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.
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.
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.