Residents’ dislike for something doesn’t make it illegal
MONROE - The Everett area is no stranger to scantily-clad baristas ruffling the feathers of disapproving residents, and Monroe can now be officially added to the list of the ruffled.
At a City Council meeting last week, city staff discussed complaints gathered over the past couple of months from residents about two of the city’s “bikini barista” stands — espresso stands that feature women serving coffee while wearing little clothing.
Bikini barista stands have been popping up all over the area since the early 2000s.
City planner Paul Popelka said he’s “not convinced” that the two stands, Rodeo Espresso and Hillbilly Hotties Coffee Company, which are both fully licensed and entitled to conduct business, are violating any indecent exposure laws.
At this point, he said, the complaints are based on “he said, she said” and there is no proof anything illegal is going on at the stands.
In order for the city to find out if the baristas are violating municipal code because of how they’re dressed, an investigation might need to be conducted by “checking on” the girls, eliciting some laughter from the council.
This might also constitute a form of harassment, Popelka said.
Police Chief Tim Quenzer said during a recent check based on one of the complaints that police “did not observe anything that would be in violation of the city code as far as indecent exposure as it is currently written.”
Hillbilly Hotties owner Jovanna Edge spoke at the meeting in defense of her stand, which she said isn’t doing anything wrong.
She started out as a “family coffee stand,” but said her business just wasn’t surviving that way.
“Was it worth losing my house, my cars, my horses, my stuff? Or was it worth trying something different? So I chose to try something different,” Edge said.
And since then, she said her employees are not only happy to come to work, but the change over to a bikini barista stand saved her business.
Residents like Edge believe Monroe has bigger fish to fry.
“Here in Monroe we have a lot more issues to deal with, like homeless people and drug addicts,” Edge said.
Resident Julianna Crawshaw felt differently.
“The issue is the zoning and whether this is constituted as adult entertainment,” Crawshaw said.
Crawshaw said the Monroe municipal code, citing chapter 5.48, should identify the bikini barista stands as adult entertainment and they should be zoned as such.
Crawshaw mentioned that “the women having their tooshies exposed” and “anything that arouses the public” constitutes adult entertainment.
Quenzer disagreed with her interpretation of the law.
Popelka mentioned later in the meeting that adult entertainment would be “hard to define for the city because the primary purpose of what they’re doing is selling coffee.”
Crawshaw added that she and others in the community will pray for the owners of the espresso stands and is sorry that running a “regular” coffee stand isn’t lucrative enough.
Mayor Robert Zimmerman added that “the establishments are allowable by law, however, should there be any evidence of misconduct or violation of city or state ordinance law, the city will do whatever they can to enforce those to the fullest extent.”
Zimmerman also said that if the decency of the baristas’ outfits needed to be investigated, he would prefer it be handled by the Police Department