Kamalani Duerksen presents testimony on draft rules for Bill 108 regarding short-term vacation rentals. (Photo Credit: Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
Are you thinking about purchasing a short-term rental on the Big Island? Or do you currently own a short-term vacation rental? If so, there are some new rules and regulations you now need to be aware of.
Bill 108, adopted by the Hawaii County Council in November 2018 as Ordinance 2018-114, regulates Short-Term Vacation Rentals (STVR) on Hawaii Island. The new law defines where the use will be allowed, establishes provisions and standards to regulate this use, and provides an avenue for an existing STVR to apply for a Nonconforming Use Certificate that would allow continued operation outside of a permitted zoning district. The Bill basically outlines the regulation of short-term rentals of the property where the owner doesn't live on-site.
One of the more contentious rules associated with Bill 108 is the Non-Conforming Use (NCU) permit. According to the rule, vacation rentals that are not in allowed zoning districts must apply for a Non-Conforming Use permit, and this permit must be renewed annually with a $250 renewal fee.
As the Bill currently stands, "If you miss the deadline for renewal, you lose permission to vacation rent the property, and you can never re-apply. As part of the application process, the applicant must notify in writing, all neighbors within 300 feet of the vacation rental property. What is important to the applicant is that these neighbors have no say in whether your application is approved. However, problems could arise the following year when it's time to re-apply. If the neighbors have called the police on your tenants or sent photos of multiple vehicles parked on the street, etc., the Planning Department has the authority to not renew your certificate. There is an appeal process. But if you lose the appeal, you can never re-apply for another NCU Certificate."
Kamalani Duerksen from Keauhou Kona Real Estate expressed her concern over the director's authority to approve and denial of an NCU certificate. Within the current rules, the planning director can also base the decision to grant an NCU certificate based on the density of other vacation rentals in the neighborhood. Duerksen said the selective enforcement is unfair.
"The rule needs to constitute and ensure that equal and fair opportunity for property owners to obtain a certificate," she said.
In addition to these requirements, the new rules require that STVRs post and assign a "reachable person."According to the rule, a reachable person must live on the island and must be reachable 24/7 by guests, neighbors, and county agencies.
If you would like further information on the passing of Bill 108, please visit the links below:
Draft Rules: hiplanningdept.com
Short-Term Vacation Rentals - Hi Planning Commission: hiplanningdept.com
Harry Pritikin, howzitkohala.com