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The Good Brewing taproom became a crowd favorite during the COVID-19 pandemic because of its large outdoor seating area. Now, the King County code enforcement department is requiring the business to move locations or shut down completely. 

In a letter sent to property owner Michael Tenhulzen on Nov. 18, the county states that Good Brewing Company operated without a King County business license, which violates the county code. The business must cease operations by Dec. 31. 

Tenhulzen received word of the code violation on Aug. 16 and Nov. 18 of this year, according to county permitting staff. The code enforcement department received multiple complaints about Good Brewing as well as other illegal businesses on the same property.

Running a taproom within a Rural Area five-zone is not permitted, according to the letter. The site of operation is not within the City of Woodinville tourist district, which does allow urban use and retail businesses. 

According to city permitting staff, Tenhulzen was notified that commercial use was not allowed at 14701 148th Ave NE before he purchased the property. Previous businesses at the same location were notified in 2019, and again in February 2020.

Kevin King, owner of the Good Brewing Hollywood Taproom, said he was blindsided by the news of the code enforcement letter. 

He said changes in the Adult Beverage Ordinance have created confusion among business owners within unincorporated King County.

“This happened in the middle of COVID-19 when everyone was trying to survive,” King said, referring to the code enforcement. “I don’t have much time to legally make an appeal because I’m trying to run a business.”

Before opening his taproom about two years ago, King said, he was granted permission from the county to operate a business. The county mentioned that they were developing a new ordinance that could impact the surrounding businesses, he added

Several other breweries and taprooms operated in the same location before Good Brewing took over the lease, he said.

“We made it our home,” King said. “We have around 800 to 1,000 visitors a week, specifically during COVID-19 because we have a huge outdoor space.”

He said the county didn’t act against the eight businesses within rural King County until a specific group started to complain, which King describes as “political bulldozing.” 

“I have been in an uphill battle with an aggressive group of non-supporters,” he said.

According to permitting staff, the county hired a consultant to contact business operations between February and March 2020 in order to explain the new code as well as limitations and instructions on getting a county business license.

King said he hopes to work with the county council to “grandfather in” the eight small businesses running operations within the RA-5 zone. 

Grandfathering a set of nonconforming businesses has happened in other parts of the state, King said. 

In Chelan County, the board of county commissioners approved new rules for short-term rentals in unincorporated areas, according to a report from The Seattle Times. Several Airbnb homes were grandfathered in, he said, with the understanding that new legislation would ban further development using the same business model. 

“If the [Friends of the Sammamish Valley] had the same kind of stranglehold there, would Leavenworth have benefited from eliminating the option for visitors to stay in private homes?” King wrote in an email.

The future for Good Brewing’s Hollywood Taproom is still unclear, King said. He also owns a brewpub and indoor dog park near the Warehouse District in northern Woodinville. Good Brewing recently expanded to Monroe as well.

According to permitting staff, business owners in violation of zoning in unincorporated King County are required to take certain actions such as modifying business practices, relocating to a different property or shutting down entirely. If the business does not comply, the county could issue a legal notice that may result in the assessment of civil penalties and a court injunction to vacate the property.

Usually, businesses are required to comply with code enforcements within 30 to 60 days, according to permitting staff. Tenhulzen and Good Brewing received 135 days to adhere to the regulations. Tenhulzen has the option to establish legal land use through the county, according to permitting staff.

“These businesses have been operating for years, and without a voice,” King said. “Please take a stand, reach out to your King County Council and inform them you want these businesses to be grandfathered.”

(1) comment

Michael Tanksley

Pub’s Victimization Claims Ring Hollow

“County makes move to shut down taproom”, Woodinville Weekly Dec. 3, 2021

For a guy operating numerous retail operations in the area, claims by Kevin King (Good Brewing) that he was ‘blindsided” by zoning that has been in place for 3 decades defies credibility. If he has been victimized by anyone, it might be Mike Tenhulzen, owner of the property since 2019. Before he bought it and then leased to King, records show that Mr. Tenhulzen was specifically and clearly told by King County that retail shops, including pubs, are not permitted by the zoning for that parcel.

King’s claim that he was “was granted permission from the county” is particularly questionable. The county has flatly denied that assertion to be true. The county has confirmed that King has none of the County licenses or permits to operate there. That stands to reason because King’s operation of a pub is clearly not allowed by the zoning codes applicable to that property and many others in the Rural unincorporated County areas.

King looks for cover behind the ongoing debacle of the Adult Beverage Ordinance, (ABO) sponsored by ousted councilmember Kathy Lambert. But even if the ABO were to survive legal scrutiny, which appears unlikely, its provisions would not have allowed for a pub on this particular property.

King suggests that the county might “grandfather in” his operation. That’s not possible. Recognition of a use as a “legal non-conforming use” (the formal term for grandfathering) requires that the use was legal at the time the use was first established - before a zoning change occurred. This was the circumstance in the cited Chelan County example. But there has never been a legal pub or wine bar on this property that King leased from Tenhulzen. That zoning has not changed since the last century. Indeed, there has been a string of code violation cases at this property spanning 3 owners since 2014.

If King County is guilty of anything here, it is a systemic lack of effective code enforcement against such egregious violators. When violations are verified, the county does open cases and send out notices to the violators. But ultimately, it has relied on good citizen ethics to see the violations cease. Sadly, human nature doesn’t always reward such utopian expectations.

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