Another year proposed for outdoor restaurant/retail space, and maybe forever

Once upon a time, businesses had to slog through a lot of red tape to get permission for a sidewalk café. Then COVID-19 made outdoor dining – and shopping – a potential life-and-death matter, and the city loosened the rules last year, offering free permits. Sidewalk/curb-space business expansions have subsequently popped up all over. This week, a City Council committee will look at extending the free permits at least through May of next year, with a possible “pathway to permanence.” Right now the program is scheduled to end after October of this year. If the new proposal is approved, along with the extension through May 2022, it would direct SDOT to draft a proposal by December on how to make the program permanent (though not necessarily free). This is on the agenda for the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee‘s meeting at 9:30 am Wednesday (May 12th).

50 Replies to "Another year proposed for outdoor restaurant/retail space, and maybe forever"

  • Sam May 10, 2021 (6:22 pm)

    Doesn’t seem very safe, I mean it would not take much for an out of control car to break though the wood and seriously injure or kill a diner.

    • Foop May 10, 2021 (11:42 pm)

      You’re right, we should close off roads and open them up for street cafes and for people to use. California between Oregon and Edmonds would be perfect for this!

      • West Seattle resident May 11, 2021 (8:20 am)

        Closing down California would not help anything especially with the bridge closed, it’ll only make west Seattle drivers more irritated. We can already barely get around with all these people and barely any parking 

        • Yes to SkyLink May 11, 2021 (8:48 am)

          Having the SkyLink gondola system as an option as soon as 2025 would be such a wonderful and helpful options for many!

          • NO TO SKYLINK May 12, 2021 (1:46 am)

            You know what you cant do with sky link. You cant scale service. Your capacity is completely fixed. With a train you can throttle your system to meet commuting demands and expand capacity with additional trains. It sounds good but in reality if this is given any legs to stand on it will create a massive court problem. We’re paying wildly high license tab prices for a train, not a gondola. The moment ST chooses to go this route its delayed 5-10 years maybe forever. Its a nice idea but doesn’t help rush hour commuting. You guys want to wait in a massive line to get on a amusement park ride? Didn’t think so. 

          • Yes to SkyLink May 12, 2021 (11:13 am)

            The SkyLink proposal needs to be considered and explored further, for all of the benefits, including… much sooner availability, more than adequate capacity for projected ridership, less negative impacts and less intrusive to neighborhoods and the environment, est $2 billion less expensive than light rail, quieter, possibly safer in an earthquake, etc. With enough interest and support, there will be a way forward. We are the voters.

            Who wants to wait years longer for light rail,  for worse neighborhood and traffic impacts during building, for louder transit noise pollution in your backyard, etc.

            SkyLink would not be an amusement ride, any more than light rail would be, although you might enjoy a better view!

  • Sheba May 10, 2021 (6:27 pm)

    Can any business sign up for free real estate at taxpayers expense?

    • Jort May 11, 2021 (12:59 pm)

      You mean like how car drivers are using free real estate at taxpayers’ expense (by storing their private automobiles on public land for free)? 

  • Mcbride May 10, 2021 (7:17 pm)

    The war on cars continues.

  • Dawson May 10, 2021 (7:57 pm)

    Just close the two block for California between Edmunds and Oregon to vehicle traffic and make it a pedestrian space. It works in other cities like Boulder Denver and San Diego. No reason it wouldn’t here.

    • jack May 10, 2021 (8:39 pm)

      Well for one it’s the main thoroughfare from North West Seattle to South West Seattle.  

    • Joe Z May 10, 2021 (8:51 pm)

      Yes yes yes!!! Or at least TRY it on weekends during the summer. 

      • JJ May 11, 2021 (8:34 am)

        We do have the most beautiful summers in the whole world. 1/4 of the year it’s painful to go inside to eat. I’ve always hunted for outdoor dining in the summers here. I’d sure love more options in the future. I sure hope our summer weather can help drive people outdoors, and our infection rates down. With the vaccines and the summer weather, maybe we can kick the pandemic out of West Seattle, and make Covid an uncommon disease.

      • HS May 11, 2021 (2:35 pm)


    • Jort May 10, 2021 (9:02 pm)

      A reasonable alternative to this suggestion, to help alleviate the concerns that so many automobile enthusiasts would have, is that we eliminate the street parking and severely narrow and reduce the street to one lane in each direction with traffic calming measures, like removing curbs and prioritizing pedestrian traffic. This is the way that cities all over the world treat their public spaces in commercial districts and Seattle should do the same.

      • Graciano May 11, 2021 (4:32 am)

        Jort’s idea sounds perfect….DID I just AGREE with Jort!!!!? LOL!

    • Anne May 10, 2021 (9:24 pm)

      No-not even for weekends. This is a main  N/S route through WS. If more restaurants want to put  in outdoor dining -like what’s already there-fine-no need to expand  it to the point  of closing down California Ave. Also this isn’t SoCal-with temperate weather pretty much year round.  

      • Joe Z May 11, 2021 (6:52 am)

        If it was such an important thoroughfare, why do buses get along fine using 44th?

    • KM May 10, 2021 (9:31 pm)

      At a minimum, it needs a road diet. 6 lanes for cars across (4 general, 2 parking) in one of the busiest areas for pedestrians is a shame. The number of times I’ve seen pedestrians nearly be hit by drivers as they jump lanes to pass people who are yielding is alarming.

    • Azimuth May 10, 2021 (9:38 pm)

      I WISH we could shut down both blocks and make it a proper town square we could all enjoy! Practically speaking that would be tough without adjusting 44th and/or 42nd which isn’t ideal either. I say at least let’s go with extra wide sidewalks and get rid of 2 lanes of traffic!

  • N May 10, 2021 (8:34 pm)

    Yes please.  This region and west Seattle has been lacking outdoor dining for far too long.  Heck, even the alleyway between businesses and parking would make for great patios, I’ve seen that work beautifully in other cities and there is nothing for creating a welcoming vibe like outside patio dining.

    • Graciano May 11, 2021 (4:35 am)

      N, and how would the Produce and other Vendors get their deliveries to the restaurants with table and chairs set up in these WS Alley ways? And eat by a Dumpster and everything else you see thrown about in a Alleyway?

  • Jort May 10, 2021 (8:58 pm)

    Forever is a good start. We MUST reclaim our public spaces from the death spiral of automobile addiction and use them for places where people can enjoy time together, supporting local businesses. The two parking spaces in front of Elliott Bay Brewing would normally provide subsidized storage for two private vehicles for a few hours. What a waste. Instead, now, those spaces are hosting 15-20 people dining together and supporting a business. Streets are public spaces, just like city parks. We can choose to use them for more noble purposes than the storage of giant metal boxes with wheels.

    • John May 11, 2021 (3:27 pm)


      You’ve been in lockdown in your basement far too long.I think you should take a road trip and see some of this country.
      You know, to broaden your mind.

  • onion May 10, 2021 (9:11 pm)

    Sidewalk dining done properly is a joy. Think Paris, Florence, or just about any other European city. Most of the sidewalk setups I’ve seen in West Seattle have little or no appeal. Closing a street to traffic is just one step toward creating a more appealing outdoor environment.

    • Foop May 10, 2021 (11:44 pm)

      My biggest issue with sidewalk dining in Seattle is the car exhaust I get to bathe in from all the traffic mere feet away.

    • Pessoa May 11, 2021 (9:31 am)

      Most sidewalk dining in Paris is adjacent to automobile traffic, hence the name.  It’s part of the appeal, to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle of life while eating and drinking.  

  • Jeff Nebeker May 10, 2021 (9:14 pm)

    I tried to park twice this weekend, no room,  went to burien, this is a bad idea

    • Azimuth May 10, 2021 (9:42 pm)

      I’m curious, how far did you travel to get to the junction? Did you try the pay lots on 42nd and 44th? Does the cost of pay parking pencil out for you compared to the cost of driving to Burien?

    • Jort May 11, 2021 (8:34 am)

      I 100% promise you that you spent more driving to Burien than you would have spent on paid parking at the Junction.   

    • Ice May 12, 2021 (12:55 am)

      You honestly probably paid more in gas/wear-and-tear on your car than you would have payed for parking at one of the lots.

  • Anne May 10, 2021 (9:37 pm)

    You know there are other businesses in WS  than just restaurants. Wonder how they feel about  closing down  California Ave so restaurants can expand into the street?   What happens to the quick pick up zones -or street parking for quick errands. If parking is taken away completely-giving folks no choice but to have to pay to park-for every visit -how might that impact all the businesses.? 

  • Vee May 10, 2021 (10:55 pm)

    No more ,taking all parking upBusiness and other people matterNot just restaurants  and too cold 8 mths of yearNot necessary  and do not make permanent 

  • onion May 11, 2021 (5:53 am)

    People arguing for closing California Ave are also arguing for pushing a lot of traffic and congestion into residential areas. Be careful what you ask for.

  • D May 11, 2021 (6:14 am)

    A little history.  State Street in Santa Barbara was 4 lanes.  Downtown lost business to the San Roque Mall, so the city decided to turn State St into a pedestrian mall.  The street was made two lanes, big sidewalks and only buses during the day and cars in the evening.  The car restrictions were lifted after maybe a year or so. The city also built municipal parking lots too.   State St. is a slog, but there are many alternatives.  It would take some serious traffic realignment to turn the Junction into a pedestrian mall.  Don’t forget the businesses need to be serviced by trucks and delivery vehicles.  

    • Pessoa May 11, 2021 (9:14 am)

      Agreed.  As a regular visitor to Santa Barbara, what they have now is a reasonable accommodation to pedestrians and motorists.  

  • JunctionNeedsParking May 11, 2021 (7:53 am)

    As a business owner who could possibly benefit from this, I think this is a horrible idea. We need parking, no customers without it, whether you agree or not, its a fact. The lots are going away, there is limited street parking thanks to RPZ, and each of these stalls takes away at least 2 more parking spots from potential customers to all shops. Please stop comparing Seattle to Paris or San Diego or Florence, it’s not healthy to do this. People will not be dining outside for half the year and you know it. Just look at how few ate outside this fall/winter at the places who did try these stalls. Live in reality, not some idealized utopia that will never be achieved without sacrificing part of what makes WS special: the people. The people who can barely afford to live here and work at these shops. Who can’t cross a bridge to get here. Many of us Junction businesses will not survive if  only 25% of shops have these booths.

    • Joe Z May 11, 2021 (8:47 am)

      Let’s see the numbers. Have you polled your customers on how they got to your business? 

    • reed May 11, 2021 (10:09 am)

      It goes beyond creating spaces for outdoor eating. What KM is proposing above (road diet, widening of sidewalk for pedestrians) is what is needed. Since you are offering your opinion on the matter as fact, I will also offer mine as a consumer. When I’m in the junction with my kids, I almost never cross California at the raised crosswalks when it is busy. I have had too many near misses over the years with inattentive drivers or those who purposely fail to yield, so we generally stay on whatever side of the street we happen to be on and maintain that course until we get to a crossing with a light (which isn’t a guarantee of safe crossing either). Unless I absolutely need something, I’m not going to double back to walk by those businesses I unfortunately had to skip by due to the desire to reduce my risk of being run over. Translation: significantly reducing the amount of vehicle traffic and increasing pedestrian access in the junction will  increase foot traffic in the area and create more exposure to the businesses. Clearly you don’t like comparison to other places in the world where this has been proven, but it is just a fact. 

    • Jort May 11, 2021 (1:04 pm)

      If parking is the make-or-break factor in business survival, why not move your business to the biggest Parking Paradise in West Seattle — Westwood Village?!?! There is more parking at Westwood Village than has literally ever been occupied at any one time! By the way, one of the reasons why people “didn’t eat” (which is not true) outside this fall and winter is because, um, there was a deadly global pandemic happening and thousands were dying across the country every week. Also: be careful what you think “living in reality” means. “Reality,” for most of the developed world, means de-prioritizing cars. It has worked everywhere in the world and it will work in Seattle, too. You and everyone else will adapt and move on.

  • Al Fresco May 11, 2021 (8:29 am)

    I love the idea of closing two blocks during the weekend, maybe from Friday night at 7 p.m. to Monday morning at 4:30 a.m.  During the week, there is much more commuter traffic and the issues are more complex.  But we already have the farmer’s market closing the street on Sunday afternoons, so we know we can make things work for a limited time.   If the street were only closed on weekends, the delivery issues could be mitigated.  Also, I think the business that are not restaurants would benefit from more pedestrian traffic.  

  • CO2WA May 11, 2021 (10:14 am)

    As someone with a car, who regularly travels between Endolyne and Admiral neighborhoods, I’m all for this! I avoid California anyway because of the pedestrians, especially in the summer time. We’ve somehow all managed to get used to parts of California being closed on Sundays for the market, why not extend that to the summer? I’ve seen this done in areas I’ve lived in Colorado which also doesn’t have year round So-Cal weather. 

  • Sue H May 11, 2021 (10:38 am)

    How did these restaurants get permission to take away parking spots to put in outside dining? Doesn’t our tax money help pay for these streets/parking? Why are private businesses allowed to essentially expand their square footage at our expense?  I used to get takeout from Elliot Bay when they had the pickup spot out front. I’m disabled, so having that spot right out front was so convenient to grab a pre-ordered meal. But now between their outside space and Tallaricos next door, the parking is way less convenient for the disabled and I simply don’t go anymore and pick different restaurants. 

  • shotinthefoot May 11, 2021 (3:28 pm)

    Build a multi-level parking garage where the large pay lot is east of the junction, and close down California Ave in the junction and turn it into an outdoor space. Make it a nice space with benches, and plants, and bike racks – a place that encourages you to walk around and patronize all the businesses there. Win win – there’s parking, there’s walking, there’s outdoor spaces. 

  • AV May 11, 2021 (7:04 pm)

    I swear I feel like I live in a different West Seattle than some of you commenters. I have literally never had an issue finding some sort of parking spot within more than 2 blocks of the junction. Either that being the paid lots, street parking, or a garage. Walking is good for you, FYI.

  • How about an Eating Lot? May 11, 2021 (7:15 pm)

    How about using the pay spaces in the parking lot behind California for the dinner hours? Restaurants could rent the space from the West Seattle Parking Alliance and set up tents for diners.  All of the outdoors, some of the smell.  Close to the bus and other street parking.

  • Al May 11, 2021 (8:48 pm)

    I am working on accepting that we are giving up on having parking at the junction for diners, I can live without eating there anymore.  But I’d like to at least request we retain sufficient short-term parking for food pickup/takeout. I may not be going to eat with my family in the junction anymore, but I still want to occasionally pick up food to take home. And no, I won’t be riding the bus to get my takeout; if what parking remains evaporates, I’ll just order from elsewhere. 

  • Aaron May 12, 2021 (9:34 pm)

    I used to pick up takeout from a couple places in the Junction all the time, but stopped once the outside dining booths were put in. Too many people drinking and hanging out with no masks feet from the door and all around inside made just picking up takeout a dangerous situation. The sidewalks are now in the middle of a bar rather than a safe place to walk. I will not pick up takeout until the pandemic is over or until the parking area  maskless areas are removed. 

    • CatLady May 13, 2021 (6:37 am)

      For what it’s worth it’s pretty conclusive that you can’t get COVID from simply walking by someone who’s maskless, especially if you’re both outside. If you’re doing a quick pick-up of food your risk is extremely low. 

Sorry, comment time is over.