Oahu, Hawaii’s most populous island, will now severely limit Airbnbs and short-term vacation rentals

Ooh, Hawaii third-largest island, will now impose new restrictions on where Airbnb, Vrbo and other short-term rental properties can be located in Honolulu and on the island.

In a move that has upset landlords and other short-term rental operators, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi – whose office pushed for the presentation of the bill to the municipal council — signed a bill that would impose significant limitations not only on where Airbnbs and Vrbos can be found, but also on how long short-term rentals can be held across large swaths of the island.

“We could feel the outcry from our communities across the island over what had happened with illegal vacation rentals,” Blangiardi said at a press conference on Tuesday. “[This] is to revive our neighborhoods, where people grow, where families are raised and not mini-hotels, but neighborhoods for which they were designed, a source of great pride for all of us who have raised families here in Oahu.

The bill will require rentals in most areas of Oahu to have a 90-day minimum stay, according to Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Shorter stays, with a minimum of 30 days, are only permitted at properties located in resort zoning areas, namely Koolina, Kuilima, Makaha and parts of Waikiki.

As reported by Hawaii News Now, the legislation was passed by the city council earlier this month with near complete unanimity – an 8 to 1 vote. Only one council member, Andria Tupola, voted no. Tupola, whose district is in the west of the island, expressed concern that past regulation of illegal rental properties has already failed, according to Hawaii News Now.

She also expressed concern about a potential conflict of interest after the head of the Honolulu Permits Department stepped down from working on this legislation. Joy Uchida, the wife of Dean Uchida, director of the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permits, is employed by a company that owns many condo-hotel properties in Waikiki and could benefit from this legislation.

Honolulu Civil Beat reports that Bill, which would come into force in 180 days, would impose new restrictions on short-term rentals, such as requiring a parking space for all rooms rented in residential areas and prohibiting illicit operators from advertising of these properties.

Proponents of the legislation noted that unfettered short-term rentals, especially during the pandemic, have contributed to skyrocketing rents in Honolulu, where Zumper rental site says the cost of a bedroom is $1,600, and across the island. They also note that tourists have invaded residential areas, says Civil Beat, where they previously spent the majority of their time in Waikiki and other nearby areas. Hoteliers are also in favor of the bill.

But the debate leading up to Blangiardi’s signing has been tense – with hosts and short-term rental services challenging the bill on the grounds that it harms landlords and favors hotels. The World Surf League has also voiced its opposition to the bill, arguing that the bill could act as a barrier to all surfing events organized by the league in Hawaii.

In a letter submitted to City Council and shared with SFGATE, Airbnb expressed concern that “implementing the bill would be impermissible under state law” and could make it more difficult for ‘critical users’ on the platform, such as first responders and disaster workers. .

Still, residents remain adamant that the bill could help Hawaii’s ongoing housing crisis.

“Any economic benefits of opening our residential areas to tourism are far outweighed by the negative impacts on our neighborhoods and local residents,” said Hawaii News Now resident Thomas Cestare.

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