Kauai Real Estate and Local News

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

*****Kauai Real Estate News*****

There was a great article in the Garden Island newspaper on Sunday where several local island Realtors stated the home sales have been on the rise since the beginning of 2009 and that things “seem to be picking up”. This mirrors the business that I’ve personally been having since mid December and some of the other Realtors I’ve talked with have said the same. No future real estate speculations were being made by the article but there was a great quote from Karen Agudong who is our president of the Kauai Board of Realtors, she states; “It’s hard to say where the bottom is, but nobody knows until it goes back up and you’ve missed it.” For a list of what came on the market and what sold her last week on the island of Kauai CLICK HERE

*****1,400 Marijuana Plants Seized*****

Two Kilauea men were arrested last Thursday and charged with first-degree commercial promotion of marijuana after they were seen tending to a field that had 1,400 plants in it. If convicted the charge could land the duo in jail for 20 years. The marijuana field was on private land and it is believed that the owner of the land had no knowledge of what was taking place.

*****Ilikai Hotel Rooms Up For Auction*****

More than 200 rooms at the bankrupt Ilikai Hotel will go up for auction next month. The famous Waikiki hotel was bought by Brian Anderson for $218 million in 2006 which was the height of our market. The plan was to turn the 343 hotel rooms into luxury fee simple accommodations, but the market turned on the developer and now 203 of those rooms will be auctioned off with no minimum bid having been set yet. The Ilikai Hotel was built in 1964 and is recognized internationally with the famous opening shot of Hawaii Five-O where you see Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett standing on the penthouse balcony of this ocean front resort.

*****2005 Hit and Run Victim Awarded $1.9 Million*****

In 2005 Lisa Wilson was riding on the back of a motorcycle when Byron Say hit the bike with his rental car. Instead of being thrown off the bike Lisa was caught on the car and dragged for a long distance and sustained multiple injuries that she lives with still today. Byron Say was found to be under the influence of morphine, methamphetamine and amphetamine at the time of the accident. Collecting the $1.9 million will be a challenge given the fact that Bryon Say does not have those kinds of assists, a bad faith claim is going to be made against his insurance company Lisa Wilsons lawyers say.

 *****Civil Union Bill Fails in the Senate Committee*****

Failing by 3 votes House Bill 444, which allows for same sex civil unions, will be shelved for the rest of the year and a full vote will not be taken. Demonstrations for both sides of the issue has going on since last week with feeling for and against running high. Senator Gary Hooser D-Kaua’i and Ni’ihau made the motion on Wednesday feeling this is a fundamental right of the people and opponents feel it’s a threat against family values.

 *****Superferry Sails Into Sunset Towards Alabama****

Alakai, the Superferrys lone vessel, is now sailing back to Alabama where it was built. As I reported last week in my blog the Superferry lost its Supreme Court decision to operate while an EIS report is being done and the Alakai has been sitting in the Honolulu Harbor unable to transport vehicles ever since last week. Hawaii Superferry said the move is designed to position the ferry for future use.

 *****Unemployment Rate in Hawaii*****

Hawaii’s unemployment rate reached 6.6% which is the highest it’s been since 1978. Sounds grim but Hawaii actually tied with Texas for the 14th lowest jobless rates out of the 50 states. Government has cut jobs as has the construction and hospitality industry, the sector that actually added 400 jobs was professional and business services, other services added 300 jobs, education and health care grew by 100 jobs.

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

*****Kauai Real Estate News*****

Big mystery on what is happening at the St. Regis in Princeville.  Formally known at the Princeville Hotel the posh resort was shut down in September of 2008 in a flurry of grand press leases about their renovations and 2009 emergence as one of the few St. Regis Hotels in existence.  It was slated to re-open on April 18 of this year but reservations are not being accepted until July 1 and repeated requests for information by the public and press as to the status of the operations are not being given. 

For a list of what came on the market and what sold island wide here on Kauai CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

*****Superferry Ceases Operations*****

Last Monday the Superferry announced it will cease its service.  The new mode of transportation has been a hot topic here in the islands with both sides feeling very passionate about their view.  The U.S. Supreme Court put an end to that when they ruled that the “Act 2″ law that was put into place
during an emergency session by the Lingle Administration was unconstitutional.  Act 2 allowed the Superferry to operate while an Environmental Study was being done; additionally Act 2 was enacted to
benefit a single company.  Thursday the Superferry made its last trips to bring people and their cars back to their island.  The Superferry is going to lay off 200 workers.  At this writing CEO Thomas Fargo refused to comment if the Superferry will repay the state for the $40 million in harbor improvements or if the Superferry will sue the state itself.   Considerations are being made to have the Alakai put into military service rather than languish in the harbor.

*****Kauai Police Break-Up Major Cockfighting Ring*****

A week ago Sunday more than $70,000 in cash and 100 roosters were confiscated by the Kauai Police at a Keapana residential property in Kapaa.  The investigation revealed more than 300 attendees to a cockfight event.  No arrests were made at the scene but several felony and misdemeanor charges are pending.  Becky Rhoades, the director of the Kauai Humane Society, worked with the Kauai Police Department on the raid and she said lawmakers in Honolulu are working on Bill 1194 which will make it a misdemeanor offense to own, possess or transport gaffs within the state.  Gaffs are little knives that are attached to the rooster’s legs during cockfight events.

*****Hawaii Cell Phone Ban Moves Forward*****

The Honolulu City Council voted 8-0 to ban the use of cell phones while driving unless being operated using a hands free device such as a blue tooth.  Such laws are common on the mainland but here in Hawaii driving and dialing has been allowed.  The third and final vote for this measure is set for next month.

*****Same Sex Civil Union Bill Advances*****

Senator Gary Hooser, a former council member here on Kauai, is pushing forward House Bill 444 which will allow same sex couples to have a legal civil union.  A recent poll showed 81% of the population agreed, 16% Disagreed and 3% were unsure.  The bill stalled out on February 25th with a 3-3 tie when put to a vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  To achieve passage this legislative session the Senate will need to pass the motion in which 9 of the senators agree to pull the bill to the floor for a vote.  If that happens it will then need to win the majority vote of 13 senators the bill will pass.  No date is set for this vote and there is no pressing time frame to do so Senator Hooser states.  He further adds that the bill is being discussed for concerns and possible amendments.

Kauai Real Estate and Local News

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

*****Poipu Makes the Development News*****

A 50 parcel subdivision was started earlier this week here in Poipu.  It is located behind the Kiahuna Swim and Tennis club and Kiahuna Plantation Drive is slated to be the main access road.  This was former Knudson land and market release is not known at this time.

Hotel occupancy was down 12.7% for the month of January state wide which is the lowest it’s been since the 9/11 attacks stalled out travel and the effects were felt in early 2002.  February numbers are not out yet but I can tell you that the resort area here in Poipu was a lot busier than January.

For a complete list of what came on the market and what sold here on the island of Kauai  CLICK HERE

*****Japanese Visitor Drowns at Wailua River*****

A guided kayak tour turned tragic last weekend (March 7, 2009) when a Japanese tourist was swept away by a strong Wailua current.  Heavy rains had created rough conditions at Wailua River where a group of tourists were sightseeing and kayaking.  The group had just got done visiting sacred falls and was entering the river when the victim turned onto her back and was swept away.  Other people immediately jumped in after her and were able to grab a hold of her but the current was too strong and pulled her away.  Her body was found two hours later by other kayakers.

*****Chevron Station in Lihue Robbed*****

A masked man robbed the Chevron gas station in Lihue and is still at large.  The armed robber entered the station at 12:37 am on Wednesday morning and pulled the cashier away from the till and took an undisclosed amount of cash.  He was on foot and anyone with information is asked to contact the Kauai Police Department.

*****Maui Erotic Vacation Rentals Net an $800,000 Fine*****

A couple in Waiehu on the island of Maui were fined $800,000 for operating a short term vacation rental that was advertised as “erotic retreats”.  The county of Maui is sitting them for operating an illegal vacation rental which is short term lodging while visitors take the “dating and mating” classes.  But the couple says they are offering classes and this is not a retreat but an operating home based business on their farm.  They also say there are only offering the occasional classes which do have sexual themes but the Maui News reported that the couples website was nearly filled with activity for the month of March.

*****Visitor Who Attacked Hawaiian Airline Kiosk Heads to Prison*****

Remember the guy last December that became agitated at the Hawaiian Airlines ticket counter while checking in for a flight to Maui and beat up their ticket kiosk?  (see blog posting   http://blogs.alohaliving.com/kauai-home-sales/2008/12/22/kauai-real-estate-and-local-news-update-12/   )  The 20 year old pleaded guilty this last week to four charges and could potentially spend more than 20 years in prison.  The Arkansas visitor who had previously lived in Colorado and California said he did not remember the incident because he was not on his medication at the time.  In addition to the prison sentence he will pay for an officers broken glasses, which came as a result of him headbutting the officer, and the destroyed kiosk machine.

*****Kalalau Lookout Improvements Begin*****  

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is beginning improvements at the popular Kalalau lookout in Kokee State Park.  Slated for improvements are the parking lot and definition for the areas traffic flow.  The lookout will also be extended and additional safety measures will be put in.  Currently visitors are crossing over the small barrier and putting themselves in danger for views that are not currently offered at the site.

*****Surfer Still Missing*****

In Anahola a 34 year old surfer remains missing as of today (Sunday March 15).  The Moloa’a man went missing on Friday and the Coast Guard has covered some 200 square miles in an airplane and helicopter.  He was surfing at “Crack 14” which is a local spot in Anahola.

Kauai Real Estate and Local News

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

*****Disney Moving Ahead With Resort*****

The news on the real estate front is Disney is moving forward with it’s first ever Hawaii based resort.  Preliminary site work has already begun.  Smart move to be positioning themselves now.  The 21 acres resort is set to open in 2011 with 350 hotel rooms, 480 timeshare villas, pool and water play area, wedding lawn, 8,000 square foot convention center and children’s club and a 18,000 square foot spa.

To catch up with Kauai’s new listings and closed transactions island wide for last week CLICK HERE

*****Multiple Car/Condo Break In’s*****

Earlier last week in Kalaheo 5 cars were broken into.  All the cars were unlocked and had no alarm systems.  Items taken were money, and iPod and a camera.  Several resorts here in Poipu had the same type of break ins; easy entry and cash or small items taken.  This has served to be a reminder that this is paradise but don’t let your guard down completely.

*****Chinese Airlines Makes First Ever Kauai Stopover***** 

Hainan Airlines, a Chinese based airline operation, made a stopover at our Lihue airport on Friday.  Traveling from Seattle to Majuro for another refueling before it’s final destination in Hainan Island in China the airline made it’s first refueling stopover with it’s new Boeing 737-800 here on Kauai.  The passengers stayed the night here in Kauai but not before they boarded buses for an island tour and a specially prepared made to order Chinese meal at the Hong Kong Cafe in Wailua.  The plane size is similar to the ones Aloha Airlines would use.    

  *****Kauai Couple Sentenced to Jail for Insurance Fraud*****

A married couple from Hanamalu, Kauai were sentenced to jail for insurance fraud and the theft of more than $6,000 from Geico Casualty.  In May 2006 the husband intentionally damaged his vehicle during a domestic dispute, witnesses and police confirmed the incident, but the couple called the Kauai Police Department and said their vehicle had been vandalized. The couple also called Geico Casualty, claiming someone had vandalized their vehicle.The man pleaded guilty to one count of theft and in February a judge sentenced him to one year in jail, five years probation, 500 hours of community services, restitution to Geico and to pay court fines and fees.  The wife also pleaded guilty and she was sentenced to 60 days in jail, five years probation, 500 hours of community service, restitution to Geico and to pay court fines and fees.

*****Lihue Woman Stabbed to Death*****

Years of domestic struggle ended early Tuesday morning when a Lihue woman was stabbed to death.  The woman’s husband is being held at the Kauai Police Department on $500,000 dollar bail.  Multiple police reports going back to 1995 show a trail of domestic abuse in the Lihue home and at 1 am on Tuesday police again were called out to the Lihue home for the last time.  The woman was pronounced dead upon arrival at Wilcox Hospital.

*****Target to Open Two Stores In Hawaii*****

Minneapolis based Target is opening 27 stores in 15 states, two of those stores are to be in Oahu, one being located in Pearl City and the other in Kapolei.  The stores will be about 128,000 square feet and will employ 150 to 200 people each.  Huge crowds are expected for the opening this weekend (March 7 and 8).

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

*****Modification Made to TVR Ordinance*****

The Kauai County Council made some modifications on the Transient Vacation Rental bill.  Last year the bill was passed which puts restrictions on vacation renting outside of the area that they are allowed.  The amendments are; 1) Timeshare owners no longer required to register with the Finance Department 2) Sworn affidavit is required from owners outside the VDA (visitor destination area) stating the property has been used as a vacation rental on an ongoing basis prior to the effective date of the ordinance 3) 24 hour contact must be provided to neighbors adjacent to and across from the owners of the single family home TVR’s.

For a list of what came on the market last week and what sold island wide here on Kauai CLICK HERE

*****Hawaiian Ceded Lands Dispute Heads to Supreme Court*****

The fate of 1.2 million acres of Hawaiian land once held by Hawaiian Monarchy, which is roughly ¼ of all the land in the State of Hawaii, was argued in the United States Supreme Court on Wednesday.  A ruling on the court case is expected by June.  The State says they have authority to sell or transfer the land and the States very own Office of Hawaiian Affairs says it cannot be sold or transferred until Native Hawaiian claims have been resolved.  This topic is the hottest button we’ve got and arguments and emotions are hot and heavy on both sides.

*****Shortage of Rental Cars on Kauai????*****

Two female visitors from England came up with an ingenious way to solve their problem with getting a rental car here on Kauai; they hired a U-Haul truck.  They are not the only ones getting the “no vehicles available” shuffle from one rental car company to another here on Kauai.  Sue Kanoho of the Kauai Visitors Bureau is very aware of the problem and is working with the rental car companies on this issue.  The problem arose when the companies were shorted an expected delivery of new rental cars and then they had a rush of walk ups and reservations and didn’t have time to shuffle their fleet from another island.  The problem is working its way to resolution and the rental car companies do have advice to you in the meantime: make your reservation for your car when you book your flight.   

*****Internet Sales May Be Taxed*****

A measure is being pushed by the Hawaii State Senate that would tax Internet sales here in Hawaii.  Places like Amazon and Ebay would be forced to charge 4% GE tax on all goods sold.  Hawaii is particularly sensitive to the loss of revenue due to our reliance on buying items that we can’t get here on the Internet (or when they are much cheaper online) and with the shortfall in the budget lawmakers see this as a time to change this.  But some have criticized the bill saying it will have little impact unless Congress enacts required legislation and that the start up costs would be several million and it’s immediate payoff only 1 to 5 million.  Currently 22 states are participating in collecting tax off Internet sales.

*****Woman Hospitalized After Whale Collides With Tour Boat*****

In Maui a visitor fell and struck her head when a whale’s fin came down and crashed on the side of a tour boat.  The boat was near a pod of whales on Friday when one went under the boat and surfaced on the starboard side and the tale hit the boat causing a 61 year old woman to fall.  The woman was not identified and was awake and alert when the ambulance arrived.  The incident is being investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  This is third strike involving whales and boats this season.