Bed-and-breakfast bill advances in Council


POSTED: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Twenty years after the City Council capped the number of bed-and-breakfasts on Oahu, the issue remains divisive in the community as the current Council considers whether to ease those restrictions.

Dozens of people on both sides of the issue packed the City Council's committee hearing room yesterday as the Zoning Committee took up two separate proposals to allow for more bed-and-breakfasts.

Committee members kept the issue alive by advancing a version of Bill 7, CD 1, by a vote of 4-1.

Zoning Chairman Rod Tam called it a “;work in process,”; adding that he expects more debate when the proposal goes before the full Council on second reading next month. If approved, the bill would go back to Tam's committee for another public hearing before going to the Council for a final public hearing and vote.

The committee hearing addressed only bed-and-breakfasts, in which a property owner resides on the premises.

Debate on allowing more B&Bs was revived in recent years by the late Councilwoman Barbara Marshall, who represented the Windward district, with communities bitterly divided over the B&B issue.

Proposals considered by the committee yesterday, Bills 6 and 7, were introduced last year, but debate on those measures stalled following the death of Marshall in February and then the death of Councilman Duke Bainum in June. Council leaders delayed the proposals, saying they wanted those districts represented in the debate.

Armed with signs and T-shirts to support their sides of the argument, advocates and opponents of B&Bs showed up in force yesterday.

Opponents say many B&Bs are operating illegally, bringing unwanted noise, traffic, security issues and safety risks to otherwise quiet residential communities. They note that the city Planning Commission and most neighborhood boards have sided against additional B&Bs in residentially zoned areas.

;[Preview]    Bed and Breakfast Battle Continues

The Honolulu City Council's zoning committee voted down a measure that would legalize and regulate “;Bed and Breakfasts”; in residential neighborhoods.

Watch ]


“;The issue is, you're using residential zoning for hotel-like businesses,”; said Stu Simmons, a Kailua resident opposed to additional B&Bs. “;It changes the character of the neighborhood.

“;We don't want to commercialize our neighborhoods.”;

Bed-and-breakfast supporters say the small businesses are good for tourism, giving visitors an option outside of Waikiki hotels, while allowing seniors, empty-nesters and others with spare rooms to earn extra income in tough economic times.

Angie Larson, president of the Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association, said opponents have resorted to fear tactics to try and sway public opinion.

“;We're not going to turn into hotels,”; Larson said, adding that the arguments of 20 years ago in capping B&Bs should not hold today.

“;You cannot hold this Council responsible for what happened 20 years ago,”; she said. “;Things change. Life changes.”;