The meeting concerning vacation rentals indicates the degree of disruption these rentals are causing our community. Vacation rentals impact street parking in Eastsound, parking at the Park, clogged roads, noisy strangers, water and waste impacts, pressure on medical and police services and of course ferry space.
If we are to maintain reasonable sanity we must think of limiting this chaos. Many non-residents rent their homes to vacationers to pay for their mortgage and taxes. More property owners are constructing accessory units to capture the recent bonanza in rental income. For those elderly residents who have retired here it is almost necessary to retain their residency to take vacationers into their homes – AirB&B.
We have truly lost control of our community that outsiders have commercialized. We don’t need statistical analysis on the numbers of vacationers that come to Orcas, or why, and where they come from. We just want to restrain the numbers from destroying the very reason most of us live here. We should be allowed to vote on reasonable measures.
A suggested solution would be no vacation restriction on commercial lodging such as the Outlook Inn, Rosario, Doe Bay, etc.: or facilities that have been in place for years. Another would be a temporary hold of permits that would not exceed those issued prior to 2015. And an allowance to those established Air B&Bs (vacationers living within the premise) that find it necessary to retain their residency by renting.
Once we have control, we then can consider what we on Orcas feel is acceptable. The above stops the speculation in vacation rental home building and would not substantially decrease merchant income they need to have to stay in business.
We cannot haggle or argue our way out of this real threat to the health of our community. At the meeting on Sept. 25 be prepared to finalize the right plan and get the commitment of our council member to oversee its implementation.