In Maple Valley, an access point called Green Society Group has taken the brunt of the city’s enforcement efforts. For founder-owners Jon Hofer and Chris Schoonover, the battle has been rough. “I’m not stressed about anything with the city. But the family man inside me is stressed,” explained Schoonover. “Part of me is scared and part of me is pissed off.”
Since opening GSG in April, Maple Valley officials have made several attempts to close the business. It started with a police knock and talk and a warning, then quickly moved to trumped up code violations and fines.
“They hoped that an unsafe work order and the warnings would scare us into shutting down,” said Hofer. “So they had to come up with a fine that would scare us. I guess that was $500.” But for GSG, it hasn’t been a single fine of $500. It’s been daily.
“I lost count after 30 days of fines … they are supposed to come every day but I know they’ve missed a couple,” said Hofer. “But no matter what happens, we will stay open. And we are challenging these fines.”
As of the third week of June, the collective has accrued more than $20,000 worth of fines from the city. The next meetings on the issue will occur just days after the July issue of Northwest Leaf go to press. They are scheduled June 25 and 27. The meeting on June 25 is a public city council meeting, and the meeting on the 27 is directly related to the fines. GSG is hopeful that the city will lift the moratorium and waive the fines.
The best thing for Maple Valley to do would be to embrace us and use us as a model,” said Schoonover. “They will not be able to beat us. That’s the end of the story.”