Why a moratorium? | Letter

Every time someone asks us, “Why a moratorium?” we just have to smile. Simply put, a moratorium is a government dictum that is firmly grounded in solid, undeniable authority.

As respected Orcas attorney and razor-sharp legal theorist Tom Evans writes, “There is no longer or sharper knife in the land-use tool kit than a moratorium ordinance.” The premise of a moratorium is that if there is bleeding, it must stop. Period. The law intends that a government jurisdiction be able to act “immediately” upon finding that an emergency exists, and that such action supersedes all other land-use procedures including State Environmental Policy Act requirements, the Growth Management Act, the Comp Plan, zoning requirements and more.

And do we face an emergency? Without question! San Juan County residents have for generations cherished tranquility, rural charm, forested glens and family-friendly amenities. Happy we are to share with visitors. But suddenly we find ourselves in a bloody cyber-war with steroidal-overtourism as the amorphous opponent. As a result, we face an open-ended proliferation of new permits and a consequential potpourri of incursions into our neighborhoods and natural resources. We need time to enact solutions.

Evans writes: “A moratorium, targeted to new vacation rental permits, would be extremely simple to draft, could be adopted at any Council meeting, and should be effective immediately.” Thank you, Tom.

We could not agree more.

Please visit and sign our petition: https://www.vacationrentalsorcas.org/take-action.

Toby Cooper