County sues TVR owners

  • This photo of Greg and Joanne Allen’s home along the Wailua River was taken from a website advertising the home for rent as a vacation rental.

LIHUE — The county is suing the owners of a vacation home in Wailua for allegedly using the property as a transient vacation rental in violation of county zoning ordinances.

The Kauai County Planning Department filed a civil claim last Friday against Greg Allen — the developer behind Hokua Place, a proposed 769-unit housing development near the Kapaa Middle School — and his wife Joanne in Kauai’s Fifth Circuit Court.

The civil suit seeks to compel the Allens to pay $130,000 in fines levied against them by the county for using their four-bedroom house on the banks of the Wailua River as a transient vacation rental.

According to the lawsuit, the planning department has been unsuccessfully attempting to force the Allens to stop renting their property for at least the last 18 months.

The county formally notified the Allens in June 2017 that their rental operation on Wailua Road “was unlawful and informed them that they could be subject to fines if they did not cease and desist operations within 15 days,” according to the planning department documents filed with the civil complaint.

Two months later, the planning department issued another cease and desist order, this time ordering the Allens to pay a $10,000 fine for continuing to rent out the home. The Allens appealed the decision, and a hearing to contest the matter was held before a planning department officer last year.

The hearing officer sided with the planning department’s request that the Allens be fined the initial $10,000, plus an additional $120,000 for renting out their Wailua vacation home over the course of the previous year “in blatant disregard of the department’s notice and order.”

The Allens essentially chose to disregard the decision. In an interview Friday, Greg Allen called the planning department “overzealous,” said its proceedings were unfair and insisted that his lawyer was not allowed to present his case during the hearing.

When asked whether the county’s lawsuit will affect how he conducts his business, Allen was noncommittal but said he has no immediate plans to stop renting the place out. The 2,000-square-foot house on a quarter acre fronting Wailua River is currently available for rent at $800 a night.

“In America, people still have land rights,” Allen said. “And sometimes it is necessary to go through this process in order to ensure that the rights of the landowners and the government are fairly represented.”

According to the lawsuit, the planning department invested a substantial amount of time and energy investigating the Allens.

In order to prove the house belonged to the Allens and that it was outside the area designated by the county for TVRs, an inspector with the department compared an advertisement for the Wailua River rental property with county records, Google Earth and a proprietary image database the county subscribes to.

Later, after the county issued its first cease and desist order to the Allens, the planning department inspector set up a “sting operation,” in which the inspector called the Allens using an alias and booked an eight-night stay in the house for about $6,700.

County officials did not respond to a request for comment in time to be included in this article, but Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami issued the following statement regarding the case last month.

“When illegal TVR operators blatantly break the law, they disrespect our community, our people, and our island,” Kawakami said. “It is the responsibility of the County of Kauai to aggressively monitor and enforce the law, and the Planning Department will be utilizing new technology and innovative methods to identify illegal TVR operators. The time is now for our community to take back their neighborhoods.”

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Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

32 Comments
  1. Da Shadow February 14, 2019 3:57 am Reply

    these evil property owners, providing accommodations to job-supporting visitors.

    While we all have a duty to abide by state, county, and local laws, why all the hatred for vacation rentals? Compared to hotels, they are way less impactful on local communities. also, they support jobs. Removal of this “illegal” rental also removes income for locals.


    1. mark barbanell February 15, 2019 4:48 pm Reply

      Da Shadow knows. Legal (read legal) TVRs benefit the community. As a TVR owner for the past 25 years I have more experience than just about anyone in this business nation wide having been on the internet since 1995. Not once have I ever had to come down on any guests nor have I ever had any complaints. There is less impact on the house as well as the neighborhood than residents or long term rentals. These people are gone all day long and have only one vehicle usually. These are my own experiences. The problem is, as Da Shadow comments, that the small places being short term rented via Craigs List and AirBnb which allow partial homes to be listed combined with the county’s inability to police the situation. There are IT solutions for the county to adopt that would help them by stopping these rentals being advertised I sent the website along to Justin Kollar. https://hostcompliance.com/ The other islands have adopted TVR ordinances and had no problems enforcing. My cousin (4th term council person and vice chair) formulated and passed Hawaii County’s TVR ordinance which is fair and allows for existing ones to be grandfathered in. They even allow for Airbnbs in certain designated areas and in the future. They know that tourism is the lifeblood of their county and are going with it not against it. Why is Kauai different? Plantation mentality is one big reason. That is backward thinking not allowing for natural change which is a constant. You cannot make the legal ones illegal without a huge court battle. The county knows that and there is a law firm waiting to see what happens with the Haena/Wainiha TVRs in the next couple months. Dislike TVRs? Best to urge the county to enforce existing laws once and for all. And finally, legal whole home TVR’s DO NOT take away from affordable housing. Those homes will not ever rent affordably because of the value, costs to maintain etc. Housing costs are going up nation wide because of supply and demand. Time for Kauai to grow up and come into the 21st century. The days of the plantation era are long gone. Anyone using that as a reason to decry vacation rentals is sorely misinformed. There’s only one constant. Change. That does not mean going backwards either. You might not agree with me but what I speak is true.


  2. Jake February 14, 2019 4:02 am Reply

    “The county is suing the owners of a vacation home in Wailua for allegedly using the property as a transient vacation rental in violation of county zoning ordinances.”

    You know what, …..ok, County…..just enforce all illegal TVRs, Ohanas, and Airbnbs. Don’t “Cherry Pick”, ….enforce the rules on everyone. That’s half the issue, I would imagine, the Allen’s have against the County. There are endless illegal Ohanas rented out for $$$$$$ to tourists, with no taxes being paid. SMH.

    I didn’t read anywhere if they were paying yearly GET for the rental income, or including the income as part of their yearly Tax Returns. If they were paying, then you should have just let it go.

    Personally, if you own property, then you should be able to rent it, for whatever duration you want. It’s not about how often people come and go, but how many people stay at rental. Yes, I get it ….”Residential is Residential”. You can’t pick your family, and you can’t pick your neighbors. Take the good with the bad.


    1. Anthony J. Caronia February 14, 2019 3:59 pm Reply

      Yes you are right on point……There are so many illegal vacation rentals that its pathetic. Their are designated areas for vacation rentals in the island. If he wanted a vacation rental then he should purchased elsewhere on the island…..I’ll bet he’s not paying and taxes on this at all.


      1. mark barbanell February 15, 2019 5:38 pm Reply

        There are also legal Non Conforming TVRs that are not in designated tourist areas that are legal. This guy might have lost his permit because he filed his renewal too late or something. Projecting is a bad way to go in life. Best keep an open mind. One thing for sure though. This owner thumbed his nose at the law.


  3. james February 14, 2019 7:31 am Reply

    Good; exactly what the County needs to do. If there are any enterprising attorneys out there, there are consumer statutes that would allow neighbors to sue illegal TVR owners in their neighborhoods and collect attorney fees as part of the damages, in addition to injunctions and damages for their clients. Here is the statute I would use if I hadn’t retired:

    §481A-3 Deceptive trade practices. (a) A person engages in a deceptive trade practice when, in the course of the person’s business, vocation, or occupation, the person:

    (2) Causes likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services;

    (4) Uses deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services;

    (5) Represents that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have or that a person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection that the person does not have;

    (12) Engages in any other conduct which similarly creates a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding.

    (b) In order to prevail in an action under this chapter, a complainant need not prove competition between the parties or actual confusion or misunderstanding.

    (c) This section does not affect unfair trade practices otherwise actionable at common law or under other statutes of this State. [L 1969, c 187, pt of §1; gen ch 1985]


    1. DAVID B THOMPSON February 14, 2019 4:17 pm Reply

      So, if you want to be able to ignore zoning, I guess you wouldn’t mind if a person wanted to raise pigs in their front and back yards next to you, eh?


      1. Jake February 18, 2019 3:28 am Reply

        Geez, I thought I had it bad with a next door neighbor, and them deciding to “raise” 50-60 chickens in a Residential area almost overnight. “Respect” is the most overused and amusing word on this island. SMH.


  4. Joan Conrow February 14, 2019 7:39 am Reply

    Since big fines don’t seem to faze them, maybe some jail time will get their attention.

    This also underscores one big problem with TVR enforcement — the people get to keep operating and raking in the dough while they appeal their citations.


    1. mark barbanell February 15, 2019 4:54 pm Reply

      How do you know big fines don’t faze “them” You some sort of mind reader? And how do you know what the “big problem” is? I have sent along a link to a TVR policing company to Justin Kollar. When the county adopts an IT solution like https://hostcompliance.com/ you’ll see enforcement. Instead of your negative comments how about suggestions? Some things never change.


  5. Rev. Dr. Malama February 14, 2019 8:23 am Reply

    If and when the case goes to court…. the counter suit of discrimination is sure to win, meaning the good tax payers of Kauai lose again….


    1. mark barbanell February 15, 2019 5:09 pm Reply

      Tell that to the Mayor and Mike Dahilig. Please. One of them has already indicated they are ready for someone to “Bring it on” Start with the people in government who display that backward mindset. When the administration defines it’s policy and decides to work with people instead of telling them “I’m a lawyer bring on the court case” they you’ll see the legal costs of the county decline.


  6. kapaaa February 14, 2019 8:49 am Reply

    SCOFFLAW! kauai taxpayers are paying court costs for the guy who said a thousand more cars from his subdivision by the roundabout will not affect Kapaa TRAFFIC?!!


  7. Debra Kekaualua February 14, 2019 9:38 am Reply

    Karma is a beach and i can think of one mormon leader who has gone above and beyond. Allen, as well as jasper, tyler green, trask, and Atooi noted last year to have “purchased” the Bell Stone, moving it down the pali to crown “federal” land off Kuamoo Road, small bridge makai of the Bell stone Heiau. DLNR mauka has used HE to destroy the ancient site heiau, identified with a u.s. plaque of significance and has locked out tourists and all of us last year, when DLNR called upon police factions to stand down others who were trying to restore the area, but were arrested instead. There are so many u.s. citizens that rambo hard individually to obtain their many different prizes, like Z or dairy mahaulepu, or Dick who continues to offer tours and marriages in the coco palms chapel, while on his watch a couple of huge koa 6’x4’x3 inches thick” doors went missing and a fire that two other notables were tagged. All are known to us. We have been trying to restore wailuanuiahoano, but their are so many monied and priviledged groms that do what they want, when they want, yet “warriors” are denied, judged and incarcerated. Now, That is not fair, to treat the host with such disdain is the norm. mAhalo to those eyes that have pointed out and filed a law suit. It all is overdue. We coming and taking all criminals to the funny farm, Alcatraz on their own FEMA barges.


  8. susan allyn February 14, 2019 9:43 am Reply

    alena409@yahoo.com
    Love Mr Allen’s statement
    “In America , people still have land rights!”

    ,


  9. Joe Public February 14, 2019 10:19 am Reply

    Good job! Glad to see the planning department aggressively identifying and penalizing these illegal entities. $800 a night? They deserve every fine levied upon them.

    Besides the illegal use of the dwelling, thank you for the increased traffic in the area due to their greed.


    1. mark barbanell February 15, 2019 5:16 pm Reply

      TVRs do not increase traffic. Neither does greed. Residential rentals have more cars, noise and traffic by far. You’re perpetuating false information. What they charge also does not mean they deserve anything. You know how any Airbnbs there are that have extra cars to an already occupied home possibly from a family with 2 or more cars? A single home TVR usually has one or two cars max with far less traffic. These are tourists who are out all day. Make sense?


  10. Oingo boingo February 14, 2019 10:44 am Reply

    What Arrogance…..put a lien on there house.


  11. No Sides Here February 14, 2019 12:41 pm Reply

    Debra, stop mumbling… I can never understand you.

    Ofcourse it took COK Planning Dept an excessive amount of time to research something any normal person could have done in a few days, how much did it cost taxpayers for that? Maybe if COK hired people based on their skills and not WHO they know or are related to, this would be resolved already.

    Cute, Kawakami addresses these horrible TVR operators… probably on the lower end of the horrible list of this islands horrible and illegal problems. It seems since he got into office all his focus has been on addressing anything that doesn’t require him walking more than 100 yards from his desk.


  12. Debra Kekaualua February 14, 2019 2:50 pm Reply

    Glad to see a lot of people beginning to “Pay Attention”! These were the two most important Kauai mayoral candidate 2018 words. The reaction was classic. From incredulous to bus-laugh. It took a lot of courage but i had to see for myself who attended these forums. Hanabata days we knew EVERYone, not so much any more. In fact we gotta lock our doors and the jesus bandit is cruising. So, there are an endless array of complications brought to you by The State of Hawaii corporation, add all politicomilitaroreligious u.s. corporations tourist hotels THEY dont stay in! Anyone remember where was the first vehicle T-Bone accident and stoplight installed responsible. Not the yellow flashing light Kekaha?


  13. RG DeSoto February 14, 2019 4:09 pm Reply

    It’s thinking like this that revolts liberty loving people. Every time I hear the politicians and others extolling that our soldiers fighting in foreign lands are “protecting our freedoms” I am overcome by disgust. Just what freedoms are left to protect?
    The greatest threat to our freedom is coming form within…how else could you characterize the venom coming from people who are essentially begging for people’s private property rights to be violated by a thuggish government? And how else would you characterize a government that does this sort of shameful attack on people’s property rights except fascist. Look up the definition of fascism and economic fascism…you’ll see the anti-TVR thugs clearly defined.
    The ban on TVRs is nothing short of government coerced and enforced discrimination against one class of property owner and one class of renter.
    Disgusted…and you should all be ashamed of yourselves,
    RG DeSoto


    1. mark barbanell February 15, 2019 5:04 pm Reply

      Talk to an owner of a TVR in Wainiha/Haena about discrimination. The county is very close to seeing a big lawsuit and both the Mayor and Mike Dahilig know that. But…….I believe when it all shakes out they will do the right thing and let the area’s legal TVRs operate when the road opens. They are already on shaky ground with their “for the health and safety of the community” excuse as to why they are not allowing it as of right now too. It is time for the arrogant backward idea of “go ahead and sue us” to change to “What can we do to work to work together with you TVR owners.” They have been taking a lot of our money for a long time. The process of working together can start in the planning department where the plantation culture still resides.


  14. gordon oswald February 14, 2019 4:16 pm Reply

    Debra Kekaualua, I’m sure you’re a nice person as far as intent, and your non stop support for the Kingdom that’s been caput for a hundred years is heart felt, but perhaps you should get a life and stop living in the past to the point you’re endangering the lives of the local children who naturally emulate sour folks like you and end up hating all “white” people, like you, to their detriment? Isn’t that called “RACISM”? Your children are watching! We certainly don’t want to believe you’re a Racist against other races, or a racist against the Mormon Church which does more good than most? First of all, not all homes are created equal. Some are in neighborhoods with other homes 15 feet away from them and all visible from each residence to the other. I’m sure if someone formed a TVR in one of them the neighbors would complain to the roof and perhaps then the Country should get involved. Other homes, like Mr. Allens, are separate from other homes, have their own parking space, are landscaped for privacy, and in a recreational area. IT SHOULD BE A VACATION RENTAL, IT’S ON THE RIVER!! The County should discourage resorts and other massive draws for tourists, not individuals who aren’t hurting their neighbors one bit! My bet is on Mr. Allen and his “rights” as a property owner who owns the land, and is not violating any neighbor’s enjoyment! If there have been many complaints about the Allens from neighbors the County should tell us so and show the proof! If there are no neighbor complaints, PROPERTY OWNERS SHOULD BE FREE TO USE THEIR PROPERTY TO THEIR HIGHEST ENJOYMENT! The County should rethink it’s methods here and enforce complaints only. If no complaints, LEAVE THEM ALONE AND EITHER PROSECUTE EVERYONE EQUALLY, OR NOONE EQUALLY! This is America!!


    1. Mark February 15, 2019 3:36 am Reply

      Question of the Day: If Debra is White, and she hates Whites, then is she racist?

      Only the old and very young unemployed, the hippies, the Meth heads, and the “freebie” land wanting .00000000001 Hawaiian Blood Quantum care about the Sovereignty Movement. SMH.


  15. I saw a Vampire once February 14, 2019 4:36 pm Reply

    It’s their money, so let them rent it out. It’s called free enterprise. They can make money off others. Good. They become more rich. Property taxes. So what? They’ll win in the long run.


  16. Kalapakijim February 14, 2019 5:42 pm Reply

    I love it when people complain about traffic from the “new” development. Apparently they don’t realize they are living in a development that was new back in the day and increased traffic on the island.


  17. I saw a Vampire once February 14, 2019 5:48 pm Reply

    All this talk about traffic is crap. A person wants to own a vacation house and the county gets bent out of shape over it. It’s the old saying, the poorer stays poor. And the poor in this case is the county civilians. I’m for the owner getting more rich. And telling the county off, to drop dead. Throw out those political wannabe’s in office. They don’t got it. Your local politicians i mean. Free enterprise. I’m for you getting richer and using Kaua’i.


  18. Debra Kekaualua February 14, 2019 11:00 pm Reply

    “Own” idts, no one owns, not even gordon or aliens like greg. The Hawaiian Kingdom was never extinguished! The U.N. opened a door that has been long awaited and proof of our existance or expect our resistence has moved upward and forward. We coming, Claiming via geneology that even i have through the amazing Ku’e petition, my ohana signatures that says i am also a protected citizen, not an america, but that was my dads doing as well. U.S.A.F. Military brat, high ranking officers daughter, as it revolved around 1941 martial law that exists on kauais north shore today or top secret statehood Hickham AFB negotiating table, “Noose placement”. documents, Interitance included all related unredacted u.s. documents that proves u.s. one lie told so long and so often that now, the U.N. busted u.s. several times they were found with their pants down in front of all the nation-states that interviewed the lame ducks who could not keep their time line stories straight! Same nation-states wondering outloud, “what else has america lied about”. All of my info is found in U.N. meeting minites, so i suggest you WAKE and smell the kauai cope! Truth and Integrity is all ours!


  19. mark barbanell February 15, 2019 5:29 pm Reply

    I suggest any of you that want to do something constructive start doing research on your neighbors if you feel they are doing an illegal TVR and then turn them in. It’s relatively easy to do if you know the area. On AirBnb there are images but no addresses. Just start looking through them. Until an IT solution is implemented the county will have a hard time policing. That is coming believe me. I like what I have read here. Most of you have realized that TVRs are legal here with permits and are a positive in the community. We are at a place in time that will define the future of them going forward. Time to get it all taken care of and move on. Until it’s settled one way or the other it will be a problem. The county knows it will be illegal to just make them illegal. They can’t do it legally plus they realize how much these types of accommodations add to the visitor experience, how much money and jobs they add and how in demand they are. The hotel lobby is against them and the culture at the planning department is out dated but I believe we’re headed to a solution that benefits the owners, county and community. Kauai is moving into a new era with growing pains. All of you that realize this I salute you.


    1. Dt February 17, 2019 8:45 pm Reply

      What you describe sounds like a fair solution. The problem is applying it on Kauai. As far as I know and remember, in 2 years the county has not approved a single new TVR rental application. Someone can investigate and report back. Then if you want anything done on Kauai you have to know someone. Why are there designated tourist areas? Every tourist drives through the Kapaa corridor (at least twice during their stay), sometimes several times a day. It’s not like Waikiki, where a tourist travels only to and from the airport and on foot anytime in between. The system is flawed and needs a rewrite.


  20. mark barbanell February 15, 2019 11:12 pm Reply

    I spent an hour replying to a few of these comments. Thanks for not publishing them. What a joke.


  21. Gardener February 16, 2019 8:02 am Reply

    The real crime is that nightmare across the street from this tvr….coco palms. Also, The county of Kauai can never live down the over 650 tvr rooms slated to be built in Kapaa. The planning commission and county council members when asked about that say there is nothing they can do about it it was approved before their individual tenures. Sorry folks we were sold down the river 30 years ago. Now they are trying to unwind the catastrophe created by then by pointing the finger, turning citizens into criminals.


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