5/4/2021 1 Comment
By Travis Andersen Globe Staff,Updated May 4, 2021
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Boston City Councilors Michael Flaherty and Ed Flynn want tougher fines for large house parties that violate the state’s pandemic-related protocols, asserting in an order for a hearing on the matter that the unruly confabs have a “negative impact on the quality of life” for neighbors.
Flynn on Monday tweeted out a photo of the hearing order that he and Flaherty filed, writing that fines ought to be set for “1st offense-$1000, 2nd-$2000, 3rd-$3000.”
The hearing order laid out an alarming trend of parties flying off the rails across the city in clear violation of public health protocols.
“Even as more people are getting vaccinated and restaurants slowly reopening, neighbors have highlighted that these large house parties oftentimes include renters with absentee landlords, sometimes inviting 30 to 40 people,” the order said, adding that it’s “not only concerning with the potential to become super spreader events, but also due to the negative impact on the quality of life for our residents.”
“[T]hese inconsiderate partiers disturb neighbors with loud noise at all hours of the night, while also leaving behind trash and litter on the street, attracting rodents and pests to their neighbors’ property,” the document said. “Governor [Charlie] Baker’s previous COVID-19 Order No. 63 stated that no private gatherings be more than 10 persons in a single enclosed, indoor space,” with failure to comply carrying a possible fine of up to $500.
Despite Baker’s order, the document said, “pandemic fatigue” has given way to large parties, including one weekend in Southie where police received 600 calls for disturbances.
And, the councilors said in the order, that $500 levy for violators isn’t stiff enough.
They wrote that “we need to talk about increased fines and accountability for property owners who allow this rude behavior,” and that “stricter enforcement” is warranted.
City officials, the order said, should “look to issue increased fines, perhaps starting at $1,000 for a first offense ... $2,000 for a second offense, and $3,000 for a third offense.”
It wasn’t immediately clear when the City Council will schedule a hearing.
“The hearing order will be introduced this week, and we plan to have the hearing as soon as possible,” said Sophia F. Wang, Flynn’s policy director, via e-mail Tuesday.
Officials have highlighted the issue of house parties previously in the pandemic era.
Then-Mayor Martin J. Walsh told reporters in September that the city had recently seen “an increase in house parties,” and he urged people not to host or attend them.
Addressing college students directly, Walsh said, “You want to be treated as adults? Well then act [like] it.’'
“You wanted to go to school here because your college is one of the greatest in the country,’' Walsh continued. “Then we’re asking you to be responsible.”
Walsh, who left the city to serve as President Biden’s labor secretary, said at the time that he was frustrated because “here we are today, laying down millions of dollars to open school. We have businesses on the verge of bankruptcy. We have restaurants that need to open up. We have art venues that need to open up.’'
He told reporters a month later, “We are going to be cracking down.”
Judging from the hearing order filed by Flynn and Flaherty, the crackdown hasn’t worked.
“[W]e continue to hear an overwhelming number of reports of large house parties,” the order said.
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.