Short-term rental legislation needed
I am grateful that council members Karen Eoff and Dru Kanuha were willing to step up to the plate and introduce legislation intended to manage the conversion of residential dwellings into tourist accommodations.
As I understand it, Bill 108 offers the opportunity for visitors to have access to this form of lodging by providing a way for existing vacation rentals to be “grandfathered in” if they have been paying taxes on their income, but it also places limits on the currently uncontrolled proliferation of vacation rentals within residential communities.
As a longtime Kona resident, I understand that the visitor industry represents a significant contribution to our island’s economy. We come face to face with this reality every time we drive on the roads, go shopping, eat in a restaurant, and visit our local beach or park.
And yet, we all hope that our residential neighborhoods will provide local residents with an escape from the visitor industry. We want children to have the opportunity to grow up next door to families with other kids they go to school with, not groups of strangers moving in and out on a nightly, weekly or monthly basis.
Just as important is the fact that an excess of vacation rentals increases the cost of rent on long-term rentals due to a shrinking inventory. And we already have a huge shortage of workforce housing.
There will be individuals who will criticize our council members for introducing this needed legislation, and I hope people will come out and show their support for this program at the Feb. 20 hearing.
Hawaii on my mind
I first came to the Big Island about five years ago. To see my son and family during the past five years I had to travel to Kona two to three times a year. I live I Washington state. To come to paradise two to three times a year has been so special to me.
Until I broke my back last September and could not fly to see my family and all the beauty and joy. I hope to come see them all soon. Kona has become a special place near my heart. My son should be coming home with my grandchildren and we will share out passion of Hawaii.
Tax increase goes to government waste
The current push to raise the excise tax is about the salary increases. The mayor indicated such when he said if it does not pass, he will cut services. The other reasons are a way to present it so it is not as offensive to the public. It will just add more waste to government.
The county government needs to cut back on expenses. They already increased the gas tax to address highway repair and improvements. The salary commission provisions in the charter need to be fixed. It is ridiculous to allow a committee to increase salaries without any checks or balances. The commission works in a vacuum where they do not share any of their thinking with the public. The percentage salary increases do not include the increase in benefit amounts for retirement. The members are not elected and have no incentive to pay attention to the taxpayer. There are no stated qualifications for being on the committee.
The way salaries are increased for directors, etc. needs to be changed so the increases require approval by the county council or the public. The salary commission has way too much power and they are abusing it. When Harry Kim was mayor in his last term he set a high mark for the budget. Now he is setting new records at taxpayers expense.