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Kauai B&Bs urge clearly defined rules

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Nearly two dozen Kauai residents operating bed-and-breakfasts and other visitor accommodations are asking county planning commissioners to come up with clear permit rules and procedures for their businesses.

Accommodations operators say the county hasn’t clearly defined the rules, The Garden Island newspaper reported Wednesday.

The calls come as the county has been boosting its enforcement against operators lacking permits.

County Planning Director Michael Dahilig said less than a hundred notices telling operators to shut down their business have been sent. Most were sent to nonpermitted, single-family transient vacation rentals. Sixteen were sent to places identified as homestays, which also require permits.

The letters have confused and frustrated operators who want to comply with the law, Lihue attorney Jonathan Chun said.

Darryl and Julie Chong believed they were following the law while renting out a bedroom in their Lawai home. They have regularly paid their general excise and transient accommodations taxes on their rental income, they said. They were waiting for officials to develop clear standards for homestay and bed-and-breakfast operations like their own.

But then they received a letter from county planning officials ordering the couple to shut down.

Darryl Chong said it wasn’t their intention to operate illegally, "so we must admit our confusion and wrongdoing."

"While this situation has caused a considerable financial strain on our household, we do welcome regulation," he said.

Some residents said more oversight is needed to prevent nonpermitted operations from spreading in residential areas and curtail abuses by some homestay and B&B operators.

Wainiha resident Caren Diamond, who was part of a 2005 stakeholder group to address the influx of vacation rentals on Kauai, said B&B operations have always required a use permit to legally operate. "While I feel for everybody that didn’t get a use permit, that process has been available and I don’t understand why people didn’t use it," Diamond said.

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