SJICN SHORT SUMMARY OF FORUM #2 COMMON GROUND
SJICN’s second forum on Vacation Rentals was held June 17 to a Zoom audience of about 45 interested people. 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, Discovery. 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 (VRWG).
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 VR owners who are not in compliance with current regulations. Stephens noted that fines totaling $100,000 had, in fact, been assessed. All agreed that a 24-hour hotline available to neighbors experiencing a problem with VR renters is vitally important, with Cooper believing it should be independently staffed and not monitored by VR owners; and all participants agreed that after a number of unaddressed infractions, the VR owner should lose their license.
There was discussion about monitoring VR 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 year. Ultimately the panelists zeroed in on accountability, enforcement, and education as critical to resolving many of the VR-related issues.
Forum #3 will 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.
View the Forum in its entirety at www.sjicn.org/forums and complete a survey. 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.
Register TODAY for forum #3 - Collaborative Action - A focus on the commitment all parties will make to take action on the agreed upon solutions.
These forums are sponsored by The San Juan Islands Community Network offering islanders an opportunity to engage in democratic self-governance. To subscribe to bulletins or donate to SJICN, visit www.sjicn.org/subscribe-donate.