We are frequent visitors to Hawaii from California. The denial of the operating permit for the SuperFerry and shut down of the “illegal” rental properties on Maui gives us cause to reconsider our plan to buy property on Maui because it seems to us that Hawaii has become the “no you can’t” state. The pattern which we see is public officials giving oral and written assurances to businesses and property owners for permits, and other legal matters, which cause the investments of many millions of dollars — only to be later told “no you can’t.”
The Hawaii Superferry
Now, it seems that the SuperFerry was done-in by radical Environmentalists engaging is acts endangering lives of many protestors, including innocent children, verging on waging terrorism against innocent people on the first Ferry trip who felt that their lives were endangered. Those doing this should be arrested and prosecuted for these illegal acts.
Even though the SuperFerry had assurances that they could operate without an Environmental Study, it turned out that the very same judge who ruled they could operate, effectively killed the SuperFerry with his actions which contradicted earlier rulings. Now, perhaps he has the law on his side, but this seems to me to be an example of selective enforcement when you consider that the cruise ship facilities, the Thomas Barge services, the Pacific Whale Foundation, and many other operators of sea-going services have never done an Environmental Study.
Now, if the environmentalists were being fair, it seems to me that they should seek an injunction against the Pacific Whale Foundation, which has endangered whales, and in fact caused the death of a baby whale earlier this year in a well publicized incident.
Short-term “illegal” vacation rentals
And, of course, those property owners on Maui who rent their properties for short-term rentals — have for 20 years been operating illegally because they did not obtain a permit — were told not to do so because the County was simplifying the process and a new procedure was forthcoming.
But, after years of work, some permit applicants were told their paper work was lost, the simplified process has never been implemented, and, now, the county is going after the illegal renters, even those who applied for permits, which were never processed, or approved, or denied.
And of course, Mayor Charmaine Tavares, when running for office, said she would not “bring the hammer down” on illegal renters, but wanted to work with them. But once elected she shut down hundreds of B and B’s, and by saying that on January 1st, 2008, any owner renting on short-term basis in areas not zoned for hotels, would be fined $1,000 a day. So, with two decades of assurance that the property owners could rent their properties, now Maui is saying “no you can’t.”
Her motive seems to be to destroy the economics of short-term rentals to remove the speculators who buy properties and keep the real estate prices high and out of reach of the working people of Maui. But, her actions may cause rental properties to drop in value, and those who own such properties will be unable to sell them without a heavy capital loss. This is a “taking” of the value of property by government who intends to benefit to the working people. But, owners have rights too, and it seems that this “taking” will cause a large number of lawsuits.
Hawaii and Maui climate for homeowners
And, taxes are going up rapidly, and recently, we have heard that some assessments are at 150 percent to 200 percent of the actual sales prices. Now, what is an owner to do about this? The county of Maui has a reputation for losing documents, not acting for years, and, in the final assessment, of not being honest or efficient in adjudicating matters like this.
But, everything is expensive on Maui, transportation costs add almost a dollar a gallon to gasoline, and the cost of living is very high. Taxes are high, among the highest in the U.S., and what do people get for their taxes? Hawaii has not spent very much on universities, infrastructure, which companies need for setting up operations, or for virtually anything else that would help diversify the economy.
But, Hawaii has 4.4 times as many government employees (per 100,000 of population) than California and 3.3 times the number of employees as the national average. Now, this costs money, real money, and the retirement benefits add substantially to this cost. Now, Hawaii is not so unusual that it needs so many people, but dare we ask if this bloated and inefficient bureaucracy is nepotism in action. Actually it may be a form of welfare for the well-connected.
The two examples of the SuperFerry and the crack-down on illegal rentals is an example of the government at work, which has made Hawaii the laughingstock of the world. Is Hawaii really a third world country with all the corruption and inefficiency of those countries with governments, which cannot be trusted to keep their commitments and who abuse the taxpayers with capricious, arbitrary and ignorant decisions, and see nothing wrong with it?
The key problem in Hawaii, as I see it, is that the state has a large majority of ignorant voters who receive benefits rather than pay for them. So, they vote for the politicians who promise “more” and not for those who would reform the system so that those who pay the majority of taxes are treated fairly. Remember “equal protection under the laws” applies to everyone, but seemingly not in Hawaii. Where is the protection from violent thugs and their supporters, the Environmentalists? Why are they above the law? Where is the right of owners to use their properties as they wish?
For now, we will not invest in Hawaii because we do not want to be told “no you can’t” when trying to get the government to do its job. A state should treat everyone fairly, even the SuperFerry and the short-term rental owners.