HOA Revokes Cat-Feeding Fines, But Condo Owner Still Unhappy With Decision

pamela cooper

The homeowner’s association that levied $26,000 in fines against a Keauhou condo owner for feeding two wild cats rescinded the fines.

The Keauhou Palena Board of Directors issued the reversal June 21 following a hearing on the matter involving condo owner Pamela Cooper, stating in a letter to Cooper that all fines levied against her are void. It goes on to tell her that she should continue feeding 9-year-old felines Bob and Carol after 30 days of the notice, she could be subject to new fines.

Cooper said she doesn’t know if she will adhere to the board’s direction. She said the rescinding of the fines seemed nice at first glance, but doesn’t address the problem directly, which is how and where the cats are going to eat.

“That looked real good on paper, but the bottom line is they still want me to starve the cats,” Cooper said. “The cats are going to continue to be fed.”

Cooper was getting fined $100 a day for 259 days in a row for feeding the two cats when she received notice of the penalty in March.

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The letter listed the bylaws that prohibit feeding and keeping animals and informed Cooper she had been warned since June of 2021 that such a punishment could be levied against her if she continued to feed the animals.

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But even after the fine notice, Cooper continued to feed the cats and the monetary penalties continued to mount, leading to a hearing June 16 between Cooper, her attorney, the board of directors and its attorney.

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

Cooper maintains that the cats have lived on the grounds of the condo complex for nine years, longer than Cooper has owned her condo there. They don’t bother any of the neighbors and are healthy animals that keep other feral cats away. Cooper says they have come to rely on her condo as their feeding grounds and their home. To remove food from a place they come to expect it would be animal abuse by state statute definition.

That is why the board’s ruling doesn’t solve the problem, Cooper and her attorney, Sara Vargas, both said.

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Where is Cooper expected to feed the cats if she can’t do it on her property where they live? To feed them off property, where they wouldn’t be subjected to HOA rules, would be to trespass on someone else’s private property.

“We’re grateful for that,” Vargas said about the board rescinding the fines. “But that doesn’t solve the problem.”

Vargas said a more workable situation would have been to have the cats grandfathered into the property for the rest of their natural lives. That would allow them to continue to be fed without taking the no-animal, no-feeding rule off the books.

As it stands now, with the fines rescinded, Cooper isn’t facing a punishment, so there wouldn’t be an appeal process to lobby for such a decision, Vargas said.

At least not yet.

If Cooper continues to feed the cats and fines start to accumulate again, another appeal hearing could be the avenue the parties travel.

Big Island Now left messages for the Keauhou Palena Board of Directors President Rich Milham and his attorney on Thursday seeking comment.

Milham said in a previous conversation with Big Island Now that the board hired the attorney specifically for the case at hand in response to Cooper having hired an attorney of his own, but that they couldn’t discuss the issue while it was still unresolved.

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