I’ve asked the County Council to look into current zoning-enforcement practices because illegal vacation rentals appear to be on the rise.
In recent years, the council has worked hard in close consultation with the community to create several categories of lawfully permitted vacation rentals, incorporating appropriate guidelines and limitations.
The unchecked increase of illegal rentals is unfair to those who invested the time, effort and money to get a proper permit – and who are now losing business to unlawful competitors, as noted in Planning Committee Report 14-130, which was reviewed Friday.
The Planning Committee, chaired by Council Member Don Couch, took up the issue on Oct. 16. Council members expressed concerns about the negative impact of illegal vacation rentals on the availability of long-term rentals in the county.
A representative from the Planning Department, which enforces zoning laws, told the committee there are over 1,300 open complaints about vacation rentals. To help combat the problem, the council funded six zoning inspector positions.
The committee was told the department issues a notice of warning when a zoning complaint is substantiated. If the violation doesn’t cease within a stated grace period of at least 30 days, the department issues a notice of violation and imposes fines of up to $1,000 per day.
The committee also considered changing the real property tax classification of illegal rentals, which may result in a higher tax bill. Other ways to encourage compliance are under consideration.
I’m hoping the council continues to seek policy solutions to this issue.
Along the same lines, the council formally received comments from the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions on a bill that would establish short-term rental homes as a permitted “agricultural tourism activity” in the agricultural zoning district.
In other news, the council adopted Resolution 14-98 on Oct. 5, authorizing me as council chair to contract for a performance audit of the Solid Waste Division of the Department of Environmental Management. The scope of the audit has been under discussion by the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Council Member Riki Hokama.
Also, the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee, chaired by Council Member Elle Cochran, is considering a bill that would ban polystyrene disposable food containers. The committee expects to receive an update on the issue at its Nov. 17 meeting from a community task force led by Council Member Mike Victorino.
A hui hou.
* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council and holds the council’s Pukalani-Kula-Ulupalakua area residency seat. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.