Monday, March 2, 2015

Musings: Homies Part II

Last week's blog post on the county's proposed ordinance regulating homestays drew quite a few comments, including a lengthy one that Sam Lee, the former state land agent, submitted last night. It was so thoughtful that I decided to run it today, featuring Sam as a guest blogger.

I'll lead off with the highlights of a conversation I had with Planning Director Mike Dahilig. He said the proposed ordinance was prompted by his department's desire for a uniform policy in dealing with homestays, because 15 people have submitted applications for use permits to operate them. They range from a single room in a home in Kapaa to numerous rooms in a house in Wainiha.

Mike is also aware that some people are attempting to convert unpermitted TVRs to homestays. Two of those requests are now being fought through contested case hearings brought by North Shore residents.

The proposed ordinance is intended to “start a discussion” about what homestay regulations should look like, Mike said. The planning department is not wedded to the language in the proposed bill, and is very open to what the community wants, be it a cap on the number of homestays or their outright prohibition.

Sam, who lives in Poipu, is also very interested in hearing what folks in other neighborhoods think. So please share your thoughts, and include a reference to where on Kauai you live.

Aloha Joan

By this time I've had a chance to read the ordinance. I am one of many becoming aware of the size and complexity of the vacation rental business. An article in this past Sunday's Star Advertiser says 25% of tourist stays occur in vacation rentals. Officials estimate there are something like 22,000 (conservative) vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods, most of them illegal. This dispels the notion that folks who operate vacation rentals are people who are trying to pay the mortgage, pay their kids college tuition, or earn a few extra dollars towards family expenses. This is NOT mom and pop stuff. This is BIG BUSINESS. The numbers also say government regulators have failed abysmally, allowing illegal rentals uncontrolled access to neighborhoods across Hawaii. The numbers are now so large and residents so upset, the State and Counties are forced to do something, AGAIN.

Just a few years ago, our County addressed the problem of illegal TVRs by devising a process allowing illegal rentals to file paperwork and suddenly become legal. Residents viewed this with disbelief. Most recently our County pushed for a change in zoning where I live, which if approved, will redesignate Residential zone to Visitor Destination Area. If this passes, unlimited vacation rentals will be automatically allowed completing the takeover of our neighborhood. Now the County is proposing Homestays, another effort to muscle vacation rentals into neighborhoods.

The ordinance has some language to mollify residents; such as a limit of one MINOR permit (allows up to 2 rooms in the house to be rented) for every 300 residents in a given area. But the ordinance also allows Major Permits (5 bedrooms for up to 10 people) with NO Limit on number issued in the same area through a Use Permit. So potentially, there is no limit.

Another feature requires the homeowner to live in the house full time and provide a Homeowners Exemption Certificate attesting to full time occupancy for only one year. At minimum, one year should be increased to five years.

The owner in the house should reduce noise and bad behavior activity by guests. What it doesn't do is address the issues that arise when mixed uses occur in crowded, small lot neighborhoods with oversized houses built close together. From our own experience these include, increased vehicle and foot traffic, speeding cars, sense of crowding, sense of entitlement by guests, tension between neighbors, loss of the "neighborhood" feeling, added burden on aged infrastructure, etc, etc.

For waste control the ordinance requires the property to be on a septic system; which is a good thing. For buyers of newer houses or builders of new ones (transplants) this is no problem as the law now requires this. The downside is, if Aunty and Uncle intend to earn a few dollars by renting a room or two on a cesspool, they may be in for a surprise.

So as our government pushes unceasingly for tourism, we wonder; is the push backed by need? Just up the street from where I live are several hundred acres of vacant land, already zoned, permitted for tourist accommodations but unbuilt on. Between 1000 and 2000 units can be built. Many of these parcels have had permits for years. On the east side, the County recently approved hundreds of hotel rooms with more coming when the Coco Palms gets permitted. On the north shore, Jeff Stone has publicized plans for a 1,000 acre luxury development at Princeville.

With all that out there, I truly wonder why we have to have Homestays, TVRs or B&Bs pushed into our neighborhoods. Is there any place left for residents to call their own?

I'm sure there are many perspectives on this issue- for and against. Thank you, Joan, for allowing me to share mine.

best wishes, sam lee 

64 comments:

Anonymous said...

Many thanks to the author for todays post.There is no place to call home for local people. We need to put the visitors back in the VDA, and allow our community to get back to functioning.
To all the people who want commercial uses in your homes, please move to a VDA and sell your home to a family. Legalizing vacation rentals has resulted in huge profits for all the LLC's that sold their enterprises, but has put resorts in all the wrong places. Adding more to the mix in the form of B&B's adds insult to injury.

Anonymous said...

No, there are no homes for residents, just vacation rentals permitted and not permitted operating and more vacation rentals that are now trying to be allowed as B&B's .

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the areas next to the VDA in Poipu and Princeville have been most impacted. Restrict further growth of the VDA.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for Sam his very attractive and old neighborhood is basically at the center of ground zero tourism development. And it will only get worse. Just like our older neighborhoods in Lihue are being smothered by ADUs. I have little problem with a homeowner who lives in a home renting out a couple for vacationers. But I sort of agree with Sam that it should be one rental contract and I think only one rental car.

Anna Stone said...

Nice post Sam!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Sam's thoughts. He makes a good point about keeping neighborhoods a place for residents. Over the last 30+years, the neighborhood I grew up in changed drastically. It was once homes for locals and full time residents, but is now filled with vacation rentals. Tourists regularly speed through.. In Hanalei, there are only 2, maybe 3 homes left that are locally owned along the bay. In peak season, vehicles are unable to make use of both lanes of Aku and Weke roads since visitors use it as their sidewalk. Adding more B&B in residential areas is not the answer.

Anonymous said...

there has to be a way to give OK to 1 extra room in Kapaa and say no to mini resort in Wainiha.

Sam Lee said...

Is this the real Anna Stone?

Sam Lee said...

Thanks for the observation 8:22.

Yes, I do live near the South Shore resort district; for nearly 50 years. Back in the day there was no resort area. No Hyatt, Poipu Kai, Sheraton, Kukuiula or any form of short term tourist rentals. Way back when, zoning was created to guide land use and also to separate incompatible uses. I live in residential zone. Commercial uses are not allowed to be mixed in with homes.

Meanwhile. the resort has expanded, surrounding us. So what does that mean for people who have lived on their land for over 100 years, for 70 years, or 60+ years ? Do we deserve to be smothered with vacation rentals , B&Bs and Homestays, have our zoning changed to resort, etc? Why? Because we are in the way?

I pray this is not true. All we seek,
is to live in our homes in peace and quiet. If we cannot find that in a Residential zone; where do the kamaaina go?

aloha, sam lee

Anonymous said...

The main thing is that the debate not get taken over by the same loud anti minority that took over GMO opposition. There could be a reasonable discussion about when and how to rent out a bedroom for extra cash but exaggerated claims that this would mean there are no neighborhoods for our local keiki to grow up are so rife with the same old fear mongering and counterproductive to building a law that actually works. They sky probably is not falling.

And how may TVRs have been prosecuted anyway, since they are illegal now? Should we hold off on regulating homestays until OPA proves it can convict maybe 6 illegal TVRs operators? Seriously wouldn't a few prosecutions help point out enforcement problems with that law so it can be improved? I can see the bumper stickers now.... "I have a TVR and I vote" ..... hmmm maybe that's why they only get prosecuted when Joan calls them out.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people are against resorts and over development thinking it will bring more visitors.. I understand that line of thinking -maybe it will? But then again, maybe the visitors have been coming anyway and are just staying in illegal vacation rentals?

Anonymous said...

Excellent comment by Sam. What really gets my goat is that the process we went through was supposed to address this stuff and that took literally years.

Now, since all of the loopholes are being used liberally which those of us who brought up those issues were literally poo-pooed by those drunk with power in the chairs at that time we now have a literal perfect storm.

And being loud on this issue is the only way we are ever going to address housing needs on this island which are at critical mass, and about to start causing either mass defections from this island, or mass demonstrations.

Because the housing Authority is about to offer "Voucher Choice" options and allow more people to stay in units because there are simply not enough low-income units on the island, and to try and go into the regular rental market units.

What that means is more discrimination, since it is currently legal to discriminate against any person holding a voucher and not allow them to apply for a rental at all, and more stress and more squeezing out and most definitely more homeless if the landlords kick out the voucher choice residents after they get the kala for having them in the units.

We said all along this will squeeze out available rental units at the median level and cause a backlog. There is currently a five year waiting list for low income housing on this island. TVR's contribute to that immensely as upper middle class could have moved out of middle class homes thus freeing up upward mobility.

We told you guys but you never listen! UGH!

Anonymous said...

No wiggle room. Prohibit home stay. Reclaim our neighborhoods. Mahalo!

Sam Lee said...

I agree 11:18.

Lets try keep this discussion respectful and sane. I'll do my part.

Regarding enforcement, a big AMEN on that. The fact is the law has NOT been enforced in any meaningful way, ever. This is why we are where we are. Couple this with the pervasive ethic that says, if my neighbor can get away with it, so can I. Which kills the idea that anything done in moderation is usually OK. Its the greedy people who take advantage and run a potentially harmless thing into the ground. Like if the guy in Kapaa gets a permit but the guy in Wainiha doesn't, he'll likely sue. Like eating peanuts - one is never enough. People are suing each other and the government to protect their illegal behavior. Truly amazing and very sad.

Don't hope too much for enforcement. That is what the Homestay ordinance is about. Another way to avoid enforcing the law.

best, sam

Anonymous said...

Sammy Lee- Thank you for your thoughtful post.
Who would have ever thought even 30 years ago there would be a Wallmart or Costco. Times have changed.
People should be able to protect their neighborhoods, and your little pocket of Poipu is unique in it's ability to do so. But overall, if anyone thinks that longterm rentals will become affordable with the elimination of TVRs, there should a reality check.
With the cheapest houses going at 400K plus and the Southshore and Northshore at minimum close to a million bucks...low rents are a thing of the past.
Most TVRs are Mom and Pops. The cumulative total of TVRs may be a large percentage of the overall tourism market, but it is many little businesses that make this impact. Many regular folks.
The real problem with housing lies at the feet of our Council. Even after the arduous journey thru the LUC to change Zoning, even an altruistic developer has the Council and Planning Commission get to grind them up. And each bikepath, solar water system, sidewalk, each year etc makes the price go up. The risk is too high and even with the talent, land and ability of the many good Kauai folks...the frustration is too great for even the strongest to venture into the Hooser/Chock/JoAnn minefield.
I have always believed that the LUC should be abandoned and allow Counties the right to turn Ag/Open lands to Urban. This would allow the LUC 7 year developer journey to be cut to 3 years. And the cost of residential Local housing would be cut by plenty.
But after the last Council and their outright persecution of Big Ag and then the follow up of selective tax targeting, I must reluctantly agree with the original State Planners. The Counties are too immature to be allowed Big Decisions. After all the State knew that the Counties could put people like Hoos, Bynum, Chock and JoAnn in charge. My God, if that were the case most of us would be living in State/Fed apartments and taking an F^ing bus to work. Hunting would be fenced out and they might even go after a personal Fireplace.
So, unless the County starts electing people who respect property rights and have long range goals for ALL of the people...we should stay under the thumb of the State.
The State will pass the "eliminate" the TVR law and the TVRs will go underground, no TAT/GET and No Enforcement....But thank you Sam...You were a paragon of fairness while you were at the State. Smart and fair.
Jeez, and all I want is to own one little house. Thanks JoAnn, for your dominance in denying the working people a house.

Anonymous said...

Kauai, where vacationers can rent luxery hotel rooms and homes and the locals live in chicken coops and cars..

Sad reality..
No Aloha..

Anonymous said...

Addressing Sam Lee’s words:
“This is BIG BUSINESS.”


No, it is a bunch of little businesses.


“Just a few years ago, our County addressed the problem of illegal TVRs by devising a process allowing illegal rentals to file paperwork and suddenly become legal.”


This shows that Sam Lee has no clue of the history of TVR’s on Kauai. Only multi-family structures where regulated. Single family TVR’s were unregulated and therefore legal. The only thing that changed was the NEW law to limit and regulate vacation rentals all of w2hich were entirely LEGAL. Get that, Sam? Do some homework! You sound just like the Anti-GMO’ers.


“From our own experience these include, increased vehicle and foot traffic, speeding cars, sense of crowding, sense of entitlement by guests, tension between neighbors, loss of the "neighborhood" feeling, added burden on aged infrastructure, etc, etc.”


Sam (Mr. Oblivious) all that happens in the old neighborhoods without the addition of TVR’s. It’s just that now you can blame it all on visitors and not your drug-dealing neighbors and thieving teenagers and chimney smoke abusers.


“The downside is, if Aunty and Uncle intend to earn a few dollars by renting a room or two on a cesspool, they may be in for a surprise.”

Not if they had their kids in those rooms. Kids who have grown up and left the islands for want of decent jobs and affordable housing. The bodies are merely replaced by visitors and Auntie & Unko can now afford their retirement and get off of food stamps.


“Is there any place left for residents to call their own?”


Ask Joanne Yukimura how well her “workforce housing bill” has done on that level. The answer is that it hasn’t done dick. She has dumped such extractions on residential developers that nothing is happening except for Poipu which may have been approved before her stop-all-development (including affordable housing) bill was passed.


The one thing Kauai can be proud of is that it is the greatest shot when it comes to shooting oneself in the foot. Congrats Kauai!!


PS - And for those who think that TVR's make all sorts of money...that's rubbish! It merely enables the owner to use their house when they want, but the bottom line (after expenses) is no more than long term rental and most local folks couldn't afford the long term rental in any case.


PPS - The good thing about B&B's is that, unlike TVR's, they are monitored by a resident owner who will (better) keep the partying reasonable, i.e. less than those parties our kama'aina give blasting reggae music with heavy bass for miles.

Joan Conrow said...

Sorry, 4:06, but Sam is right and you are wrong: MultifamilyTVRs were never legal, and single-family TVRs were not legal outside the VDA. That's why the first law was passed to legalize them, and a second law was then passed that allowed them on ag land. And as the Abuse Chronicles showed, a lot of them were made legal even though they never filed the required paperwork.

Sam is also right that TVRs are BIG BUSINESS. Many of the expensive TVRs are sold to investment consortiums, and regularly sold at large profits. A TVR permit, which is issued for life, is extremely valuable. And the income is certainly enough to encourage many more to operate illegally, risking fines and even criminal charges.

Anonymous said...

I think case by case basis is best. Some of these do not look that bad, but some look like hotels. Auntie should be able to the extra rent a room with a permit, even if some neighbor might wrongfully thinks they get entitled too. Folks who rent an extra bedroom to visitors are probably not going to rent that same room out to long term tenants if they get shut down. I don't see shutting down the small (1-2 extra bedroom) ones resulting in rent decreases all over Kauai either - just more foreclosures. Mom and Pop who live there is way different than TVR.

And Sam, respectfully, just because the guy down the street has a blue card does not mean the whole street can smoke weed. Same analogy.

Sam Lee said...

Another important fact appearing on the first page under Project Description and Use amends the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance to permit Homestays in Residential Districts. This is important for several reasons. Without the amendment, there can be No Home stays nor a process to allow them. Amending the CZO should be viewed as a BIG DEAL; especially when the amendment facilitates a use that is incompatible with the existing zoning ((amendment allows commercial rentals in residential zone.otherwise not allowed). Wonder what an attorney would say about the propriety of that? .

aloha, sam

Anonymous said...

Here's a solution: rezone some ag land to Residential and let local people move in. You can get 20 1/4 acre lots on one five acre parcel instead of one big rich house (current state of affairs). If Hooser and Yukimura don't want ag on Kauai anymore they should at least have the decency to allow local people to get some homes. We have an inventory problem and Joanne's only solution is to extract ghetto projects only after allowing billion dollar developments. Dumbest strategy ever!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lee- You are correct, the CZO is a major document.
6:56 The Council can NOT rezone Ag to urban, but they CAN play with the density. Certain present and past Council members have played with Ag for residences for themselves, friends and family. Others need not apply.
There are thousands of acres that are virtually unusable as Ag.
The Council can with a stroke of a pen allow greater density on every Ag lot in Kapaa and Wailua, Kilauea etc.. This would create hundreds of homesites, allow the elderly to build smaller houses for themselves and sell or give their main residence away to family.
This would increase the tax base and do little to the infrastructure demand.
Kauai has a large percentage of older residents. This demographic reality looms large.
The only place the Council and State appear to have no problem with adding great populations, that are in excess of all Housing standards are Halawa, KCCC and Kaneohe Mental Institution.....

Anonymous said...

There are all these different accommodation types because that is where people want to stay now. Period. You can't force people to have to stay in hotels or resort areas who want to stay in other forms of accommodations. It's just the way it is and no amount of donations from the hotel industry lobby will change what people want. They want to experience something other than a hotel or condo.

Anonymous said...

6:56 zoning isn't the problem. the problem is that nobody wants to come in and do the kind of development you're talking about. and that ain't gary or joann's fault. that's just economics.

Anonymous said...

AirBnB Game changer. You're all fighting an uphill battle. Clinging to the past. Well after 50 years things can kind of change. As in night and day. This is just not enforceable nor will it be possible to just end TVR's. AirBnB go read about it. Understand it. Your neighbor just might be renting their couch to someone. Try policing that.

Anonymous said...

OT. Someone told me today that the biomass power plant is so noisy that the UPS driver requested earmuff suppressors after delivery. Also, this person observed clouds of "smoke" emanating from the site during its recent test. I opined that it was likely steam, as scrubbers certainly would have been in the specs. I understand that the large scale tree harvesting and chipping in Wailua by the "Germans" has resulted in a large backlog of chip piles which are mildewing, this due to the year long construction delay attributable to rejected welding work on the plant structure. Also, there is an issue with how the monster trucks hauling the chips will find their way inland from Wailua to the generator site. Finally, the word is that when the supply of trees is inevitably gone, the conversion will be to burning trash. Not that any of this is necessarily bad in my opinion, it merely seems odd that something of this magnitude would not have set off a major furor on the part of the knee-jerk progressives on this island. YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY SCRUB ALL THE TOXINS FROM THE REFUSE THAT WILL BE BURNED. THIS WILL CERTAINLY POISON OUR CHILDREN AND THE AINA TOO! Or something to that effect.

Joan Conrow said...

8:52. Your very OT comment underscores the adage "don't believe everything you hear." Or as I heard it rephrased recently, "fuck what you heard." Your informant is wrong on so many counts.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and on which counts was he correct?

Jim Kelly said...

The one point about Green Energy that's correct is that it's noisy. For now. They're venting steam to clear out the pipes. Once they are ready to roll, the steam will be turning a turbine, not being vented so it will make about the same noise as a regular power plant. The thing is forbidden by all of its various permits to burn anything but trees - and burning garbage would wreck it in about 2 weeks, it wasn't designed to burn anything but wood. And the chip haulers are all permitted by DOT, they won't be having any trouble finding the plant.
Jim Kelly, KIUC

Anonymous said...

My "informant" has first hand knowledge that tree harvesting in Wailua is proceeding with specialized Caterpillar machines which grip the tree in massive jaws and activate an integrated chainsaw to cut it at its base and strip the tree of branches prior to depositing the trunk into a huge chipper which spews the chips into piles. So what's wrong so far that you don't want to discuss? Clearly, there is a logistical issue of transporting the chips to the generating plant, and you know its not going to be on Kuhio Highway. So why the upset, Joan? This was all to be expected given the nature of the enterprise. Maybe the eventual conversion to refuse burning is a stretch, but it would solve a lot of our landfill issues. I think it all sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Joan, I think you misread my comment @ 4:06. I reiterate that the only
TVR law before 2008 covered only multi-unit TVR’s. Single family TVR’s (not on ag land unless they were built before 1976) were unregulated and, therefore legal. That’s why they needed the new law to regulate them and to discourage their proliferation outside of DVA’s. Go look at the myriad of testimony on the original TVR bill to see that this is correct. It was thoroughly discussed and recognized that existing SF TVR’s in urban areas were entirely legal.

Joan Conrow said...

9:52. They ARE using the highway to transport chips. The "upset" is because you're perpetuating misinformation.

Anonymous said...

Really,the highways? Well that's just ducky.

Joan Conrow said...

10:08 TVRs operating prior to 1976 were grandfathered in. The others were never "legal." That was just a legal argument that some attorneys raised--unsuccessfully--to discourage an ordinance.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Sam Lee!

Anonymous said...

Transient vacation rentals were never legal outside of the VDA, vacation rentals were always prohibited outside of the VDA, but the definition of TVR was multifamily, not single, because in 1972, there were no single family TVR's, it was timeshares they did not want taking over. But state law had required the counties to set up the visitor destination areas and trust me, the state did not say, ok, bring tourists into every community and fuck the local people.
Legal in Ag land/ never ever under any criteria, until Bynam and the council allowed it. They in fact, all had signed fake farm agreements in order to build on that ag land.
It's been a huge mistake to allow the residential and agriculture lands to be resorts, but all Bynam's friends like the Hughes made heaps of money selling the resorts.

Anonymous said...

As an owner that looked at both long-term and short-term rentals for a house in Poipu (in the VDA), I can assure you that the "net" rents between these two alternatives is nominal. If you want to buy yourself a fulltime job, then short-term rental is definitely more attractive; however, if you merely want to turn your home over to a vacation rental management company, then there's no significant change to the bottom line given that management companies typically take 30%-40% of the gross income for their cut. As a prior post stated, the only real benefit is being able to carve out some time for yourself (as owner) to use your home. And, for that privilege TVRs are changed a substantially higher tax rate than long-term residential properties. If taxpayers want TVRs to be regulated and/or shutdown, then these homeowners should also be prepared to pick up the loss in tax revenues from the higher property taxes currently being paid by this group. As I recall, the homeowners were already whining to their council members about higher taxes even at the very lowest tax rate. To put this in perspective, the vacation rental tax class pays a property tax rate of $8.85 whereas the homestead class pays $3.05. Careful what you wish for, as TVR taxpayers are in fact subsidizing lower rates for homeowners.

Anonymous said...

I have a solution Kauai! End TVRs and build high rise hotels. Waipa on Hanalei Bay would be a perfect location!

Anonymous said...

Those higher rates were only recently added, it's not like the county cannot rearrange their budget.

Anonymous said...

The running of many TVR's may not be that profitable, but their resale value is more than substantially higher.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Conrow keeps claiming that anyone who received a Transient Accommodation Rental permit from the County of Kauai was somehow rewarded for bad behavior. She seems to think that they were conducting illegal activity, then received a permit to continue on after an ordinance was passed. This is simply not true. The County did pass an ordinance banning TVRs in residential zones without a permit. Before the ordinance was passed, the TVRs were NOT ILLEGAL. These TVRs were conducting perfectly legal activities. Let me give an example: Before the county ordinance was passed that banned plastic bags, were we all conducting illegal activities by using them? Certainly not! Now that the ordinance is in place, and a few places are still allowed to use plastic bags, such as the farmer’s market, is the farmer’s market being rewarded for so called “bad behavior”? Absolutely not! The TVRs with permits were not and still are NOT ILLEGAL.

Let’s all keep a level head here. Ms. Conrow is using alarmist rhetoric in order to obtain followers for her blog which in turn makes her money. Many TVRs are owned by local families trying to hold on to their property in hard economic times. They are not the bad guys here. Ms. Conrow keeps implying that all TVRs are evil just because some have other problems. It looks to me like those problems would exist regardless of whether or not the home is a TVR. I can’t help but wonder why there is so much hatred on this blog? Ms. Conrow pretends to be a watchdog for our community when in truth she is being a bully.

Joan Conrow said...

Boy, that was quite a hate-filled bullying spew. Project much? And filled with misinformation and misrepresentations of both my views and motives. No wonder you remain Anonymous! It would be most embrassing to put your name on that!

Anonymous said...

Wrong again! If it is not illegal, it is legal. Prove me wrong.

Anonymous said...

That's right 9:27 AM. Are we to say that all humans are criminals since a few of them are? But, unless I'm wrong, Joan doesn't go after the TVR's legally permitted and in compliance with all State & County regs. except for maybe those in flood zones which is curious that she seems to be concerned about tourists getting flooded out and not local folks.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it because I like a lot of what Joan writes, but "bullying". Joan, you're just getting a dose of your own medicine. As if bullying were a bad tactic against the opposition. Both logic and enmity appear in this blog and neither side of the arguments here are void of it. But carry on! This blog seems to be the only forum for good discussions.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a link to the Saturday Night Live "Hawaiian Hotel" skit? That pretty much says it all in 4 minutes.

Sam Lee said...

May I share what happened in our 58 lot neighborhood?

To encourage rebuilding after Iniki, the County relaxed permitting and building codes. With minimal oversight, repairs and new construction took off. Small scale and under then radar at first, a few owners began short term rentals. Seeing the opportunity, others joined in until the the number of TVRs (none of whom had approval to operate in a R zone) reached 27. The County stepped in and grandfathered all 27 giving them non conforming use permits. For the benefit of the residents who were blown away by the County's decision, they said, there would no more TVR permits allowed in the residential zone. But, before the dust settled over the 27 permit giveaway, Planners attempted a zone change specific to the neighborhood,: which if passed would allow unlimited TVR activity. The change is being contested at this writing. With that issue yet unresolved, Planners now propose Homestays. To put it mildly , we are reeling under the constant pressure to compromise Residentially zoned land; not only on the South Shore, but all across the island.

Please understand we are not telling this story to gain sympathy or to prove we're right. This is a recitation of what happened and explains why we say and act as we do. Its one perspective colored by a unique set of circumstances. Keep sharing people, it gives us a look at different points of view and helps us understand why you think the way you do.

best wishes, sam,

Anonymous said...

You are very eloquent Sam, please keep speaking out.

Anonymous said...

I love the comment that says you cant force people to stay in hotels and resorts, they want to stay in neighborhoods so quit whining. Precious just precious.

But its OK to force our people off the island, into public housing that doesn't exist or isn't affordable, or onto the streets while waiting for a housing voucher, which they cannot use because it is LEGAL for people to discriminate against them.

But it should be legal for people to come here buy a house and charge ten grand a week to stay there.

Because you cannot force people to stay in hotels and resorts. In a tourist destination.

Wow talk about super flawed logic and brain cells. Bravo, to whomever you are. Basically, in a nutshell, you suck. Sorry I could not think of another adjective.

Anonymous said...

4:52: Mahalo for your heartfelt words.
You called it like you see it.
Like a lot of us see it.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the exact same thing. We stayed in a Air BnB place in Portland, within an apartment complex that apparently had rules against it, unbeknownst to us. As we walked into the main entrance, there was a letter by the building manager to the residents, saying that they had "heard" people were using AirBnB to rent out room s and that it was a blatant violation. Did it stop us from staying there? No, because at $95/night it was at least half off. I know in Maui I saw numerous residential homes and the one we ultimately stayed at was a "cash preferred" place. Hmmmmmm??? It is a problem for sure, and I feel bad for you and your family Sam. But, if anyone has ever ventured to Kailua-Lani Kai area on Oahu, it is much the same there. Now how do we go from how it is now, to how it used to be? Impossible, we can't. Like we've done for generations, we must adapt. Not be come sheep, but adapt. Keep fighting and informing the masses Sam. There will be nay-sayers and name callers (see above), but everyones brave behind their keyboard/computer screens and anonymity.

Joan Conrow said...

Therein lies the crux of this problem, and so many others -- people who don't care whether their actions are right, or how they affect others, but only that they benefit their own personal bottom line. And then they justify it by saying, but everyone else is doing it, so what can we do?

Sam Lee said...

Thanks for the words 12:55.

I agree, its unlikely we can ever go all the way back. Like I said in my neighborhood post, no one fussed when there were just a few illegals. When 5 become 27, we realized it wasn't going to stop, so at that point it was get involved or get dusted . I and my neighbors aren't anti TVR, providing they occur in the proper location and that is within the expansive area zoned Visitor Destination Area (VDA). What we are against is the further infiltrations of TVRs, B&B, or Homesatys, into residential neighborhoods where they don't belong. Speaking about Kailua and Lanikai, this is exactly why owner occupants there are in an uproar. There is plenty of room for many more TVRs on the South Shore. I would guess that among the 1000-2000 visitor units already approved , many will be condos and second homes which will become (legal) TVRs of one sort or another. Area wise, nearly all of the coast is already in VDA, save for our small tract and Weliweli, so its not like there's a short supply of area for the TVRers to do their thing. All we ask is that a little area be left for people who live here.

aloha, sam

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever thought that the original mapping of the VDA did not reflect the actual areas that visitors would want to stay? We constantly use images of Hanalei and Heana to promote the visitor industry but then we also want to say it is NOT a visitor destination. Kind of contradicting. You don't see them pushing pictures of Princeville, its always Hanalei Bay. And if they are supposed to sleep in Princeville but come to Hanalei for the day, then we are in real trouble with no parking and poor infrastructure. I think of every tourist that stays in Hanalei and bikes around, is one less car I need to wait for behind the bridge and one more spot so maybe I can find parking at the beach. Because the reality is Hanalei is to expensive for affordable housing, so you might as well have them stay there so there are less cars on the road, between Princeville and Hanalei. If you really understood the visitor that stays in Hanalei, you would see that most come and don't leave Hanalei. The other option is just to have a town filled with empty houses and more cars going up and down the hill, because vacation rental or not, you will never see a explosion of long term rentals in Hanalei. It just not gonna happen.

And if your talking about controlling the amount of visitors on Kauai, then that is for another discussion with the Dept of Transportation and the amount of flights that come and go on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

So what are U saying 9:16 ?

U do know that the HVB doesn't and never did give a damn about anything but bringing more and more tourists to Hawaii? Your conclusion that if the HVB uses beautiful pictures to suck tourists over here, the people who live in these islands have an obligation to turn our communities over to keep the tourists happy is a unbelievable stretch of logic and common sense.

If you really believe what you are saying; you need help!

Sam Lee said...

Aloha people.

Just learned the Homestay Ordinance will be heard at a PC public hearing on April 10th. People who live in residential areas should look into this, cuz your neighbor could be a Homestay, Kaaina Hull is the planning staffer in charge. Get a copy of the ordinance, understand it and attend the hearing.

thanks, sam

Anonymous said...

I'm looking to buy a house to live in as I just got a job here. The only way I can afford it is to rent out one or more of the rooms. So you want to tell me it's (going to) be illegal? (I can find no ordinance regulating it today.) And how would it be legal for me to rent long term and not legal for me to rent short term? And how is a rental in a home not considered residential? I'm not letting them run a business out of there. Though in the area I looked I saw neighbors who appeared to run an auto shop out of their garage. That's not residential use--but I'm not one to complain about that as I think zoning is so last century. Boils down to it, you're going to have people renting out rooms, couches, air mattresses, tents--how do you regulate all of that? Last time I checked, the US constitution applies on Hawaii, and you cannot enter my house without a search warrant. Stop complaining about the high cost of living and rent out that empty room yourself on AirBNB. But as long as Kauai is regulation-happy, the officials want to make it hard to make a living here. BTW, I looked at a 5 bedroom house for just me and my wife. If I rent out 2 rooms to 2-4 people, we'd still have fewer people crammed in to the house than a lot of the locals.

Joan Conrow said...

Oh, yes, zoning is so last century. But poverty and high housing prices, which force locals to double up in family homes, is still very much au courant. Just like arrogant newcomers looking down on locals and wanting to do whatever benefits their bottom line.

Anonymous said...

7:53

yours is exactly the kind of thinking, that's fucked this island up. its all about me - right? to hell with anyone who doesn't agree. boo hoo for me. gimme a break !

Anonymous said...

"If I rented out 2-4 rooms, we'd still have fewer people crammed into the house than a lot of the locals."

Hey new person, here's a thought; You should start a bed and breakfast and put that quote in the brochure!
Visitors will feel really safe and secure at your place, because nobody else will want to come near you.

Sam Lee said...

Hello folks who share an interest in the Homestay Ordinance.

I've had a chance to speak with several of you, so I know there are concerns out there.
A big thank you to Joan for airing the Homestay Ordinance with her Homies Part 11, muse; which included an interview with Planning Director Mike Dahilig, who reportedly said the ordinance is intended to start discussion about how a home stay regulation should look like. Dahilig went on to say, his department is not wedded to the language of the ordinance and is very OPEN to what the community wants, be it a LIMIT on the number of home stays or a out right PROHIBITION.
Meanwhile, staff has said, under the county code, a landowner in a residential district is currently able to apply for a home stay permit through the Use Permit process. Therefore a ordinance is necessary to provide structure to the permit issuance process. A little confusing for us layman. Do we have to have an ordinance or don't we?
Taking the Director's statement to heart, our first choice would be to disallow any home stay in the Residential zone. The ordinance provides for home stay in the Commercial and Resort districts, a generous opportunity for those inclined.
Furthermore, we ask that minor and major permits be issued only through the Use Permit Process and that the County set an absolute limit on the number of home stays allowed within any CDP (both minor and major) with the limit (quota) set by the resident population as contained in the ordinance.
Residents of the Poipu CDP have submitted a section by section analysis of the ordinance to the County. So there is more than we have space here to share.
Another observation:
While having the home stay owner on the premises might solve issues relating to bad behavior and
noise, all of the other problems we've experienced with vacation rentals as neighbors remain. Keep home stays out of residential neighborhoods. Put them where they belong ; on Resort and Commercial properties.

aloha to you all.
sam lee

Sam Lee said...

Today's Star/Advertiser included an article titled "Short-term rentals via Airbnb rile L.A. market." The byline read; "As housing units go to tourists the area's (housing) shortage gets worse."

Read the article, it provides a balanced look at the issue. The Fors say it helps cash strapped owners earn a little extra money. They also say that home stay rentals are of such small number compared to the broader housing market ; that their impact is all but irrelevant.

On the other side; Cities like Venice, California , are concerned. In a letter to L.A. officials, the Venice Neighborhood Council estimated that the number of short term rental listings had TRIPLED in a year. A Venice city official cited the "Gold Rush Mentality" among investors looking for a piece of the action." The official was quoted to say, "Short term rentals are really taking over a significant portion of the rental housing market in our community. Its going to further escalate rents and take affordable housing out of Venice."

Sound familiar? Is this what we should accept in our residential neighborhoods? I surely hope not.

Some say that living in your home without wanting to generate income by doing a TVR , BnB , or Homestay, is passé and out of step with the times. I respectfully disagree with the assertion. My home is where I live, full time, all the time. I have no desire to rent any part of my house to tourists nor to impose on my neighbors. This is what we are (supposedly) guaranteed by the zoning code. If I wanted to live where the "action" is, I would have bought in the Resort area.

Best Wishes, Sam Lee

Sam Lee said...

The Garden Island headline this morning read;
B&B CRACKDOWN.

From a resident's perspective, thank you Mr. Dahilig and staff for taking this important first step. We'd all but given up hope that there would be any enforcement, ever.

While Cease and Desist letters have gone out to 320 owners with more in the offing, residents understand this is just the beginning of what may be a long and contentious process. With the first public hearing on the Homestay Ordinance scheduled for April 14th, the question before island residents is: are we going to participate and share our perspectives about the idea of allowing another commercial use in our neighorhoods or are we going to sit back and let it happen - again.

We recall our County's past efforts to rein in illegal transient vacation rentals outside the VDA. Due in part to a weak response from residents and a strong push from non permitted operators; the result? A wholesale giveaway of non conforming use permits. across the island. Consequently we have 27 TVRs among 58 lots where I live.

So as to be clear; we do not object to Homestays located within the Resort and Commercial Zones where such uses belong. Keep them out of where people live. Do not succumb to the notion that it is OK to further dilute the integrity of the Zoning Code by making another exception. However, in case Homestays end up being permitted in neighborhoods, we have forwarded comments asking for a revised ordinance setting strict guidelines numbers, how applications are processed and so forth.

sincerely, Sam

Anonymous said...

I'm still laughing thinking about Pono Lokahi's OTHER VOICES piece in today's GI. Pono Lokahi from Poipu? You gotta be kidding ! Whoever submitted this garbage; realtor; illegal TVR owner or crazy person, should run for office. We tax paying dummies really need your intellect and reasoning skills to help us understand PONO's way.
GI. Your standard for selecting Op Ed authors is slipping badly. Give me Walter Lewis, anyday