Eight Streets Braves the Weather and Other Obstacles for February Meeting

Like the Postal Service, few things can stop the Eight Streets from carrying on.

On Tuesday night, Feb. 12, the Eight Streets Neighborhood Association braved the tawdry weather and continued on with its monthly meeting, only to be foiled by a natural gas leak at its gathering spot, Project Place.

Not to be deterred, the large group of neighbors and State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz adjourned to JJ Foley’s Café and Bar down the street, where they conducted the meeting amidst Bruins fans and a lively Tuesday Trivia night.

Top on the agenda Tuesday was Rep. Michlewitz with an update on his legislative agenda.

Fresh off a great victory for the South End on short-term rental legislation and in getting a dedicated seat on the Logan Airport Community Action Committee (CAC), Michlewitz was full of energy and excited to share his accomplishments.

The short-term rental law was one that came suddenly and quickly on Dec. 21, with some quick negotiating with Gov. Charlie Baker taking place over the Christmas holiday.

“It will go into effect on July 1 and the state registry of short-term rentals will start on Sept. 30,” he said. “Hopefully by Sept. 30 every short-term rental will be on a public registry for people to see and know. Primarily that will be for people taking up buildings and lots of apartments – people who buy entire buildings and make them into de facto hotels. It is hurting the housing stock in our communities. One part of that I’m proud of is we’re the first state in the nation to regulate short-term rentals. Several cities have done it, but we’re the first state.”

He said the state will get a 5.7 percent tax on short-term rentals, and Boston will be able to collect a local tax of 6.5 percent as well. For those renting an accompanying second unit in Boston, the City will be able to collect an additional 3 percent on top of that.

“That extra 3 percent money will go to affordable housing creation in the municipality where the short-term rental exists,” he said. “This will give us some additional revenue. These second, third and fourth units being taken up are the things that are really hurting the housing stock. They are not the only problem, but they are a spoke in the wheel.”

Michlewitz said he was once totally against the industry, but he has since come to see their value, but said they need to be regulated.

One of the bills Michlewitz has filed this session is to re-precinct Boston in the 2020 Census. While most cities and towns have to re-precinct every 10 years, Boston has been exempt from that process since 1921.

He said that has resulted in voting precincts in his district that are way too big and require voters to wait in long lines.

He said he has five of the six biggest voting precincts in Boston and the state.

“It is a voter inequity that needs to be eliminated,” he said. “It needs to be a level playing field. We all deserve the same access to voting…One of the worst is right here in 3-7 (at Cathedral High).”

•There are big things happening at Watson Park, where the Friends have made huge strides in the last several months. Last fall, they were finally able to get the water turned on and now they are getting the trees trimmed so there is more sunlight. In the spring, Colleen Fitzpatrick said they plan to have a complete landscaping plan started. The Friends said they are eyeing the Community Preservation Act (CPA) money and plan to apply for the next round.

•President Michael Almond said the battle on trash disposal continues, and there have been some great fliers going around the neighborhood to try to help end the “open air rat restaurants” that occur on the sidewalk. The best remedy is to make sure trash goes out on the morning of trash day and not the night before, and despite some major education on the subject, some said they haven’t seen a difference yet.

The battle rages on…

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