Boston Mayor Michelle Wu Defends $7,500 Fee For North End Outdoor Dining

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is responding to criticism of a controversial new fee for outdoor dining that only affects restaurants in the North End.

The new fee from the City of Boston will require any restaurant in the North End that wants to participate in outdoor dining this year to pay a fee of $7,500. The city said the money from the fee will go to initiatives in the North End like cleaning streets and sidewalks, while also covering the cost to make outdoor dining possible.

Mayor Wu told WBZ's Mike Macklin part of the reason they imposed the fee was to address concerns residents had about seeing an increase in rodents and trash on the street because of outdoor dining.

"The concerns here are very serious and real about the impacts when there are 90-plus restaurants all together on just a few streets," Mayor Wu said. "We want to do it all. We want to support both the restaurants and the neighbors and that means we have to have some way to address the extra impacts here."

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The Mayor said she recognized the concerns from businesses about the fee but wanted to make sure that residents' quality of life issues were being addressed as well.

"This has been a very difficult time for all of our businesses and as we're navigating the recovery from the pandemic we want to be supportive of every opportunity for our businesses to thrive," Mayor Wu said. "Outdoor dining helps people enjoy our public spaces and spend their money locally. The North End is very unique. It is the densest concentration of restaurants anywhere in the state and it's also a residential neighborhood where the closeness of all that activity does have a unique impact on our residents."

Outdoor dining is set to begin in the North End on May 1, a month later than the rest of the city.

WBZ's Mike Macklin reports.

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