Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Musings: I Wonder

Vacation rentals are back on tomorrow's County Council agenda, with Planning Director Mike Dahilig scheduled to give us yet another boondoggle update — this time, on the renewals, and any administrative or court proceedings involving TVRs.

I wonder, will Mike reveal to the Council that it's currently impossible for a citizen to find out who is operating a legal TVR on this island without submitting a public records request and paying $182.50? That kind of throws a wrench into the citizen complaints upon which TVR “enforcement” is hinged, and it makes it awfully hard for folks to challenge improperly approved renewals within the 60-day period.

But then, maybe that's the intent.

I wonder, will the Council get into the core issue behind the renewals? By which I mean the county attorney's determination that people can keep TVR certificates they were never entitled to have, simply because the county — through corruption, incompetence or both — approved them back in 2009. Has the Council seen that opinion? Does it accept it? Has it thought of hiring Special Counsel, someone who is more experienced in land use law than Deputy County Attorney Ian Jung, someone like Jim Bickerton, to review and possibly challenge it?

I wonder, will the public ever be allowed to know the rationale behind that opinion, or even who it was prepared for? Or will we all be left hanging, wondering why it is that some people were given the huge gift of a life-of-the-property TVR certificate, while other folks were totally screwed because they didn't even apply, never dreaming they, too, could have scammed the system?

I wonder, how long will the Council let itself be suckered into the stall and delay game, as Mike trots out shady numbers to prove he's making “progress” — infinitesimal though it may be — when we could have a functioning data base able to spit out accurate numbers if he'd used a couple of the 90-day hires the Council has repeatedly offered him?

Speaking of the stall game, I've been trying for a week to look again at the files of the 20 properties featured in the Abuse Chronicles. Now planning is telling me it will be at least another week before they can even tell me how much it will cost me for that peek. Seems they have just one employee who can figure it out, and s/he's on vacation.

I wonder when the Council might start considering some changes to the TVR ordinance. A good place to start would be Maui's law, which you can read here. Though Ian Jung has told the Council at least twice in public session that Kauai's TVR fiasco is not exceptional, even Maui has thrown up its hands, a chat with Maui planners revealed his assertion to be untrue.

Maui has a good TVR law, one that its planning department properly implemented and actively enforces. Whereas our county attorney claimed we had to wholesale legalize TVRs on ag land or risk a dreaded “takings” lawsuit, Maui requires TVRs in the ag district to obtain a State special use permit.

Maui also sets quotas for how many TVRs can be allowed in a community.  For example, Hana: 48; Kihei-Makena: 100 (provided that, there are no more than five permitted short-term rental homes in the subdivision commonly known as Maui Meadows); Makawao-Pukalani-Kula: 40; Paia-Haiku: 88; Wailuku-Kahului: 36, and West Maui: 88.

Compare that to Kauai, where there are a few hundred in Hanalei-Haena alone.

The Maui law also requires all advertising to contain a valid TVR certificate number, which sure makes enforcement and citizen review a lot simpler, while allowing visitors to ensure they are picking legal rentals.

And whereas we just gave away the fricking store by giving people life-of-the-property permits, Maui wisely imposed limits:

Initial short-term rental home permits shall be valid for a maximum period of one year with an extension of two years if there are no recorded complaints; shorter extension periods may be required by the director to mitigate adverse impacts based on the department's investigation of recorded complaints. Subsequent permit renewals may be granted by the director for terms of up to five years on Lanai and Maui and up to one year on Molokai.

Oh, and check this out, (emphasis added):

Verification of appropriate State and County tax filings shall be submitted by June 30 of each year for the prior calendar year. No permit shall be renewed without written verification of appropriate State and County tax filings. No permit shall be renewed if the operation of the short-term rental home has created adverse impacts or has caused the loss of the character to the neighborhood in which it is situated.

The most recent gutting of our law, the one orchestrated by the mayor and Councilman Tim Bynum, eliminated any such requirements for renewals. You just send in your money on time and that's it.

My point is, we got a really crappy TVR law based on advice from County Attorney Al Castillo and his deputies — the very same guys who are now advising the Council on how to respond to its failure, the same guys who were supposed to be advising planning on how to implement it all this time.

So mostly I wonder, will the Council let Mayor Benard Carvalho Jr. and his attorneys keep thumbing their noses at them and the law they passed? And if he can do it with TVRs, what will stop him from doing it with other bills the Council passes? 

Like I said, maybe it's time for the Council to hire itself a good attorney — one that hopefully will represent the public's interest, and not the mayor's — and see what its legal options are for cleaning up this mess at its source.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm... in case anyone missed this...


Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, 9:26. Under this definition, Kauai County strikes out on all four:

What is the Rule of Law?
The rule of law is a system in which the following four universal principles are upheld:

The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law.

The laws are clear, publicized, stable and just, are applied evenly, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.

The process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient.

Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

Anonymous said...

How did Kauai end up with more vacation rentals than Maui? Does not make sense!!!!

Anonymous said...

The poison companies are ready to turn this island into their private poison testing lab soon anyway. Terrorism not tourism will be the driving economy. Lanai will be for the elite, rich and famous (with no GMO)! Stop them now! Mana March. Stand with the 'ohana o Kaua'i, HSTA, Doctors, Nurses, Surfers, Fishers, Farmer, Paddlers, Hunters, concerned community members and so much more! Thousands,marching to protect what we love!! Sunday 12 noon start!

Anonymous said...

Kauai has more incompetent permitting staff than Maui and wrote a law for their friends and campaign contributors.

Anonymous said...

Any TVR on Kauai is required to have their permit # and TAT number on any advertising including Ag TVR's who also had to have a special permit application as part of the process along with an affidavit and all TVR's must have evidence of their TAT and GET tax license and the only difference between our ordinances and Maui is that for Maui properties they don't have a lifetime permit-and really Kauai permits will be reviewed every year so they have to keep up all the requirements in order to maintain their permit-
So again if you are searching for properties that are out of compliance check out any that do not fulfill the advertising requirements-most of those will be the ones to go after

Anonymous said...

"Kauai permits will be reviewed every year so they have to keep up all the requirements in order to maintain their permit-"

Only requirement is having GE/TAT license.

Anonymous said...

to 8am-no, they have to show tax returns now too and evidence of renting during the year-and they are going to be re-inspected too.

Joan Conrow said...

Dahilig just said all that is required for renewals is a current GE/TAT license and the fee.