(BIVN) – Three bills proposing to make changes to the Hawaiʻi County laws for operating transient accommodation rentals are headed to the County’s planning commissions, after a lengthy hearing on Tuesday.
The Hawaiʻi County Council Policy Committee on Planning, Land Use, and Development discussed the following measures:
- Bill 121, which repeals sections in the code relating to Short-term Vacation Rentals and establishes new provisions for Transient Accommodation Rentals (TARs) and Housing Platforms for TARs.
- Bill 122, which repeals all provisions that allow for Bed and Breakfast establishments.
- Bill 123, which removes each instance of the term “ʻohana dwelling” from the County Code and inserts the term “accessory dwelling unit”, and adds provisions for the establishment of an accessory dwelling unit.
Before sending the bills to the planning commissions, the council heard hours of public testimony, mostly in opposition.
“This proposed legislation financially harms local families, reduces housings security, and in part, is contrary to existing Hawaii Revised Statutes,” wrote the Hawaii Island REALTORS® and West Hawaii Association of REALTORS® in opposition. “Adding more regulations is impractical and counter productive, given the current administrative challenges. The complexity of this bill is beyond the scope of the general public’s understanding.”
Many said the bills were an erosion of private property rights, and was punitive with its proposed fines and fees.
Richard Henderson II noted that “the county has failed to enforce Ordinance 2018-114 (Bill 108), which was intended to address the issues of illegal vacation rentals and community character. Instead of imposing more regulations, the county should focus on enforcing the existing ones,” he added.
“We’ve been working on this bill for a year and half, and its still imperfect. We are aware of that. We will also acknowledge that its very complicated,” said Hawaiʻi County Council Chair Heather Kimball. “We understand that as a result of that, there may be significant misunderstandings about what the bill does and doesn’t do.”
Council Chair Kimball presented an informational slide, explaining that the purpose of the TAR package of bills is to:
- fulfill the promise to revisit the issue during deliberations on Bill 108 from 2018, and to develop a policy that works for both the county and the community.
- ensure that all TARs are operating legally, safely and are following the same set of standards.
- preserve the character of our residential and agricultural areas.
- address the ongoing housing crisis.
“As long as you’re not violating some other law,” Kimball said, “you are probably gonna be able to just keep on operating. We were not ever intending to shut that down.”
The next opportunity for discussion and public testimony on the bills will be at a future meeting of Hawaiʻi County’s Windward and Leeward Planning Commissions, at a time and place to be determined.