Owner: Seattle business suffering ‘death by 1,000 paper cuts’
Recently, Biscuit Bitch owner Kimmie Spice sent a very scathing letter to the Seattle City Council, calling them out for out-of-control taxes with very little to show for it, while also addressing the prevalence of homelessness and rampant traffic. It echoed the concerns of plenty of business owners who operate in the Seattle area.
Dan Austin is the owner of Peel and Press in Seattle and Flight Path in Burien. He’s also not happy with the direction of the region, and he joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss why the letter caught on so quickly.
“There’s just a lack of understanding from the council of what it takes to own and operate small businesses and what we bring to the community. And it seems like we just constantly have to fight for survival or fight for just some sanity to continue to try to live our dream and fund local neighborhood businesses,” Austin said. “It’s getting to the point where people are just starting to break.”
In the original letter by Spice, the Biscuit Bitch owner echoed sentiments expressed by much of the business community, which is that small businesses are being put through wringer by the city without any tangible return on investment.
“Every time I turn around, I’m paying a new tax for a sign permit or an awning or a table outside, B&O tax, sugar tax, a myriad of licenses, elevator permits, health permits, higher property taxes that are passed on in my triple net, etc. etc.,” Spice wrote.
“And what do I get in return from the city? Streets that take over an hour to get less than ONE MILE from one of my shops to another to transfer my products because my commercial vehicle is not allowed to drive down 3rd Ave anymore,” she continued. “Construction EVERYWHERE leaving no place to park delivery vehicles and blocking the customer entrances to my businesses, making my shops filthy with exhaust and dust and making my employees feel ill all summer long.”
Spice went to criticize the city for not doing enough to handle the affordability crisis, Seattle police staffing issues, and the ongoing homeless problems, in which members of her staff have been “threatened and assaulted by homeless or mentally ill people.”
For Austin, business are suffering “death by 1,000 paper cuts.” He understands where Spice is coming from and just hopes that they city would work as hard to fix problems that impact business as they do to tax them.
“In 2017, the business license for myself was going from $110 up to $480, and I believe the new one is $511 for my yearly permit. That was to pay for 200 police officers, and OK, I’ll pitch in. That’s great. I’m for public safety and for making sure that the society in general is taking care of,” Austin said.
“But when we have less police officers than we had in 2017, where did that money go? And why am I paying it if we’re not getting any increase in public safety … I have a small deck on the back of my restaurant in West Seattle, and I’m not in an urban area, and I had to pull a tent, sleeping bag and some other stuff out from under the deck of my restaurant on a Saturday night because someone was trying to move in underneath my deck.”
Seattle business and the council
Over in West Seattle, Austin is represented by incumbent Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who attempted to cut members from the Navigation Team which deals with homelessness. Sufficed to say, Austin is not a fan.
“If you walk and down the main street in West Seattle, California Avenue, go look at the small businesses. Look at Husky Deli, Easy Street Records, Elliott Bay Brewing, West Five. You walk around the small local businesses that have been here for a long time and are trusted, great community leaders, and all you’re going to see are Tavel signs (Phil Tavel, who is running against Lisa Herbold). I have not seen a single small business with a Herbold sign in the window.”
In any case, Austin thinks more and more letters like the Biscuit Bitch are bound to come.
“They keep coming up with the taxes and they don’t turn around and actually do anything to support us. That’s what’s starting to get people to write letters like you saw yesterday.”
Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.