Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Musings: Dig Deeper

So the Hawaii Tourism Authority is spending $500,000 on a month-long “blitz” to attract more tourists from urban areas like Chicago and New York. Wonder how much Kauai County spent rescuing those 54 people from Hanakapiai last weekend, where a woman from New York drowned in a flash flood? Not to mention the risk posed to our fire rescue guys, or the damage to the trail from having dozens of clueless tourists tromping through it in the mud.

Having images of Hawaii and being able to show what the weather is like here is, I think, very powerful,” enthused David Uchiyama, HTA vice president of brand management.

Yes, I can imagine that televised images of dirty, scared, rain-drenched hikers returning to their vandalized cars at the Kee Beach parking lot prompted a lot of folks to book trips.

Obviously, we can't save tourists from themselves. As this video shows, even a Seattle fireman, someone who should know better, was among those who foolishly kept crossing the stream in the rain.

But we can be more honest about the reality of this place, about the risks they face in nature and at their vacation rentals.

Like remember the professional wedding photographers who had $30,000 worth of gear, and images from a couple's recent wedding, stolen from their Anahola vacation rental two weeks ago? And how the owner offered to put up $1,000 for a reward?

It might possibly have been more meaningful for the owner to advise renters that three burglaries had been reported at that particular house since Jan. 1, 2012, according to Kauai police.

And within that little cluster of oceanfront Anahola vacation rentals, at least nine incidents  — burglary, assault, criminal property damage, disorderly conduct, unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and trespass — have been reported since Jan. 1, 2012, according to police.

As the “blog” on one of the Poha Street TVRs notes, “It pays to stay in Anahola.”

For the guy who are doing the ripping, that is.

I noticed the ad for another rental advised: “All Weddings or party guests must park at the Anahola Beach Park and stroll along the beach to the home.”
Encouraging off-site parking at a public beach is one of myriad ways that the proliferation of TVRs adversely impacts our island.
And as I've been reporting in the Abuse Chronicles — the four covered thus far are only the very tip of the iceberg — many of these TVRS were approved by the county planning department even though they did not meet the legal requirements.
We've seen building permit violations, flood ordinance violations, no inspections, inspections that failed to note violations. We've seen these valuable permits approved, and renewed, even though the owners provided no proof of prior TVR use or other required documentation. We've seen Realtors urging people to apply for permits for which they were not eligible, and possibly engaging in fraudulent representations to help owners secure permits.
In the process, we've seen a dramatic intensity of use as small beach bungalows are transformed into mini-resorts that sleep 12 to 14, often while using the original cesspool. 
Council Chair Jay Furfaro has asked Planning Director Mike Dahilig to attend tomorrow's Council meeting and give an update on the department's TVR enforcement initiatives.
They might want to dig a little deeper, like inquire about how the inspectors are trained, what sort of review is conducted when these nonconforming use certificates — some of them adding up to $1 million to the value of a house — come in for renewal. Because they're rife with what appears to be fraud, and some of the permits should be revoked.
And since these questionable permits were issued under the reign of former Planning Director Ian Costa and his deputy, Imai Aiu, why not invite them in to explain what the hell happened under their watch? After all, they're still working for the county, thanks to the mayor, who transferred them to other administrative jobs, without explanation.
Surely, when you consider the way TVRs have totally consumed the North Shore, and other communities, and the tremendous value these permits carry, we have a right to know why things went down the way they did — and what the county plans to do to set things right. And that includes the prosecutor's office, which is charged with investigating crimes.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article Joan! I hope you testify at the Council Meeting. TVR's are CRIME MAGNETS not only for the innocent renters but also for the FRAUD conducted by realtors and house owners.

They not only STEAL our beaches by planting Naupaka and grass, but they also are contaminating the ground water with illegal SEWAGE tanks. All the while, property prices for those who live here go up while those who work in hotels lose their jobs. And what about all those taxes that AREN'T being paid by TVR's that should be going to support our schools whose roofs are falling in. Stop TVR's now. They are the GMO's of Kauai's houses. Toxic!

Anonymous said...

There will be absolutely no prosecutions regarding any TVR's that aren't multi-familty. Multi family TVR's will only be made to cease and desist. The law itself, is what is inept, and has made the job of the planning department to be very confusing, and has forced them to stop short of doing their actual jobs for fear of monumental lawsuits that could overturn the Anti-TVR law itself. And I hope you folks get sued for accusing county workers of taking bribes. You watch too much TV...

Seems like there are lots of neophyte uninformed zealots on this blog that scream and point fingers at architects, tourists, realtors, planning inspectors, mayors, contractors, locals, and pretty much anyone execpt the actual culprits behind this mess, the north shore trust fund activists (that were once tourists themselves) who pressured this bogus law in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Mike Laureta. He was hired to handle TVR permits.

Anonymous said...

The county council has the power to direct the county aduitor to do an audit of anything county, which would include planning. And beyond that the council can conduct its own investigation.

Anonymous said...

Who will ever forget Mikey's contribution - his permits are like gold.

Thank for all your help Mikey!!!!

Anonymous said...

Why would we be surprised the county doesn't make TVR owners follow the law when it doesn't even follow the law?

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate to say it. But you should be naming the contractors and their subs who are also makins $ on the TVR renovations.

Anonymous said...

You would think they (meaning KVB/HTA) would be putting some of those resources towards protecting the very tourists they are courting. Come, come, come to paradise neva mine the appalling conditions of our park restrooms, or the dangerous conditions of our oceans and trails, car break-ins, burglaries, etc. Spend, spend, spend and when a loved dies or your valuables get stolen, there isn't much we can do for you, but don't forget to come again. It is appalling to me the waste of monies on these kinds of tourism blitzes. They only seem to be focusing on getting the visitors here and not the kinds of experiences they have once they get off the plane nor the impacts to our infrastructure and natural resources. No one ever discusses impacts. When will enough be enough or does Kaua'i have to go the way of Oahu or Maui?

Anonymous said...

Back in the eighties when JoAnn was mayor I was talking to her about the problems having TVRs in residential areas would cause and that it should not be allowed to happen. Her response was that it wasn't practical to try to restrict the practice as enforcement would'nt be possible. Then she is the one who brought forth the bill we have now which allows those who'd been operating illegally to be able to be granted grandfather status. I am confused. But isn't that just The nature of politics, to keep us confused? Apparently it is. If only there could be real people who just want to do the right thing in council instead of politicians who just want to be re-elected. I don't think this system is serving us the way it should. It just keeps on getting dirtier and dirtier.

Anonymous said...

Yes I remember it well. Yukimura and Bynum were the two pushing the tvr bill. Do we remember the visit to Dickie's house by certain county employees bearing beer and alittle influence to get him to vote for the bill? Even though the Chair at the time Kaipo Asing was pushing back against it? Today we bear witness to the results of that vote. I thought I recalled Tim saying something about it being up to the Planning Department to enforce the rules. Many knew then what we know now that we can't rely on the Planning Department to do any kind of enforcement. All one had to do was look at the track record.