Mayor: ‘Now is not the time to pull plug on streateries’

Mayor Mike Nelson

The day before a city council public hearing on whether to extend permitting for downtown Edmonds’ temporary outdoor eating structures, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson said he supports continuing the streateries ordinance through the first six months of 2022.

“I believe the best way to support the economic vitality of our entire downtown is to continue streateries during the pandemic,” Nelson said in a city-issued press release Monday.

The mayor cited the results of a recent city survey on the outdoor dining structures, which drew responses from more than 4,100 people. The survey results, the mayor said, indicate that “the majority of the public will likely patronize downtown restaurants less if the streateries are removed. And from the sales tax data, we know the vast majority of downtown retail businesses have profited while streateries have been here.

“I would hate to see our downtown businesses suffer and the public be less well served because the streateries are taken away,” Nelson said.

In its press release, the city pointed to two survey results in particular.

First, when survey respondents were asked how their eating and drinking habits would change if streateries were no longer available, 48.44% said they would “likely continue to visit downtown restaurants and cafés just as frequently, choosing to eat indoors”; 26.55% said they were likely to visit downtown restaurants less frequently “as I am less comfortable eating indoors”; and 25.01% said they would “likely choose to visit restaurants and cafés elsewhere that continue to have outdoor dining options.”

Second, a majority of those surveyed — 55.87% — indicated that outdoor dining in streateries enhances downtown, while 6.01% said it makes no difference and 38.12% said that it detracts from downtown.

The city also said it has conducted research into retail sales in downtown Edmonds to get an idea of how retailers have been faring recently — in particular, comparing summer retail sales in 2021 to prepandemic levels in 2019. Total retail sales for June, July and August 2021 among all downtown retailers were at 110% of prepandemic 2019 sales for the same months. This shows that the streateries have not hurt the retailers but may have actually helped them, the city said.

“For these reasons, I support extending the streateries ordinance for the first six months of 2022,” Nelson said. “The pandemic is not over, the public has shown its preference for keeping streateries, and the data show that downtown businesses are doing well with streateries present. Now is not the time to pull the plug on streateries.”

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  1. Maybe we the retailers just did a great job of marketing and had very loyal customers. The restraunts manly draw there customers at night when the retail stores are closed. How about charging a decient rent and giving it to various charities..

    1. The streateries in no way enhance downtown. (Mayor Nelson). They do detract from the ambience that was downtown Edmonds. The last administration gave wider sidewalks to appease some. Now some restaurants take up both. Look around folks! They are ugly and should be removed. If people are afraid of indoors, get vaccinated! If you’re health compromised, stay home. Outdoor eateries can be fun in the proper place. Not on the streets of Edmonds. Council please stop the madness.

  2. If you come to the conclusion for anything that you call a survey consider the amount of questions on it to get the results you really want for any data. Asking three questions and guiding our city’s future from that is well for lack of a better word …….elementary . Take a real survey and get real results , stop playing like you don’t have some agenda. The outside dinning is unsafe , unfair , illegal , and doesn’t meet any building or heath codes . Remove these from our streets and get on with some sort of normal life . As we gradually inch closer to a state of severe inflation and goods and services get so expensive restaurants will be the first to fade away .

  3. To pull the plug requires action. Nobody is taking any action to pull the plug on streateries. All have known for a very long time that highly flawed Ordinance 4209 sunsets December 31, 2021.

    Our ZONING regulations have allowed the following for over 10 years:

    Bistro and Outdoor Dining

    A properly zoned and licensed food or beverage service establishment may temporarily utilize public sidewalks in right-of-way areas immediately adjacent to its establishment. The area authorized for use shall be that area of the immediately adjacent public right-of-way and/or outdoor areas under the lease or ownership of the applicant lying between the applicant’s property and the public right-of-way. The area authorized for such use shall not extend beyond the street frontage of the business lessee or property owner. Any building or structure as such terms are defined pursuant to the building code adopted by Chapter 19.00 ECDC shall fully comply with all provisions of the community development code, including, but not limited to, review and approval by the architectural design board. ECDC 17.70.040

    Public Sidewalks and Parking Spaces are both parts of public rights-of-way.

    If anybody wants the City to amend ECDC 17.70.040 to allow the area authorized for bistro and dining use to extend beyond the Public Sidewalk into Parking Spaces, shouldn’t they have to comply with ECDC Chapter 20.80 by applying for such code amendment and paying the related fee?

    Please answer this basic question Mayor Nelson.

    1. Went on two walks down main street tonight at 5-6pm. There was four (total) people eating on the entire street, yet the restaurants were about half full inside. It was pretty comfortable outside too with just a light jacket on.

      I can count many businesses that have closed up. Were they surveyed?

  4. I would buy this argument if the streateries weren’t empty half the time. Seems like the restaurants are doing fine. If you want to eat outside in the cold, sit somewhere with an existing patio

    1. What? Yes you can:

      “19.00.025 International Building Code section amendments.
      The following sections of the IBC are hereby amended as follows…

      In addition the following exemptions apply for single family dwellings:

      (a) One (1) story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses; provided the floor area (including the exterior wall or post) does not exceed 200 square feet, with a maximum eave of twelve (12) inches and maximum height of fifteen (15) feet. Vehicle storage structures, such as garages and carports, are not exempted.”

  5. History shows that City of Edmonds government has argued it has a duty to remove obstructions in the public ways and liability if they fail to do so. The City made this argument related to a strip of UNIMPROVED City property right of way that was only 7 ½’ wide. In doing so, City of Edmonds government referenced a 1928 case Lund v. City of Seattle.

    In the Lund v. Seattle, 99 Wash. 300, 169 Pac. 820 case, Seattle was required to answer in damages to one who had stumbled over a wire fence which the city had permitted to be constructed and to remain in the street. While the court remarked that the fence, or netting, had been in place long enough to constitute a nuisance, the case was decided on the theory that the city was guilty of negligence in the maintenance of the street.

    Edmonds also has its own law, Chapter 9.25 Street Obstruction. I encourage interested citizens to read that law.

    For those wondering about Ordinance 4209 flaws, I’ll quickly list a few:

    1. Ordinance 4209 declares it is an emergency, requiring it to be effective immediately. Despite that, the Ordinance clearly shows it was not effective for 8 days.

    2. Ordinance 4209 declares it is an Interim Zoning Ordinance. Edmonds City Council chose to not amend that. Despite both facts, the Public Hearing required within sixty days was never held. State law required such by February 13, 2021.

    3. Ordinance 4209 introduce a new inconsistency in City Code. The inconsistency is documented in ECDC 18.70.030.C.2.d(ii) as follows:
    “ECDC 17.70.040, exclusive sidewalk dining”
    This is not the title of ECDC 17.70.040. City Council must amend the City’s zoning regulations if City Council wants ECDC 17.70.040 to refer to “Sidewalk” instead of “Bistro and Outdoor”.

    One more point, Mayor Nelson says: “I would hate to see our downtown businesses suffer and the public be less well served because the streateries are taken away.”

    Nobody is taking anything away. All have known for a very long time that highly flawed Ordinance 4209 sunsets December 31, 2021.

  6. I would like to see the City’s analysis for concluding retail sales were up from 2019 levels. Was it adjusted for inflation? Adjusted for weather? Even if they are higher, I think the more important question is how the restaurants are doing outside the bowl. It seems like the City is giving an unfair advantage to the restaurants in the bowl. I also agree with Mr. Reidy, the Council and Mayor need to follow current zoning regulations.

    1. The 2019-2021 comparison also lacks context for other years. What is a typical year-over-year increase? If it’s more than 1.048 (104.8%) then the stated 2019-2021 increase is a relative loss for the retailers.

  7. A friend and I ate outside in the tents or structures built during the pandemic. Our other friends were too afraid of Covid to go out to eat. It was very very cold even with layers of clothes. It was not possible to eat inside. Maybe the people who think eating outside in the cold is great could do that in their patio or deck at home. There were very very few people eating outside in the streateries during the winter months last year. I didn’t see Mayor Nelson outside in any of the restaurants. We ate in every restaurant that was open. Maybe there were 3 or 4 other people, but certainly not the number that would eat inside. Yes, the streateries were more than half empty! And, it is not comfortable with light jacket!

  8. Paraphrasing what I said in another thread, the books are already cooked on this one barring at least two Council Persons showing unusual strength and independence of thought. That is not likely in this town under this top down system of government. In the article “the top” just laid his cards on the table and this is a clear message to any questionable C.P.s that they better do the “right” thing and go along to get along.

    I just learned elsewhere that the Edmond’s restaurants combined have received over $4,300,000 in federal Covid relief federal funding from the various sources dispersing the funds. If there are say around 40 restaurants in town, that’s over $100,000 per restaurant. The actual numbers indicate that only three restaurants owned by just one group got almost $2,000,000 of these funds with the rest going to other culinary business’ in town.

    Just like the Connector, this will require a concerted effort by concerned citizens, showing up in mass, as a protesting group, to put a stop to it for good next Summer. I’m publicly asking the four, or maybe 5, possible no votes tonight if this is what they want to see happen in Edmonds once again?

  9. I do not understand how the mayor could come up with his extensive data from the few questions that were asked in the “survey” that was provided. It is still hard to walk downtown sidewalks with the sheds in place.

  10. Going out to eat the other day, the restaurants were PACKED. The restaurants and city are certainly making more money with more seating, and so far I have not had a problem with parking. Outside dining was a great option with plenty of heaters to keep warm at night when there was no room inside.

    With the sales numbers for local businesses up, a large majority of support, and plenty of parking available, there may be downsides to the streeteries, but there definitely are upsides as well.

    I am not super passionate either way. However, with more people visiting downtown, that means more shoppers as well. With local sales showing Edmonds as being above pre pandemic levels, it could have a negative impact to purposefully drive away business.

    Careful what you wish for.

    1. What we wish for is fair treatment for all our businesses and a little honesty in local Government for a change. Right now we are asking for it. In a few months I suspect many of us will be protesting for it. I’ll happily jump on that bandwagon when the time comes. Nelsen put his cards on the table because he’s worried how this may go tonight. His play is backed in high places and the C.P.s will most likely cave on this to keep certain people happy.

  11. If Mayor Nelson is going to promote these eyesore street shacks the least we can do is give them their proper name just like the “Hooverville” shacks of the depression. They should be called the “Nelsonville” shacks.

  12. Mayor Nelson claims” “the majority of the public will likely patronize downtown restaurants less if the streateries are removed.” Where did he pull that from? What study can he cite? None. Numerous eating establishments without outdoor dining have been busy and no viral outbreaks have been reported. Do you see streeteries littering the streets of of other cities and using limited PUBLIC parking for private gain? Using public property for private profit use requires that fair market rental be charged by the governmental entity per the Washington State Constitutions prohibition of gifts of public property except to the poor and infirm. Is Edmonds getting any rent? Permit fees are not rent.
    Time to end this unsightly and probably unconstituional use of our public sidewalks and streets.

  13. Let’s start 2022 with the streateries GONE 1/01/2022 All shacks must be gone and 18 parking slots opened. I cannot find parking in downtown Edmonds and do not support the shacks.

  14. Here are some videos that show what the Mayor is supporting. I hope you had a chance to watch my previous video documenting streatery usage on a beautiful busy Saturday night between the 8:15 and 9:30 pm. To gather more information, I went to observe streateries Monday in the noon hour and again from 5:30 to 7 pm. The streeteries were vastly empty at lunch except for use as overflow from the packed inside and two or three people dining with their dogs at night. One brewery was full for part of the evening time. What was ALARMING was witnessing a small car reverse into a plantar pushing an outer wall into a streatery table.

    Knowing that on Mondays several businesses are closed, I returned again today to see the lunchtime crowd. It was readily apparent that the streateries by in large were vacant with the exception of one take out restaurant utilizing the free additional capacity to enhance their bottom line. Please watch the video to see what I found today. The usage was only for limited peak times which begs the question: Is it equitable that the streateries get reserved parking 24/7/365? You can watch the new video here:

  15. I was for supporting the restaurant’s streateries because of the hit they were taking during the pandemic. But not now.

    It’s not only the restaurant’s streateries that take up spaces but also their spaces dedicated to curbside pickup – all at the expense of the small businesses and shoppers.

    WMS made matters worse.

    There was a fair compromise on WMS Sundays only but it was rejected by the powers that be. In fact, I don’t recall even one restaurant that supported that compromise. In effect, collectively they said (blank) the small businesses – we got ours.

    Small businesses rely on turnover parking which was fine before WMS on Saturdays even with the summer market going on.

    But now the restaurants have taken over – some more than others. They do not have my support – anymore.

  16. These comments are weird. The majority of people support the outdoor dining, it enhances downtown, and during the summer is packed to the gills. Edmonds is a DESTINATION now (imagine saying that 15 years ago!) New restaurants and shops are popping up, and not a chain store in sight. We live in Edmonds, not Los Angeles parking is not hard to find, and a block walk isn’t going to hurt anybody.

    We have an opportunity to continue to make Edmonds unique and bring in people from all over the region due to the small town charm.

    I stand with the mayor on this one and hope it becomes permanent along with WMS.

    1. You mean to say Edmonds was like living in L.A. before the streateries? Edmonds was a destination three years ago. Talk about weird statements.

      BTW what new shops are popping up on Main Street?

  17. It honestly shouldn’t matter what anyone’s personal opinions are. This is a ridiculously unlawful act that is driven by politics and suspicious polling. There was plenty of warning that this mayor didn’t believe in our system of government. The only recourse against unlawful dictates are the courts.

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