There was a public hearing on the budget on Tuesday night’s Spokane Valley City Council agenda, along with the annual funding allocations for outside agencies. But it was the subject of scantily clad baristas that was on the collective mind of the 200 or so that packed City Hall.
With attendees spilling out into the hallway and the parking lot, it was easily the largest crowd to ever attend a council meeting in the city’s 10-year history. More showed up than when the council made controversial decisions to review library or law-enforcement service, or when it passed the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan.
About 50 marched to the microphone for over three hours to recount tales of G-string and pastie-wearing young women, employees of XXXtreme Espresso, exposing themselves to Sprague Avenue while motorists made their way to school or work.
While the council breezed through its regular business – no one testified on the 2014 city budget, which is set to be adopted Oct. 22 – officials sat silently and listened as bikini baristas was not an agenda item.
On Monday, Mayor Tom Towey said he was bracing himself for what was to come the following night.
“It’s a hot issue,” Towey said. “It’s our duty to look at it.”
Towey pointed to Washington state RCW 9A.88.010’s definition of indecent exposure – a gross misdemeanor if there is “any open and obscene exposure of his or her person or the person of another knowing that such conduct is likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm” – as the city’s current guidepost. However, many who spoke Tuesday against the coffee stand, located near City Hall in the 117000 block of East Sprague, said the business should be defined under the city code of “adult entertainment” – and licensed and moved to a corresponding city zone – due to its “topless Tuesdays and Thursdays” when bikinis and lingerie give way to the more provocative attire.
“Absolutely that code should be enforced,” said Shelly Clark, who spoke first. “(XXXtreme Espresso) needs to get a business license for adult entertainment. We have codes for that level of entertainment.”
The coffee stand’s first Spokane store on Northwest Boulevard has already attracted the attention of residents there, including Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan who has proposed an “unlawful public exposure ordinance” there.
Spokane Valley city officials did not discuss any plans to put the issue on a future council agenda at Tuesday’s meeting.
Most spoke on “protecting the children” from seeing something they shouldn’t, while others stated the stand was a danger to families and even traffic safety.
“Eventually, it will cause an accident,” said Francis Langston.
Debra Long, who sits on the Central Valley School District board of directors, said that the district has had to re-route buses away from Sprague Avenue and that the XXXtreme Espresso gives the city a bad name.
“It’s not Spokane Valley,” Long said. “We hold our values close to our heart.”
In other news, the council allocated $150,000 to outside agencies providing social and economic-development services to the city. Those receiving funds included:
- Greater Spokane Inc., $36,714 (requested $50,000)
- Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, $11,571 (requested ($25,900)
- Spokane Area Workforce Development, $4,186 (requested $14,915)
- Spokane River Forum, $929 (requested $1,500)
- Spokane Valley Arts Council, $7,857 (requested $22,500)
- Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, $2,171 (requested $2,350)
- Valleyfest, $24,429 (requested $50,000)
- Big Brothers Big Sisters, $2,429 (requested $7,848)
- Children’s Home Society, $3,071 (requested $6,000)
- Coalition of the Responsible Disabled, $2,143 (requested $6,000)
- Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, $5,286 (requested $10,000)
- Hearth Homes, $5,214 (requested $15,000)
- Spokane Guilds School Foundation, $4,286 (requested $10,500)
- Spokane Valley Partners, $34,071 (requested $40,000)
- YWCA, $5,643 (requested $9,780)
The Tuesday, Oct. 1, council meeting has been canceled. The next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.