Real Estate Update by Merri Ann Simonson: Excise Tax Increase, Decrease and Shift

There will be a major change in real estate excise tax taking effect January 1, 2020 for the State of Washington. I have provided a link below to the Senate Bill which created this change to a graduated tax rate.

The Excise Tax adjustment will affect what the seller pays. In January 2019 the tax went up for the buyers in our County with the addition of the Affordable Housing Tax (Buyer pays 99% of the .5% tax).


SAFE San Juans Director: Heart-felt thanks to the Stand Up Men

Four years ago a simple fundraising idea on San Juan Island sparked an inspirational movement among men. That idea was to see if 100 men would take a public stand against domestic violence by donating $100 to DV/SAS of the San Juans (now called SAFE San Juans), the agency serving San Juan County’s survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Those funds would make it possible for the agency to hire staff to teach relationship skills and domestic violence/sexual assault (DV/SA) prevention in the local schools with the goal of changing the basic thoughts and attitudes which can ultimately lead to domestic violence or sexual assault. More than 100 men “stood up” and accepted the challenge.

The Stand Up Men didn't let snow and cold weather keep them from their post in February this year. Matt Pranger photo


Considering Buying an Investment Property? Vacation Rental Versus Long Term Rental

Now would be a good time to purchase property held for investment and due to market conditions, a rental home in the San Juans would be the best investment. We are not like the metropolitan areas nearby with multiple offers on most every property and robust appreciation; we remain in a buyer’s market in most categories of property.

Once you have made the decision of the type of investment property to purchase, then how you intend to use that property is the next process; vacation rental or long-term rental. To assist you with this process, I have compared the different aspects of each below.


San Juan Island Yacht Club: Thanks to WSF boat Captains

The San Juan Island Yacht Club would like to thank the Washington State Ferry boat Captains who carefully maneuvered around and sometimes through the fleet of racing sailboats on Saturday. As is often the case, the annual Shaw Island Classic sailboat race presented racers with the challenge of maintaining forward motion with light winds and, sometimes, adverse currents.


Connecting the Dots: An Interview with Dr. Thomas Mumford  by Aidan Cox

Under the relentless shine of the midday sun, the Friday Harbor Marina appears to shimmer as we crest a small hill on the edge of the University of Washington laboratories. It’s the perfect respite from a morning of sitting in the lab grading final exams. Tom Mumford, a tall, lean man with a silver beard and kind brown eyes set in a face rich with lines that trace the path of a wide smile, leads the way nimbly as we trek over to a small bench overlooking the view. “This is Koz!” Tom proclaims as we arrive, gesturing to the small metal plaque set into the back of the bench in memoriam of a life well lived. Tom knows that everything, from the grass – now brittle and dry – to this seemingly lonesome bench, has a story to tell. So does he.


Stegall: Patriotism on Demand

Dear Editor,

Let me begin with the fact that I am an Army veteran of the Korean War. I was drafted and served in Korea during the war for 16 months and was honorably discharged. I’m totally blind and assisted by my guide dog Emilio, family, friends and the Senior Center.


Smith: Rock used to promote hate speech

Islanders are familiar with the large rock on Beaverton Valley Road which for decades has been a vehicle for wonderful works of public art. Recently it was abused as a method of promoting hate speech targeting a specific family. I hold the town Mayor culpable in this by using social media to air inappropriate and immature comments regarding the same family, thereby cultivating a validating atmosphere for this kind of incivility. There has also been bullying at school related to this issue.


Cox: Thanks the community

This is a thank you to the San Juan Island community.

Ever since the death of Rod Kulbach, my partner of 35 years, you have showered me with cards, flowers, food, your comforting presence and other expressions of friendship and sympathy. I feel so very fortunate to live in such a healing community of people.

With love and gratitude,

Barbara Cox

Friday Harbor


Pratt: Support Lovelett for state Senate

We support Elizabeth (Liz) Lovelett for State Senate. We are impressed with Sen. Lovelett’s accomplishments in her first legislative session. We especially appreciate the bills she sponsored that improve services across state agencies for children, youth, and families; and improved boater education requirements regarding Southern Resident orcas.