Kailua woman on a fixed income fears new vacation rental rules will have a domino effect

Outraged bed and breakfast operator speaks out about the new vacation rental law

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the past several years, Fabienne Melchior has rented the top floor of her Kailua home to tourist, charging $160 a day.

The retiree on a fixed income does not have a permit for a bed and breakfast but she said she needs the income to pay for her mortgage. She said a new law to regulate the vacation rental industry will only force people like her out of their homes.

“Do you know what that’s going to do to the economy of this place? People will sell and leave because they can’t stay here," she said.

“Businesses in Kailua are worried.”

Melchior said she’s repeatedly tried to apply for a permit --- most recently two years ago -- but each time she was denied. Two weeks ago, the city told her she was violating the law.

She said she’s particularly mad at Mayor Kirk Caldwell who yesterday vowed to crackdown on illegal vacation rentals.

“When I heard the mayor talk about us in a threatening way like I was a criminal ... I was very indignant,” she said.

According to Melchior, the vacation rental industry has gotten a bum rap for contributing to the affordable housing shortage and noise problems.

She said there are only two or three bed and breakfasts near her home on Ulupa Street but she says noise complaints are very rare.

Supporters of the new law say the crackdown on illegal rentals is long overdue.

In this Lanikai neighborhood, for instance, longtime residents there said there are dozens of vacation rentals within several blocks of each other. They said they’ve been trying for years to get the city to do something about the problem.

“We have more cars, more people on our beaches, more people on our mountains and trails and it has driven property values up," said Mollie Foti of Lanikai.

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