Merri Ann Simonson
Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands Inc
I have reviewed the county’s new Vacation Rental Permit requirements and I found them most reasonable, I think they did a good job.
As a realtor, working in the field, I only noted two areas that may be difficult for some property owners to adapt to.
1. Management plan on file at the county and with neighbors within 300 feet. The management plan must contain contact information of owners and a local representative if the owner lives off island. This person shall respond to emergencies and complaints, hence the neighbors within 300 feet having a copy of the plan. In most cases, the professional property managers will be this contact person and will develop the management plan and code of conduct for the property. If someone is a self-managed VRBO they will need to create these items and submit them to the county. This part of the regulation may reduce the number of self-managed homes, unless one lives on island, as it will be difficult to find a relative or acquaintance willing to be on call 24 hours a day and be able to explain to a frantic guest how to turn off the septic high water alarm at 2:00 am. This part of the regulations highly suggests that a professional property manager be hired by the property owner which in our market will run around 30-35 percent. Using a professional is a good thing; however, some property owners may not welcome the expense to their vacation rental business.
2. I am also wondering how the buyer of a vacation rental home will be advised that they must submit their certification of compliance and updated management plan within 90 days of their purchase. I am not sure if the county will be monitoring the excise tax desk and sending out letters or whether it is up to the realtor, if one is used, to disclose this requirement to someone new to the island. Hopefully the fines for a violation of this portion of the regulation will be lenient in case their realtor overlooks the disclosure.
It may be that the brokerage offices amend the San Juan County General Addendum to add this disclosure to aid the county.
As I mentioned above, the rest of the changes are prudent, reasonable and protect the consumer and island communities. I offer a reader’s digest version of the changes below:
One vacation rental is allowed on a property, either in the principal residence or an accessory dwelling unit. Detached accessory dwelling units constructed after June 29, 2007 are not allowed to be vacation rentals.
Occupancy is changed from three persons per bedroom to two, plus three guests. Guest is defined as person over the age of 2. The number of bedrooms is dictated from the septic permit, not what is actually built on site or what appears to be a den with closet.
The definition of ”unreasonable disturbance to area residents” includes trespassing, noise, speeding and off-site parking issues.
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