There is no better time than right now to save what all of us hold sacred about the beauty of the San Juan Islands. It has become clear our commissioners will never consider a VRBO moratorium and they will not allow discussion of a proposed ordinance.
They are vacationing in a fool’s paradise. It is clear the people can and will bring on a moratorium or, for that matter, an outright ban, on further vacation rentals. Both voter-imposed moratoriums or total bans are legal under land use law. Both could be considered at the same time by two initiatives, in which the voters can sign one or both at the same time.
It only took 15 percent of the voters in the last election to get a petition to the people. A simple majority and it becomes law. Off-island voters have no say and cannot vote on the initiatives.
By my count, for every one pro-VRBO there are three opposed. Any petition will pass.
The commissioners be damned. VRBO is killing communities all over the world. Consider Bellingham: One entire neighborhood became so changed neighbors no longer wished to live there. Moratoriums and bans abound across the world.
If you are one of the lucky ones with a permit in hand, with a moratorium/ban you can expect the value of your property to skyrocket. Or, with no moratorium or ban, every new VRBO diminishes the value of yours and further trashes the islands.
More rules are not the answer. With human nature being what it is, there will be more destructive behavior no matter how well-intended vacationers are. Two teenage boys from the VRBO immediately to the east of us reportedly set fire to a brush pile on our property just before leaving with their family at 10 a.m. Had the incoming cleaning crew not noticed our property was on fire we would have lost tree acreage. Our other neighbor adjacent to that same VRBO describes its use as like having a family reunion every weekend.
We must act and act now! Power to the people!