Edmonds City Council votes to keep 'streateries,' businesses must pay $4K to extend permit

The Edmonds City Council voted 5-2 to extend permits of "streateries" through April, though businesses will have to pay $4,000 to extend that permit. 

"Streateries" are outdoor seating arrangements on sidewalks or the side of the road. They formed in the height of the pandemic when restaurants had a capacity limit and outdoor-only dining was required. Many businesses have decided to keep them up even as restrictions ease.

The pop-up arrangements have divided the city of Edmonds. 

Edmonds split on how to continue with pandemic 'streeteries'

As the Omicron variant has many re-think pandemic routines, downtown Edmonds business owners are at odds over how to move forward.

On one side of the debate, restaurants say staff are buoyed by the business brought in by "streateries", while other business owners say they're taking advantage of pandemic precautions, exhausting parking and hurting non-restaurant businesses in the process.

If businesses don't pay, the"streateries" will have to be taken down by Jan. 15. 

"Our outdoor dining Streateries program has been a resounding success keeping our community safe and our local economy thriving during the pandemic," said Mayor Nelson in a statement released online following the decision. "Thanks to the actions of select councilmembers last night, our city now has the shameful distinction of charging restaurants the highest permit fee in the nation. Our small businesses that were hurt the most will now need to pay the most. This action will have a crippling impact to our downtown."

Salish Sea Brewing Company owner Jeff Barnett told FOX 13 that he won’t be able to afford the high fee, meaning he’ll take down his streatery soon. Barnett previously said the outdoor seating had afforded customers concerned about the spread of COVID a safe place to eat, which in turn helped him give hours to his staff.

While the move is a blow to restaurants in downtown Edmonds, some business-owners have said the streateries were unfair to their bottom-line.

Janelle Cass, the owner of Ohana Hyperbarics, said the streateries allowed the government to pick winners and losers, based on who got permanent use of parking spaces.

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