***Commentary*** Thinking Out Loud About Puna’s Community Associations

Ariel Murphy photo

Tiffany Edwards Hunt (center) at the Orchidland Community Association annual general membership meeting Saturday, April 26. (Photo by Ariel Murphy.)

By Tiffany Edwards Hunt

As you likely know, I’m running for Hawaii County Council District 5.  And I have largely kept my campaign business to another newly formed website.  tiffanyedwardshunt.tumblr.com.  Today I am making an exception to my general rule not to mix my news business with my political campaign. As part of my campaign, I have been getting acquainted with the various community associations that lie in Council District 5. Today I attended the Orchidland Community Association’s annual general membership meeting.

After three and a half hours, attending members opted to pose to the membership as a whole via mailing the question of: pay $185 in fees, or go into receivership.

Orchidland Community Association appears to be like every other community association, struggling to pay for common areas of these private subdivisions through out Puna with less-than-optimal percentages of fees paid by the membership.  The community associations are also bogged down with in-fighting, sometimes resulting in slandering each other, lawsuits and even going as far as Hawaiian Acres Community Association as having one member of the board seeking to unseat the rest of the board.  Tomorrow the Seaview Community Association will host its annual meeting, and that is supposed to be lively, with litigation for that neighborhood group looming.

The key to Puna’s success, quite frankly, lies with the community associations transcending their pettiness and working for their common cause(s).  A diplomat, quite possibly the council member for the district in which the community associations lie, needs to help orchestrate the association of these associations with each other.  There are needs in each one of these communities and many of these needs are the same or similar.  If the community associations worked together some of the greater community problems could be solved.  Off the top of my head I think of first responders, like police, fire and medical.  We have a need throughout Puna for additional ambulances to respond to call for service.  If Hawaiian Acres worked regularly with Orchidland Community Association and with Ainaloa Community Association, and all three worked with the Kapua Farm Lots and Fern Acres and Fern Forest and Happy Homes, I guarantee you we would see the allocation of more resources for additional ambulances in both Kea’au and Pahoa.  Police presence, a similar situation. If we had community associations working together and a more resounding voice in Puna, we could get more than seven police officers per shift taking the calls for service between Kea’au and Kalapana.

Roads.  We have to figure out a way to have subdivision connectivity, fairly address the concerns of residents opposed to roads in the subdivisions becoming arterial roads, but somehow figuring out a way to ensure that the roads are fixed to meet a certain standard necessary for high traffic.

There was discussion at today’s Orchidland Community Association about Orchidland Drive being too substandard for its current and projected use.  There is a growing pothole at Orchidland Drive and Highway 130 that cannot be fixed due to the rains and is indicative of the challenges that a private subdivision that is getting increasing traffic is dealing with… The road fees being collected could not possibly address Orchidland’s road needs, particularly if more roads are opened up to the public to be thoroughfares.  A council representative is going to have to go to bat for communities like Orchidland to get their fair share, and ease off some of the pressure of these boards that are battling an apathic membership refusing to pay their dues.

Back to first response, it is bothersome to me that Seaview Community Association is caught up in melodrama, and that private subdivision off the Red Road doesn’t have a volunteer fire station.  Nor does any of its neighboring subdivisions.  Someone needs to be advocating for that community.  The community association members, if they met with other community associations, might be able to figure out a way to prioritize what should be taking up their time and energy.

I don’t think the solution is for these community associations to go into receivership status and have a judge determine fees and mandate that they be paid.

Somehow everybody has to have an aha! moment and realize that these community association are the closest extension to “government” that they have from their sanctuaries, their home.  The community associations need to collect the fees, spend those fees on the common areas, and serve as advocates to bring in any more resources that the fees collected cannot cover.  Now, how do we get everyone to get along and start working for the greater good?

7 replies
  1. roger
    roger says:

    “Today I am making an exception to my general rule…”

    YES! Oh Tiffy you are just sooooo cool! great pic btw!

  2. NeighborWatch
    NeighborWatch says:

    I don’t know what’s up with the associations you mentioned but HPPOA is a clusterphuck.
    And so much for judges making rulings when an association board can just change their by-laws and reversing a judges ruling.
    Consolidated lot owners in HPP went to the expense of filing with the Land Court and the long process to consolidate to have one TMK, one tax bill, one road fee. A JUDGE may make it so, but then the HPPOA board in their super power with a non-unanimous vote just reverses it.

    There are 15 such lots in HPP three of them are churches.
    Equity? Doesn’t exist in this equation. Is it by lot? by acre or by use that someone should be assessed fees?
    Because there are lots that are LESS than an acre that pay the same as those with an acre. There are those with more than an acre that pay the same as those with less than. They claim it’s by lot, yet if you have a consolidated lot they don’t count that.

    Common scene? Non existent in HPP. Fairness? FORGET IT
    Should one person who is a sole driver using one vehicle, a half dozen times a month, on their road be charged the same as a household with 3-4 drivers and as many cars and trucks using their roads on a DAILY basis?

    Example: 3-4 lots side by side consolidated into one lot with a single occupant, and 3-4 lots side by side with 3-4 houses in a row. Each with 2-3 drivers/vehicles. The traffic from the row of houses is much greater than the traffic from the sole occupant with the same acreage. How is it fair the multi-acre lot with one driver is charged the same the multi acre lots with multi homes/drivers, as their road use is far less than those in the row of houses?

    And then there are those who own lots and don’t even live here, yet they are charged for roads they’re never driven on.

    On top of this. SOME roads are paved yet ALL owners have to pay the same. How is it fair that those who have to dodge pot holes pay the same as those who have a paved road in front of their property? Not to mention the LIE they proposed to “pave all the roads” with that ol’ 10 million dollar loan in which they made every owner indebted to a bank. EVEN if they bought their land in cash never associating with a bank/debt.
    Add to this that there is NO paving schedule to pave ALL the roads. Their loan was taken out under fraudulent pretenses. And then they extort the fees and will lien the property if not paid.

    Add to this all the BS they spend money on and little projects they do that have nothing to do with the roads. A bike path they can have before they do as was promised? You’re LUCKY if they grade the cinder/gravel roads once a year. So you’ll have a some what smooth road for a couple weeks, if there’s not a big rain.

    In addition, the numerous pieces of equipment that have walked off from the equipment shed. They have plenty of money to landscape, weed eat the sides of the road and keep the Hui grounds nice but the pot holes on your road? Oh well. I’ve had to go and fill them myself, several times.

    So on top of filling the holes yourself, at your cost, you pay road fees and road taxes yet still have crap roads. There would be no complaint about crap roads IF there we no fees. But to be extorted to pay for the privilege of driving on crap roads just suxs.

    HPPOA was in receivership in 99′ and the judge told them to stick to just the roads. I think it’s time they need to go back in front of that judge an explain their deviations and their road paving scam.
    HPPOA NEEDS to be sued, or dissolved. But now they are beholding to a bank. Smart group eh?

  3. NeighborWatch
    NeighborWatch says:

    @Seeb, makes no difference what district it is or who’s on the council or who’s the mayor. I do believe I saw there and listened to Em and Billy talk about some park they were going to build i HPP, why I don’t know there is one at the Hui. And nothing happened but speeches.

    I think all the associations need to stop trying to deal with roads and let the country take them over, after all taxes are collected for roads. Only the county won’t take them because they are substandard.

    But mandatory fees is nothing more than extortion if everyone isn’t getting what they paid for, equally.

  4. Markie
    Markie says:

    Why do we pay gas tax that goes to fix roads when none of the money goes to our subdivisions? Government representatives should figure out how the government should help pay for these roads, not tell us how to run our subdivisions.

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