Plus, Boston's zoning code updates
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69º | Sunny | 6% chance of precipitation | Sunrise 6:42 a.m. | Sunset 6:22 p.m. | High tides 1:43 a.m. and 1:59 p.m. | Low tides 7:46 a.m. and 8:19 p.m

Cracking the code — the zoning code
An image of the skyline from the Boston Common.
The cities zoning code shapes how Boston will look in the future. | Photo by @cmarino78
Mayor Wu announced that changes could be coming soon to our city’s zoning laws. The city has been working from a report completed by Sara C. Bronin, a professor at Cornell University + the founder of the National Zoning Atlas project. She laid out a few steps to help revamp Boston’s current zoning code, which she described as “outdated, inconsistent, and inequitable.” Here’s what you need to know.

What are zoning laws?
Zoning laws help determine what you can build and where. The Boston Zoning Code is the set of rules that dictate the shape, density, and use of development in any given area. Made up of a written code and a variety of maps, the laws aim to protect Boston’s distinct neighborhoods from development that would impact the unique characteristics that shape our communities.

Breaking down the code by the numbers:
  • The most recent edition of the Boston Zoning Code was enacted in 1964.
  • The code is massive, clocking in at ~4,000 pages. Compare this to cities like Portland, Oregon (hey, PDXtoday) at 1,830 pages or even Nashville’s (hey, NASHtoday) at 349 pages.
  • There are 429 unique zoning districts to accommodate 26 neighborhoods.
  • Seven appointed members make up the The Zoning Board of Appeal.
What recommended changes are in the works?
First things first — shortening the code to ~500 pages.

Then, reducing the unique zoning districts from 429 to 50 districts. This will allow neighborhoods to keep their unique characteristics while encouraging more consistency in the code. This would also switch the code from a neighborhood-specific approach to a new “squares and streets” model to create mixed-use hubs near MBTA stations (think: offices, labs, residential, and other uses).

Finally, create more general rules that support the city’s affordable housing, climate resilience, and quality of life goals.
Friday, Sept. 15
  • Volksfest | Friday, Sept. 15 | 5 p.m. | Time Out Market, 401 Park Dr., Boston | Price of purchase | Celebrate Oktoberfest with Jack’s Abby at the Fenway food hall with live music, exclusive brews, and German-themed eats.
  • Breakaway Boston 2023 | Friday, Sept. 15-Saturday, Sept. 16 | 4 p.m. | The Stage at Suffolk Downs, 525 William F. McClellan Hwy., Boston | $110-$310 | Immerse yourself in an outdoor celebration of EDM at the new outdoor stage.
  • WeAreLofi | Friday, Sept. 15 | 4-6 p.m. | Emerson College, 120 Boylston St., Boston | Free | Fall into the atmospheric + nostalgic soundscapes of this award-winning duo.
Saturday, Sept. 16
  • “The Elephant 6 Recording Co.” | Saturday, Sept. 16-Sunday, Sept. 17 | The Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge | $12.50-$14.50 | Dive into the quirky origins of the 90s musical collective in this new alt-rockumentary.
Sunday, Sept. 17
  • Outdoor Yoga | Sunday, Sept. 17 | 10-11:30 a.m. | Back Bay Fens, 100 Park Dr., Boston | Free | Unroll your mat and release the stress of the week at the Emerald Necklace.
  • The Boxes at the Boston Fish Pier: Seafood Market | Sunday, Sept. 17 | 3-6 p.m. | The Boxes, Boston Fish Pier, Boston | Free | The Seaport pop-up will host a weekly seafood market, featuring Fish Pier tenants and rotating sessions by local nonprofits.
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News Notes
  • A Dorchester cafe has expanded to Kendall Square. Visit Ripple Cafe in Cambridge at 314 Main St. for pastries, baked goods, coffee, tea, and breakfast items. (Boston Restaurant Talk)
  • $104,299. That’s the median household income for 2022 for the Greater Boston area. This is an increase from $100,750 the year prior. The annual increase of 3.5% still didn’t help with the rising inflation costs, which was ~7% in 2022. (Boston Globe)
  • You’ll be “Speechless” at this tour stop. Dan + Shay are coming to TD Garden on Saturday, April 13, 2024 with special guests Ben Rector and Haley Whitters. Tickets go on sale Friday, Sept. 22 at 10 a.m.
  • A switch-up is happening with the leadership of the Boston Red Sox. Team officials have let go of Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom and moved General Manager Brian O’Halloran to a new senior leadership position with the operations department.
  • The Boston Parks and Recreation Department will distribute 15,000+ daffodil bulbs for public planting citywide. Complete the online application by Friday, Sept. 29 to participate in the beautification initiative where plantings for approved locations will be scheduled for the weekends of Oct. 21 + Oct. 28.
  • The Current at the Seaport will kick off the 13th season on Friday, Sept. 22 from 4 to 6 p.m. The festivities will feature a DJ, an assortment of activities and treats, and a shopping scavenger hunt. Plus, shop new vendors like the “Converse By You” customization experience, Sh*t That I Knit + Baked By Melissa.
  • We’re teaming up with Girlfriends Boston for another day in the neighborhood event on Saturday, Oct. 7. We need you to help us decide which neighborhood to explore with this quick survey.
  • It’s been a record-hot summer — and we still haven’t drank water since 1997. But this water brand makes us want to actually stay hydrated. It’s infused with fruit essences and has zero calories, diet sweeteners, and sugar, and still manages to taste great. New customers score 36 bottles for $36 + free shipping.*
Fun Fact
  • Whiskey returned 314% over the last 10 years. Invest in fine whiskeys and wines with Vinovest to diversify your portfolio and watch it age like fine wine.*
Preparing for Hurricane Lee
Under a watch hurricane or tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 48 hours. | Photo by @gokphoto
We’ve all been keeping a close eye on Hurricane Lee and the time has finally come to prepare. The storm is expected to impact the Boston area overnight Friday, Sept. 15 through Saturday, Sept. 16.

While we likely won’t experience a direct hit, the local forecast is expecting up to four inches of rainfall, damaging winds, flash flooding, and a storm surge of 1-3 ft.

Residents should take the following precautions:
  • Put together an emergency kit (read: flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies, and non-perishable food items).
  • Make an emergency communication plan.
  • Charge your cell phone.
  • Secure loose items and rain gutters.
  • Avoid driving + walking through flood waters.
Remember: If there is an emergency, call 911. For non-emergency issues like downed trees, call 311.

Sign up for emergency notifications through AlertBoston and know your evacuation zone. If you live in a flood-prone area, keep sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and gloves ready to go.

Residents are encouraged to stay indoors and BCYF centers will open for regular hours in case residents need to take shelter.
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The Wrap
Jess Burton in a blue shirt and gold necklace Today’s edition by:
From the editor
Never did I think I would move to Boston and be preparing for a hurricane weekend.

As a former Florida girl, the best advice I can share is to not eat all your hurricane snacks before the storm arrives.
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