Keauhou HOA Fines Apartment Proprietor $26K (and Counting) for Feeding Cats

Pamela Cooper

A Keauhou apartment proprietor is going through upwards of $26,000 in fines from her house owner’s affiliation for feeding two wild cats who’ve lived within the apartment advanced for years.

These fines are rising $100 a day, too. 

They’re rising day by day as a result of Pamela Cooper doesn’t intend to cease feeding the cats – named Bob and Carol and estimated to be round 9 years previous every.

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They’ve lived on the property longer than Cooper has owned her apartment there.

The felines aren’t wild within the sense that they seem feral and unhealthy, Cooper mentioned. Relatively, they’re “community cats,” who’re wholesome, well-behaved and have lived open air across the Kona advanced for the final 9 years.

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“They just took a liking to my unit or something,” Cooper instructed Huge Island Now. “I took it to heart to feed them.”

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Or proceed feeding them, within the case of Cooper.

Cooper, 73, started renting out the apartment she bought in 2015. Round three years in the past, she realized that her tenants had been feeding the cats on the lanai each evening round sundown. The night ritual didn’t appear to trouble her neighbors, Cooper mentioned, or anybody else.

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The cats eat on Cooper’s lanai. PC: KARES

So, when Cooper rented the apartment out to new tenants, a situation of the settlement was that new residents proceed to feed the felines dinner – a course of Cooper estimates takes 6 to 7 minutes.

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“They’re community cats,” Cooper mentioned, including she knew of the cats nicely earlier than she realized her tenants have been feeding them. “They don’t bother a soul.” 

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However round a yr in the past, the HOA – the Keauhou Palena – knowledgeable Cooper that preserving and feeding animals go towards the HOA guidelines, and he or she may very well be topic to fines if she didn’t cease.

Cooper mentioned not feeding the cats wasn’t that straightforward for her.

Earlier than Bob and Carol have been there, one other group cat, named “Uncle,” lived and was consumed the property till he died. It was by no means a problem.

Precedent apart, Cooper mentioned that abruptly withholding meals or water from animals in a spot “they consider home,” is taken into account animal cruelty beneath Hawai’i Statute 711.1109, a second-degree misdemeanor offense.

“And that’s their home,” Cooper mentioned. “I’m just caught between a rock and a hard spot.”

After her warning a few yr in the past, Cooper continued to feed the animals.

Then, on March 15, she obtained a letter from Michael Kennedy, Keauhou Palena senior administration govt, notifying her that she had incurred $25,900 in fines for feeding the 2 cats.

The letter lists the bylaws that prohibit feeding and preserving animals and informs Cooper she had been warned since June of 2021 that such a punishment may very well be levied towards her if she continued to feed the animals.

“As of today, you or someone in your unit has been feeding the cats for 259 days,” the letter states. “You are now being fined $25,900.00 and the amount will be added to your Association amount.”

The letter continues that the fines will enhance if the cats are nonetheless fed.

A duplicate of the letter from Keauhou Palena despatched to Pamela Cooper. PC: KARES

“Witnesses have been reporting daily feedings on the lanai and going forward you will be fined $100 for each report of feeding cats on Keauhou Palena property,” the letter states. “If the reports of feeding the cats on property continue, the Board will continue to increase the fines until this issue is resolved.”

Hawaiiana Administration Firm, Ltd. is the property administration firm that cares for the property. Reached by cellphone on Monday, the corporate referred all inquiries to Kennedy, who didn’t return a cellphone message to Huge Island Now however despatched an e mail stating “I am not the person to speak to” and referred all inquiries to the affiliation’s legal professional.

When requested for the legal professional’s contact info, Kennedy said in an e mail that he offered the legal professional with Huge Island Now’s contact info and “if he would like to speak to you, he will call you.”

Huge Island Now was not contacted by the legal professional by 4:45 p.m. Monday. A cellphone message left with the president in addition to a cellphone message left with the vice chairman of the Keauhou Palena Board of Administrators went unreturned. This story might be up to date ought to the board contact Huge Island Now.

A listening to on the matter has been scheduled by way of Zoom with Cooper and the board of administrators for June 16.

Cooper has employed an legal professional to symbolize her, Sara Vargas, of Kailua-Kona.

Vargas mentioned the case appears uncommon to her not solely due to the “outrageous” greenback determine of the superb, but in addition as a result of the cats have been on the property for almost a decade, as produce other cats, and no different proprietor, in line with the legal professional’s analysis, has ever been fined.

There was a considerable shift in habits by the board from taking no motion concerning any of the cats to a sudden and profound motion taken towards Cooper, Vargas mentioned.

“Selective enforcement is what I would call it,” the legal professional mentioned.

The definition of a pet by the Hawai‘i statute definition is also tricky, she added. It defines pets as animals not being kept for consumption, which the cats in question would fall under. But the law doesn’t specify for cats like Bob and Carol who usually are not pets by the frequent conception of family members of the family, so to talk, however who reside open air and on properties.

Vargas mentioned she couldn’t speculate why Cooper was being subjected to fines when different residents hadn’t been previously.

“I would sure love to know the answer to that same question,” she mentioned.

Cooper can also be receiving assist from Debbie Cravatta, Kohala Animal Relocation and Training Service, or KARES, founder, who helps Cooper elevate funds for her authorized combat.

“I’m digging my teeth into it because it’s ridiculous,” Cravatta mentioned.

Cravatta mentioned that relocating feral cats isn’t a possible answer as a result of there’s nowhere to take them. Additionally, cats are very territorial animals, and sometimes discover their manner again to the place from which they have been taken. 

Cooper mentioned she desires to proceed to do the suitable factor, which is to feed the cats, which can also be to say, not start ravenous them.

“I don’t understand why it’s become an issue after all these years,” Cooper mentioned. 

She’s added that she heard she might have a lien levied towards her apartment in mild of the escalating fines, however even that chance received’t cease her from feeding the cats.

“What’s right is right,” she mentioned. “What’s wrong is wrong.”

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