On Jan. 4 Edmonds council agenda: Streateries fee reduction, return to hybrid meetings, leadership election

Salt & Iron’s streatery on Main Street.

Reconsideration of the ordinance governing the city’s streateries, the swearing in of newly elected councilmembers and a discussion on returning to hybrid virtual/in-person meetings are among the items on agenda during the Edmonds City Council’s first meeting of 2022 — at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 4.

The council is also scheduled to elect a council president and president pro tem for 2022. Councilmember Susan Paine was president in 2021, with Laura Johnson serving as president pro tem.

The swearing in of the three new councilmembers is ceremonial. The city clerk administered the official oath of office Dec.. 27 to new (and former) Councilmember Neil Tibbott and returning Councilmembers Kristiana Johnson and Will Chen. Chen was also sworn in in November to finish the Position 2 term — ending Dec. 31 — that had been filled by appointed Councilmeber Luke Distelhorst.

As for the streateries, this will be the third time in less than three weeks that the council will consider the details of an ordinance governing the outdoor dining structures that have been occupying public parking spaces since 2020. They will do so Tuesday night with a new council makeup, as Tibbott replaces the councilmember he defeated in November — Adrienne Fraley-Monillas — on the virtual dais.

The ordinance proposed for council consideration Tuesday night includes an agenda narrative from development services staff stating that the $4,000 fee approved by the council in a Dec. 16 meeting is “disproportionate to other cities permit fees, averaging 30x than the average. Restaurants have vocalized their concerns about their inability to pay for the permit extension, which could lead to unintended consequences of losing these safe, outdoor eating options while the COVID19 public health crisis is still not behind us.”

The council met Monday, Dec. 20 in an attempt to revisit the fees, but with two councilmembers absent and two more choosing to leave after they raised concerns about the legality of the gathering, the meeting ended without action.

The proposed amended ordinance to be considered Tuesday would reduce the fee charged participating streateries from $4,000 to $2,000, and allow it to be paid in monthly installments of $500, rather than the now-required lump sum. The proposed ordinance also would extend streatery permits through May 31, 2022, a month later than the current extension of April 30.

The $2,000 fee would apply to streateries occupying two public parking spaces; a streatery occupying one space would pay $1,000, in monthly installments of $250.

The draft amended ordinance states that the first payment is due Jan. 15, although — under the council’s already approved ordinance — streatery operators were required to pay the $4,000 fee by Dec. 31. In an email to My Edmonds News Dec. 29, City of Edmonds Economic Development Director Susan McLaughlin said that the city “will gladly refund (to the streatery operators) any fees, if the terms change with a future council action.”

The streatery extension fee that is collected will be used to rent parking spaces that will be made available to the public, “after subtracting an appropriate amount to cover streatery-related administrative costs,” the draft ordinance states.

Also during the Jan. 4 business meeting, the council will hold an executive session to discuss real estate acquisition. And prior to the business meeting — at 6 p.m. — it will meet in a separate executive session to discuss pending or potential litigation.

The 7 p.m. meeting will be held virtually using the Zoom meeting platform. To join, comment, view or listen, paste the following into a web browser using a computer or smart phone: https://zoom.us/j/95798484261

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In addition to Zoom, regular council meetings beginning at 7 p.m. are streamed live on the council meeting webpage, Comcast channel 21, and Ziply channel 39.

  1. Glad the city council is revisiting the impact this ongoing virus crisis has on restaurants. They should offer all the support they can to that wonderful, but hurting industry.

  2. Reconsideration? Fascinating. Elected officials past and present know the following request has been made many times over many years:

    “Please provide the procedures/policies that govern City Council Reconsideration of prior Legislative Acts.”

    A November 3, 2009 memorandum written by former City Attorney Scott Snyder documents that Snyder represented to City Council that:

    “Under Washington law, there is no inherent right to reconsideration. Lejeune v. Clallam County, 119 Wash. 2d l 005, 832 P.2d 488 (1992). The right to reconsideration must be contained in the City’s code and the City’s codes govern the procedural process.”

    I suspect reconsideration sometimes has more to do with City Council willpower than City Codes.

    Last year we witnessed an Edmonds property owner, Linda Ferkingstad speak at Council Meetings for month after month about how her family is negatively impacted by the Edmonds Tree Ordinance. She spoke as recently as December 7, 2021. She has been unable to push the mysterious button that motivates City Council to reconsider an Ordinance. From memory, I believe I recall her mentioning a cost far greater than $4,000.

    Edmonds City Council has great Legislative Power. This power can be dangerous if it is used differently for different people. To the 2022 City Council: Please be just and be fair and tell all citizens the procedures that govern City Council reconsideration of prior Legislative Acts. What is the policy? How can citizens and/or others get the City Council to reconsider the Council’s Legislative Acts?

    Is City Council willing to reconsider the Edmonds Tree Ordinance? If not, why not?

    City Council has known for many months that an Edmonds Property Owner desires reconsideration. What does Linda Ferkingstad have to do to motivate City Council? What are the rules? How are some able to get reconsideration but not others?

    I think all should have fair and equal access to reconsideration. Once again, Edmonds City Council, PLEASE provide the procedures/policies that govern City Council Reconsideration of prior Legislative Acts.

    1. Apparently with the Edmonds City Council reconsideration is measured by how much beer and nachos you sell from the street

  3. So is the proposal $2000 for 4 months (paid $500 a month)? Or extended to end of May so it’s 5 months meaning $2500? OR is it $2000 for 5 months – meaning really $400 per month? Gotta luv their sneaky math, the proposal is intentionally confusing – do better. Streateries offered to pay $750/month – why is that not being considered? It’s a middle compromise – win/win.

    If the council subsidizes streateries, what will they do for all the other struggling businesses in downtown Edmonds?

    The 30X is a red herring – its apples vs oranges. Don’t confuse permits fees (other cities) with rent (Edmonds). If you feel its 30X, provide a detailed presentation during council meeting to show how you got to this.

    1. If it truly is 30X the average city charge then the average is an idiotic charge and Edmonds should not be guided by it.

  4. “[…] losing these safe, outdoor eating options while the COVID19 public health crisis is still not behind us.”

    Outdoor eating options. Are masks optional? Is social distancing optional? How is it justified to have outside eating as a safety option, whereas they pack people inside too? Is inside unsafe if the outside is safe?

    This is just lies. We need to be stupid to take the “it’s too dangerous to eat inside” argument seriously.

    1. Hundreds of people a day eat indoors at restaurants in Edmonds. The “it’s too dangerous to eat inside argument” it’s just an excuse to get cheap outdoor rent backed by constituents who deny the hypocrisy.

  5. The “fee,” whatever it is, does not benefit the taxpayers who’s sidewalks and parking are being taken from illegally. There are plenty of legal outdoor seating options that do not obstruct streets and sidewalks: Demetri’s, Girardi’s, Epulo, Red Twig, Hamberger Harry’s, Five Bistro, Kelnero, Las Brisas, The Loft, and more. These establishments are open at varying hours, days, and offer a wide array of food options. I choose to support these establishments that do not appropriate land that belongs to citizens of this city.

  6. How many streatery owners did not pay by December 31? If they did not pay, their street shacks are illegal and must come down immediately. Has anyone thing to do an audit of this?

    1. We have requested a list of all streateries who paid their fee by Dec. 31. The deadline for taking down the structures under the most recent ordinance is Jan. 15.

      1. If they did not pay by Dec 31, and have plans to take them down by Jan 15, then there should be no usage during that two week window, correct? Otherwise they are illegally operating a streaterie. What’s the fine?

  7. No facts get presented, just assertions. Safe to eat outside? Omicron is as infectious as the measles. We don’t know if outdoor dining is safe, but probably safer than indoor. How many outbreaks have our resturants had? We don’t know, it stopped being reported long long ago. Financial hardship of those restaurants with streateries has never been shown, just speculated about. Have they complied with the that even the ordinance? We have no way of knowing save the City saying they have. Has the City benefited? We don.t have the financial data to know.
    We do know that they are using, very cheaply, public right of way. That is a gift of public property to benefit for profit entities. Edmonds had/has many outdoor eating spaces which those businesses planned for, permitted and paid for. True throughout the pandemic. Space in Edmonds is expensive. Those owners with streateries made a business decision long ago to accept the limitations of their spaces.
    The real question is why Edmonds City Council amd Mayor have chosen to spend so much time and resources on an issue that affects very few constituents, enriches a couple of business at the expense of others, puts diners one piece of plywood away from a major thoroughfare, and has not served the whole community in a time of true need. Anyone who applies for help with the utility bill has to show need. The streateries don’t, because it’s private so the City says. The expenses of this process alone, time and money (special meetings ect) could have and in my opinion should have been spent throughout the City where there are demonstrable needs. Which is why the WA state constitution does not allow gifting nor loaning ( like time payments on fees) of public resources to private entities for profit without an overwhelming governmental purpose. Not a shred of which has been shown anywhere in this wasteful and frivolous process.

  8. I really appreciate Ken Reidy’s research. For Ken’s and others who has been through the process, I hope the City Council takes note. Is it legal for the council to “revisit” an ordinance, once it has already been passed by the council and has yet been signed into law? Is it also legal for these Streateries to be plugged into the city electricity? And can they be placed in a “loading” zone like Daphnes’ is? Or encroaching or even bolted to the city sidewalk? Not according to the city guidelines on Streateries. Who has been “looking the other way” by not enforcing these rules? There are too many issues surrounding these structures. It has to be a nightmare for the city inspectors. It is time for the structures to go. Businesses need the parking back, not only the retail, but the local attorneys, dentists, accountants, etc. Bring back the charm to our beautiful city. Thank you to those city councilmembers and public who have been diligent and thoughtful in this matter.

  9. I for one like the option of having outside dining available and enjoy the experience. We recently went to Anacortes and I noticed the outside eating areas are standardized. They have a metal roof and add rather than detract from the street appearance. Maybe Edmonds could consider that a possibility in the future. I think ugly apartment buildings with no storefronts and minimal off street parking are worse for Edmonds. These are a true lasting eyesore!

  10. Allowing the restaurants to pay in installments while lowering the absurd fee of $4,000 to $2,000 (still seems high) is a move in the right direction. Perhaps reasonable heads will prevail in all of this. If I were a restaurant owner, and the city told me I had two weeks to pay $4,000, I would be looking for legal help to fight it. Such an arbitrary and onerous burden to place on the restaurants mid-stream during a pandemic.

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