What is happening to Orcas Island? | Letter

I am a professional ghostwriter for the United Nations and a permanent resident of the island with many references (including my landlord), and I cannot find a long-term rental on Orcas.

I’ve been quiet for far too long about these vacation houses. Now I’m going to speak what I feel, and the more than 900-plus vacation homeowners won’t like it.

Homeowners here on Orcas are guilty as well as those longtime residents who sold out to all the vulture internet buyers. Then there are the online website listers that profit from this plague, such as VRBO, Home Away and Airbnb, not to mention non-resident buyers buying up Orcas houses by offering top prices to people not even having thought of selling their home. Those nonresident buyers then turn the homes into vacation houses at $2,000-plus per week!

Have you owners of vacation houses no conscience as to any responsibility you might have to other permanent Orcas residents? What are the new hires at the school, fire department, sheriff’s office, library, park or any other backbone of the community going to do in order to find a long-term house? They will simply leave Orcas and wait for this house-of-cards to domino on itself. This not-so-new phenomenon is destroying the island, and permanent residents will come to regret it. Vacation houses are a blot upon the landscape as vacationers exert wear and tear on them. This is already happening all over the U.S.

Orcas residents with influence in administration can take measures to rectify this problem, just like Vancouver, Canada has done, such as implementing a very high nonresident tax and limiting the number of people in a vacation house. Required San Juan County permits are already in place with a ceiling on the number of permits available here on Orcas and rules regarding trash, noise level, maintenance, no-drugs policy, etc. Hold onto your seat belts, vacationers and vacation-house owners: the taxes alone will eat into profits!

What’s happening to Orcas makes me sick to my stomach. Good luck to you all who are responsible for so much loss. You’ll long for the day when Orcas was a place to call home and cherish.

Di Finch

Orcas Island