Property owner files a legal complaint about vacation rentals

An Orcas man is intending to sue the county, a state agency and his neighbors over vacation rentals.

Thomas Evans, who manages Box Bay Shellfish Farm on Obstruction Pass Road, said he submitted a complaint to the King County Superior Court against San Juan County, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and his neighboring property owners on Jan. 16. Box Bay Shellfish Farm is a nonprofit LLC that grows oysters for charitable purposes. It abuts the properties of Stabbert and Evans and its floating oyster cages are tied to the joint-use dock.

Evans, an attorney, originally appealed the vacation rental through the San Juan County Hearing Examiner in August. That appeal is still under consideration

The vacation property in question, 2318 Obstruction Pass Rd., is owned by the Stabberts and was authorized by San Juan County as a vacation rental in March 2018. It includes two houses, one with two bedrooms and the other with four. Each bedroom is allowed two occupants, plus three additional overnight guests totaling up to 18 people total at any given time.

Not included in the vacation rental is the use of the joint dock, Evans claimed. He said that a vacation rental is a commercial use and that state law does not allow private or joint-owned docs to be used for business.

In the complaint, Evans said that allowing the dock to be included in the rental is illegal and that San Juan County is not enforcing the law. He adds that Department of Natural Resources “has been utterly and completely inconsistent in its governmental position.”

Evans also said that allowing up to 18 people using the dock would negatively impact the oyster farm. He claimed that he is required to pay liability insurance for the dock and should a renter be injured, he would be liable for them or any damage they cause.

Evans claimed that vacation renters trespass and abuse rental properties, generate noise and that they would cause congestion on the private road that runs to the vacation property and his home.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, a clerk at the King County Superior Court said that this complaint is not yet in the system but that it could take 2-3 business days for a new case to appear.