By Noah Haglund Herald Writer
EVERETT — People who want tougher laws to keep nearly naked coffee-stand employees out of the public eye are worried that the Snohomish County Council is retreating from the issue.
Councilmen said Wednesday they need another week to make sure proposed rules will hold up in court. The delay upset many people who showed up urging the council to adopt the new laws.
“It’s frustrating, very frustrating,” said Rhonda Bremond, 48, who owns a business selling high-school graduation products near a drive-through stand at Murphy’s Corner. “They’ve had two years and now a week.
“If they say they’re supporting it, why are they delaying it?”
The hearing is scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday. One proposed ordinance would regulate coffee huts and other businesses as adult entertainment if employees’ clothing is too revealing. A second would strengthen county rules on lewd conduct and clarify that drive-throughs are public places where such behavior is illegal.
About 20 espresso stands in unincorporated Snohomish County would be affected by the proposed rules, said Kimberly Cole, 30, Council Chairman Mike Cooper’s legislative aide. Cole spoke during the hearing as a member of the public, saying she got involved in the issue after a coffee stand opened next to her son’s day care with a sign reading “honk if UR horny” and “naked girls.”
Dave Gossett, who submitted the ordinance on lewd conduct, was one of the councilmen asking for more time.
“We could do this today,” he said. “By delaying a week, we can make sure we do it right.”
If not done right, the new laws would give false promise and nothing would change, Councilman Dave Somers said. He added that public masturbation and flashing customers — behavior people have reported seeing at drive-through stands — already is illegal and isn’t being enforced.
“If both of these pass, we still have a problem,” Somers said.
Cooper hesitantly supported the move to postpone a vote.
“I’m prepared to vote for both of these ordinances today,” he said.
Councilmen voted 4-0 to wait with Councilman John Koster leaving the meeting early to catch a flight for county business. The lack of action disappointed Russell Johnson, 23, the executive director of a nonprofit that works to get Christian youth involved in public policy and social issues.
“Our concern is that we’re going to come back on Wednesday, and there will be a watered-down ordinance,” said Johnson of Youth Revolution.
Twenty people spoke at the hearing, all in favor of stronger regulations. Nobody spoke up for the targeted businesses.
Among other changes, the new rules could hold business owners and managers responsible for what employees do. A stand with a sexually suggestive sign would have to be licensed as an adult business. The new rules would attempt to keep anybody under 18 from working in or patronizing adult-oriented stands.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, email@example.com.
The Snohomish County Council is scheduled to continue its hearing on lewd-conduct and adult-business ordinances at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The hearing is on the eighth floor of the county administration building east, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett.