Gathering Place
Don Bremner

Bed & breakfasts hurt
law-abiding residents

The proposal to "legalize" bed & breakfast operations in residential areas, floated by two City Council members last week, is a travesty in the making. It's an insult to one's sense of fairness and community well-being. Law-abiding citizens rely on their government to maintain an orderly, peaceful and nuisance-free living environment. Why are our Council members disregarding the rights of these citizens and catering to a small group of people who have defied the law, are willing to sell the community well-being for monetary gain and want the government to bail them out when caught at it?

This is the second time in 15 years that the community stands to suffer at the hands of this group. In 1989, when transient vacation rentals proliferated, the government "grand- fathered" transgressors but flatly prohibited any new ones. The community was assured that this was the final solution. But our government was not able to keep that promise.

Facing another proliferation of illegal transient vacation rentals, and the nuisances and unplanned stress on our infrastructure associated with them, two City Council members are proposing that B&Bs be legalized to "solve" the problem rather than enforce the law. This is tantamount to living an a lawless society where all a violator has to do is test the enforcement system and when it falters slightly, is rewarded by a pardon. Law-abiding citizens deserve better treatment than this, especially when they have relied on the law to protect the tranquility of their living environment, an environment that is threatened by the business of transient vacation rentals.

There is ample evidence that the prospect of operating a transient vacation rental, legal or illegal, is a factor in escalating real estate prices. The situation has forced residents out of rentals and made affordable housing even more of an unreachable goal. Legalizing B&Bs will only inflame real estate values further.

The proponents try to justify their action on the premise that enforcement of the law is difficult. We believe this is more fiction than fact. But the reasoning fails a rational test, too, since the proposal would multiply administrative and enforcement responsibilities of city departments. If city agencies cannot cope with the responsibilities under the current law, they will be overwhelmed by the requirements of the proposal.

Once again, it appears that the community will have to defend itself from the ill-advised actions of some government officials.

Don Bremner is the spokesman for Keep It Kailua, a group formed to help preserve the town's character.

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