I urge everyone to take a stroll through downtown Edmonds and take a real close look at the how the various streateries are built and fastened to the ground. Some look very temporary and easily removed. Others like this one are well mounted to the ground and have rather elaborate heating and lighting systems; looking like the long-term plan is pretty much for them to stay rather permanently.
Right now the request by the restaurants is to keep them at least through the summer of 2022, which sounds sort of reasonable on the face of it. But when I look at this installation (pictured) on Main just down and across from the soon to be open Edmonds Commons facility, I think there will be lots of pressure on the city council to make most of these facilities permanent along with a push to close the streets of downtown to turn the area into a European-style walking mall. There are, without doubt, strong forces (special interest groups) in town that want that to happen.
We have an opportunity this winter on Friday and Saturday afternoon and nights (prime dining-out times) to look into the brick-and-mortar part of these establishments and compare the patronage inside to the patronage outside. If both parts of the establishment are full, one would suspect that the outside structures are really padding their bottom line, rather than serving some sort of pandemic need to survive. On the other hand, if outside is full and and inside is basically empty, the streateries could actually be performing some sort of pandemic-related purpose. If the inside is full and the outside is empty, one could assume the business is doing OK and people just don’t want to be outside in the winter weather.
My takeaway from what I’m seeing right now is that the dining businesses want these things to become permanent and they will lobby council aggressively to make that happen. The entertainment element also wants to develop the walking mall park concept and they will lobby aggressively to make that happen. You will need to speak out some way to tell the mayor, staff and council what you want to see happen downtown in the long run. Will your voice be heard?
— By Clinton Wright, Edmonds