Thursday, January 24, 2013

Musings: Little Piggies

Some pigs have been visiting my yard lately, in the wee hours, when it's very dark and we're all asleep, though their grunts and snuffling wake me and excite the dogs. Last night I finally saw two of them in the moonlight, right outside my bedroom window, and when I said, "chhhh!" they ran.

Some pigs also have been visiting the county Planning Department, but they do not run away, because they're never scolded. Instead, they are welcomed, allowed to come in and correct their zoning violations, have their fines voided, and in at least two cases, given unwarranted rewards for compliance. 

At yesterday's County Council meeting, Planning Director Michael Dahilig revealed that even though his department has authority to collect up to $10,000 per day for uncorrected violations, no fines have been collected at all, because everyone came into compliance, even those who were caught red-handed.  

As The Garden Island reported:

[Councilman Mel] Rapozo compared this to showing up at a court date for a speeding violation and telling the judge “I stopped speeding,” to have the fine removed.

But what Dahilig didn't disclose was how in at least two cases, his department rewarded zoning violators with transient vacation rental (TVR) permits — even though neither house had a documented history of TVR use, as is required under county law.

Both houses in question are within the Wainiha flood zone, and both had illegally enclosed the downstairs. When the houses were sold, the new owners applied for TVR permits. Both permits were granted when the illegal enclosures were removed, even though neither had a prior history of vacation rental use. In one case, the previous owner had gotten a property tax exemption for occupying the house, so it obviously wasn't being rented. In the other, the new owner offered as verification a letter from North Shore Properties saying the place had been rented. That was it. No rental history, no proof of taxes paid, zip.

So not only are some people with zoning violations skipping substantial fines, they're reaping significant rewards because the county is using the carrot of a TVR permit as a way to get them to correct their illegal use. 

Worse, the county is actually increasing the TVR inventory in this way, even though some Council members assured us that natural attrition would gradually whittle down the number of TVRs.

There's something really sketchy going on with zoning inspections, and the latitude that's given in bringing violations into compliance. The problems are not just within the Planning Department, but the Building Department, too. Let's hope the Council has the gumption to really check it out — especially before it pungles up more money to hire inspectors.


Anonymous said...

I don't think Mr Rapozo should be talking about court, he may be there soon! as every other day I see him violating the cell phone ordinance while driving.

Anonymous said...

Dahilig should be held accountable. This is not what the voters wanted. This is illegal.

Anonymous said...

This corruption and favoritism has been going on for many years at the Planning Dept.

The "money people" seem to slide by with a "hand slap" if anything at all.

Try reporting a big developer for grubbing or disturbing a water shed area (Pflueger, McClusky, Michelle Hughes & CO. etc.)...nothing happens.

Got a toaster in your bed room? A coffee maker?.....could mean you have an illegal B&B. If someone reports you, the Planning Dept will show up.

Anonymous said...

Audit all these people!!! Kauai has the most corrupt public officials in the nation. Red flag their financial records and see if these people are committing crimes by falsifying records. Once the Feds flip the property owners then they can go after the criminals in office.

Anonymous said...

there is a sound social policy reason that for generations, planning departments almost always allow violations to be fixed before jumping right to fines or court.
if we go straight to lock em em and take all their money american style punishment, nobody will ever cooperate with planning again. it all becomes 'oh yeah, get a warrant'. when planning departments use the corrective approach instead of the punitive approach, actual compliance by far more people is much more likely. im no fan of planning dept but its policy of trying for compliance instead of being just another cop is way better to me. more humane and more effective. i care more about compliance than punishment. just another view.

Anonymous said...

TVR situation, rampant abuse and the people involved in these abuses know full well they can get away with it without consequence. Our Planning Dept. has consistently bent over backwards to accommodate them and its time to stop!!! The North Shore is overrun by TVR's, no more already!!!!

Anonymous said...

The "cancer" is "within" spread by our tax moneys.

Radical surgery is indicated to remove it.

Followed by Radiation of the "lackeys" that continue to spread it.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

6:57. I agree in principle. But it does cost $ for county to bring people into compliance. Why should the law abiders have to pay?

Andy Parx said...

657- They already say "oh yeah- get a warrent" and have been for decades. How do you think Pflueger happened? Guess you haven't been around long enough or paid enough attention.

Anonymous said...

Yes, an investigation into all the personal accounts of county government officials would find the problems.

Anonymous said...

it is NOT a Planning Department - it is A PERMITTING department - get it through your head

Anonymous said...

How about a salary review, accompanied by a review of the number of women/men in supervisory positions (and their salaries), and # of promotions during the current administration.

We the people deserve to know.

Anonymous said...

So sad that the mayor doesn't pick competent people with experience to lead his departments...instead of the obvious cronyism and GOBAGS that he has chosen.