City’s new vacation rental crackdown is also designed to target overtourism
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The illegal vacation rental industry is now one of the biggest targets of Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration.
But his proposed crackdown is also part of a strategy that could help reduce overtourism as well as freeing up housing for residents.
During a Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, city Department of Planning and Permitting Director Dean Uchida said regulating vacation rentals will “provide some kind of management tool to regulate the number of visitors to Hawaii.”
Supporters said regulating illegal vacation units is overdue.
“It’s totally out of control. This bill is very robust in terms of how the tools it would give the city to be able to bring the situation under control. So we think this is vitally important,” said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association.
The measure aims to take short-term rentals out of residential areas and restrict them to the resort areas of Waikiki, Turtle Bay, Ko Olina and Makaha Valley.
The legal vacation rentals will be taxed at a higher rate.
“Basically legal vacation rental units are sitting ducks. You have a list of all of us you know where we are. So basically you are saying ‘hey, let’s go after them’ ― $5,000 registration fee, $2,500-a-year in hotel and resort property tax,” said Mitch Bednarsh, who owns a legal vacation rental.
The additional money would pay for a special enforcement team to search for those operating illegally.
Vacation rental owners also say that the tourists will still come -- just not to their properties.
“My guests are not noisy they are the kind of respectful caring people who make a neighborhood a nice place to be. If you shut me down you will have the same overtourism problems,” said Margaret Aurand, a vacation rental owner.
The planning commission will hear further testimony on the bill on Wednesday.
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