Majority of Oahu voters support new short-term rental laws
A majority of registered Hawaii voters on Oahu support the new rental law that bans advertising of unpermitted short-term rentals.
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A majority of registered Hawaii voters on Oahu support the new rental law that bans advertising of unpermitted short-term rentals and gives the city Department of Planning and Permitting the ability to levy fines against violators.
But they think the city’s bulky-item pickup pilot program stinks, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Hawaii Poll.
The poll, conducted Sept. 12-17 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy of Washington, D.C., randomly surveyed 800 registered Hawaii voters by telephone, with a statewide margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. Of those 800 residents, 525 people were on Oahu for a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Some 54% of the 525 Oahu voters surveyed supported the new vacation rental law, while 37% opposed it and 9% were undecided. According to the poll, Filipino voters were the most likely to support the new measure and higher fines, followed by white and Japanese voters. Hawaiians were the most likely to oppose the new law and higher fines, followed by mixed-race voters and whites. Democrats, followed by independent voters, were most likely to support the measure, while Republicans were most likely to oppose it. Voters’ ages made little difference, with older voters slightly less likely to support the ban.
Jim Harwood, a Manoa resident, said the issue of vacation rentals is complicated, but “I think that too much regulation is not a good thing.”
“I feel that there are a lot of people who can’t afford the houses that they are living in and short-term rentals allow them to make their payments,” Harwood said.
Diane Ahlo, a resident of Hawaii island’s Mountain View, said she worries that tourism softening from the ban also will hurt Hawaii island since transient accommodation tax collections are distributed statewide.
“I think Hawaii island is handling regulations better here,” Ahlo said. “I don’t think the city is doing their crackdown in the right way by targeting everybody that has an ad. They don’t have the proof of whether these people are renting or legitimately paying their taxes.”
In contrast, Waimanalo resident Williams Rodrigues, who served in the military and is a retired deputy sheriff, said the new law simply enforces previous city law, “which was made to be followed, not broken.”
“Tourists support our economy, but we need to make it so we and they can enjoy the beauty of our island,” Rodrigues said.
Kailua’s Natalia Villegas said she doesn’t even want short-term rentals on Oahu at all.
“I grew up in Kailua and Kaneohe, and those places have been overrun by vacation rentals, which makes it harder for local people who want to stay here and grow a family,” she said.
Some 48% of the 525 Oahu voters surveyed rated the city’s new bulky-item pickup pilot as poor, with only 4% rating it as excellent and the rest skewed toward fair, then good, then undecided.
Villegas said she rates the city’s pilot as poor since it involves more steps, a situation she thinks is likely to lead to more illegal dumping.
Rodrigues also rated the program as poor and said the city needs more people to man the appointment line and more people to pick up trash. He also objects to the city’s policy of leaving items that weren’t part of scheduled pickups.
“It’s just an eyesore, there’s trash everywhere,” he said.
Ahlo, who comes to Oahu every three months or so, said she’d also rate the program as poor since she’s noticed a difference on her visits.
“Oh, the rubbish is horrible. The smell just driving around … Oh, I noticed it,” she said.
Harwood gave the program a better rating, but just barely.
“When six or eight items are at the curb, it tempts others to put their items out. We may have to modify it, but it’s better than poor, it’s fair,” he said. “The city seems to be paying attention, and I think they are on the right track.”
Clarification: This story has been updated to note the margin of error for the Oahu subsection of the statewide Hawaii Poll.