Honolulu City Council has passed a controversial ordinance requiring short-term rentals in the city to be a minimum of 90 days, a huge jump from the current 30-day minimum.
The rule will not apply to resort-zoned areas in Koolina, Kuilima, Makaha, and parts of Waikiki.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi had originally proposed the idea, saying too many tourists are staying in residential areas creating parking problems and other issues.
More than 130 people spoke at the meeting, including property owners who use their homes and condominiums for much-needed income. They argued that not all visitors to Hawaii want to stay in a hotel.
The hotel industry was a strong proponent of the ordinance.
“It’s not just about the hotels,” said Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, according to Hawaii News Now. “We’re not against outlying short-term rentals. But the fact of the matter is some of them are not complying with the rules.”
But those who use their property as an Airbnb or other type of rental disputed the claim.
“Any economic benefits of opening up our residential areas to tourism are far outweighed by the negative impacts on our neighborhoods and local residents,” said Thomas Cestare.
The measure passed by an 8-1 vote, with councilmember Andria Tupola the lone dissenter. She argued rules already on the books aren’t enforced, and this adds yet another layer.
A rule limiting the number of short-term rentals in the city to 1,700 properties was passed in 2019, but the city never funded the enforcement positions or issued new permits.
“I hope that as a body we continue to decide how many laws we want to put on the books that don’t have enforcement,” said Tupola. “All of us want to see action. We want to see changes. And that comes when we get serious about enforcing the current laws on the books.”
The ordinance will require operators of short-term rentals to pay a $1,000 initial registration fee and a $500 renewal fee.
One resident who rents out his condo for portions of the year agreed with Tupola.
“A new law will not fix an existing ordinance that is not being enforced,” said Daniel Boothby, according to Honolulu Civil Beat.
The mayor defended the plan.
“We live here, we work here, and we want to play here,” Blangiardi told Hawaii Public Radio. “And we don’t want to feel subordinated that we’ve wholesaled Hawaii for the retail business where a bunch of people don’t even put money into local bank accounts.
“Anything and everything we can possibly do to direct our energies here to make the people who live here the priority, that’s what I’m going to be about,” Blangiardi said.
Expedia, which offers short-term rental options on its site, was disappointed by the action.
“In failing to implement existing law and the corresponding agreement, Expedia Group signed to assist with enforcement, Honolulu County and its residents are being left without a policy solution that will meaningfully address community concerns,” Richard de Sam Lazaro of Expedia Group, said in a statement.
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