EPRC takes on vacation rentals — passes resolution for moratorium

— from Paul Kamin for Eastsound Planning and Review Committee —


Over 35 people participated in the May 2 Eastsound Planning and Review Committee (EPRC) meeting. Most were in attendance to participate in the discussion of a resolution asking the County Council to place a 12-month moratorium on new vacation rental permits in the Eastsound Subarea.

The resolution was presented by EPRC member Yonatan Aldort. Extensive public comment was offered in support of the resolution. Those commenting expressed concerns on the impact of the expanding vacation rental businesses on housing availability, housing prices, neighborhood character, and resource sustainability. Currently San Juan County does not have any limit on the number of possible vacation rental permits in San Juan County.

The following resolution passed with six votes in support and one vote to abstain:

Eastsound Planning Review Committee

Resolution for Adoption of a Moratorium on the Issuance of Vacation Rental Permits

WHEREAS Eastsound Water has documented that 154 of its 757 residential connections (20%) currently have Vacation Rental Permits.

WHEREAS, 68% of recent housing growth in San Juan County has been for non-resident occupancy; and

WHEREAS, a substantial majority of multiple recent housing developments in the Eastsound Urban Growth Area (UGA) have been converted immediately into vacation rentals following their construction; and

WHEREAS, the lack of long term rentals and affordable housing on Orcas has already reached a crisis level that has affected the health and equity of our community and caused businesses to suffer a drastic shortage of employees; and

WHEREAS, there is no current land use analysis of the impacts of the significant and ongoing conversion of residential properties to vacation rentals on San Juan County’s ability to meet its Growth Management obligation to accommodate 50% of future residential developing within the Eastsound Urban Growth Area.

WHEREAS, if these trends remain unchanged, it will be impossible to fulfill the GMA’s requirements and maintain the socioeconomic diversity of our community;

THEREFORE, The Eastsound Planning Review Committee recommends that the San Juan County Council adopt an immediate moratorium on the issuance of new Vacation Rental permits within the Eastsound Subarea for a period of 12 months;

FURTHER, it will be the responsibility of the San Juan County Council, the Department of Community Development, and the Eastsound Planning Review Committee to collectively use the period of this moratorium to hold necessary public meetings and develop a functional long-term solution that balances the needs of local housing and business enterprise in the Eastsound Subarea.


Christine Coray, an engineer with San Juan County Public Works, requested that EPRC support two upcoming initiatives. Public Works is developing plans for Prune Alley that includes sidewalks, crosswalks, and stormwater improvements. Ms. Coray is preparing a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application to help fund this project.

EPRC was asked to provide a letter of support for this grant application, which was unanimously approved.

EPRC also voted support for an Eastsound Household Income Survey, which is required as part of the Community Development Block Grant process. Public Works will be announcing details of this survey shortly. The results of this survey will help qualify a wide range of local utilities and non-profits that serve Eastsound for consideration of CDBG funds.


A Washington State Transportation Improvement Board “Complete Streets Award” is providing $300,000 for Eastsound Projects. The first project slated for 2020 is completion of the sidewalk and stormwater infrastructure on Rose St between the Library and Prune Alley. Funding for bike and pedestrian improvements along Orcas Rd between Main St. and Myers St in 2021 is also part of this funding.

Ms. Coray also shared Public Works plans of extending the sidewalk on the east side of Haven Rd. This project is likely to be completed in the fall of 2019.


EPRC Members Yonatan Aldort, Margaret Payne and Paul Kamin’s terms expired at the May meeting. Aldort and Payne chose not to seek renewal for another term. Kamin is requesting approval from County Council for another term. This leaves EPRC with two vacancies. Anyone interested in learning more about serving on the County Advisory Committee should contact Sue Kollet at the County Council office, or Orcas Council Member Rick Hughes.

Current EPRC members include Paul Kamin, Leith Templin, Terry Gillespie, Charles Toxey, and Brian Weiss.

In case you missed these stories...

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Fred Klein

Kudos to EPRC for recommending this moratorium…I used to have neighbors on Sunset Ave, far fewer today.

Peg Manning

The County considered this issue for a year and just a year ago instituted new rules and registrations for vacation rentals. Perhaps we might await the new data on the number and location of vacation rentals rather than anecdotal information. A “moratorium” (like the 6+ year guesthouse “moratorium”) is no answer and of questionable legality.

Brian A Ehrmantraut

Perhaps a moratorium on the County engaging in “destination marketing” would be productive, at least until they have a plan for dealing with the impact of the new visitors they are attracting.

Peg Manning

We were talking only half-jokingly the other day about keeping the ferry fleet about the same capacity (but with working ferries and a way for residents to have priority, which is an issue), as one way of slowing tourism.

susan malins

Yesterday Rick Hughes said at a public luncheon that we will have less ferry capacity soon, & through the summer.(If only hospitality + other? interests would stop hogging the reservations, locals might have a shot.) Erika Shook & Rick talked about vacation rentals, they have the new data Peg, sorry didn’t take notes.

I made a public records request to find out how many Vacation Rental Permits have expired due to ownership changes under SJCC 18.40.275(k)(5) and it turns out none. The rule states the permit must be transferred and all conditions certified within 90 days ownership changes or the permit expires.