A proposed bill could affect tourism on the Big Island.

Is it just me, or does it seem like limitations on short-term rentals are becoming a dime a dozen these days? The latest news comes from the Big Island, where a bill is underway to tighten the ropes on vacation rentals. Here’s how it could affect tourism. 

Vacation rentals could be under the microscope

The proposed bill, which would require hosted vacation rentals to register with the county, would require transient rental operators to pay an initial registration fee, along with an annual renewal fee. There would also be a set of regulations related to on-site parking, submission of site and floor plans, notifying surrounding properties, and more. Failure to follow the host of rules could result in $10,000 in fines.

Renters may find accommodations difficult

If the bill passes, a guest limit of no more than two adults per bedroom and an additional two adults for the unit as a whole would go into effect. Commercial weddings, wedding receptions, and other events would also subsequently be prohibited. This, along with the fees the operators could face, may cause accommodations to be scarce, unaffordable, and not a good fit for many visitors to the Big Island. 

So why all the fuss? 
Hawaii County Council members Heather Kimball and Ashley Kierkiewicz are sponsoring legislation to help curb the growing number of vacation rentals they say is reducing long-term housing stock for residents while boosting housing costs and rents. 

Feedback remains mixed

Some praised the proposed bill for its ability to limit excessive noise, parking issues, neighborhood character loss, and rising housing costs. Others have shared concerns about the negative financial impact of limits put on vacation rentals, including not being able to operate one at all. 

Kimball says the bill contains exemptions and grandfather clauses. “We are still allowing people to operate short-term vacation rentals on their own property, and they can start it up at any time. They just have to follow the operational standards and they have to register,” says Kimball.

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