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Letter for Thursday, May 26, 2022

Some of Hooser’s ‘facts’ can’t go unchallenged

We all know it is election season, and politicians are endeavoring to grab headlines by endeavoring to appease concerns of local voters.

However, some of the “facts” quoted in today’s TGI letter by Gary Hooser can’t go unchallenged.

On Kaua‘i there are only three official Visitor Destination Areas (VDAs) — Princeville, Kapa‘a and Koloa. Also, only small parts of these VDAs qualify and also, naturally, not all homes in these areas are TVR (transient vacation rental) destinations.

In our street in Po‘ipu only three of 12 houses are listed as TVRs. Gary is obviously quoting the values of all dwellings in the entire qualifying or potential TVR addresses. It makes for good newspaper headlines but is disingenuous or misleading at best.

In The Garden Island Dec. 5, 2021, an article quoting “officials” reported that due to an agreement by the mayor’s office, the Expedia Group and Airbnb, TVRs “have gone from about 1,500 in 2017 to less than 50” in 2021. To be able to have a legal TVR we must have a TMK on file for a VDA plus an active TAT (transient accommodations tax) number.

This agreement is strongly enforced, and if there is any noncompliance, you don’t get paid.

Some will say there are still illegal rentals. But this is like punishing legal registered gun owners for illegal weapons held by criminals.

A case can be made for limiting the volume of tourists to a level that sustains sufficient cash flow for Kaua‘i without derogating the experience and lifestyle of all concerned. To keep some control of tourist numbers the county, in many cases, only needs to enforce its own regulations.

Those who would like to see tourism greatly restricted like to visualize that period at the height of the pandemic when entertaining guests would risk fines or even imprisonment. How wonderful it was to have no one on the beaches, no competition for surf spots and little traffic on the road.

Surely even the most ardent anti-tourist realizes that that situation couldn’t have been sustained without the generous payments many of us received, either directly or indirectly, from the federal government. Without those payments and bank forbearance on mortgages and rents, many of us would have found ourselves in dire situations.

On an island close to 80% dependent, either directly or indirectly, on tourism, without visitors or government support there would be massive unemployment and many would still be unable to meet their financial obligations or in some cases the necessities of life.

On the front page of TGI May 15, 2022 Councilmember (Luke) Evslin quotes one in eight homes on Kaua‘i is a vacation rental, and in some areas it is one in 2.5. He was obviously including all condominiums and potential TVRs.

For the record, a two-bedroom condo owner in the Poipu Kai Association area monthly pays AOAO (association of apartment owners) fees of approximately $1,200 plus association fees of about $450 plus whatever mortgage payment is paid to a financial institution; not a suitable venue for low-cost housing.

It is also illegal to rent a home for less than six months and not pay TVR taxes. There are four taxes currently totaling 16.11% of gross revenue. Also stated was that a $1 increase would make the basic TAT tax 10.85%. That is incorrect — we currently pay 10.25%. A $1 increase would, of course, make it 11.25%.

It is the constant fear of those of us who conscientiously pay our TVR taxes to be slowly put out of business by politicians who slowly “kill the goose that’s laying the golden egg” by taxing tourism to the point where Kaua‘i is no longer an affordable destination.

No everyone can afford approximately $800 per night at the Grand Hyatt.

David Collison, Po‘ipu
Source: The Garden Island

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