Parking emerges as main focus of opposition to proposed Roslindale pot shop

Before and after images of Roslindale pot-shop proposal

Mitch Rosenfield with current photo of building and rendering of proposed shop.

Three main types of people attended a community meeting tonight on a pot shop proposed for the intersection of South and Walter streets: People who support the idea of a locally owned shop, especially one in a long derelict storefront; people who don't object to the idea of a pot shop in Roslindale in general, just not at that location; and a smaller group of people who begged the would-be operators to think of the children and not open anywhere near families and Fallon Field.

Mitch Rosenfield, who owns the Hempest clothing store on Newbury Street, has proposed a 1,000-square-foot shop in what has long been a grates-down eyesore at 882 South St., in the same building as the Hong Kong 888 Cafe. He would partner with Rick Ovesen, who, like Rosenfield, also lives nearby, and whose father owns the building. Hong Kong 888 fans can relax - the two said the take-out place would remain in its current location in the renovated building.

Rosenfield told a packed meeting room at the Roslindale Community Center he probably couldn't open before the spring of 2020 at the earliest, because of the complexities of winning a state marijuana license and because of the number of applicants already well ahead of him.

Rosenfield began his presentation by attempting to head off concerns about parking. He said the Leicester horror show will not happen in Roslindale because by the time his shop opens, the state will have several dozen pot shops, so nobody's going to be driving long distances to get to a small shop in Roslindale, that there's already plenty of on-street parking in the area near the old Longfellow School and that he expects his peak business time to be Saturdays, when the parking lot at the Roslindale Village commuter-rail stop is near empty. He said he doesn't expect to have any more customers than the Green T coffeehouse across the street - and added he would offer an app so customers could get in and out with their orders that much faster.

"I can't think of an easier place to park my car, really," he said.

Opponents living on nearby streets, though laughed at that and said they didn't buy it for a second. They said nobody's going to pay to park in the MBTA lot and will just park on streets that are already burdened with traffic - such as that caused by reckless drivers speeding down Fletcher from South Street to Centre Street.

"No one's going to park in the train station on Saturday or Sunday," one nearby resident said. "They're going to park in front of my house."

"We're going to have this conversation about parking anywhere we go," Rosenfield said. "Where is there parking in Boston?"

"Malls!" people shouted, referring to American Legion Highway. "Roslindale Village!" others added. One woman suggested Washington Street, some place like the building that now houses Nick's Pizza and Nick's Liquor up near the West Roxbury Parkway.

Rosenfield said he could not open in Roslindale Square because of a prohibition against pot shops near public elementary schools - such as the Sumner on Basile Street. He said he liked one resident's proposal to offer a discount to people who show they've parked in the T lot and that he would be willing to contribute towards speed signs that try to slow drivers down on nearby streets.

He was joined by City Councilor Tim McCarthy in saying Leicester just won't be repeated in Boston. McCarthy said the city is already planning to have the first wave of pot shops open at the same time - to avoid the crowding that happened at that one store. McCarthy added that he expects to see as many as 50 marijuana stores in Boston eventually, which means they will be catering almost entirely to nearby residents.

One supporter said people afraid of traffic and parking issues should take solace from the experience in Roslindale Square last year when a brewery ran a beer hall at the Roslindale Substation. People came from all over but there weren't any great parking problems - just people having a good time - she said.

Rosenfield was also supported by residents who said it's about time the eyesore building was fixed up. Ovesen said his father has tried to rent out the space, but aside from brief interest from a tanning salon and a restaurant, nobody has wanted to move into it.

Although most people opposed to the proposal said parking and traffic were their main issues, some did raise the specter of potheads changing Fallon Field from a family-friendly park to a hazy hell of ne'er-do-wells, some of them teenagers with friends who would obtain pot for them. One resident recalled the 1970s and 1980s, when gangs roamed the park. And they pointed to a study they said showed legalization of marijuana in Colorado has led to more teen pot smokers.

Supporters, though, questioned whether that could possibly happen. For one thing, public-park pot smoking is illegal. One resident who grew up in the neighborhood in the 1970s and 1980s said those weren't gangs back then, just local kids like him.

Dr. Franklin King, a psychiatrist at Mass. General who lives nearby, said that study was based on dubious methodology and that he agrees with other supporters the shop is not going to leave the neighborhood a gridlocked sea of cars because Boston will have so many pot shops by the time it opens and only about 15% of Bostonians use marijuana products.

One supporter, who works for the state Department of Public Health on adolescent addiction issues, said teens aren't interested in going into a store selling legalized marijuana, anyway, in part because the illegal variants will remain cheaper. This raises other issues, but isn't something that should block the proposed shop, he said.

One nearby resident and supporter said he can't wait for the shop to open because his partner's multiple sclerosis symptoms are eased by marijuana, and that he'd much rather have a local shop where he can pick some up rather than going through the inconvenience of getting her to a doctor for a prescription and then to a dispensary - none of which are currently open in the immediate area.

Supporters questioned how the pot shop could possibly be worse than Henry's, which sells alcohol as well as the scratch tickets they said litter the neighborhood.

Rosenfield said his shop will have a state of the art monitoring system - and a front-door "mantrap" and a security guard - that, among other things, will ensure no teens are getting in.

The meeting occasionally became testy. When Ovesen answered one resident's question about the building's ownership by saying, yes, his father owned it, the man replied, "City records would back that up?"

Holding the meeting tonight is just one of numerous steps Rosenfield and Ovesen need to take before they could open. The Boston Zoning Board of Appeals will have to approve the proposal and they will have to work out a "host agreement" with the city, in addition to applying for and winning permission from the state Cannabis Control Commission.

McCarthy, who opposed marijuana legalization, said he recognizes legal pot is here to stay, and that "I will support the local people over people flying in from Arizona and Las Vegas and everywhere else," because a local person will answer his call if there's a problem, while a Las Vegas company wouldn't even pick up the phone.

Rosenfield said he expects his shop to employ up to 20 people and that in addition to hiring local folks, he will aim to employ "equity" candidates who have suffered harm from the war on drugs.

One person who came away from the meeting pleased at what he heard was Seymore Green, who owns the eponymous shop on Poplar Street in Roslindale. Green asked Rosenfield if he would sell bongs, scales and other pot-related paraphernalia. Told that state law bars pot shops from dabbling in these items, Green, who sells such products, smiled. "OK, I can stay in business."



Free tagging: 



"But what about my precious

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"But what about my precious car?!?? I demand taxpayers give me free parking! My vehicle is more important than anyone's livelihood!"
"Sir, this is a child's lemonade stand. Stop yelling at my daughter."


But Cars, but parking

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People really do feel this way. But cars, but parking..ZOMG THE HORROR OF WALKING A FEW BLOCKS. WE MIGHT.. ZOMG.. GET INDIRECT EXERCISE.


Trump used a motorcade, paid

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Trump used a motorcade, paid for by taxpayers, to go across the street yesterday. There are many lazy, selfish, entitled slobs in this country. Hope these drivers like heart disease.


you are such a one trick pony

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I'm honestly curious if you have a keyword alert set up, or if you just fetishize the anti-car thing that much.

So as a local business owner

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So as a local business owner you're expected to fix parking traffic and general transportation issues?


Oh Lord not only that!

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Here is the briefing from the meeting Tuesday night regarding the proposed shop on Blue Hill Ave in Mattapan:

Among other things the group trying to open at that location wants to set up a scholarship fund for local kids, create parking in now-abandoned lots, leave the building lights on because "it's such a dark corner" as well as having 24 hour security monitoring around the building.
Some attendees scoffed at the prospect of a 1000 sq ft. business providing up to 30 new jobs.
One parent un-ironically got up and told the crowd she had teenage boys who smoke pot and this legal establishment, which would be barred from selling to teenagers, can't open because she doesn't want her kids smoking pot. Just completely ignoring that she is the parent in this situation and her kids are involved in illegal activities.

So to answer your question, unlike Pharmacies and bars and liquor stores, these new establishments are supposed to raise your kids, pay for their college, solve city parking issues, light darkened corners, and create hundreds of jobs to essentially staff a retail counter and a cash register (not unlike a bodega/convenience store).

There is literally NOT enough these business owners can do to quell the pearl-clutcher riots on this issue. No amount of concessions will stop them. These entrepreneurs should just stop trying to make promises that may be hard to keep. You follow the guidelines the city sets forth, you follow the zoning, you have the public meetings, and the city grants it or doesn't.
All these people screaming THINK OF THE CHILDREN need to take their complaints to the zoning board or their local elected officials. This is legal now. It's happening. Let local people own these businesses and not giant investor-funded conglomerates. ESPECIALLY in these areas that are facing gentrification. I was actually kind of appalled at the amount of resistance at the Mattapan meeting given this was a group of locals who have been granted the first equity empowerment licence in the city. The state rep Russell Holmes even got up to tell the crowd that despite the entire state overwhelmingly voting to legalize, that he and his colleagues in MA gov't never took the idea to the floor because the work to get it done would be too hard. Now forced to do the work by their constituents, who obviously want this to happen, they are kicking the can ever down the road and blocking all attempts to roll this out with mountains of red tape and bureaucracy. 2 YEARS, NO SHOPS. Nevada got this done in 6 months. MApoli corruption is unbelievable! Worse. Than. VEGAS. There should be an award for that.



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It's one reason why housing is so expensive. If you don't think developers and owners pass on all these increased costs then guess again.

More affordable units...cost goes up
Shorter, less efficient building....cost goes up
More parking....cost goes up
More open space....cost goes up
Street improvements...cost goes up

Simply impossible

"Supporters, though, questioned whether that could possibly happen. For one thing, public-park pot smoking is illegal. "



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Yeah, I've never seen anyone do anything illegal in Fallon like have their dog off leash.


Or smoke cigarettes. Or

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Or smoke cigarettes. Or drink a beer. Or litter. Those damn pot smoking dogs though will be the death of us all!


it's different

It STINKS, as it has been breed to be. Some parts of town you cannot get away from the smell.

More reason to open these stores

The stores sell edibles.

Many people prefer to discretely enjoy their THC that way.

I noticed that it cuts the smell a lot in three cities that I visited before and after the legal shops opened: Denver, Portland, and Seattle.

Ridiculous using parking as a shield.

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So sick of ppl in my neighborhood claiming the part of the street in front of their house as their own. It’s not yours, period. Also, you live in the city of Boston, not the city of Roslindale. Come to think of it, it’s not any legal entity at all. Things have come and gone in Roslindale and the parking issues were unfounded. Don’t like it? move out of the city.


Don't worrying about parking

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Because when the new year rolls around your car insurance rates are going to skyrocket and you are not going to afford to have one. The insurance companies are raising the rates and blame the pot shop owners.


I think your on to something... Probably true and property crime will likely increase.


Please share the source of evidence for your assertions.

(but not if it is just your soiled toilet paper ...)


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One supporter said people afraid of traffic and parking issues should take solace from the experience in Roslindale Square last year when a brewery ran a beer hall at the Roslindale Substation. People came from all over but there weren't any great parking problems - just people having a good time - she said.

Props to this rational human being.


Ok, finally read the article

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This is ridiculous:

"No one's going to park in the train station on Saturday or Sunday," one nearby resident said. "They're going to park in front of my house."

...and? Clearly you're not parked there or else they wouldn't be able to, so why do you care if someone else uses a space you're not using? Why do you expect that anyone else should care about this?


Agreed, it's silly

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I've had neighbors who get almost violent when someone parks in front of their house, even for an hour or two.


Are they parking on your lawn?

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If so, then maybe we have a problem.

Unless it's so popular that, like a Patriots game in days of yore, you can start charging them $10 a pop to park. Then some residents will probably be singing a different tune.


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it's an in/out, ten minute long transaction. there's plenty of parking on south walter for doing exactly that, because we drive to pick up chinese food every other week, park, get it, and leave, in about ten minutes. it's not a cafe where you sit and eat the pot right there.... if people were ok with Green T, which IS a sit-and-chill place, they should have no objection to this place.

hoping they get approval anyway -- would love to get some chinese and weed all at once, go home, sounds like a relaxing friday night.



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Green T is a lower cost transaction, higher traffic business. With people who will choose to spend a couple hours sometimes. Pot shop will have less customers spending more per, and be out in 10 minutes.
There’s a retail store sitting there. Shouldn’t we expect and hope for a thriving business in it?

Welcome to Boston, where we

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Welcome to Boston, where we oppose anything happening anywhere because people might park in front of our house.

Also, I suspect for some of these people, it's not REALLY about the parking. It's that they don't want a pot shop near them (think of the children!) even though it's now 100% legal. The thing about NIMBYs is that most of them will find a somewhat legitimate sounding reason to oppose something even if that's not their real reason for opposition.


Residential area is wrong location

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This type of business belongs in a strip mall or business district, not in the center of a residential area. Convenience stores are an allowable use in residential areas, because they serve neighbors in the immediate precinct, i.e., nearby businesses such as Green T, Hong Kong 888 Cafe, Checkmate Cafe, Henry's Market, or neighborhood barber shops, like the one that used to be nearby. This proposed business is not a neighborhood convenience business. It will be a destination business drawing folks from miles and miles around. That type of business belongs in a strip mall or a business district, not in a residential area with a park serving children.

I live in the neighborhood,

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I live in the neighborhood, and it would be a great convenience to me and about a thousand others within walking distance. A building with metal grates for 30 yrs? Or a beautiful modern, clean shop actually doing business? Seems like a no brainer to me...approve!



This is why I oppose several locations around the state. It will be a huge nuisance for years to come around every one of these shops. Anyone who wants one next door clearly does not understand the impact these will bring.

How about your back yard?

Actually, they are a nuisance only when there is one of them for a large population.

Open more and they become neighborhood businesses.

I own a condo in Portland, Or that is about 100 yards from a dispensary. There are no problems. None. There are a lot more issues with the food truck pod across the street from the dispensary. From what I've seen, the pot shop is always very quiet and very few cars are around from it. The pod packs out the streets on some nights.

Portland is not Boston

Until it is 'normalized' (could take a decade) they will be a huge nuisance as the residence of Leicester are finding out. I do not want my home and neighborhood to be part of a poorly executed experiment from the state of Massachusetts and cities that are approving these locations. So what, 5% of my neighbors don't have to go ALL THE WAY to brookline village! Gimme me a break, If going a few more miles for a bag of weed is too difficult, maybe you should reconsider your life choices.

So yea, not in my back yard. (and stay off my lawn!).

Completely ridiculous

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Completely ridiculous argument. This is NOT RESIDENTIAL: that's why the whole stretch of South St is zoned commericial. If you want 100% residential, go find your surburban paradise in West Roxbury or Dedham. This is the city.

There will be 50 in Boston

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Counselor Tim McCarthy stated at the meeting that this would be one of 50, and probably 5-6 would already be open before this one opens. None of these small neighborhood shops will be destination stores. There is going to be a very large store by North Station. I could see that one serving as a destination type business, but why would somebody even as close as JP go to Roslindale for cannabis products, when there will be two stores in their own neighborhood. This is only going to serve people in 02131.

I live in the neighborhood,

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I live in the neighborhood, maybe a 7-8 minute walk.

I would buy there. It would be very convenient.

How would it not be a neighborhood convenience?

It's like some of you wish Boston was the stripmall suburbia of the midwest, where it's a 20 minute car ride to pick up a bottle of coke, because letting purchases happen anywhere near a residential area is UNFATHOMABLE.