Poll results: Readers weigh in on goals of proposed new transient accommodation rental regulations – Big Island Now

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Proposed changes to Big Island short-term rental regulations and definitions were met with overwhelming opposition when they were introduced now nearly 2 weeks ago at a Hawai‘i County Council committee meeting.

Big Island Now asked readers in its most recent poll what goals in the proposed three-bill short-term rental bill package they think are most important, if any.

While 30%, or 126 votes, chose it doesn’t matter what the goals are, the proposed new regulations should not be adopted because they will only hurt those with short-term rentals now and the Big Island economy, another 67%, or 274 votes, selected one of seven of the benchmarks the bills want to meet or that it’s not just one of the goals that is most important but a combination of them that will make a difference.

Screenshot from the March 2018 Hawai‘i Appleseed “Hawai‘i Vacation Rentals: Impact on Housing & Hawai‘i’s Economy” report.

The bill package is aimed at registering and ensuring all of the island’s transient accommodation rentals, also called short-term rentals, are operating safely, legally and under the same standards.

The proposed legislation seeks to preserve the character of the island’s residential and agricultural areas while reducing speculative property investment in those markets. It’s also hoped the changes would relieve some of the inflationary pressure transient accommodations have on long-term rental rates.


One of the bills would remove most restrictions for building ‘ohana dwellings, which would be called accessory dwelling units.

The opposition is concerned about the economic impact of the proposed new rules, including pushing short-term rentals out of markets where resorts do not exist such as Puna and especially the Volcano area. Other concerns range from infringing on private property owner rights, higher fees and taxes, damage that could be done to the agricultural tourism industry and more focus being needed on unhosted transient accommodations that are often owned by entities off-island, among many more.

But others say short-term rental regulations need to be more strict to address issues some cause for community members living nearby, such as noise, parking and safety complaints. One person, who said her home is surrounded by short-term rentals, said they are ruining her community.

Hawai‘i County Council Chairwoman Heather Kimball, who co-introduced the three bills, said she had two people in her community who moved because they couldn’t tolerate the activity that was going on at short-term rentals next door.


Greg Kirkpatrick, who thinks the proposed new regulations should not be adopted, claimed the poll was heavily skewed toward the passage of “some restrictive rules” regarding transient accommodation rentals and said the proposed bills are an attempt by hotels to push competition away.

“Your one-sided ‘poll’ will only enflame opposition to people who are trying to make ends meet by renting space to tourists,” commented Kirkpatrick on the poll.

User SA SASSER commented that It seems like the people the proposed new regulations hurt the most are “mom and pop types” and everyone else will be fine.

“Step one, sell properties. Step two, lay off the aunties and maintenance staff we employ,” added Shane Robbins.


User tom jones said any new rules should not include blanket coverage and each of the island’s districts should have a say and agreed that some areas where resorts do not exist could be harmed if the new regulations become law.

“Bring back the VACATION NODES option as was promised by Kimball in the beginning,” commented jones. “This is nothing more than a political move to further her personal political career without thought to the general good.”

Steve DeMeritt spoke to the need for residents with “smallish houses” around the island to have places for family and friends to stay nearby.

“If the Council wants to limit short-term rentals to only ‘approved zones,’ then we need approved zones all over the island, not just Waikōloa and Hilo,” commented DeMeritt. “People in lower Puna have friends and families, too. Legalized [accessory dwelling units] on ALL Agricultural lands would go a long way in helping accommodate friends and family. If you can farm fighting chickens, then you should be able to host friends and family in [accessory dwelling units] and tents.”

Here are the full poll results:

  • It doesn’t matter what the proposed regulations aim to do, they should not be adopted because they will only hurt those with short-term rentals now and the Big Island economy: 126 (30%)
  • Making it easier to build ‘ohana units for family or long-term rentals: 60 (14%)
  • Reducing speculative investment of properties in residential and agricultural markets: 54 (13%)
  • It’s not just one, but a combination of those that will help: 41 (9%)
  • Retaining more housing in the long-term rental market: 34 (8%)
  • Preserving the character of residential and agricultural areas: 33 (8%)
  • Registering all short-term rentals in Hawai‘i County: 27 (6%)
  • Safe, legal and standard operations: 13 (3%)
  • Reducing inflationary pressure of transient accommodations on long-term rental rates: 12 (2%)
  • None of the above/Other: 12 (2%)

Total votes: 412

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