Letters to the editor: 07-24-18

Still not listening

Recently, Mr. Pavao challenged my statement that I had something to do with gaining a fourth senator for the Big Island so I need to restate the facts. I did not and do not agree with the 2001 redistricting plan created by the 2001 Hawaii County Reapportionment Commission, which included Mr. Pavao. The Citizens for Equitable and Responsible Government (CERG), myself, and other plaintiffs proved it was illegal at the Hawaii State Supreme Court (HSSC) for three reasons:

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1) The commissioners’ (“plan”) exceeded the 10 percent maximum deviation set by the U.S. Supreme Court by 0.189 percent, 2) their plan included non-resident military, their dependents, and non-resident students, and 3) the boundaries were adjusted to prevent incumbents from being forced to run against another incumbent. All three issues are illegal. CERG sued and won which set a precedent not to include the non-residents.

In 2011, the Solomon and Matsukawa cases challenged the inclusion of the non-residents in the state’s reapportionment plan. The HSSC’s statements in the CERG case laid the groundwork for both cases, and the precedent was quoted by the HSSC in the Solomon case as a bedrock principle not to include non-residents.

Did the Solomon and Matsukawa cases need to be filed. Yes! All three cases contributed to getting a fourth senator on Hawaii Island. However, it was the CERG case, which included me, that set the precedent. We all can take credit for the fourth senator.

Lastly, I never said that I was part of the Solomon lawsuit, and I always state that another group — not CERG — filed that lawsuit; however, some people will never listen.

Brenda Ford

South Kona

Bill 108 loopholes would harm neighborhoods

A sweeping grandfathering provision in Bill 108 — hidden in plain sight — has the potential to increase your future property taxes. It is called “Non-Conforming Use Certificate” and will create an inflationary spiral in real-property values.

There are still thousands of entire homes or apartments on AirBnB/VRBO. Many are by people living off-island and cluster in your attractive residential neighborhood — especially near beaches, parks and the university. Bill 108’s grandfathering would legalize them all. Perhaps because a short-term rental assessed property is a potential source for adding to the county real property tax base.

But consider this: Any widespread behavior that would increase the cashflow that one can earn from residential housing — such as Airbnb revenue — will over time get priced into the underlying property value. So while it may be true that Airbnb helps many hosts pay their mortgages, that is a statement that only focuses on one segment of the housing market and ignores the impact of higher short-term rental cash flow on the rest of us.

Around 1987, Japanese buyers discovered a number of neighborhoods in Honolulu and bought houses for $1.3 million that were previously on the market for $440,000. When the bubble faded, they put it on the market for $1.35 million. The neighbors were greatly exercised because real property tax assessments are based on current sales in the area. They foresaw their assessments rising not by 10 percent, but by 100 percent or more.

Bill 108 doesn’t cap the number of short-term rentals an owner may operate and doesn’t distinguish between mini hotels and people who are simply homesharing. It would allow them all to continue. If not amended, it will act as tax collection bill and legalize those mini hotels at the expense of us neighbors. You have been warned.

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Stefan Buchta

Hilo