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Gov. Josh Green signs vacation rental bill into law

Gov. Josh Green today signed into law a bill that gives counties the ability to better regulate short-term vacation rentals in the hope of freeing up affordable, long-term housing for island residents.

“It is very rare that within one session, a movement takes on like this and then becomes legislation and then cascades into activity,” Green said in signing Senate Bill 2919

Of the 89,000 short-term rentals across the state, Green estimates that about 75,000 of them are illegal.

SB 2919 clarifies each county’s ability to regulate short term rentals through zoning, including banning them if they choose.

Across Hawaii, Green said 25% of residents struggle to cover housing expenses. Hawaii already a shortfall of 50,000 affordable homes, with the average home price costing $832,000.

“Nobody can really afford that unless they’re extremely wealthy,” Green said. “So we’re going to address the 75,000 illegal short term rentals. This bill can single-handily push lots of housing back into, essentially, local families’ hands.”

He said the state will have a surplus of affordable housing for local families within two or three years if all county councils make changes to convert 75,000 illegal rental units for local families.

“Imagine what that would look like,” Green said, adding that it would “immediately bring prices down to earth.”

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