After marathon session, council punts vacation rental bills back to committee

Bills to regulate vacation rentals heads back to committee after hours of testimony The bills stirred up mixed emotions.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After hours of debate Wednesday, the City Council sent bills meant to regulate illegal vacation rentals back to committee.

Some people are relieved the council is taking more time to get it right while others are fed up over the process.

“Make sure that it’s something that will actually pass and not have things in it that are gonna bring out all the protesters. I mean what’s the point? We need some peace finally," said Cynthia Rubinstein, who manages a legal vacation rental.

[Read more: Report: 1 in 24 homes in Hawaii is now a vacation rental]

But even before the start of the meeting, dozens of property owners, Realtors and others rallied, holding signs criticizing the measures.

“It’s draconian. You lose a million to a billion annually in revenue," said Pat Ferraris, who opposes Bill 85 and 89.

Bill 89 would allow roughly 1,700 newly-permitted vacation rentals only for owners who live in the home, while cracking down on those who illegally rent out a whole home.

Terry Lodge was there Wednesday to express opposition to the bill.

“Whether it’s appreciated or not, everyone has benefited from TVUs. Admit it. Whether you want to admit it, whether you like it or not, everyone has benefited one way or another,” Lodge said.

“The future of this island’s economic growth was in your hands. Now its demise and failure lies solely on you,” Lodge added, while testifying to the council.

Lawmakers say it’s an issue of enforcement.

“You’ve got to pass something and this body has to play an active role to ensure that DPP enforces it,” said state Sen. Laura Thielen, whose district includes Waimanalo. “That’s one of the biggest frustrations people have is the lack of enforcement.”

Bill 85 would ban all vacation rentals outside of resort areas and establish tougher enforcement. Residents would be able to sue their neighbors who are running illegal rentals.

There are 800 legal vacation rentals on Oahu. According to city estimates, there are as many as 8,000 illegal vacation rentals on Oahu.

This story will be updated.

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