CHS heard some recent rumbling that Liberty Bar on 15th Ave E had been forced to remove its trademark red umbrella. Indeed, the umbrella that you can see in the picture attached to this post is no longer present. We talked to Liberty who told us some more about the situation and then contacted the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and received the following explanation from Marybeth Turner, SDOT’s media liaison:
SDOT received several complaints about this umbrella being too low and that pedestrians were colliding with it on a relatively narrow but busy sidewalk. While Liberty does have a valid permit for tables and chairs on the sidewalk, the permit does not include umbrellas. On February 2 an SDOT employee went to Liberty to follow up on the complaints. In addition to the low hanging umbrella that created safety issues, the SDOT employee noticed that the business had placed extra benches near the curb not included in their permit, leaving insufficient space for safe pedestrian travel. She spoke to the manager about the complaint and provided a written warning that did not involve a fine.
Within two weeks SDOT received another complaint. On February 28 the SDOT employee returned to the café and verified that both the umbrella and the extra benches were still in the same locations. At that time SDOT issued a $250 citation. While the city encourages activity on city sidewalks that increases the vibrancy of the area, it must be done in a way that allows pedestrians to safely use the nearby sidewalk space.