In 2018, CLF sued to prevent the plan from moving forward, and last month, the court ruled in our favor. Here’s what you need to know about that decision and what still is at stake in this critical case.
With life expected to slowly return to some semblance of normal by the summer, we must continue to find ways to promote public health and the economy. But we also must protect the public’s right to access open space along the city’s waterfront.
“Public access to Boston’s beautiful waterfront won today,” said Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel at CLF. “State officials acted unlawfully in coming up with the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan and handed private developers a free pass to create new rules to benefit themselves. The judge saw right through this effort and affirmed that only the state’s Department of Environmental Protection can make decisions that protect the public’s centuries-old right to access the water and waterfront.”
Private developers deliberately obscure the lines between public and private space along Boston’s waterfront – with the goal to make the general public feel unwelcome – even though we all have the legal right to access much of our waterfront lands. It’s time for private developers to become part of the solution to create a vibrant and welcoming Boston Harbor for all.
Communities of color and those with low incomes not only deserve to enjoy waterfront open spaces for recreation and exercise – it’s also their right by law. And yet, through neglect and outright refusal by corporate interests, too many do not have the chance to run, walk, or even stretch near the water. We can and must do better.
“It is unacceptable that this plan allows developers to buy their way out of regulations they don’t like,” said Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel at CLF. “The public’s right to access the waterfront has been guaranteed for generations, and officials have singlehandedly undermined that right. The municipal harbor planning process is broken, and we’re looking forward to proving it in court.”
On a recent visit to the Battery Wharf in the North End, we found some of the most egregious violations of the public’s rights to access and enjoy the waterfront that we’ve ever seen. Battery Wharf has not only privatized spaces that belong to the public, it has capitalized on them, charging high-end rental fees for areas that are supposed to be available to the public 24 hours a day, free of charge.
CLF and Boston Harbor Now hosted a forum with diverse stakeholders – city and state leaders, advocacy organizations, the development community, and others – to discuss regulatory updates and other proactive measures that will not only allow for, but encourage, climate resiliency measures on Boston’s waterfront that benefit the public.
CLF’s “People’s Guide to the Public Waterfront Act” gives you the tools to access and enjoy the public Boston Harbor and other waterfront areas in the state. It demystifies the complex regulations that some developers have exploited made it look like their public land is only for private use.
The Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act gives you the right to speak up, be heard, and shape the future of our waterfront interests. Specifically, the law creates a process that ensures members of the public can testify at a hearing on certain proposed waterfront projects or submit comments and concerns in writing. This guide will help…