Letters for Wednesday, April 11, 2007

• Hunting not honorable

• The good fight

• Let’s bust some myths

Hunting not honorable

I visited Kaua‘i recently and read your newspaper on March 31. There was a photo on the front page showing a 9-year-old boy with dogs that had brought down a boar. The caption stated that a friend of his dad was “honored with making the kill.”

I felt quite sick that this was displayed on the front page. What kind of message does that send to your readers? That your paper endorses killing of animals? That this would appeal to children? That it is honorable to kill a living creature?

In the same newspaper edition there is a letter from all the Humane societies in Hawai‘i saying that they have seen heinous acts of cruelty to animals in this state and that there is pending legislation against cruelty to animals.

I would think that using dogs to bring an animal down is exceptionally painful and cruel. This sort of thing should be punished not glorified as your paper unwittingly did. People need to learn to respect all living creatures and I feel that your newspaper could help promote this value by editing valueless journalism.

Laraine Silberstein

Sacramento, Calif.

The good fight

With all due respect to Ms. Betty Rivers letter (“On ‘The path of most resistance,’” Letters, March 25), she is the one who isn’t aware of the truth, not council members Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho.

If Ms. Rivers would have been following this entire project from the beginning, she would have seen that both council members are following the letter of the law in finding out why SMA and shoreline set back permits were violated by our county in their haste to build this path.

As council woman Carvalho has stated, “the lady of justice is blind” so the law is there to be followed by citizens as well as by our government. And remember that Ms. Carvalho is an attorney and was a prosecutor for 16 years so knows the law well.

No, Ms. Rivers, these two council members as well as councilman Kouchi are not fighting the wrong fight as you state. They are fighting to see that there is equal justice under the law, that we citizens aren’t held to one standard and the county government held to another.

I for one am grateful that we have elected officials who have the guts and the courage to see that this administration abides by the law just as they do when they mandate that we cross all our T’s and dot all our i’s when building a home or with any other project that takes permits.

If you want to play the blame game, Ms. Rivers, then go after the responsible parties — not those who are looking after the interests of the people.

Glenn Mickens


Let’s bust some myths

Most of the hotels on the island have been spending a lot of money to upgrade their facilities — and thus command higher room rates, leaving fewer options for the budget traveler. One alternative has long been the Vacation Rental or B&B accommodations scattered about our island.

I can understand the hotel owners and managers wanting to eliminate what they see as competitors and force every visitor to pay their ever-increasing rates. I can even understand the politicians’ willingness to pander to campaign contributors since money talks and for some reason the same politicos keep getting re-elected no matter what they do. I certainly didn’t vote for any of them.

What I don’t understand is the average citizen such who seem to have an intense hatred for any vacation rental activity or the people who accept rentals. For the record, I have a guesthouse that I rent out from time to time to help supplement my social security check — but I don’t consider myself as being evil. Some recent quotes in letters on the Forum are: ‘It is sly and immoral to abuse the proper use of agricultural and residential land;’ ‘preserving the serene lifestyle of Kaua‘i without turning it into a big cash register;’ ‘the invasion of large-scale luxury developments.’

There are never any explanations as to why these activities are considered immoral nor are any specific examples cited.

First, we allow people to reside in residential and some agricultural areas. Where is it written that a resident has to remain for some fixed length of time — as if they were under house arrest or something? As long as people just reside, exactly what is immoral. Second, Kaua‘i is a big cash register — tourism and the military are the only way we can get the money that we all spend on goods imported from elsewhere. Stores, activities and restaurants all over the island benefit from the tourist dollar. It sounds as if some people want to escort tourists from the airport to a fenced in VDA and keep them there until their return to the airport. Third, what have large-scale luxury developments to do with vacation rentals? Is someone trying to get a permit to put a hotel in Hanalei? In the past there have been lots of myths bandied about concerning how vacation rentals affect our neighborhoods.

Myth 1 — Neighborhoods lose a sense of community. Before moving to Kaua‘i, I lived in a Honolulu condo for 15 years — and recognized perhaps one or two of my neighbors to nod to in the elevator — but was never in any other unit. Here in Hanalei Palms, even though most places are used for vacation rentals, I know almost all my neighbors, those who live here and those who only visit. Several permanent residents rented out their property before they reached retirement. We stop and chat on the street. We party together. We are as cohesive a neighborhood as any in my experience. I sometimes even chat with those horrible people here on vacation.

Myth 2 — Vacation renters are rolling in profits. An occupancy rate of 50 percent or less is the norm. This just about covers costs.

Myth 3 — Vacation renters cause traffic problems. A family of 4 living in a house would have anywhere from two to four cars depending on the kids’ ages. A family of four visiting would likely rent one car.

Myth 4 — Vacation renters use more county resources. If the place is rented only 50 percent of the time, the road gets far less wear and the trash men only have to pick up half as much stuff.

Myth 5 — Vacation renters make a lot of noise and disrupt the neighborhood. This does happen from time to time, but the same can be said for long-term renters or owners as well. Usually a knock on the door helps to restore quiet. It would be interesting to know how many calls to the police about loud parties and domestic arguments involve vacationers or locals. And the best part of a bad vacationer is they go home in a week or two. Get a bad neighbor and you are stuck.

Myth 6 — Get rid of vacation rentals and there will be plenty of low cost rentals. Yeah, right. My property tax assessment went up $200,000 for this year over last — at a time when property prices are dropping all over the country. Property tax alone would make the rent unaffordable. Does anyone expect the tax rate to go down? It has never done so before. Had I not bought my house lot almost 30 years ago I would surely not be able to live here — even with a rental guest house. This new law is intended to rid the neighborhoods of vacation rentals by forcing house sales to the wealthy who have multiple homes and don’t need the income. The neighborhood will then be mostly deserted much of the time — a great haven for vagabonds and thieves.

A recent letter closed with the hope that the ‘VR and real estate lobby’ will not prevail. I have no doubt that the Realtors have paid lobbyists but their issues likely have nothing to do with vacation rentals. The hotel industry also has plenty of lobbyists but there is no vacation rental organization that might hire a lobbyist. Perhaps if we had one, we wouldn’t be facing the discrimination and economic hardship we face today. Ridding the island of vacation rentals will not make the island better. In the long term ever-higher room rates will limit our market to the super rich. Surely none of them will come here to use our bike paths.

Stan Godes



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