Winthrop Square Home Rule Petition Boston City Council

An Act Protecting Sunlight and Promoting Economic Development in the City of Boston

ORDERED:  That a petition to the General Court, accompanied by a bill for a special law relating to the City of Boston to be filed with an attested copy of this Order be, and hereby is, approved under Clause One (1) of Section Eight (8) of Article Two (2), as amended, of the Amendments to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to the end that legislation be adopted precisely as follows, except for clerical or editorial changes of form only:


SECTION 1.  Subsection (b) of section 2 of chapter 362 of the Acts of 1990 is hereby amended by striking out the words “, subject to the one-acre exclusion set forth in the second sentence of subsection (c).”

SECTION 2.  Subsection (c) of section 2 of chapter 362 of the Acts of 1990 is hereby amended by striking out the second sentence thereof.

SECTION 3.  Section 2 of chapter 362 of the Acts of 1990 is hereby further amended by inserting after subsection (c) the following subsection:-

(d) Any structure located on property owned by the City of Boston on January first, two thousand and sixteen and located west of Federal Street, south of Franklin Street, east of Devonshire Street, and north of the intersection of High Street and Summer Street, which structure casts a new shadow upon the Boston Common for not more than two hours after the later of seven o’clock in the morning or the first hour after sunrise.

SECTION 4.  Section 2 of chapter 384 of the Acts of 1992 is hereby amended by striking out the word “or” in the last line of subsection (b).

SECTION 5.  Section 2 of chapter 384 of the Acts of 1992 is hereby further amended by striking out the period in the last line of subsection (c) and inserting in place thereof a semicolon and the word “or.”

SECTION 6.  Section 2 of chapter 384 of the Acts of 1992 is hereby further amended by inserting after subsection (c) the following subsection:-

(d) Any structure located on property owned by the City of Boston on January first, two thousand and sixteen and located west of Federal Street, south of Franklin Street, east of Devonshire Street, and north of the intersection of High Street and Summer Street, which structure casts a new shadow upon the Public Garden for not more than forty-five minutes after the later of seven o’clock in the morning or the first hour after sunrise.

SECTION 7. As used in section 7 and section 8 of this act the following words shall have the following meanings:

“Article 48,” Article 48 of the Boston Zoning Code as it existed on March first, two thousand and seventeen.

“New shadow,” the casting of a shadow at any time on an area which is not cast in shadow at such time by a structure which exists or for which a building permit has been granted on the date upon which application is made to the permit-granting authority for a proposed structure and which would not be cast in shadow by a structure conforming to as-of-right height limits allowed by the Boston Zoning Code as in force on March first, two thousand and seventeen. New shadow shall not include a de minimis shadow cast by an antenna, fence, flagpole, sign or other similar structure.

“Permit granting authority,” the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal, the Boston Zoning Commission, the Boston Redevelopment Authority or other public body authorized to grant permits or approvals pursuant to chapter 121A or chapter 121B of the General Laws, chapter 665 of the acts of 1956, as amended, of the Boston Zoning Code. Permit granting authority shall not include the Boston Inspectional Services Department, or any body or department succeeding in the duties thereof.

“Copley Square Park,” the land in the City of Boston bounded by Boylston Street, Clarendon Street, St. James Avenue, and Dartmouth Street, excluding land occupied by Trinity Church, and under the care, custody management and control of the city Parks and Recreation Commission.

“Structure,” a structure, as defined in the Massachusetts state building code, which is: (i) intended to be permanent; and (ii) not located within the boundaries of Copley Square Park.

SECTION 8. Notwithstanding any provisions of chapter 121A or chapter 121B of the General Laws, or chapter 665 of the acts of 1956, or any other general or special law to the contrary, no permit granting authority shall take any action which would authorize the construction of any structure within the Stuart Street District established by Article 48 which would cast a new shadow for more than two hours from eight o’clock in the morning through two-thirty in the afternoon on any day from March twenty-first to October twenty-first, inclusive, in any calendar year, on any area of Copley Square Park.

SECTION 9. The Boston Redevelopment Authority shall conduct a planning initiative for downtown Boston for an area including, but not limited to, the Midtown Cultural District established by Article 38 of the Boston Zoning Code and that area of the city known as the Financial District.  The initiative shall be conducted in partnership with the community to examine the preservation, enhancement, and growth of downtown Boston in order to balance growth with livability while respecting the importance of sunlight, walkability, and a dynamic mix of uses. The initiative shall culminate in a report that must include, but need not be limited to, recommendations concerning: development guidelines to facilitate predictable and appropriate development and community benefits; balancing area enhancement with the needs of existing residents, businesses and property owners; historic preservation; impacts of development on the environment, open space, and public realm, specifically including shadow impacts; and adaptability to the risks associated with climate change. The planning initiative shall commence within six months of the date of the passage of this act, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority shall publish the report on the planning initiative within three years from the passage of this act.

SECTION 10.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.


Food Trucks Returning to Boston Common

The Friends of the Public Garden is excited to announce that the following five food trucks have been selected for our 2017 rotating food truck program at the Brewer Fountain Plaza on the Boston Common (near Park Street Station). All trucks will start vending at 11 am and the program will run through November.

Follow each truck on Twitter to get real-time updates.

Bon Me (every day, Monday-Friday)
Bon Me has been serving bold, fresh, and fun Asian cuisine since they won the City of Boston’s food truck challenge in 2011. Seven food trucks and five restaurants later, they’re serving their healthful and exciting sandwiches, noodle salads, and rice bowls to Boston and beyond.
Twitter: @bonme

Roxy’s Grilled Cheese (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)
As one of the first food trucks to hit the streets of Boston, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese learned early what street food is all about.  Their goal is simple:  Serve the freshest, most delicious comfort food to the people of Boston and have a blast doing it.
Twitter: @roxysgrilledchz

North East of the Border (Tuesday and Thursday)
Serving authentic Mexican street style tacos, NEOTB is celebrating its third year in business and their third truck rolling onto the streets of Boston in April for the 2017 food truck season.
Twitter: @NEOTBtruck

Cookie Monstah (Saturday and Sunday)
The Cookie Monstah specializes in fresh baked cookies and brownies.  All of their delicious cookies are baked fresh every day and they keep it simple, delicious and healthy.  Additionally, they have locally-sourced ice cream to go with their baked goods.
Twitter: @MonstahTruck

Teri-Yummy (Saturday and Sunday)
Based in Boston, Teri-Yummy specializes in the famous Japanese teriyaki bowl. They are committed to providing their customers with the freshest and highest quality food.  All meals are cooked to order and fresh right off the truck!
Twitter: @Teriyummy

Berklee College of Music piano performances will be back in late April. Lunchtimes during the week 12-2, and Thursday evening jazz performances at 5 pm.

Shadows and our Parks: Make your voices heard

The last few weeks have seen a significant increase in publicity around the proposed Winthrop Square development and its potential impact on Boston Common and the Public Garden, with four articles in The Boston Globe alone. The more light shed on this potential dimming of our parks, the more people will understand the importance of this issue.

At the same time, there are comment opportunities and government actions between now and the end of January that we want you to be aware of. We are eager to engage with city and state officials, other organizations, the development community, and citizens like you as we strive to ensure good public policy that allows development while protecting our parks.

Continue reading “Shadows and our Parks: Make your voices heard”

Advocacy Update: Community Preservation Act


Advocacy and support for the Community Protection Act (CPA) were demonstrated by the attendance of over 160 advocates for green space, historic preservation, and affordable housing at a Boston City Council hearing to champion that the proposed measure be placed on the November ballot.

CPA is a smart growth tool designed to help cities and towns create affordable housing, preserve open space and historic sites, and develop outdoor recreational opportunities.  CPA funds are generated by a small surcharge on local property tax bills matched by a statewide trust fund.  Without enacting CPA, the state trust monies from Registry of Deeds filing fees will not be available funding for Boston.

The Friends is one organization in a coalition of more than 40 community-based parks, housing and preservation groups who think that the political climate is right for a vote.  The coalition is recommending a one percent property tax surcharge, with exemptions for low-income homeowners, low- and- moderate- income senior homeowners and for the first $100,000 of residential and business’ property value.

The City of Boston would generate up to $20 million every year dedicated to CPA projects such as:

  • Improving and developing parks, playgrounds, trails, and gardens
  • Acquiring land to protect water quality and reduce climate change impacts
  • Creating thousands of new, affordable homes for seniors, families and veterans
  • Restoring and preserving historic buildings and rehabilitating underutilized historic resources

Since 2000, 160 Massachusetts communities have adopted CPA and have been able to take advantage of over $1.6 billion for over 8,100 projects. Cities that have adopted the CPA include Cambridge, Somerville, Fall River, Medford, and Waltham.

Join the Friends to mobilize support for the November ballot. We will keep you updated and you can learn more about Community Preservation Act here.

Update on White Memorial Restoration and Boston Common Advocacy

The Friends is embarking on a campaign to restore the George Robert White Memorial
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan


We hope you had a terrific summer and are ready for what is sure to be a spectacular fall. Thanks to all of you who joined us for our Summer Party and came out to support our treasured greenspaces!

The past few months have been a busy time as people flocked to our parks to take full advantage of these wonderful outdoor spaces. We also took full advantage of the favorable weather to care for trees, turf, and sculpture, and move forward with special projects. If you missed it, you may be interested to read the Boston Globe article, They get the gunk off Boston’s outdoor treasures. Yes, Friends, you are the “they” who make it possible for the “gunk” to come off!

This year’s harsh winter delayed our restoration work on the George Robert White Memorial fountain in the Garden, and construction is now slated to begin in spring of 2016. We are eager to bring the water back to this historic fountain and will keep you updated on timing.

We continue to advocate against overuse of our parks and use that damages them, in particular the Boston Common. This weekend (September 26 and 27), the Boston Freedom Rally (also known as Hempfest) will return to the Common. We heard your concerns loud and clear about the poor condition the Common was left in following this event in previous years, and your safety concerns while visiting this neighborhood park, especially with your families, during the event. Thanks to the over 50 of you who wrote letters of concern to Parks Commissioner Chris Cook. Please continue to send us your feedback, share it with the Commissioner, and report it to the Mayor’s hotline or through the City’s new 311 system, which also offers a smartphone app. Visit to learn more.

We look forward to seeing all who can come to our annual Members Reception on October 7th at the Four Seasons Hotel where we have a wonderful presentation planned for you, “Digging In: Beyond the Roots of Urban Tree Care.” That evening we will also kick-off an online art auction featuring pieces made from Boston Common elm wood.

Again, thanks to all of you, whose support makes it possible for us to care for our wonderful parks.


Anne Brooke, Chair
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director

What’s New at the Boylston Street Border?


Did you notice that the Boylston Street border of the Public Garden is looking better than ever these days? Phase III of a multi-year project recently brought plant improvements to the edge of this popular strolling path. Passersby will notice reorganized plants and new shade-tolerant varieties.

For those who have traditionally enjoyed the sport of puddle jumping on this path, that activity just became more challenging. More than 200 feet of drainage with new low drainage points will help reduce pooling water. For visitors who prefer a more relaxing stint in the Garden, three new benches will soon be available to provide a place to pause and soak up the view. Views are not available for sponsorship, but benches are! Contact the Friends office to find out about the opportunity.

We encourage our Friends to check out this latest facelift made possible by your support and let us know how we did!

Photos by Alysha Griffiths.

Looking back at 2014


We are pleased to report that 2014 will go down as a milestone year for the Friends of the Public Garden in working with the City to care for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Please join us in celebrating the completion of a successful year of accomplishments, none of which would have been possible without you. Highlights of the year can be viewed in our 2014 Year in Review.

In 2014, we invested $952,000 directly into parks care, with an additional $1.6 million spent to complete the Brewer project on the Common. We also made significant progress on goals set out in our five-year strategic plan, which you can read more about on page 8 our Annual Review.

This has also been a year of relationship building with Mayor Walsh, our newly elected city and state officials, and the City’s newly appointed Parks Commissioner, Chris Cook. We look forward to continuing our four-decade partnership with the City, to care for and improve our three treasured parks.

As we continue to advocate for our parks, we appreciate your help in these efforts. Members voiced concern over the condition of the Boston Common following the Freedom Rally (also known as Hempfest), and many submitted letters. Your concerns and ours were shared with the Parks Department, to be considered when the group applies for its next permit. We must be continually vigilant to make sure that events on the Common enhance the public’s enjoyment of the park while at the same time mitigating the damage caused, in order for this intensively used space to thrive over the long term.

“Ah, the great indoors,” said no one ever was one of several phrases that appeared on eye-catching signage at MBTA sites throughout the city, courtesy of a generous and creative marketing campaign by Boston communications firm Hill Holliday. These signs engaged new audiences, introduced them to our organization, and served as a reminder of our work to those who know us.

As Bostonians flocked to Brewer Fountain Plaza, they let us know how much they enjoyed the enhanced area despite lunching near the last phase of our construction fencing. The project sailed to a November finish, marking the completion of the most ambitious capital project in the Friends history.

A major milestone of 2014 came in the last few days of the year when we finalized purchase of our office at 69 Beacon Street from Santander Bank. Thanks to Santander, we enjoyed three rent-free years at a perfect location for the Friends, directly across the street from the Common and Garden and close to the Mall, easily accessible to the public. A permanent home gives us stability, and we are grateful to Santander for a below-market purchase price and to First Republic for favorable mortgage terms.

We thank you for your tremendous support, and we honor you with our commitment to preserve, enhance, and advocate for our three historic parks.

Anne Brooke, Chair
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director