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The Care & Feeding of Xenophobia.

By William May
Published: 01/20/08 Topics: Comments: 0

The adverse reactions to Vacation Rentals continue. For example on January 1st, 2008 the island of Maui in Hawaii just outlawed 1,100 rentals. And now the island of Kauai is going to followed suit.

Interestingly, the reasons for vacation rental prohibitions or restrictions in each jurisdiction are different one from another. Clearly there is no consistent problem with rentals and when there are, complaints they are statistically non-existent. If you can find complaints of noise or over parking they pail in comparison to long-term rental homes and are often less than the rate of such issues in non-rental areas.

All communities have statutes on the books to limit and regulate such concerns. But elected officials in those towns, like most in America today, find it hearty fare to point out new culprits when all they really have to do is enforced the laws they've had on the books for decades.

Kauai Case In Point

On Kauai, an ex-mayor, soundly trounced last time she ran, is anxious to garner local votes for a chance to run for Mayor again. And remember, all those VR owners have NO VOTE.

Something like Taxation without Representation I think.

By the way, her constant outcry is that outlawing the 800 VR's on Kauai (Outside tourist zones) is that it will make more affordable housing. Oxymoronic when you realize the median value of those homes in over $800,000.

The State of Hawaii just red tagged about 20 homes in the Haena (North shore) area of Kauai and those homes average $5,000,000.

So what is the underlying cause for the fear of rentals? Well it's as old as time itself. Having attended many hearings here are the common laments,

- They don't live here.

- They are not like us.

- They are not part of the community.

- They don't come to potlucks. (Actually overheard)

- They've made my property value go up. (A complaint?)

In other times those kinds of complaints have been used to distrust immigrants, new comers and those of other religions and races. Its called Xenophobia which is defined as "The fear of others." And boy are those VR owners & quote; "It is this phenomenon that is the underlying cause for all prejudice.


With VR's an equally strong prejudice is triggered. A kind of double whammy of envy and fear. "Why can those darn outsiders afford those homes, when I can't,: and "My kids will never be able to afford a Five million dollar home and that is just not fair." That shows that economic disparity can cause fear of others as well.

On Kauai we definitely have a lack of and great need for affordable housing. But the ex-mayor's quest to turns in to lower-income housing is counter intuitive. In fact, her actions would have an opposite effect to what she wants.

Restricting rentals could easily remove about 3,200 guests per day (that is 800 units' times an average of 6 guests each) from the tourism trade.

In a destination like Kauai that means the loss of hundreds of thousands of nights rented and all the dining, shopping and activity spending those consumers do. In short, stifling rentals, cuts the jobs for those who build and service the homes and does harm to those very folks she purports to help.

In short, Xenophobia is what allows local folks to blame all their woes on new comers and people who don't look like locals. That kind of prejudice is no where near as severe as many minorities have felt but it sure looks like the same thing in a different package.

It is time for tourism industry workers, local merchants and tax collectors to step up and stop those who would steal their income.

Smart Communities

Contrary to the news, there are smart communities that are realizing that Vacation Rental guests settle in for longer stays, spend more money, are more affluent and are a nice clean industry. A few years ago Chelan County, Washington State voted to officially authorize Vacation Rentals in rural areas.

The County Commissioners heard lots of testimony but may have been most persuaded by a single young man from a housekeeping company who came with the most logical argument when he said,

"Hey, its either tourism or we build another Aluminum Smelter on the Columbia River. Are you guys that dumb?"

Growth is inevitable and smart recreational areas are beginning to understand that private accommodations are a blessing for their economies, employment and life style.

Will logic and reason win out? Will economics convince leaders to choose a good industry over less desirable ones?

Or will the shrill fear mongers stifle another great boost for their local economies. Only time will tell.

Author: William May – Manager, Plumbob Publishing
Blog #: 0082 – 01/20/08

Comments: 0

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