Strong rental bill protects residents
Sara Mouton expressed her dismay at Hawaii’s newly passed vacation rental bill in a recent letter to the editor. I’m guessing that she doesn’t live in a tourist-centric place. If not, it may be difficult for her to understand the aggravation, inconvenience, and even pain that some residents feel when their neighborhoods are inundated by a rotating cast of holiday-makers, many who know or care little about the neighborhoods in which they stay.
In response to one important point, it’s impossible to know who would or wouldn’t rent their ohana units as long-term rentals if more lucrative short-term renting wasn’t an option. If historic trends are any gauge, it’s likely that many would open their homes to long-term rentals as they have for decades and generations. A shift away from the vacation rental trend is critical to providing longer term housing for local residents who are otherwise being shut out of the chance to have an affordable roof over their heads.
To another point, many experts agree that short-term rental investors are helping to take home ownership farther out of reach for local residents. Speculators can make big bucks, often from a place they don’t live in or give a hoot about as long as their investment brings financial gain.
Walking a mile in another person’s slippers isn’t possible, but imagining it is the only way to start to understand why a strongly enforced Bill 108 is critical to finding a balance that puts the quality of life of residents and the health of the island they love above those who care little about Hawaii except as part of their investment portfolio.
Punishment comes in many forms
As a criminal defense attorney, I would sometimes joke with my clients that “Justice delayed is justice.” It seems to be working for Mrs. Kealoha, former deputy prosecutor in Honolulu.
Hawaii needs to help workers save earnings
Hawaii is facing a savings crisis. According to AARP, the average household nearing retirement has just $14,500 in savings. That nest egg, combined with Social Security, won’t go far in the golden years, especially as aging seniors face growing demands upon limited financial resources. When personal savings run out and fixed income is insufficient, the burden eventually falls upon the state.
Of course, younger workers have time on their side if they can start saving for retirement sooner. However, approximately 216,000 employees in the private sector, many of whom work for small businesses, are not given the option to save for retirement out of their regular paycheck. Employer-sponsored payroll deduction savings plans are cost prohibitive to many small business owners. I know, as I once owned a small business. Yet, having access to payroll deduction makes people 15 times more likely to save. SB1374 (relating to the Hawaii Retirement Saving Program) and HB1189 (relating to retirement saving) currently before the Legislature offer a solution to the savings crisis-in-waiting.
The Retirement Saving Program provides an easy way for workers to save out of their regular paycheck and helps them grow the savings they need to take control of their future. The program would be available to workers who don’t currently have a plan through their job. It would be similar to a 529 college savings plan. And small business owners won’t be paying hefty fees to offer the program.
Oregon, California and Illinois offer retirement saving plans and I would like to see our 50th state join the pack.
I urge our lawmakers to vote yes for SB1374 and HB1189 and help Hawaii workers save for their retirement.
Roberta Wong Murray