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City outlines draft of 7 conditions for Volunteer Park Cafe permit

The City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development has provided to CHS a list of the seven draft restrictions it is considering for a conditional use approval that will allow the Volunteer Park Cafe to continue operating in its current 17th Ave E location.


CHS reported on the public meeting held Monday night at Stevens Elementary where the cafe’s owners, neighbors who have opposed the permit and DPD planner Scott Kemp met with community members and heard their statements and questions about the zoning issue. Kemp said the draft list of conditions below will likely be part of his approval of the use permit when it is submitted. Many of the issues covered by the conditional requirements were discussed Monday but this is the first time specifics have been laid out for neighbors, supporters of the cafe and those who oppose the permit.

Most significant in the draft list is likely condition 7. It would restrict permit approval to only an establishment doing business as a restaurant or cafe and would expressly prohibit the opening of a bar or a club at the location. 

The conditions do not reference the private covenant that both sides in the zoning dispute have confirmed they are discussing. Neighbors involved in the negotiations and cafe owners Ericka Burke and Heather Earnhardt have declined to discuss the covenant in detail at this time. While additional restrictions on the cafe are possible, other similar agreements have outlined mitigation or spelled out arbitration processes for any future conflicts. Private covenants that are more restrictive than city zoning are, of course, legal as long as the covenant itself doesn’t create an illegal requirement.

Here is the DPD list of draft conditions. When the official decision has been published, a DPD bulletin will go out and the appeal period will begin. There’s a chance that  VPC will have its new permit in hand and, with the conditions below, will be sorting out a new way of doing business in the neighborhood by summer.

  1. On site dining and food preparation activities shall take place only within the principal structure.  Portions of the site westward of the principal structure (the rear yard) may be used for raising animals or cultivation as otherwise permitted or restricted by City of Seattle codes and regulations.  Adjacent right-of-ways may be used for restaurant activities as authorized in City SDOT permits.  The rear yard shall be fenced, have only self closing gates, and all gates shall have signs permanently affixed stating “Private Yard, Not for Restaurant Use.”
  2. Exhaust from the restaurant kitchen shall be vented and released at a point above the second story roof of the principal structure on the site.  Changes to the current kitchen vent shall be undertaken pursuant to an issued DPD permit and shall be accomplished within nine months of the issuance of this MUP decision. 
  3. The hours of restaurant customer service shall be from 7:00 am to 10:30 pm with no food orders taken after 9:00 pm.  Tables and chairs in the sidewalk shall not be used by restaurant customers after 5:00 pm and measures shall be taken, as necessary, by the restaurant operators to ensure the 5:00 pm cut off is observed.
  4. Garbage and recycling bins shall be kept in an area enclosed by a fence at least six feet tall with self closing gates.
  5. Amplified music is permitted only within the restaurant shall be kept to a “background” level not plainly audible within surrounding residences.
  6. For the first two years following issuance of this permit the restaurant proprietors shall host a quarterly, weekday evening or weekend day meeting with all interested neighbors to discuss relations between the parties or other neighborhood business.
  7. Activities conducted under the authority of the restaurant use established by this permit approval shall be limited to dining oriented restaurant and coffee shop use.  Commercial uses which emphasize entertainment or liquor consumption are prohibited.  Wine and beer can be served only in conjunction with food orders.  Hard liquor may not be served on the premises.
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Sara Jones
Sara Jones
10 years ago

Just to clarify, the neighbors have never “opposed the permit”. WE HAVE ALWAYS SUPPORTED THE ISSUANCE OF A PERMIT AND THE CONTINUED SUCCESSFUL OPERATION OF VOLUNTEER CAFE with REASONABLE CONDITIONS that help preserve the residential character of our neighborhood. Please stop making this seem so divisive.

Tyler
Tyler
10 years ago

No using the chairs after 5 outside? I hope none of the people in the surrounding houses plan on using their decks or porches outside after 5. Just to be fair and all. It really does sound that ridiculous.

I live about 4 blocks away, and when I go for an after work jog, there are plenty of people out. 5 seems a bit extreme to me.

Nimby
Nimby
10 years ago

Give it up sara. I heard conversations from members of your little group early on implicitly stating you wanted the cafe closed. Seriously we all know you focused on the zoning of the building for non commercial use early on. You got a clue and realized shutting it down was not an option so you came to the table and forced a deal. You are not good neighbors and will be treated as such.

geeezus
geeezus
10 years ago

….this has to be the single most ridiculous set of conditions that I could imagine. What have the surrounding neighbors met half way on? Allowing the place to stay open even? What am I missing? Like none of them has a barking dog? Lawn mower after 5? Brat kids screaming and playing?

Seriously…I feel so bad for the owners of that place. What a nightmare. These losers are going to be taking their daily walks with a sound pressure meter on hand at 4:59 ready to bitch and moan about someone STILL enjoying their coffee and talking on a sidewalk at 5:01. We agreed NOBODY ALLOWED OUTSIDE (front or back) after 5 and that is NOT background music Mr…..I hear words DAMN IT!!!!! ha….omg.

P.s…..don’t think for a second I didn’t see you close that gate to the dumpster buddy. That was NOT an automatic swinging door. You’re so going down!!!

hmtt
hmtt
10 years ago

You are missing a lot.

The cafe was operating illegally. The neighbors did compromise which gives the cafe the opportunity to come into compliance. Seems like a win-win for both sides.

Stop complaining and move on. They worked it out.

yaya
yaya
10 years ago

you just don’t get it…residential neighborhood homeowners have more rights than a non-compliant business; it’s called zoning.
“Brat kidsscreaming and playing”, come on, get over yourself.

NIMBYist
NIMBYist
10 years ago

Just in time for summer, no eating or drinking outside!

Nimby
Nimby
10 years ago

So true. You know the petty complaints from this little group will keep flowing well after any forced deal is over and done. The community loses and the business loses. Lose lose situation for everyone but a half dozen bored boomers.

umvue
umvue
10 years ago

when the beloved current owners vacate and an unloved owner/occupant moves in: “Holy shit! There’s a commercial operation in our pretty little neighborhood!”

Chris
Chris
10 years ago

What a terrible sounding neighborhood. Im glad I don’t live there. I wonder how many of the neighbors were born in Seattle and how many fled here to escape the mess they made of their previous home towns.

Alle C. Hall
Alle C. Hall
10 years ago

The conditions are being imposed by the City.

Every resident has exactly the same power: to make our needs known to DPD through the public process. Every resident was invited to submit letters, to attend the public meeting, and to continue discussions with DPD as they saw fit. As a result of everyone’s input, DPD is making its decision.

Volunteer Park Neighbors responds to CHS’ article here.

http://wp.me/p13gjT-Oz

We are taking the unprecedented step of opening this post on our blog to comments. We encourage your civil responses and honest questions. We will reply as quickly as we can. We will delete any comment that is uncivil and we will not respond.

Our goal is to promote productive dialogue with community members who are interested acknowledging each other’s perspective. Our goal is to remain a neighborhood.

poseur
poseur
10 years ago

You probably couldn’t afford to live there anyway, but thanks for your comment.

sergio
sergio
10 years ago

Why would anyone want to operate a business there when the neighbors are so against them? The restrictions are so much nonsense….no out door seating after 5:00pm?

I am very familiar with this location even though I do not, and have not lived in this area…but go by it all the time for many years now. Nothing has lasted very long at that location before. There finally seems to be a successful business and the neighbors want to end it?

when
when
10 years ago

As part of this process, are they getting fined for violating their original permit and operating a business outside those original permits?

If not, this should be investigated.

mertle
mertle
10 years ago

This will kill the summer business….I don’t see the sidewalk tables interfering with the neighborhood; what an unhappy development.

boz
boz
10 years ago

Don’t get them started.

genevieve
genevieve
10 years ago

that’s the only provision that feels extreme to me – seems like 8pm would be more appropriate, even given the residential nature of the neighborhood. The rest of it is entirely reasonable, to the point of being a no-brainer.

Another Neighbor
Another Neighbor
10 years ago

I absolutely agree. That was the only point that jumped out at me as well. 8pm seems fine or they could use “dusk” as that would self-adjust for the time of year. The City uses dusk for many other public areas for that very reason. It seems to me that would strike a pretty good balance for the immediate neighbors as well – wind things down outside when it is starting to get dark. That is what most of us do anyway.

linder seattle
linder seattle
10 years ago

So if inside table service starts at 5 or 5:30 and no table service is allowed at the sidewalk tables (as mentioned in older posts) then the 5pm time is probably established to assure that no sidewalk table service is offered or expected.

newman
newman
10 years ago

Groucho (and his bottle) is rollin’ in his grave.

Bababooee
Bababooee
10 years ago

Alle. Maybe we should just email you our contact info to make things easier with your ip sniffing project. Are you going to bully everyone here who doesnt agree with you just like what you pulled on VPC?

Stop the Madness
Stop the Madness
10 years ago

Cafe –

Whatever the covenant agreement is, why would you sign it? The City’s process is complete and fair. The small number of people who opposed the cafe have had their say, amplifying their voice by using the name “Neighbors.” This small group can hardly expect to remain on good terms with their neighbors, most of whom genuinely love the cafe, if they continue to oppose the City’s reasonable plan. I’m sure you are exhausted and this contentious process has caused you many sleepless nights, but there is no need for you to sign any covenants unless the benefits to you are substantial and clear.

We value your presence in the neighborhood. Hope you can put this behind you and enjoy a peaceful spring.

Tom
Tom
10 years ago

Fine him all you want, he’d still be blasting music any time he wants.

ejs
ejs
10 years ago

@poseur

It appears you escaped the mess you made in your previous hometown, huh? Well go back and clean it up.

Ops
Ops
10 years ago

Focus on the issues and not your love of stuffing your face with pastries.

The “neighbors” don’t oppose the cafe. They oppose them operating illegally.

Sheesh
Sheesh
10 years ago

Speaking of not being able to afford to live somewhere, it sounds like a handful of Laurelhurst or Medina wannabes are a little bitter about their earning potential, and are trying to make everyone else as unhappy as they are.

Thank God I’m too poor to have such miserable people in my ‘hood.

Moo
Moo
10 years ago

You wind down when it gets dark? Are you a farm animal?

phil
phil
10 years ago

I’m not sure why the neighbors are so mean to this business. Can someone that is familiar with this discussion explain why in the summer people can’t sit outside after 5:00PM. Is it because the people might talk, or laugh? I don’t want to get down on the neighbors, but isn’t a cafe and the life it brings what makes a city an interesting place to be?

I live a couple of blocks away from this business. I just have to presume that the neighbors would just as soon see the business close.

We live in a mean country.

flabergasted
flabergasted
10 years ago

…is that if I owned that business, I would sooner set my hair on fire than invest any more money into that location. Now is the time to take their good reputation, excellent food, and move on. There are lots of places that would appreciate a proven business with a loyal following. Ride the lease out and look for somewhere where you will be adored.

A Neighbor
A Neighbor
10 years ago

Outside, does it really matter? You cannot drink beer or wine at these seats, and you cannot have ANY table service. They are seats that patrons AND the general public may sit at and use.

“A Tables and Chairs Permit allows the adjacent business to set out tables and chairs on the sidewalk immediately adjacent to the business. While available to their patrons, these tables and chairs are open for use by the general public, table service may not be provided, and alcohol cannot be consumed. Tables and chairs must be removed daily and no fixed improvements (i.e. a railing or other obstruction) may be installed.”

A Neighbor
A Neighbor
10 years ago

And yet, nobody seems to care, the outside tables, where diners were served beer and wine at, and received table service last summer, were clearly illegal and a violation of the DOT permit. The VPC attitude of lets see how we can do it until we get caught is short sighted and is now coming back to haunt them.

A Neighbor
A Neighbor
10 years ago

Err, what permit. There are no DPD permits on file for the VPC, one of the major complaints that neighbors have had. No permit for the kitchen improvements, no permits for any remodeling, etc. etc. etc.

But that’s okay, who needs to worry about things like occupancy, fire protection, and public safety? Their baked goods are delicious!!!!

when
when
10 years ago

I guess I might have been using the wrong word…

Clearly, the space was permitted for use for SOMETHING (a grocery store, it seems).

It seems to me, they violated that use and, for those violations, they should be reprimanded. Otherwise, businesses everywhere would be violating their intended-use allowances and then asking for forgiveness later all for potential increased profits while having a negative impact on their surrounding neighbors.

Xavier
Xavier
10 years ago

Amen, as in yes, indeed.

Amazing decision. In an era of theoretical neighborhood building, this is a terrible decision. The city, has no guts.

We are being told – do it local – and then we push a nice little cafe, right there on the corner to the wall… the city.

Save energy walk to the cafe …oh, it has to close early. Lower carbon emissions, ride the bike on weekends to the place with good coffee and a pastry – god is so stuffy in here – another rule, can’t get service at four or five little tables outside. Stuffy cause can’t just open the windows, the old bat taking notes every day hates us, cause her life is so sterile.

Very bad decision. Clue, we are in theory re-thinking our neighborhoods to serve a different era …. THIS one!!!!

when
when
10 years ago

How’s it not “mean” of the cafe to try to implement changes to their business in the name of profit that could negatively impact their surrounding neighbors?

And put a bus layover in....
And put a bus layover in....
10 years ago

Why is this “the city’s” fault? Some savvy homeowners used the arbitration process that was developed in an earlier era, when Seattle didn’t have as many wealthy, entitled, under-taxed, whiny boomers living in it to hassle a business that wasn’t Bellevue enough for them. “The City” can’t pick and choose what stupid neighborhood dramas it has to referee.

But turnabout is fair play. If this cafe goes out, I’d love to see one of those “groceries” that just sell beer, cigarettes, canned goods, porn, and lotto take it’s place. Perfectly legal, and usually perfectly dreadful. What would the NIMBY’s do then?

March
March
10 years ago

Yesterday, mid-morning, I sat at the cafe and listened to a woman named Kristen talk (loudly) on her cell to someone she called Liz. They were posting comments I can only assume they thought would help the cafe. From the tenor of the comments, I take it that many, many of the over-the-top, anti-neighbor comment posted here is the work of these two, with some assistance perhaps by like-minded neighbors intent on stirring up strife precisely when the issue appears to be settling down.

On CHS’ last article related to this matter, I wrote that because of the cooperative attitude Ericka showed at the public meeting, I would again resume patronage of her cafe.

Because of the devise attitude displayed by these cafe supporters, I will again cease my patronage. If Ericka cannot step in to quell this needless agitation, then Ericka supports it, and I will not support her.

When's friend
When's friend
10 years ago

Hiya. Can you provide us with the addresses of the 3 homes occupied by the people causing this ruckus on the street. I want to make sure the county property appraiser and the city’s permitting office can verify all their home info is accurate and up to date. Thanks in advance.

when
when
10 years ago

Hi WF! This is all public information. Check out the parcel viewer here http://www.kingcounty.gov/operations/GIS/PropResearch/Parcel

You can click on the 2 houses next to the cafe for starters to get the information you are researching. GL.

jseattle
jseattle
10 years ago

Several comments were posted this morning — and removed — from visitors using multiple names. Please refrain from “sock-puppetry” — If you want to repost a comment that was removed (or multiple comments) please do so from one username. It’s a simple thing that goes a long way toward making a better community.

when
when
10 years ago

jseattle I’m shocked anyone would be so desperate to prove a point they would sink to sock-puppetry here. The people at the meeting seemed so honest and grounded, especially the woman dressed in disguise.

Xavier
Xavier
10 years ago

Sally Clark is big on such issues.

Time to revisit the zoning laws for single family. This use is not a factory, not even a gs station. But a family family sandwich shop and cafe.

Driving to the city center or the neighborhood shopping strip for this type of service is obsolete, totally.

Sally, you read here, I bet. Time has come. Start with the so called urban zones, ie. Cap. Hill where this fracas has spotlighted the problems with obsolete zoning.

And I do think it has a lot to do with the city, because they can grant waivers and use tons of pressure on the systems they fund and control …

genevieve
genevieve
10 years ago

PML! Xavier, do you really think there are no neighborhood cafes in existence outside of downtown besides VPC? They are all over the city, and I’m pretty certain most of them have been able to function alongside their neighbors with little to no problems. There’s one a block from my house in fact.

Also, if you live in Cap Hill, I sincerely hope that you are walking or at least taking the bus to downtown instead of driving.

Actual neighbor
Actual neighbor
10 years ago

As the show of hands at the public meeting showed, most of the actual neighbors support the cafe. Many of us were pretty annoyed about people doing stuff in our name.

Actual neighbor
Actual neighbor
10 years ago

Hey “neighbor” you’re right. We didn’t care.

In this case the law is an ass and we’ve now lost a nice feature of the neighborhood. But hey, the
Aw is the law right?

Sheesh.

Mark F
Mark F
10 years ago

I know you are going to delete this comment to control the conversation.

It is disingenuous between the biased reporting on VPC and anonymous comments that you pick and choose whether to delete for you to claim any sort of part in community building.

He plants
He plants
10 years ago

-You defined the community as “those who support VPC, in full.”
-You define the neighbors who live next to DPD as not a part of the community.
-You are furious that they use the city process for the reason it was designed (per Scot Kemp at the meeting: to protect property rights).
-You are furious that they use the name Volunteer Park Neighbors. You are Volunteer Park Neighbors! See step one.
-You are furious that you were never invited to be part of Volunteer Park Neighbors.

Liz, and Kristen (Sycamore, who identified herself at the public meeting and spoke in the terms described above), and anyone else who thinks “Neighbors bad, VPC good”: we are long past those terms. As of now, we are all Volunteer Park Neighbors. Let’s get with the new program.

Another Neighbor
Another Neighbor
10 years ago

Moo, thanks for the thoughtful question.

My point was a sincere one. In summer, when we have people over, we are often outside in our back yard. When it starts to get dark (9:30 or 10 in summer), we usually move the party inside. We do it out of respect for the neighbors (some of whom have little ones). My point is that there is a balance here and that 5pm seems unnecessarily early. Something like restricting outside table/chair use after dusk makes more sense. Because the cafe is right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, I agree with my other neighbors there should be some restriction, but something that is more reasonable.

Another Neighbor
Another Neighbor
10 years ago

Mark- In reading through these comments, it is hard for me to tell which side J is on if he really is “picking and choosing” which comments get posted. I think it is proper for him to point out that some were trying to use multiple names and not allow that (on HIS blog). Kind of a “keeping them honest” sort of role.

J- I am a little disappointed in your lack of business acumen. You should post a VPC story every day and charge for making comments. It would make those advertising dollars look like peanuts!

Mark F
Mark F
10 years ago

It might be hard to tell because comments are getting deleted. The comments are also anonymous so it doesn’t really matter what name anyone uses or whether they use different names for different comments.

That’s fine if it is “his” blog but then let’s not pretend it’s about community. Controlling the conversation makes the blog about Justin or his agenda. I’m not complaining about that but let’s not hide behind a higher purpose.

jseattle
jseattle
10 years ago

Mark F, my agenda is to maintain CHS as an excellent forum for neighborhood issues. Sock puppetry is one of the trolling behaviors that we can do something about to help keep this site’s comments useful. There’s no productive scenario I can think of for multiple comments on a post from the same visitor using different usernames.

You’re welcome to bring your views to the site and I hope you will — if you are going to do so in a useful way that doesn’t exhibit trolling characteristics.

He plants
He plants
10 years ago

It sounds like the benefits to the cafe owners for signing are “substantial and clear” enough that they are willing to sign the covenant.

“Stop the Madness” and like-minded posters must have missed the public meeting. Ericka apologized for the situation she caused. She said clearly that she was in accord with the covenant, and that she could run a profitable business without the patio.

Her job is to run her business. Your job is to let it go.

whine-one-one
whine-one-one
10 years ago

I cannot believe how infantile these comments are, especially from the ignoramuses who haven’t bothered to read up on the facts or the background. Spend more time attending hearing and less time posting passive-aggressive online comments if you want your ill-informed opinion to count for something.

Alle
9 years ago

It is interesting to re-read, in context of:

-VPC agreeing to the covenant, and NOT going out of business, as was feared by its fans;
-the neighbors not appealing the City decision and fighting on to drive VPC out of business -also feared.

As one of the neighbors opposed to VPC’s backyard expansion but always in favor of a small restaurant operating legally within the indoors of the first floor, I am completely satisfied with the outcome.

Our street is returning to the way it was when VPC first opened:
-neighbors going in and out of the cafe;
-the background sounds of pleasant conversation emanating forth.
-Customers seem to be taking more care to not smoke in front of my house, and not to litter.
-The staff is more respectful.
-Compost and garbage bins are usually closed.

Delivery truck parking is still problematic, but no one’s fears have come to pass: that VPC would close up shop, or expand to such a point that the adjacent neighbors could not longer enjoy their own back yards, front yards, or leave their windows open. And we can look forward to things staying this way for 40 years: quiet enough while remaining profitable enough.

Win-win, all the way around.

Moderate
9 years ago

This is exactly what happens when lunatic hypocritical lefties cannot work with a small shit business. Hilarious!