UPDATE: Second Vacation Rental Forum Suggests 24-hour Complaint Hotline
From San Juan Islands Community Network
San Juan Islands Community Network’s second forum on vacation rentals was held June 17 to a Zoom audience of about 45.
The forum, entitled “Common Ground” focused on areas of agreement and the best next steps to take. Watch it at sjicn.org/forums.
Common Ground brought back the same panelists as the first forum.
Doug Whittaker, from the consulting firm Confluent Research and Consulting whose suggestions and comments were offered via a 13 ½ minute video statement; San Juan County Councilman Jamie Stephens whose committee work has focused recently on vacation rentals; Jan Scilipoti, representing Hosting on the Rock, and Toby Cooper, representing the Vacation Rental Working Group.
The forum aimed to identify common ground among all parties. All panelists appeared to agree that more data and research is necessary but that the regulations adopted in 2018 have not been fully evaluated due to the Pandemic; that enforcement needs to be stepped up to deal with vacation rental owners who are not in compliance with current regulations.
Stephens noted that fines totaling $100,000 in fines had, in fact, been assessed. All agreed that a 24-hour hotline available to neighbors experiencing a problem with vacation rental renters is vitally important, with Cooper believing it should be independently staffed and not monitored by vacation rental owners; and all participants agreed that after a number of unaddressed infractions, the vacation rental owner should lose their license.
There was a discussion about monitoring vacation rental water meters to determine if a substantial amount of additional water is being used by the renters during peak tourism periods that coincide with critical drought times of the year. Ultimately the panelists zeroed in accountability, enforcement, and education as critical to resolving many of the vacation rental-related issues.
The June 24 forum was canceled.
The forum was to focus on the best, agreed-upon actions to take to deal with the concerns of islanders around vacation rentals, while at the same time respecting the rights of islanders to serve as hosts to vacationers.
All parties have instead chosen to meet in the next few days to clarify those actions they can commit to supporting, those they can’t, and those that they feel require more discussion with their constituents.
Once meaningful steps forward have the commitments from both the representatives from Vacation Rental Working Group and Hosting on the Rock, San Juan Islands Community Network will consider the best way to present this information to all islanders. They can then share their opinions on these solutions and suggest policies and actions.
Share specific questions or ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions and comments help to target the forums in ways that can be responsive to your questions and concerns. When possible, questions and comments will be forwarded to our panelists. Given the volume of questions received, however, it may not be possible to provide individual answers.
The post was updated on June 25 to reflect the canceled third forum.