What can be done to reasonably limit the growing number of vacation rentals in the San Juans? This question was posed to approximately 160 people who attended the second Community Conversation on vacation rentals held on September 25, 2019.
In response to concerns expressed at the first Community Conversation on July 17, Erika Shook, San Juan County Director of Community Development, presented existing County regulations for vacation rentals. Four additional speakers summarized short-term rental impacts on housing, water consumption, septic systems, ferry use, emergency medical care and local businesses and shared what other communities across the nation are doing to control vacation rentals.
When is tourism too much tourism? This was a another question asked as it relates to vacation rental contributions to visitor loads. Overtourism is being protested in heavily impacted areas worldwide. The question is how to limit vacation rentals and the resulting overtourism in the San Juan Islands. Those attending were asked to express their most pressing vacation rental concerns and what kinds of measures they would like to see enacted, if any.
A set of topics and possible regulations that were developed from the first Community Conversation were presented and individuals were asked to vote for their preferences. Items that received the most votes included: place a moratorium on new vacation rental permits until new regulations are adopted (147), support housing for year-round residents (81), allow new vacation rental permits only for parcels that are owner-occupied (78), prohibit future permits from passing to new owners on sale of the parcel (73), and slow the rate of growth and commercialization of the islands (71).
Votes on other topics considered to be important and possible regulations were recorded and will be tabulated and included on the vacation rental website: vacationrentalsorcas.org.
The next Community Conversation will be held on Wednesday, October 23rd to discuss how to enact specific strategies to limit vacation rentals.
We hope you will attend!
The Vacation Rental Work Group