Everett’s rules would target bikini baristas’ scant attire

EVERETT — In the cut-throat coffee business, Chris Blackford has found a way to boost sales.

His baristas at RockStar Espresso serve coffee wearing bikini tops at a pink-painted hut off Evergreen Way next to the Wienerschnitzel hot dog stand.

He draws the line at anything skimpier than swimsuits but he said some of his competition doesn’t.

“Bikinis are fine — you can see those if you go the beach,” he said. “The whole pasties and lingerie is a little too much. I’d never go that route.”

Some in the city don’t want him too, either.

Everett leaders are considering a change in the city’s lewd conduct ordinance that could make it more difficult for bikini-hut baristas to bare too much. The proposed changes wouldn’t ban the stands, but it would define them as public places where lewd conduct, including baring breasts, shouldn’t take place.

The City Council is scheduled to take its first look at tonight’s 6:30 meeting. The council won’t likely engage in much discussion or make a decision about the ordinance until the third reading, scheduled for Sept. 30.

The city has received a slew of complaints from people upset about coffee stands with bikini-clad baristas, said Councilman Drew Nielsen. People complained some of the baristas were coming out of the stands and behaving in a provocative manner to draw business.

“The impression you get from some of the complaints is that they are out there pole dancing,” he said.

The city has to negotiate the delicate line between allowing free expression and responding to legitimate concerns from the public, Nielsen said. The city can’t ban people from wearing bikinis. In a free society, “sometimes we have to suffer some conduct from our fellow citizens we’d rather not,” he said.

Lewd acts already are a misdemeanor in Everett. The proposed ordinance adds some specific language that defines specifically what is a lewd act and where it shouldn’t happen. For the first time, it also includes indecent exposure in the ordinance, which was already part of state law.

The proposed changes defines a lewd act as an exposure or display of one’s most personal parts; or touching, caressing or fondling of those parts; or masturbation; or sexual conduct in public.

Breast feeding and forms of artistic expression, such as plays, are not against the law.

The city had planned to update its 25-year-old lewd conduct ordinance before the bikini espresso hut calls started coming in, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said. The update gave the city the chance to better define the line between lewd conduct and legal expression.

“We’ve worked to eliminate gray areas,” she said. “We try to reflect current times. Drive-up coffee stands didn’t exist 20 years ago and now they’re on every street corner.”

She added that anyone, not just coffee-stand employees, would have to follow the ordinance. The city has received about 50 calls from people complaining about the stands in the last six months.

Part of the ordinance does appear to target coffee stands. The new ordinance includes this description as part of what constitutes public space: “Businesses contained in structures which can serve customers who remain in their vehicles, by means of a drive- up window.”

Blackford, the coffee stand owner, said he doesn’t mind the city’s proposed ordinance.

He’d like to see bikini huts restricted from areas around schools and libraries.

And, he said, it won’t affect his business.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, dsmith@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
Small plane lost power in crash north of Paine Field, flight club says

The pilot reportedly called 911, stuck in a tree, on Friday. The sole occupant survived “without a scratch,” the president of Puget Sound Flyers said.

The PUD Everett Substation on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Delta residents rip PUD power line plan to cut through neighborhood

The PUD said the poles will connect two Everett power stations amid “increasing electrical demand.” Locals feel it shows a lack of “forethought.”

IonQ CEO Peter Chapman, left, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, right, cut a ribbon during an IonQ event at their research and manufacturing facility on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Nation’s first quantum computing manufacturing plant opens in Bothell

IonQ, a Maryland-based firm, expects to add hundreds of jobs and invest $1 billion in the region over the next 10 years.

Snohomish County Jail. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Arlington woman arrested in 2005 case of killed baby in Arizona airport

Annie Sue Anderson, 51, has been held in the Snohomish County Jail since December. She’s facing extradition.

Ken Florczak, president of the five-member board at Sherwood Village Mobile Home community on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How Mill Creek mobile home residents bought the land under their feet

At Sherwood Village, residents are now homeowners. They pay a bit more each month to keep developers from buying their property.

Lake Serene in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service)
How will climate change affect you? New tool gives an educated guess

The Climate Vulnerability Tool outlines climate hazards in Snohomish County — and it may help direct resources.

Shirley Prouty (Submitted photo)
Shirley Prouty, Arlington historian and grandma to all, dies at 92

Prouty chronicled “100 Years of Arlington” in a series of books. “She’d turn over any rock,” a former mayor said.

Arlington man suspected of DUI in fatal I-5 crash

Police said the man was driving the wrong way south of Tacoma and crashed into another car. Angelica Roberto Campos, 52, later died.

Everett
Feds fine Everett test lab for alleged animal welfare violations

Altasciences was cited for five alleged violations in the last two years that resulted in animal injuries and deaths.

Librarian Andrea Wallis leads activities during Toddler Storytime at the Main Everett Library on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett library trustees ‘ideally’ don’t want to merge with Sno-Isle

City finance staff see three options to deal with a $12.9 million deficit: a library merger, a fire department merger, or a new property tax.

A student reaches put their hands to feel raindrops as it begins to pour on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024 in Camano Island, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Hollow gestures’ won’t allow Camano forest school to survive, founders say

Island County officials acknowledged they should have given Springwood Forest School families more time to prepare for an impending closure.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Driver killed in crash east of Snohomish

The man crashed off the road Monday morning in the Three Lakes area. Nobody else was injured.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.