What's Going on With Pandora's Adult Cabaret?

Over the last several weeks, it’s been well reported that Wedgwood may be in line for a new adult cabaret at the former Seven Sea’s restaurant, located at 8914 Lake City Way NE.  The Wedgwood Community Council has formally opposed the adult cabaret and has been working with the Maple Leaf Community Council and Meadowbrook Community Council to complete the due diligence necessary to verify whether the adult cabaret is authorized as its proposed location.  The WCC has voiced its general opposition on this proposed adult cabaret and perceived deficiencies in the code through numerous emails to City officials; letters; and in fact requested comment from Councilmembers Conlin, Burgess, and Bagshaw during the Seattle Channel’s latest episode of City Inside/Out with C.R. Douglas (Councilmember Conlin responds at minute 21:42).

As we explained earlier, adult cabaret’s are approved commercial uses in C1-40 zones, according to Section 23.47A.004(H) of the Seattle Municipal Code, provided they’re located beyond 800 feet “from any lot line of property on which any of the following uses has been established by permit or otherwise recognized as a legally established use: community center; child care center; school, elementary or secondary; or public parks and open space use.”  As none of these uses were identified by the City as part of their dispersion analysis (see the City’s result here), the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) was required to authorize the permit for the future Pandora’s Adult Cabaret as it is a constitutionally protected use.  In fact, since it’s an approved commercial use under certain circumstances, no public notification is required.

Over the past several days, it has come to our attention that a state-licensed at-home daycare which has been approved for over 10 years to care for up to 6 children from ages 11 months to 7 years according to the Washington State Department of Early Learning’s Child Care Check database.  However, according to Andy McKim with Seattle DPD:

Child care centers and community centers are both institutional use categories, defined at Section 23.84A.018 of the Land Use Code.  (You may view Municipal Code sections on-line at http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~public/code1.htm.)  Although daycare services may be provided on a small scale as an accessory use, for example as a home occupation, such an activity typically would not be established by use permit, and would not be regarded as a “child care center” for purposes of the dispersion standard for adult cabarets.  Likewise, we recognize that many institutions (such as churches) and businesses allow their premises to be used for community assembly purposes from time to time, but these facilities are not established as community centers, and would not be regarded as such for purposes of the dispersion standard.

As Mr. Kim explains, “child care centers” are considered “institutional” uses under SMC 23.84A.018, which is defined as follows:

Institution’ means structure(s) and related grounds used by organizations for the provision of educational, medical, cultural, social and/or recreational services to the community, including but not limited to the following uses:…

‘Child care center’ means an institution that regularly provides care to a group of children for less than twenty-four (24) hours a day, whether for compensation or not. Preschools shall be considered to be child care centers.”

Based on this definition, it would appear that an at-home daycare which has been licensed and recognized by the Washington State Department of Early Learning’s Child Care for over 10 years would meet the intent of the code.  It is our belief that the code did not intend to exclude those child care centers that could not afford the staff and additional expenses necessary to maintain off-site premises.  Licensed at-home daycares, especially those licensed for longer than a decade, provide an extremely valuable service to the immediate community.  Furthermore, those parents whom rely on at-home daycares are often those that cannot afford child care from establishments or institutions that charge fees reflective of the additional overhead that comes along with off-site premises.

The WCC has sent this information to our Mayor McGinn, Councilmembers Conlin and Clark, as well as DPD Director Sugimura for their review.  Although we have not received a response from any of them yet, we are confident that they will appropriately weight this new information in light of Pandora’s Adult Cabaret’s permit.

4 Replies to “What's Going on With Pandora's Adult Cabaret?”

  1. If the city stands by its original interpretation of the code, will the WCC pursue legal action and seek the court’s interpretation?

    1. Thanks for the great question. However, without trying to duck the question, the WCC recognizes that purveyors of adult cabarets have a right to pursue such commercial activities where they are appropriate. The WCC also would expect that the City would make decisions as to whether to issue or deny a permit based on the the code, which the courts have upheld. While DPD was not aware of this daycare at the time of the permit’s issuance, we do not see anything in the code or its definitions that would preclude a state-licensed, at-home daycare from meeting the intent of the code. We remain hopeful that DPD would agree given this new information.

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