Day or night, it seems if bikini baristas is on the agenda, a full house can be expected at a gathering of the Spokane Valley City Council.
On Oct. 3, however, it was council members doing the talking, as they directed city staff to draft an ordinance to regulate what’s worn at drive-thru coffee stands.
That decision drew cheers from the standing-room-only crowd. Two weeks ago, many of those in attendance passionately voiced their displeasure to the council that employees of XXX Espresso were baring their G-stringed and pastie-covered bodies to Sprague Avenue motorists on “Topless Tuesdays and Thursdays” at the business, located not far east of City Hall.
At the rare 1 p.m. work session, City Attorney Cary Driskell said the city’s existing ordinances are not strong enough to curtail the coffee-cuties’ current sales formula.
“We’ve determined that it’s not something that the city could enforce,” Driskell said. “The existing laws that we have do not prohibit that kind of conduct.”
Earlier in the week, the Spokane City Council voted 4-2 not to follow a similar path that Spokane Valley will now take. Driskell said he is studying a Yakima ordinance that was enacted two years ago that was created to address a similar problem.
Council members, in support of a new law, said they were not interested in “legislating morality,” however many felt that the owners of XXX Espresso were taking things too far.
Still, Mayor Tom Towey – who is not seeking re-election -- had some choice words for those who had sent him and other city officials’ e-mail voicing their displeasure over the coffee stand and demanding the city take action.
“It’s ironic that we did receive a few threats,” Towey said. “We tell our kids not to bully.”
Council Member Chuck Hafner said that “it’s a matter of compromise.”
“We’ll go through the proper procedures to develop an ordinance that reflects the city’s values but also protects the business’ rights.
Council Member Rod Higgins said the owner of the coffee stand “put her finger in our eye” by flaunting a loophole in the city’s laws.
“Let’s see if we can legally return the favor,” he said.