There have been discussions on Edmonds streateries ad nauseam. They started in the early summer of 2020 with the expected end date and their demolition in 70 days. A few businesses determined the Return On Investment (ROI) justified the erecting of the structures because they had no outdoor dining of their own. Their $100 annual permit fee from the city entitled them to a structure that would take away street parking for their own patrons, the retail businesses, block street exposure for those neighboring retailers, make driving more difficult, especially at night with all the distracting lights, and potentially breaking ADA rules.
The initial 70 days turned into the entire 2020. For those restaurants who determined insufficient ROI for 70 days, the numbers began to look better and a few more erected their structures, taking more street parking space. That $100 per year extended into 2021, continuing to take away parking spaces from retail businesses, create dangerous driving conditions and potential pedestrian accidents every minute of the dark winter hours, and depriving restaurant and non-restaurant patrons of parking spaces on the street in front of businesses they want to visit. The affected portions of Main and Dayton streets have turned into shantytowns, much short of what you see in the favelas of Rio or the streets of Tijuana, but this is just the beginning.
COVID-19 is with us and will continue to be around as an endemic with variations for our lifetime. It is the flu of our generation. The State of Washington has removed any and all spacing requirements from indoor dining spaces, save for proof of vaccination at King County. The reason to continue having the streateries is gone, gone, gone!
It is to my amazement that other businesses who would benefit from having an extra piece of real estate in the street have not applied for such a permit from the city. These are businesses such as florists, clothing stores, gift shops, hair and beauty salons, garden supply stores, etc. After all, if restaurants can take street space to seat their customers, why wouldn’t a retail shop benefit from displaying their wares on a designated portion of the street during their business hours, or a hair and beauty salon take advantage of the outdoorsy, heated and well-lit space to cut customer’s hair or do their nails without mandating that they keep their masks on? If the city can provide a dining room for a restaurant, they should certainly not discriminate and provide equal real estate to any other business that requires such amenity for their COVID impacted business.
The city has also said that there will be only 20 permits issued in total, about 17 of which have already been issued. That is of course creating value out of thin air for an existing streatery owner. It is like “key money,” or a NY or SF cab “Medallion,” a Mob-like practice that stinks to high heaven. If you want to get a license for your streatery, you’ll have to buy an existing streatery and demolish it before you could build your own. The fact that the city won’t issue any more permits after 20, drives up existing streatery “key money” prices, and that is creating value out of thin air for the existing owners.
The Edmonds City Council will vote whether or not to continue extending the streateries into 2022 on Tuesday, Dec. 7, only with the assumption that it will help restaurants and patrons. What about retailers? What about street parking? What about residential streets that have turned into parking spaces for those restaurants? One restaurant owner operating three streateries in Edmonds is reaping such great benefit that they opened two new restaurants in Seattle during COVID times and a labor shortage when restaurants were supposed to be hurting. The hurt is there for many who play fair and pay for their business real estate, but not when an Edmonds streatery is providing nearly free real estate for a dining room extension, reducing the business operating costs and allowing huge profits to expand into other cities.
I must repeat. The reason to continue having the Edmond Streateries is gone, gone, gone!
Please call or email your councilmember and ask them to vote NO to extending beyond the end of 2021.
Let’s take our streets back and return to the quaint little Edmonds that we all love.
Edmonds business owner