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Boston restricts outdoor dining in North End, announces permanent program citywide

City of Boston greatly restricts outdoor dining in North End
City of Boston greatly restricts outdoor dining in North End 01:28

BOSTON - Mayor Michelle Wu is making outdoor dining permanent throughout the city with new rules to streamline the process, but there is one big exception. 

In the tight quarters of the North End, on-street dining will end. Restaurants will still be able to have sidewalk seating if they have space. 

Reaction was mixed and passionate at a meeting Thursday evening. 

"We're the heart and soul of the entire restaurant industry in Massachusetts not just in Boston," said restaurant owner Robert Regnetto. "And we're getting kicked around like a bunch of flunkies." 

The North End, which has about 95 restaurants in just over a third of a square mile, was allowed to have outdoor dining the past three years. The city said residents expressed concerns about, "increased traffic, sanitation issues, and accessibility problems for older residents and those with limited mobility."

"The traffic, I live down on Prince Street... traffic on the weekends all the way down," one resident told WBZ. "I mean you can't walk. It's not safe. Our main concern is safety."

Restaurants throughout the city with a liquor license will pay $399 a month, and those without one will pay $199 a month.

The program requires businesses to submit professionally engineered site plans for outdoor dining setups on the street and sidewalk. The city will begin taking applications on February 23, with plans to open patio season on May 1. 

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