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Last updated: 12/4/18

Public Improvement Commission

The commission owns and controls Boston’s public space. We play an important role in the City’s development and permitting.

First established in 1954, we are an independent body located in Public Works. Members of the Public Improvement Commission include:

  • the commissioner of Public Works, who acts as its chairperson
  • the commissioners of Property Management, Inspectional Services, and Transportation
  • the executive director of Boston Water and Sewer
  • the Executive Secretary, and
  • Administrative personnel.

Public Improvement Commission

Have questions? Contact us:

Have questions about permitting?

Contact Public Works’ Permitting Division at 617-635-4909.

Upcoming meetings

Meetings

Our responsibilities

If you want to use public space for your business venture, you need our approval. Our work includes many responsibilities:

  • We order the creation, repair, adjusting, or renaming of highways.
  • We call for the construction of sewers and storm drains.
  • We use eminent domain to take land for the City, except housing and off-street parking.
  • We levy taxes for betterment projects involving the street, sidewalks, and sewers.

Development

We allow development in the following categories:

Line and Grade and Layout Approval

We create the right-of-way lines and characteristics of a public way (Line and Grade) and a private way (Layout). We also make sure everything is within City standards.

Discontinuance and Abandonment

We end the City’s interest in a public way (Discontinuance) or a private way (abandonment). This can be a surface, subsurface, or airspace action.

Widening and Relocation

We move right-of-way lines on a public or private roadway.

Easement

We allow the public to use the City’s public space but keep control of the property.

Specific Repairs

We add or change items, like street furniture or trees, on a public way.

Licenses

We approve the use of a public way for Sidewalk Cafes, Projections (like canopies or awnings), Earth Retention Systems, Monitoring Wells, or Areaways.

Grant of Location

We give utility companies access to subsurface and overhead lines on a public way.

Street Name Change

We change the name of a roadway or structure.

The Public Improvement Commission meets generally every two weeks on Thursday mornings at 10:00 AM in City Hall room 801. Here is this year's meeting schedule.  The filing deadline for all projects to be considered on a PIC New Business agenda is the Friday prior to the desired hearing date. 

Driveway Curb Cuts

Our staff takes part in the review of Curb Cut applications. We are one of many reviewers.

The review process is managed and tracked by the Public Works permitting office, located at Boston City Hall in room 715. The Public Works curb cut application package includes:

  • the application form
  • design guidelines, and
  • submission requirements.

Curb cut application package

Site plans

As of November 1, 2017, we no longer have a role in site plan reviews. Instead, the review process through Public Works is as follows:

1. Your engineer should add this note to all site plans: "The finished floor elevation (FFE) is to be higher than any adjacent public sidewalk.”

2. Your engineer should highlight all public sidewalks next to the property. They should also write down the surface material. Example materials include cement concrete, brick, or asphalt. Also, they should note the public sidewalk width, as well as linear feet of property frontage.

3. After the Boston Water and Sewer Commission has approved these site plans, your contractor should deliver one full-size (to-scale) set to the Public Works Permitting office. The office is located in Boston City Hall, room 715. These plans must show the highlighted and dimensioned sidewalk areas. Public Works Permitting will determine the sidewalk deposit amount. They will also issue the Sidewalk Deposit permit.

4. To be considered for an Erection or Alteration permit, you must give these documents to Inspectional Services at 1010 Massachusetts Avenue:

  • site plans approved by the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, and
  • a copy of the Public Works Sidewalk Deposit permit.

Commission details

Authority:
City
Stipend:
$0.00
Total Seats:
5

Current members

Member Appointed Expires Status
Gina Fiandaca Active
Christopher Osgood Active
Henry Vitale Active
Sean Lydon Active
Gregory Rooney Active
Brian Ronan Active
Edward Hesford Active
Michael Nelson Active