Allston Move-in Day Prompts Additional Oversight From City Officials
It’s beginning to look a lot like Allston Christmas.
On Friday, Mayor Tom Menino welcomed students back to the area, as move-in day fast approaches, and outlined safety guidelines for those planning on staying through the school year in the Boston neighborhood.
“As summer winds down and we move into fall, our city comes alive as we welcome back thousands of students who attend our local colleges and universities,” Menino said Friday, as people prepared to return to the city for another school year. “It’s so important for us to use this opportunity to educate students and their parents about their rights as tenants and their responsibility to be good neighbors.”
What makes this year’s move-in different from previous years is that Menino and his administration have clamped down on problem neighborhoods, as well as problem landlords. He said city officials have put together a team of professionals to be in the most impacted neighborhoods this week, not only enforcing codes but also helping new and longtime residents resolve any quality of life issues.
Specifically, Menino and his staff will be targeting what they have deemed the “GAP” area, or the section of Allston where a majority of students takeover when the school year begins, around Gardner, Ashford, and Pratt Streets.
Last year, parties and overcrowded apartment buildings became a problem in that particular neighborhood.
Boston Police have been working with area universities at monthly meetings to discuss and work through student housing issues, according to a statement from Menino’s office. City officials are also working with schools in an effort to keep tabs on the number of students in off-campus housing to identify overcrowding in certain apartment buildings. Last semester a Boston University student died in a house fire on Linden Street close to the “GAP” area. Fire officials said the building was overcrowded with residents.
To alleviate some stresses in the heavily student-populated region of the city, the Inspectional Services Department, the Boston Transportation Department, the Public Works Department, the Boston Police Department, and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services have promised to scout the “GAP” section, and other parts of Allston where off-campus housing is common, and hand out informational brochures. Officials will also conduct code inspections.
This year, officials revised the Rental Inspection Ordinance to enhance current standards for the health and safety of rental housing. The revised ordinance covers more than 85 percent of the city’s rental units, and requires that landlords can be easily identified and held accountable when they fail to provide safe housing for tenants such as students. Menino’s administration is paying particular attention to past offenders, and landlords who have proved to be a problem when it comes to non-compliance.
Landlords under the new ordinance have until August 31 to register their properties, but many have been resistant to the change in law based on the cost of possible fines and the $25 registration fee.
The Labor Day weekend usually marks the return of tens of thousands of students, clogging the roadways into Allston with rental vans and trucks, as they fight to find a parking spot along the side streets in order to unload their goods. Temporary roadway restrictions have been put in place to help ease the headache of the truck traffic over the long weekend.
The disposal of items during the transition into their new abodes has come to be known as Allston Christmas to locals and yearlong residents, as the streets become overrun by discarded lamps, couches, and other household items, ripe for the picking for passerby in the neighborhood.
As the move-in begins, new residents are encouraged to call Menino’s 24-hour Hotline with questions at (617) 635-4500 or to report any issues. “The aim of city departments is to make this weekend as problem free as possible and any assistance from residents is encouraged. University staff will also be available in the neighborhoods welcoming students and handing out information,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.