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Home » Archives » April 2006 » LETTERS ABOUT THE GUEST HOUSE ISSUE

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Former SJC Planner Weights In On ADUs

To the Editor:

I have watched, from afar, the amazing amount of effort and words that have been generated in regards to guest houses. What has impressed me the most is the almost total lack of discussion about the core issue.

As we all know, the county currently has an agreement with the Growth Hearings Board and the courts which allows detached guest houses in resource lands if they are for the use of resource workers. It is also acceptable to have "attached or internal" guest houses of less than 1,000 sq. ft. associated with single-family residences. These allowances were granted on the basis of evidence and assumptions adequate to conclude that the density in rural lands would not exceed the state-mandated maximum average of one unit per five acres. However, the courts and the Hearings Board were very clear that San Juan County had not presented evidence sufficient to show that detached guest houses associated with non-resource related residential properties would be used only occasionally, and therefore not contribute to an increase in density.

Let me say that again: San Juan County failed to convince the courts and the Hearings Board that detached guest houses would not contribute to an increase in density.

Now, I am slightly deaf due to years in the shipyards and other heavy construction sites, but I have not yet heard any significant discussion about this issue. Instead, I have heard huge amounts of noise - similar to a radio or TV after the station has gone off the air. Buzz, buzz, buzz - about the will of the people, compromises between warring factions, finish the lawsuit, and so on. At no time, that I am aware of, was there an effort to prepare a succinct analysis of how to convince the final authority the GHB that a detached guest house will be

"an accessory dwelling unit that is not rented, but is designed and most commonly used for irregular residential occupancy by family members, guests, and persons providing health care or property maintenance for the owner. (SJCC 18.20.070(G))"

This is not a matter of putting words on paper that say this in multiple different ways. At the least, I suppose, there has to be research, analysis, and a convincing enforcement proposal.

Or, if the will of the people is that there should be 2nd residences on, for example, a limited number of rural parcels, the county must prepare a growth impact analysis. That was requested in the past, but the response of the then BOCC was "we're special and we won't do it." Is that the attitude still? Why isn't an impact analysis being requested now? Is this station off the air, like our local FM station? If so, for how much longer?

Bob Querry
Friday Harbor

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