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Home » Archives » January 2006 » Facts Explain the Guest House Ordinance

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01/15/2006: "Facts Explain the Guest House Ordinance"

I was disappointed to see that there continues to be misunderstanding about our County Commissioners' efforts to end the long-running guest house controversy.

A few facts may help resolve some of the confusion.

1. There has never been any expectation or intent that the proposed guest house ordinance would somehow evade public scrutiny. At the preliminary meeting between representatives of the County and Friends of the San Juans, the County Prosecutor made clear that any proposal would be subject to the same open public process as any other change to County regulations, a process that has now started with a series of Planning Commission hearings.

2. Reaching a tentative agreement allowed Friends and the County to ask the Appeals Court for a stay of the County's appeal of the Superior Court decision upholding the earlier Growth Management Board ruling. That ruling limited new detached guest houses to lots of 10 acres or larger in rural areas. Since the Appeals Court upholds Superior Court decisions in most cases, and since ninety percent of Growth Board decisions have been supported by the courts, the stay means that the County has avoidedfor the momentthe considerable risk of a decision that would essentially make permanent the current moratorium.

3. The proposed ordinance allows construction of new guest houses at approximately the pre-moratorium rate. Because it is highly unlikely that the Growth Board would approve any regulation that simply allows more guest houses in rural areas, the ordinance encourages affordable housing and includes restrictions on the siting and use of new guest houses.

It's understandable that some would prefer to see much more liberal regulations for new guest house construction, but attempts to undermine the proposed ordinance create serious risks for anyone who wants to see an end to the current moratorium. Failure to pass a new ordinance could trigger an Appeals Court decision that simply upholds the original Growth Board ruling. Passing an ordinance more liberal than that proposed would likely result in its rejection by the Growth Board and the continuation of the moratorium.


Roger Collier

Tom Bauschke
John Evans
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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