The wind whipped up again last night and ushered in a few showers as Koko and I were walking this blustery morning. During the heaviest rains, we took shelter first beneath a hedge of shell ginger, whose glossy leaves offered excellent protection, and then a stand of ironwoods.
When it eased up a bit, we headed home, as small patches in the sky turned faint pink, hinting at a sunrise somewhere behind gray clouds.
I was looking for a bit of brightness, a flash of inventiveness , a dash of leadership and courage, as I read today’s account of the County Council action — to use the word very loosely — on a vacation rental bill.
I looked in vain.
Instead, the Council took a timid do-nothing approach. The Council has known for eight years it needed to deal with this critical issue. Citizens have devoted countless hours to this matter, and in the end, the Council passed a bill that does absolutely nothing to address the deep issues associated with the proliferation of vacation rentals outside the visitor destination areas.
Why? What else but money?
Vacation rentals are reportedly good for the economy — although I’ve seen no real facts to back up that assertion — so nobody wants to shut them down. So what if they’re taking up good ag land, destroying neighborhoods and allowing people to build equity in homes they couldn’t otherwise afford, all at the public's expense?
At least Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho tried, proposing “’to phase out all single-family transient vacation rentals outside designated visitor destination areas after 18 months,” an article in The Garden Island reports. But she was shut down by Councilmembers Tim Bynum, JoAnn Yukimura, Ron Kouchi and Jay Furfaro.
As for allowing vacation rentals on ag land, the bill is “kind of moot” on that issue, the article quotes Bynum as saying. Never mind that his comment makes no sense. Such activities are prohibited by state law, and the county has not bothered to enforce it, due to pressure from the real estate lobby.
I know of a few legitimate farmers who depend on their vacation rentals to help pay the mortgage. I have no problem with them seeking special use permits to continue their operations, which would at least give their neighbors a say in the matter. But the vast majority of ag land rentals are owned by people who are simply trying to build a personal investment while doing absolutely nothing related to agriculture.
At the very least the county should have dealt with them.
Instead, we have a do-nothing Council that once again did nothing but maintain the status quo — while acknowledging that yes, a big problem does exist.
Auwe! It’s a total joke, but nobody’s laughing except the land speculators and realtors, who once again held sway.