Revised vacation rental bill comes back to Council

  • On April 24 in council chambers at the West Hawaii Civic Center, Planning Committee Chair Karen Eoff leads public testimony on Bill 108 relating to vacation rentals. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

HILO —The fifth version of a bill regulating short-term vacation rentals will be considered by the County Council Planning Committee on Tuesday, taking into account recommendations from the Leeward and Windward planning commissions and the Planning Department.

The new version of Bill 108 will increase the one-time registration fee to $500, allow so-called “condo hotels” in disallowed zones, ban vacation rentals in farm dwellings and exempt rentals in allowed districts from having to notify neighbors about their operation.

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The measure is an attempt to prohibit unhosted short-term rentals in residential and agricultural zones, while allowing them in hotel and resort zones as well as commercial districts. Existing rentals in disallowed areas would be grandfathered in after obtaining a nonconforming use certificate.

“We are trying to find opportunities that strike the right balance, address the larger concerns without being overly restrictive,” Deputy Planning Director Daryn Arai said Friday.

All vacation rentals will be required to register with the county, showing that transient accommodations taxes, general excise taxes and property taxes are paid in full. Short-term vacation rentals may be established only within a dwelling that has been issued final approvals by the Building Division for building, electrical, and plumbing permits, under the revised bill.

The nonconforming use certificate, which must be renewed annually with a $250 fee, will be granted by the planning director after receiving evidence that the vacation rental was in operation prior to the bill becoming law. The certificate can be denied if the applicant hasn’t secured building permits, is delinquent in taxes or there is evidence of non-responsive management, such as violation notices, police complaints or verified neighbor complaints.

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

Those in nonconforming zones will be required to notify neighbors within 300 feet only when the rentals have a nonconforming use certificate. The notification must include the number of units being rented, maximum number of guests permitted, number and location of required parking spaces and instructions on how to submit complaints to the Planning Department about the subject rental operation.

The Planning Department will be required to maintain a list of all short-term vacation rentals that have registered or received a nonconforming use certificate.

North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff, who along with Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha sponsored the bill at the request of the administration, said she was happy to get favorable recommendations from the planning commissions and planning director. She said the amendment reconciles their recommendations and takes into account public comments.

“Many of the recommendations were very helpful and have been incorporated into a proposed amendment that will be presented at the Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday,” Eoff said. “I’m hoping we will have a good discussion and continue to hear from the public on this very important issue.”

The Planning Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center. The public can also participate via videoconference at Hilo council chambers, the Pahoa and Waimea council offices, the Naalehu state office building and the old Kohala Courthouse.

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The amendment, Communication 739.310, can be downloaded from the county website, http://www.hawaiicounty.gov, by selecting “Council Records” from the left-hand column.

Hawaii County is the only county in the state that has no regulations governing the short-term rentals promoted by such companies as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway.

  1. Buds4All October 15, 2018 4:12 am

    So here is comes…all the restrictions to getting the permit and past taxes due this should drive out more income to families that need it badly. Oh and wait with the Trimming of the inventory this will give the other places the opportunity to increase their pricing. Hence this should then effect our sub economy like cleaning services, handyman services, construction and dining because now people will choose not to come here due to the increased cost.


    1. KonaDude October 15, 2018 7:34 am

      The plan is to drive costs up to discourage tourism then increase local taxes to pay higher wages to government employees, this seems like a great idea !!


      1. Buds4All October 15, 2018 7:38 am

        How is Eoff even heading this?


        1. Pest Outwest October 16, 2018 6:25 am

          You mean double liar Planning Committee Chair Karen Eoff? My thoughts exactly. But then why are Eoff or fellow liar Richards in government at all? Hawaii.


  2. Chocolate + whiskey October 15, 2018 10:09 am

    Does anyone have insights about the practical steps necessary to comply with these four points?

    1) All vacation rentals will be required to register with the county, showing that transient accommodations taxes, general excise taxes and property taxes are paid in full.

    2) Short-term vacation rentals may be established only within a dwelling that has been issued final approvals by the Building Division for building, electrical, and plumbing permits.

    3) The nonconforming use certificate, which must be renewed annually with a $250 fee, will be granted by the planning director after receiving evidence that the vacation rental was in operation prior to the bill becoming law.

    4) Those in nonconforming zones will be required to notify neighbors within 300 feet only when the rentals have a nonconforming use certificate. The notification must include the number of units being rented, maximum number of guests permitted, number and location of required parking spaces and instructions on how to submit complaints to the Planning Department about the subject rental operation.


    1. KonaLife October 15, 2018 12:29 pm

      When the laws don’t make sense and require too many hoops through which to jump, non-compliance becomes the norm. Eoff’s and Kanuha’s law will be a great example of this.


      1. Nope October 16, 2018 12:29 am

        The only damaging factor is the Mayor clown Kim. People should fight for their rights to make a living without crazy hopes. Vote all these clowns out!


    2. 4whatitsworth October 16, 2018 10:19 am

      Here is the reality of how this will work: 1) Fill out your application and pay your $250 2) Your application will be lost and you will need to help the county find it 3) When you notify your neighbors you will get the NIMBY response (Not In My Back Yard) 4) After months of effort you will not get your certificate and you will need to discover this with the county (they will not notify you) 5) The economy will continue to stagnate and taxes will need to be raised.


  3. guest October 16, 2018 7:45 am

    The continuous government thirst for power continues while individual freedoms are reduced.


  4. Say What? October 16, 2018 10:08 am

    Rental property owners and government haters are chiming in here, but I don’t see any comments by residents who have had to endure rental party houses. Most people who buy a home in a residential neighborhood don’t expect to find they have moved in next to Animal House.

    So…. good job, Councilwoman Eoff and Councilman Kanuha. It’s was a tough bill to write. Get it passed!


    1. KonaLife October 16, 2018 1:39 pm

      We have laws for those who unfortunately live near poorly-managed rentals or just obnoxious resident-neighbors. Call the police. The important thing is to ensure that police make a report for each time they are called there. You can also contact your Community Policing officer, and if problems persist, there are things the District Attorney can do. The same laws that apply to everyone–vacationer or resident. Vacationers are, in my experience, no worse than some residents.


  5. kona49er October 17, 2018 5:22 am

    I’ve been using my vacation home on the island for over 10 years, as a vacation rental, paying both TAT and GET as required. I’m not getting rich doing this but it does help cover the costs of owing the property. I have never had a single complaint from anyone in my community. I always felt that I have been helping the island’s tourism industry by providing an affordable vacation rental away from the resort$ and away from the town. I see these new regulations as a quick money grab by island government and a possible chance to grow their ranks (government getting bigger and more controlling; bigger government = increased taxes, it will not be just the vacation properties that will pay.) This is also a win for the resort owners as their lobbyists have been trying to shut down private vacation rentals for years now. These new regulations as proposed will cause me to stop using my vacation home as a vacation rental. It’s just not worth the pain of having to deal with the bureaucratic nonsense. So the resorts win and the county looses the tourism that my vacation rental brought to the island.


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