The following is an email sent to all Hawaiian Senators and Representatives offering to work together to resolve the challenges posed by TVR and the unsubstantiated claims being made:
Dear Hawaii Senators and State Representatives:
I’m writing to you in the hope that we might work together to put in place a consistent, effective approach to the state’s array of accommodation offerings including owner-operated transient accommodations and agency-managed transient accommodations.
This legislative session — and the four legislative sessions prior — have witnessed a number of bills introduced that offer widely disparate statements as to the definition, quantity, and legality of these types of transient accommodations. Whether the description is Individual Visitor Units (IVUs), Individually Advertised Units (IAUs), Transient Vacation Rentals (TVRs), or Transient Vacation Units (TVUs), we do not believe that Hawaii wishes to put an end to this type of accommodation, nor do we believe Hawaii wants to send a message that such options are to be denied to consumers. But the attacks on this popular vacation option has seen Hawaii legislators criticized for advancing bills that create monopolies for hotels or property managers.
We think this annual legislative ritual is unfair to everyone involved, including the legislature and the Hawaii Department of Taxation. It undermines the image of the legislature when it is used by special-interest groups to further their interests at the expense of others. It’s time all stakeholders started working together to identify the real issues that affect Hawaii. We all need to understand the problems and their causes and identify solutions to improve the entire State, rather than proposing bills intended to aid one stakeholder at the expense of others. Such solutions should adhere to the underlying principles of our State and country.
From the bills that have been introduced this session, we make four observations:
First, Hawaii hoteliers want to deny consumer access to vacation condos and homes, and restrict the free market.
Second, Hawaii condo-rental agencies want to deny consumers’ ability and preference to book directly with the owner. The Internet has dramatically impacted a business model set in the 1980s.
Third, unscrupulous individuals, recognizing that state agencies have not been enforcing current law, are not complying with vacation-rental and tax requirements. We cannot attempt to address this problem by punishing those who are compliant with current law by stripping them of their opportunities and freedoms. It doesn’t matter where the property owner resides, the property is in Hawaii and therefore the existing laws of the state that admirably uphold constitutional and trade-agreement provisions must be enforced.
Fourth, Hawaii residents would like their neighborhoods to be places where they can expect enjoyment of their free time. They’d like their communities, and those of their friends and families, to have the services and support that make them good places to live, work, and explore. Owners of legal vacation-rental properties share these values, but we recognize there are some owners who do not. Rather than penalize all, we need to identify and address the owners who do not operate within their social license.
Owners of legal Hawaii vacation rental property contribute to the state’s ability to offer the accommodation choices of any globally significant tourist destination in the competitive tourism marketplace. We would appreciate an end to the special-interest lobby-based bills that arise each year. Such bills harm what Hawaii stands for and threatens its economic future.
So, we’re suggesting something that has been sorely missing in all the bills advanced in this and previous sessions on transient accommodations: Let’s work together. Let’s work together to identify issues. Let’s work together to generate valid and reliable data. And let’s work together to enable informed and effective policy development.
Let’s put a stop to those who try to use the Hawaii State Legislature to serve the wants of the few at the expense of all. This is in no one’s best interest and compromises the state.
We offer to work with you and any who seek to demonstrate the better nature of Hawaii. Too much time and energy have been spent on divisive tactics that only seek to tear down what honest property owners have built. It’s time for us all to work together.
We look forward to receiving your individual and collective support for this offer.