Licensing Board Chair Opposes Proposed Legislation That Would Further Restrict Beer Gardens

Kathleen Judge, chair of the city’s Licensing Board, has come out in opposition against a proposed bill that would put further restrictions on Boston’s beer gardens.

In a July 15 letter to Sen. Paul Feeney and Rep. Tackey Chan, co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, Judge voiced her objection to Senate Bill 158, An Act Relative to One Day Alcoholic Beverage Licenses, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Nick Collins of South Boston and Ed Kennedy of Lowell that would prohibit any individual or entity from getting any more than 14 one-day licenses in a year while the current yearly limit caps it at 30 licenses per applicant.

Judge described the application process to obtain a Special License for special events including beer gardens as “straightforward” and “easy to understand.”

“These Special Licenses are available to individuals as well as non-profits, educational institutions, corporations, churches, and schools, to host events including fundraisers, corporate events, dinners, graduations, birthdays, weddings, and myriad other special events,” Judge wrote. “Once the applicant has received the approval of the district police captain, the application is submitted to the Licensing Board for the City of Boston (“Board”) for review and consideration. These Special Licenses are approved on a regular basis at the Board’s weekly voting hearings. They are subject to the Board’s Rules and Regulations as well as routine inspections by the Board’s Licensed Premise Unit and may be modified or revoked at any time at the Board’s discretion.”

Judge added that of the 1,964 Special Licenses issued in 2018, only seven locations were beer gardens.

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