Two days after the announcement of a proposal to relax rules for operating businesses at home, a City Council committee discussed it this morning. The Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee is chaired by the bill’s main sponsor, Councilmember Dan Strauss. No vote today, but the committee heard a presentation from council staff as well as comments from councilmembers and the public. The latter included the proprietor of a business cited as inspiration for the bill, a cider company that tried becoming home-based because of the pandemic but ran afoul of city rules. The main presentation/discussion starts at 1 hour, 21 minutes into the meeting video (which you can watch above or here on the Seattle Channel website). The presentation included a mention that if this is adopted, city staff also could start researching making some or all of its provisions permanent; otherwise, it would be temporary, for up to a year. Here’s the slide deck from today’s presentation:
Many of the questions asked during the briefing were from North Seattle Councilmember Debora Juarez. She expressed concern that, as written, the proposal could open the door for neighborhood businesses run from homes to endanger small businesses in nearby business districts. For example, she said, what would be stopping someone from turning their garage into an espresso stand, taking business away from an established shop a few blocks away that has higher expenses because it’s a permanent brick-and-mortar business? “I’m supportive of the intent, but the application … is where I get concerned.” Other agencies’ rules would still apply – for example, health rules for commercial food/beverage service – Strauss said. You can read the proposed legislation here; it’s expected to return to the committee for a potential vote on March 10th.