Letters for Saturday, July 26, 2008

• Desecration of Kaua‘i

• Aloha is everywhere; it depends on your attitude

• Tax structure unfair

Desecration of Kaua‘i

I recently enjoyed a wonderful weekend with high school friends that I graduated with 20 years ago at Waimea High School on our wonderful island of Kaua‘i. I have lived in different parts of the continental United States since graduating from high school and currently reside on the island of O‘ahu where I have been for the past 14 years. The iwi of generations of my kupuna are interred on this sacred isle.

I have never been so sad to come home than I have at this time. While waiting for my plane at the Honolulu International airport, I picked up a magazine that illustrated a new and exclusive community being built on Kaua‘i as well as listing multimillion dollar properties across the island. I read another article about further luxury developments along the coastal areas of Kaua‘i. Our local people are being priced out of living in their own homes. What is going on?

I watched the news when protesters of the Superferry vehemently and aggressively countered the docking of the Superferry in the harbor. I read the news articles that protesters were against the island of Kaua‘i becoming like Honolulu, that they did not want the beaches overcrowded, and that they did not want multitudes of people invading the island. Where are their protests to these luxury developments? Who do they think is going to be buying these properties? Will any of our local people be able to afford it? No.

So if it is not our local people, who are the “invaders” moving into those properties?

And what about sustainability? The drain on island resources will skyrocket once these properties are completed. Energy consumption, food and water resources drained, waste water treatment increased, congested roadways, and the list goes on. High on the list is waste; where is all that waste going? What about property values? Are these developments pricing out our local people? Will the neighbors of these luxury communities be able to afford the property taxes that double, triple and quadruple over the next few years? Where is the affordable housing for our local people?

With each visit, this island becomes less and less recognizable. I fear for the quality of life for our local people. What will my 40th high school reunion be like? Perhaps construction will have started on Wai‘ale‘ale and the desecration of Kaua‘i will be complete.

H. Kainoa Kaneakua

Kane‘ohe, O‘ahu

Aloha is everywhere; it depends on your attitude

I would like to support only one aspect of the letter (“Timeshare owner discrimation unfair,” Letters, July 24):

As soon as there is a downturn in the ecomomy or funds get tight, governments and councils always look for the easy way out or the quick fix. “Let’s tax an area that will bring in more dollars for the least amount of flack.” The County Council of Kaua‘i’s consideration of an increase in property tax for timeshare and rental properties is just that. It amazes me that with tourism being the highest revenue earner for Kaua‘i, most of which comes from the Mainland, that the council would put further pressure on an already brittle industry. Council may like to consider that timeshare ownership is a flexable commodity, and can be used in all countries around the world. Kaua‘i is certainly not immune to a continuing drop in “bums on beds.”

Why is it that Hawaiian people are always given this guilt trip by foreigners about exemplifying the aloha spirit. The aloha spirit has nothing to do with the decision making of council; it’s a simple case of money. As far as the aloha spirit is concerned, it most certainly is Hawaiian but most free countries in this world have their own version. As a proud Aussie if you come to my country you would be greeted with “How You Going Mate” said with the same spirit and attitude.

Jim Uttleymoore


Tax structure unfair

To the owners of a week of timeshare on Kaua‘i. It is their opinion that the proposed change in the manner of imposing taxes on real property is unfair to timeshare resorts. It is apparent that they not only do not fully comprehend the economics of the timeshare industry as it interplays with our local economy but also do not understand the way timeshare resorts are taxed by the county.

As a former project director for three of the “branded” timeshare resorts during the past 12 years, it has been and remains my opinion that these resorts do not pay sufficient real estate taxes to cover the cost to the county of supporting them both in infrastructure improvements and repairs and in the addition of personnel to the county’s payroll. Moreover, the impact these large resorts have on our diminished landfill capacity and the additional electrical generation capability needed to sustain them does little to make them attractive to permanent Kaua‘i residents.

If one uses as an example of a timeshare resort that is currently being sold on the North Shore, the average sales price per week achieved by sell out should be in excess of $60,000. For 52 weeks, this would result in a condominium with a fair market value greater than $3 million. But the owners are not taxed on this amount but on at least 50 percent less since at least half the fair market value can be offset as “marketing costs” to arrive at the assessed value. This is an immense tax break. For the Tolberts, we should all be interested in the amount of real estate taxes they pay annually on this timeshare. In my experience, the 31 percent increase they cite would amount to an increase of less than $100 for an expenditure that is properly deductible on their tax return. For this they are going to boycott locally run businesses.

Our former mayor, MaryAnne Kusaka, understood the cost of timeshare resorts to Kaua‘i, both in economic and psychological terms, and opposed the proliferation of large timeshare resorts for which I commend her. For our County Council to arrive at a solution to our tax dilemma that might result in increased real estate taxes for timeshare owners is a step in the right direction and should have been proposed years ago. The Tolberts must understand that it is the current tax structure that is unfair.

Paul McDonald



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