My Turn: STVR registration – compliance or convoluted?

I am a short-term vacation manager for a large real estate company on the Big Island of Hawaii. I have not been against the county requiring owners of vacation rentals to obtain permits for their vacation rentals with them through this whole process. I still believe it is needed because of the number of vacation rentals in single family homes that could be used for long-term rentals, which are much needed.

When I received the STVR registration application, I was blown away by the requirements for condos zoned for vacation rentals or the condo complexes that have always allowed short-term rentals. Maybe eight to 10 complexes along the Kona coast have a required 31-day minimum stay, which makes them exempt from the ordinance as I see it.

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I do believe single-family homes should apply for non-conforming use permits. This letter is only addressing the requirements for the STVR registration, not the non-conforming use permit.

I went to the county planning department with what I hoped were complete applications. Much to my surprise there are additional requirements needed if your property is owned under a trust, corporation or LLC. Be prepared to locate the trust, corporation or LLC document and submit that as well. A copy of the general excise tax and transient accommodations tax certificates are required, not just a letter from the state tax office, even though that clearly shows the owner’s names and GET and TAT numbers. I’m guessing the county doesn’t trust that the state randomly sends these out to just anybody.

The county also threw out many floor and site plans from the condo complexes built before 1980, so now there is another problem. I have to say the real property tax office seems to be the most efficient of the three departments required to help you put the applications together. You may be able to obtain a copy of a floor or site plan through a realtor, who has access to some of this information, but not always.

I see this as a serious headache and nightmare for the planning and building department. I know that planning hired additional people, but this totally caught the building department off guard. They haven’t hired additional people and are now going to be tasked with finding completed building permits that most likely don’t exist in some of the older buildings. Right now, the county employees are extremely helpful, but I wonder how long that will last when there are lines going out the door.

Now, the final problem I am having with the application is that many vacation rental owners are not even aware of this new ordinance. I think the county should be mailing out a notice to at least the condo owners in complexes that only need to do the complicated registration with a brief description of the new law and a link to a website to obtain the application. I will do whatever it takes to get all of my owners in compliance, but I only manage a small fraction of condos in North Kona.

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Wake up, Mr. Kim. I’ve always been a fan, but I question the sanity of this process.

Dawn R. Clark is a vacation rental manager for Clark Realty LLC in Kailua-Kona.