The B-Side

A major win for rent control 🏠

Plus: 🚘 Uber drivers look to unionize

The B-Side
Welcome to The B-Side, the daily dose of news you actually want to hear. Katie Cole

It’s Thursday, Boston.

🎤 Wanna hang with The B-Side team? We’re putting on a concert with Sofar Sounds in Davis Square at 7:30 p.m. on March 16. But you won’t know who’s performing or where the performance is until 36 hours before the show. So if you like music and surprises, this one’s for you. Get your tickets here

👀 What’s on tap today:

  • North End discrimination lawsuit
  • Logan’s rough two weeks
  • Good Will (house) Hunting

Up first…


Rent control bags a win

Image: Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff. Illustration: Katie Cole

Mayor Wu had quite the Hump Day. The Boston City Council approved her proposals on two of her key priorities: to reign in rent hikes and to restructure the city’s development agency. It’s a step forward for Wu’s plans, which now head to Beacon Hill.


Here’s how it went down:

🏠 To recap: Wu’s rent control stabilization proposal would cap annual rent hikes at 10% during high inflation years (with a few exceptions). And her proposal to restructure the Boston Planning and Development Agency would overhaul how the city handles real estate planning and development by sunsetting urban renewal powers and prioritizing climate resiliency, affordability, and equity.

🗳️ The vote: Both proposals overwhelmingly passed 11-2. Councilors Baker and Murphy were the only no’s. One councilor did suggest adding another exemption to the rent control proposal for landlords who live in Boston and own up to six properties. But the council voted it down.

🎉 The reaction: After the rent control vote, advocates broke out into applause. Some advocates and City Councilors wished the proposal capped rent hikes at 5% instead of 10%, but they didn’t try to amend it in the meeting. The 10% is still relatively moderate compared with other rent control programs in the country. 

⚖️ Next steps? Both of these proposals require sign off from the House, Senate, and Gov. Healey. But it likely won’t move as quickly as it did at the city level, as Beacon Hill has historically taken its sweet time on legislation from the city. House Speaker Ron Mariano said he has “questions” about the policy. So don’t expect an answer soon.


👀 The impact beyond Boston: Mayor Wu might be a trendsetter. Somerville’s City Council President filed an order this week to start working on their own rent control policy, and Cambridge’s City Council signaled its support for a bill that would strike down the state ban on rent control. Plus, a recent poll found that 65% of likely 2024 voters would support a ballot question giving cities and towns the ability to make their own decisions about rent control. The tides might be turning.


Quick & dirty headlines

Image: Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

🍝 North End restaurateurs claim they faced discrimination. Five of them filed an amended complaint in federal court alleging that Mayor Wu’s decision to levy a $7,500 outdoor dining fee last year in the North End was discriminatory because the restaurant owners are largely white and Italian. The lawsuit alleges Wu violated the owners’ due process and equal protection and treatment rights. And they’re seeking damages of up to $1 million. The previous suit they filed was dismissed, so we’ll see where this goes …

✈️ It’s been a rough few weeks at Logan Airport. A near collision on the runway, plane wings clipping each other, and a man trying to open the emergency door and stab a flight attendant. But the latter was the last straw for Rep. Steven Lynch, who is now calling for a review of the FAA’s flight operations and an update on investigations into the three incidents (which, candidly, all could have been disastrous). If the passenger accused in Sunday’s attempted stabbing is convicted, he could face a sentence of up to life in prison.


🚗 Local ride-share drivers are looking to unionize. A group gathered in front of the State House this week pushing lawmakers to pass a bill that would give them the right to unionize in Mass. They currently can’t because companies like Uber and Lyft consider drivers independent contractors, which don’t have a federal right to form a union. Drivers supporting unionization are hoping a bill can pass so ride-share companies can’t try to cement that independent contractor status on a ballot question (like they tried to do last year). 

☀️ Who’s beating Mass. on renewable energy production? Not Maine. Not Rhode Island. But Texas. In fact, Mass. ranked 29th in total power generated from wind and solar combined. And Republican-led states Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas, all ranked in the top five. To be fair, Texas is much larger than Mass., which means it can produce more. But a separate analysis found that 16 states now generate at least half their electricity from renewable sources, and we aren’t one of them … a wake up call for our progressive state.


Good Will (House) Hunting

Image courtesy of Miramax Films.

Matt Damon’s apartment from ‘Good Will Hunting’ is available to rent.

The second floor unit of the South Boston building his movie character lived in is listed at $4,500 a month, but it’s pretty unrecognizable from its time on screen. The building was renovated in 2012 and the second floor has granite countertops, a wine fridge, and central air in the unit. 


This two bedroom unit on 190 W Sixth St. may not be affordable for Damon’s janitor/genius character anymore, but Damon himself could easily call it home if he’s looking for a Southie rental.

😅 Thanks for reading! While I’m far from an iconic movie character, you can probably snag my two-bed in Watertown for $2,000 a month if you want. We’re moving!

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