Mayor's new bill proposes more vacation rentals, stiffer fines

Mayor's new bill proposes more vacation rentals, stiffer fines

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveiled the details of his long-awaited proposal to regulate the vacation rental industry on Thursday.

The bill would increase the number of legal vacation rentals from 800 to about 4,000 and would allow owners of homes to rent out rooms to tourists. But it would not allow entire homes in residential areas to be used as vacations rentals.

"It's something that needs to be addressed. It's having a major impact on neighborhoods and also our visitor industry," Caldwell said.

Operators also have to pay higher property taxes and those that continue to operate illegally could face stiff fines ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on the number of violations. Once they're issued, the fines are not negotiable.

"We really need to show folks who willingly and intentionally break the law that the City and County of Honolulu means business," said City Councilmember Ikaika Anderson.

But the vacation rental industry said the ban in residential areas will dramatically impact a tourism sector that creates hundreds of jobs and generates nearly a billion dollars in economic activity.

"It's really encouraging to see that there will be home sharing allowed across the board but we do have some concerns about the restrictions on vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods," said Brynn Rovito, vice president of the Oahu Alternative Lodging Association.

The bill goes to the full council, which will likely hold hearings next month.

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