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

[Previous entry: "Will Someone Start A Recall?"] [Next entry: "Work Together To Create Affordable Housing"]

05/23/2006: "LETTERS ABOUT THE GUEST HOUSE ISSUE"


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Reader Has Deal For Collier


To the Editor::

We'll call ourselves the "no-limits-on-guest-houses lobby" if the "Friends" changes its name to the "We've Got Ours, Now Don't Ruin Our View lobby" or the "No building, nowhere, no-how, lobby." Deal?

Peg Manning
Orcas Island
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Voters "Impose"?

To the Editor:

Hey, Roger Collier, you're wrong! If there is anyone "trying to impose (something) on our beautiful county" it is not John Evans. It is incorrect to infer that trying to enable the specific desires of about 73% of county voters is equivalent to "imposing." If there is any "imposing" in this matter, it is you elite know-it-alls and your cohorts at the GMA's Western Regional Hearing Board that think nothing of enforcing arbitrary one-size-fits-all mandates.

Albert Hall
Friday Harbor

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No, You'r Wrong, I'm Right!

Dear Editor:

Evans is wrong – No one is claiming an apartment is a guesthouse

That John Evans! He's descended to the classic political tactic of misrepresenting what an opponent says (See letters below between Evans & Collier -Ed.)and then arguing with the misinterpretation. And—not for the first time—he's wrong about most of what he says.

John, you're wrong! I did not anywhere in my letter to the Island Guardian say that a mother-in-law apartment was a guest house. I did say that even under the new ordinance there were other options for owners of small shoreline lots. Maybe John didn't read the San Juan County land use code that he voted on when he was a commissioner, but the definition of a guest house includes "an attached accessory structure."

John, you're wrong! I am a Board member of Friends, but I'm not an officer.

John, you're wrong! Friends' reasons for not opposing attached ADUs and bunkhouses are not only because of State law, but because they have much less impact than the rentable detached ADUs that John has been trying to impose on our beautiful county.

John, you're wrong! There is nothing in the new ordinance that prohibits accessory structures on small lots—beyond any limitations in the existing code—and no mention of deed restrictions for such structures. The only new restriction is that where both a guest house and a garage are required, they should be attached.

Finally, I note that John does not disagree with anything else in my letter. Could it be that he realizes he's wrong?

Roger Collier
Eastsound
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Collier Is Wrong: An Apartment Is Not A Guest House


Only the Friends think a bunkhouse or mother-in-law apartment is the same as a guesthouse.
Roger Collier, board member and officer of the Friends, and former campaign manager for Councilman Lichter, continues to promote the notion (Letter below -Ed.)that a mother-in-law apartment in a person's house or a bunkhouse is a guesthouse. If they were, none of us would be dealing with this issue and the WWGMHB would not have questioned the County's ordinance! (The only reason the Friends are not trying to prohibit mother-in-law apartments and bunkhouses, along with guesthouses, is that they are provided for under State law.)

I stand by what I said. Just read the ordinance. The full text of the ordinance is available on the Guardian.

As the ordinance says, guesthouses are prohibited on parcels of less than 5 acres on the shoreline. Guesthouses are prohibited on parcels less than 1 acre even if they meet all other applicable construction requirements for storm water, setbacks etc. Property owners of more than one acre but less than 5 acres will have a deed restriction prohibiting other accessory structures that otherwise would be allowed. It is all in the ordinance. Just read what it says Roger? You should know. Your Friends wrote it.

It is true that I am the part time Executive Director of the San Juan Builders Association and proud of it. These are the hard working folks that fix your roof, paint your house or do your plumbing and electrical repairs and yes…some of them actually build houses for clients. They are no more or less pro-development than architects, engineers or any of the other folks whose occupation is to provide housing for people who need it.

As to whether the relationship between members of the Council and the Friends crossed the line from simply citizens accessing their legislators to something that is illegal…we shall see.

Have a great day.

John Evans
Executive Director
San Juan Builders Association

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Evans Is Wrong: An Apartment = a Guest House

Dear Editor:

It's good to see that former commissioner John Evans has lost none of his steam since becoming the paid lobbyist of a pro-development special interest group. Anyone who enjoys reading fiction must have been entertained by his "forces of darkness" letter ( Evans letter follows this one. -Ed) on guest houses in The Island Guardian.

However, for those who also are interested in facts about the latest proposed ordinance, here are a few corrections and clarifications to John's letter.

1. Eventually the County must have a guest house ordinance that is found by the Growth Management Hearings Board to comply with State law
. (John doesn't mention this fundamental point, so perhaps he's not aware of it.) The need to persuade the Hearings Board to accept an ordinance less restrictive than the Board's prior ruling allowing detached guest houses only on rural lots of 10 acres or more is the reason for many of the proposed restrictions on guest house siting.
2. It is untrue that "anyone with less than 5 acres on the shoreline loses any right to have a guest house" All shoreline lot owners will still be able to build attached guest houses or so-called "bunk houses" (essentially guest houses without kitchens).
3. It is untrue that "property owners with less than 5 acres … will forfeit the right to have other accessory structures on their property." Property owners of small rural lots of 1 to 5 acres will be able to have a guest house and a garage combined in a single structure. There are no new restrictions on accessory structures other than garages.
4. It is untrue that "guest houses cannot be built on land with native plants, views, and open pastures or orchards." The proposed ordinance states that the guest house and driveway etc. must be located to avoid or minimize intrusion on the most sensitive open-space features of the site.
5. It is untrue that the water requirement "is contrary to State standards." The requirement is consistent with State standards.
6. It is untrue that "none of these restrictions have anything to do with complying with the State Growth Management Act." As noted above in #1, the Growth Management Hearings Board must determine whether San Juan County complies with the Growth Management Act. Given the Hearings Board's earlier ruling, it is clear that—if the County is to allow any guest houses on lots smaller than 10 acres—there must be restrictions that protect against the appearance of sprawl (the Hearings Board's big concern).
7. It is misleading to quote the guest house advisory ballot that referred to a "right" that no longer existed. As all pollsters know, if you craft a question carefully enough, you can get any result you want. There's little doubt that the vote would have been rather different if the ballot question had more accurately reflected the ordinance John was backing, like: "Do you want to allow each of your rural neighbors, no matter how small their lots, to be able to build detached guest houses that can be used as transient or long-term rentals."
8. It is untrue that the County has "failed to follow the public process required under GMA." If John thinks he has any evidence to the contrary, no doubt he will reveal it
9. It is untrue that the Council has "made special deals in secret." As John should know, citizens do have a right to talk to Council members, and there cannot be a "deal" without a series of public hearings.
10. It may be unwise to "let the Court decide." Not only does the Court of Appeals usually uphold decisions of Superior Court—which ruled in favor of the Hearings Board ban on guest houses on lots of less than 10 acres—but an Appeals Court decision would require a new ordinance and resubmittal to the Hearings Board, essentially starting the process over.

It's disappointing that John should have so few of his facts right, and unfair—since he is backing an approach that would probably result in a permanent ban—to those who would like to see an end to the guest house moratorium.

Finally, a correction to another no-limits-on-guest-houses letter
. Peg Manning must have missed much of the May 25 hearing, since the Council allowed everyone who spoke for an initial 2 minutes to speak again if they wished for a second 2 minutes, and a third 2 minutes, and (even, for one particularly garrulous guest house proponent) a fourth 2 minutes.


Roger Collier
Eastsound

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Once-In-A-Millennium…6-6-06

Lately, some Hollywood movie releases are finding significance in themes having to do with the numbers 6-6-6 and the forces of darkness. Who are we to argue with Hollywood?

With this in mind, it is interesting to note that this Tuesday we will have our own local event coinciding with the once-in-a-millennium arrival of the 6th day of the 6th month of millennium, 2006; the citizens of San Juan County will be gathering before the Friends/Council to comment on the Dante's stew they are serving up …the latest San Juan County guesthouse ordinance!

The hearing is at the County Courthouse beginning at 1:30 P.M.


The devil is in the details.

Under this proposed ordinance:
Anyone with less than 5 acres on the shoreline loses any right to have a guesthouse, ever! So does anyone who owns less than 1 acre elsewhere (except for urban growth areas.)

Property owners with less than 5 acres but more than 1 acre, who make it though the permitting requirements and guesthouse rationing allocation, will be required to forfeit the right to have other accessory structures on their property. (The County will file a deed restriction to that effect against their property.) This restriction does not apply to anyone, (at least not yet) who does not build a guesthouse.

The list of restrictions goes on…

Guesthouses cannot be built on land with native plants, views, and open pastures or orchards.

Further, the property owner must meet a water availability standard established for a full time second primary residence. This water standard is contrary to State requirements and forecloses a guesthouse on most properties with class B water systems.

None of these restrictions have anything to do with complying with the Washington State Growth Management Act. As Councilman Myhr stated with a smile, "The rules are arbitrary." Put another way, the ordinance crafted by the Friends of the San Juans for the Friends/Council uses the personal opinions of a few to establish the rules and restrictions that will take the basic property right to build a guesthouse from as many property owners as possible…without declaring an outright ban.

This proposed ordinance flies in the face of the vote by 73.5 percent of San Juan County citizens who are opposed to losing a basic property right! The Council should be representing the overwhelming majority of County citizens, not a small minority.

If enough people show up at the hearing on 6-6-6 and or contact the 3 current members of the future 6-member Council, it may motivate the County Council to turn away from forces of dark side and see the light. (It is suggested that participants testifying against the proposed ordinance be prepared and bring a clove of garlic just in case things don't go well.)

All joking aside, the Friends/Council should represent the majority, not a small minority with a special agenda. They need to understand the implications of the coarse they have set…for its limit it places on an important affordable housing option, for its arbitrary restrictions on particular classes of property owners, for its ill advised prohibitions on rentals, for the failure to follow the public process required under GMA, and for going far beyond anything that is required to meet the demands of the Western Washington Growth Hearing Board, and for making special deals in secret.

Plan to attend the hearing and stand up for your rights. Tell them to let the court decide. Your presence can make all the difference in the outcome. At the very least, it should be entertaining. When you participate, you can then tell your children and grandchildren that you made the effort to stand up for what is fair and right.

Have a great day and hope to see you Tuesday.


John Evans
On the farm in Doe Bay


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Experience Or .... Divisiveness and Mismanagement


In addition to being intimately involved with the passage of the GMA and its many problems, County Administrator candidate Dick Grout can be credited with the creation of our GMA-formatted planning department. Some might count this as a credit, however, the record supports the view that the planning department, together with its personalities, its administration and its rulings were (and continue to be) the origin of much, if not most, of the divisiveness that has befallen our county government.

One must hope that our present counselors will not hire Dick Grout. Alternatively, they might want to perpetuate divisiveness and mismanagement – for this would surely be the signal that the hiring of Mr. Grout would send.

Albert Hall
Friday Harbor

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Council Handling of ADU Issue Transcends ADUs


Time ticks on. But we appear to be standing still. The only movement seems to be the rapid exiting of our rights as we know them. The Guest House issue is of huge importance--even for those who already have their guest house or have decided that it doesn't fit into their current plans.

Every time we allow political corruption, we loose the right to complain when that corruption later points it's crooked finger in our direction.

Every time we turn away while our neighbor's property use rights are being devastated, we loose the right to say, "Hello, have a nice day".

Every time we sanction "insider deals" on the local level, we are sanctioning it on the Federal level.

Every time we allow our democratic votes to be tossed out the window, we toss democracy and all it stands for out the window.

So, fight the fight---because it needs to be fought. Join your neighbors and friends in a unified stand against those that would use their political positions to deprive you of your personal rights. Watch the paper. Write your letters. Show up at the hearings. And walk tall. We are Americans, and that meant something. It can again

The Hanleys.

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Questions For The Council


An Open Letter To County Council

The San Juan County Council has published yet another proposed ADU ordinance text and announced that it will conduct a public hearing on June 6, 2006, at 1:30 p.m. regarding it. I have several important procedural questions for the Council.

First, will speakers at this hearing have their time again arbitrarily reduced to two minutes, or will they be permitted the same five minutes that are allowed in every other context? The resolution of the guesthouse issue is of enormous interest to the citizens, taxpayers and property owners of the County; close to 100 persons attended the last substantive hearing and more than 30 persons spoke. Cutting off testimony on an important topic like this at two minutes--barely enough to identify oneself--is both inappropriate and completely unnecessary. Scheduling the hearing is entirely within the Council's control, and it seems that, in this case, the Council should ensure that interested persons are permitted the full five minutes.

Second, will Council members ever respond to the questions raised at the last hearing, and will they respond at the upcoming hearing to questions raised during it? It seems to me that the process of having citizens ask their questions in one session, while having deliberations with no citizen participation at another, allows the Council to evade responding at all to the important questions raised by the commenters. There is simply no give-and-take or discussion of the issues in this format. Moreover, the Council should schedule the hearing to begin earlier and run later, so as to allow the assembled public to comment and to observe deliberations on the same day, allowing continuity in the consideration of the issue and permitting all in attendance to learn what responses County Council is providing. I believe that this issue is far too important to the people to force an abbreviated and disjointed hearing schedule on it. The fact that Council members might prefer to catch an early ferry really should not be controlling in this regard.

Third, I fail to understand how anyone can be expected to draw any valid conclusions about the ADU proposal and its impact upon our neighbors without having the final "vesting" ordinance proposal for review at the same time. It's possible for some to argue that this or that issue will be resolved in the vesting ordinance, but there's no guarantee of what will be in the vesting ordinance. The two should be considered together.

I would appreciate a response to my questions as soon as possible as we need to make our travel plans.

Thank you.

Peg Manning
Orcas
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