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Enforcement key to B&B bill


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POSTED: Monday, December 07, 2009

Many bed-and-breakfast homes that have been operating illegally would gain approval under a bill before the City Council. Any proposal that is intended as a compromise settling the dispute over the renegade units will not be sufficient unless full enforcement is assured.

The controversy is hottest in Kailua, where bed-and-breakfast and “;transient vacation units”;—entire houses for rent, known in some areas as self-catering cabins or cottages—have flourished since new operations were banned in 1989. Only 141 permits were grandfathered into the scene, but the number of illegal operations has exploded in recent years.

The Council's Zoning Committee approved a bill in the past week that would limit B&Bs to no more than half of 1 percent of all residential properties, estimated at 1,275 on all of Oahu. The proposal by Councilman Ikaika Anderson, whose district includes Kailua, was opposed by the Kailua Neighborhood Board.

Anderson told Council members that he is “;providing this tool so that our local families and our local people will be able to hold onto what is theirs.”; He said the bill would maintain the residential character of neighborhoods while allowing some residents to augment their income by renting out bedrooms for short periods.

The most vocal opponents, organized as Keep it Kailua, maintain that their neighborhood already has lost its residential character. They predict the bill could result in nearly 4,000 B&B operations on Oahu and 1,300 in Kailua.

Anderson's bill would require that the homeowner must live on the premises and receive a homeowner tax exemption, which would rule out most cabin-cottage operations; the homeowner would be required to live on a separate structure on the property. B&Bs would be restricted to three bedrooms and two guests per bedroom.

The seven-member city Planning Commission unanimously rejected an earlier proposal last year to lift the ban on B&B operations. Chairwoman Karin Holma expressed concern that “;the legalization of mini-resort use in a residential area”; would create “;a really slippery slope.”;

Mayor Mufi Hannemann has not indicated whether he would veto such a measure. In campaigning for mayor five years ago, he called for beefing up the number of city inspectors to enforce the ban.

He told a Windward audience that the administration of Jeremy Harris “;perhaps has not heeded the calls to the concerns that was expressed repeatedly throughout the years about this burdensome industry that is obviously causing an impact on your quality of life.”;

Enforcement of the B&B ban has not noticeably improved during the Hannemann administration, and the City Council has put aside a bill aimed at stiffening existing regulations.