed 13

So what is a "chain" restaurant? Is JP Licks a chain? They already have several in the city. I've felt under assault by their ice cream.

It's not the "national chains" that are assaulting "local businesses" but landlords and the free market. They are asking for rent that the "locals" can't or don't want to pay.

up
Voting closed 24

It has some specific definitions of what constitutes a "chain," and one of those definitions is 11 or more open or approved outlets anywhere in the world. If JP Licks has 11 or more outlets, then they're a chain under the proposal (do they? I don't know). Ditto for Roche Bros. And, yes, the same goes for Legal Seafood, Tasty Burger, even Chilacates (which is not yet near 11 outlets, but they're growing really fast). And that's why O'Malley raised his concern: There are chains, and then there are chains ...

up
Voting closed 4

JP Licks will probably benefit the most of any local business from this proposal. They will probably sail through the ZBA whenever they want to expand (guessing Matt O'Malley will attend the hearing in support?), and their national competitors will surely be held up, especially in Jamaica Plain.

up
Voting closed 24

law that San Francisco has, defining a chain as 11 outlets or more.

It was pretty darn funny watching SF laud Blue Bottle as a "homegrown local company," then turn on them once they had more than 11 locations as an "evil, soulless, corporate chain."

So your concern about stores like JP Licks and Roche Brothers are quite valid: it discourages local businesses from expanding, because crossing 10 makes expansion within the city difficult and potentially expensive.

up
Voting closed 8

I hate that this rule would basically equate that all chains are bad. There are no more local pharmacies that are expanding (and the ones that are left have found ways to hang on.) If CVS wants to open a new store, in a place that won't kill an indie drug store, what the hell is wrong with that? If Bank of America (yes they ARE generally evil) wanted to open a branch in an under-served neighborhood, they should be cheered, not made to do some walk of shame.

up
Voting closed 16

people didn't want to buy there, they wanted to shop local, the store didn't make enough money, it closed. that's generally considered the system working as designed. plus the neighborhood got the costs of a "new" storefront out of petco, so if some local business comes in, they don't have to pay for the ADA changes.

I mean, personally, I'd still rather have the chain than the empty storefront that's sitting their unused, but for those who opposed it, they definitely got what they wanted.

up
Voting closed 16