Honolulu Planning Commission proposes new rules for short-term rentals for residential areas only


Sept. 30 – The Honolulu Planning Commission voted Wednesday to recommend to Honolulu City Council the new short-term rent rules proposed by the City Department for Planning and Approval, but only for residential areas.

The rules for the recreational areas are left to the Honolulu City Council and Department of Planning and Approval.

First of all, the rules proposed by DPP would increase the minimum number of days that a property can be rented without a special permit from 30 to 180 local residents.

DPP estimates that short-term rentals account for about 35% of the vacancy and 5% of the country’s housing stock. It also estimates that there are around 20,000 illegal short-term rental units in operation across the country.

The new rules would allow the currently 808 legal bed-and-breakfast and temporary vacation units to continue operating, but would not allow new short-term rentals in residential areas.

New permits would only be issued in resort areas such as Kuilima, Ko Olina, Waikiki and Makaha. Changes would also require properties to display their certification registration number on all advertisements.

The measure also provides for bed-and-breakfasts and temporary vacation units in residential areas to be charged at the B&B property tax rate, which is higher than the residential tax rate. The new non-compliant units would be taxed at the resort rate, which is even higher. Up to $ 3.12 million in property taxes from the B&B, hotel, and resort tax classifications would then be used to staff the city’s planning and approval department for the enforcement of the special unit for short-term rental enforcement.

However, when the planning committee voted on the new rules, it split the proposal into two parts: housing and resorts.

When the Commission takes a policy decision for the Council, the Council needs a super majority – six instead of five – to override the Commission’s recommendation. In this case, however, it was only decided to recommend the new rules for residential areas. The commission declined to take a decision on the rules for recreational areas.

Recreational areas are those defined in the new rules: Kuilima, Ko Olina, Waikiki and Makaha.

To address some issues raised by witnesses at previous public hearings on the new rules, the DPP added exceptions to the 180-day minimum term for health care contractors, full-time students, full-time remote workers, military personnel and homeowners in transition.

These exemptions led several commissioners to question DPP’s ability to enforce the rule.

“I think enforcement will be challenging no matter what time frame you set,” said DPP director Dean Uchida.

“If we find that it is being misused, we will probably have to double-check. If it works, we will try to improve it further.”

Commissioner Aki Marceau added a recommendation to the residency requirements for the Council to look into enforcement of the 180 day minimum requirement and possibly consider alternative solutions.

A suggestion from Commissioner Ken Hayashida was that instead of limiting the number of stays, a property owner could have a year but meet the 30-day minimum without the additional exemptions.

Uchida claimed that he would find it just as difficult to get it through. Marceau also came up with the idea of ​​something in the middle, like 90 days.

However, Uchida said 180 days is best as it is in line with the state definition of a short term rental.

Marceau also added a condition to the Commission’s decision on housing regulations that DPP should do more publicity at neighborhood board meetings.

The difference between an additional condition and a Commission recommendation is that the Council needs a super majority to lift a condition, with an additional recommendation being optional.

The lack of reach on these new rules raised concerns for several members.

Commissioner Steven Lim was a member of the commission when the current short-term rental rules were adopted in 2019.

“That public relations process took a couple of years … In contrast, the current deal was presented to us in August this year, maybe just two months ago,” he said.

“The problem I have is the reduced time frame for public relations. I don’t think many of the people in the community and families on the website tonight had much other opportunity than their three minutes to get their views across to the DPP. “

The decision of the commission is forwarded to the council for discussion by the council members.


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