Honolulu panel rejects bill regulating short-term rentals

HONOLULU — The Honolulu Planning Commission has rejected Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposed bill that would ban short-term vacation rentals in residential zones, but allow homeowners to run bed-and-breakfast establishments in the properties where they live.

The commission voted unanimously Wednesday not to recommend the proposal to the council, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported . The bill will still go before the council for a final decision, but it will require the approval of six of the nine council members instead of the usual five.

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Short-term vacation rentals refer to transient vacation units and B&Bs, which are both rented for less than 30 days, but transient units do not have the owner present. The city stopped issuing permits for both in 1989, except in areas zoned hotelresort.

Caldwell has estimated that up to 10,000 rental units are operating on Oahu. Only 816 are legally permitted, according to Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting.

The mayor’s proposal allows an unlimited number of B&Bs, but prohibits transient units in residential districts. A limited number of transient units would be allowed in apartment and business districts under permits that would need to be renewed annually.

Public testimony provided to the council this week was divided. Supporters of more rental units argued the proposal is too restrictive. They claim rentals allow families to make a few extra dollars, and the units give visitors a different experience of Hawaii.

Opponents of more rentals argued the proposal goes too far by allowing an unlimited number of B&Bs. The rentals have reduced housing supply and overburdened infrastructure, they claim.

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Commissioners said the proposal was too broad and tried to accomplish too much.

Commissioner Art Challacombe motioned to reject the measure “based on the numerous concerns that we heard both from the public and the board members.”