EVERETT, Wash. - The Snohomish County Council has passed an ordinance requiring that bikini barista stands with partially nude employees or sexually suggestive signs be licensed as adult entertainment.
The ordinance passed Wednesday requires employees and customers to be at least 18. Violators could be shut down as a public nuisance.
"It was allowed to persist in Snohomish County too long," said business owner Rhonda Bremond. One of those stands is in her parking lot.
The Snohomish County council's unanimous vote means if stands want to keep the pasties and thongs, they have to be licensed as adult businesses with all the restrictions that come with that distinction.
"So that it's clear to everybody, so that you and I can peacefully coexist in the same neighborhood, this is how we have to act towards one another," said Bremond.
"Whatever the law is, that's what we'll follow," said Bill Wheeler, owner of the Grab 'N' Go Bikini Huts. He feels that businesses like his are being unfairly targeted.
"I'm just amazed that the county council is worried about this when their budget's out of whack and people are living out on the street. They're not even worried about them," said Wheeler.
But some say the ordinances don't go far enough. Specifically, they only go as far as the edges of unincorporated Snohomish County. Stands in Everett, for example, are not affected. And while they do have new city laws against lewd conduct, there's nothing on the books about what baristas cannot wear.
The laws say you can qualify as an "adult sales practice" if your employees are partially nude. That includes, wearing things like g-strings, t-backs, thongs, body paints, body dye and latex.
The one word you won't see?
Wheeler says he has no intention of getting an adult business license. He says, for now, he's asked the girls to cover up and eventually, they'll go back to bikinis.
"We're not going to move our stand," said Wheeler.
Those stands that do license as adult businesses, their employees would also need licenses. They'd also have to put up Adults Only signs and they'd be subject to fines and jail time for breaking nuisance laws pertaining to adult businesses.
The county laws take effect Jan. 1, 2010.