September 25, 2019: Next Steps Conversation

Around 150 people attended the second Community Conversation on Vacation Rentals, held at the Orcas High School Cafeteria on Wednesday evening September 25, 2019. Introductions and a review of the agenda and process were presented by Diane Berreth. Yonatan Aldort, the appointed leader of the Vacation Rentals Working Group, delivered an opening comment. Five presentations were offered (see below) followed by community conversations and “voting” on goals and regulations; each participant had 7 colored sticker “dots” which could be applied to wall-hung sheets containing the most requested goals and proposed regulatory approaches.

moratorium dots sept 2019.png

Of the 18 total goals and regulations that participants could vote on, the largest number of votes (“dots”) was on one of the proposed regulation topics: place a moratorium on new vacation rental permits until new regulations are adopted. This received 147 votes. The next closest option chosen was the goal of supporting housing for year-round residents (81 votes). Charts of the vote values for the 8 goals and 10 regulations are shown below.

Given that 150 people participated and that 147 votes (dots) were cast requesting a moratorium, the legal requirements to pass a moratorium are in the FAQ’s and are additionally attached at the end of this page for reference.

Closing comments by Yonatan Aldort


How is San Juan County currently regulating and enforcing Vacation Rentals? Erika Shook, San Juan County Department of Community Development (no slides, notes or audio available) For more information, see Planning Commission meeting, July 2019, A/V recording, covering current status of vacation rental activity by DCD. Presented by Erika Shook.

Impacts on Housing for Year-Round Residents Lynnette Wood, PhD, Mathematics. Click here for a description of the methodology used to calculate the data offered in this presentation.

Impacts on Water Use Paul Kamin, General Manager, Eastsound Water Users Association

Impact on the community from overtourism Gregory Oaksen, architect

Adopting New Regulations to Reduce the Negative Impacts of Vacation Rentals Jennifer Barcelos, Staff Attorney, Friends of the San Juans

Vote Totals for Goals and Regulations:

goals dots chart.jpg

Click here for a complete description of the voting options.

regulations dot chart.jpg

Click here for a complete description of the voting options.

Moratorium Requirements

A moratorium simply stops a process in order to prevent further degradation or anticipated negative change while the topic is studied and new guidelines created. Both Eastsound and Deer Harbor’s Planning Review Committee’s have requested that the Council impose a moratorium on the issuance of Vacation Rental Permits pending review and resolution. The following information was offered by a local land use attorney.

Moratorium ordinances are one of the most effective and least burdensome land use decisions a governmental jurisdiction can do. To pass a simple moratorium you need to: 

1. Have a meeting of the commissioners - any meeting - special or regular; 

2. put “VR Permit moratorium” on the agenda; 

3. present moratorium ordinance which only requires: 

  • declaration that an emergency exists - possible change in VR Permit law and people rushing to the permit counter is sufficient; 

  • declare that without a moratorium the opportunity for real land use controls on VR s may be lost

  • state how long - 6 months?  1 year?

Consider these factors: No public hearing  required. No SEPA required. No staff report required. It can be made effective immediately. 

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