The Honolulu City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee will take up the issue of illegal vacation rentals this year, Committee Chair Ikaika Anderson announced at a Friday press conference.

Anderson is asking that council members, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration and constituents submit proposals to his office by February 2 for addressing the problem.

“This has been a very complex issue for many years,” said Anderson. “If this was an easy issue to solve, we would have solved it a long time ago.”

Honolulu City Council Vice-Chair Ikaika Anderson.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

The City Council issued a moratorium on short-term rentals in the 1980s. But recently released data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, suggests that thousands of illegal vacation rentals have continued to operate throughout the island, buoyed by popular web sites such as AirB&B, Vacation Rentals by Owner and TripAdvisor.

The HTA report cites a total of 4,411 vacation units being advertised online throughout Oahu, even though city data indicates that the island had only 828 permitted vacation rentals as of November.

The issue of illegal vacation rentals has been hotly debated throughout the islands for several decades, with various efforts made to shut them down.

Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting told Civil Beat last week that it is looking to enact more aggressive measures to combat illegal rentals. This includes increasing the fines for short term rentals from $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000 a day. DPP Is also considering introducing a bill in the City Council that would require vacation rental operators to include information on their advertisements indicating that their rentals are legal, such as their operating certificate number or address, or face a penalty of $1,000 a day.

Most changes to DPP’s authority to enforce rules relating to vacation rentals require an amendment to the city’s Land Use Ordinance. The Caldwell administration can submit a bill to the council — the most direct way of making changes — or the council can pass a resolution instructing DPP to submit a bill.

Anderson said he was open to all proposals. “The only thing that is clear is that there is no solid, definitive answer on how to solve this problem,” he said.


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