Hillbilly Hotties coffee stand deemed a chronic nuisance

EVERETT — The Hillbilly Hotties have a new edict from the city of Everett: Obey the laws, or the owner will face civil and criminal penalties.

City officials in late 2013 deemed the Hillbilly Hotties coffee stand at Hoyt Avenue and 41st Street a chronic-nuisance property. Notification letters were sent to the business owner and property owner.

The letters demand that alleged prostitution, indecent exposure and violations of city adult-entertainment codes at the stand cease. Violating the civil orders could land the owners in front of a hearing examiner, city officials said. In addition, violating state laws would lead to criminal charges.

Everett police raided the stand in October and arrested three woman. The criminal investigation is ongoing, and as of Thursday, two of the women had been charged in Everett Municipal Court with misdemeanor lewd conduct and adult- entertainment violations.

Since the nuisance letters were sent, city officials and Everett police have been working with the stand’s owner on a plan to keep the place in line with the law, Sgt. Bruce Bosman said.

The plan isn’t final, but so far there is agreement that the stand owner won’t hire baristas who have criminal history and that employees who break the rules will be fired.

“They’ve been responsive to the letter and seem willing to work with us on the issues we’ve identified,” city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.

Everett’s ordinance on chronic-nuisance properties was approved by the City Council in 2008 and first applied in 2012, Pembroke said. It was last updated in July.

The ordinance is aimed at properties that create an unusual number of public complaints, 911 calls and responses from police and code-enforcement officers, Bosman said.

For Hillbilly Hotties, “the complaints varied a little bit, but most of them had the same theme of girls showing private parts for money,” he said.

Police Chief Kathy Atwood has sent chronic-nuisance letters to a bikini barista operation only once before, Bosman said. That operation, which included the Grab-N-Go espresso stands at 2030 Broadway and 333 SE Everett Mall, also was raided by police in 2013 for alleged illegal activity and city-code violations. That criminal case is still in court.

The chronic- nuisance ordinance covers activities such as drug trafficking, prostitution, thefts, assaults and violations related to alcohol, weapons, noise and animals. Nuisance properties are those that interfere with the health and safety of neighborhoods.

The ordinance has been applied about two dozen times in the past two years, Bosman said.

Past targets have included a number of low-rent motels on Broadway and suspected drug houses, public records show.

“We’ve had great success with the issuance of notice and demand letters, and that chronic-nuisance activity stops,” Bosman said.

City documents show police also have suggested that Hillbilly Hotties uses a web-based video camera system to monitor employee behavior. The owner told police she has forbidden her employees to engage in illegal activity.

The business owner could not be reached for comment for this story.

For years now, the bikini barista stands in Everett and the rest of Snohomish County have created controversy, especially as police have invested resources to curb complaints about illegal activity. Several criminal investigations and prosecutions are ongoing, including a case involving the arrest of a former sheriff’s sergeant.

In December, the Everett City Council approved changes to the boundaries of zones considered high-prostitution areas. Newly added blocks include Hillbilly Hotties and another bikini barista stand on Broadway. People who have been convicted of buying or selling sex can be subject to a court order requiring them to stay out of those zones. They can face arrest for violating the orders.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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