The City Responds to our Contention to Pandora’s Adult Cabaret

As we’ve detailed in several earlier posts (here and here), the Wedgwood Community Council, Maple Leaf Community Council, and Stratford at Maple Leaf co-signed a letter to the City contesting the permit issued for a new adult cabaret along Lake City Way on the western edge of Wedgwood.  Following our letter of contention, members of the WCC, MLCC, and Ravenna-Bryant Community Association met with the owner of Pandora’s Adult Cabaret to discuss his project.

Today, Diane Sugimura, the Director of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) sent the following response to our letter:


July 5, 2011

Dear Mr. Miller:

Thank you for your continued interest in our land use regulations regarding adult cabarets, in particular the recently approved adult cabaret permit for the site located at 8914 Lake City Way NE.  As you know, this has been a challenging issue for the City for many years.  We now have code provisions that were adopted in 2007.

Dispersion Requirement

Your June 24 correspondence notes that you and others in the community believe the approved adult cabaret at 8914 Lake City Way NE is in violation of dispersion requirements, specifically section 23.47A.004H 1 of the Seattle Land Use Code:

H. Adult Cabarets.

1. Any lot line of property containing any proposed new or expanding adult cabaret must be 800 feet or more 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. SMC 23.47A.004

Your letter also states there is an existing State licensed in-home day care within 800 feet of the adult cabaret site.  While that may be true, the license does not legally establish this as a “child care center,” as defined in the Seattle Land Use Code.  Child care programs that are run out of the home with 12 children or less are considered a home occupation, which is accessory to the single family use.  Home occupations do not require a permit from DPD, as they are not considered to be a separate legally established use.  The address of the in-home daycare noted within previous letters is within 800-feet of the adult cabaret site, but does not have a permit from DPD and I am told only serves 6-7 children.  This appears to be a home occupation, which is accessory to the single family use and is not considered an institutional child care center.

“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. SMC 23.84A.018

Institutions such as a child care center require a permit from DPD in order to be legally established. Child care centers are not limited to 12 children or less and typically include larger groups of children.  We are not aware of any child care centers that are legally established or recognized as such within 800 feet of the adult cabaret site. Adult cabarets were not intended to be dispersed from in-home day cares operated as a home occupation.  This was confirmed by those who staffed this legislation during the City Council deliberations.  If dispersion were required from every location where children might be likely to go, our standards would likely run afoul of the legal requirement allowing a reasonable opportunity for siting of adult cabarets within a jurisdiction.  The standard adopted by City Council draws a line by requiring dispersion from very specific uses as identified and defined by the Land Use Code.

As required for review, a dispersion analysis was submitted by the applicant and verified by DPD using King County Assessor’s information. The in-home day care is appropriately classified as “single family,” as the use is legally established as a single family residence, which appears to include an accessory in-home day care operated as a home occupation.  The onus is always on the applicant to provide DPD with accurate information, and in this case, we do not believe an error has been made.

Appropriate Zoning

The site located at 8914 Lake City Way NE contains property primarily zoned Commercial-1, which encompasses both the structure and the paved parking area.  The remaining portion of the site is undeveloped and designated Lowrise-2, which prohibits adult cabaret uses.  The LR 2 portion of the site cannot be utilized for the adult cabaret use, and the plans clearly note that only the portion within the Commercial-1 zone has been approved for the use and its accessory parking.  Adult cabarets are not permitted in Lowrise zones, even through a conditional use process. There is no code authority to require public notice because the site contains a Lowrise zoning designation.

Adult cabarets are allowed in most downtown, industrial and commercial zones, subject to dispersion requirements.  Since this use is permitted in the zone, it does not require public notice and does not allow for a discretionary review.  A strict reading of the current code, coupled with the dispersion analysis provided by the applicant and verified by DPD did not give us reason to deny the adult cabaret permit.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Sincerely,

Diane M. Sugimura, Director

City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development


As the Director describes in her letter, the City maintains that the permit issued for Pandora’s Adult Cabaret is legal.  However, the response from the City still fails to address the vague sections of code that DPD cites for their justification to the satisfaction of the WCC, MLCC, and Stratford at Maple Leaf.

At this point, it is unclear what the ‘next steps’ will be although this topic will be a source of discussion amongst several groups over the coming days.

Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know what your thoughts are.

2 comments to The City Responds to our Contention to Pandora’s Adult Cabaret

  • Can we have all sign a petition to against it? It will ruin our neighborhood! I don’t want to drive by an adult club every day and have to explain to my kids what it is!!

  • Tabitha

    I’m not as prudish as my sisters seem to be. I’m all for having one in the neighborhood. Maybe it will keep the rapists down if they have some place to release their “Tension”. Also will keep the bible thumpers busy and away from my front door.

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