GEE AND URSULA

King County Council to consider ‘greater flexibility’ for residential businesses

Oct 28, 2021, 1:17 PM
residential businesses...
Credit Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash

One third of U.S. households during the pandemic reported working from home. At the same time, Americans started more than one million new small businesses, and many of those businesses have been out of people’s homes. So, is it now time to allow for more and different kinds of residential businesses to reflect this new work-from-home reality?

“The home occupation code has been in place for many generations, 80 years [or more in] some municipalities,” King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.

“It harkens back to a time when everybody went into a storefront, manufacturing facility, or an office complex to work, and very few people worked from home,” he continued. “Perhaps every 10 years it’s been updated, but it has not been updated since the COVID-19 pandemic began.”

“We have seen a seismic shift. I mean, a shift that hasn’t happened in centuries, really since industrialization, of people working from home,” Dunn said. “It’s high time, given all of the changes, that we at least look at it, open it up, think about it, talk about it and review what it is that we need to be doing in our homes and [review] what’s acceptable and what isn’t.”

Host Gee Scott asked Dunn why something as simple as a home bakery can become hamstrung by municipal code which disallows residential zones from operating as businesses.

“So here’s the deal. I’m on Instagram. I got cookies for sale. I mean fire, fire cookies,” Scott said. “You go ahead and you put in your order by 12 a.m. You go ahead and send me that Venmo or that Cash App, and you can come and pick up your cookies. Why should that not be able to happen? Is that fair for the cookie shop right down the street that’s paying their lease every month?”

“First of all, I want some of those cookies,” Dunn replied.

“But here’s the issue: I visited a baker just the other day, and they are long-time bakery in Black Diamond. They’ve earned the reputation. They have a business license. They have business insurance. They have to meet certain safety protocols in terms of the preparation of food as required by King County,” he explained. “All of a sudden, [with] what’s happened during this last pandemic year and a half, folks all over the state really are making from their own kitchens, which on its face kind of makes sense. But there aren’t any business licenses, there aren’t any standards for cleanliness.”

“Are we regulating enough some of these home occupations, and is it creating an unfair competition for those businesses who have to follow all the rules and have a storefront?”

“The home occupation code can do two things,” Dunn said. “It can reinforce and crack down on the folks who are operating outside of the current law. It can also expand, and it can provide opportunities for folks to work from home. I want to look at both sides of that coin to determine whether or not we are thinking through this properly.”

Dunn discussed how the code does not accommodate unique situations, which is one opportunity for amendment and change as he sees it.

“One of the challenges here is a real common scenario: husband and wife, one is an architect, one’s a lawyer, for example,” he continued. “They each have a home business, so they could have each have an employee, and they could each have clients. All of a sudden you’re talking about four [parking] spots in front of their house.”

“The code doesn’t contemplate that kind of a scenario,” he added. “We need to think through that. At the end of the day, you know what people do inside their homes, I think makes sense to encourage livelihood.”

Dunn mentioned the benefits of opening up the city code to accommodate more at-home businesses.

“They are not congesting the streets and highways with vehicle traffic to the downtown business core,” he added. “They are not engaging in expanded carbon emissions from the vehicle. It doesn’t require the county and state to build as many roads.”

However, he cautioned against amending those zoning regulations too dramatically for fear of losing the residential atmosphere which many King County neighborhoods enjoy.

“At the same time, you don’t want to turn neighborhood zones traditionally into a beehive of activity that no longer reflects the quality of life we’re used to,” he noted. “It’s a little bit like … opening Pandora’s box, but I think there’s opportunity for improvement.”

Dunn mentioned that he is interested in hearing from the community in terms of their suggestions for how to adjust the code to reflect a post-pandemic reality.

“One of the reasons I want to talk to you is I’m looking for ideas because I think everybody’s got their own scenario here that they can speak to where things would be better for them,” Dunn said.

“There may be that we can add in some creative solutions, … on a case by case basis, something[which] is appropriate in a given location,” he said. “It’s more nuanced, creates greater flexibility, gives people more options.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

UW football...
Gee and Ursula Show

Gee Scott says UW football fans need to have ‘patience’ with new coach

The UW football team has a new head coach: Kalen DeBoer, who was most recently at Fresco State. KIRO Radio's Gee Scott shares his opinion of the hire.
1 day ago
holiday shopping...
Gee and Ursula Show

Are you among the 11.5% of Americans not buying holiday gifts in 2021?

The Gee and Ursula Show discusses a survey that says a record number of Americans won't be buying holiday gifts this year.
2 days ago
east precinct, seattle police reform...
Gee and Ursula Show

Beyond the defund debate: Will new SPD budget deliver on promise of reform?

Did Seattle City Council's recently passed 2022 budget do enough to address calls for police reform dating back to the summer of 2020?
8 days ago
Kyle Rittenhouse...
Gee and Ursula Show

‘It hurts’: KIRO Radio hosts react in wake of Kyle Rittenhouse verdict

KIRO Radio's Gee Scott, Aaron Mason, and Andrew Lanier provide their thoughts following the Friday acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse.
12 days ago
Holiday travel...
Gee and Ursula Show

As pandemic still looms in Washington, ‘your level of concern is up to you’ for holiday travel

Washington health officials are urging caution for those who plan to travel for the holidays. But how concerned should people be?
13 days ago
High speed rail...
Gee and Ursula Show

Is a high speed rail line through Washington actually realistic, or is it a pipe dream?

Can Washington finally achieve its years-long dream of building a multi-state high speed rail line? So far, the answer remains unclear.
14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
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, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
King County Council to consider ‘greater flexibility’ for residential businesses