There is a combination of ingredients that create difficulties on Orcas Island: people, (residents and guests), traffic, cars and thus parking. These ingredients are also where we look to solve the problems.
A concern I continue to think about is the lack of employee housing because it is a major problem. Perhaps people who have studios or guest cottages and want to rent them to employees could be allowed a property tax rebate. This is not a new idea and obviously it requires structures to be in place and most importantly it will necessitate a combination of employees, employers, government, and enthusiasm to make it happen. Clearly, there will need to be a formula determining occupancy as a means of establishing rates. The tax reduction could be the same principle as people who receive a rebate for harvesting trees on their property.
The Eastsound Planning and Review Committee continues to plan Eastsound. There are those who believe with the size and growth of Eastsound that it needs to be incorporated. I am supportive of architect Jim Jonassen’s book, “Vision for Eastsound.” This book is a result of many meetings we had with architects, planners and contractors and it captures so much of what was planned when I was a member of the EPRC. The book is available at the Orcas Island Public Library.
The important thing is for us to get off our rear-ends and make something happen. I have only been here 30 years, but the conversation remains the same and the problems don’t go away, but the necessity of solving them is even greater. This is a terrific opportunity for us to make something happen. This is more than an opportunity; it is a responsibility to this generation and the future of this island.
Overriding all of the difficulties is learning to be nice and helping guests enjoy a visit to Orcas Island. Helping others provides great fulfillment and personal satisfaction. I see the difference between visitors and guests as this: visitors are people who are here on the island and guests are people that we share the island with.
I would be happy to help in finding a solution because I’d like to see our island’s difficulties become less of challenge and more of an accomplishment.