The East Berkeley Neighborhood Association (EBNA) met virtually on March 2, where members and residents heard from mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell about her campaign and issues that are important to her.
Eight Streets Neighborhood Association (ESNA) was also invited to the meeting to hear from the councilor and have an opportunity to ask questions.
Andrea Campbell has served as the District Four City Councilor for the past six years, and announced her candidacy for mayor last September.
She said on Tuesday evening that she is “always pushing for systems to be more transparent, more equitable, more accountable for citizens, and more just.”
Campbell was born and raised in Boston, growing up in Roxbury and the South End, and graduated from Boston Public Schools.
She said she began her legal career at a nonprofit in Roxbury, where she represented education cases. She also worked for Governor Devel Patrick, and now lives in Mattapan with her husband and two sons.
Campbell has spoken publicly about the death of her twin brother Andre when he was 29 years old. As a pe-trial detainee, he had a disease and “received inadequate health care while in that system.”
She said she asked herself how did twins, both born and raised in Boston, “have such different outcomes?” She said this is what helped lead her to run for the Boston City Council and informed her work.
Campbell said that if elected mayor, her goal is to work towards eliminating inequalities in the city, as she said that the city needs “leadership that is bold and courageous.”
She said that last year, more than 70 percent of stops made by the Boston Police Department (BPD) were for Black residents, even though Black people make up only quarter of the city’s population.
She also said that she wants children to have equal access to education, for all neighborhoods to be safe, and for “monies to be spent on programming and initiatives.”
A huge issue for South End residents is what can be done to help the homeless population and get them the resources they need.
Campbell has put out a plan responding to the issues at Mass and Cass, and she said that one of the major problems has been that there is “no one in the City who is exclusively owning this issue.” She said that having a “Mass and Cass Chief” is a step in the right direction for addressing the issue, as is hiring a public health professional to help out with the response.
Campbell also said that a responder unit with first responders and mental health clinicians—people who are experienced with helping those with substance abuse disorder get into supportive housing—is imperative.
“How do we de-centralize services?” she asked. “I’m pushing the current mayor and the incoming to adopt some of these plans,” and also encouraged residents to read the plan, which she said is “less than 10 pages” and can be found at https://andreacampbell.org/mass-and-cass/.
When asked about the Long Island Bridge issue, Campbell said that “Long Island needs to come back online,” as it is a “safe space for recovery.”
However, she said that people “can’t keep talking about a bridge,” as the issues surrounding that are delaying the ability to provide people with the support they need.
Instead, “ferry service is an idea that we absolutely need to explore,” Campbell said.
Someone else asked Campbell about her plans to bring revenue in to the city. She said that she believes it’s important to spend money “where the issues [and] values are.” She continued, “for me, it is really looking at the inefficiencies in our city already.”
She said that the Boston Police Department overtime budget “keeps going up unchecked.” She said a percentage of that overtime budget should be allocated for things like mental and public health.
Partnering with the “philanthropic sector” and the “business community” is also something that Boston has the ability to do, and she believes that “all of these sectors have a role to play.”
She added that she “never will accept that there’s not enough resources,” but the “question is: how do we in government maximize the opportunities for partnerships?”
Campbell encouraged residents to reach out to her with any questions or concerns, as she would be happy to chat and address them.
EBNA also heard a proposal from Sean Ryan, COO of Otto Pizza, and attorney Nick Zozula to open an Otto pizza shop at 345 Harrison Ave.
Zozula said that Otto Pizza is requesting a common victualer license for the location, and they are not requesting a liquor license.
He briefly showed the menu, which consists of specialty pizzas, appetizers, salads, and deserts. He said the “space is relatively small,” but will offer some outdoor seating.
The restaurant is expected to open in April, and will also feature external trash receptacles for customers, but the restaurant trash will be stored internally.
He said that they are requesting a 3am closing hour, though they would likely not be closing that late at the start. Several residents expressed their concern with this closing hour, as they felt it was not necessary in this part of the neighborhood for a pizza shop to be open that late.
Resident Jeffrey Gates said “the whole area seems very quiet late at night,” and as a restaurant owner himself, he said he has “never really seen business that late.” Gates said he has had restaurants with 2am licenses that have closed earlier than that on a regular basis because the demand was not there for food at that hour.
Ryan responded by saying that Otto Pizza probably wouldn’t close that late on weeknights, but Fridays and Saturdays are when they would typically stay open later. “We need to see how it fluctuates seasonally,” he said, and wants the 3am license as “more of an option that we’d like to have as that area grows.”
EBNA Vice President Leslie Fine said that the issue in the neighborhood with businesses closing that late is not typically with the businesses themselves, but with noise coming from people’s cars when they are going to the restaurant.
Ryan said they could consider just having delivery during the late night hours and not having any car or foot traffic besides the delivery vehicles.
EBNA President Ken Smith suggested an earlier closing hour at first to see how that goes, and another person said that there is “no need for pizza at three in the morning.”
Aside from the issue of the closing hour, several residents expressed their excitement for the restaurant to be coming to the area, as many said they enjoy Otto’s other locations in the Boston area.