(BIVN) – Short term vacation rentals on the Big Island may do business with locals and inter-island travelers, but under state law those same operations are still not allowed to offer rooms to out-of-state visitors who must still abide by a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim on Thursday clarified the current rules during a Community Connection livestream with Governor David Ige and the other three county mayors.
“Anyone local, inter-island, can stay at vacation rentals now,” said Mayor Kim on during an online talk story session. “Anyone subjected to the 14-day quarantine, meaning coming out-of-state, will have to stay at a hotel / motel first. And after that they can go to vacation rentals.”
Last week, the County of Hawaiʻi announced that short term vacation rentals – along with most other businesses, operations and activities on the Big Island – will be allowed to reopen on June 15 under a new Emergency Rule signed by the mayor.
Meanwhile, State Attorney General Clare Connors told a State Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 that the administration is proposing a bill that “gives clear ability to the counties to do some of the things that we’ve been discussing” on short term vacation rentals, Connors said, “which is to establish a registry of lawfully authorized or permitted short-term rentals.”
The bill provides counties “the authority to require that any rental operator list the complete physical address, including the unit number and tax map key,” Connors explained. “It gives the counties the authority to prohibit hosting platforms from completing booking transactions for any rental that’s not on the registry. It also provides the counties the authority to prohibit hosting platforms from collecting and receiving a fee for facilitating and providing services that are ancillary to the short-term rental.”
Connors said the proposed legislation “gives the county subpoena power, which is also something that could assist with their ability to engage in investigations.”
The measure also creates a set of definitions that would bring consistency across the state. “It strikes a good balance between where the state can help the counties, who all do things slightly differently based on their different zoning codes and decisions,” Connors said.
One senator asked if the proposed STVR bill is applicable only during the COVID pandemic, or if it is going to be a law that will be permanent.
“This doesn’t have a preamble that has to do anything with COVID,” Connors said, “but a lot the concerns that were being addressed here, and the conversations that we were then having with the counties through our emergency operations related to COVID, came to the point where this was a product of that,” she said.