Real problem? | Letter

It’s just too simple to cast blame on your neighbor for your own paucity. Friday Harbor’s Town Administrator says that San Juan County should not issue any more permits for vacation rentals as they are a cause of Friday Harbor (the town) shortages of affordable housing. “We need more affordable housing for teachers, firefighters, laborers etc.” I wonder if the town administrator has really crunched the numbers and compared Friday Harbor to surrounding communities like Anacortes, Oak Harbor, Burlington, and Mt. Vernon? I have done that and find that our rental costs are actually comparable. ( if you want to do it too).

So what is the real problem?

As an island resident, you surely know it costs more to live here in an overall sense. Food, utilities, gas, clothing, construction, you name it, it all costs more on an island. When you need to bring everything here by boat, isn’t it reasonable that housing would cost more too? The only way to make the existing (and future) housing more affordable is to pay a higher wage as compared to off-island communities. Make it possible for mainlanders to re-locate. It’s illogical to make affordable housing the fault of the county vacation rentals. Don’t blame the county for where the town has failed. There are many things the town can do, and I understand it does have things in the works, but blaming and restricting county vacation rentals is not one of them.

Consider that county vacation rentals bring the visitors here that pay the bills for many of us. Vacation rental income gets spent here. That income is what makes it possible to charge higher property taxes and pay for all the other more expensive costs of Island living. Take away or reduce vacation rental income and you will only shoot the town in the other foot. I personally feel the town administrator has accomplished some miraculous improvements for the town, but I find his thinking on this topic illogical.

Rikki Swin

San Juan Island