Tom Evans: The Dark Side of Vacation Rentals

Want to get rich in the San Juans?

Easy. Buy house. Buy vacation rental permit (cheap). Rent house.

Map showing vacation rental permits in the San Juan Islands.

My neighbor, a very savvy business person, is pushing for two side by side rentals with 18 renters. Daily. Income: $1,750. Full season total income: $157,500. Tax-free after depreciation.

Every single homeowner in the San Juans is at risk for vacation rental(s) next door. And you can't stop them. Why? SJC has bypassed every single environmental law to make this possible.

Impossible? Not when your County code states there is no difference between pne person occupying a house full time and nine week by week vacationers.

I oppose unlimited, uncontrolled vacation rentals on behalf of Box Bay Shellfish farm, a nonprofit oyster grower which grows oysters for water cleansing purposes only. Each oyster filters 50 gallons of salt water per hour. There are 20,000 of them. Excess oysters are given free for charitable events, neighbors, and elementary school teaching about how an oyster grows and an oyster farm works.

My neighbor claims to have already spent $120,000 in legal fees. I believe him. We are not even past the hearing examiner stage. This is likely to take five years or more. The first lawsuit is being filed today.

On August 15, 2018 DCD testified, under oath: (1) rentals have no environmental impacts (2)"we don’t see vacation rentals as being any different than residential development" (3) no difference between 300 residences and and 300 rentals (4) no cumulative rental impacts (5) no limit on number of rentals allowed (5) noise/traffic no different than unrented house (6) no idea how many vacation rentals there are (7) never have studied impacts of vacation rentals, no plans to ever do so (8) no idea how many illegal rentals there are (9) never consult with other agencies because there are no impacts (10)enforcement squarely in hands of real estate industry.

Recent DCD PR proclaims now they know the number of vacation rentals, are looking for illegals, have super-new permit holder guidelines. What they wont say, the "new" guide lines are simply new orders to the fox (real estate) guarding the henhouse, new guidelines only apply to recent permits, nothing has changed about studying impacts, requiring permits, living with the fantasy there never will be one too many rental permits.

Tom Evans


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