Categorized | Government, News

Mayor Kenoi vetoes tent bill for Puna


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.

This is the Kenoi administration’s first veto of a Council bill. (A link to the Mayor’s tent bill veto message)

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