Six new part-time inspector positions were added to the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting this month to help investigate short-term vacation rental operators.

In a notice to the city council, DPP Acting Director Kathy Sokugawa said the workers are needed from Aug. 1 until June 30, 2020. They will be paid $24.18 per hour for 19 hours a week for a total of $132,312.96, she said.

“These temporary employees will be gathering information on illegal Transient Rentals and Bed & Breakfast operations through onsite investigations, personal interviews, and searches of files, records, codes, ordinances and laws within the department and outside sources,” Sokugawa wrote.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Acting Director of Planning and Permitting Kathy Sokugawa said the city will enforce a crackdown on illegal short-term vacation rentals despite lawsuits.

Christina Jedra/Civil Beat

For decades, owners have been prohibited from renting out units for less than 30 days outside of resort zones. The passage of Bill 89 allows the city to issue violation notices based on advertisements alone. As of Monday, the department still hadn’t issued any notices of violation.

Starting in October 2020, rental hosting platforms will be required to submit reports to the city listing addresses and other information from listings that aren’t otherwise public. Until then, the city is relying on imprecise location information posted on sites like Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway.

Earlier this month, Sokugawa said the department wants to be certain they have correct address and owner information before issuing notices.

“We’re actively doing investigations to confirm the evidence so we can stand by our NOVs,” she said.

Even without violation notices, many short-term rental operators have taken action by canceling their reservations, converting their units to long-term rentals or putting them up for sale.


Before you go . . .

Everyone at Civil Beat feels the weight of heightened responsibility. For the past several months our nonprofit newsroom has worked beyond our normal capacity to provide accurate information, push for accountability, amplify smart ideas and new voices, and double down on facts and context to write deeply reported local stories.

The truth is, our evolution as a public service news organization over the past 10 years has prepared us for this moment in time, when what we do matters the most.

Reader support keeps our small newsroom afloat. If you value the work of our journalists, please consider making a tax-deductible gift.

About the Author