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Home » Archives » April 2006 » Thank You Island Guardian!

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04/26/2006: "Thank You Island Guardian!"


Thank You Island Guardian!

To the Editor:

Kudos to the Island Guardian for publishing the splendid letter from Miriam Ziegler and Tom Baldwin and the report of what is afoot in the ongoing disputes about guest houses ("Court Of Appeals Wants To Hear More" 4/17/06). It was my first knowledge of the Manning-Blanchared petition to the court and that a final court ruling might obviate what the county and the Friends are attempting to pull off.

As an architect, I'd like to add one further consideration that has not yet been recounted by our local press. "Houses" can (and sometimes have been) made up of discrete structures that are not connected. In colonial days, for instance, the kitchen was often a free standing structure (as a safety measure to prevent the fires that were routine in a kitchen from endangering the main house). The historically significant Carter Plantation in Virginia had a smaller free-standing structure to house adolescent children and their tutor. This writer knows of at least one San Juan Island home whose other-than-master bedrooms are in a separate structure.

These considerations have been "solved" in other communities with definitions that make the provision of a kitchen the determining factor; i.e. a given set of structures or, for that matter even within one structure only one kitchen is permitted "per occupancy," and any additional kitchens constitute an additional occupancy. This, however, is readily bypassed with modern micro-waves, mini refrigerators and dishwashers and a nearby lavatory sink.

These and similar considerations about definitions and how discrete structures can be arranged are offered to remind that design solutions can be arranged to circumvent the statute. There is simply no end to the ways that a restriction on "detached guest houses" can be circumvented. More pernicious, the statutory restriction is quite likely to encourage architectural conceptions which although legal might be altogether undesirable. The better solution, both for the intended purpose and the more important purpose of encouraging an overall better character of our community, is to trust in our citizens rather more and in our ordinances rather less; and specifically to listen to the over seventy percent of our county's voters that want detached guest houses.

Albert Hall
Friday Harbor


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