Council approves $50K for legal battle against illegal TVRs

LIHUE — After meeting with county attorneys behind closed doors Wednesday, the Kauai County Council unanimously approved up to $50,000 to be spent on private attorneys to represent the county in dozens of appeals filed after denials of transient vacation rental permits.

On June 12, the council voted 4-3 to defer for 90 days a resolution to prompt an investigation into the county Planning Department’s handling of TVR permits.

“Back when we had the decision for the (investigation), I voted no, but I wanted to see some improvement,” Councilman Ross Kagawa said after Wednesday’s executive session.

Council members Mel Rapozo, Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum voted against the deferral in June because they wanted an investigation rather than to give the department more time to go after illegal TVRs.

On Wednesday, Kagawa said when the progress of the department in lining up cases for prosecution is moving “at snail’s pace,” it doesn’t feel good to have given them that confidence.

“I need to see more, and we hope the Planning Department will step their game even further because I think the council members that did put off the investigation wanted some sincere effort (from the department) to try and correct themselves,” Kagawa said.

The department is facing 75 appeals, and this number may grow, according to Planning Director Michael Dahilig. He said last week the county would be sending an additional 35 cease-and-desist notices for TVR owners who missed the July 1 deadline to apply for their annual permit-renewal.

The council passed Ordinance 904 in 2010, which allowed TVRs on ag lands to apply for a grandfathering permit, as long as they were operating before March 7, 2008, and had documents to prove it. A previous ordinance allowed TVRs operating in residential areas to apply for a grandfathering permit.

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