A Community Website by Lopez Island
News and Views
Send Message
Other News
LWVSJ Observer Corps Notes County Council July 8
Jul 14, 2024
By League of Women Voters of the San Juans
County Council Meeting July 8, 2024
The Council set a public hearing for August 6 to hear resolutions to transition six parcels on Orcas from Designated Forest Land to Agricultural Open Space. The owner is willing to accept the increased tax rate and to stop harvesting timber on the parcels.

The Environmental Stewardship Department presented a report analyzing public comments on the draft Destination Management Plan. The concern about both increasing and decreasing tourism reflected why past efforts to create a plan to manage tourism failed to get consensus. Many comments focussed on a few hot topics, of which several were the target of misinformation. The county will deliver the draft plan to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, which funded it, and post the feedback report on the Engage website. The Council will not move forward with the draft.

The Environmental Stewardship Department recommended focusing on underlying policies like the economic development and transportation sections of the comprehensive plan. The economic development section has not addressed tourism despite its weight in the county’s economy. There is public support to work to protect the islands from the impact of tourism. How and where to find the resources for that work is a challenge. Lodging tax funds can be used only to support tourism promotion and facilities. Tourism can’t be controlled; tourists will come. The challenge is for the community to work together to derive economic benefits while limiting unwanted impacts.

The Council continued the discussion from a June Council meeting on which path to take in the future regarding a Destination Marketing Organization(DMO), required by law to implement lodging tax funds designated for marketing, once the current contract with the visitors bureau expires at year end, Options include a new contract with the visitors bureau, an open request for proposals, existing funding formula with existing funding formula funding Chambers of Commerce as DMOs, or doing destination marketing in-house. Council members wish to engage with chambers and have more info on the experience of counties that do this in house.

*The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.