Real Estate Management Company: Public Outrage Over HOA’s Cat Feeding Fines Severe But Misdirected

The director of the property management company tasked with communicating the intentions of the Keauhou HOA condo mired in controversy over a cat feeding issue said he’s received a few dozen “rough” emails from the public since an article by Big Island Now on the issue published Monday, June 6.

Michael Kennedy, who works for Hawaiiana Management Company, the property management company looking after Keauhou Palena, told Big Island Now on Thursday that his job is to enforce rules set by the association’s board of directors. owners, in this case Keauhou Palena.

He doesn’t make the rules, he just enforces them, he said. Since the article was published, he has been inundated with “brutally harsh” emails, as if he was responsible for creating the fine system.

“I just want to clear it up, I had nothing to do with it,” Kennedy said, referring to HOA rules. “I have no say in what is going on.”

The Keauhou Palena board of directors has fined one of the condo owners, Pamela Cooper, $25,900 for feeding two cats in the past year.

The cats eat on Cooper’s porch. PC: KARES
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Kennedy, who wrote the letter informing Cooper of the fines, said that while he issued the letters, he did so at the will of the council.

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Kennedy said he has received about 20 emails from people in the community since the story appeared that disparaged him or threatened to take out of business at Hawaiiana Management Company.

“I hope you go to jail, you lose your job, you go to hell,” Kennedy said, summarizing the bulk of the correspondence.

“Of the 20 emails, I would say maybe only one was polite,” he said, adding “I’m sure if I went to social media it would be even worse.”

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The letter signed by Kennedy, dated March 15, notified Cooper that she had faced $25,900 in fines for feeding two 9-year-old cats who live on the property.

The letter lists regulations that prohibit feeding and keeping animals and informs Cooper that she has been warned since June 2021 that such punishment could be meted out to her if she continued to feed the animals.

The letter says Cooper would continue to face fines of $100 a day if she continued to feed them, which Cooper told Big Island Now on Monday in the article she intended to do.

Cooper told Big Island Now that the animals predate her purchase of the condo, and she asked tenants who rented the place from her to continue feeding the cats — named Bob and Carol — because to withhold food for them in a place the animals consider the home would be cruelty to animals as defined by Hawaiian laws.

“I’m just caught between a rock and a hard place,” Cooper said.

Contacted Monday by Big Island Now, Kennedy referred all questions to the attorney hired by the board. The attorney, Ed Haitsuka, of Kailua-Kona, did not contact Big Island Now this week. Big Island left a message for Haitsuka again on Thursday.

But the backlash Kennedy received on the days the board and attorney didn’t speak after Monday’s story prompted Kennedy to recall Big Island Now and explain how Hawaiiana only did apply the rules established by the Board of Directors.

“I became the face of this whole debacle, just like Hawaiiana,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think it’s fair that Hawaiian was brought into this.”

“I just want them to direct their anger in the right direction,” he said of the public reaction.

Rich Milham, chairman of the Keauhou Palena board, said Thursday the board hired the attorney specifically for the current case in response to Cooper having hired its own attorney, Sara Vargas.

This surprised the board because there is an appeal process within the HOA that condo owners can use if they want to appeal a fine or decision, and Cooper did not exercise that right after being informed for the first time of the possible fines. Instead, the council found she had acquired professional help.

“They haven’t spoken to anyone,” said Milham, who also did not return a message on Monday but spoke with Big Island Now on Thursday. “We were forced to hire a lawyer.”

Milham said on Thursday that the council had prepared a statement about what they could say regarding the matter, but would not release it without their lawyer’s consent. He said the lawyer advised council on Thursday not to speak about the case until after the June 16 hearing.

“We don’t have a choice on a lot of that,” he said.

The June 16 appeal hearing is with the board and Cooper.

Kennedy said the HOA instructed Cooper in the year before the fine to feed the cats 15 feet from where they ate, which was off property and therefore not subject to the rules. of the HOA, but this suggestion was not obligatory. He added that some neighbors had also complained about the cats.

Either way, he added, he didn’t set the rules.

“Hopefully this will be resolved,” Kennedy said.