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Hawaii News

Big Isle passes bill regulating vacation rentals

HILO >> Big Island officials have passed a bill prohibiting short-term vacation rentals in residential and agricultural zones.

The Hawaii County Council voted 6-1 Tuesday in favor of the measure, sending it to the county Planning Department to draft rules, West Hawaii Today reported.

The rules, which will go through a public hearing, are expected to be finalized by April.

Under the zoning ordinance, the bill classifies a short-term vacation rental as a dwelling unit where the owner or operator does not live on-site. The unit cannot have more than five bedrooms for rent, and its rental period cannot exceed 30 days.

The bill allows short-term rentals in commercial districts and hotel and resort zones. It will require all vacation rental owners to register their properties, pay a $500 fee and show that all relevant taxes are paid.

Existing rentals in residential and agricultural zones will be allowed to continue operating under a nonconforming use certificate, which costs $250 and must be renewed annually.

The bill includes provisions requiring all vacation rentals to follow noise and parking regulations. The owner or manager must also be reachable within three hours of getting a call from authorities, a guest or a neighbor.

“We’ve been working on it for two years now trying to come up with a proposal that is acceptable,” Big Island Mayor Harry Kim said before the measure was passed. “From the very beginning the goal was to make Hawaii a good place to live. I ask the Council to finish this work.”

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