Vacation rentals Bill 108 amended to require neighborly rules

  • Dru Kanuha

HILO —Turn down that radio. No loud midnight conversations on the lanai. Park your rental car on your own property.

Being a good neighbor is one of the new requirements for vacation rentals in a rewrite of Bill 108 discussed Tuesday by the County Council Planning Committee.

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“We did some cleaning up on this bill but the majority of this amendment came from public testimony. I really appreciate those providing their insights and testimonies, because it’s really shaping this bill,” said Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha, a bill co-sponsor. “I know it doesn’t encapsulate everything, but we wanted to put in what people were most concerned about.”

An April 24 committee hearing brought out almost 100 testifiers, many of whom were concerned about losing the ambiance of their neighborhoods.

Council members mulled over the bill in open and executive sessions before amending the measure and then postponing it until June 4.

The good neighbor rules set quiet hours from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. During other hours, the noise cannot be louder than “would be otherwise associated with a residential area,” under the amendment. The rules must be provided to the tenant and prominently displayed in the unit.

Amendments also require the owner or designated contact person to reside in the county, provide contact information and respond to complaints within one hour of being notified.

Bill 108 applies only to unhosted rentals, where the owner does not live on site. Hosted rentals, such as auxiliary units, home sharing, and bed and breakfasts are not addressed in the bill.

The measure is an attempt to prohibit unhosted short-term rentals in residential and agricultural zones, while allowing them in hotel and resort zones and commercial districts.

Existing rentals in good standing in the disallowed areas would be able to apply for a nonconforming use certificate that must be renewed annually for a $500 fee. Good standing means the property must be in use as a vacation rental, paying transient accommodations and general excise taxes prior to July 20.

The rentals in disallowed areas would have 180 days after the bill passes to apply for a nonconforming use permit. The annual certificate could be denied renewal if the vacation rental hasn’t complied with the good neighbor rules.

County planning officials say the fee is needed to pay for enforcement of the new program.

“We know the enforcement of vacation rentals are going to be a daunting, ongoing task,” said Planning Director Michael Yee.

The fee was a particular sticking point for Puna Councilwomen Eileen O’Hara and Jen Ruggles. Their districts have no hotel and resort zones and very little commercial zones where the fee doesn’t apply.

“Everyone outside those permitted areas must pay for enforcement of the entire program,”Ruggles said. “It would be more fair if everyone doing the same business would pay the same fee. … It doesn’t seem fair that my district would have to pay for enforcement of a program that applies to the entire island.”

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O’Hara said the fee could be a sliding scale based on a percentage of revenues, as reported in transient accommodations tax returns.

“That would be a more equitable approach to this,” O’Hara said.

  1. KonaDude May 9, 2018 5:34 am

    Fees based on a sliding scale, that’s a joke. Our council members can’t even report vacation rental income unless caught in a lie and the WHT runs a story about it.


    1. Chickie Galore May 11, 2018 1:05 pm

      You are right on Kona Dude! It is another joke that wont be enforced by anyone.


  2. areapolice May 9, 2018 8:38 am

    Should be no vacation rentals on ag land at all.


  3. Say What? May 9, 2018 9:31 am

    “Respond to complaints within one hour”. Yes! I look forward to calling the owner/designee at 3:00 a.m. the next time renters go hog-wild in my neighborhood. Share the misery.


  4. KonaLife May 9, 2018 12:25 pm

    Funny that the “good neighbor” rules will apply only to vacation rentals. If the County is going to enforce “good” behavior, why not have it apply to everyone? Unenforceable government overreach at its worst!


    1. Chickie Galore May 11, 2018 1:05 pm

      Hope you get one next door to you.


      1. KonaLife May 11, 2018 1:36 pm

        They are either legal–in a currently zoned area–or illegal–not. Any resident who lives in an area that is zoned for vacation rentals has to know that crowding, late night parties, bad behavior, ect goes with the territory.

        The idea that the County Council is trying to legislate “good behavior” just for vacation rentals is simply ridiculous. We can’t have two sets of laws–one for visitors and one for residents. If someone is breaking the law, call the police.

        The Council’s idea that you can buy non-compliance for $500/year is just stupid, and, indeed, highly disrespectful to those who have chosen not to live in an area zone for vacation rentals. Trying to make it right by coming up with some unenforceable (and probably illegal) “rules” that apply only to improperly zone (i.e., illegal) vacation rentals is adding insult to injury.

        Zoned correctly or not? Not? Shut them down. Zoned correctly? The neighbors who choose to live in vacation-rental zoned areas need to accept that is what happens in those areas, and, if there is illegal activity going on, call the police.


  5. Stathie John Prattas May 9, 2018 2:42 pm

    I wish that WHT and HRH would someday report the facts. Apparently, none of the reporters were at the same meeting on April 24th as I was, and for which the Na Leo TV people have been running repeats of the live coverage then. There were much more than 100 testifiers, and by most counts, 80% or more were in opposition to Bill 108 as was written…saying it was overly restrictive. I agree with those below and others calling for a “good for one, good for all” regulation on neighborly noise, applying to all residential properties…not just vacation rentals. Having done property management for over 25 years, the police have been called in way too many times for long term tenant disputes.


    1. Chickie Galore May 11, 2018 1:05 pm

      And what about us folks on small ag lots that have to listen to vacation rental idiots.


  6. Luter May 10, 2018 9:33 pm

    The one thing the State and County governments have been good at is making homeless people! Bill 108 will be no different.


  7. Who Cares May 11, 2018 2:06 pm

    Yeah, what a nightmare the planning department is trying to endorse, enforce or even allow our neighbors to shove these kind of problems onto our neighborhoods , and farms. Renters disturb our peace and tranquility, even trying to impose their idea that they have a right to do anything they want.
    I live in south kona on ag land with a farm easement and 4×4 road and have two neighbors (Dave & Stacy Miller , Rick Bennett that rent their cottages on several vacation rental platforms, of course no one tells them they have to use 4×4 to get up or down, they expect us to pay for their use of our easement. Both of these people don’t pay tat either. Then renters trespass to explore the neighborhood,


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