After complaint forces ‘heartbreaking’ closure of business, Seattle aims to loosen land use rules

Feb 22, 2021, 2:22 PM
Yonder Cider, land use rules...
Yonder Cider's Founder & President in front of her detached garage/cider shop. (Photo courtesy of Yonder Cider)
(Photo courtesy of Yonder Cider)

Yonder Cider — a popular Greenwood business that sold cans and growlers to-go out of a detached garage — was recently forced to shut down after a neighbor filed numerous complaints with the city. Now, Seattle city councilmembers are hoping to loosen land use laws to allow businesses like Yonder to freely operate, at least for the duration of the pandemic.

Beloved Yonder Cider shutting down after one Seattle neighbor complains

Yonder Cider’s owner, Caitlin Braam, had long sought to open her own hard cider tasting room. Those plans were put on hold by the pandemic, which saw her instead opt to use a detached garage to host a scaled-down iteration of her business.

After seven months, though, a neighbor successfully got her shut down, after pointing out to the city that operating a business that sold alcohol out of a residence blocks away from a school violated Seattle’s existing land use codes.

“We had regulars who had been visiting us for months, families who biked to see us every weekend and neighbors who up until our very last day would discover us with delight on their evening walk,” Braam said. “Its closure has been heartbreaking.”

That’s something Councilmembers Dan Strauss and Lorena Gonzalez are looking to change, especially with the ongoing COVID crisis forcing many businesses to find creative ways to stay open.

“The land use code is not set up to be responsive to emerging needs, such as the changing environment created by the pandemic,” Strauss said in a written release.

In practice, the proposed bill would remove a series of limitations imposed on businesses operating out of homes by Seattle’s current land use codes. Restrictions that would no longer exist include:

  • Requiring customer visits by appointment only
  • Limiting businesses run out of homes to just two employees who aren’t also residents of the home
  • Requiring that there’s “no evidence of the home occupation visible” from the exterior of the business

The plan is to have the ordinance remain in place for the duration of the pandemic, in hopes of providing an “even playing field” for businesses like Yonder Cider.

Why Seattle entrepreneur is opening new coffee shop during pandemic

“We appreciate the City Council’s openness and forward thinking on this topic,” Braam said Monday. “Starting a small business – COVID or not – is hard and it’s expensive. Allowing small businesses to safely and securely operate out of their homes not only frees them of the financial burden and stress that come with long term commercial leases, it gives them a chance to be a vibrant and contributing part of their community.”

The bill will be presented in the council’s land use committee on Wednesday, Feb. 24, with a vote in front of the full council set for Monday, March 15.

Local News

Echo Glen...
Dalton Day

Echo Glen youth detention center, site of recent escape, understaffed, underfunded, report says

A 2018 report indicates that employees of Echo Glen insist that the detention facility is short staffed, and that its counselors are not sufficiently trained.
21 hours ago
Washington voting...
Nick Bowman

Washington weighs significant changes to how (and when) it votes in 2022

A trio of proposals related to how Washington conducts its elections could bring dramatic voting changes to the state by the end of the legislative session.
21 hours ago
Paine Field 5G...
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

5G concerns, fog lead to more cancellations at Paine Field

More Alaska Airlines flights out of Paine Field were cancelled Thursday, citing issues created by the combination of 5G signals and fog.
21 hours ago
catalytic converter...
MyNorthwest Staff

Competing proposals for catalytic converter theft crackdown up for Thursday vote

Competing proposals from Democrats and Republicans to crack down on catalytic converter thefts are set for committee votes on Jan. 27.
2 days ago
Gov. Jay Inslee, long-term care tax...
MyNorthwest Staff

Gov. Inslee approves 18-month delay on long-term care tax

The Washington State Senate voted to delay implementation of the new long-term care payroll tax on Wednesday. 
2 days ago
Rideshare companies...
Nick Bowman

Rideshare companies pour millions into PAC ahead of push for Washington ballot initiative

Rideshare companies have poured over $2 million into a new PAC, in what appears to be the precursor for a Washington ballot initiative. 
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
After complaint forces ‘heartbreaking’ closure of business, Seattle aims to loosen land use rules