Tuesday, June 29, 2010


DOLLARS AND NONSENSE: Another day another attempt at journalism by our favorite punching bag Leo Azambuja, purported government beat reporter at the ever-downward-spiraling local newspaper.

But strangely enough his attempt included an effort at some context in describing some of the “legal issues” behind how, as Joan Conrow wrote today “Councilmen Tim Bynum and Jay Furfaro are giving the public the royal shaft with their support of a wholesale legalization of vacation rentals on ag land”.

The problem is that he failed to make any connection between what those who are actually serving the public interest- as opposed to the parade of self-interested, money hungry ag land transient vacation rental (TVR) owners and their shills- were trying to say.

What makes Azambuja’s lack of understanding even more unfathomable is that he actually quoted Caren Diamond saying what anyone watching the public hearing on Bill 2364 knew went to the crux of the absurd legal claims being made by Bynum, Furfaro and the ag land TVR owners’ string of shysters.

“To anyone who’s saying ‘we’ve been legal all along,’ where is the use permit?” she said. “There’s a procedure available, I don’t see why this council acts as if their hands are tied.”

As anyone who has followed the issue for the past decade knows the legislature many years ago set out the land use scheme for TVRs saying that the counties, which do the actual planning and zoning, were supposed to keep single family TVRs in designated “visitor destination areas (VDAs)”.

Since the state law said it, the law was written on Kaua`i to say that yes, TVRs were permitted in VDAs. Although there was no real enforcement it seemed clear enough until some wise guy in the county attorney’s office wrote an absurd opinion that said that although the law said where the TVRs were allowed, they didn’t say where they weren’t allowed- therefore they were allowed everywhere.

This bit of warped logic known as that “Kobayashi opinion” seemed just some off the wall idiocy from the office of Mayor Maryanne Kusaka’s County Attorney Hartwell Blake’s office- one known to write any-kine opinions requested by Kusaka who had been notoriously sucking up to ag land subdividers for contributions to her campaign and pet self-serving “charity”.

Years later the opinion began to be cited by illegal TVR owners to say they “depended” on the opinion to run their TVRs in non VDAs, state law notwithstanding.

But rather than just enforcing the law and letting the TVR owners sue if they wanted to- something that would have settled a matter hugely important to the future of the island a decade ago at minimal cost- the administration and councils refused to do so letting the matter get way out of hand.

When former Mayor and Councilperson JoAnn Yukimura returned to the council people expected her to continue in the “slow growth” bent she had been famous for. But instead of working to enforce the law she set up a “stakeholders committee” that not only delayed the matter for many more years but allowed the TVR owners to get a nose under the tent.

Finally, as the whole camel emerged, the council finally grandfathered existing TVRs in non VDAs in a supposed attempt to stop it there.

And, quite rightly they stated in the bill that no matter what, ag land TVRs were always fully illegal, as a recent attorney general’s opinion reiterates and as many opinions from various and sundry Department of Land and Natural Resources mucky mucks had said over the years.

But now of course after many attempts to somehow legalize the illegal ag land TVRs- including the infamous “non enforcement” bill which would have actually instructed the planning department to not enforce the law- they came up with a way to allow them under a section of law that allows for ag land owners to apply for “special use permits” under extremely restrictive rules- rules that actually were amended a few years back to state explicitly in so many words that, notwithstanding anything else, no overnight accommodations were permitted, in case there was any doubt about the matter.

So let’s go back to the claims that they relied on the Kobayashi opinion- also being claimed in the ag land cases- and so they paid they taxes and ran they TVRs over the years legally.

But if they really relied on Kobayashi and thought therefore they were legal- and legally relied upon that opinion- why didn’t they apply for special use permits which are and always have been available for ag land uses not defined by law?

They can’t have it both ways. If they claim they didn’t apply because they thought they were illegal, well, that takes care of that. If they claim they thought they were legal then they should have applied for a permit before they started using the dwellings for TVRs.

One way or another there’s something fraudulent about the claim that they relied on Kobayashi yet operated without a special use permit.

But don’t expect Bynum and Furfaro to give up. With Chair Kaipo Asing a definite “no” vote there are still four more votes out there and it may behoove the electorate to remind them all that November is just around the corner and for many this and the bill to gut the TVR in non VDAs ordinance is the last straw for “anything goes on land use” councilmembers who kow-tow to the invading money-grubbing-developer hoards.

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