Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Musings: By Any Other Name

As the Kauai County Council prepares to take up the homestay ordinance tomorrow, we've been hearing the oft-repeated cry of “gosh, we had no idea we needed a permit” from so many operators. 

Especially those who have been issued a cease and desist order from the county.

So imagine our surprise when we took a little gander at homestays/B&Bs offered in the Kilauea area, for just one example, and discovered that some of the owners are Realtors, people who already have TVR permits — in short, folks who really ought to know better.

Like Realtor Bruce Fehring, who has a legal TVR, Hale Kaikalani, as well as Twin Hearts — a not-so-legal “homestay.” In the web copy, he even has “homestay” in quotes, because he knows — wink-wink — that Twin Hearts is a TVR on ag land that failed to secure a permit, and is now masquerading as something it's not.

Then there's Allen and Catherine Rietow, who rent the Aloha Sunrise Cottage and its twin, the Aloha Sunset Cottage, on their seven-acre ag parcel. But they don't even try in their ad copy to pass them off as either B&Bs or home stays, just unpermitted TVRs.

Randy and Jill Smith, meanwhile, rent the Jasmine Nights cottage, which presumably could pass as a “homestay” because the owners at least serve as hosts. But how, exactly, is it any different than a TVR on ag land, for which permits are no longer being issued?

And since the proposed ordinance only addresses homestays/B&Bs in the residential district, what exactly is going to happen to the dozens operating on ag land?

Francesca Azuremare-Woolger, also a Realtor, advertises “Several private cottages in and around Kilauea area,” while Richard A. rents out the Coconut Hut.

Realtor Harvest Edmonds — who claims to be “a passionate supporter of sustainable agriculture on Kauai,” even as she helps turn North Shore ag lands into resorts — argued passionately for TVR permits on ag land, claiming she and her husband would otherwise lose their land. She got a permit, but then went ahead and created another TVR/homestay/B&B — the “Green” Cottage.

Then there's the “Kauai Retreat Center,” on ag land in Waipake, that offers six-bedrooms — all with “private outside keyed entrances.” At what point, you may legitimately ask, does a B&B become a hotel?

Let's not forget The Palmwood, which bills itself as “an update on the traditional bed and breakfast,” because it's actually a three-story TVR in the hills of Moloaa that rents its three rooms for about $300 each per night.

Or the Anahata Sanctuary, with its six “sacred chambers” (bedrooms) and meditation temple that is “a perfect place to meet Conscious Like-Minded People.”

Are you starting to get the idea that these aren't really mom-and-pop establishments operated by naïve landowners who have been brutally victimized by callous county enforcers? 

Instead, they're just the latest round of TVRs seeking permits that were no longer supposed to be granted.

The question now is will the county cave? Or stand its ground and shut 'em down?


Anonymous said...

Very nice BS callout, Joan!

Anonymous said...

If they're operating a tvr/homestay/resort on again land, they need a special permit. Otherwise it's prohibited.

Anonymous said...

Ever consider reporting them to the Real Estate Commission, per section 467-14, Haw. Rev. Stat.?

Anonymous said...

Remember who pushed for building additional dwellings in AG land-It was Kaneshiro(Darryl) who testified while being in conflict of interest.

The reason for all of the craziness its because county of Kauai didn't have CONSULTANTS to do the counties JOB.

And yet the county of Kauai hires a secretary for a secretary for a secretary and have no shame posting it every day on Kauai jobs indeed.

Anonymous said...

Although the Planning Department is trying their best, the real decisions come down from the Mayor. If these rich landowners get to him, he'll dictate what the Planning Dept. can do and how far they can go. He has future political plans and needs the $. That's why the next 4 years will be hell for the working class on Kauai. I'll be surprised if he lets Planning do what they need to do to control this festering problem.

Bruce Fehring said...

Dear Ms. Conrow, a friend who reads your blog brought to my attention that my name came up in your latest "musing". I feel compelled to write to you to correct a number of inaccuracies in your post.

-I am not a Realtor, having given up my license some 7 years ago. My wife and I are full-time farmers, who supplement our farm income with my social security check and income from guests who come to stay at our guest cottage, which is on the same parcel as our own residence.

-my wife and I used to own a legal TVR, Hale Kai Kalani, but we had to sell it to get out from under a large mortgage and an ever-rising property tax bill.

-our Twin Hearts guest cottage is more accurately a "farm stay", as our guests are invited to learn about our family farm lifestyle and enjoy many of the fruits and vegetables which we grow. It is the County whose desire it seems to be to call all B&Bs, home stays, and farm stays "homestays". The only reason that I put the word in quotes was because many visitors do not understand what the word "homestay" means.

-Twin Hearts is not a TVR, which is a single family residence where the owner is NOT in residence when guests are there. Twin Hearts never "failed to secure a permit" as a TVR, because it is not a TVR. Like others, we were told, and it was written directly in the TVR law, that the TVR law did not apply to B&Bs or homestays, and that subsequent legislation to regulate B&Bs and homestays would be forthcoming. It is apparently now coming after these many years, and it is our intention to apply for a permit.

I will not address other inaccuracies in your blog, as the others about whom you have inaccurately reported have the opportunity to defend themselves in your comment section. I will say, however, that going back through your blog history is very revealing. You seem unhappy about so many things, and upset with so many people, in this instance most of them guilty of little more than improving their lot in life and improving the experience of their guests. Have you ever had an instance and reason for making an equivalent complaint about a particular B&B or homestay guest staying near to wherever it is that you live? You may find yourself happier and more fulfilled if you simply stick to admiring the flora, the fauna, and the the natural beauty of the world that surrounds you.

Aloha, Bruce Fehring

Kelvin peat said...

How about an interactive map of where these places are? planning a trip to HI in the near future.
If all goes well I plan to add to the traffic congestion on the east side next December or January.
I can't afford a hotel stay with two kids, a b&b, or "home stay" isn't our kind of thing. A house rental seems smart, just not in the wrong neighbourhood.

Dawson said...

Bruce Fehring said:

"... I will say, however, that going back through your blog history is very revealing. You seem unhappy about so many things, and upset with so many people, in this instance most of them guilty of little more than improving their lot in life and improving the experience of their guests. Have you ever had an instance and reason for making an equivalent complaint about a particular B&B or homestay guest staying near to wherever it is that you live? You may find yourself happier and more fulfilled if you simply stick to admiring the flora, the fauna, and the the natural beauty of the world that surrounds you."

Too bad. Your post allllmost had us convinced that you weren't one of those smug, self-serving realtors who infest the Islands, pimping the land, culture and heritage of a people for cash.

Until your last paragraph.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how the new deputy interim director of planning (with no planning education) is also the HGEA district rep?

Anonymous said...

Can't afford a hotel but he wants to rent a house? Keep planning.

Anonymous said...

Ouch Joan.
Please observe the flora and fauna.....while we live with the flotsam and jetsam as Kauai deals with the backlash of the BnB issue.
I could care less about BnBs. If a property causes problems, turn 'em in.
Property rights are the issue.
But I am amazed at Bruce Fs response and Kirsten Zimmerman's comments...Bruce F, Kirsten and Harvest/Jim Edmonds three of sleaziest greediest realtors Kauai has seen. And where is Kirsten's farm on her Ag Estate...Most properties have some sort discrepancy if you take a stethoscope to it. But do not look too deep at Bruce Fs past building infractions, the result of these discrepancies brought a hellacious God down onto Kauai.
Leave things alone...soon we will all be caught in the BS the County shoves down our throats.
Be careful of the schadenfreude you feel today. Schadenfreude may be upon you next.

Joan Conrow said...

I think you're being unfairly harsh toward Kristin. She's lived with the misery of an unpermitted "hotel" next door in the ag district, and no enforcement, for lo these many years.

Anonymous said...

I have a few 7x7x7 sheds I have turned into "meditation huts". Some meditate for days, weeks, even months! I figure I don't need no permit or homestay or b&b permits because as far as I know no-one is using my huts to "sleep" but just to meditate. I can buy and furnish each hut with a mediation mat for under $1000. These are quiet people. I never even hear them come or go, and they are really, really, really spiritual. We are usually full and only advertise via word-of-mouth. We are so busy that we are now franchising and putting these sheds on various properties and split the alms received from meditators. "Prayer carries us half way to God, fasting brings us to the door of His palace, and alms-giving procures us admission." -Quran

Anonymous said...

I'm more worried about blatantly misleading press releases coming from the Prosecutor's office. See Mr. Soong's letter to the editor today 4-21-15

Anonymous said...

Nothing to see here folks. Keep your eyes on the flora and fauna and Mr Soong's letter.

Anonymous said...

This is shameful. Supposed pillars in their communities using their knowledge to take advantage of every possible loophole, scam the system, then use their word skills to talk their way out of trouble. It happens over and over again, like lying and cheating is their way of life. really pilau.
Wake up people, standup for your island, standup for your homes, stand up against being pushed around by these clever, selfish people. Write letters, talk to your councilman. Do you want more and more tourist rentals where you live?

If not. Standup and say so. No shame.

Anonymous said...

"Supposed pillars in their communities using their knowledge to take advantage of every loophole..."

Yes, 8:15. It is shameful...

Anonymous said...

Kirby Guyer and Sheila Heathcote;

I didn't realize that the MULTI FAMILY B & Bs that you own and operate are considered MOM and POP !

We locals refer to them as "mini hotels" AND totally ILLEGAL!

Anonymous said...

8:15 Are not not the councilman (sic) you urge people to write and talk to the same people that wrote these loopholes in the law? Who were these loopholes written for? I suggest they were written for the people who wrote them and their friends. It is easy to find a loophole when you wrote the loophole yourself.

Anonymous said...

Planners nor realtors on this island have any ethics. Director didn't even finish his planning degree, until after Mayor have him the job and new deputy has no education in planning. Thank you for putting such highly qualified people in the most important job on the island.

Anonymous said...

The mayor appoints only his friends and family. He's dragging us all down. Three more years of misery, folks.

Anonymous said...

Too bad, there are two highly qualified, high quality (with both experience and education) in that department. Yes, they are women.

Anonymous said...

Shut em all down! Fair is fair, right is right.

Anonymous said...

Not qualified? They are smart enough to catch your sorry ass.

Anonymous said...

Those women are too smart to be the deputy, they have ethics.

Anonymous said...

Deputy with an arrest record. Excellent choice.

Anonymous said...

2:00 I have no dog in this fight, facts are that department failed - TVR fail, general plan fail, hiring qualified people, fail. They never addressed B&Bs in the CZO or as was told to them 15 years ago in the GP.

Unknown said...

Sat in at today's Council meeting whose agenda included first reading for the Homestay ordinance. Interested parties were given an opportunity to speak. For and against comments were offered by 10 or so individuals. Soon, public hearing will be scheduled; at which point the heavy hitting will likely start.

Residents who spoke, noted their support of the Planning Departments' efforts to enforce the law. One speaker pointed out the industry has been unable to self regulate, has expanded at an alarming rate and needs too brought under control as quickly as possible. Residents made clear they do not want another mass grandfathering of BnBs as was done for TVRs a few years back.The Council was told we support the County's belief that interim regulations need to be adopted immediately to moderate the tide of unpermitted operators streaming in to acquire permits. While residents support the interim ordinance, understanding the need behind it, we are also aware that the interim ordinance will quickly be replaced with with a more detailed version. For us this is a good thing. Meanwhile, we made it clear that to gain resident support, the interim ordinance needs to strengthened. Suggestions from residents' perspective included, issuing a temporary moratorium on processing applications until the ordinance is passed. quantifying the number of home stay operations on the island, especially those operating in the residential zone. Of the highest priority must be a NEED based limit on the number of permits to be issued for each residential district. Other requirements would include standards for paved off street parking, need for septic, and mandatory random property inspection at permit renewal.

Residents are establishing a presence . The County is listening. The Council supports the idea that a balance between resident and TVA needs to be struck. Striking that balance cannot include a permit giveaway.

Respecftfully, Sam

Anonymous said...


But they're finally getting around to now, aren't they! Better late than never, Tutu would say. To a chorus of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Sabout time.

Anonymous said...

Sam, I watched it too. You must have been nodding off or are twisting the testimony to your partial argument. Only a couple people stated that they didn't want grandfathering of existing taxpaying B&B's. Tisk, tisk, Sam.

Anonymous said...

The only people who want grandfathering are realtors and B&B owners.

Bruce Fehring said...

Anonymous April 21, 2015 at 5:37 PM:

I'm sorry that you think so poorly of me; lucky I have a thick skin.

Sleazy? Greedy? Bringing down the wrath of some God? Do I know you? Have you ever had dealings with me?

I invite you to meet myself and my family, so we can discuss some of your misconceptions.

Please call me. 808-346-0364.

You too, Dawson. And you, Joan.

Aloha, Bruce

Joan Conrow said...

And I invite you, Bruce, to reflect on your own comment in light of the assumptions you made about me.

Cyndee Fehring said...

How dare you! All of you who make assumptions and throw stones at people whom you do not know and judge. Who are you people? We have lived here for 30 years, raised our family, lost some of our precious loved ones, contribute to the community in many ways, do not bother our neighbors, nor cast stones at others.

What exactly do you do, Joan,for your right livelihood, besides be a cyber bully and sling untruths around and hide behind the Internet?

I challenge you to meet face to face and heart to heart. Or does your courage only lie behind the computer where no one can see you?

I don't speak publically very often. I am a very private person but, Joan, you have gone too far. You've discredited your blog by publishing such inaccuracies. If you want to be a credible journalist, then how about finding out the true story before you post? And providing corrections when you realize that you have erred?

Aloha, Cyndee Fehring

Joan Conrow said...

And where have I erred, Cyndee? By splitting hairs you and Bruce convenientally miss the point: as Realtors and TVRS owners, albeit former, you knew darn well you couldn't do a guest house, farm stay or whatever you want to call it without a permit.

Anonymous said...

There were several people who went into Planning years back when the TVR issue was up and asked about the permitting process and were told directly that their operations were not TVRs but were B&B or home stays and "that would be addressed at a later date." Well later came recently and they received cease and desist letters. How is this okay? To be told not to do anything until the County can come up with a process and then to be shut down. Seems wildly unfair and capricious to me.
And, Joan, I have been a fan in the past of your reporting - however, recently your posts seem to me to be deteriorating to a low in the name-calling you are exhibiting. Let's get back to a civil debate on the issues, as opposed to a personal mud-slinging contest, please.

Anonymous said...

@11:08 The same thing happened to my family. We applied for a TVR because we did not understand the law back then and we wanted to be legal. We sometimes rent out the extra bedroom suite in our Omao house on air B&B when our daughter is off at college. Planning rejected our TVR application and told us "You are not a TVR" and the inspector said that we were a homestay and those were OK but we might have to get a permit when they get around to dealing with those. We honestly don't think we are ruining our neighborhood. Obama has not stayed with us.

Bruce and Cyndee Fehring said...

Dear Ms. Conrow,

As you have seen fit not to call us up and have a civil conversation, and instead chosen to respond by accusing us of "slitting hairs", allow us to enumerate the errors you made in this one post by itself, and in your own ensuing "comments":

1) You have indicated that we are Realtors. Neither of us are Realtors. Cyndee has never been a Realtor. Bruce gave up his license 7 years ago and we have been farming full-time since 2008.

2) When inquiring about operating a homestay these many years ago, we were told by Planning, as many others were and would attest, that there was no permit process for homestays. That appeared confirmed by language in the TVR law that said the TVR law did not apply to homestays and that separate legislation to regulate homestays would be forthcoming.

3) You wrote that we "have a TVR" We no longer have one.

4) You wrote that Twin Hearts is a TVR. It is not. A TVR is a single family residence that is rented out short term without the resident owner living on premises.

5) You wrote that The Palmwood is a TVR. It is not. It is a B&B, with owner Eddi Henry living on premises and hosting guests.

6) You wrote that Harvest Edmonds "got a (TVR) permit". THAT statement is inaccurate.

Are we "splitting hairs"? We think not. We are simply defending our work, what in the Buddhist tradition is termed "right livelihood", politely providing our opinion about the subject at hand, and pointing out the errors which you have published as fact. A professional reporter, blogger or otherwise, should report accurately or, they risk losing their credibility.

We wish you peace and happiness in your life.

Bruce and Cyndee Fehring

Joan Conrow said...

Bruce and Cyndee,

I was always under the impression was Buddhism was about losing one's illusions, but it seems that either I am incorrect -- again -- or you have not sufficiently advanced in your practice.

Call them what you will, these operations are unpermitted TVRs trying to masquerade as home stays/B&Bs.

And thank you for clarifying that Harvest didn't actually get a TVR permit. So she was turned down, but went ahead and operated a "home stay" anyway?

Anonymous said...

There is no "masquerading." These guest houses or rooms in one's home are home stays - by the county's own definition. They are not TVR's by the county's own definition. Period.

These definitions come from the County's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, Kauai County Code Sec. 8-1.5

“Homestay” means an owner-occupied dwelling unit in which overnight accommodations are provided to transient guests for compensation, for one hundred eighty (180) days or less, within the same dwelling unit in which the owner or lessee resides or in a guest house.

“Transient Vacation Rental” means a dwelling unit which is provided to transient occupants for compensation or fees, including club fees, or as part of interval ownership involving persons unrelated by blood, with a duration of occupancy of one hundred eighty (180) days or less.

Anonymous said...

We are tired of reading your opinion Bruce.

You built illegal in a flood zone and suffered severe consequences.

Go commiserate about words said about you somewhere else.

Repeat to yourself over and over again....“What Other People Think of me is None of my Business”

Unknown said...

Sorry 9:10

I'm not into responding to Anonymous.

Respectfully, Sam

Anonymous said...

There will be no mass grandfathering of your illegal activities on agriculture lands especially since most of the rental cottages are ag sheds.

Anonymous said...

When someone earns almost 1,000 a night renting agriculture land, nothin but tourist will ever grow again.

Fill out the form with your desired dates, and a Palmwood representative with get back to you shortly.

West Room: $325 per night

Upper Suite: $330 per night

East Room: $295 per night

Pricing is based on single and or double occupancy with full breakfast. Does not include tax (13.5%) nor one time cleaning fee of $75.

The Palmwood requires a $500 USD deposit at time of booking to confirm your reservation. Cancelations and or changes must be made 60 days prior to arrival to receive full refund of your deposit.

Anonymous said...

What kinda farm has this shit?

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Surf lessons are in and around Hanalei Bay & River. Additional locals can be arranged upon request and skill level.

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Anonymous said...

Don't be too sure 6:01

Us guys hope you are right, but realize these guys are fighting not to be shut down. They are not happy about the hassle of having to go through permitting or face limits. Grandfathering will take care of their problems, just like it did for so many illegal TVRs. The push in that direction has already started. So if you object to rentals in the Ag zone, residential zone or wherever, plan to be at the hearings with as many of your friends you can get, write letters, talk to the council, press your point wherever and whenever you can. The other guys will be there BIG time. Guarantee.

Anonymous said...

Weren't these same people here before arguing for the TVR law? So they didn't get permitted, but operated anyway, now they should stop not be approved to continue the charade.

Anonymous said...

Commercial property makes money for you, residential property, nope, just a place to call home. Don't fuck it up more by approving the whiners.

Anonymous said...


you guys are right. no more free passes for the whiners. Pau ke'ia

Anonymous said...

I am local from the east side. I see more and more vacation rental and bed and breakfast in Kapaa, Kapahi, Aliomanu, Anahola, Wailua, Waipouli, all over the place. I wait for the County to do something because these guys no more permit. I worry when I see the Council kissing these guys okole. The locals get the shaft.

No only back up the haoles. What about us.

Anonymous said...

Sh land and residential land is not for visitors to rent. So many guest houses being used like this. Shacks in yards. It's time to have our visitor stay in resort areas only. To keep Kauai from being any more prostituted than she slready is. If all hotels and all the illegal rentals are full we will be the greater Kauai parking lot. As well long term rentals are hard to find when we'll off land owners choose a visitor over s local. Shut them down now.

Anonymous said...

OK you guys

The public hearing is on May 19 starting at 1:30, second floor, Old County building. Come and tell the County Council what you think.

Plenty good comments about controlling visitor rentals and keeping them where they belong. Stand up and say what you feel before we get runned over like the last time. No Shame