WHT editorial: Eoff should pull short-term rental bill

Perception, as they say, is reality.

In the case of Hawaii County Councilwoman Karen Eoff, her proposed bill to regulate the rental industry here on the Big Island presents a bad look, regardless how pure the intentions.

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Eoff, who represents North Kona, proposed changes that would require vacation rentals outside of the Vacation District, the General Commercial District or Resort Nodes to apply for a certificate in order to be grandfathered in.

Eoff is a vacation unit owner herself, and she said the Resort Zone — where her Islander Inn condo is located — is the appropriate place for the rentals.

It seems straightforward. But simply put, Eoff’s Bill 108 would set up hoops others in the industry would have to jump that Eoff wouldn’t. Basically, it makes it harder on her competition.

That could have been the furthest thing from Eoff’s mind when she crafted the bill. Plenty of people think it’s an industry that needs regulating on grounds that, among other things, vacationers can turn residential neighborhoods into resort-like ruckus.

Eoff has been an outstanding councilor since she took her seat in 2012.

But it doesn’t help her cause when she was questioned by vacation rental owner Rob Guzman about her legislation posing a potential conflict of interest, an email exchange shows Eoff first denied owning the unit.

It wasn’t until she was presented with the record of her transient accommodations tax license she clarified, saying she misunderstood.

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It’s a bad look.

Eoff should pull the bill. Others on the nine-member council should suggest as much, as well. And if different short-term accommodation regulation should come up, she should recuse herself when the rest of the County Council takes it up.

  1. Pest Outwest February 14, 2018 6:08 am Reply

    I don’t care how “outstanding” she’s been, shouldn’t a bald-faced lie on a conflict of interest disqualify anyone from public office? Never mind that she violated reporting rules on the income, on the thin excuse that she misunderstood the very laws she’s dealing with. Out with her.


    1. Buds4All February 19, 2018 7:34 am Reply

      EoFF should be Tared and Feathered and run from town!


  2. KonaRich February 14, 2018 8:21 am Reply

    I believe your editorial is a good one. Eoff should pull this bill. I am in her district and I will vote for her accordingly when the time comes.


    1. Buds4All February 19, 2018 7:36 am Reply

      KR I presume “accordingly” is out of office as she should be? This is the only the first lie she has been caught in, usually when you peel back the onion more fire ants come out!


  3. metalman808 February 14, 2018 9:22 am Reply

    True colors


  4. hestekaren February 14, 2018 2:16 pm Reply

    I live in the Puna area as does Rob Guzman who exposed this conflict of interest (as the local media should have done). We don’t have mega resorts here to accommodate tourists who want to explore this amazing part of the island. Our temporary vacation rentals here help the local economy by employing folks to keep them up, clean them, do yard work etc. They are a plus for those of us who live here as property owners and bring in extra income and taxes for the state by folks who operate them.


    1. Buds4All February 19, 2018 7:33 am Reply

      Concur….I do not think people realize the sub economy these rentals bring in to the average workers here.


  5. wahineilikea February 14, 2018 5:37 pm Reply

    The bill had two co-sponsors. This is a very important bill, addressing a very important issue on our island, and certainly does not deserve to be pulled because there is a conflict of interest regarding one of the sponsors. Ms. Eoff should certainly step back, and recuse herself, but the bill can move forward based on the other sponsor.


  6. onceawarrior February 15, 2018 2:20 pm Reply

    Perception and reality are logical equivalents.
    IMO, unintended consequences neither adds nor takes away from desired beliefs.


  7. BustaBeeBee February 16, 2018 8:22 am Reply

    There is no doubt a correlation/causational relationship between the increased tourism on the Big Island with the vacation rental business. Increased access to affordable rentals means tourists are more likely to spend MORE money elsewhere on the island. This seems like a Kona problem so maybe it should be handled in KONA


  8. Buds4All February 19, 2018 7:39 am Reply

    What about the rest of the Council….has anyone reviewed their holdings? Remember these are HI GOV officials and its the “Good Old Boys” system here so I am sure there are things we do not know about the rest of the group? I am just saying saying!


  9. PDog February 20, 2018 2:28 pm Reply

    This was a very lenient and understanding editorial all around. One could take the position that she didn’t know exactly what she was doing when she wrote the bill and that is the charitable position. If she hadn’t lied outright about owning the condominium when asked about it, I might, actually, believe her.

    I hope the county ethics commission takes a closer look at Eoff’s behavior in this matter – from the bill itself to her tax filings. Bad business all around.


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