Submitted by Toby Cooper
The Vacation Rental Working Group will hold a public meeting from 1:30-3:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, at Grace Hall on Sunset Lane, Lopez. The meeting is a continuation of the highly participatory public events hosted by the VRWG on Orcas in July, September and October of 2019, at which hundreds of islanders expressed their demands for more effective regulation of vacation rental properties.
“Every day people come to us with new stories of how the unchecked proliferation of vacation rentals is impacting our lives,” said Yonatan Aldort who heads the VRWG. “Sometimes they are about ubiquitous and annoying hot tub parties. Sometimes it’s drones looking into our windows. Our neighborhoods are being disrupted and our homes suffer trespass. Sadly, we are witness to attrition of affordable rentals and housing stock, countywide. Every new permit compounds the set of problems. The time is now to change the trajectory of VR proliferation in San Juan County.”
The tourism that supports our economy is morphing into detrimental over-tourism, prompting us to ask the county to impose a moratorium now in order to give ourselves the time and space needed to seek solutions. This and more will be discussed at Grace Hall on Feb. 8.
What: A Lopez community conversation on vacation rentals.
Where: Grace Hall, Sunset Lane, Lopez.
When: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., February 8, 2020.
Who: The VRWG is an all-volunteer organization which formed in June 2019, shortly after the Eastsound and Deer Harbor Planning and Review Committees forwarded moratorium recommendations to the County Council. The VRWG has sponsored three widely attended participatory community conversations on the vacation rental topic, including discussions of data on housing, tourism and trends in permitting; summaries of regulatory responses in other communities; stress on water and septic infrastructure; and loss of open space and environmental quality.
Why: The County Council has yet to act on previous proposals for a moratorium or regulatory relief.