Fewer, not more, barriers needed to operate TVRs

Aloha Kauai residents,

I’m not sure you had a chance to watch coverage of the council meeting held on Dec. 4 or aware of the proposed bill that was placed on the agenda for this week just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Communication (11/22/2019) from Councilmembers Luke Evslin and Councilmember Mason Chock, transmitting for council consideration, “A Bill For An Ordinance Amending Chapter 5A, Kauai County Code 1987, As Amended, Relating To Real Property Taxes. (See Proposed Draft Bill (No. 2767)) C 2019-257.”

This bill now targets Kauai residents running small legal TVR businesses islandwide. As you know, I am not alone when I tell you my family roots date back to Kauai since 1880 and our beachfront home is a place of annual family gatherings. The family has deep roots to the island and specifically the North Shore.

These gatherings bring our family together from Oahu, Maui and the Big island. The keiki oftentimes are asking of the stories working in the sugarcane fields and life of rural Kauai. My wife families has ties to both sides and former taro farmers in Hanalei.

The increase in property taxes if this bill is approved will increase our property taxes by 300% a year. I can share that with the flood we were out of business for nearly 18 months, paid our property taxes while we had no revenues and paid the TVR fee renewals for two years while out of business.

Contrary to what most may think, oftentimes we are the frontline to defend Kauai when the county can’t put a realistic time table on road repairs or now educating guest on the new procedures to make reservations on the north shore beaches. The recovery has been slow and now must discount heavily to maintain the property.

I have heard both Mason and Luke call for more locals to own these vacation rentals. If this bill becomes law it will make it even harder for other Kauai families to own a legal vacation rental on Kauai that creates 3-4 jobs a month for other family members.

Luke and Mason, you’re out of touch with reality as Kauai families should be able to have less barriers to run a legal TVR business without being placed in the targeted pool of outsiders from the mainland. With the escalating cost of real estate, it may be the bridge to allow young Kauai families to own a condo moving forward.

No longer will the young Kauai families have a path to success. Families on Kauai should not be destined to work in fast food or be hotel workers when they should be dreaming of being their own boss and owning the asset. Don’t kill entrepreneurs; embrace it and elevate the community as a whole.

As the historians know, Kauai residents had two tracks to follow after 1945, work in the sugarcane fields or be a hotel maid. The Nakamoto family and Yasuoka families decided on the third track and relocated to Oahu for work then California. After Robin’s father passed in 1988 Robin became the pigeon who returned to her family roots on Kauai in 1996 where she had that burning desire to share her culture with her young Keiki and purchased her first condo used as a part-time vacation rental.

This bill will hurt many families on Kauai and will impact more than just the 218 registered Kauai residents who operate, and will place a obstacle that will prohibit other residents from someday owning their own small business.

Luke and Mason have failed to realize this is penalizing families who wish to trade their homes for vacations off the island, expand their knowledge of the world and share the aloha with others in countries.

The acknowledgment discussed that penalizing families who even trade their homes should be converted to the highest taxes paid those of hotels is absurd. This is an elitist bill that supports big business and makes it harder for Kauai citizens to enjoy a lifestyle desired by many.

Regardless, if you rent your house out part time or trade your house for a vacation off the rock, the county should not be placing these barriers on residents of Kauai.

This bill, if passed, will eliminate many but will be replaced by outsiders. What is not being discussed is Kauai will continue to attract Wall Street investors that will buy these distressed properties for a fraction of true value and will continue to operate these homes. The revenues gained that was discussed is very minimal especially in light of the news this week Kauai was being gifted $9 million from the feds.

Luke and Mason, your actions have consequences with Kauai voters and targeting the citizens of Kauai crosses the line as it relates to Kauai residents just trying to get ahead on an island with very limited opportunities to get out of poverty.

I hope you would reconsider your proposed bill and table it for at least the next election and run on this issue if you’re so passionate about driving away local families that may need to use a TVR to buy their first house or their first investment to make their lives better that can only be attained by buying real estate with little or no money down.

More legal TVRs are coming. It’s just a matter of who going to run them, local families or outsiders that come once a year.


Robin Nakamoto-Yasuoka is a resident of Kauai

  1. kauaitaxpayer December 10, 2019 6:39 am Reply

    What is a “Kauai family”? You repeatedly use this term in your letter. What do you mean exactly? Won’t this bill effect all TVR operators the same, no matter who they are? Shouldn’t TVR operators pay for the increased demand on infrastructure with their guests adding to our traffic woes? What about middle class Kauai residents who do not trace their lineage back to the 1800’s and wish to start or buy a legal TVR? Don’t they count or matter to you? How many years does a family have to live here before they become a “Kauai family” in your eyes and what race do they have to be? Your letter has an undercurrent of racism and localism that has no place in the USA in this day and age. It is illegal to discriminate based on race and national origin. Further, you are looking for we other Kauai taxpayers to subsidize your business. When you run a business, you face hurdles. It goes with the territory. You chose the TVR business which has both upsides and downsides, and frankly, brings more tourists over here. Finally, I disagree that more TVAs are coming. What do you base this on? Perhaps there will be fewer with the enforcement against unlicensed TVAs. If the TVA business is not for you, chose another business to invest in. Why not use your property for long term rentals instead of catering to the needs of “outsiders”? Wouldn’t that help ease the housing crunch for “local’ families and help you avoid paying the tax increase?

  2. Steve December 10, 2019 7:44 am Reply

    Tourists place a large burden on our islands infrastructure. TVRs put those tourist in our neighborhoods. Home owners that remove their property from the local housing market in order to making profit should higher taxes. I fully support Luke and Mason efforts.

  3. Gordo December 10, 2019 8:59 am Reply


  4. Makani B. Howard December 10, 2019 9:34 am Reply

    Shouldn’t you be paying taxes on your income? Everyone else does!

    Waaa waaa!

    You’ve been getting away with it for years, probably, and now you have to pay the piper. Poor you! (sarcasm)

  5. Doug December 10, 2019 2:09 pm Reply

    Sorry, but you are running a business and making a profit and therefore should be taxed accordingly. I fully support the council in this endeavor.

  6. MisterM December 18, 2019 10:59 pm Reply

    This author is all wet and greedy. Has the good fortune to inherit lands and milk the sweat of their ancestors. Talk about privilege. And yet whines about paying their fair share in taxes, all the while the rest of the tax payers are on the hook to rebuild all the roads and infrastructure that make their property so valuable? Give your greedy self-entitled head a shake.

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