Protect neighborhoods from short-term rentals
The City Council is considering bills aimed at bringing bed-and-breakfast and other short-term rentals under control.
The City Council has yet to decide how to resolve the thorny conflict over bed-and-breakfast and other short-term rentals but cannot put off the the issue indefinitely. Homeowners who have rented out rooms to vacationers in defiance of city zoning rules must be brought under control if not entirely blocked from further rental activities.
The Council's Zoning Committee heard testimony last week about four bills that would enable the city to improve tracking of illegal rental units by requiring disclosure of more information from owners in advertisements, raise taxes for such rentals and increase fines for violators. The central issue is whether the lid on licenses and B&B operations should be lifted entirely.
The Council banned new short-term rentals of houses and rooms in 1989, grandfathering 141 existing rentals, which have dwindled to about 100. The city has been able to identify renegade B&Bs through the Internet. A search three years ago found 333 in Kailua alone.
A state study in 2005 found more than 2,000 online advertisements for short-term residential rentals, twice the number that were certified to operate.
The Council's goal should be to restore the residential atmosphere in neighborhoods such as Kailua where complaints about traffic and noise have been most frequent. Protection should be provided more to the neighborhoods than to B&B and short-term rental operators.
City fines for operating short-term rentals without permits were raised two years ago from $50 to $1,000 a day. In addition, the city can place liens on such property for delinquent fine amounts. The city should not hesitate to impose such penalties after finding a way to identify the violators.
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