News Briefs

AIRBNB TAKES ON MICHELLE WU

An anti-regulation campaign for the short-term rental business in Boston came up short after it sent out an e-mail urging residents to spam At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu’s inbox with opposition against suggested new regulations.

Shortly afterwards, critics took on the e-mail blast saying it stated untrue facts and did not accurately outline what Councilors Lydia Edwards and Wu had filed.

The council had been considering a bid from Mayor Martin Walsh to reform Airbnb and other short-term rental rules, including new fees, oversight, and limits on how often a home could be rented out via the app. The bid was withdrawn as officials continue to fine tune the details.

The e-mails, which are said to have been sent to thousands of residents in the city, called the proposed changes “unreasonable,” and singled out Wu for being “aligned with big hotel interests against the interests of regular Bostonians.”

Wu quickly fired back on Twitter saying the message was “fake news” and openly mocked the company for getting the facts wrong. The e-mail criticized the 30-day cap on unhosted stays, but an amendment filed by Wu did not include that.

“I haven’t proposed a 30-day cap. No one has,” wrote Wu on Twitter. “Seems very irresponsible to me that @Airbnb is spreading misinformation perhaps in order to improve their bargaining position.”

Councilor Lydia Edwards on Twitter stated, “We’re not backing down!” Edwards stated that the campaign resulted in over 500 and counting form e-mails.

UniversalHub has pointed out that Wu, is in fact not in bed with the hotel industry citing campaign facts.

The Boston Globe reports, Airbnb is sticking to their message saying Wu’s proposals are “anti-tenant, anti-middle class and would violate the privacy of Bostonians sharing their homes,”according to a statement from Airbnb spokeswoman Crystal Davis. “While thousands of longtime Bostonians are using home sharing to pay the bills and stay in the city they love, Wu’s overly restrictive proposal will do more to push them back.”

In response, several City Council members and residents have come to Wu’s defense.

City Councilor Ed Flynn stated, “I stand with my friend and colleague @WuTrain when it comes to reasonable regulations for short-term rentals. We must look to protect our housing stock from ‘investor units’ and displacement of residents, as well as addressing public safety & quality of life issues #bospoli.”

City Councilor Tim Mcarthy stated, “Interesting strategy – bad mouth @BOSCityCouncil and @WuTrain as we work towards an equitable solution. I mean BAD…NOT INTERESTING!”

FENWAY PARK DISBURSEMENT FUNDS

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) authorized the disbursement of a total of $100,000 to six organizations. The funds will be disbursed from the Fenway Park Demonstration Project Community Benefits fund maintained by the BPDA from contributions made by the Boston Red Sox.

On Sept. 26, 2013, the Boston Redevelopment Authority Board approved the Fenway Park Demonstration Project. This approval resulted in granting of easement rights on Yawkey Way to the Boston Red Sox for game days, as well as air-rights over Lansdowne Street to accommodate the Green Monster Seats.

As part of the Project, the Red Sox contribute $100,000 a year, for 10 years, to the BPDA for beautification efforts in the Fenway neighborhood.

This year, 11 organizations applied for community benefit funding in this fourth founding round.

The six organizations that received funding include: Community Workshops, Inc., $17,160, Fenway Community Development Corporation, $15,000, Fenway Garden Society, Inc. $25,712, Friends of Ramler Park, Inc. $12,128, The Charlesgate Alliance, Inc., $15,000 and Friends of the Public Garden, Inc., $15,000.

1000 BOYLSTON STREET UPDATE

The Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) got the states approval for the air rights project 1000 Boylston St., stating that it adequately and properly complies with Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).

The project includes the construction of a 439,500 square-foot mixed-use building comprised of a single residential tower (with 108 condo units) set atop a multi-story podium with retail, restaurants and parking.

A portion of the project will be constructed over air rights about the MassPike and MBTA commuter railroad tracks and will span Cambria Street. The project will include land transfers from MassDOT (a long-term air rights lease) and the BPDA transfer of air rights.

Civic organizations have expressed concerns over affordable housing, wind, shadow, and increase in traffic in the area.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources asked that the proponent go back and look at more passive house options for the building, stating that the starting point for ‘cost adds’ should be relative to a code-specified assembly (framed, insulated wall) rather than a lower-performing curtain wall assembly.

MassDOT concluded that the tunnel created by the new building over the highway and railroad tracks would be adequately ventilated under normal operational conditions.

In addition, MassDOT requires a Travel Demand Management (TDM) program that will identify measures that would maximize usage of existing and new pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities. This will include designation of an on-site transportation coordinator, membership in A Better City Transportation Management Association (TMA), provision of transit and carpooling information via postings throughout the building and on-line, provision of a transit pass subsidy for the projects own employees and encouragement of the retail/ restaurants tenants to offer the same and more.

MassDOT recommends that further environmental review be required based on transportation-related issues.

SAINT CECILIA CONCERT SERIES

•Jeremy Bruns, Concert Organist and Associate Director of Music, St. Paul’s Harvard Square will be performing varied composers including J.S. Bach, Ad Wammes, and Marcel Dupre on Friday, May 4, at 8 p.m. at St. Cecilia’s. Admission is free and donations gratefully accepted.

SUFFOLK COUNTY D.A. FORUM

The Boston Wards 3, 4, and 5 Democratic Committees, in conjunction with Suffolk Law School, will be hosting a candidate forum with the five candidates for Suffolk County District Attorney on Thursday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m. at Suffolk Law. Megan Irons from the Boston Globe will moderate.

SOUTH END DATES

•The Chester Park Neighbors’ Spring Soiree will take place Sunday, April 22 from 4 – 6 p.m. at the private residence of Roberto Poli and Salvador Saca (address will be provided upon ticket purchase). Musical evening featuring a surprise program by critically acclaimed pianist Robert Poli. Drinks and Hors D’oeuvres and silent auction. Tickets can be purchased at www.bit.ly/2Dw7TVw.

•The next Exchange South End Impact Advisory Group meeting will take place on Thursday, April 26, at The Flower Exchange, 540 Albany St. from 6 – 8p.m.

•Blackstone Community Center Council Fundraiser will take place Thursday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. at Stella restaurant located at 1525 Washington St.

•Just in time for its 10th anniversary, the Oyster Invitational, a block party on Waltham Street celebrating the regions favorite bivalve is back. Fellow chefs and shuckers from around Boston will pair with some of New England oyster vendors to create a street food themed dish highlighting their oysters; guests will vote on their favorite dish. Buy tickets at bandgoysters.com/oi2018/

•May Day in the Park will take place Sunday, May 6, from 3 – 5 p.m. in Hayes Park. Light refreshments and entertainment by the Morris Dancers will be provided.

BACK BAY HAPPENINGS

•Tim Davis, housing policy manger for the Boston Planning and Development Agency, will be the guest speaker at the next meeting of the Development and Transportation Committee of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB), on Thursday, April 19, at 6 p.m. All NABB members are welcome but must R.S.V.P. to dtcnabbonline.com to receive advance hand-out information. Meeting location is at the Learning Center at 107 Marlborough Street.

•The 23rd Annual Taste of the Back Bay will take place on Wednesday, April 25 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. at the Prudential Skywalk. This year a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Women’s Lunch Place. Tickets can be found online at nabbonline.com.

FENWAY TIMES

•The Fenway Civic Association’s Spring meeting will take place on Monday, April 23 at The Coop at 401 Park (Landmark Center, East Wing eighth floor) at 6:30p.m. The meeting will feature a conversation with Samuel Chambers, Public Information Officer for the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement. This meeting is free and open to the public.

•Kenmore Square Hotels, Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) public meeting will take place on Monday, April 23, from 6-8 p.m. at 565 Commonwealth Ave., Classroom 106.

•The Fenway Community Center at 1282 Boylston St. will be hosting their monthly Bookworms: A short story book club and Death Cafe on Wednesday, April 15 from 7 – 8p.m. R.S.V.P. is required for Death Cafe and information for the book club can be found online at fenwaycommunitycenter.org.

RED SOX GAMES

This week the Red Sox will be away battling it out with Los Angeles Angels through Thursday April 19 and then traveling to Oakland Calif. to take on the A’s from Friday through Sunday, April 22. Then they will pick it up again with the Toronto Blue Jays from Tuesday, April 24, through Thursday, April 26.

The Red Sox will return home on Friday, April 27, to take on the Tampa Bay Rays for an evening game beginning at 7:10 p.m.

MASSPORT AIRPLANE NOISE COMPLAINT LINE

Residents who are being disturbed by airplane noise are encouraged to call the MassPort Noise Hotline 24 hours a day. The phone number is (617) 561-3333.

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