ALERT: NEW RESOLUTION TO LEGALIZE VACATION RENTALS IN NEIGHBORHOODS!

As we expected, Ikaika Anderson has included a new resolution 15-86 to be heard at his City Council Zoning committee meeting on Thursday April 2 that will allow vacation rentals (TVU’s) to proliferate in residential neighborhoods. Vacation rentals have no owners on site and can be owned by out-of-state investors. In addition to resolution 15-86, resolution 15-72 that will allow thousands of B&B hotel rooms in residential neighborhoods,Vacation_Rentals_In_Hawaii_Image will also be heard at the committee meeting.

Resolution 15-86: http://www4.honolulu.gov/…/D…/dspage08733866147535967792.pdf

Resolution 15-72: http://www4.honolulu.gov/…/D…/dspage07715327809893714702.pdf

Please OPPOSE both resolutions by attending the meeting on April 2 at 9AM and submitting testimony at

http://www.honolulu.gov/ccl-testimony-form.html

(Please submit separate opposition for Resolutions 15-72 & 15-86)

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Anderson’s Proposed Short-Term Rental Law Is A Sham!

Enforcement Regulations Don’t Apply To Illegal Vacation Rentals (TVU)

ikaika-anderson

Council Member Ikaika Andersons’s resolution 15-72 regulations do not apply to illegal vacation rentals (TVU’s) as Anderson has implied on his official Facebook page. In fact, the words TVU or vacation rentals are never even mentioned in the 15 page document. Anderson claims he is proposing a so called “balanced” approach by permitting illegal B&B hotels and improving enforcement regulations against illegal short-term rentals.

On Anderson’s Facebook page, Anderson stated; “My resolution will crack down on the current illegals- all illegals, B&Bs & TVUs alike- while allowing a permitting mechanism for a limited # of owner-occupied B&Bs. There’s room to do both at the same time.”

After our legal advisers evaluated the resolution, its clear Anderson’s resolution only applies to B&B hotels in requiring a permit number be included on all of their advertisements (a key requirement in helping shut down illegal operations)! In addition, Anderson proposed fine structure and other ineffective regulations will also only apply to B&B hotels, not TVU’s.

It’s estimated that Anderson’s bill will allow 2000 B&B hotels and 6000 B&B hotels rooms in Oahu residential-zone neighborhoods. According to the proposal, Kailua could have approximate 2000 B&B hotel rooms. That would be the same as putting the Royal Hawaiian, the Moana Hotel, the Kahala Resort, the Turtle Bay Resort and Ko Olina Hotel in Kailua (soon to be named KAIKIKI)!

B&B hotels and vacation rentals reduce our residential housing supply and raise housing costs for all residents. Kailua is a residential community, but the proposed astronomical increase in the number of B&B hotels will change the residential character of our neighborhoods and community by displacing our neighbors with a revolving door of vacationers.

It’s now becoming apparent; Anderson has no desire to shut down any illegal short-term rentals. In addition, Anderson’s law will most likely reward every illegal B&B hotel with a permit, so there will be no need for enforcement regarding B&B hotels.

Clearly, Anderson is intently trying to mislead the residents of Oahu. Does Anderson really believe residents are that stupid?

Please submit testimony to clerks@honolulu.gov and state you OPPOSE resolution 15-72.

Propose Resolution 15-72; http://www4.honolulu.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-162832/dspage07715327809893714702.pdf

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Why the Kailua Neighborhood Board Opposes B&B Hotels

A recent vote drew national attention to a rare Hawaii effort opposing tourism business. But board members only want the law enforced.

·By CHARLES A. PRENTISS

The Kailua Neighborhood Board passed a resolution on March 5 opposing any new permits for short-term tourist rentals in residential neighborhoods. The vote continued a line of action that the board has been engaged in since September 2013, when it formally requested that the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) stop promoting Kailua neighborhoods for visitor accommodations through its marketing materials.

Why? The Kailua Board has consistently argued for the protection of its residential-zoned areas and for increased zoning enforcement. All of Kailua’s neighborhoods are zoned residential, not resort. Resort zoning is provided elsewhere on the island, and communities like Kailua are recognized as areas to provide housing solely for local residents.

Visitor lodging businesses — hotels, motels, transient vacation rentals, and bed & breakfast lodges — are not permitted in residential-only zoning. While there are 65 transient vacation units (TVU’s) and B&Bs in Kailua that are grandfathered in with “non-conforming use” certificates that enable them to operate legally, more than 85 percent of the estimated 500 TVU’s and B&B’s in Kailua are illegal.

Kailua on Oahu

Kailua’s neighborhoods are zoned residential. Unless a bed & breakfast or vacation unit holds a “non-conforming use certificate,” it is operating illegally in Kailua.

Prior to the neighborhood board resolution, the HTA marketing materials made no reference to the fact that the vast majority of TVU’s and B&Bs in Kailua are illegal. More importantly, those materials did not inform vacationers on how to know if their accommodations were legitimate or not.

In addition, the Kailua Neighborhood Board explained to HTA that short-term rentals reduce the rental housing supply for local residents, contribute to escalating rents and housing prices, promote crime and negatively impact safety as well as the social, environmental and cultural residential character of Kailua’s neighborhoods.

Shortly after our vote, an Associated Press article picked up by many mainland news outlets drew broader attention to the resolution. Many outlets ran misleading headlines, such as, “Hawaii Town to State: Stop sending tourists here” and “Kailua Residents Want Tourists to Stay Away.” As expected, the media wants to attract readers and sell ads, so they feel compelled to use sensational, over-the-top headlines. The truth is the Kailua Neighborhood Board never said daytime visitors aren’t welcome. The resolution simply asked the HTA to stop promoting illegal visitor lodging businesses in Kailua’s residential zoned neighborhoods.

Who is to blame? Certainly HTA and their marketing experts are responsible for their blunder. They have always been aware that the vast majority of Kailua’s TVU’s and B&Bs are illegal and that the community opposes them, but they did nothing to inform visitors to stay away from these scofflaw businesses. After the resolution was introduced, HTA should have explained to the media that the resolution represented the community’s objection to the promotion of illegal visitor accommodations in residential-only zoning and informed visitors on how to determine whether their accommodations are legitimate. Instead, HTA ignored the issue of the illegal businesses and said they want to “bring balance” to the Kailua community.

Politicians and city officials should also be held responsible for not publicly explaining the intent of the resolution and emphasizing the fact that all visitor-lodging businesses are non-conforming in residential zoning. They could have easily defused the issue by sympathizing with the neighborhood board’s desire to have zoning laws enforced and assisting HTA in educating visitors on legal lodging choices.

But ultimately, the majority of the blame should be directed at the owners of the illegal TVU’s and B&Bs. These individuals and businesses are breaking the law. It’s time for greater enforcement against these illegal activities so that residents have the enjoyment of their neighborhoods that they deserve.

About the Author

CONTRIBUTOR

Charles A. Prentiss

Charles A. Prentiss is chair of the Kailua Neighborhood Board. He is a retired planner for the City & County of Honolulu and a former executive secretary of the Honolulu Planning Commission.
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KITV Reports how Short-Term Rentals are Ruining our Neighborhoods

Lanikai-Gridlock-png

http://www.kitv.com/news/Honolulu-City-Council-looks-to-eliminate-illegal-vacation-rentals/31771096

HONOLULU —A bill that looks to eliminate illegal short term vacation rentals from Oahu gained a preliminary approval from the Honolulu City Council Wednesday.  Residents in Lanikai have long complained about noise and safety concerns due to the rentals.

“They’re not real neighbors. There are people coming and going you don’t know who they are and they displace real neighbors. They might be people you car pool with, might be someone who looks out for you or who you look out for. There’s these strangers coming in and out instead of that,” said Lanikai resident Lisa Marten.

Bill 22 in the city council would step up enforcement power by the Department of Planning and Permitting.  The department currently has many hurdles to pass in order to identify and eliminate illegal rentals.  Some believe the bill goes too far.

“Bill 22 comes at it from only one angle enforcement. There is no ability to provide for owner occupied bed and breakfasts,” said councilmember Ikaika Anderson.

Anderson proposes that along with increased enforcement, new bed and breakfast units should be approved.  He said the language of the bill will greatly reduce the illegal rental problem.

“There must be certification that the owner’s primary residence is on the same tax map key parcel as the bed and breakfast proposed,” reads Resolution 15-72.

Anderson said he’ll hold Bill 22 in committee until his resolution makes it through the council.

The resolution will be heard by zoning and planning committee April 2.

Along with efforts by the city and county of Honolulu, the state is also looking to regulate the rental business through House Bill 825.

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Star Advertiser Series on Illegal Vacation Rentals

hsa_logo

Weekly rental

A Honolulu Star Advertiser series on illegal vacation rentals by Allison Schaefers has validated Keep it Kailua’s Position that illegal lodging businesses in residential-zoning are a significant problem that are harming Hawaii’s neighbors, neighborhoods and residential communities. Below are PDF files of all the articles.

 

Star-Advertiser 12-29-14 Vacation Rentals Hurts Housing Supply

Star-Advertiser 12-28-14 Illegal Rentals Skirt Law

Star Advertiser 12-28-14 Illegal rentals Inspection Process is Broken

Star-Advertise 12-30-14 Vacation Rentals – Revolving door Strangers

Star-Advertiser 12-30-14 Vacation Rentals Statewide Problem

Star-Advertiser 12-29-14 Vacation Rental Cons Rip off Visitors

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Will the Chinese be buying investment homes in Kailua…?

Chinese Spending Washington State

The next major wave of foreign investors buying US real estate appears to be coming from China. A recent AP article brought to light the fact that wealthy Chinese homebuyers have poured into the U.S., spending $22 billion on property in the states, tops among all foreign purchasers over the 12 months preceding a March study from the National Association of Realtors. That was up from $12.8 billion the previous year, when Chinese buyers also took the No. 1 spot.

According to a 2012 Hawaii Business Magazine article, Hawaii Realtor Patricia Choi (ranked as the #1 Broker on Oahu by the magazine for 4 years) believes there is so much potential in the China market and she’s focusing more and more attention on China. She stated in the article; “I’ll be leaving on a flight to China next week”. And “This is my third year in a row that I’m going to China.”

Will some Chinese bought 2nd home investments become “illegal” vacation rentals? It’s appears to be likely. Many of the neighbors who live near illegal Kailua vacation rentals deem the majority of illegal businesses are owned by out-of-state speculators who often claim they are unaware of the zoning ordinances that regulate vacation rentals on Oahu.

AP Article:

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Chinas-wealth-finds-a-home-sweet-home-in-Wash-state-286356241.html

Hawaii Business Magazine Article:

http://www.hawaiibusiness.com/hawaiis-new-foreign-real-estate-buyers/

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A very well-written and heart-felt essay…

the death of small kailua town

Feathered clouds painted the blue sky as the tradewinds finally flowed through the coconut trees. The sun hid behind the Koʻolau mountain range beaming its rays on west Oahu. My wife and I sat outside our house on the white bench my dad made out of extra two-by-fours.

We like to relax and spend time together during our weekends. There was an event taking place a mile away at the Kailua Whole Foods.  We had nothing else planned, which is unusual because my wife likes to have a plan, so we decided we’d take an afternoon stroll.

As we walked down Kainalu Dr. I reminisced to my wife on how I would walk home from school and get into little scuffles on the side of the road.  An uncle or aunty would stop their car on the road to yell at us, “Cut it out!” which only led to us fleeing the scene.

Then as we turned the corner onto Ku’ulei Rd, I shared stories of my friends and I riding our bikes through the streets on Fridays after our half days at school and go to Andy’s Drive-Inn for hamburger steak.  Those were good times. Simpler times. I find myself doing this often, reminiscing.

Today, when you reach Ku’ulei Rd, you can be welcomed with traffic and herds of rental scooters dodging tourists on rental bikes. I never knew there could ever be traffic in Kailua, but there is now.

As my wife and I made our way past 7-Eleven and towards the closed down 76 gas station, we passed by crowds of people.  I knew they weren’t from Kailua or maybe they just moved in to town. People who are born and raised in Kailua can pick each other out from a crowd.  It’s like this innate connection we get at birth.

When we made it to Whole Foods, I was amazed at the crowd there.  It was a cool event filled with music, food, and arts and crafts vendors. It was nice to see a community come together. But, while I stood there and looked around my wife knew I didn’t feel at ease, plus I’m not a big fan of crowds overall.

While we waited in line to grab a little bag of kettle-corn (because, who can resist freshly made kettle corn?) I over heard a group of people talking.

“I just moved here from Washington”

“Cool, we’re from Texas.”

“Oh nice, our friends we came with are from Texas.”

I began to get the feeling of me being the visitor from out of town.

After we grabbed our kettle corn, we continued to make our walk around the tents.  We came across a small tent that was selling handcrafted shell jewelry.  There was an older Hawaiian woman, a kupuna, sitting behind the table just staring off into the parking lot as a younger woman, probably her daughter stood, talking to customers.  While my wife looked through the earrings and bracelets, I looked at the kupuna and she looked straight back at me with her dark brown eyes with crow’s feet wrinkles.

I smiled and nodded. She smiled back and turned back to staring out as if she was looking out at the ocean sunrise.

But within that small interaction there was an understanding.  The feeling of lost and reminiscences of the past were all over her face and she saw it on mine as well.   We moved on and I could feel the kupuna watching me while we walked away. I was another extra that played a small role in her movie that she was directing.

After we made our rounds and picked up a drink for our walk back home, we took a seat outside of Whole Foods on the small wall near the back entrance.

“What are you thinking?” my wife asked, she knew I was still bothered and she’d been watching my eyes wander.

“It’s gone…” I replied.

We believe that it’s all about perspective when it comes to our emotions.  For happiness, it’s important to find what we are grateful for instead of focusing on what we do not have.

But there I sat on a wall feeling distant, small, and in search of what was.  I watched the cars roar by, bikes crowd the street, people from all over the country and island share drinks and laughter, music play, and tourists come from every corner.  It was definitely a positive environment. But to me, it was too much and I knew it was just the beginning.

People say that Kailua is becoming this new hip place filled with small boutiques, restaurants, cafes, markets, and needs more to grow the ‘economy’.  It’s a cool town for fashion trends, style, and beach goers to visit.  Tourists are told Kailua is a quiet beach town and a perfect way to experience local life away from Waikiki and Honolulu. So bus loads flock over to experience this oasis of small town Hawaii which is becoming more like Ala Moana.

Society believes that in order to improve a place, it needs more things.  More people, more cars, more damn trees to beautify the streets, more businesses, more buildings, and more attractions.  But it’s good for new businesses others would say. Increased economy doesn’t mean you have to build more, it means you have to contribute more. Investors are buying homes to turn them into vacation rentals, people are having to rent parts of their house to vacationers to help pay their mortgage and increasing property taxes, and family’s who spent their whole lives  through the generations have to sell their houses because they can no longer afford it.

My question is, when is it enough?

So there I sat on the wall, accepting the fact that Kailua was no more.  It was unreal and sad to see the constant changes over the years I lived away from Hawaii.  Each visit showing the downfall of a small town. I can only imagine what my parents see, being born and raised in Kailua, as they drive through their hometown.

I looked over to my wife and asked, “You ready?” She nodded and we got up from our seat and made our way back home while I continued to reminisce of the Kailua that once was.

closing thoughts

With every end, there is a new beginning.  Mind you, I have no ill feelings towards the new development and people coming into Kailua.  Places change as time evolves.

Though I can’t hide the fact that the small beach town that was known for its quiet and country-like feel is now crowded, filled with noise, and more changes are to come.  I still love my Kailua, because once a Kailua Boy is always a Kailua Boy.

But as times change in Hawaii, we all, including the tourists and people moving to Hawaii, need to take a step back and slow things down or else the small things that makes us fall in love with this paradise we call home will soon be gone.

Aloha and A hui hou.

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COLUMNOPINION (CIVILBEAT)

Denby Fawcett: Vacation Rental Scofflaws, Beware

There are hundreds of illegal vacation rentals in Honolulu. The city is discussing a new effort to shut them down.

·By DENBY FAWCETT

Makiki resident Cynthia Fenner likes to relax after work in her Prospect Street home in comfortable clothes, almost a state of undress. But she says that is no longer possible with strangers lugging suitcases, knocking on her door at all hours of the night.

They are tourists looking for rooms they have rented in a house on Fenner’s lane, which neighbor RaeAnne Nye has listed on Airbnb.

Airbnb is an online site which offers free marketing services to people who want to rent their properties, everything from private rooms to apartments to entire houses, and even castles in Europe and tree houses in Costa Rica.

Screenshot: Airbnb

Airbnb ad Honolulu

 

Example of an Airbnb ad for a rental in Honolulu.

 

In the dark of night, Nye’s house is difficult to find. Nye does not own the house but apparently has had no qualms about turning the property into what Fenner calls a mini-hotel.

Fenner says the lane is so steep that sometimes taxi drivers refuse to come all the way up to Nye’s house. The tourists get out of the cab on the steep hill and are confused and awaken Fenner to ask for help.

“We never know when someone will be coming up the lane. Sometimes when it is late at night and there is a strange man knocking our door, it scares us,” says Fenner.

Nye, who is advertising on Airbnb to rent rooms on Prospect Street, seemed reluctant to talk when I called to ask her about her Airbnb room rentals. When I asked her how many rooms she was advertising on Airbnb, she hung up.

Nye is one of the hundreds, maybe thousands of people on Oahu illegally renting out rooms, condominiums and houses as short-term vacation rentals.

With the popularity of Airbnb and other online vacation rental sites like Vacation Rentals by Ownerand HomeAway, the numbers of vacation rentals on Oahu is soaring.

Some travelers love the experience of living in a local neighborhood, far from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki.

Almost every vacation rental on Oahu is illegal.

The proliferation of neighborhood vacation rentals might soon be getting another boost if the Honolulu City Council approves a proposal to allow Ohana units (additional building units) in more Oahu neighborhoods.

“That will open the door wide for hundreds more illegal vacation rentals,” says Kailua Neighborhood Board chairman Chuck Prentiss.

Almost every vacation rental on Oahu is illegal.   Any short-term vacation rental less than 30 days requires that a property owner have a Nonconforming Use Certificate from the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting.

Only 780 Oahu property owners have NCU clearance to rent their properties as Transit Vacation Units — that’s a rental where the owner is not present.

And only 38 Oahu homeowners have NCU certificates to run bed and breakfast operations. Bed and breakfasts are rentals in dwellings occupied by an owner.

Every other short-term rental on the island is illegal.

“This is the most challenging code violation for us to enforce — the land use ordinance provision for vacation rentals,” says Mike Friedel.

Friedel is chief of Planning and Permitting’s Customer Service Office. He is the point man for investigating all building code and land use ordinance violations.

In 1990, the city cut off all new requests for certifications to run transient vacation units and bed and breakfast operations.

By deciding to issue no new certificates, policy makers were responding to complaints from Oahu residents who said their once quiet suburban neighborhoods had been taken over by strangers — vacation renters moving in next to them, throwing loud parties and commandeering all the street parking.

Some also decry the increasing numbers of short-term vacation rentals, saying it is more difficult now for local residents to find much needed long-term rentals.

Visitors usually don’t realize they are staying in illegal vacation rentals.

Even President Barack Obama found out only after he returned to Washington, D.C., that the Kailua beachfront mansion he rented for Christmas visits in 2008, 2009 and 2010 was an illegal rental.

Glenn Weinberg, the owner of the $6.4 million estate, lacked the needed certification to rent his property for less than 30 days. But that did not stop Weinberg from boasting on real estate sites that his mansion was the “Winter White House.”

Friedel says trying to enforce the code that prohibits sort-term vacation rentals is “a cat and mouse game.” He says people advertising on-line usually leave their address off the website, making the address available to renters only after they book their reservations.

When a neighbor of a violator calls the city to complain with the address of a suspected illegal rental, the city sends an inspector to investigate. But when the inspector arrives, Friedel says it is difficult to determine the truth because many rental owners coach their short-term tenants to lie.

He says the vacation renters will pretend to be long-term renters or non-paying house guests or relatives of the owner.

“It is very difficult to cut through the layers of falsification, “ says Friedel. “If we can’t get verification, we have to walk away.”

Current law requires that the illegal vacation renter must be caught “red handed.”

Beleaguered neighbors wonder why the city doesn’t use the online advertising sites as proof to cite violators.

“This is the most challenging code violation for us to enforce — the land use ordinance provision for vacation rentals.” — Mike Friedel, Department of Planning and Permitting

Art Challacombe, the deputy director of the Department of Planning and Permitting, confirmed in an email statement that the department does not use Airbnb or any other website or advertisement as a basis for citing a property owner.

Challacombe says, “There is nothing illegal about advertising vacation rentals. What’s illegal is conducting the use. What we have to prove is the use.”

And the proof is the difficult part. The only way advertising can be used now is as supporting evidence of illegal use.

When a property owner is cited for the first time, he or she has 30 days to shut down the illegal vacation rental operation.   If the owner refuses, the fine can be up to $1,000 a day.

This year, the city investigated 38 bed and breakfast operations after neighbors complained but it had enough evidence to cite only one of them. That B and B agreed to stop doing business.

Twenty-four Transit Vacation Units (units where the owner is not present) were ordered to stop and civil fines were imposed. One owner was fined $100,000 but he is appealing and has paid nothing to date.

Friedel admits they have cited only a fraction of the violators.

Friedel says his department is discussing a proposed amendment to the current law that would make it easier to shut down illegal units. One of the provisions in the proposal will be to allow the Planning and Permitting Department to issue citations to illegal vacation renters based on a preponderance of evidence.

Also, the amendment would allow the city to cite a property owner when the owner advertises a non-permitted vacation rental on a website or in any other media.

He says the amendment would raise the fine for vacation rental violators to up to $10,000 a day.

Friedel says when the fine is not high enough, violators just brush off the fine as the cost of doing business.

But sometimes there is no need to come down on landowners with a heavy legal hammer.  Some of them want to do the right thing and correct violations before they ever come to the attention of the city.

Honolulu land developer Bill Duechar is the owner of the house on Prospect Street in which his tenant has been illegally renting out rooms on Airbnb.

Duechar told me he didn’t know about the illegal vacation rentals until Fenner called him to complain.

He said now he will ask Nye and her roommate to stop.

“I told them ‘You are outside your boundaries here’.’’ Duechar says, “If they want to sublease, I want them to look for only long term renters.”

About the Author

CONTRIBUTOR

Denby Fawcett

Denby Fawcett is a longtime Hawaii television and newspaper journalist, who grew up in Honolulu. Her new book, Secrets of Diamond Head: A History and Trail Guide is available on Amazon.
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Kawai Nui Marsh Plan(s): An Eco Disneyland or Wet-Lands Preservation?

Community meeting on November 30th 9 am -12 pm at Le Jardin Academy

The Kawai Nui marsh is sacred to practitioners of Hawaiian culture and was designated a Kawai NuiWetland of International Importance in 2005 under the Ramsar Convention. The marsh is home to several endangered water birds and habitat for migratory birds during their yearly migration. It also serves as a refuge and open-space that brings a sense of peace and nature to the residents of Kailua.

The state government; through its DLNR Departments of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of State Parks are proposing major construction and development in and around Kawai Nui marsh according to a “consultant created” plan called the Kawainui‑Hamakua Marsh Complex Master Plan.

State Proposed Kawainui‑Hamakua Marsh Complex Master Plan:
· A 4,000 ft boardwalk around the marsh plus paved walkways
· At least 7 parking lots, acres of paved parking, and bus loading
· At least 7 buildings at various locations around the marsh
· A bridge and walkway over Kawainui Canal and Maunawili Stream.

Keep It Kailua believes The State’s Plan, which has been presented to public via presentations; including renderings, photos and maps, looks more like a “Development Plan” than a “Preservation Master Plan”.

So much development? Yet no one seems to know where these concepts originated? Windward Representatives Cynthia Thielen and Chris Lee requested DLNR to provide them with a copy of the DLNR’s contract with the consulting firm designing the plan. So far, DLNR has failed to honor their request for these public documents.

Many of those who attended the public meetings regarding the marsh and the State’s hired consultant’s presentation to the Kailua Neighborhood Board (KNB) believe the State’s plan serves the construction industry, tourism industry, and commercial landowners wanting another anchor attraction to bring more visitors to the Windward side. When the State officials were asked to provide a model for management and enforcement of Kawai Nui, they admitted to having none (Kailua Neighborhood Board PZE meeting 9/17/13).

Keep It Kailua does not believe the proposed State plan properly addresses the management of the wetlands, its habitat, water quality and the protection of wild-life. In addition, the plan does not sufficiently explain the protection of archaeological sites, impacts from buildings on or near the wetland, and impacts from additional vehicles, residents and tourists visiting the various building sites and parking areas on or near the wetlands.

In contrast to the State’s proposed plan, a grass-roots Windward community sponsored plan called the Kawai Nui Marsh Restoration Plan has been presented to the public and State officials. This proposal was developed with assistance by the recently‑deceased Kahu Ryan Kalama, who was President of the Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club. The restoration plan has been reviewed and endorsed by numerous organizations including The Outdoor Circle, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, the Audubon Society, the Kailua Neighborhood Board and others.

Windward Community’s Grass-Roots Proposed Kawai Nui Marsh Restoration Plan:
· Emphasizes preservation and protection of the marsh.
· Allows Low-impact facilities for Hawaiian cultural practices.
· Prohibits commercial activity.

Keep it Kailua opposes the State’s current development plan for Kawai Nui Marsh and endorses the Windward Grass-roots Community proposed plan.

Please attend the public meeting on the State proposed Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Complex Master Plan on November 30th from 9 a.m. to noon at Le Jardin Academy and ask State officials to scrap their plan and utilize the Windward Community’s Proposed Kawai Nui Marsh Restoration Plan.

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KNB to HTA: Stop promoting “Illegal” Visitor Lodging in Kailua

Media distorts Resolution with Sensational Headlines

The Kailua Neighborhood Board passed a resolution in September requesting the Hawaii Tourism Authority (a state-supported agency) to stop promoting Kailua’s “residential-zoned” neighborhoods for visitor accommodations in their marketing material. All of Kailua’s neighborhoods are zoned residential, not resort. Visitor lodging businesses (hotels, motels, vacation rentals & B&B lodges) are “non-conforming” in residential-only zoning. While there are a few Kailua vacation rentals and B&B lodges (65) that are grandfathered with “non-conforming use” certificates that enable them to operate legally, over 80% of the estimated 500 vacation rentals and B&B hotels in Kailua are ILLEGAL.

Weekly rental

Prior to the resolution, the Hawaii Tourism Authority marketing material made no reference to the fact that the vast majority of vacation rental and B&B lodges in Kailua are illegal and more importantly, it did not inform vacationers on how to know if their accommodations were legitimate or not.

In addition, The Kailua Neighborhood Board explained to the Hawaii Tourism Authority that short-term rentals reduce the housing supply for local residents, contribute to escalating rents and housing prices, promote crime and negatively impact the social, environmental and cultural residential character of Kailua’s neighborhoods.

Keep it Kailua believes the Kailua Neighborhood Board’s resolution is a fair and reasonable request. After all, a “public” agency should not be promoting illegal activities directly or indirectly.

Last week, An AP article picked-up by many mainland news agencies ran a story regarding the resolution. Many of media outlets utilized misleading headlines such as “Hawaii town to State: Stop sending tourists here” and “Kailua Residents Want Tourists to Stay Away”. As expected, the media wants to attract readers and sell ads, so they feel compelled to use sensational headlines that are over the top.  The truth is the Kailua Neighborhood Board resolution never stated or even implied visitors are not welcome to Kailua. The resolution simply asked the Hawaii Tourism Authority to stop promoting visitor lodging businesses in Kailua’s residential zoned neighborhoods.

Who is to blame? Certainly the Hawaii Tourism Authority and their marketing experts deserve to be blamed for their blunder. They have always been aware that the vast majority of Kailua’s vacation rentals and B&B lodges are illegal and the community opposes them, but they did nothing to inform visitors to stay away from these scofflaw businesses. After the resolution was introduced, the Hawaii Tourism Authority should have explained to the media that the resolution was the community’s objection to the promotion of illegal visitor accommodations in residential-only zoning and informed visitors on how to “officially” determine if their accommodations are legitimate. Instead, the Hawaii Tourism Authority ignored the issue of the illegal businesses and said they want to “bring balance” to the Kailua community.

Our politicians and City Officials should also be held responsible for not publicly explaining the intent of the resolution and emphasizing the fact that all visitor lodging businesses are non-conforming in residential zoning. They could have easily defused the issue by sympathizing with the neighborhood board’s desire to have our zoning laws enforced and assisting the Hawaii Tourism Authority in educating visitors on how to determine if their lodging choices are legal.

But ultimately, the majority of the blame should be directed at the owners of the illegal vacation rentals and B&B lodges. Illegal is illegal. These scofflaws are breaking the law. It’s time for them to be shut down!

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