The Orcas community was represented on Sept. 25 by a well attended, informative meeting evaluating the impact of vacation rentals on our island. The written questions were thoughtful and everyone got to vote for their way to control the mess of last summer and the frantic effort to build more vacation rentals. As heard from Yonatan Aldort, who opened the conversation, “We have allowed our residential communities to be commercialized.” To a person, every one of the 100 or so present were for some type of control that varied from a complete ban to a moratorium on the way the county issued permits. However, I think our meeting and the discussions we had with our neighbors was all for naught.
Erika Shook, the liaison from the county who controls vacation permits was there to listen but explained that all our ideas could not be implemented unless the majority of the council agreed. With the exception of Rick Hughes, none of the other two council members attended either meeting. How can they be informed or knowledgeable about our concerns and solutions? Orcas shares the highest percentage of vacation rentals and we need county support so that the Orcas community can exercise control over our problem.
The Orcas community wants a friendly and welcoming attitude towards vacationers. If the crowding during the summer persists, it is inevitable that the cons against vacationers, such as creating crowded roads; depletion of our community resources such as water; stressing medical services; overburdening our fragile water systems and park facilities, will generate anti-vacationer sentiment.
The ultimate solution to lack of representation that our community suffers from is the ballot box. Hopefully, at our next meeting in October, the vacation rental committee will have met with the other two council members, explained our problem and either received their complete endorsement or the reason they cannot do so. For more info, visit www.vacationrentalsorcas.org.