Don’t sacrifice Kailua to overflow B&B renters
The statewide bed and breakfast dispute does not show a lack of aloha in the isles. What it does show is that there is a group of scofflaws renting illegally to mostly unknowing tourists. It shows that a group of like-minded folks have banded together to stop this practice. It shows that some folks around here really do care about our finite environment and don't just talk about it.
To the folks who are running these illegal operations, I wonder if you are on the premises. I wonder if you have ever been awakened at 2:30 a.m. by really cute twin boys from Phoenix hollering "aloha, aloha, aloha" to the world while they play Marco Polo in the pool until 6:15 a.m. I wonder if your grass has ever been torn up by rental cars parking on your lawn or blocking your driveway. I wonder how much sewage is generated. I wonder how much water is wasted. I wonder how much sleep is lost by neighbors who work.
I wonder why the B&B owners resist having their addresses published but want to be able to put up signs that say "Beach Lane." I wonder about the results of two retail surveys done by Kailua businesses that showed that only 15 percent of their sales where to nonresidents ... that is, folks with a zip code other than Kailua's 96734.
The romanticized notion of what is a bed and breakfast simply does not apply to an empty bedroom in the back of a house, or a converted garage. A bed and breakfast is not a room with a side entrance and a small fridge and a microwave. A bed and breakfast is not a transient vacation unit whose owner uses fake rental contracts to rent for less than 30 days (by the way, that is not "finessing," that is cheating.)
These are rentals, period. Let's call 'em what they are. A real B&B can be a beautiful thing, not just a cheap way to have a Hawaiian vacation in someone's spare room. And the fact is that the illegal, black market business in tourist rentals not only robs us of monthly rentals for working folks, but runs up our property values beyond the ability of people I know to pay. Can you imagine a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath, single-wall, 54-year-old house on 7,500 square feet, a mile from Kailua beach is worth nearly $800,000? Why? How about because Kailua beach has been sold online and in magazines as a top destination? How about because the biggest land owner encourages that notion, and develops Kailua town to support it? How about real estate agents who use "fractional ownership" to sell the new condos on Kailua Road? That sounds a lot like time-sharing to me.
City Council chairwoman Barbara Marshall, who represents Kailua, is proposing two Council resolutions, 186 and 187, which would lift the ban on new bed and breakfasts and allow one every 500 feet. If the City Council passes those resolutions, I will head on downtown to get my permit to operate a B&B and then not use it. At least my near neighbors and I will be protected.
Leigh Prentiss lives in Kailua.