Vacation rental proposal draws stiff opposition

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A majority of those who testified at a Honolulu Planning Commission hearing Wednesday spoke against a city proposal that would make it more difficult for unlicensed bed and breakfasts and transient vacation rentals to advertise.
The city is considering a proposal that would require city permit numbers to be posted on all advertisements for short term vacation rentals on Oahu.  Currently both legal and illegal operators advertise without posting their permit numbers.
The city has not issued new permits for short term vacation rentals since 1989, but hundreds of transient units and bed and breakfasts have been established illegally.  Many of them are on the Windward side of Oahu and on the North Shore.
More than 90 people signed up to testify at Wednesday's hearing.  Those who spoke against the proposed requirement said it could put many non-permitted operators out of business.  They encourage the city to issue more permits so they can operate legally and support the city budget through permit fees and taxes.
"We are now in a recession as we can tell by the stock in the last week. As unemployment runs rampant, why should we close down vital businesses at this time which employ so many Kailua residents?" testified Kailua shop owner Gail Allen, who says 70% of her customers are tourists staying in short term rentals.
"It's pretty obvious that many of us need the added income," added long-time Kailua resident Nalani Olds.

Those who support the proposal want the city to find and close illegal operators.  They testified short term rentals change the character of neighborhoods by bringing more traffic, noise, and strangers into residential communities.
"We want out neighborhoods back. Please pass this amendment. Enforce the lawful use of residential zoned neighborhoods for our islands for now and for future generations," testified Waialua resident Susan Smith.
So many people signed up to testify that they hearing was continued until Wednesday, August 24th at 10 am.
Once the Planning Commission hears all the testimony it will make a recommendation to the Honolulu City Council.  The council will hold its own hearing on the matter before voting to accept or reject the proposal.

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