The Port Townsend City Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing streateries — open-air, tent-like structures used for outdoor dining — as a long-term part of the …
The Port Townsend City Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing streateries — open-air, tent-like structures used for outdoor dining — as a long-term part of the city’s streetscape.
The council gave a third and final vote on the controversial curbside chow spots at its meeting Monday.
The vote was 6-0; Councilmember Libby Wennstrom was absent.
The move will allow eatery owners in Uptown to apply for permanent outdoor dining tents through City Hall, and pay a monthly cost of $2,550 along with other general fees.
Amendments made to the ordinance at the May 9 council meeting included the removal of potential permanent outdoor dining tents in the historic downtown after 2022.
Although the city council gave a united thumbs-up Monday, several councilmembers weren’t satisfied with the final regulations and the extension of temporary streateries in town.
The temporary dining tents will continue to stay up until the end of 2022.
Councilmember Amy Howard, who was not in attendance during the city’s second reading of the streatery rules, said she opposed the move for an extension of the rules for temporary tents.
“What I see that we ended up with is a plan that takes up more spaces for longer and leaves the ugly tents up longer.”
“The idea behind everything that I do here is to do the greatest good for the most people while harming the fewest amount of people,” Howard said. “I do think that having the ugly tents on the streets for longer, taking up more spaces, is harming more people than it is creating good for them. I want the streateries, but the solution that you’ve hashed out here doesn’t make sense to me.”
“This may not be where we would’ve intended to end up at any point along the way, but it’s also not where we’re going to stop,” said Councilmember Owen Rowe.
“We are going to come back to this in the future and we can change any elements of this that we discover don’t work,” he said.
Similar to previous city meetings relating to the outdoor eatery structures, this week’s meeting included more heavy criticism from residents and business owners in Port Townsend.
The proposal has received continuing backlash from locals, who claim the streateries are unattractive and remove much-needed parking spots around town. Critics also say the tents are bad for local business, and could be a safety hazard to diners considering their proximity to traffic.
Residents who favored the outdoor structures stressed the “European-style” flair they would bring to town, as well as providing a safe dining option for people at higher risk of getting COVID.
VOICE OF THE PUBLIC
Criticism of eateries continued at Monday’s meeting.
One meeting attendee, Harvey Windle, condemned the city for the lack of parking spaces available for visitors and residents in downtown Port Townsend, as well as critiquing the city council for passing an extension of the current, temporary streateries around downtown and Uptown.
“I am absolutely against this temporary streatery thing,” Harvey Windle said.
“They need to go away now, they need to quit costing the city all this money, and they need to stop creating this strife between people,” he continued.
He flashed a sign saying, “Boycott eateries with streateries” and called city officials “fascists.”
Others weighed in with written comments submitted to the council.
“I am strongly opposed to the public street[s] being used for dining. It is very unsafe and extremely unhealthy,” said Nancy Frisch.
“Since it impacts everyone, maybe there should be a democratic vote on the matter.
“A suggestion to consider would be to put the outdoor eating area on rooftops. Think of the commanding views! It would be out of everyone’s way and could be made permanent if so desired …. a win-win for everyone,” she added.
Beth O’Neal offered her support: “I have always loved the quaint, European outdoor pedestrian zones. I would love to see something in PT like that.”
“However, this push to make streateries permanent has not been thoroughly researched,” O’Neal added. “I have heard from at least one overworked and stressed business owner downtown that they know nothing about this push for permanence. It is the duty of the city council to make sure all of the business owners downtown are aware of this push and listen to their concerns. It is hard enough for business owners downtown to make their super-high rents every month.”
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