Ayanna believes healthy communities are anchored by thriving main streets districts; affordable rent and home ownership opportunities for people of all income levels; and earning fair and livable wages with access to wealth-building opportunities.
Neighborhood restaurants are a primary anchor of main street development: restaurants are job creators and engines of economic development, and they provide safe spaces for local residents to gather and connect. Seeing the glaring disparities in access to restaurants by neighborhood, Ayanna was determined to reform a 100 year old state liquor licensing system - a system she saw crippling the growth of community and economic development. She was widely discouraged from taking on what many considered a losing battle.
In keeping with her commitment to coalition-building, Ayanna spent more than two years meeting with residents, restaurateurs, and advocates to craft and successfully advance a bill to reform the state’s antiquated liquor licensing laws as they related to Boston. The final law that was passed in 2014 returned control of the Licensing Board to the City for the first time in more than 100 years and provided 75 new licenses to the City – with 80 percent of those licenses restricted to historically underserved neighborhoods - an economic game changer.
Ayanna continues to work with the coalition to ensure successful implementation of the law and to push for further reforms so the goals of ending disparities in access are realized.