POSTED 17 JUNE 2007- 3:45pm HST

Illegal vacation rental opposed

image above of illegal vacation rental on Anini Beach as seen at

It's all in the rules!
by Ray Chuan 7 June 2007

The way our County Council and, more pathetically, the way our Planning Director and the Planning Commission, have been playing games with the problem of allowing (without permits, or grandfathering under highly questionable excuses) vacation rentals, is nothing short of a concerted effort to confuse the public and please certain home owners (many being absentee owners) and their realtors, In so doing these representatives (elected and appointed alike) have allowed residential neighborhoods, some in the Special Management Area, others in the Conservation District (the latter two deriving from federal designations), to become motel rows – much to the distress of real residents. From the standpoint of county, state and federal regulations, none of this proliferation should have developed, but for the typical absence of enforcement of the rules, a practice that is particularly rampant on Kauai, perhaps because this island still acts, as in past history, like a Separate Kingdom.

BUT ……, none of the current confusion, deliberately created or not, need have happened if our county officials had read, many years ago, a very simple and easy to understand section of our CZO (Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance) that contained (and still contains now) the language: “Transient Visitor Accommodations (vacation rentals) are allowed ONLY in the Visitor Destination Area (VDA)”, VDA being areas like Poipu, Princeville and some parts of Wailua.

Now, any third-grader (or younger) would have understood that, with the word ONLY, vacation rentals are not allowed outside the VDA. Of course, a lawyer would want the language changed such that there would be a second sentence that would not depend on the meaning of the word ONLY, but says, instead of what is in the books now, a second sentence that says:”Vacation Rentals are not allowed outside the VDA” That would have been a fairly simple additional sentence that even the Third Grader would have allowed. But not our current Planning Director and his predecessor!

As a matter of fact, at the conclusion of a weeks long community participation in considering amendments to the CZO held some seven or eight years ago at various communities around the island the Planning Commission charged the Planning Department with the responsibility of taking care of the clarification of this troublesome wording (at least to the Planning Director). Nothing happened, as far as the Planning Director and the Planning Commission are concerned.

Now comes Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura on her white horse with a suggested Amendment!! That vacation rentals not be allowed outside the VDA!! But …, there’s a big loophole! Grandfathering of those already now outside the VDA!

Why can’t our officials just do it right, in accordance with well established rules, and stop playing games? Just by being outside the VDA does not automatically allow vacation rentals to shed all rules. Start with the federal rules and rules derived from them: namely, Conservation District, Special Management Area. Conservation District simply does not allow “commerce” like vacation rental, period, as exemplified by recent action of the DLNR in Haena.

In the SMA, public hearings are required before a use permit can be issued; and the SMA rules do not include such a thing as our Planning Department has invented: the Minor SMA Permit, which does not require a public hearing (so neighboring residents cannot voice opposition to the issuing of a permit). And don’t forget there is such an entity as the “Regulated Industries Complaints Office” or RICO, a state agency that acts on complaints from the public against illegal activities of any “regulated industries’ not acting lawfully. The RICO is apparently unknown on this island; but has been actively pursued on Oahu by private parties as well as community organizations against realtors who represent or manage vacation rentals that are not properly permitted.

The rules are there! Our county government is only getting itself deeper into creating problems with vacation rentals by ignoring the well established rules. The question that immediately comes to mind is: “For whose benefits are our officials deliberately ignoring well established rules?

Let’s see how the Council gets out of this mess.

The battle is almost over
letter by Barbara Elmore on 17 June 2007 in The Garden Island News

For me, the most important issue for the lawmakers on our County Council right now is one that could permanently change the very character of Kaua‘i that has drawn so many people here over the last hundred years.

Soon, the proposed “TVR Bill” (Bill 2204) will be finalized by the Council’s Planning Committee and passed on to the full council for final passage. “TVR” stands for “Transient Vacation Rentals,” but I prefer to use the term “VR” (Vacation Rental) instead.

At the Council planning committee’s meeting on June 13, there was an awesome visual presentation by Council Chair Kaipo Asing.

In addition to a PowerPoint presentation of various historical and legal aspects of the issue, Chair Asing presented a stunning display along the side wall of the council chambers.

There, on four large aerial photos of the North Shore, Mr. Asing had superimposed a graphic demonstration of how VRs have taken over that part of the island.
The jaw-dropping sight of how extensively these VR commercial businesses have permeated every North Shore neighborhood paints a clear picture of how Kaua‘i has become an “Investors’ Paradise” rather than the Garden Island Paradise — all at the hands of mostly absentee owners.

It is not only the North Shore that has become a VR enclave; the problem is widespread across the island.

Some councilmembers have hesitated to stop this corruption of the island because of threats of lawsuits from current VR owners and from the Kaua‘i Board of Realtors.

However, I feel that for once it is worth the risk of litigation to take a strong stand and take back the island. Otherwise, ordinary citizens must prepare to see Kaua‘i changed forever, not for the benefit of the culture and lifestyle of Kaua‘i but strictly for the benefit of those who came here, saw the island’s natural beauty, and proceeded to capitalize on it — not caring that by doing so, they were destroying the very thing that they claimed to love.

If Bill 2204 passes, those who currently operate vacation rentals will have a monopolistic stranglehold on the most beautiful portions of the island, locking in their monopoly forevermore and forevermore locking out anyone else who might want to open such a business in the future.

The VR owners and realtors want this bill to pass, because it would permanently seal into law their means of profiteering from this beautiful island. And the Kaua‘i that Kaipo Asing and many others grew up on would be turned over to people who could never appreciate it.



POSTED 7 MARCH 2007- 6:00am HST

Fire Hydrants Among the Trees

ad for illegal TVR says "Our Kauai vacation condo rental is just across the road from Barking Sands"

by Andy Parx on 30 January 2007

A pernicious parade of paradise purveying perpetrators cascaded through County Council Chambers this week. Yet the Council never asked them to explain why they are renting to vacationers in violation of the General Plan and Kaua`i County Code.

The only thing they asked every one of them was whether they were paying their taxes.

A little background for those who haven’t been following the “transient vacation rental” (TVR) saga is key to understanding why a traveling circus takes place in the yard next door.

First some old history.

In the early 80’s voters elected people with the vision to see that we had limited amounts of land and a limit of all kinds of capacity only an isolated island can have. One idea was that of specific “visitor destination areas (VDA)” which was a measure to protect our neighborhoods.

It was included in the General Plan because residential working people said “you can have some hotels in certain places but we’ve got to have places where they don’t follow you home at night... unless you ask them to”. Local people, most of whom then worked in the tourism industry after sugar went pau, saw that our residential areas should be where residents can go to “escape”, as it were, from the tourists – escape after work to a place where they knew their neighbors... and they wanted to keep it that way.

Council people in those days included the legendary Rodney Yadao as well as Jeremy Harris, Kaipo Asing, John Barretto, Eddie Sarita and their “leader” JoAnn Yukimura.

But JoAnn’s former vision now takes a back seat to the “everyone wins” based governance. Last year she convened and facilitated a “foot-in-the-door” group to fix any perceived loopholes in the law dealing with illegal TVRs.

Rather than making sure the Baptiste administration follows the law and busts these people who advertise on line and in print with seeming impunity, she pushed for and assembled a panel of so-called “stakeholders”. Predictably, they heard the first wave of scofflaws who came forward not to ask for forgiveness but to demand their “ property rights” and JoAnn provided the funding to have it televised.

And it looks like they’re going to get them because when dealing with Kauai’s “after the fact” government that’s probably the best approach. .

No one wants a drug lord to rent out the house next door or for that matter Bradafer or Brittany, Obama or Osama, or anyone from anywhere except your neighbor who you know.

It’s not a matter of how clean or quiet they say they’ll be.

Back to history. Despite the law these TVR’s sprung up everywhere- along side Bed & Breakfasts (B&Bs), which are legally allowed “by permit”- exponentially in the last few years.

Throughout the 80’s B&Bs- renting out a room or two in your house to tourists- proliferated as people looked for additional income especially during the recession years following the hurricane.

But virtually no one even tried to go through the process of approval .

First of all, you need permission from your neighbors to get a B&B permit. So if you apply you stand to lose your business entirely if a neighbor doesn’t like you- or you don’t pay them in some way. So no one ever applies. The one person who was permitted before the hurricane got lucky when the feuding neighbor moved back to the mainland.

And the county did nothing. Maryanne Kusaka’s administration is famous for telling department heads to back off her friends and supporters and she did so with the Planning Dept.

Under her orders, The Planning Director and his deputies- admittedly according to repeated public testimony before the council- said they were too “understaffed” to enforce the law and are “complaint driven” ... a signed complaint that is.

And that went double for visitor rentals too. Kusaka and her spokespeople publicly maintained that the law was unenforceable and so only those complainants willing to be grilled-. many times minutes after the complaint was filed by Kusaka herself- were to be officially acknowledged.

And seemingly that policy is the same under the current Bryan Baptiste administration, perhaps sans Kusaka’s often threatening phone calls.

At the Council’s recent public hearing on Bill 2204, they didn’t ask one person if they knew that it was illegal to have a vacation rental outside the General Plan determined “VDA”.

Their big question was about taxes. “Have you been paying your TAT (transient accommodations tax) and general excise taxes?.”

Real estate agent and community activist Louis Abrams- who was one of the “Stakeholders” on Yukimura’s “panel”- has said that some agents not only don’t make it clear to prospective “investment property” buyers that they aren’t allowed to rent them short-term to tourists but if the buyer does ask they tell them “don’t worry they’ll never enforce it” .

Actually to be fair to the sharks, the vast majority those on the hot seat at the public hearing bought their current vacation rentals- later to be their retirement mansion/castle in paradise- knowing full well that their business plan was illegal.

Because, other than a few who dealt with unscrupulous agents, most investors knew that their vacation rentals and even their B&B were outlawed except in the official; VDAs in Po`ipu, Princeville and small makai parts of Kapa`a and Lihu`e.

Local people have a lot of aloha for those who have aloha for us. “We’d take you home with us.. we’d love to take you home”. But some people in this world are pretty scary and are a mouse click away.

Actually it might be easier to be sympathetic if the TVR owners had any aloha. But most think they have some kind of entitlement to foist a new neighbor on us every few days.