(BIVN) – Public hearings are set for next week concerning new administrative rules regulating short-term vacation rentals on Hawaiʻi Island.
The Hawaiʻi County Planning Department is establishing the Rules of Practice and Procedure in accordance with the Hawaiʻi County Council passage of Bill 108 as Ordinance 2018-114. According to the County, the new law defines where the short-term vacation rentals (STVRs), will be allowed, establishes provisions and standards to regulate them, and “provides an avenue for an existing STVR to apply for a Nonconforming Use Certificate that would allow continued operation outside of a permitted zoning district.”
The draft rules can be read online via the Planning Department website.
The first hearing will take place at the West Hawaiʻi Civic Center on Thursday, February 28, at 5:30 p.m.
The second hearing takes place the next day – Friday, March 1 – in Hilo at the Aupuni Center Conference Room at 5:30 p.m.
Concerns about the new rules were expressed during a recent community meeting at the Cooper Center in Volcano Village (video above). The town has grown accustomed to and depends on the overnight stays. Officials who were on hand for the Volcano meeting, like Councilwoman Maile David, advised the STVR owners in attendance to participate in the upcoming rulemaking hearings.
There is also an ongoing concern about the new law in lower Puna, where Kīlauea Volcano erupted in the summer of 2018.
Pāhoa resident Magdalene Phillips had this to say in a recent letter to the editor:
Many short term vacation rentals (STVR’s) were lost in the lava, lowering the incomes of local restaurants, stores, cleaners, handypersons, gardeners, etc..
The owners of these STVR’s, who are trying to establish new ones in the area, are at present given absolutely no help by the Hawaii County Planning Department. They are being held to the same requirements as everyone else, having to have their rentals in operation by April 1st, 2019. In the new Rule 23, regarding STVR’s in this area, it states on the LAST page in the LAST paragraph:
“In the event of a declared emergency, natural or man made, where a significant number of nonconforming STVRs are permanently lost within any given judicial district, the Director shall assess the effect of such loss upon the affected district and if deemed necessary, initiate legislative and administrative opportunities to restore such loss in STVR capacity within the district of origin.”
This emergency, namely the lava, had already happened at the time of Bill 108’s passing, yet all we get is an obscure paragraph that may be used to help those affected. This is the time to establish a specific rule on this important issue, rather than it being left in the air. If you care, please attend the meeting March 1st, at 5:30 pm at the Aupuni Conference Center.