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Bill could allow 1,275 new B&B homes


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 02, 2009

As many as 1,275 new bed-and-breakfast homes could be established on Oahu under certain conditions intended to allow true homeowners to take in additional income to keep their properties.

Under Bill 7, property owners would have to prove that the home being used as the bed-and-breakfast is a primary residence, and the property owner would be required to be on the premises at all times.

The Zoning Committee approved the proposal by a 3-2 vote. It now goes to the full Council for a third and final reading on Dec. 16. If approved, it would go to Mayor Mufi Hannemann for consideration.

Councilman Ikaika Anderson, author of the current version of the bill, called it a compromise between community members seeking to maintain the residential character of neighborhoods and those seeking to augment their income through short-term rentals of available rooms in their homes.

“;I think it's clear that this committee, and hopefully this Council, is looking at providing this tool so that our local families and our local people will be able to hold onto what is theirs,”; said Anderson, whose district includes the Kailua neighborhood that has been the most vocal about the issue.

The committee heard nearly two hours of testimony from residents on both sides of the issue.

Only owner-occupants — property owners who claim the homeowners' tax exemption — would be eligible to obtain the $500 license required every two years to operate a bed-and-breakfast. Operators would be allowed to rent out only three bedrooms in the property, with a maximum of two guests per bedroom.

The parameters of the bill could change when it comes before the full Council.

Council Chairman Todd Apo and others raised concerns over the provision requiring a property owner to remain on the property at all times, noting that the Council's intent is simply to ensure that owner-occupants are allowed to operate B&Bs, not speculators or investors.

Apo also suggested an initial cap of 750 new B&Bs and giving the Council power to set the limit by resolution. Bill 7 sets the limit at one-half of 1 percent of all residential properties, estimated at 1,275.