Honolulu Council Passes New Vacation Rental Rules, Mayor Expected to Sign

Jun 18, 2019

Protesters gathered outside of Monday's vote in opposition to the proposed regulation.
Credit Ryan Finnerty

The Honolulu City Council on Tuesday approved a measure that restricts vacation rentals on Oahu. The vote capped off a yearlong effort to create a new regulatory framework for short-term vacation rentals on Oahu. 

Current rules were adopted in 1989, long before the widespread rise of home sharing and internet booking platforms like Airbnb.

If signed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who has expressed support for the measure, Bill 89 would allow an additional 1,715 property owners to rent out individual rooms in their residences, but not the entire home. Whole-home rentals would still be allowed in resort areas of Waikiki, Ko’olina, and Turtle Bay.

Although that is technically an increase from the 800 or so permits that were issued in 1989, it would represent a significant decrease from the total number of units on Oahu being rented on a short-term basis, estimated by city officials to be around 10,000 island-wide.

Bill 89 also addresses concerns about enforcement of rental law by allowing city officials to direct booking platforms to remove listings that do not display a valid permit number from the City and County of Honolulu.

City lawmakers passed the bill on a unanimous 9-0 vote. Mayor Kirk Caldwell urged councilmembers to pass the new rules, just minutes before the vote.

Another, more restrictive measure, Bill 85, was passed 7-2 by councilmembers. Chair Ikaika Anderson and North Shore representative Heidi Tsuneyoshi voted in opposition after testimony from a city attorney indicated that there was a legal conflict between the two proposals.

Both bills now go to Mayor Kirk Caldwell for signature or veto.