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Food fight: Restaurants sue Boston over al fresco dining fee

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The owners of five restaurants in Boston's North End say in a lawsuit against Mayor Michelle Wu that the city's $7,500 fee for eateries in the neighborhood that want to offer outdoor dining this summer is unconstitutional. The four business owners, in their federal complaint, said the fee — which applies only to restaurants in the traditionally Italian neighborhood that attracts tourists from around the world — creates “unfair methods of competition." The fee violates the restaurant owners’ constitutional due process and equal protection rights, and their rights under the commerce clause, the restaurateurs assert.

Wu has said that because the North End — with its maze of narrow and busy streets — has the highest density of restaurants in the city, the fees are necessary to address quality-of-life issues like traffic, pedestrian access, trash collection and rodent control. All four owners said they agreed to pay the fee under protest. One owns two establishments.

— Associated Press

 

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