$4k fee for streateries stands after legality of Monday special meeting questioned

Edmonds City Councilmembers meet to discuss the streateries ordinance Monday night.

With two councilmembers absent and two more choosing to leave after they raised concerns about the legality of the gathering, the Edmonds City Council was forced to end its Monday night special meeting, which had been called to consider amendments to the streateries ordinance approved last week.

As a result, the council’s Dec. 16 decision to extend the streateries permitting until April 30, 2022 stands, as does a $4,000 lump-sum fee to be assessed to any of the 17 streatery operators who choose to continue operating. Those who do not are required to remove their structures by Jan. 15, 2022.

The meeting began with five councilmembers, after Diane Buckshnis and Kristiana Johnson said previous commitments prevented them from attending. (Both Buckshnis and K. Johnson had said they were available Tuesday — the routine council meeting night — but Council President Susan Paine she chose Monday based on a few factors. Among them, scheduling requirements for publishing a meeting notice in the Everett Herald, and to address more quickly the concerns of affected streatery operators, who worried they would need to begin fundraising efforts to afford the $4,000 charge.)

Councilmember Will Chen had suggested taking another look at the $4,000 fee, which he had originally proposed. But on Monday, he joined Olson in expressing concerns about previous statements being circulated — including some on social media — that the council meeting was called by three councilmembers, when four might be required under state law. That assertion is open to interpretation, but it was a scenario suggested during public comments by Edmonds resident Finis Tupper, who has filed lawsuits against the city in the past for not following proper procedures.

Referring to Tupper’s comment, Olson said she was going to excuse herself from the meeting. “I’m not comfortable with the grounds I’m on, and I’m not going to participate,” Olson said. In a later email to My Edmonds News Monday night, Olson stated that “I am already a subject of one of Mr Tupper’s lawsuits. From what I know about the facts of this situation, (this is) not clean enough to feel comfortable.”

At issue was the council agenda memo for Monday night’s meeting, which stated there were “three councilmembers who would like to amend the recently adopted ordinance extending streateries.” The three councilmembers weren’t named in the memo, and both Chen and Olson said that could leave it open to interpretation, legally, whether three or four councilmembers were sponsoring the measure.

Tupper’s claim points to the state’s Open Public Meeting Act, enacted in 1971 by the state Legislature, that specifically states “a special meeting maybe called at any time by the presiding officer of the governing body of a public agency or by a majority of the members of the governing body.” A majority, Tupper said, means four councilmembers, rather than the three stated in the Edmonds City Council special meeting agenda for Dec. 20.

The OPMA, Tupper added, subjects members of a governing body “to personal liability in the form of a civil penalty of $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for the any subsequent violation.”

Following Olson’s departure, Chen noted that after hearing Tupper’s statement and the fact that three councilmembers were gone, “I don’t think I’m comfortable continuing with this meeting, with half of the councilmembers unavailable.”

Paine then asked City Attorney Jeff Taraday to weigh in on whether Monday’s gathering was illegal. “In my opinion it is not (illegal),” Taraday said, “but I am not sure that entirely answers Mr. Chen’s concern,” adding that Chen’s statement “goes beyond the meeting’s legality to the number of councilmembers attending.”

“My understanding from having conferred with the council president over the weekend is that we had four councilmembers calling for this meeting,” Taraday said. “I didn’t independently confirm that but that’s my understanding of the facts.” That means, Taraday said, that the council isn’t relying on the possibility of violating the OPMA’s requirement of a council majority to call a meeting.

In addition, Taraday asked Paine to state for the record which four councilmembers requested the meeting, to which Paine replied she had heard first from Councilmembers Chen and Laura Johnson, “and Councilmember Fraley-Monillas also expressed interest.” Paine said that she was also interested in having the meeting. Paine is listed on the meeting agenda as the sponsor of the proposed amendments, which would have reduced the fee from $4,000 to $2,000, allowed the streateries operators to pay in installements, and extended their permitting a month, until May 31, 2022. However, the names of the supporting councilmembers are not listed.

An image of Monday night’s council agenda.

“We have an obligation as citizens to work this through tonight,” Fraley-Monillas said. “$4,000 is a lot of money.”

Fraley-Monillas also noted that both Buckshnis and Kristiana Johnson had not attended meetings last month when the council was discussing the budget — referring to that non-attendance as a boycott — and also charged that Olson’s decision “was a setup to leave the council meeting, to try to make it less and less.”

Olson disputed that, stating in an email after Monday’s meeting that “I did not come to this meeting planning to leave it.”

Olson also said in her separate email that “Council President Paine told me expressly when she gave me the heads up about the special meeting that she did not call for the meeting (it was already scheduled). She told me there were three councilmembers and she was not one of them.”

Chen told fellow councilmembers Monday night that he was supportive of revisiting the Dec. 16 ordinance, but he pointed to recent communication on Twitter “saying there were three councilmembers willing to reconsider the ordinance. It was three to begin with and then became four, so I think that’s tricky. So because of that reasoning, and (that) half of the councilmembers are not participating, so I’m not comfortable continuing even though I was one of the persons to initiate it,” Chen added.

“Twitter, Facebook, you really shouldn’t listen to it, that’s not factual a lot of the time,” Fraley-Monillas replied. She then made a motion that the council charge the streateries operators $1,000 for five months, through May 31, and that was seconded by Paine.

Chen then reiterated his statement that he wasn’t comfortable moving head with the vote.

Fraley-Monillas replied that it was Chen’s right to vote against her motion, but added that “I think we’ve set this all up properly and everybody’s anxious to do it, and I would hate to see this moving forward that a few councilmembers cannot go to a meeting and stop all the city business.”

Councilmember Laura Johnson said she was the one who distributed the tweet that Chen mentioned, adding that it was copied directly from the agenda item. “I apologize if I caused confusion with that,” Johnson said. “It is the simplest way for me to communicate what we are going to be talking about without putting my own spin on it.” She also said it was clear from how the agenda memo was written, it includes Paine as well as three others.

Johnson also added it doesn’t make sense to make it more difficult for streateries to operate, “especially now…with an extremely transmissable variant spreading very fast. So if we leave here today we are missing that opportunity to allow all of our streateries to stay because right now the $4,000 is only doable for a few. By not staying today and not making changes to this, we are going to be saying that we do not think protecting public health through the streateries and keeping them afloat is a priority to us. We do not know what’s coming.”

“Let’s face it,” Chen replied, “the streatery is not COVID, it’s not (a) hospital, the streatery is just a place for people to eat. Yes, they do help, but they are not like the vaccines.”

Fraley-Monillas then repeated her motion to lower the fee and extend the timeline, and Chen reiterated that he wasn’t comfortable voting. Then Councilmember Laura Johnson asked Chen why he would choose “to go off a tweet…that was taken from an official document that led to this meeting.”

Chen replied he believes that “Twitter, Facebok, all kinds of social media, that’s like written documents, it’s evidence. I caution our council, it’s not worth the risk. We have our fair share of lawsuits already.”

Paine then asked for a vote on Fraley-Monillas’ motion, but Chen again stated he wasn’t not comfortable proceeding, adding he was going to leave the meeting.

The city attorney said there was no point in continuing if that was the case. After that, the council voted to adjourn, but that motion failed. Chen then left the meeting, ending the matter.

Asked whether she would attempt to bring the streateries matter back again before the council, Paine said she would not. “I think this is a very disappointing outcome for our downtown,” Paine added.

— By Teresa Wippel

50 Replies to “$4k fee for streateries stands after legality of Monday special meeting questioned”

  1. I’m shaking my head reading this report. Our epically dysfunctional City Council may wind up destroying more local business than the coronavirus ever could have hoped to do.

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  2. Disappointing indeed. I hope the restaurants will band together and refuse to pay the fee. Perhaps the city council will reconsider then. I think this will all look increasingly foolish as the Covid numbers inevitably worsen over the next few weeks.

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  3. Thank you Mr. Tupper for your efforts in bringing forth your concerns and pointing out the illegality of the action. When we have a lawyer who says, “in my opinion” we are not following the law as written. When the law is clearly written, why then would Taraday throw ambiguity at the law? Does this make any sense? His decision-making clearly puts council at risk of lawsuits. I’m pleased last night we saw evidence of 2 council members choosing not to partake in an illegal meeting shown by their absence and 2 council members who made the wise decision to leave the meeting. I applaud you, thank you for considering what the law actually says.

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  4. This meeting should have been scheduled for Tuesday when all council members could attend. To call a special meeting on Monday knowing some could not attend sealed the proposal’s fate.

    There is also no excuse that the legality/validity of the meeting wasn’t vetted prior to the meeting. To not properly document how this special meeting was called, and too ok not know the rules that govern special meetings is just sloppy

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  5. Wow, what a circus our council has become. Where is the leadership??? I know this is not an easy job, and I appreciate everyone who takes time to help run our city, but when we ask you to run our city we don’t mean into the ground.

    If the Streateries were created because of COVID why would we charge restaurant owners a one time fee of $4,000 to keep their Streaterie. Does COVID stay away from outdoor dining with a $4,000 fee? Obviously not and frankly almost all restaurants are indoor dining now and most everyone is vaccinated, so let’s be real here. What the council is doing now is telling us that the Streateries are now an income source for them to charge fees whenever they choose and that the rationale behind creating them in the first place is now gone. So the bigger question should be is “do we as citizens still want the Strearteries or not”.

    Ask almost any retailer or anyone who comes to Edmonds to shop and they will tell you get rid of the Streateries for a multitude of reasons but the main one is parking and the lack of it!!!!

    The action by the council on this $4,000 one time fee now has showed their cards. It’s not about COVID anymore its about $$$$$.

    So do the right thing and end the Streateries and move on to debating more important issues that face our city please.

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  6. It should go to next year’s City Council to deal with the street shack issue. How about a “special meeting” to deal with the businesses burned out of the Plum Tree Plaza fire? How about using money that’s going to fund rain gardens instead go to help real to businesses in trouble. In the meantime, some can load up the family and kids into the their Tesla, out to the downtown Alcohol District, for some 39-degree al fresco shack dining with $32 lobster rolls.

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  7. This is beyond ridiculous. Our City Council is a clown show. The Dec. 31 payment deadline is absurd. I, too, hope the restaurants and supporters band together to refuse payment. Let’s see if the city really wants to be on the national news for not supporting business. I think if it resorts to forcibly tearing down the streateries, that will make quite the visual and no one will ever want to shop in this dysfunctional town again.

    Including me. What a disgrace.

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  8. Colleen, I saw a teacher at my kids’ school at Salt and Iron. They were absolutely packed shoulder-to-shoulder at the bar. Social Distancing is more effective than the vaccine. Two states just set policy that 3-shots needed to be vaccinated. Here is next, if not already considered a matter of fact. If the public would just take out their food and drink, we could beat this right? or No?

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  9. I am unclear why a special meeting was called during this busy time of year instead of revisiting the issue a day later at the regular Tuesday meeting.

    Chastising a council member for not attending an extra meeting on relatively short notice or for being concerned about the legality of the meeting after concerns were raised, seems not just unprofessional but downright mean spirited. I sure hope that in the new year our council members will follow one of the primary group guidelines of many diversity workshops I have attended, which is to respect your colleagues by assuming positive intent. Some members of our current council have been unable to manage disagreement without resorting to personal attacks. Such behavior never advances the conversation or ends well.

    My New Year’s wish is not for a council that agrees on issues but for one that relishes hearing divergent opinions and perspectives in the belief that a lively and wide-ranging discussion will lead to better decision making.

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  10. How absurd. Edmonds has become the laughingstock of the Pacific Northwest, which is saying something, considering the socialist hogwash that passes for governance in the rest of the region and the broadcast media that treats it like catnip. I am so ashamed of living here and even more ashamed of the “logic” that council member Chen used last night to waste so many folks’ time. I stand with the Edmonds Businesses who refuse to pay the $4,000 Will Chen Tariff during the holiday season to keep their businesses afloat. I cannot fully express, in this public forum, my extreme disgust with the residents calling for their downfall.

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    1. To me, this type of overdramatized melodramatics is the main problem with this situation. Edmonds is the “laughingstock of the Pacific Northwest?” Do you not think that statement is at least a tad bit ridiculous?

      To me, the actions of most of the council on this matter have been pretty reasonable. The streeteries met a need early on, but many have noted how a majority have been empty during the winter months. A number of businesses and restaurants came together to find a solution, and proposed having a fee on restaurants that wanted to keep the streeteries for a short few months past the original sunset. It actually makes a lot of sense to let economic forces drive this decision as it would only leave the extra allocation of public spaces for restaurants in place that are actually going to be used. The cost that was decided was not too far off from what the restaurants and businesses proposed. Overall a reasonable, fair, and logical resolution.

      I just don’t think the rhetoric overhyping and decrying this situation to be realistic or helpful. The biggest thing we should be talking about now is how to re-use the old streeteries for public good rather than just throwing them away. Other than that, there are so many more pressing issues that we should be discussing as a community. Was all of the time and emotional effort that we have collectively spent on this relatively minor issue worth it?

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      1. Clearly you are not a business owner. Marking usefulness by noting empty streateries at 10 am on a weekday is beyond biased.

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        1. I do think all will be okay and I do plan to have a Holiday libation or two. By the way what poll told you that all the residents are calling for the restaurants downfall? Oh I get it, you can use hyperbole and conjecture but I can’t, ‘ cause I’m an evil manspllainer. Socialism is state ownership of the means of production. I’d say private sheds on public property far below the market rate comes pretty close to that. I’ll look in the bible to find out. Merry Christmas

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        2. All — and not directed at any one person. I know this is a passionate topic for many but I want to encourage all of us to be kind in the spirit of the season. Everyone is working hard right now — both in retail and restaurant sectors — to serve customers who are trying to finish their holiday shopping and enjoying time with friends and family. I, for one, am grateful for their hard work and I hope that we can think twice before typing — at least through Christmas Day? Happy holidays to all! Teresa Wippel, Publisher

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    2. Talk about absurd emotional hogwash. How is asking some of our restaurants to pay a reasonable on going fee for use of public property (road parking right of way guaranteed in Brackett’s gift of land to incorporate a city) ” the residents calling for their (restaurants) downfall.?” The restaurants themselves asked to do this because it’s only right and fair. Good restaurants and bars are most likely going to survive this thing and bad, overpriced or crappy food ones probably aren’t. That’s called capitalism. Capitalism requires competition and failure as well as success. True capitalism would be to bag the fees and take the shacks off public property ASAP. This whole thing has been a form of corporate bailout Socialism to save private businesses. If that isn’t bad enough, it is public money for some and “good luck, hope you make it for others.” Really bad and corrupt way to run a town. We could do better.
      .

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      1. It is time you read a book on what socialism actually is, sir. And the Bracketts? I’m sorry. Who cares? They didn’t write the Bible. They plotted some land here. Get up with the times. Educate yourself. Keep your mansplaining away from the rest of us.

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    3. Wow! So sorry to learn of your extreme disappointment and disgust with people that hold opinions that you personally disagree with. How did you determine that Edmonds has suddenly become the laughingstock of the NW……take a poll?. I doubt it.
      Have a festive beverage, listen to some Holiday music, relax. Everything is going to be alright.

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  11. I miss the days when Gary Haakenson was on the city council. There was (at least publicly) an congenial atmosphere and the council actually worked for the betterment of Edmonds. I wish these current city council members could put aside their own egos, agendas and grudges just come together and govern. Edmonds deserves so much more.

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  12. I believe that 2022 will be a much better year for our city council – how couldn’t it be better! It will be better because one-half of the gang of four will be gone, we know that Neil Tibbott can do the job, and Will Chen has already demonstrated that he’s independent.

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  13. If this issue is brought before Council again I hope they will consider the option of allowing only restaurants outside of the downtown core the streaterie option. That compromise will help resolve downtown parking issues, provide a safe dining spot for people and be more equitable. The downtown restaurants have had an advantage that should be offered to others.

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    1. You’re absolutely right, Mike. That’s a good idea. I think it’s odd that there are several council members constantly beating the equity drum and complaining about the Bowl getting all the attention and money but when it comes to the streateries issue they are totally fine with these downtown restaurants getting special privileges. These restaurants appear to be flourishing with many owners opening new restaurants, but what about all the others? If Council truly wants to do what’s fair, they will end the downtown program and allow it uptown and in other areas instead. This will have the combined positive effect of drawing people to other parts of Edmonds to financially support non-Bowl restaurants and enhance other communities. Why is the focus always on drawing people downtown when Edmonds is much more than that? It’s a spread-out, diverse city that has a lot to offer everywhere. Let’s help out all businesses, not just the select few.

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    2. What downtown parking issues? Is there a study or scientific research to back your assertion? Or you just can’t find a spot for your SUV?

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  14. Well i goofed and attached my comments to the wrong article about covid. I think Rod Schick & Janet Casper’s covered it ALL; perfectly. And I guess we can hope for next year and new members that maybe will
    make sense… however, till then still a problem thst needs to be corrected.

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  15. If the legality of the special meeting was shown to be illegal or even questionable in any way at all, the meeting should have been adjourned to settle the matter. To forge on with ‘legality’ hovering in the air, and concerning some council members, it was a recipe for disaster, as ultimately it was. Without rules, laws etc being adhered to we are reduced to chaos, as was abundantly made clear from this meeting.

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  16. There will be a new City Council come January with Tibbott coming on and AFM leaving. If the ordinance needs fixing it can be done by the then currently elected officials. This “special meeting” was just a last ditch effort by the gang of four to get their way. Hurray that it failed. Lets all take a deep breath and move on to the new year.

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  17. Unless a majority of the rest of the CM’s weren’t available on Tuesday night, when the two absentees said they would be available, why didn’t the Council President just call the meeting for Tuesday night? What was so special about Monday night? Seems like that would have been the logical approach, if Council President Paine’s motive in this was just to be fair to the restaurants. I think she needs to explain this decision making better.

    Changing the subject just a bit here, this discussion has been long on emotion and short on reason and logic. If the indoor portions of these supposedly on the ropes bars and restaurants are crammed with people during normal busy times, how can they be so close to the blade of business failure that the city citizens need to bail them out by turning streets into dining rooms – essentially thumbing their noses at other viable business’s in town? In really good times, the failure rate of bars and restaurants is in the 50% range so what is the basis for those that should be saved by the public dime vs. those that should fail either because they aren’t good or over priced or whatever parameter you want to use? Edmonds needs to get out of the saving the restaurant business and back into the fair running of the whole town business. Let us hope 2022 brings less emotion and more logic to the table.

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    1. Clinton – a Monday meeting (with two council members absent) means the minority becomes the majority and special agendas can be passed. A Tuesday meeting means full council member attendance, and the voice of Edmonds residents prevails (can’t have that, now can we?). Reminder for some: the make up of the Edmonds council is a reflection of the make up and the will/voice of the Edmonds community.

      On your other subject, an analogy: when, at some point, do you stop propping up the baby, and let it walk on its on two feet? Every other restaurant and retailer has had to learn to walk without special assistance…

      Lastly, for all those restaurants that have not been subsidized with a streatery and those retailers being negatively impacted by streateries, yet have survived by being creative and innovative to keep your doors open, I applaud you (and patronize you when we can) for all your efforts.

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      1. The council met Monday night to pass an ordinance; a minimum of four votes is required to do that – no matter when the vote is taken. It’s my guess that Paine expected Chen to be the fourth vote and she didn’t want to risk Buckshnis being there to possibly convince him to vote against the motion, so she scheduled the meeting for Monday when she knew that Buckshnis wouldn’t be in attendance. Chen surprised Paine, Fraley-Monillas and L. Johnson by choosing not to participate in the vote.

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  18. In addition to my last posting here, I have to say I agree with Council member Will Chen’s decision to feel uncomfortable for the meeting to continue, and further, being asked to vote under the ‘umbrella’ of the meeting’s legality, and ultimately deciding to leave the meeting. It was the right action for him to take.

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  19. It occurred to me that there are a number of well-meaning people here; who just lack some basic knowledge, or who have factual misconceptions. I hope these links help:

    -Edmonds is just a bowl area down near the water. In fact most of the city is not in that area

    https://p1cdn4static.civiclive.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_16494932/File/Services/Maps%20&%20GIS/Maps/city_of_edmonds.pdf

    – Edmonds only has a few restaurants in the downtown area, and few city outdoor dining. In fact there are many options for indoor, outdoor, and take out dining.

    https://myedmondsnews.com/restaurants/

    The restaurants are all complying with the code requirement of a 5 ft clearance on the sidewalk. In fact there are a number of places that do not meet this standard and the city is not enforcing the code.

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Stanley-25-ft-PowerLock-Tape-Measure-33-425D/100019154

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    1. Brian thanks for injecting some much-needed humor into this situation. I’ve already got one of those tape measures, I highly recommend them.

      My objection to the $4k fee is that it’s exorbitant. If the city council wants to do away with the streateries (I’ll be happy to see that word go at least) it should have the courage to do so, and not try to split the difference by associating an unreasonable fee with it.

      I think the best argument in favor of keeping them is that it’s safer for people to eat in them than inside restaurants. We can all agree, I think, that we are living in unusual conditions. At no time in the past hundred years have people had to wear masks everywhere for fear of catching a disease that could kill them.

      Personally I do not frequent the restaurants downtown because I live up near 99. I do a lot of takeout thanks to Covid. I’ve never eaten in a streatery. I don’t really care for outdoor dining generally. But, I think people who DO insist on eating out should have safer options. If it was a good idea to put these in place last year, it’s a good idea to keep them now. The issue isn’t about additional capacity.

      I also detect an undercurrent of anti-business sentiment here among some of the posters that is both ugly and counter-productive. These restaurants not only provide a public service, but employ people. I’ve been living here long enough that I remember many of those businesses being shuttered during the recession. Does anyone want that again?

      As for the irregularities with the emergency meeting, I share the concern of others here with how it was planned. We need to do better.

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  20. Dear Teresa Wippel and fellow readers,

    Teresa, many thanks for your dedication to providing timely, unbiased and accurate community reporting. I believe most of us readers could never match your depth, quality and tone . My Edmonds News is a jewel in our community treasure chest. This forum helps many connect with issues that impact us individually and as a city; sharing opinions in a thoughtful, and most often, civil way. May we ALL pause, in what should be a time of light and peace, and express our heartfelt thanks! Pease on Earth and good will to all men. Or, as Tiny Tim famously closes Stave Five— THE END OF IT– in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol: God bless Us, Every One. Best wishes for the Holiday Season, and Happy New Year.

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  21. Yes Kevin Clarke…. I second your statement applauding Teresa Wippel for making this venue/website accessible to all people living in the Edmonds area. It’s outstanding and most informative to this person. I join in with you and say: y’all enjoy the holiday time, get some useful R&R and let’s think afresh to start the 2022 new year with the hope we can collectively come together to solve the ongoing devisive streatery issue(s). It’s obviously a problem for many Edmonds people (citizens and businesses alike), and it will be necessary for the Council to recognize this and collectively come up with a compromised solution as best they can knowing full well it will not necessarily satisfy everyone, and should also be accepted by the ‘people’. The Council is elected to govern wisely and not prolong making important decisions as it will simply give cause to tighten the decisiveness.

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  22. Let’s all click on the “Support Us” link above and make this kind of local news continue to be available. Maybe the city can send some of the Street collections to help MEN keep up the good work.

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    1. Darrol I subscribed years ago, but my card changed and I have been lazy and didn’t fix it until your reminder. MEN is invaluable. The world is ending, but this grassroots journalism endures.

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  23. Hello! Have most of us not read the numerous news reports of struggling restaurants and closing local businesses? I am a strong supporter of taxing large businesses to the point that they are paying their fare share, but this is NOT that issue. We live in a largely charming “small town” environment. Why, during this ongoing struggle with the Corona Virus, are we not AIDING our local businesses through tax relief and extra flexibility in operating regulations so that the already strained functionality of some is diminished and relieved?

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  24. Thank you Brian Drechsler for providing the URL links. The PDF file for the city limits was hit&miss for me trying to download it, and after eventually seeing it just once displayed, it then aborted with a Server error.

    Brian: Two things confused me:
    1) “Edmonds is just a bowl area” and “most of the city is not in that area”. Are you saying the bowl is not within the City limits? I assume “most of the city is not in that area” refers to the greater Edmonds City limits that wander all over the place outside of “the bowl”. I believe there are no definitive lines that outline “the bowl”.

    2) “Edmonds only has a few restaurants in the downtown area”. I count that there are at least 23 on Main Street and two on Admiral Way (Arnies ands Anthony’s). I would not consider to be a few restaurants.

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    1. The boundaries of the bowl are: 9th/100th on the north, Edmonds Way on the south, Puget Sound on the west, Caspers on the north.

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  25. John Rumpelein: Thank your posting that makes very good points.

    However, I do have difficulty deciding on whether $4,000 is exorbitant or not. It’s a lot of money for me personally, but is it so for a Restaurant that is thriving (i.e., making a decent profit of say 5 to 15%). I believe the $4,000 seems to have been decided by the Council ‘s majority based on or presumably influenced by what the Restaurant coalition had proposed at $500 to $700 per month. thus using the $700/month over the 4 months is $2,800. So maybe a $2,000 to $3,000 may have been a better number many could have felt comfortable with. The fact that the Restaurants were willing to pay as much as $700/month to keep their outside dining areas in the parking space(s), tells me they considered it worth it from a revenue perspective. However, With Omnicron now surfacing, increased dining-out customer fear, and Jan through to end of Apr being winter months I would expect the outside dining areas to not be that popular except for the dire-hards and those wanting to play their part in supporting the Restaurant businesses.

    Yes, it would be simpler if the Council could agree and be courageous to allow or not allow the outside dining areas to continue, and be done with it, and do away with any permit fee burden. A tough decision for them for sure.

    There really is no credible evidence I know of that indicates clearly that outside dining areas are any less risky for being affected by the Covid-19 compared to well spaced out inside dining areas. People may think it’s safer, but is it really? Everybody’s risk tolerance is different.

    The outside dining area spaces were allowed primarily to allow the restaurants additional space for compensating them for the State’s mandate earlier on (late 2019 through 2020 sometime) for reducing dining table space inside to make it safer. This presumably was in support for helping and maintaining the Restaurant businesses.

    This Covid-19 is a sad affair. We’re all suffering and taking risks.

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    1. Judging by the difficulty restaurants have had in the past staying in business downtown (presumably because of the overhead of high rents), I think people may be a little optimistic about how much profit these businesses are clearing. Having owned my own business during lean times, I can tell you that when sales fall off, the first thing that goes is the owners getting paid. Eventually this depletes the savings of the most die-hard business owner, and they are forced to shut down. Every shuttered business has a depressing story like that behind it.

      While it’s true that the restaurants downtown seem to be doing okay right now, I doubt very much that will be the case once cases here ramp up the way they have back east. We are headed into another large peak of cases.

      As for the indoor/outdoor dining question, don’t take my word for it, here’s the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/outdoor-activities.html

      The science behind it is fairly straightforward. As far as we know Covid mostly spreads through respiratory droplets that accumulate inside buildings. That is a pattern we’ve seen consistently wherever outbreaks occur. Airflow helps. Spacing helps. Being outside helps the most. Of course, masking is pretty effective (though not foolproof) in preventing people from spewing these virus-ridden droplets everywhere they do, but of course you can’t eat with a mask on. That’s what makes restaurants and bars a special case.

      Like I said, I don’t eat downtown, and don’t use the streateries. The lack of parking down there annoyed me long before this, but I think it’s a small price to pay for the community being a little safer.

      Ignored

  26. I’ve had an epiphany over last few days about the benefit of Restaurant being allowed to have outside dining areas referred to as “streateries”.

    I personal do not like them for aesthetic reasons, blocking parking spaces, creating safety issues for passing cars, blocking the view(s) for cars wanting to turn onto Main Street, insufficient facts showing them being safer from Covid vs. customers being seated inside closed areas, their violation of City codes that were ignore or purposely overlooked/waived by the City Council when first allowed to be erected, their possible use affecting nearby retail shops negatively, server’s health well being going to/from the warm Restaurant’s inside and the winter’s chilling outside wind and temperatures and the outside dining areas, possibly colliding with passing pedestrians, and the list can go on.

    However, upon reflection knowing we are in ‘uncharted waters’ with the ever changing Covid and the desire for some people wanting to dine out, the financial impact on the Restaurants, and the potential for servers and some other Restaurant employees being furloughed and losing their incomes, I feel strongly the outside dining areas should remain in support to lesson the inevitable impacts as stated here.

    We are all in this Covid scenario together and for community harmony aspects we should show as much empathy as we can for businesses and people we know are suffering. When Covid is deemed to have passed and ‘things’ have returned to the new ‘normal’ the dining out temporary structures can be removed.

    There should not be any fee charged to the Restaurants for these dining out structures. If a Restaurant does fail/closes and has an outside dining area it should then be removed.

    Somehow the City Council needs to arrive at a defined condition and state when the outside dining areas should be considered for removal and not allowed to continue.

    The loss of some 17 Restaurants due to financial impacts that the dining areas seemingly can prevent would be a sad point for Edmonds.

    Ignored

  27. There are 9 of 17 restaurants with streateries that already have outdoor patio space for dining – why couldn’t these streateries be rebuilt in some fashion on those patios? A lot of the materials could be reused and modified as needed to work for each specific location. A win-win compromise for both proponents of streateries (outdoor dining still there) and opponents (freeing up public right of way for…wait for it…the public).

    Ignored

  28. You joke? I am 77 yrs old and there IS a parking issue in Edmonds that the streateries make worse – they were fine in the businesses . I supported them till Oct then it was time to go. If we keep them till April they will stay another season at the least – I would go downtown more if they were gone. Till then I will go to those restaurants that have NO STREATERIE – ??

    Ignored

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