City Council Advances Short-Term Rental Regulations

Mar 19, 2019

Credit Teemu008 / Flickr

Members of the Honolulu City Council’s Planning Committee advanced two measures that would represent a sweeping change to the way short-term rentals are regulated on Oahu. The move comes in the wake of a court decision upholding similar regulation in Santa Monica, California.  

That decision, made by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, upheld several local ordinances in the coastal California town that required any short-term rental listed by a booking service to be registered with the City of Santa Monica and to display a license number. It also made the booking platform liable for any illegal rentals being listed.

City Councilmembers were considering two proposals for reigning in short-term rentals on Oʻahu, which have been blamed for everything from high rents to a lack of neighborhood parking.

One proposal originated with Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who personally lobbied for the bill before the city’s independent planning commission on multiple occasions last year. It would institute wide-ranging changes to how short-term rentals are taxed, where they are permitted to operate, and how many would be licensed. Bill 89, as it is known, was pitched as a compromise that addresses concerns from both sides of the issue.

That is in contrast to Bill 85, which took a more hard-line approach. It would ban all short-term rentals outside of resort areas like Waikīkī and allow residents to sue their neighbors who are operating illegal rentals.

Both bills levy steep fines on violators, up to $50,000 per day.

More than 70 private citizens, business owners, and industry representatives turned out to provide comments on the proposals.

The Planning Committee voted to advance both bills to the full City Council. No time has yet been set for the next hearing.