Your Views for July 28

KFC greedy?

I am angry about the high cost of living in Hawaii.

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Sure, we are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and we have to expect shipping costs. My problem is with mainland companies that come here, accept our aloha and set up shops.

One of these is KFC. Kentucky Fried Chicken came to Hawaii, and we welcomed them with aloha. But what do we get in return? We get a $5 fill-up meal for $8.

I inquired what the extra $3 was for. “Because this is Hawaii. It’s to cover shipping and other things.”

Well, I don’t buy it. The extra $3 charge on a $5 item is nothing more than blatant greed and usury. It is a prime example of corporate greed and cultural indifference that pervasively blows from the east. Wouldn’t Hawaii be better off by sending these abusers back where they came from?

Richard Petty

Hilo

Beware Bill 108

A sweeping “grandfathering” provision in County Council Bill 108 — hidden in plain sight — has the potential to increase your future property taxes. It is called “nonconforming use certificate” and will create an inflationary spiral in real property values.

There are still thousands of entire homes or apartments on Airbnb/VRBO. Many are by people living off-island and cluster in your attractive residential neighborhood — especially near beaches, parks, the university.

Grandfathering in Bill 108 would legalize them all, perhaps because a short-term rental assessed property is a potential source for adding to the county real property tax base.

But consider this: Any widespread behavior that would increase the cash flow that one can earn from residential housing — such as Airbnb revenue — will with time get priced into the underlying property value. So while it might be true that Airbnb helps many hosts pay their mortgages, that is a statement that only focuses on one segment of the housing market and ignores the impact of higher short-term rental cash flow on the rest of us.

Around 1987, Japanese buyers discovered a number of neighborhoods in Honolulu and bought houses for $1.3 million that were previously on the market for $440,000. When the “bubble” faded, they put it on the market for $1.35 million. The neighbors were greatly exercised because real property tax assessments are based on current sales in the area. They foresaw their assessments rising not by 10 percent but by 100 percent or more.

Bill 108 doesn’t cap the number of short-term rentals an owner can operate and doesn’t distinguish between mini-hotels and people who are simply home-sharing. It would allow them all to continue. If not amended, Bill 108 will act as a tax collection bill and legalize those mini-hotels at the expense of us neighbors.

You have been warned.

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Stefan Buchta

Hilo