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Hawaii lawmakers advance vacation rental bill to final votes

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                State Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole speaks during a news conference on Tuesday at the State Capitol.
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

State Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole speaks during a news conference on Tuesday at the State Capitol.

A bill that gives counties the clear authority to regulate short-term vacation rentals, including the power to ban them, unanimously passed out of a joint House-Senate conference committee today ahead of a vote by the full House and Senate next week.

Gov. Josh Green has promised to sign the latest version of Senate Bill 2919 if it gets to his desk.

SB 2919 also attempts to clarify a 1957 law adopted two years before Hawaii became a state that was used to successfully challenge Honolulu’s efforts to clamp down on vacation rentals by prohibiting rentals between 30 and 189 days.

State Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole (D, Kaneohe-­Kailua), a lawyer who introduced SB 2919 and chaired today’s conference committee, said he wanted new language help protect against future legal challenges to efforts to regulate short-term rentals.

At the state Capitol on Tuesday, Green told a cheering crowd of Lahaina Strong members that he will sign SB 2919 if it gets to him.

Green sees converting short-term rentals into longer-term housing for residents as the fastest way to fill a shortfall of 50,000 affordable homes across the state.

The gap between affordable housing and vacation rentals was exacerbated by the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires that continues to see survivors staying in hotels while waiting to move into longer-term housing — especially in West Maui.

Green told the Lahaina Strong members Tuesday that SB 2919 “will have a positive, profound impact on our people. People will be able to get housing again.”

Correction: Senate Bill 2919 now goes back for votes by the full House and Senate. A previous version of this story said it was headed to Gov. Josh Green for his expected signature.
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