B&B bill reflected Marshall's passion


POSTED: Thursday, December 24, 2009

I did not intend to “;scold”; anyone during the Dec. 16 City Council meeting, as was reported in the Star-Bulletin on Dec. 17 (”;Council turns down bill to allow more B&Bs”;).

I passionately described the labor that my mentor, the late Councilwoman Barbara Marshall, and her staff, put into Bill 7. I also spoke of Marshall's courage of not being scared to tackle tough issues, and of not being a coward, afraid to take a stand that may not be popular.

It was an emotional speech about completing the courageous work of a special person who often brings out a lot of emotion in me when speaking of her.

Bill 7 was intended to control, and would have controlled, illegal bed and breakfasts and transient vacation units, or TVUs (entire homes rented short-term without the owner on-site), while allowing for extremely limited permitting for owner-occupied bed and breakfasts only. (B&Bs are rooms for short-term rental on the property where the owner resides full-time.)

This is why Chairwoman Marshall introduced Bill 7, and why she strengthened the enforcement measures in Bill 8 and incorporated such into her Bill 7. It must also be pointed out that the city Land Use Ordinance currently allows many home occupations in residential-zoned areas where clients visit home offices, such as attorneys, accountants, kumu hula, musical instrument instructors and hair dressers. In permitting owner-occupied B&Bs only, Bill 7 would have:

» Required all permit applicants to show their homeowners exemption as proof they own the home and reside there permanently;

» Imposed strict fines of $1,000 for a first offense, $3,000 for a second offense and $5,000 for every offense thereafter that accrue daily for violations and cannot be settled for less than the actual amount owed;

» Required a valid permit number on all B&B and TVU advertisements;

» Required one property owner to be on the property when offered for rent as a B&B;

» Terminated B&B permit upon property's sale;

» Implemented a $500 permit fee, and monies generated would hire additional Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) enforcement staff;

» Required all permitees to reapply for their permits every two years with no guarantee of permit renewal;

» Prevented 99.5 percent of all Oahu residential property from ever receiving a B&B permit and established a cap of allowable permits in any one Council district;

» Required off-street parking for B&B guests.

Bill 7 also allowed DPP to surf the Internet and issue fines to those advertising their rentals without listing valid permit numbers, as opposed to current law that requires inspectors to personally observe a short-term rental being rented without a permit before issuing a citation.

Bill 8, which some consider to be good enforcement legislation, permitted the DPP director to negotiate fine settlements to amounts lower than the current maximum penalty of $50 per day. Bill 8 did not appropriate any money to DPP for hiring additional enforcement staff, while Bill 7 provided up to $637,000 for this purpose via a $500 permit fee — and the DPP director testified that this would be more than enough money for his department to enforce Bill 7.

The state announced this week that it will take the counties' share of hotel room taxes (costing Honolulu $45 million) next fiscal year, which will cause the city to bleed more red ink and decrease the likelihood of hiring additional DPP inspectors.

Barbara Marshall labored tirelessly toward a workable compromise with strict enforcement and very limited permitting of B&Bs only, and my office's goal was to complete her efforts.


City Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who represents District 3 (Kailua, Kaneohe and Waimanalo), is the Council's floor leader.