Bed & breakfasts controversy advances to Honolulu City Council

Anne Towey-Joyer
Anne Towey-Joyer
Stu Simmons
Stu Simmons
Angela Tissaraud
Angela Tissaraud

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Honolulu City Council's Zoning Committee held a special meeting on the bed-and-breakfast controversy on Oahu. On the table were Bills 6 and 7.

Both Bills allow new B&B's, but each have different versions on how to restrict and regulate them.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Zoning Committee voted to pass Bill 7.

It's an issue so heated, at one point, one person ripped up another's sign. Those for and against bed-and-breakfasts could not even fit in the room where the Zoning Committee held its special meeting.

"We were in line and we were blocked out. I didn't appreciate that because they want for the cameras to have the yellow signs. Well there's tons of people in red out there," said Anne Towey-Joyer said about the group of B&B supporters holding yellow signs, as she testified against the bills.

The people in red represented Local 5, the hotel worker's union. Members say B&B's threaten their jobs.

"You're going to kill a whole industry. Unacceptable," said Towey-Joyer.

But supporters say those who stay in bed-and-breakfasts are people who don't like or can't afford to stay in Waikiki.

"And then for one thing, the spirit of Aloha. Where can you have that family familiarity of family, local family who can deliver to people from Oklahoma who had never met any local Filipino or for that matter a Hawaiian?" asked Maria Galicia, a B&B owner.

After more than three hours of testimony, the Zoning Committee passed Bill 7, which lets the city issue new permits for B&B's - something that hasn't been allowed since 1989.

"The biggest issue is that it changes the character of the neighborhood. I mean, one of the things my kid said on Halloween, 'wow, there's no one to go trick or treating with and there's no houses that have candy' because they were all vacation rentals," said Stu Simmons, a Kailua resident who says he's not opposed to bed-and-breakfasts, but is against having them in residential-zoned areas.

"The opposition has been brutal, angry, they're territorial. We're tired of that. We want to be regulated by the government," said Angela Tissaraud, a B&B owner who says she's been harrassed so much, her home has even been stoned.

The city has yet to determine what kind of regulation to enforce.

Proposed regulation includes limiting the number of B&B's.

Councilmember Gary Okino says he'll propose keeping them at least 500 feet apart from each other, unless a majority of neighbors living within 300 feet agree to have more.

Another proposal is to require the owner or lessee to live on the property to make it easier for Department of Planning and Permitting inspectors to address complaints and enforce B&B laws.

The Honolulu City Council takes up the issue on October 27th.