Don't delay short-term rental bill


POSTED: Saturday, July 18, 2009

The city placed a moratorium on short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods two decades ago, but the number of bed-and-breakfast units and brief rentals of entire houses has flourished. For the past year, the City Council has neglected to act on a compromise bill while renegade landlords continue to ignore present law, understandably confident that they will not be penalized. Further delay in approving the bill should end.

The city banned short-term rentals in residential districts in 1989, grandfathering and issuing permits for 141 then-existing units. Since then, those legal units have dwindled—but the state estimates that more than 3,000 illegal units have been operated while the landlords thumb their noses at the city by openly advertising on the Internet.

Council members “;keep studying it,”; Kailua resident Stann Reiziss told the Star-Bulletin's Gary T. Kubota. “;In the meantime, people are still operating illegally. They're turning our residential areas into commercial areas.”; The law forbids property owners other than those with permits from renting residential units for less than 30 days.

The violations are so brazen that they can be almost comical. Californian Gary Fanger, who retired in February from providing staff for health-care facilities under strike, advertises 6,200- and 3,200-square-foot houses on his 4.2-acre Fanger Estates about 40 feet from the beach at Hauula on the Hawaiioutcomes.org Web site at “;$1,000-$3,500 daily or $7,500-$10,000 weekly.”; A couple paid Fanger for their wedding reception at Fanger Estates in June, according to the bride, making it a commercial operation.

Fanger told Kubota that someone in the city permit section told him he did not need a certificate of occupancy before using the residence but could not name the official. He said a Web site indicating Fanger Estates was booked for more than 40 days from August through December for a week or less at a time “;must be a different property,”; then said the reservations were for his family and relatives.

City officials said a code enforcement officer has been at the estate twice during the day and found no activity and that the two houses are under construction. They said the houses need to undergo electrical and plumbing inspections before Fanger can obtain a certificate of occupancy.

Meanwhile, City Council Zoning Chairman Rod Tam said he plans to hold a public hearing on the bill. At the last hearing in January, operators of short-term rentals complained the bill was too severe in its requirements, while residents near the rentals complained it was not severe enough. That could mean that the bill, introduced by the late Councilwoman Barbara Marshall, has merit.