Last week Hawaii News Now reported on a new study that claimed that the illegal vacation rental industry continues to spiral out of control – taking more and more homes out of circulation for local people.
The important work was done by the progressive Appleseed Center for Law and Economic justice.
The headline was the astonishing statistic that one out of 24 homes in Hawaii is a vacation rental. That's 23,000 units in 2017. That number rose 35 percent in two years.
Air BNB pushed back, saying other studies have shown the industry has minimal impact on housing for local families, and generates jobs for small businesses and residents.
The two sides can argue all they want because our government – at both the city and state level – have failed to figure out how to keep track of this industry, regulate it, and collect the millions in taxes that are owed but unpaid.
There doesn't seem to be any dispute that it is growing fast and moving into more and more neighborhoods. The economic incentives toward renting to tourists are powerful. Clearly many people are willing to defy the law for the money.
Lawmakers are vowing a crackdown (as they have before). This should be one of the "must have" goals of this legislature and then the counties must invest to get this monster, powered by greed, under control.