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Council turns down bill to allow more B&Bs


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POSTED: Thursday, December 17, 2009

The long-running battle over allowing more bed-and-breakfast operations on Oahu is settled for now after the City Council voted down a proposal to lift a cap imposed 20 years ago.

Residents opposed to allowing more of the businesses in residentially zoned districts cheered as the city clerk read the 4-4 vote. Bill 7 needed six votes to pass its third and final reading.

“;They listened to the neighbors that said the issue is not the parking and the noise. The issue is we want to keep the residential character of the neighborhood,”; said Stu Simmons, a Kailua resident and one of the more outspoken opponents of bed and breakfasts.

“;We want to have neighborhood kids for our kids to play with,”; he added. “;We want to have neighbors in our neighborhood.”;

;[Preview]  City Council rejects bed & breakfast bill
 

The bill to allow permits for more than 1,200 new Bed and Breakfast's on Oahu was rejected by the Honolulu City Council.

Watch ]

 

               

     

 

HOW THEY VOTED

        Because the city Planning Commission had rejected Bill 7, the Council needed a “;supermajority”; of six votes to override that ruling and pass the measure.
       

Voting yes: Ikaika Anderson, Nestor Garcia, Rod Tam and Todd Apo

       

Voting no: Donovan Dela Cruz, Charles Djou, Ann Kobayashi and Gary Okino

       

Absent: Romy Cachola

       

 

       

The Council vote yesterday brings an end to Bill 7, introduced in 2008 by the late Councilwoman Barbara Marshall, who represented the Kailua-Kaneohe-Waimanalo district where the issue has been a point of controversy for years because of the number of operations in the area.

The proposal would have lifted the cap on operations, currently at 55. It would have allowed about 1,275 new ones, based on a limit of one-half of 1 percent of all Oahu residential properties.

Only owner-occupants—property owners who claim the homeowners' tax exemption—would have been eligible to obtain a $500 license required every two years to operate a bed and breakfast, with the money going toward enforcement to crack down on illegal businesses.

Operators would have been allowed to rent only three bedrooms in the property, with a maximum of two guests per bedroom.

Councilman Ikaika Anderson, Marshall's longtime aide who succeeded her on the Council, scolded colleagues and audience members as he spoke of trying to continue the work Marshall started in trying to reach a compromise between allowing more B&Bs while respecting community wishes.

“;What we were looking for today was the ability to reach a common ground for the entire community,”; he said after the vote. “;Unfortunately, we were not able to do that.”;

The Council heard about two hours of testimony from supporters and opponents who packed the third-floor Honolulu Hale meeting room, but provided no new arguments on the issue.

Opponents, armed with blue signs, argued the businesses bring noise, more people and traffic to neighborhoods, turning them into mini tourist districts.

Supporters, carrying yellow signs, argued that B&Bs are good for tourism and give visitors an option outside of Waikiki while allowing seniors and empty-nesters to earn additional income in a tough economy.

Angie Larson, president of the Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association, urged Council members to disregard the claims made by a “;vocal minority”; and allow more B&Bs.

Without the enforcement provisions that were included in Bill 7, illegal B&Bs will continue to proliferate, she said.

“;It had regulations, it had rules in it, it had compliance, it had total disclosure and, most of all, it brought peace to the community,”; Larson said. “;Unfortunately, it did not pass and we're back to status quo. Nobody wins over this.”;

She said she was unsure if she would continue pushing for more B&Bs, but added, “;If I don't, somebody will because the people are determined. This is something that needs to be resolved in a reasonable way.”;

Darrell Asato, a representative of Local 5, the hotel workers union, opposed the bill because of its potential to draw business away from hotels by adding close to 4,000 available rooms to the visitor market.

“;That's a significant, negative impact on the hotel industry,”; he said, adding that he does not believe the fight will end with yesterday's Council decision.

“;It's a fight that we won today,”; he said,”; but the fight goes on.”;