It is Beacon Hill’s good fortune that for generations owners of its historic 19th-century homes have invested their time, talent and resources to preserve them for generations to come. Without them and the talented craftsmen they hire to restore their properties, Beacon Hill would not have remained the unique historic neighborhood that attracts visitors from all over the world.
But the restoration of these homes is often difficult for neighbors who must live with the consequent dumpsters, dust and debris as well as traffic problems and lost parking spaces. Nor is it easy on contractors, who must deal with an overload of zoning, permitting and neighborhood rules as well as narrow clogged roads, not enough parking spaces and often unhappy neighbors.
This is why in the late nineties the Beacon Hill Civic Association partnered with the Boston Transportation Department (BTD] to ease the tension by fostering better communication between contractors and neighbors, and preventing contractor abuses of the permitting process, thereby lessening the impact of construction on neighbors and frustration on the part of the contractors.
While most contractors work hard to accommodate abutters, occasionally neighbors would complain about one they feel is misusing the street occupancy permits. While these city permits were intended for the temporary parking of dumpsters, contractors would park their pickup trucks in the spaces for months. Seeing contractors’ personal vehicles in residential parking spaces did not settle well with residents of this parking-starved neighborhood.
Members of the BHCA Traffic and Parking Committee then went to BTD and pointed out that its permit process was being abused. It was then that BTD turned over the renewal process to BHCA, giving it the authority to determine if the permits were to be renewed.
That process is still being followed today. When the initial two-week permit given by BTD expires, the BHCA asks contractors to come to its office to sign an affidavit acknowledging that they will abide by the city guidelines for use of the temporary construction permits, including the prohibition against using such spaces for their employees’ own vehicles.
“This gives us an opportunity to talk with the contractor and come to an understanding of what the project is about, what he or she needs to do to accomplish it, and what the neighborhood expects in return,” said BHCA Executive Director Patricia Tully.
Tully said there are now about 25 contractors working on long term projects on the Hill. “If no neighborhood problems occur after the first renewal, we will approve subsequent ones with an eye one the estimated completion time of their project. If we have received complaints from neighbors, we work with the contractors to resolve those problems.”
But sometimes a contractor fails to abide by the city rules and the BHCA feels it cannot renew the permits. Abutters had filed continuous complaints about the practices of a contractor working on their block all summer. They said that the individual was parking his personal vehicle in the spaces rather than using them for loading and unloading, sharing his permit with other contractors, using the spaces beyond the permitted hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., handwriting permits rather than using city approved ones, posting signs movable plastic drums and more. The BHCA opted not to renew his permit, said Tully who instead asked him to find alternative parking for the next two weeks.
For the program to work, the BHCA depends on input from the neighbors. “I encourage neighbors to call with concerns or compliments regarding our neighborhood contractors, and to send photos via email if possible,” she said.
For more information about street occupancy permits or to register concerns about or support of a contractor, please contact the BHCA at 617-227-1922 or [email protected].
Come join us!
If you haven’t yet become a member of the BHCA, we invite you to join. Your input in quality of life issues on the Hill is important to us, and we rely on you our neighbors to bring your comments and concerns to our attention. By joining our membership, you add to the collective voice of the neighborhood as we try to resolve the challenges of living in our historic district. Please call our office at 617-227-1922 or email the BHCA Executive Director at patr[email protected] with any questions, comments or concerns.
Upcoming BHCA Meetings
Tuesday, Oct. 9: Board of Directors Meeting. 7p.m. 74 Joy St.
Upcoming BHCA Events
First Friday Coffee Hour – Oct. 5 @ Panificio
Evening at Friends House – Nov. 8
Garlands & Greens – Nov. 15
Decorating Days – Dec. 1st and 2nd
47th Annual Beacon Hill Gala – Feb. 9
Visit the Beacon Hill Civic Association website www.bhcivic.org or call the office (617-227-1922) for more information on any of these events or to become a member.