Kauai resident Eddie Ben-Dor is facing criminal prosecution for operating a vacation rental in Hanalei without a permit.
Ben-Dor, a New York diamond broker, is set to be arraigned Sept. 10 on a misdemeanor charge of violating the county zoning ordinance. He allegedly continued to operate Hanalei Villa, an unpermitted TVR on Weke Road, after the county had ordered him to cease and desist.
Though the VRBO site for Hanalei Villa has been shut down, I found it on Flipkey, offered by his daughter, Maile, now a Realtor in Southern California. The availability page showed it is booked right through Daddy's arraignment date, and the Christmas holidays, too.
The four-bedroom, three-bath, sleeps-12 TVR is billed as having two full kitchens and two living rooms, and can be rented as a multi-family dwelling, which is also illegal: “The house can also be broken into smaller private suites to fit parties of all sizes.” The full house rents for $5,800/week during the low season, while the Plumeria, Gardenia and Hibiscus suites average $2,000 per week.
As a disgruntled renter wrote regarding a cockroach-and-mold-infested May 2014 stay:
[F]or over $2000, you expect a minimal level of quality. Here, the owners are cashing in on a near-beach location - they have absolutely no interest in putting any of their money into fixing this disaster zone.
In the end, we have complained to VRBO and will be seeking a refund through Amex. Interestingly, the Hanalei Villa website no longer works and the VRBO listing has disappeared. Very odd; I just hope the health inspectors have closed the property and that the owners will be obligated to sort the place out. It's an absolute disgrace.
Ben-Dor is the first person to actually be served a criminal summons as a result of the county's TVR enforcement crackdown, which was prompted by this blog's Abuse Chronicles series.
“We've filed charges in some other cases, but the issue is finding the person to serve them the summons,” said Prosecutor Justin Kollar. “Most of them do not have local owners.”
That's right. Many of the TVRs are owned by mainland investment consortiums, whose members get tax benefits from flipping these commercial properties — at the community's expense.
But Ben-Dor, who built that horrid monstrosity on Manoa Stream, adjacent to Haena Beach Park, does live here. So he got nailed as the Planning Department and Office of Prosecuting Attorney (OPA) worked together to identify offenders who won't come into compliance.
“We haven't given up on the case with out-of-state owners, [we] just have to be persistent,” Justin said.
I presented a few questions to Planning Director Mike Dahilig, via county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka, and got this reply:
Planning initiated the investigation and referred the matter over to the Prosecutor's office given the severity of the infraction (TVR with no certificate).
Planning is actively pursuing three other illegal TVRs with no certificates.Whether they are referred to OPA will be dependent on the evidence gathered.
We cannot speak to Justin's prosecutorial discretion, but Planning has other means with which they can deal with infractions (such as civil fines), and they will not be hesitant to use them in situations where they need to compel compliance. This past year Planning collected close to $150,000 in fines for violations of our codes — the majority from TVR violations.
If convicted — and let's hope the OPA doesn't work a plea bargain — Ben-Dor faces a $1,000 fine and/or a year in jail. The fine seems pretty meaningless, since the house starts at $882 per night. A jail term, on the other hand, would issue a strong warning to other scofflaws. The courts regularly send desperate drug addicts to jail. Why not a money addict? Or in this case, an arrogant person of privilege.
Speaking of which, I was amused to see Andrea Brower — daughter of privilege and darling of the anti-GMO “red-shirts” — write in a piece for the Common Dreams website:
We will only challenge the cruel modern structures of privilege and poverty if we overcome our collective disempowerment...
Andrea, who was living on her parent's million-dollar, non-farming ag estate before jetting off to New Zealand for graduate school, rants about the horrors of the capitalist system that has benefitted her so handsomely, before writing:
And perhaps most counter-intuitive, we are forced into apathy or fear of the “Other.”
This from the wahine who spent many months last year demonizing the chem/seed companies and their workers as the dreaded “Other,” who intentionally whipped up a frenzy of fear and a cult of ostracism by accusing them of wantonly poisoning the aina and destroying the health of their fellow citizens.
She goes on to write:
Yet despite the savagery that our system demands, we still do not abandon our most innate drives for mutual-aid, compassion and solidarity. In fact, what is most evident all around us, all the time, is our incredible generosity, sensitivity to fairness and the wellbeing of others.
Really, Andrea? Where was your "sensitivity to fairness" as you lobbed totally undocumented accusations, exaggerated the level of support, led a movement that viciously savaged anyone who even dared to disagree?
Where was your concern about the "wellbeing of others" as you branded local farm workers "ecoterrorists," sought to destroy the livelihoods of immigrants supporting their families in the Philippines with jobs in the seed fields, thoughtlessly rent the tight-knit fabric of a community that once nurtured you?
So much easier to write the talk than actually walk it.
So much easier to write the talk than actually walk it.
Meanwhile, fellow “fistee” Felicia Cowden, whose KKCR show supplied a steady stream of anti-GMO trash talk, posted this woeful lament on Facebook about her struggling County Council candidacy:
I need my friends to stand with me and walk in the communities that do not know me. It is a completely different reception when I am alone as I approach people from different communities and ethnicities than when I am with someone they trust. For the most part, people who believe in me from various communities different than myself have not been willing to walk with me. People that are clearly rooting for me are not available when I am come to town. I also need to be more organized and do not have the support of a campaign machine. The strong, new challengers are financed by their industry that remains unclaimed on the candidate's statement papers.
Poor Felicia. It must be so scary to leave the rarified white air of the North Shore and actually face all those brown people who don't listen to KKCR, whose livelihoods she still seeks to destroy, whose spirits she helped trample, whose interests she claimed to represent.
As Chuck Lasker noted in re-posting Felicia's whine-a-thon:
note that she has all these "supporters" who won't help her (that's called "not a supporter")
I know, some of you will brand me mean to call out Felicia and Andrea (though I doubt Eddie will get much sympathy). But please, spare me your anonymous denouncements and take off your blinders instead.
Because, as the saying goes, karma's a bitch.