By Hannah Saunders
On Nov. 18, the King County Department of Local Services Permitting Division sent Michael Tenhulzen of TM Squared LLC a letter of compliance regarding contracting business from a residential site that does not meet requirements for home occupation.
That business, Good Brewing Hollywood Taproom, sits on property owned by Tenhulzen.
The letter also mentioned violations of operating a drinking establishment without a business license and that Good Brewing must cease operations by Dec. 31. The letter further states if Good Brewing fails to comply, TM Squared LLC will be subject to civil penalties recorded against the property.
“It’s an unnecessary battle for a property owner—the beverage ordinance should be used to limit, not eliminate,” Tenhulzen said. “My intent is not to perpetuate a problem, rather to improve the community.
“I want to support whatever’s in the best interest of the stakeholders in the valley.”
Woodinville native Kevin King founded Hollywood Taproom in 2019. He claims he received a verbal commitment from Warren Clauss, associate planner with the King County Local Services Permitting Division giving him the go-ahead to operate the business despite the codes that would prohibit him from doing so.
“When we took over the location down at Hollywood Taproom, the planning department of King County mentioned that they were going through an ordinance and gave me one clause of permission to open with the idea that changes were coming,” King said.
Jim Chan with the King County Permitting Division refutes King’s claim of a verbal commitment.
“Warren Clauss never made a verbal agreement,” Chan said. “Had he made that agreement, it would not hold up because it would violate the statute of frauds.”
King said he and Tenhulzen drafted a request to King County Code Enforcement in response to the permitting division letter asking for a six-month extension but haven’t heard back yet. King also said he applied for a business license, but the county is not accepting new applications.
“How is that supposed to work if you don’t allow a business to apply for it?” King said.
Tenhulzen said he wasn’t involved in the letter sent to King County Code Enforcement.
“He (King) hasn’t volunteered that information to me,” Tenhulzen said. “I’ve been dealing with King County on my own because I have a construction permit that’s been pending for a year for a single-family residence to be built on this property in lieu of any sort of illegal operation.”
The ordinance King referred to is the Adult Beverage Ordinance (ABO), which will govern how establishments such as Good Brewing Hollywood Taproom operate in rural areas.
“The ordinance—when it passed—the Growth Management Hearing Board, which oversees King County’s ordinance, pretty much invalidated sections 12-31, which involves zoning requirements,” King said. “The thing that did pass in that ordinance was a requirement for King County to license, which you can’t get a King County business license if you don’t have the right zoning.”
Executive Director of Friends of Sammamish Valley (FoSV) Serena Glover said the ABO is yet to be enacted. However, if it were, Good Brewing Hollywood Taproom would not be allowed to continue operations due to its placement on Rural Area 5 (RA-5) zoned land.
A hope of King’s is for the county to adopt a grandfather clause that would allow for protections for existing businesses regardless of the adopted ABO. He said he heard that the King County council would be introducing a grandfather clause, or something similar, on Jan. 3. He feels Good Brewing Hollywood Taproom is being forced off the property prematurely.
“It’s nothing new; it’s been around for a long time,” King said. “It’s just the fact that they chose not to support small businesses that they allow to operate, and that’s a push from the Friends of Sammamish Valley. They’ve been very vocal.”
Glover said implementing a grandfather clause requires the property to have the correct permits and licenses and all legal requirements met at the time of established use.
“That doesn’t apply to this property at all,” she said. “Taprooms aren’t allowed on that property. When Kevin started that business, he was not legal and he can’t get grandfathered because he wasn’t legal at the time of use.”
King believes the taproom adds essential value to the community.
“Honestly, Hollywood helped us survive COVID because of the outdoor space and it helped us to have the money to pay our employees instead of putting them on unemployment. This place means something to people,” King said. “I’m an outgoing guy and I love people and I think that’s one thing we’re missing—care and love.”
On Dec. 3, longtime Woodinville resident Jolene Alexander emailed King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci regarding the operations of Good Brewing Hollywood Taproom.
“Protecting the Sammamish Valley watershed and farms has become more important as we realize how fragile our distribution system has become. COVID-19 can’t be used as the excuse to allow these businesses to maintain illegal practices,” Alexander said. “There has been blatant disregard of codes, lack of enforcement and only minor concessions by some businesses to comply.
“The council and King County residents have a responsibility to protect our rural areas, watersheds and comply with the Growth Management Act. Some of the code violators have complied and moved to areas zoned for their business.”
Eunomia Farms owner Andrew Ely expressed concerns over the environmental impact of wine bars operating on RA-5 zoned land.
“There’s a direct impact to not only my farm business but all of the farming businesses in the Sammamish Valley,” Ely said. “When they operate their businesses in those zoned areas, they’re directly removing our opportunities to operate on a level playing field and having an opportunity to grow into those spaces because they are overtly and knowingly using that land that designed for specific use.”
Ely also raised concerns over impermeable surfaces such as parking lot gravel, which leads to soil contamination and puts the ecosystem at risk.
“Gravel dumped across the lot increases the number of contaminants that are coming from automobiles,” he said. “It kills the soil microbiology that is there and it contaminates the soil.”
Balducci’s response aligned with the sentiments of Alexander and Glover.
“I know we have an outstanding dispute about the rules, but the entire intent behind adopting these requirements was to start to enforce against and gain compliance from businesses in the valley or shut them down if they will or can’t comply,” Balducci said. “I agree that the type of grandfathering being claimed is not what we intended when we adopted the rules.”
Balducci mentioned she would share Alexander’s message with the Executive Branch of the Permitting Division to inform them of the community’s input and her stance.