Dan Strauss Calls for Allowing Outdoor Dining in the Middle of Ballard Ave NW

The District 6 councilmember says the coronavirus crisis is a "perfect opportunity to be creative with using our right of ways to support our small businesses."

Comments

1

No.

2

Sounds delightful. But it's overestimating pleasant weather in Seattle for outside dining.

3

Actually, this wouldn't be terrible during warmer weather. Ballard Ave isn't exactly a major arterial (both Shilshole Ave and Leary Way would be more than adequate to handle traffic flow) and the north end of the street is already impacted once a week for the Sunday Market. So, closing the three blocks from NW Market down to 20th NW would allow a lot of restaurants to take advantage of this, without significantly impacting traffic into, out of, or around the area

In fact, I'd take it a step further and suggest also blocking off 22nd NW between Market and Ballard Ave., thus creating a European-style "pedestrian square" right in the center of the proposed footprint.

4

Before pretending Seattle can open as some sort of Paris of the Pacific Northwest, it should examine what has happened in France.

As France Slowly Opens, Paris Prepares for a Summer Without Tourists
France just unveiled a plan to help its tourism industry survive amid coronavirus, but will it be enough to save restaurants and hotels in one of the world’s most-visited cities?
https://www.usnews.com/news/cities/articles/2020-05-15/as-france-slowly-lifts-its-coronavirus-lockdowns-paris-prepares-for-a-summer-without-tourists

My Paris: Simon Kuper on life, love and loss in the Marais
With cafés shut and many professionals who live here out of work, what lies in store for this gentrified historic corner of the city?
https://www.ft.com/content/8a2ac19d-251c-4ce7-91e5-cf633448ec18

5

Kind of hard to enjoy an entree and appetizers as the homeless look on and panhandlers come up to the table.

7

@5
That's not a panhandler-
That's Tim Eyman!

8

Yes please. More creativity, less wet blankets. Let’s open up our parks to this option too.

9

@8 How many restaurants adjoin our parks? Could be a logistic issue.

But I agree with your "less wet blankets" thoughts.

This city needs an enema ....it all bound up with "fixed thinking" and lacks any thinking outside the box, save throwing money at problems which might be fixed with an ounce of common sense.

..

10

Privilege Speaks in the City Council.

11

Sounds good. The risk of outdoor transmission is very low. You would still want to spread people out, but it gives those small businesses a chance to do something besides sell takeout. As mentioned, the street has very few cars, and is one of the more urban in the city. Parts of it are typically closed for farmer's markets on weekdays. Weather in the summer in Seattle is excellent -- about as good as anywhere in the world. Hard to find fault with this idea, but of course that doesn't stop people here from trying.

12

What is market rent for such land? The City is prohibited by the Washington State's Constitution from renting it for less.

"ARTICLE 8, SECTION 7 CREDIT NOT TO BE LOANED. No county, city, town or other municipal corporation shall hereafter give any money, or property, or loan its money, or credit to or in aid of any individual, association, company or corporation, except for the necessary support of the poor and infirm…"

13

Re Dan: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. And FFS...it's rights-of-way. Sigh.

14

We need to do this in Fremont too. From about 3rd Ave NW to Stone Way N along N 36th St

Take out the parking spaces until we're at Stage 5.

15

@12 it will be worth a whole lot less if our economy tanks. Y’all want support for our vibrant city and then you find reasons not to follow through. Do you have any better ideas to help restaurants? How about a head tax!?? Income tax, sales tax?!! Or restaurants could double the costs to make up for having half the customers. C’mon wise guy, I want all your great ideas.

16

The liquor board has to approve. Seattle (and WA) had no outdoor dining until the early 2000s, when changes at the state liquor board, and new direction to the local WSLCB office, directed them to stop harassing minority-owned establishments and ramped down on ‘temperance’ as the job of the state. That, in turn, permitted the development of sidewalk cafe spaces. I worked on this issue at least 15 years ago, and the WSLCB put a dead stop to outdoor cafes. If we have outdoor cafe dining, which I strongly support, then they will have to be able to serve beer, wine, and drinks to be profitable. And that means they have to obtain a permit from WSLCB. The city is only tangentially involved. Ballard Ave should have been permanently closed to traffic decades ago, from Market all the way to Shilshole Ave.

17

"This city needs new ideas!"

gives new ideas

"Well, not THOSE ideas!"

18

@12 "market rent" is easy to find out, check the price on the nearest parking meter (if none use zero) measure a parking spot, do math!
One might need a multiplier because of course empty cars are much more important than human beings.
On the other hand, with fixed rent and at best half occupancy restaurant operators are probably feeling pretty poor, and stressed, which one might possibly consider... "infirm; adjective, not physically or mentally strong, "

19

@15, So because you think its bad policy, the State Constitution no longer applies. That is the point of a Constitution: The Government may not, no matter what. If a particular clause of our Constitution does not serve us well (which this clause certainly has, although I agree with you it MAY not in this case, by making it more difficult in Washington to give public money to private business) we have mechanisms to amend it.

We are seeing with Trump, the idea of, I don't find the Constitution convenient, so I won't follow it (e.g the emoluments clause, etc.). If any clause can be sacrificed to singular opinion (Trump) or current public opinion (1st Amendment speech restrictions), then a Constitution does not serve its purpose.

20

@15, In Washington State, you can't collect tax money and give it to a business. No matter how worthy the cause. The Feds can. Other states can. Not Washington.

As far as an income tax, provided its statewide and revenue neutral, I'm all for it. We need to get to the situation that Oregon has, where through a combination of taxes that progressive (their income tax, particularly with its high exemptions for the lower income groups) and more regressive (excise taxes, property taxes, fees) they have all income groups paying the same proportion of income for state, local government, and schools. That stops voting for increasing taxes, only if other taxpayers, not the recipient of the government services, will contribute to the cost of that service.

21

@18, That is not market rate. It is not what the market will bear for a private business use. The City is not obligated to charge market rate for parking, because that is a general service provided by government, like police service, fire service, parks, etc.

You are talking about a private business using the public land, and the revenue for that goes to the private entity. See http://mrsc.org/Home/Explore-Topics/Legal/Ethics-Fairness-Conflicts-of-Interest/Gift-of-Public-Funds.aspx if you want to get into the weeds of what is a gift of public funds and what is not.

22

Yes, what IS the going rate for renting the middle of the street? What a novel and fascinating question to drive a comment thread into the ditch obsessing over.

23

You are always one to see the forest for the trees, blip.

24

I mean if people are into it and it can be achieved without disrupting traffic or emergency services the city will figure out how to make it happen. No one here of all places needs to figure out the legal logistics.

25

@6, Please take the corner table.

Is Councilmember Strauss running for reelection this year? Can't say I've ever heard from him before.

27

@24, Neither can the City of Seattle figure out the legal logistics. Law, court challenge, limited Seattle tax dollars pay legal fees, law struck down.

28

27 great point hope the city of seattle sees this