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Owners of a Fenway lodging house offer to shut it down as they figure out how to keep guests from becoming police problems

The owners of the Boston Fenway Inn hostel on Hemenway Street - who also own the tonier Copley Square Hotel - will learn Thursday whether the Boston Licensing Board will accept their offer to just shut the place down while they make upgrades to reduce the number of times police have to respond to deal with problem guests.

Shutting the place down should not be that much more of a hardship right now since the state has banned "non-essential" guests at hotels and lodging houses, but the inn currently has some 13 guests, some of whom would become immediately homeless if it were shut right away, according to Joshua Bird, general counsel for Hawkins Way Capital of Beverly Hills, CA, which owns the 60-room building. Bird estimated it would take a couple of days to help the 13 remaining guests find new lodging.

"We wouldn't you to voluntarily close down and have people homeless," board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said as part of a Zoomed hearing this morning. Before the hearing began, Joyce said the board would not deal with the issue, noted by police, of the inn accepting new guests during the current state of emergency without proof they were healthcare workers, first responders or other "essential" personnel, because that's a matter for the state, not the city.

Bird and the inn's local lawyer, Dennis Quilty, said they would get a plan to the board by its Thursday meeting on steps the inn would take in lieu of an immediate shutdown, including better signage warning guests about making noise and drinking outside and installation of additional security cameras and possibly hiring additional staff.

BPD licensing-unit detectives and D4 Capt. Steven Sweeney said police have had to respond to the inn nearly 40 times since Jan. 1, largely to deal with guests who don't want to leave when asked, either because their stay is over or because they've violated an inn rule, such as a prohibition on guests. Sweeney said inn managers and workers have been cooperative, but that, especially in the middle of a pandemic, that's just too many calls.

Quilty actually began the hearing by offering to waive the formal reading of police complaints and just voluntarily shutting the inn "in an effort to bring about changes needed to prop run the facility." Quilty acknowledged "there are some difficulties they've had obviously." But Joyce said that reading the reports was required because of the board's hearing rules.

BPD Licensing Det. Sgt. William Gallagher and Det. Eddie Hernandez recounted seven incidents just in April, including having to respond when a guest said a friend showed up at his room with an apparently underage female and said they were going to film a porno flick there, but didn't.

Other incidents included a woman who was refusing to leave her room on her checkout day and when police arrived she told them she'd found other people's clothes mixed in with hers in the building's dryer; a man who apparently piggybacked in behind a guest, went into the first-floor restroom and began screaming and babbling incoherently, one guest who called 911 several hours after he said another guest threatened him with a knife in a failed robbery attempt, only that guest claimed the first guest was trying to sell him drugs he didn't want; and a guest who was standing outside this past Friday drinking a nip and, as the two detectives watched, threw it on the ground when he was done and then went back inside.

During the last incident, Gallagher said, he and Hernandez went into the inn after him, made him pick up the nip and properly dispose of it and gave him a warning for drinking in public.

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Comments

Then disband the police department. There's literally no point in having one if they deem answering calls inconvenient.

It's like The Mad Real World sketch from Chappelle: "We could just (expletive) you up. We're trying to be civil and (expletive)."

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Voting closed 27

If the same jackass managed to set his couch on fire with carelessly discarded cigarettes 4 times in a month, and the fire department rolled up each time and put out the fire, and, after the 4th time the chief complained, "This idiot is wasting city resources," would your response really be to tell the fire chief to bugger off with his silly complaint, and that if he deemed it inconvenient to answer calls the fire department should be disbanded?

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Voting closed 38

The cops aren't complaining that they deal with too many complaints in general, as part of their jobs. They are complaining that this housing location is managed in a way that results in too many issues so it needs to be fixed.

Hilarious that a libertarian seems to think that the answer to a consistent issue with a location is just more police all the time instead of, you know, fixing the problem.

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Voting closed 38

is for the neighbors to just hire their own private military force and wipe out the hostel and its occupants with their privately owned ballistic missiles. If the hostel doesn't like it, they shouldn't have violated the Non Aggression Principle with loud noises.

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Voting closed 30

In the old days the sufficiently annoyed neighbors would have burned the place down and built a playground on top of it.

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Voting closed 7

I know that many of us sometimes have trouble understanding sarcasm but this is not really funny considering the deadly arson fires that ripped through this neighborhood a few decades ago. And in point of fact, we build our playgrounds on top of rubble from buildings that collapse on their own as a result of illegal renovations thank you very much.

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Voting closed 9

Listen to this vintage Jim Rome clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXSlH00qmiw), then think about how it applies to this scenario, and then think about why I would feel that police officers should keep their feelings to themselves when called upon to enforce laws.

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Voting closed 6

Glad to see the old Fenway isn't dead. This whole report reads like it was written in 1982.

What's next, a report to the licensing board on a fight at Bunratty's?

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Voting closed 47

We were warned to never go to Westland Ave. This was a safety talk administered in our dorm, on Hemenway Street.

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Voting closed 15

Emerson used the building in question as a dorm while the Little Building was getting rebuilt.

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Voting closed 6

It had some very bad landlords who conspired to burn down many of the buildings to fraudulently collect from fire insurance companies.

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Voting closed 16

First time I got laid was on Westland.

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Voting closed 10

Gross. Adam, seriously?

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Voting closed 4

That's absurd. Westland Ave has a freaking Whole Foods on it. All of those streets are just full of college students and are perfectly safe.

For the record, I went to Northeastern and lived on Hemenway for a year.

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Voting closed 15

A place that's totally safe now wasn't necessarily so, two or three decades earlier. (We don't know when either you or portish went to school.)

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Voting closed 7

I know most of Boston was rougher than today a couple decades ago, but I can't imagine those streets ever being THAT dangerous.

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Voting closed 3

BPD detectives are heroes, and do a heroic job right here:
"a guest who was standing outside this past Friday drinking a nip and, as the two detectives watched, threw it on the ground when he was done and then went back inside."
Not one, but two detectives were investigating this crime of throwing a nip on the ground.
There is no doubt, police are essential, and this very well written article, with excellent copy writing and spelling proves it beyond a doubt.

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Voting closed 11

And two or three of them are assigned to the licensing unit and, yes, part of their job is monitoring licensed premises - especially ones that have become problems (back in the Before Times, they spent a lot of their time looking for underage drinkers at bars, blocked fire exits, overcrowded venues and the like).

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Voting closed 17

That's the problem with allowing affordable housing in the neighborhood -- the people who make use of it. This is why everything gets zoned to prohibit rooming houses in favor of condos with underground parking priced for lawyers who earn $300k/year.

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Voting closed 15

“Bird estimated it would take a couple of days to help the 13 remaining guests find new lodging.“

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Voting closed 10

a building where residents generate so many problems resulting in so many police and fire calls means it is not being managed properly and is violating Health / safety / fire codes.
So the building should be shuttered. Exactly what is happening here.
Standard practice.
Had no idea that hostel was still around.

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Voting closed 8