EDITORIAL: Council refrains from more rules

Oak Harbor City Council acted admirably last week in declining to adopt more rules governing temporary businesses that occasionally set up shop along Highway 20.

At present, such businesses are loosely regulated to make sure they set up safely and pack up and leave after a few weeks. Stricter regulations, which some say were sought by certain permanent businesses that don’t appreciate the competition, were proposed. One of them would limit such “commercial outdoor sales” to only three days in a row.

As a result of the council’s inaction, things will stay as they are — which is fine. There are only a few such temporary businesses, one of which is the tool dealer whose colorful tent is presently pitched in the empty lot next to 7-11. He’s doing no harm, he’s offering a service many people appreciate, he’s adding sales tax revenue to the city’s coffers, and he’ll be gone soon. What more could we ask for in a temporary business?

All businesses face stiff competition. It’s the nature of our society. Those who simply have to wait a few weeks to see their competition leave town should consider themselves fortunate.

Let the tool tents and velvet paintings keep appearing along our exceedingly busy, and clearly commercial, highway corridor. They add some interest to the scenery, allow a few people to make some money, and serve those members of the public who may be in a hurry but are in dire need of a socket set or Elvis painting.

It’s the Fourth of July, a time to think about preserving even small freedoms. By not acting, the council preserved a little bit of freedom in America.

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