New bikini barista law goes into effect in Snohomish County

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by OWEN LEI & JENNIFER CABALA / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 7, 2010 at 9:24 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 7 at 6:55 PM

EVERETT, Wash. - New rules goes into effect today for bikini barista stands in Snohomish County. Espresso stands in the county featuring nearly naked baristas could be shut down as a public nuisance.

As of Thursday, baristas at least four stands were wearing bikinis, which are allowed under the new law.  The ordinance specifically cracks down on pasties and thongs, requiring stands who feature such to register as adult entertainment businesses.

"It'll probably make more parents happier that they're covering up," said Alyson Scott, a barista at the self-described family-friendly Java Jitters, which sits across the street from a bikini espresso stand. "I don't know if the've been necessarily covered up fully [the rest of the week, but] today, they've got  their tops on."

Snohomish County Council Chair Mike Cooper said the law really aims to crack down on lewd conduct.  Essentially, the ordinance is expected to reduce the number of nearly nude stands by regulating them more like strip clubs.

"More difficult to deal with the background checks, the fingerprinting of the employees, and the additional requirements of the screening from the public," said Cooper. "We'll see if that's what lasts."

Snohomish County was spurred to take action after a string of complaints ranging from baristas flashing customers to wearing pasties and thongs. And in Everett, several baristas were charged with prostitution for performing lewd acts to paying customers.

Family friendly businesses nearby said the stands were driving away customers who didn't want their children exposed to the activity.

This new ordinance would require baristas to cover up to at least a bikini.  If the stand doesn't want to do that, the owner would have to get an adult entertainment business license, be in an appropriately zoned area and all of the employees would have to be licensed as adult entertainers.

Perhaps one casualty -- a boarded up Grab N' Go Bikini Hut just outside Everett city limits. Owner Bill Wheeler said they tried going fully-clothed there and had to give up because they were making only $30 dollars a day.  Wheeler declined an on-camera, but said all his other baristas are in bikinis and he has no intention of registering as an adult business.

The county hopes this new law will spur surrounding areas to take up similar laws so the stands don't move around.

Everett has laws about lewd conduct but doesn't regulate nearly nude stands as adult businesses.

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