Letter for Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hanalei Bay Resort responds

The Garden Island printed a story about Hanalei Bay Resort Nov. 8, to which we would like to add some clarification.

Our project was built, not in 1995 as the story suggests, but two decades earlier, in 1973-1975, as the Hanalei Beach and Racquet Club. It was one of the first projects on the Princeville plateau, and was approved by the Kauai Planning and Traffic Commission in 1972 — before the county Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance was enacted. That was the commission that preceded the Planning Commission.

The two main issues raised in the story were about lockout units and parking.

This project was designed and approved by multiple government agencies with apartments that have bedroom and bath combinations with separate entrances and separate lanais. The separate bedroom and bath are capable of being separated or “locked out” from the rest of the apartment.

It is our view that while planners may consider this a non-compliant use today, it is the use that was approved. This is how it was designed, how it was permitted, how it was built, and how it has functioned generally very smoothly for about 40 years.

Regarding parking, the existing number of parking stalls was perfectly adequate until recently.

The Real Estate Commission’s condominium report in 1975 set our parking at 149 stalls. Planners sought more parking, and Hanalei Bay Resort developed about 160 designated, paved parking stalls, plus numerous additional unmarked parking spaces.

While it did not contain 249 stalls, which is the number noted in some (but not all) of the county’s records, the existing parking arrangement met the resort’s needs without problems for nearly 40 years, until the independent restaurant and bar on property significantly increased their capacity, creating new parking demands.

As the result of discussions about the parking issue, Hanalei Bay Resort has stepped up. It has hired architectural and engineering consultants to identify and design additional parking on the property. We also set up a valet service to assist the restaurant with parking for its patrons. That service was ended when the restaurateur that increased seating capacity declined to participate in its cost.

We are a little surprised that our venerable resort is suddenly subjected to criticism. We have supported this community for four decades. Some of our employees and apartment owners, from old Hanalei families, have been with us nearly that entire time. We continue to operate as we have for years, with respect for the land, the community and the culture. And we will continue to work in good faith to resolve the issues raised.

Thanks for this opportunity.

Greg Veal, General Manager, Hanalei Bay Resort

  1. Jim Mehta November 15, 2017 9:07 am Reply

    Mr. Veal, how long will you continue to place a spin on the facts?

    Let’s try a different version :

    1. The approval of the project which is now the Hanalei Bay Resort was subject to a very specific parking requirement number. It came from what is the equivalent of what is the Kauai Planning Department today. That number turned out to be 249 stalls. It was calculated based on 134 apartment-condominums PLUS a racquet club, plus a 25,000 sqft commercial building which housed a lobby, offices, employee lounge, and two restaurant spaces which were The Bali Hai Restaurant & The Happy Talk Lounge. From Day 1 of it’s opening, it appears when you study the condo map and documents, the parking was never adequately supplied.

    First, there were supposed to be 180 paved parking stalls. If you count today, there are approximately 160, the exact number the County inspectors came up with recently.

    Second, there were supposed to be 69 “theater style” parking spots per the documents submitted to County and actually shown on the Condo Maps which are filed with the Bureau of Conveyances in Honolulu. 32 theater style parking spaces along with 3 tennis courts were done away with and replaced by the grotto style pool, waterfalls, and landscaping. The parking spaces which were eliminated were never replaced. The other 37 theater style parking spaces can only be achieved by a valet system that should be paid for and shared as a common expense since parking was and still is a common element. Instead, your Board, in what we deem to be a improper vote behind closed doors, without prior notification to the homeowners (which also is supposed to include the owners of the restaurant), voted to place gates to exclude all restaurant guests and effectively take not only the supposed 148 spaces shown in that section of the condo map, but also the 37 theater type spaces. In total 185 noted spaces were taken away for the exclusive use of the homeowners. In your own parking policy which was sent by your former manager Scott Pacer he states the following:

    “All available spaces (approximately 152 spaces) in the north lot to the right of the entrance will be reserved for the exclusive use of Owners and guests staying overnight at Hanalei Bay Resort. This lot will have card key controlled access through use of an electronic gate. One space is allowed per apartment. Additional spaces for Owners and guests with more than one car per apartment will be utilized on a space available basis at management discretion.

    The lower lot (approximately 41 spaces) will be utilized for resort employees, vendors and tennis club guests unless additional parking is needed to accommodate Owners and guests staying overnight at the resort. Guest parking for Bali Hai and Happy Talk guests will be allowed in the lower lot contingent upon adequate availability of parking for Owners and guests in residence, resort employees, vendors and tennis club guests.”

    To further add insult to injury, your Board voted to implement a valet system only charging the guests of the restaurant. This charge was $10 per vehicle. The costs were to be bore by our patrons only or billed to us to the tune of nearly $14,000 – $15,000 per month. For a while, per one of your Board member’s, who at an annual meeting stated that to date the valet “netted” the resort $1000 for the period of 2 months. It appeared to us in that meeting that the valet was going to be a profit center for the AOAO. I am sure you were advised that was a bad idea as later the valet charge dropped to $9 per vehicle.

    The reasons for the gates- given to us initially by your former manager – was that it was intended to keep “the riff-raff” out. When asked what he meant by that, he stated it was to keep out the fishermen who came to steal ice, the surfers who used the HBR lot as access to the beach, and non-residents who came to sneak into the jacuzzi, or the locals who came to use the laundry facility. The funny thing though, is that while one side was gated (the side with the majority of parking), the other sided remains non-gated. So does that mean the so-called “riff-raff” won’t be able to figure out that the gates are only on one side??? Would that prevent them from still coming?

    Additionally, Mr Veal, your staff is instructed to primarily park on the non-gated side. We have also been made aware that some were even told to stay longer so that the restaurant guests would not find parking when we opened. You also sent a memo to your staff and in your own words “ We all need to be saying the same thing. Please discuss and rehearse this with all of your team members”. Then your memo goes on to give the reasons behind the gates and the valet system which, in my opinion, was intended to hurt the restaurant and try put us out of business. Mr. Veal, your Board was given many opportunities to do the right thing. For nearly two years, we tried to work with your Board to come up with fair parking solutions. Instead, they chose to hurt us by placing the gates and excluding our guests. I doubt even the homeowners are aware of what was discussed between us and the Board. Certainly no details were ever shared formally with the homeowners of our numerous attempts to work an amicable solution for parking.

    As for your continuous claims that we increased seating capacity, Mr Veal, you know that is clearly not the truth. How can you say this without any FACTS to support your claim?
    I CHALLENGE YOU TO PROVE THIS. I am happy to meet with any County agency with your presence to show us how we have increased our seating capacity. Thanks to your Board’s parking policies, we are operating BELOW our allowed seating capacity. Not to mention, the Bali Hai Restaurant has not been able to open now for nearly a year and half.

    Mr. Veal, your Board was reminded nearly a year and half ago by a letter dated 1995 by Kauai County Planning stating the following (last paragraph):

    “ Please be advised that although the use of the Hanalei Bay Resort facilities as a hotel is allowed, such use or activities should not impact the design of the resort condominium apartments as dwelling units. Dwelling units, unlike hotel rooms, contain a kitchen for food preparation and cooking. Therefore, the rooms that are rented at Hanalei Bay Resort should not consist of more than 134 resort apartment-condominium units. Any attempt to rent individual bedrooms or “lock-out” units independently of the main dwelling or condominium-apartment unit would be considered an illegal activity”.

    Assuming this letter was in the Hanalei Bay Resort files, and this letter “was not lost”, then the Board could have very well been aware of this letter. If not, the Board was made aware nearly a year and half ago reminding them of their fiduciary responsibilities to follow the terms of the letter. Instead, they chose to protect their “lock-out” business by gating off parking to support the greater influx of cars. No consideration was given to the “grand-fathered” restaurant and its guests. A majority of the Board profited from this “illegal activity” per the terms laid out in the letter by the Kauai Planning Director Mr. Veal and now per the new letter by the County Planning, the party is over. The Board and the homeowners can still rent out the condominium-apartments as they are intended ( as 134 whole units), just not as divided up to 280 units.

    Mr. Veal, it’s time for the Hanalei Bay Resort Board to adhere to the rules and the laws of the County of Kauai. They needs to address the missing 89 parking spaces. They needs to remove the gates – which were never shown on any Condo Map and the private owners who are still engaging in the rental of their units as lock-outs need to either stop or apply for the necessary permits with the County in order for them to become legal.

    Lastly, long as the gates remain down (which H.B.R was explicitly told by the County Planning in its recent Notice of Non-Compliance Letter to REMOVE) , we do not give much credibility to your “ good faith efforts” in trying to find a solution.

  2. RG DeSoto November 15, 2017 9:17 am Reply

    Don’t be surprised, Greg…you can always count on a bureaucracy and it minions to screw-up a good thing. Or, in many cases, simply obstruct and prohibit a good thing.

    The lock-out thing is purely irrational and does absolutely nothing to anyone’s benefit. It is used extensively as a weapon against private property owners wishing to build a pod stile house or one with separate lanai entrances to bedrooms. All this to further the county’s drive to force discrimination against one class of property owners and renters…the anti vacation rental agenda.

    RG DeSoto

  3. Dave O November 15, 2017 10:52 am Reply

    HBR Board of Directors and management, you are now firmly entrenched in my mind as the “Harvey Weinstein’s” of Kauai County. While your crimes are “only” born of greed and arrogance you exhibit many of the same sick traits. Lies, half truths, intimidation, spin – and by the way, you seem to have absolutely no support or sympathy whatsoever from anyone but your small group of hustlers (except maybe from your attorneys who I am sure are more than happy to take as much money as they can from the HOA). And like the real Harvey Weinstein, just because you got away with it for decades doesn’t make it legal….or right.

    You’ve been BUSTED! Your sick, dirty little secrets have been exposed. The genie is out of the bottle.

    The only question now is do you continue with the lies and spin or do you start damage control and do the right thing? Don’t continue being stupid. You’ve already dug a deep enough hole. It’s time to start climbing out of it.

  4. Kelsey November 15, 2017 11:37 am Reply

    Did Hanalei Bay Resort apply for any permits to continue to allow their residences/owners to use lockouts? I find it hard to believe that once the CZO was enacted that they would just automatically grandfather in this practice for your association. In fact in a previous article there was a excerpt from a letter that was sent from your board to the residence/owners letting them know that this practice was prohibited. So again, why do you feel that you should continue this practice all while acknowledging that is not allowed and there could be fines? Continuing this practice of course allows more people to stay in the resort taking more parking spaces then allowed, which impacts what parking spaces are available for the restaurant to use.

    What is your proof that the restaurant increased it’s seating capacity? Wouldn’t they have had to apply for a permit to do so, and also create a larger space to accommodate more people? I think the planning commission would have made a comment about this, but it seems that only you have this knowledge about the restaurant.

    You fully admit that there are not enough parking spots, “While it did not contain 249 stalls, which is the number noted in some (but not all) of the county’s records”, so why do you feel that you should continue to blame the restaurant for the parking issue? It seems to me that you know you are not in the right in this situation and will fight so that you don’t have to hurt your ego and admit you are wrong.

  5. Peggy November 15, 2017 12:30 pm Reply

    Once again this article is stating the parking problem is caused by the restaurants increasing their seating. From all the articles I have read on this situation the restaurants have not increased in size, yet the resort has almost doubled the rooms they rent out. It seems the resort finds it easier to blame the Happy Talk and Bali Hai restaurants than admitting they caused the parking problem.
    If the resort really wanted to work things out with the restaurants as stated then they first should stop blaming them for a problem they created themselves.
    I have had the privilege to dine at the Happy Talk restaurant, the food is first rate, service was great and it shows people the Hawaiian welcome all visitors want to experience while visiting the island.

  6. Trisha November 15, 2017 1:52 pm Reply

    The more articles I read on this issue the more it sickens me. HBR board of directors and management- stop pointing fingers and placing blame on others for your short comings on your commitments. You cannot continue this conniving behavior and hide behind lies. It cannot be tolerated any longer, and I truly hope you do wants best for the county of Kauai and correct your malicious actions and try to salvage your reputation.

  7. Greg November 15, 2017 3:24 pm Reply

    This article states it set up a valet service but was stopped when the restaurant owner did not want to participate in the cost….. the valet service charges the patrons for parking so why are they charging the owner too?

  8. Beeezley November 15, 2017 4:28 pm Reply

    When the County gave you-(HBR) a 48 hr notice to “lift the gate arm” over 2 months ago, to allow patrons to go to the Happy Talk, you simply did not comply. From the above article by Greg, we can all see that the Management/Board of HBR is more interested in making money than doing the right thing.

  9. RG DeSoto November 16, 2017 8:24 am Reply

    From some of these comments one would think that HBR is a criminal operation…gasp! how terrible someone is using their own private property in a manner that causes no harm and nets the owners a benefit.
    These comments the sad state of people that have lost site of liberty and rolled over to the government boot.
    RG DeSoto

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