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Officials step up patrols on South Boston beaches after complaints about liquor deliveries to patrons

Crowds gathered on L Street Beach earlier this month in South Boston.
Crowds gathered on L Street Beach earlier this month in South Boston.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Last summer it was maskless crowds amid the pandemic. This summer, it’s alcohol deliveries.

App-aided booze runs to popular South Boston beaches, including M Street and Carson, have prompted recent complaints from residents and a robust law enforcement response, in the latest brouhaha pitting younger transplants against neighborhood long-timers.

Officials said Monday there were no major alcohol problems over the weekend, following a sternly worded advisory from city licensing officials reminding the public that alcohol deliveries to the beaches are not permitted.

“We have had a significant presence on the South Boston beaches each weekend and any weekdays when the beaches have been crowded,” said State Police spokesman David Procopio via e-mail Monday.

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Last week, the Boston Licensing Board said in a two-page advisory that complaints over deliveries had been pouring in.

“The Board, the Boston Police Department, the State Police Department, and the South Boston elected officials have received numerous quality of life and public safety complaints in South Boston resulting from the delivery of alcohol to public spaces including, but not limited to, parks and beaches,” said the advisory from attorney Lesley Delaney Hawkins, the board’s executive secretary.

The issue is also on City Councilor Ed Flynn’s radar.

Flynn, who represents the area, tweeted the day after the Licensing Board advisory went out that booze isn’t permitted on public beaches. He also appealed to patrons’ sense of collective responsibility.

“Transporting or being in possession of alcohol at our parks and beaches is illegal and dangerous,” Flynn tweeted. “These urban open spaces are used and enjoyed by young families. Please — have respect and be a good neighbor!”

Hawkins wrote that authorities held an emergency meeting June 10 with all “Section 15 Licensees” in South Boston, which are businesses permitted to sell booze for off-premise consumption.

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The emergency meeting, Hawkins wrote, concerned the “unpermitted delivery of alcoholic beverages by Section 15 Licensees to DCR property in South Boston including, but not limited, to beaches and parks.”

And, Hawkins wrote, there’s also evidence that some licensees delivering adult beverages aren’t checking identifications properly. In addition, the advisory said, there’s evidence that delivery workers are providing alcohol to intoxicated people, another violation under state law.

Hawkins reminded the public that the “delivery of alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption, including alcohol that is permitted to be sold and delivered ‘to go’ by special legislation, to any DCR property is prohibited.”

And any licensee that violates the order, Hawkins wrote, “whether utilizing a delivery service or providing delivery by its direct employees,” faces possible suspension or revocation of their license.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey’s office said Monday the Licensing Board received no complaints over the weekend.

A few tweeters, meanwhile, responded cheekily to Councilor Flynn, suggesting not everyone is on board with the prohibition on beach booze.

“Narc,” wrote one tweeter in response to Flynn. Another person asked, “Can we make it legal?” while a third tweeter was even more combative.

But despite the defiance on social media, some groups are getting the message.

An e-mail sent Thursday from the VOLO adult sports company, which runs the Carson Beach Volleyball and Bocce leagues on the Southie sand, to players made it clear that alcohol is not allowed.

“As I had mentioned before, you all have been great all season but we do have to follow the law as we would like to continue to play on Carson Beach not just next season but the years to come!” the VOLO letter said.

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Last summer, just months removed from the COVID-19 pandemic’s raging peak in Massachusetts, M Street Beach was the scene of intense crowding that drew a rebuke from then-mayor Martin J. Walsh.

Walsh told reporters during a briefing in July 2020 that the crush of patrons at M Street Beach that month could’ve hampered the city’s reopening amid the health crisis. His comments came after photos had surfaced of thousands of maskless patrons at M Street; masks at the time were expected to be worn in public, with higher infection rates and no vaccine yet available.

“That could set us back,” Walsh said of the crowds last summer.

Hannah Krueger of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Material from prior Globe stories was also used.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.