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Citizen complaint of the day: Illicit bootscraper on Beacon Hill

Front door with illegal bootscraper on Pinckney Street

An outraged citizen files a 311 complaint about somebody on Pinckney Street on Beacon Hill who added a mail slot and a bootscraper, without the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission's required approval.

What's next? HardiePlank? The aggrieved citizen demands the property be returned to its "historically appropriate look," tout suite and submitted four photos with circles, if not arrows, but maybe with a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was.

In fact, the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission held a hearing on April 16, 2020 on the "unapproved shoe scraper," as well as various, somewhat larger, additions to the rear of the property, some actually visible from an alley off Joy Street, and ordered that:

The granite at the front steps and replacement shoe scraper should be removed and restored to its original condition.

The commission did not consider the mail slot, but did also order the property owner to remove a wall-mounted TV at the rear of the property, as well as a privacy fence, fire stairs, a concrete landing and two balconies visible from Joy Street, all installed without the required commission approval.

Based on Google Street Views, the scraper was installed sometime after an image was taken in 2017 that shows no scraper, and 2018, when it does.

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Comments

I get that its these "historic regulations" that keep Beacon Hill with that charm that everyone loves. But sheesh.. this makes HOA's seem tame.

But this happens in other parts of the city. I lived on Warren Ave in the SoEnd which has a similar historic commission. For over a year, my building had no front stairs (we had to walk into the basement and go up) because the landlord had to seek approval, repeatedly because they kept rejecting his plans.

And even for us tenants, they had strict rules. No A/Cs in windows before May 15th or after Sept 15. It could be a blazing 95 degrees in October and we'd have to sit N sweat because the rules.

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It could be a blazing 95 degrees in October and we'd have to sit N sweat because the rules.

It could not be.

The record high temperature in Boston in October is 90˚ (data here). This has occurred three times:

Oct 1, 1881
Oct 7, 1963
Oct 12, 1954

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"could be" and "was" are two very different things.

It could be 100.2 or -44 in October... it also could be a possum too.

It **was** hot in October where I did wish I had I had an AC. What temperature it was.. not sure. It could be possum hot.

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that bored?

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Did you really go look that up just to post that comment? Wow

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What is recorded at the airport in the middle of the harbor does not reflect how the city stores heat.

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I did not know about the AC thing and I live around the corner. I have two neighbors who leave thier window AC in year round. Not built into the wall or anything, but actually window mounted. This does not bother me at all from an asthetic perspective, but every time I see it I can't imagine how drafty it must be in winter or what thier heat Bill looks like.

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We were told by our landlord they had to be out due to the Commission. I think the Commission's name is Pilot Block, which does encompass some areas around it.

I took (and still take mine out) at the end of the summer for that reason.. too drafty and I miss the fresh air.

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Charming...

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Move to Kentucky.

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People in Boston will tell you to move virtually anywhere like it's a downgrade or an insult.

I seriously doubt you've ever even been to Kentucky, you elitist prick.

Boston-found to be the least welcoming city (to people of all races) out of 8 major cities. 45% of people consider Boston unwelcoming, it's not hard to see why with comments like yours.

http://masstaxpayers.org/sites/default/files/publications/2021-05/Closin...

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Wtf man. It's plenty welcoming so go blow it out your ass, Kentucky boi.

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Kentucky has a lot of HOAs that do constant battle against anything different.

Maybe you should talk to someone who has tried to put up a flag for memorial day or dare to have a lawn decoration!

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If you try doing this in any city, town, or neighborhood with historical landmark status then you're gonna have a bad time.

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They can be brutal.
Many a contractor has been told to come back next month because they didn't sufficiently document what they are doing or just didn't follow the board direction.

They criticized the window signs in the shop at the corner of Joy and Myrtle. I forget the reason, but following their recommendation wouldn't noticeably change the character of the neighborhood. Sadly the show didn't survived the Pandemic and now it just has giant "For Lease" signs in the windows.

Beacon Hill still has plenty of historic pot holes to help with the character.

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I know people love to complain about the Landmarks Commissions, but there's a very good reason why our historic districts look so consistent. It can be a pain sometimes, but I certainly prefer to go through the approval process so that my neighbors don't install a cheapo Home Depot door on their house. You can tell the difference in how buildings of similar age look inside and outside of our historic districts.

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The complaint is 100% valid.

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Yes they look consistent but that's not historically accurate. I don't think it's even a good thing.

Up through the 1940s most things were custom made for homes. Doors, windows, siding, etc. If a homeowner tried to make these products themselves today (or hired someone to do so) the plans would likely be rejected for "not looking right" and not meeting one of dozen safety and environmental codes. Not matter what, you're getting a factory made thing at this point.

The "historically accurate" doors and windows that meet code are also factory made, just in smaller productions runs and with huge mark-ups. Most aren't substantially different in terms of functionality and energy savings.

It's hard to see this common complaint as nothing beyond being opposed to people with less money. A factory made historically accurate door could cost $2500. A Home Depot door cost $250. But both have the same functionality and specifications.

I too like the look of the expensive stuff but I'm not going to tell other people they need to spend big bucks just to meet my visual preferences.

Maybe in 100 years the new historic districts will require people to install things that look like they were sold at Home Depot in 2015.

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The Commission should probably look at making that area match the pre-1630 architecture and get rid of everything that is newer than that. For historic reasons of course.

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well in that case, goodbye to on-street parking and hello to horse carriages

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Do you mean, for instance, indoor plumbing?

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Home Depot crap looks junky and inappropriate the day it's purchased, and will continue to look that way in 100 years.

And there are plenty of $2500 doors that would look terrible on Beacon Hill. It's not just about money.

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Dealing with Landmarks is part of living in a historic district.

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Someone said they wanted to pull the vinyl siding off of their house and restore the shingles and trim underneath to make it look like what the building was like when it was built.

They had their tires slashed.

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Thanks in advance, John.

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An outdoor TV is historically inappropriate and a nuisance. People should never have to see or hear someone else’s outdoor TV from inside their house. Knowing BHill, there probably isn’t much space separating this home from neighbors. Good for Landmarks.

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The entire neighborhood wasn't filled with mail slots & boot scrapers. My place had both when I lived in the Hill. As did almost every other building

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Too bad there isn't a space saver and off leash dog in the photo too.

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Just imagine the 311s and UHUB posts if they watch pornos on the outdoor TV in that neighborhood! BWAAHAAAAA

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Well who do you think did the installation? Those damn dogs!!!

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But I'm from Dorchester, what do I know?

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Certainly looks better in the after. Why would anyone complain??

The boot scraper in the Google maps image is in a public way, and if it wasn't there before I don't know that there is a good reason to add it.

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The old mail slot had personality, especially because it was vertical.
As for the boot scraper and doormat, extending your territory onto a public sidewalk is just wrong.

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Just because they can, of course.

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You can't look at a 2017 street image of something and declare that as the historic baseline. If there was one there in the 1800's. then technically they are just doing a restoration...

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In that Cary, they'll still need the approval if the architectural commission, and in this case, they didn't do that.

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I installed a new door with a mail slot about 5" from from the bottom. US Post Office refused to deliver mail into the slot as it did not meet USPO regulations. Who knew that the USPO has regulations on mail carriers bending down to deliver mail? So now I have a mail slot that is never used and a cheap mail box attached to the door. A costly mistake!

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They never had mail slots in the era of fantasy they chose as a baseline. No.

They sent the servants to the Post Office to collect the mail!

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So am I, and to preserve the character of my neighborhood along Geneva Ave and prevent it from starting to look like Beacon Hill, I'd like to propose some strict rules mandating the use of vinyl siding. It comes in any color you want and it's got its qualities. One of the best ones it that it's an excellent bourgeois repellant.

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I like the after picture better as well. Maybe it's a Dorchester thing. :-)

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Looks so much better and cleaner! Still looks historic enough. Goodness gracious!

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“The commission did not consider the mail slot, but did also order the property owner to remove a wall-mounted TV at the rear of the property, as well as a privacy fence, fire stairs, a concrete landing and two balconies visible from Joy Street, all installed without the required commission approval.”

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to get the changes approved. Not sure they are saying they definitely have to go.

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Thats what gets me.. is that its all going to have to come out and be redone.

But then again, they should have gone to the Commission first before starting construction. So it is on them. (most homeowners **should** know to do this if they live in this neighborhood)

I guess if you can afford to live in beacon hill, you can afford to re-do construction.

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Using only (wink nudge) Approved Contractors and so the neighbors can then complain about the noise and dust from the demolition!

Otherwise, they might all wither and die without their daily dose of outrage!

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Why is it ok for a “commission” to tell people what they can and can’t do to their own property?

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You buy a house in one of the city's historic districts (Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, the South End and Bay Village have them), you agree to abide by the rules there. It's hardly new, and over the years people have agreed to that in part because, yes, living in a historic district keeps the property values up, even if you don't care about historic preservation.

Don't like it? Move to a street where the neighbors don't care if you keep a couch in your driveway for years on end (they exist in Boston, too).

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Do you literally agree? is there some form you sign at closing outlining such rules? or do you technically find out about such things only when you apply for your first permit?

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Is established through the Department of the Interior and then through state specific laws. It has been tested in court and upheld. If your building is in a historic district it is noted on your deed. Real Estate Agents should certainly be informing people of the required process but I doubt they are. None of this should be a surprise to anyone. The vast majority of Boston is not in a historic district, they are easy to avoid.

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If you get to that point and you haven't learned about this yet, it's time to fire the high-priced lawyers and financial advisors you had help you with the purchase.

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You can’t murder people on your property either.
Well you can, but...

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that there are historically appropriate ways to do that.

Getting a permit approved might be time-consuming, however.

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Of living in a historic district and the reason the Landmarks Commission was created.

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You buy into that agreement when you buy into a historic district. The initial buy in was most likely approved by the vast majority of the owners at the time. This has kept their land value very high and stops things from hurting that value. These are not victims. If you buy one of these homes you are paying a premium.

This home owner thought their additions were fine because they were in the back. The front additions have a fake historic feel to them so they thought that was fine too. Then they do not understand why it is not fine. This same person though would get very mad if their neighbor put in a pink door or did something that hurt their land value.

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That's a lot of work to have done without the proper approvals. Someone dropped the ball, and I'm surprised no one complained while the work was in progress instead of waiting until it was completed.

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Well, they might have had the "normal" proper approvals, like permits from building department or whatever, but just not the Association ones.
Which leads to "possibly not surprising" if Association decided to make a point of asserting their power when they did.

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They shouldn't issue a building permit without historic district approval.

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The biggest problem is the bootscaper sticking into and the doormat laying on the sidewalk. That's out of bounds.

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For the members of the Neighborhood Association - Rules I'd like to impose;

You can't own a car built after 1922.

No tv antennae, no cable wires, no Amazon deliveries, and you can only use cash. No AC in your houses, and you can only use lead paint.

Coal deliveries will be allowed but all your porch furniture must be authentic period pieces. You may have a wireless, but it may only be a crystal set.

If you are going to die on a hill over a mail slot, you might as well live your life 99 years ago.

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Only two years standing, but it counts. I think the No Irish era in Boston was well over by 1922 but then I imagine change came a little slower in Beacon Hill.

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These flappers are changing the neighborhood! First the short skirts, the next thing you know they'll want to pay with a line of credit. Cal Coolidge ought to do something about this!

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Don't be ridiculous. Women can't get a line of credit unless their father or husband signs off on it.

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Happened to my mother while living on Beacon Hill and being the breadwinner. My father was required to sign for her.

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Up until the 70s we couldn't get a credit card w/ out hubby's signature.

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NIMBY NIMBY and NIMBY. Thank you.

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I think we've achieved PEAK Boston with this nonsense.

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I don't live on Beacon Hill, and I could go to my local smithy this very afternoon and order one up and drill a hole in our front porch and install it, and I can guarantee you none of our neighbors would say a word.

Except I probably won't because I'm still saving up for one of those newfangled horseless carriages that are all the rage.

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Pro tip: before purchasing a $$$ million dollar condo, you may want to do a little research first. Historic neighborhood: lots of rules. It's not that difficult to figure out.

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... so they would have room to jam in an ugly planter. That’s my theory on that.

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The planter is a trick - shallow tray of small plants to conceal storage for space savers.
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It's a mix of silly and legit.
Adding a scraper and mat to the sidewalk was stupid.
Personally, I don't see the problem with moving the mail slot, though I don't know if I would have moved it myself. Probably would depend on what I wanted to do in my inside hall.
I have no idea of the problem with the window. Looks like the same window but with curtains instead of.... mini-blinds? shutters?
Balconies? A TV on an outside wall? Have at it.
but....
What's wrong with a privacy fence (unless it's ridiculously tall)?
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Where these landmark/neighborhood commissions really go off the rails is style stuff they insist on that tramples modern safety and accessibility options - like that case in Back Bay or South End where somebody was opposed to letting a building owner add a safety rail to his front steps (or was it a chair lift?) for his wife or mother, or this example objecting to a fire stairs.

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Or god-forbid, yellow textured sidewalk cutouts for the hard-of-seeing and the blind.

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Oh you're referring to those quickly-broken plastic ramps that Beacon Hill denizens wanted to pay out of their own pockets to upgrade to safer and longer-lasting brick ones?

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Voting closed 19

Do not belong in the same sentence when it comes to mobility features.

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They wanted granite ramps.

Nothing says safer like a plastic ramp which falls to pieces a few years after installation: https://goo.gl/maps/VUEX11Vzc31CE7zVA

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john kerry? pinckney?

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...but I could very well be confused.

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you’re right! i’m getting old.

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you’re right! i’m getting old.

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Voting closed 13

World class cities do not have BOOT SCRAPERS!!!

I’m disgusted.

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I don't see a boot scraper in either of those pictures unless that squiggly thing on the wall? Not my idea of a boot scraper. They should be horizontal.

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Maybe Beacon Hill bootscrapers were more genteel than the one in Boston's grittier neighborhoods.

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The June 2018 street view on Google has the updated door and front step and what looks much more like a boot scraper. Boot scraper gone in 2020 view.

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3588347,-71.0654928,3a,39.3y,166.89h,70.5t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sRWmB-2pFZpZ998fbtI_a2A!2e0!5s20180601T000000!7i16384!8i8192?hl=en

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Voting closed 9

Sweeeeet. Do they have ESPN?

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