EDMONDS, Wash — As workers at Edmonds' Salish Sea Brewing decorate for the holidays, they also brace for another pandemic winter.
Owner Jeff Barnett says without outdoor seating approved by the city last year, he probably wouldn't be here.
"It completely saved our business," he said.
Outdoor seating in parking spots, known as "streateries," have been allowed in Edmonds since last December, in the wake of COVID-19 indoor dining restrictions.
About 30 much-needed parking spots downtown have been sacrificed for the outdoor seating.
The rule allowing them expires on December 31.
The city council must now decide whether to extend the permits throughout the winter and possibly into next summer.
Barnett says with the virus still very much around, it would be foolish to remove outdoor seating at this point in the pandemic.
"There are many people who still are not comfortable yet going inside," he said. "They want to be able to go out and do things. We want people to be able to come here and feel comfortable."
A few streets away sits Sound Style, a boutique Jenny Murphy has run for 37 years. She supports the streateries, but only to a point.
"They've saved our restaurants. They've done their job," she said. "Now it's time to get our streets back."
Murphy said she loses business from people who can't find parking.
Edmonds is known for its high population of retirees. Murphy said some of her older clientele can't walk long distances, so they skip shopping at her store if they can't find parking nearby.
Handicap parking spaces have been eliminated for the streateries, as well.
Murphy said it isn't just retailers who have a problem with the lack of parking. She contends other restaurants that don't have the outdoor option are losing out, too.
"I think we need to level the playing field. I think all restaurants need to be on the playing field together, not just the ones that have the streateries.
When asked if it's fair to keep parking from other businesses so restaurants can do better, Barnett said, "It's fair to the other businesses. There is still plenty of parking. In fact, it brings more business. It brings people to look inside store windows."
Murphy proposes having restaurants pay to use the public parking spaces.
"If they want to pay per square foot to have that be a part of their selling space, that would at least balance things a little bit more."
Public comment and a hearing on the issue is scheduled for Dec. 7 with a decision from the council expected on Dec. 14.
The City of Edmonds is encouraging people to let their opinions be heard by taking this survey until Dec. 6.