A controversial bill further restricting short-term rental operations on Hawaii’s most populous island became law on Tuesday despite intense opposition from property owners who claimed it unfairly penalizes them in favor of the hotel industry.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed the measure at a beach park in Kailua, one of various neighborhoods where residents have complained about the influx of tourists attracted by convenient rental options on popular online platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

“This is to bring back our neighborhoods where people grew up, where families are raised, and not have them be mini hotels,” Blangiardi said in a press conference following the ceremony.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi signs Bill 41 into law at the Kailua Beach Park during a press conference.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi signs Bill 41 into law in a ceremony at Kailua Beach Park. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

The Honolulu City Council passed Bill 41 in an 8-1 vote mid-April, despite intense opposition from short-term rental owners, who have complained the measure unfairly penalizes residents hoping to make an extra buck off their properties while leaving few options for visitors outside of pricey hotel rooms.

The measure, which takes effect in six months, requires short-term rental operators to book their properties for a minimum of 90 days in most Oahu neighborhoods, an increase from the previous 30-day requirement. Blangiardi had originally proposed a 180-day minimum booking period.

Rentals that cater to visitors for shorter periods are still allowed in resort zones and certain neighborhoods near Waikiki, Ko Olina and the Turtle Bay Resort.

The legislation places further obligations on short-term rental owners, including requiring non-conforming rental units in residential areas to retain one off-street parking spot for each room rented and limiting visitors to four adults. Operators will be charged $1,000 to register their rentals, followed by an annual $500 renewal fee.

Now that Bill 41 is law, questions remain over how the city will implement it. While a 2019 measure regulating short-term rentals prompted the creation of seven enforcement positions, the city never funded those jobs.

Blangiardi said the city is in the process of hiring field inspectors in the Department of Planning and Permitting, who will use new software to ensure short-term rentals are compliant.

“This will be unprecedented … but we absolutely intend to enforce this piece of legislation,” Blangiardi said. “That’s something you can count on.”

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