October 1, 2013 in Opinion

Editorial: Modest steps could make barista furor less steamy

 

The Spokesman-Review Editorial Board

Members of The Spokesman-Review editorial board help to determine The Spokesman-Review's position on issues of interest to the Inland Northwest. Board members are:

The cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley are mired in debates over bikini baristas who wear nothing of the kind. After all, skimpy swimwear is legal and more or less acceptable in public. Instead, the young women wear cover-ups more often seen in strip joints. Problem is, they can sometimes be seen without paying a cover charge.

Because of this, the Central Valley School District reroutes a bus.

This method of selling coffee is mostly sad, and we certainly aren’t seduced by the hyperbole that horrible crimes against children are being committed.

But it does seem that if the businesses could compromise a little, they could avoid regulations that would impede their commerce even more.

This region is already grappling with a lack of resources to battle significant crimes. Passing ordinances that even supporters acknowledge won’t be a high priority seems like an untimely distraction.

The owner of three provocative drive-thru stands says she feels bad that people are offended, but “this is my life.” Sex sells. That’s hardly news. But we doubt that the difference between success and failure lies somewhere between a bikini and nudity.

If the coffee stands served up a tad more modesty, like at that chain restaurant with the owl logo and skimpy orange shorts, are customers going to drink in the sights elsewhere?

So how about wearing more than pasties and a G-string, and ensuring that the public can’t view the baristas without driving through the line? Then the owner can demonstrate that she really does feel bad, and perhaps she can fend off even stricter guidelines.

As is, elected officials are debating exposure parameters for breasts and anal clefts (sorry). These calculations are precise, but we know few officers will ever be dispatched with rulers. Seems more like an opportunity for mischief, with or without body cameras.

We are mindful that similar stands were raided over the summer in Everett because of illegal activity, such as baristas exposing themselves for extra cash. A Snohomish County sheriff’s sergeant was arrested and accused of having sex inside the stands in exchange for informing baristas of law enforcement surveillance. He has since resigned.

Please, lead us not into that considerable waste of taxpayer dollars.

For people who want their drinks with tops covering the cups and the servers, this isn’t a problem. They can go elsewhere. For people who want a peep show that’s legal – for now – this also isn’t a problem. But unlike a strip club, there is actual and potential exposure for those who want no part of it.

It would appear that a reasonable accommodation could be reached that grants both sides a modicum of dignity while keeping a lid on the controversy.


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