The Maryland man who rented his Kailua home to the Obamas over Christmas is getting a reminder from the city about Honolulu’s longtime ban on short-term rentals.

The Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting sent a letter to Glenn Weinberg’s Maryland home on Jan. 12.

“The purpose of this letter is to inform you of inquiries we have received regarding the use of the above property for ‘short-term rentals’ (i.e. rentals which are less than 30 days),” wrote David Tanoue, director of the Department of Planning and Permitting. “Please be advised that pursuant to the Land Use Ordinance, short-term rentals at this location are not permitted.”

Civil Beat digitally retouched the letter to remove Weinberg’s Maryland home address

The letter comes after a Civil Beat investigation found Weinberg violated a law banning property owners from renting out their homes for fewer than 30 days.

Weinberg told Civil Beat that he thought he was complying with the law by only renting to one tenant during a 30-day period, even though he said the Obamas’ rental was for fewer than 30 days.

Tanoue did not disclose whether Weinberg has responded to the city’s letter before publication. The planning director said his department will not issue a citation to Weinberg unless it proves he broke the law. If that happens, he could face a $1,000 fine.

Some Honolulu City Council members have said they’d like to revisit the short-term rental law this year. In the past, lawmakers have suggested allowing more short-term rentals as a way to give homeowners more flexibility, and to offset some city costs by charging them short-term rental permits.

With a spate of vocal neighborhood groups against lifting the ban, those efforts have repeatedly failed.

About the Author