Reviving the B&B bill


POSTED: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

With images of palm trees swaying on a manicured lawn overlooking the ocean, the Web site fangerestates.com invites visitors to rent two luxury beachfront homes in Hauula to experience “;paradise in Hawaii.”;

Neighbors say the online ad is one of the most recent examples of marketing illegal commercial activities in residential areas on Oahu and reflects the lax enforcement of city zoning codes.

Critics say a proposed ordinance, Bill 8, introduced in 2008, would curb advertising of illegal vacation rentals, but the City Council has allowed the bill to languish in its zoning committee for more than a year.

“;They keep studying it. They're in analysis paralysis,”; said Kailua resident Stann Reiziss, who has testified before the Council. “;In the meantime, people are still operating illegally. They're turning our residential areas into commercial areas.”;

Bill 8 is scheduled for Council consideration today to determine whether it should be extended for 90 days while lawmakers decide its merits.

The bill was introduced by the late Councilwoman Barbara Marshall.

Zoning Chairman Rod Tam said he had no opinion about the proposed ordinance but plans to hold a public hearing on the bill.

The measure would require vacation rentals to post the numbers of the permits that allow them to operate outside resort or medium-density apartment districts.

Noncompliance fines would range from $1,000 to $5,000 a day.

The rule is similar to one requiring building contractors to list their state license numbers on advertisements.

Reiziss said the community is becoming overrun with illegal vacation rentals, with visitors arriving and partying at all hours of the night.

“;It's neighborhood disrupting,”; he said.

Reiziss and Kailua resident Linda Ure said city inspectors need to make adjustments in their enforcement methods as well, adjusting hours so they can conduct inspections at night and on weekends when illegal activities occur.

“;I want to see something happen here. ... This is a residential neighborhood. This is where we sleep. We have to go to work tomorrow,”; said Ure.

Reiziss said the Council has already “;grandfathered”; bed-and-breakfasts in operation before 1989 and should be focusing on enforcing the ordinance rather than considering expanding vacation rentals elsewhere on Oahu, especially since hotel occupancy has been down.

Reiziss said the lack of enforcement is unfair to legal bed-and-breakfasts, which pay for their permits. Illegal operations also place a strain on the city's infrastructure.

The 4.2-acre Fanger Estates features a 6,200-square-foot house with six bedrooms and a second, 3,200-square-foot house with four bedrooms, comfortably sleeping a total of 30 people, the Web site advertises.

“;Whether you have come for a vacation, retreat, reunion or to celebrate this most important day of your life, your wedding, Fanger Estates is your destination,”; according to the site. “;It is truly paradise on earth and we guarantee it will be a memory of a lifetime.”;

According to the Hawaiioutcomes.org Web site, Fanger has the 6,200-square-foot beachfront house, described as “;perfect for weddings, vacations, retreats, reunion, company meetings,”; listed at $1,000 to $3,500 a day or $7,500 to $10,000 a week.

City officials said a code enforcement officer who has been at the estate twice during the day found no activity and that the two buildings were still under construction.

As of last week, officials said, Fanger Estates still has to undergo final electrical and plumbing inspections and has no certificate of occupancy allowing people to use the structures.