Letters to the editor: 02-16-18

Cut administration, not services

Managing Director Wil Okabe said at the GET meeting, “This is the last resort. … If that doesn’t pass, the administration will have to look at expenses. The services are not going to be same old, same old. There are going to be cuts.”

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Notice, good Hawaii County residences, it is going to be your services cut, not administration, government employees’ pay or government pet projects that get cut. They have safely made their raises so if the county doesn’t get their way by raising taxes, you will have to suffer the consequences.

On a lighter note, West Hawaii Today had a wonderful, heartfelt article for Valentine’s Day. Stories like these are always pleasant to read.

Gayle Kalapana

Ocean View

Kenoi did it better

The administration under Mayor Harry Kim is raising taxes right and left to help with the recent county employee raises. If this latest GET increase does not happen, then the citizens of Hawaii County are going to be punished.

We did not see these generous raises under former Mayor Billy Kenoi. At least he gave the county’s money to some poor deserving cocktail waitress who was probably making minimum wage.

Michael J. Hunt

Captain Cook

Don’t toss vacation rental bill

WHT (Our View, Feb. 14) is calling for Karen Eoff to pull the new short-term vacation rental Bill 108. This may be understandable, purely from a political process point of view. But if the bill gets pulled, our neighborhoods are left with no protections!

There are roughly 4,500 listings on AirBnB/VRBO/HomeAway.com for our island today. At the current growth rate, there will be 10,000 short-term rentals next year. More than 70 percent of them are entire housing units.

Can we even imagine what 10,000 listings will do to our communities, to rents, to our beaches? Our most precious neighborhoods, once fairly peaceful with little traffic, just simple family homes and public parks, are being flooded with rental cars. It seems that every open lot is being hunted by hungry real estate investors wanting to be part of the boom.

It’s time for the Hawaii County Council to regulate these commercially minded landlords exploiting Airbnb. Airbnb began as a way for people to garner extra income by renting out their home when they take a family vacation or go out of town on business. However, semi-legal hotel operators have bastardized the system by buying entire blocks of residential neighborhoods and renting them through Airbnb or VRBO as if they are hotel suites.

No improvement is possible without trying to separate short-term rentals that are OK from those that are not. Someone will call that discrimination. So be it. We can’t back down for that reason alone.

Bill 108 is the best thing we have to put a Band-Aid on the problem and stop the bleeding. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater!

Stefan Buchta

Hilo

Support Bill 108

There are Vacation District, General Commercial or Resort zones for the greater good of the community. Our bedroom communities should not have to be subject to short-term vacation rentals.

There is a real shortage of affordable long-term rentals for full-time residents on all islands. Since this bill does not affect owner-occupant B&Bs or owner-occupant rentals, I applaud the efforts of council members Karen Eoff and Dru Kanuha.

As for the lady who lives in New Mexico but compares the effect of companies like Airbnb to her community there, I would say that by her own words the two have vastly different costs of living and land masses. Her position shows no understanding of the people and culture of Hawaii and comes at it from a purely capitalistic me-first-regardless-of-what-it-does to the community at large attitude.

I do not want short-term rentals in my neighborhood. There are other options for her, like buying a condo or townhouse in a appropriate zone area. And no, this is not a conspiracy by hotels to the disadvantage of homeowners but rather a common sense call to keep our communities our communities.

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Leslie Iijima

Waikoloa