Mayor Kenoi Does Veto Tent Bill

Yesterday I mentioned that Mayor Kenoi was going to veto the tent bill today… and as expected… he did.

kenoi

From the Mayors Office:

Mayor Billy Kenoi today vetoed Bill 103, which would allow Puna residents to live in tents on their property while building a home.

In a veto message to the Hawai‘i County Council delivered to the County Clerk today, Mayor Kenoi said the main reason for the veto is that the bill applies only to the District of Puna.

“We are one island and we need to apply laws equally to all residents,” Mayor Kenoi said. “If a bill is good for one district, it should be good for all districts. This bill sets a poor precedent which could lead to a hodgepodge of laws on our island that would be difficult to manage and enforce.”

Mayor Kenoi also said allowing tents only in Puna could unfairly stigmatize the District and depress property values.

“Over the years I have been to Puna many times to speak at schools. In those visits I try to instill in our young people a sense of pride in their community. I ask them to strive for excellence in their lives. I encourage them to work hard to achieve their goals and dreams, and to help make Puna a better place to live for themselves, their families and their community. This bill would counter that positive message by suggesting that a lower standard is OK for Puna. We must set a uniform standard of law for our island that does not suggest that any district is better or worse than any other.”

Kenoi said in the veto message that his office has heard from current Puna homeowners concerned about the county’s ability to enforce the bill and its potential for adverse effects, including declining property values and poor sanitation. “Conversely, I have heard from county residents who do not live in Puna but who desire to live on their property legally while building a home.  Yet, they would not have the same opportunity as Puna residents would have under Bill 103.

“Because of the disparate treatment of county residents under this bill, it could be challenged in court and I would not want to spend county resources to defend it.”

No other law in the County that I know of applies only to one district, the Mayor said.

Bill 103 (draft 3) was adopted by an 8-0 vote of the Council on September 2, 2009

The Honorable Jay Yoshimoto

and members of the County Council

County of Hawai‘i

Hilo, HI 9672

Dear Chairman Yoshimoto and Council Members:

I am returning without my approval Bill 103, “An Ordinance amending Chapter 5, Article 1, Section 5-1.0.8, and Chapter 21, Article 2, Section 21-5 of the Hawai‘i County Code 1983 (2005 edition, as amended), relating to the use of a tent or a structure of similar type as a temporary residence while constructing a permanent dwelling unit.”

I find this bill objectionable for the following reasons:

  • It does not apply equal protection of the law to all citizens of the County of Hawai‘i.
  • It fails to state why only one district of Hawai‘i County would be subject to this bill.
  • It unfairly stigmatizes the District of Puna.
  • It could have adverse affects on neighboring properties.
  • It sets precedent for more laws written only for certain districts of the county.

Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida advised during your discussions of the bill that potential legal challenges could be addressed with a preamble to the bill explaining the compelling government interest with respect to the Puna District’s unique needs. However, Bill 103 does not include a preamble or other explanation for the need to single out the Puna District in this bill.

Since you passed Bill 103 on September 2, 2009, my office has heard from current Puna homeowners concerned about the county’s ability to enforce the bill and its potential for adverse effects, including declining property values and poor sanitation. They also ask why they would be subject to these potentially adverse effects but not their neighbors in other county districts.

Conversely, I have heard from county residents who do not live in Puna but who desire to live on their property legally while building a home. Yet, they would not have the same opportunity as Puna residents would have under Bill 130.

Because of the disparate treatment of county residents under this bill, it could be challenged in court and I would not want to spend County resources to defend it.

I understand the bill includes a three-year sunset provision that would serve to evaluate its effectiveness in Puna. However the bill can only be evaluated effectively for the Island of Hawai‘i if the pilot program is applied island-wide. If the pilot program is good for Puna, it should be good for all of Hawai‘i County. If not, no district should be subject to the bill.

I am unaware of any other Hawai‘i County ordinance that applies to residents of only one district. Thus, this bill would set precedent for new proposals that would apply only to certain districts or combinations of districts, creating an unwieldy collection of laws that would be difficult to manage and enforce.

Over the years I have been to Puna many times to speak at schools. In those visits I try to instill in our young people a sense of pride in their community. I ask them to strive for excellence in their lives, to encourage them to work hard to achieve their goals and dreams, and to help make Puna a better place to live for themselves, their families and their community. This bill would counter that positive message by suggesting that a lower standard is OK for Puna. We must set a uniform standard of law for our island that does not suggest that any district is better or worse than any other.

Thank you for the time and attention you have given to this important county issue.

For the reasons stated above, I must respectfully veto this bill.

BILLY KENOI

MAYOR

Once again, here is Council Woman Naeole’s Response:

naeole

September 27, 2009

Aloha Damon

Monday morning the Mayor is going to veto Bill 103, the tent ordinance. I will not be available tomorrow so I thought I would give you a heads up in advance.

This is my statement in response to the Mayor’s Veto:

From the very beginning, I wanted Bill 103, the tent ordinance, to be island wide. In the spirit of compromise with fellow council members, Brenda Ford and Dominic Yagong, who had objections about this ordinance being in their district and for fear of, according to Yagong, ‘tent cities springing up in my district’ I agreed to make Bill 103 district specific. It is this very compromise that our Mayor takes issue with and I respect the Mayor for that thought because my intention from the very beginning was to write an amendment to the building code not just for Puna but for everyone on the island who is serious about building their dwelling.

The Mayor has made it very clear that he considers this island as one and to sign this bill would be to set precedence that could give an opening for the County Council to design district specific legislation to suit their specific needs. The Mayor indicated to me that he is in agreement with the intention of Bill 73 in that it solves a challenge to home building and ownership and yet he must veto it anyway because it is not for the whole island.

Will there be another attempt to bring the matter before the people? As for the future, will I try again? It is too soon to say.

I would like to thank those who worked with my office on this issue and you know who you are.

Our island community is a unique place. As for bill 103, it is an attempt on my part to put mercy compassion and understanding into a portion of our code.

Again, I want to thank my cousin, our Mayor, for watching over the interest of the entire island.

Damon I am in Honolulu all day Monday and will not be available for comment that is why I had my staff type this up and get it to you so you can have my thoughts on the matter.

Lau Lima,

Emily I. Naeole

Council Member 5th District

One Response

  1. bla bla bla –

    County just does not want to be flexible or take on liability.

    People are living in their tents and tarp garages ANYWAY.

    So because of economic situations, and some because of timing.

    And some because they dont want their stuff RIPPED off during the building
    process.

    The economy is changing… Just dont bug the people that can’t afford to
    pay someone richer than them rent while they build a house.

    And teach people about how safe and clean Humanure can be.
    Google that word to see how un-wasteful composting is.

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